With the roommate/friend, a small guidebook, and all the Chicago knowledge I've picked up on from Kanye, Oprah, and Obama, I set off for my first trip to the mid-west on Friday and had a wonderful mini-vacation in Chicago.
I've uploaded all my photos to my Flickr, in the Chicago set on the right. I won't go into a lot of detail here as the pictures pretty much speak for themselves. But here are the main points I will remember about the city, in true you-really-shouldn't-take-me-too-seriously fashion.
1. The Windy City really is windy, and cold, especially for July. I honestly don't know what the weather typically is like there, so maybe it's normal. But as a die hard East Coaster, particularly a Southern East Coaster, July without oppressive heat and humidity just isn't July. I had some jeans, but only sandals and one cardigan, and spent most of the weekend cold. Seeing as how I barely survive D.C. winters, I've always known I could never handle a Chicago one. But I thought I could at least make it through a summer weekend. I really am far weaker than I thought.
2. It smells a little bit. I don't mean this rudely, but it did. D.C. doesn't exactly smell like roses, but I really don't notice an odor that often, unless we're talking about certain metro station areas or alleys. But there was a definite smell. In its defense, though, I was primarily in the tourist-heavy areas, so that may have had something to do with it. And maybe D.C. really is stinky, too, I just have become one with it and don't even know it. (The fountain has nothing to do with the smell, I just really really love it.)
3. There are revolving doors in nearly every building. I've been thinking about this a lot because that's just what I do. I recall quite a few in New York and barely any in London. And maybe D.C. has a lot that I just don't realize, but I swear I've never seen as many as I did in Chicago. I mean, even a Walgreen's had one! I just don't do well with them, not surprising, I'm sure. I'm constantly waiting for my foot to get stuck behind me or to miss the chance to exit and get stuck going 'round and 'round while people laugh and gawk 'round and 'round me in surround sound. Plus there was an episode of Dead Like Me where a guy tripped and fell into the door just as someone was turning it and his neck broke and he died. (The one revolving door I didn't mind was at Tiffany's, where I finally bought something after being in love with the store since I first saw Breakfast at Tiffany's more than ten years ago.)
4. Literally towering over the city on The Ledge. After an interminable wait we finally made our way to the Skydeck of the SEARS Tower. (Yes, it changed its name a day before we arrived, but I refuse to acknowledge it.) First, I am terribly afraid of heights. Or, rather, terribly afraid of plummeting to my death. I also get vertigo and lose all sense of perception when I'm up high or on spiraling or steep staircases. But after waiting in five lines, for three hours, with incredibly pushy and smelly people, once I made it up to the top, I knew I'd regret it later if I didn't take full advantage of every opportunity. This included venturing out ever so cautiously on the newly-opened "Ledge," where one can stand on a glass panel extending away from the building, to look down at the city below as your life flashes before your eyes. I only stayed a minute or so, tiptoeing the whole time, and never quite losing the swaying feeling heights give me, but it definitely was one heck of a view. That I have no desire to ever see again. Ever.
5. Getting away. I love travel almost more than anything and as much as I love home, most of my trips in the past two years have been solely to there. So it was nice to go somewhere new, get away from my real world, and just be still for a little while. It was also nice to go with Brandie, who I've never travelled with before.
All in all, with the beautiful "bean," view of Lake Michigan, majestic Buckingham Fountains, gorgeous architecture, and more, I'd definitely go back. Cold, smell, revolving doors and all.