Episode Five – All what Jazz?

Greetings, one and all!

Ok, so I’m back in Ohio. I’m currently sitting at the bar with Grant and Blake while they play CoD. I tried it out, it’s pretty fun. Anyway, enough of that. Where was I with Chicago?

Oh yeah, Saturday. It was an early start for us, as we’d decided to hit Chicago running. We’d looked beforehand at those Go Chicago cards you can get, the kind that lets you in to a million different things for one “low” price; but we’d rejected them because with only two full days to be doing things, we didn’t want to be running around trying to get into as many attractions as possible without spending time enjoying any of them. So we just paid for everything at the door. That first day we made it to the John Hancock Tower early and beat most of the crowds, so we waltzed straight up there in the 20mph elevator and started snapping away.

The Tower from the outside.

The Coastline to the South. (That's Lake Michigan in the blue).

View of Downtown Chicago to the South.

So basically, the Hancock Center is way high. We wandered around the observation deck for a while before heading back down to Michigan Avenue. It’s supposed to be a really good street for shopping, but every shop was either way out of my price range or something we have in the UK – and neither of us was really in the mood for shopping. The heat was pretty intense – not the worst I’ve experienced here, but decidedly uncomfortable. After some disorientation, we ducked into a coffee shop for some iced drinks while we decided what to do with the rest of our day.

Our first port of call was to be the Millenium Park. I’d checked out the website and thought it looked pretty unmissable, as well it was. There was a lot of architecture going on there, including the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the Crown Fountain, and the Cloud Gate (or, as the locals have dubbed it, the “Silver Bean” – you’ll see what I mean in a minute). There’s much more to the park than just those things, but we had bigger plans for the day so we moseyed on.

The Cloud Gate / Silver Bean

Right next to Millenium Park is the Art Institute of Chicago, which we skipped in favour of the Shedd Aquarium further to the South. On the way we passed the Buckingham Fountain, which was going crazy for its on-the-hour water show. In our attempts to get photographs, we got a fairly heavy spraying; but this was more refreshing than anything, as the temperature had shot up and we were now baking in our own skins. The water dried off within minutes.

After a half-hour photo-taking session of a dragonfly on southern Lake Shore Drive, we finally made our way to the aquarium with only an hour and a half until closing time, which wasn’t as much as we really needed to see and enjoy everything. But there were a few things that didn’t really interest us that much, so we got to see most of the really cool stuff – of which there was a great deal. Even Grant said it was probably the best aquarium he’d ever visited… and although I’m guessing that doesn’t include the Great Barrier Reef, that’s still pretty good going! Anyway, they had some seriously cool critters in there, definitely enough for me to latch on to Grant’s dream of having an über-aquarium in my home when I have one. Oh, and a swarm of dragonflies : D

The dragonfly we photographed for literally at least 30 minutes.

I think it’s probably important for my readers to realise that I had more fun that Saturday than any other day, ever.

Unfortunately, however, the day quickly petered out after that. We’d had plans to take in some real Chicagoan jazz at The Back Room. The Back Room was a classy joint with a dress code and prices to match – entry was $20 and there was a 2-drink minimum requirement per show, with four shows. So when the drink prices range from $4.50 to $11.50, that added up to a pretty steep night, especially seeing as at eighteen I am now underage – AGAIN – so I couldn’t even have wine. But it looked like a really cool place and after our enthusiasm for Edinburgh’s Jazz Bar back in the good old days, we decided that it was worth every cent to see the best jazz Chicago has to offer. So we made a reservation for 9 and went to have some authentic Chicago pizza in the meantime, following multiple recommendations we’d received for Giuliano’s. After hopping on a bus to go back up Michigan Avenue, as it was a long walk and our feet were tired, we hopped back off again about fifteen minutes later, having travelled only about a quarter of a mile, and beat the horrendous traffic by walking instead. By the time we got to Giuliano’s, we were both tired, my feet were blistering because I had no socks on, and we were beginning to worry we wouldn’t make our Back Room reservation if we dawdled at dinner. But there was a huge kerfuffle going on outside the restaurant, and when we finally managed to barge our way through the crowd and ask what was going on, they said all the people were just waiting to eat and the wait time for two people was at least an hour and a half. At this point, we were pretty scunnered by the whole shituation, so we decided it wasn’t worth the wait and went to try the Cheesecake Factory instead, where there was a smaller, though still significant, line. Resigned to the fact that we weren’t going to find anywhere in downtown Chicago that wasn’t packed on a Saturday night, we gave up on our reservations at The Back Room and just took our time at dinner, which was fantastic, before taking on the long train journey home. So Saturday evening could have gone better, but we resolved to go to the Giuliano’s the next night, out in Evanston where it would be quieter and we’d be closer to home. And while the jazz would’ve been a great experience, we saved at least $50 by giving it a miss – and when Grant comes to Edinburgh it’ll be the Jazz Festival, so we’ll get more than our fill of the stuff in a month’s time or so. Back at the flat, we drank wine with Grant’s cousin and hit the hay. There wasn’t much left on our “A-List” to do in Chicago by Sunday, but our “B-List” consisted of a lot of really cool stuff too – I wouldn’t mind heading back over there at some point in my life and seeing all the other stuff Chicago has to offer.

I’ll leave you for now with this important message:

You heard me.




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