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I have struck a city - a real city - and they call it Chicago. . . . I urgently desire never to see it again. It is inhabited by savages.
~ Rudyard Kipling, 1891
Breakfast: French toast, sausage
CHICAGO - DAY 1
27 March 2004
As I write this, I have been up...I dunno...seems like forever. We left Sacramento at 11:30 p.m. Thursday night. I couldn't sleep on the plane for the 4 hour flight. We arrived at 5 a.m. Chicago time, 3 a.m. California time.
My first impression of Chicago was the great efficient bathrooms they have. The toilet seat comes pre-papered. When you enter a stall, this sign tells you to wave your hand in front of a sensor and when you do that, the paper that is currently on the seat rotates itself out of sight, giving you a brand new cover on the toilet seat. (When you've been flying all night and have had no sleep at all, these things impress you!)
First order of business was finding out how to get to the hotel. After walking miles thru the airport and trying several options, we finally ended up on the train and in about 30 minutes or so were in town, about 7 blocks from our hotel. It seemed like a long walk, dragging suitcases and computer, especially when it started to rain. We stopped at a food court at a place called The Works and had a breakfast, then hit the streets again. It only rained very lightly and eventually, already footsore (me), we arrived here.
We are staying at the SwissHotel Chicago, a wedge-shaped building which looks out over both Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. A lovely place that we would never have been able to afford without a special Internet weekend rate!
We thought we would have to stow the bags until check-in time (3 p.m.), but they had our room ready and we could move right in. We're on the 25th floor overlooking Lake Michigan (if there weren't fog covering it). Absolutely gorgeous view, of the river emptying into Lake Michigan and, off to the left, the Navy Pier.
After settling in, we set off for the zoo. We were going by train, the purple car, Walt said. So we climbed the bazillion stairs to the train platform, put in our one-day pass, and went out by the tracks. That's when Walt realized we were going in the car we were waiting for didn't run during non-peak hours. We had to go back down the bazillion stairs, across the street, and back up the bazillion stairs on the other side to catch a different train. When we got there we couldn't get in because we had already used our passes on the other side. We got assistance from the attendant.
We got on the train and it started off and Walt realized that the map he had was old and that they had changed routes and we were now going the wrong way. We would have to get off and do something else. I guess that one look at my face made him realize that if he suggested another bazillion stairs, there would be some serious problems, so he asked if I wanted to take a cab. Duhhh. Is the pope catholic?
We had a lovely day at the zoo and I got some incredible photos. My favorite was the bald eagle that I've made "photo of the day," but I liked this one of the sea lion, as well as several others I took, that I'll eventually post to Fotolog.
We had a Chicago hot dog and cheese fries for lunch, overlooking the monkeys, and then did the second half of the park, including a mini African safari, complete with rain forest and humongous cockroaches. Blechhh. (But it was really a very nice tour.) Got a great movie of a hippo swimming under water.
By the time we had seen everything, there was no way I could face walking quite a distanced to the train and then transferring and doing the 7+ blocks from the train back to the hotel, so, thankfully, there was a cab right there and we caught it back here.
We took about an hour's nap and then showered by the time our friend Ellen (whom we know from CompuServe) arrived. She'd taken the train in from Milwaukee. We had a good time getting caught up on stuff, then took another cab over to the theatre where The Big Voice is playing.
We found a nice Japanese restaurant where we had dinner (including something, incredibly, called a "Mexican roll," which was sushi filled with salmon, jalapeno, avocado, and mango. It was surprisingly not horrible).
The show was great. They've tightened it up considerably, taken out stuff, added stuff, and it was very good. The one new song that was added, "How Do You Fall Back in Love" is now the best song in the show.
Took a cab back to the hotel (I could get into this whole cab thing!) and finally got to sleep, after being up nearly 48 hours!
Oh, and this is a note especially for Ned. Tomorrow we are going to a museum in
the morning, then catching a 4 p.m. performance of Blue Man Group before going
back to the theatre to see The Big Voice again. So there.
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