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Chicago!

Another travel post! And so soon, too! I have a lot of catching up to do.

After New Orleans, I hopped a delightfully regional flight up to Chicago. I have a brother up there, so more free accommodation! It was a little nerve-racking though honestly, since he moved to the States when I was just a little kid so don't know him that well, plus I'd only met his wife briefly once before.

They had like four dogs and a cat though. All of them so different and interesting! Here's a pic of their akita and Frenchie.

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The akita is an older dog, such an elegant lady but also a real escape artist. Their frenchie is an adorable psycho little thing that love to play and will constantly try jumping on you. The other two are mutts, one which is so endlessly hungry for attention that he'll just come up to you and lay his head in your lap until you dispense with the pets, and the other one a massive scaredy-cat spooked by its own shadow.

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The cat was also amazingly affectionate, made up for all the cats in the cat cafes in Japan. I would try to work on my laptop but nope! There she'd be, squeezing her way in and making herself right at home on my lap.

I probably lost a good couple of hours each day to animal wrangling.

It was super freezing for the first couple of days anyway though, so I didn't actually get out much beyond my brother and sister-in-law taking me out to eat, and general helping around the house with various projects and visiting and whatnot (and playing with all the animals).

Sister-in-law did drop me off for the day at Woodfield mall one day though - apparently one of the largest in America? After Orchard Road it didn't seem quite so impressive but it definitely was pretty big. Took the opportunity to stock up on cheap makeup - it is seriously half, sometimes even a third of the price of what it is in Australia. Would have bought more, actually, but suitcase weight and space was an ongoing concern. Plus discovered the awesomeness that is Sephora! Apparently that chain is coming to Australia soon, good times. They stocked me up with a ridiculous amount of free samples, you buy anything and you can expect the whole kit and kaboodle.

I may be developing more expensive taste in makeup in the future as a result.  :(

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While there I had a cinnabon! Only too late did I realise they had something called a 'minibon' which I definitely should have bought instead. Tasty but wow, it's a whole meal, and a heck of lot of sugar. Worth having once, not sure if I could make a habit of it.

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There was a decent bit of a snowstorm while I was there, dropped about ten to fifteen centimetres of fresh snow. It's looks so pretty when it is new and undisturbed!

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Brother built a fire that was maybe a bit too big for the fireplace. Love fireplaces, if only Australia had any use for them at all.

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We also ordered in a Chicago deep dish style pizza! Pretty tasty, but one slice is a meal in of itself. Apparently the secret to a good deep dish is a 1:1 ratio of base to toppings!

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Snowblowers did not actually work at all like I expected. I think I'd pictured something more like a leafblower? Which in retrospect was just dumb.

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Brother and co took me to a bunch of neat restaurants! One of which was Red Robin, which had awesome burgers (Americans know how to do burgers) and a mint brownie milkshake which is maybe the best milkshake I've ever had. American milkshakes are more like Australian thickshakes, except even better than that, seriously guys we do not know how to do milkshakes in Australia.

Also bacon. I love American bacon. So thin and crispy.

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Anyhow, Red Robin was cool mostly because it was decked up to its eyeballs in Americana. We also went to some amazing crab restaurant that was super huge and had arrows on the ground for people movement and lines and the cheapest thing on the menu was like $20, so thank goodness I wasn't paying! (Special thanks to the generosity of siblings).

As much fun as all that is though, I eventually made a point to spend a couple of days downtown. After my brother and sister-in-law made me terrified and made it sound like some kind of war zone where I could expect to get mugged or pick-pocketed or harassed every twenty metres. I'm pretty sure there are definitely no-go parts of Chicago, but seriously it wasn't as bad as they made it out to be, at least not the areas of any interest to a tourist like myself at least. No worse harassment than you get in any other major city, certainly wasn't equal to the amount of paranoia they'd instilled. It was kind of the same with my relatives and New Orleans, really. Crime rate might be high, but people still live there, after all. Generally the trend I've found worldwide is 'If it looks sketchy, it probably is', and that's typically more than enough to keep you out of trouble.

Anyway, caught to Metra (a double-decked train) to Oligilvie? Olgivie? Whatever, what appears to be Central Station, and from there made my (very cold) way to Art Institute.

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The Chicago Art Institute is super freaking awesome, and very massive, and definitely world class.

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They had a whole room just of amazingly beautiful paperweights.

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And a hall filled with crazy amazing miniatures.

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And an ukiyoe exhibit larger than most of the ones I saw in Japan.

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Not to mention all of the originals!  American Gothic.

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Andy Warhol's Mao.

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A stack of Monets.

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As well as a few Van Gogh's - this is his self-portrait. There's something oddly profound about seeing famous pieces of art with your own two eyes, instead of just prints.

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Portrait of a Musician.

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There was also a whole armour exhibit! Which I maybe trolled also partially for cosplay purposes, because I want to know how they do their damn joints so they can move.

You could easily spend a whole day in the Art Institute. I limited it to half a day, which did at least get me through all of the exhibits I really wanted to see.

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Love the architecture in Chicago though. It's basically Gotham City with all the gothic revival architecture all over the place.

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Also, when you see an open-air ice-skating rink, unlike the one in Brisbane people here can actually ice-skate!

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I checked out the shiny Kidney Bean, mostly because everyone said I should. I didn't expect much, but it was actually pretty cool, even though the effect was slightly ruined by the snow clinging to it. Definitely worth the visit though.

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Plus when you walk under it things start getting a little trippy.

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Chicago river, partially frozen over, though starting to break up because you know, this was supposed to be March. Looked pretty cool though! Like a very cold mosaic.

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Chicago Tribune building. Did I mention how much I like Chicago's architecture? Because I do. You could put Batman on anything and he would look right at home.

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It gets pretty windy in downtown Chicago though, due to the wind tunnel effect caused by all those cool skyscrapers. Which makes it even colder. It's enough that the locals have apparently given the wind a name - 'The Hawk'.

I had to schedule regular stops in stores to thaw out! Though I did stop in at Argo Tea, and that place is awesome. Tea drinking doesn't seem quite as big in America, maybe because they apparently haven't discovered the electric tea kettle yet. Seriously, everywhere I went, unless staying with a fellow Australian, they were all boiling their water in microwaves or on stove tops with some old-fashioned kettle, I thought America was supposed to be the land of the future.

Also, actual sticks of butter instead of convenient tubs. Butter dishes are still a thing!

But I digress.

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This is the Waterworks, I think? I went wandering down 'The Magnificient Mile', which is basically a mile of nothing but shopping. Stopped in at the Disney store, a Macy's, and a few other random places.

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These signs are legitimately terrifying when they're set next to a thirty-storey building.

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Not sure, a church maybe? Probably looks really beautiful in summer with the vines, just looks evil and ominous in winter. I bet the doors creak.

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The John Hancock building! Not sure why I didn't go up it, kind of regret it. I went up Sears tower about 12 years ago when I was last here to visit the bro (about the only thing we did back then, thinking on it), but this place probably has the cooler view.

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A Lego store! Providing a convenient recreation of the skyline anyway.

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Lego stores are just awesome. I went to go see the Lego movie while in Chicago as well. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME~!

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Hershey's store/cafe. Hershey's is honestly about the worst chocolate there is, outside of waxy dollarstore rubbish, but if I see a chocolate cafe I'm going inside, dammit. If only to breathe in the wonderful smell. (And I guess Hershey's Kisses aren't that bad. In moderation.)

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The afternoon disappeared fast and it was time to make my way back to the train station. Saw some more cool buildings on the way though.

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These two remind me of hair curlers.

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Wandered back through the theatre district, had to get a pic of this sign!

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Also, on one of my stops to thaw out, wandered into this weird... mall? Place, thing. Which kind of reminded me of a space port. Looks like it should be in Star Trek or something, just saying.  I have no idea what it is but it's fabulous.

Eventually made it back, then returned downtown again the next day!

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This time my goal was Navy Pier. Check it out, Ferris Wheel missing all of its carriages for winter. Looks so naked.

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Came with some nice views of the skyline though!

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After wandering around in the cold for a bit, stumbled into this crazy amazing greenhouse area, and suddenly there people everywhere, it was like being back in Singapore or a second. Until you looked outside and saw snow on the ground. Surreal.

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Ate some lunch and checked out a pretty neat (free!) stained glass windows exhibit. I do like stained glass windows, you don't see them in the wild nearly often enough (aside from churches).

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Lake Michigan, all frozen over.  Maybe boring to other people but to an Australian a frozen lake is just about the coolest thing ever. Plus the Great Lakes in general kind of blow my mind, since you can't see the other shore - in my head it should be an ocean!

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To give you an idea of how far out Navy Pier takes you.

And that was more or less it for Chicago! I was only there for about a week, and of that only really had two days downtown, one at the Woodfield mall, and the rest basically just visiting family. The weather killed a lot of my desire to go outside, although it is amazing how quickly you adapt to the cold! Thank god I had some time to get used to some colder temperatures in Asia first though.

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Here's one more shot for the road - had a bunch of cool buildings all in one shot.

Can it get any colder than that? Yes it can! Next post: Canada

Spoiler alert: I didn't die. (but I came close, seriously).

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
caterfree10
Apr. 14th, 2014 04:32 pm (UTC)
hehe, we might not have food that's particularly historically or culturally relevant, but when we do have good food it is amazing. :3 tho ngl, mom and pop type restaurants have the best ones. I've even had a bison burger too! Damn I wish that local place hadn't shut down. ;;

And we do have electric kettles (I LOVE mine so much it even tells me what temperature the water's at so my tea can be perfect *hugs it*), they just aren't popular for some weird-ass reason. :Va

I hear you on the Great Lakes! I went to the Indiana Dunes in 6th grade and was blown away by just how big the lakes were. It was definitely something I'd love to visit again. *nod*

Hehe, enjoy Canada! I can't imagine ever even really visiting anytime that isn't the middle of summer bc I loathe cold. XP But y'know, still looking forward to the posts regardless. x3
sinnatious
Apr. 14th, 2014 10:17 pm (UTC)
Well, hey, America pretty much invented the cheeseburger, that seriously counts for something. The fast food variety might not be quite as amazing but omg, Johnny Rockets. And some of those mom-n-pop diners make the most amazing sandwiches too, you're quite right.

I know right? Electric kettles are definitely a thing, but so few people have them! It's utterly baffling.

Honestly I knew it would be cold in Canada but kinda thought that March/April period wouldn't be quite so bad, because Spring right? Ahahahahahahahahahaha.
caterfree10
Apr. 15th, 2014 03:54 am (UTC)
I need to visit more mom and pop type restaurants but we don't have very many near my neighborhood so I don't get to visit them often. orz;

Teehee, should we expect lots of complaining about the cold next post? xD (then again it's not like I have room to talk heh |D; )
thesundaywriter
Apr. 14th, 2014 05:44 pm (UTC)
Aw, pets just brighten up the day even if wrangling them can be a bit annoying =D Didn't know you had family in the States, but I'm glad you can save on accommodation in that case~

Enjoy Canada and have a safe trip!
sinnatious
Apr. 14th, 2014 10:23 pm (UTC)
They totally do! I miss having pets (though I don't miss the responsibility that comes with them!)

Yeah I have a heap of extended family in the states on my father's side, plus two brothers who moved there. Free couches everywhere! (Although really, 90% of them live in Louisiana.)
lenine2
Apr. 14th, 2014 08:04 pm (UTC)
What a great post! The Art Institute, Red Robin, the frozen lake, Navy Pier, etc. You were pretty tough, braving the cold for two days.

I grew up in a town on Lake Michigan, and never thought anything about it until other people commented on how big the Great Lakes are. A guy in Alaska was telling his friend about Lake Michigan - a fresh water lake that never freezes over! (Well, it nearly did this year.) A lake you can't see across! It even affects the weather.

I'm looking forward to your Canada post.
sinnatious
Apr. 14th, 2014 10:31 pm (UTC)
Heh, it was definitely cold, but that's part of the experience too I guess. Exotic temperatures. XD Had never ever seen that much snow before in my life though.

Locals hardly ever realise the coolest things about their areas, it's a curse. Most Australians take fantastic beaches for granted, big parts of America take mountains for granted, it just becomes baseline!
tenshinoakuma
Apr. 14th, 2014 10:20 pm (UTC)
As always, I love seeing your photos and commentary :)

As an aside, what did you do to help yourself adapt to the colder temperatures?
sinnatious
Apr. 14th, 2014 10:27 pm (UTC)
Layering. Once you master it, things get much easier! Hats and gloves, too. Super important.
mauralucky7
Apr. 15th, 2014 04:26 pm (UTC)
Haha stay warm Sin. There is a reason that Chicago is known as the windy city. Stop almost dying.

I thought America was supposed to be the land of the future. How is using a microwave not part of the future? :D I will happily claim to not own an electric kettle, but I honestly do need one.

Also, don't feel bad about trolling the armor museum for cosplaying purposes. Armor is hard and sucks and the fact that you pulled off a great Kain is awesome. I recently tried a cosplay with a couple of armor-y pieces. Yeah....

Did you go into the Lego movie expecting to like it? How'd you like the twist near the end?
sinnatious
Apr. 17th, 2014 09:54 am (UTC)
Invest in an electric kettle! They're pretty cheap, after all. The convenience is amazing.

By 'recent armor cosplay' do you mean that Erza in your profile pic? Because that is totally amazing! *__*

I wasn't completely sure I would like the Lego movie but had heard good things. I'm still not sure how I feel about the twist, it was definitely brilliant but I'm not sure how emotionally satisfying it was? What did you think of it?
mauralucky7
Apr. 17th, 2014 04:25 pm (UTC)
I'm really tempted to, I just keep forgetting to actually go out and buy one.

Haha yeah it was. I was pretty happy with it, but all of the pieces, that weren't the wings, go figure, were falling apart by the end of the first day of Anime Boston, so I had to use a crap ton of duct tape to hold it together. I wish I could have trolled armor in a museum to try and figure out how to get the pieces to work, move, and not fall apart.

I'd also heard good things about the movie, but I wasn't expecting much out of it. I was not at all expecting the twist, and it definitely through me for a loop, although it explained so many things about the movie. It didn't feel as strong emotionally as the rest of the film did, but it wasn't horrible. It did lead to the cute scene at the end though involving the Duplo's.
sinnatious
Apr. 18th, 2014 01:06 pm (UTC)
Ahaha always the case with cosplay, the parts you are least worried about are the ones that give you problems! It looks so great though, how long did it all take?
mauralucky7
Apr. 20th, 2014 02:10 am (UTC)
It took about a month and maybe a week for it all. I was working on the wings the whole time, but really only did the rest of the pieces in the two weeks before the con. And I made the swords the night before so I guess it makes sense that those were the parts that broke first. And not gonna lie, those pauldrons are just duct taped to my shoulders because I was too lazy to figure out how to actually attach them. Yeah duct tape!
sinnatious
Apr. 20th, 2014 01:01 pm (UTC)
Duct tape! Genius!

Hey, it only needs to last for the con! I have in the past actually just glued myself into a costume. Whatever works!

Crazy for only a month's work. The result is great!
rafira
Apr. 21st, 2014 03:01 am (UTC)
what handsome pets!!!

i've heard a lOT of really great things about sephora. they're going to come to australia?? that would be muchos excellente!!!
cinnabuns aer like a whole chain of cinnamon bun stores right? seems a strange thing to make a chain of but i guess we have all sorts of chains these days~~~

oh my gosh that deep dish pizza looks like a pie. like actually a pie. was it amazing?? or awful???/

wooow the chicago river looks AMAZE all frozen like that.



i hear you are home now??? wooow!! wb <3
sinnatious
Apr. 21st, 2014 02:11 pm (UTC)
Yeah, only a couple of days after I'd first visited Sephora myself did I see a news article that Sephora was opening a shop! (in Melbourne I think?) It's maybe not quite as revolutionary as all that, but it's a quality makeup store not stuck inside a Myer or David Jones with a few other brands under its belt, might be pricey here though, will have to wait and see. Makeup is waaay cheaper in the States, it's quite unfair.

I know, it's weird right? Americans have chain stores for everything. There's also Auntie Annie's for pretzels.

The pizza was pretty close to being a pie, honestly! It's definitely pretty awesome but not something I think I could eat regularly.

Yup, back! Will probably still be posting about it for a while yet though.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )