If I knew the windy city was as fabulous as it turned out to be, I would have visited the city over and over again. Chicago was one of the cities I had penned down to visit on my bucket list and my visit to the city was long overdue. I had visited all the neighboring states but I was just never motivated enough to visit Chicago until recently.
I finally took the plunge and arrived at O’Hare airport. On my drive from the airport it looked like almost any drive from the airport of most of the major US cities and I was not sure I had made the right decision. But as a self acclaimed connoisseur of a lot things and an avid lover of the finer things that life has to offer, I was not going to give up. The visit to downtown started with The Loop, the central business district of Chicago which is bound at the North and West by the Chicago River and the East by Lake Michigan. Things just started to get better from here.
In retrospect, the most favourite part of my trip (if I am forced to choose one) was the architectural tour on the Chicago River. It was amazing learning about the history of Chicago, the history of the major buildings that make-up the beautiful skyline of this beautiful city, its architectural styles and more. Some of the architectural beauties, popularly known as skyscrapers, stood tall in all their majestic grandeur. Some of my personal favourites are the John Hancock Center, the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) the Neo-Gothic Tribune Tower and not forgetting one of the new additions to the skyline, the Trump International Hotel & Tower.
If you visited Chicago without visiting the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, with its eyepopping views of Chicago and beyond, then you have to visit Chicago again. When we got there and I saw the queue of humans, snaking around the block then I understood the essence of getting there early (we were in the queue for over an hour) since my friend had been rushing me all morning. Over 1.3million people a year visit the Willis Tower (formerly called the Sears Tower) and take the super fast elevator ride to the Skydeck. The Skydeck is located on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower. It is one of the most breathtaking sights I have experienced.
You can see a lot of the major Chicago Landmarks and view the horizon as far as your eyes can endure. If you are bravehearted like me, you can step out onto the Ledge. The Ledge is a glass enclosed balcony that pops out from the building letting you have a clear view like no other to the bottom. Since I am a lover of arts, I had to make a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago. The Art institute of Chicago is one of the top places to visit if you find yourself in Chicago. It is known for one of the largest impressionist collections outside Paris. You will see works from Van Gogh, Degas, Monet just to mention a few. Among its permanent collection are masterpieces like Van Gogh’s ‘The Bedroom’, Pablo Picasso’s ‘The Old Guitarist, and my personal favourite Georges Seurat’s ‘A Sunday afternoon on the island of La Grande Jatte’.
The art institute expanded in 2009 and opened the Modern Wing and the galleries of this wing feature art from ancient Greece, Japan, Africa and the Americas. Another place you should visit especially if you find yourself in Chicago during the summer is ‘The Navy Pier’. It occupies more than 50 acres of prime lake front real estate and is home to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and also houses a lot of restaurants, parks, gardens and museums. There was an amazing live band playing in one of the open air joints where I had an opportunity to show my dance moves.
I was also fortunate to catch the 2015 Chicago Air and Water Show. In its 57th year this annual free event showcases military and civilian aircraft and boat teams. You can take a walk down the ‘Magnificent Mile’ starting from Michigan Avenue to Oak Street. I felt like I was on a movie set since everything seemed surreal from the amazing public art and sculptures literally littered around the city. I had the opportunity to see these human creations from the Cloud Gate by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor, to the big head sculpture ‘Looking into my dreams, Awilda’ by Spanish artist and sculptor Jaume Plensa’s, The Crown Fountain. Chicago with is numerous nicknames and home to some of the most popular Americans – President Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey- was indeed a splendor. If you find yourself in the mid-west of the North American Continent , take my word, a trip to Chi-town will be like no other!
Mayokun Aduwo is an avid traveler and a full time HR professional with IBM, based out of India. When she is not busy with corporate deadlines, she is busy exploring the world, literally. This is a personal account of her