Sunday 19 October 2014

Second City stars

It seems a service too far, but sometimes hotels include a set of scales in their bathrooms. This trip, however, the irresistible temptation to step on them and ruin the holiday hasn’t been a penance, simply because I’ve done so much walking, and despite all the freely-available (literally, often) delicious food I haven’t gained any weight at all. Today was a case in point, the entire afternoon being spent on the move.

The day began with a hike, back into Lincoln Park to make the most of a sunny morning, to re-take some photos, check up on those hideaway rhinos again (nup) and absorb a bit of the local vibe. Mostly it involved people walking, running, cycling, exercising dogs, playing soccer and gazing out to what it is still really hard not to call the sea. There were waves, a sandy beach, a distant horizon… There were also geese and squirrels, both in large numbers, almost distracting from the classic skyscraper skyline.
Dutiful tourists – and also in possession of complimentary CityPass booklets – we duly ascended the Hancock Tower to gaze over the city and lake; and then did the same thing at the Willis (Sears) Tower, which was very much more crowded. The plebs had a (gasp!) two-hour wait to get to the top but our passes allowed us to bypass most of that, though there was still queuing involved. I suppose the view is a bit better, being higher, and you can see the impressive motorway junction – though not Lincoln Park so well; but it’s marginal, and the queues at the Hancock Tower were noticeably less.

The Cloud Gate was also heaving, so much so that I can hardly believe that in April I got a photo with no-one in it – though that was early morning.
Then I returned to Lincoln Park to prowl the streets, admiring the pretty 3-storey wooden, brick and stone houses, lining streets that are carpeted yellow right now with fallen robinia frisia leaves. I checked up on the rhinos again (nup) then detoured into the Chicago Museum of History for a dose of museum guilt – really, it’s very well done and tells some riveting stories extremely well, especially the current temporary exhibition focused on 1968 – and then I went to explore the Old Town.

More lovely houses, trees, interesting shops, restaurants, people in bars noisily following the Chicago Bears v. Miami Dolphins football game, disconsolate young Anatha sitting behind her footpath table not selling her cupcakes, more dogs, and a surprising number of comedy theatres. Second City was one of them, and their ‘Apes of Wrath’ show tonight was excellent – clever, funny and lively. I have to say that *cough* the audience member selected to go on stage to take part in the Wolverine cosplay sketch was a highlight. I mean that literally – I had noticed I was sitting under a particularly bright light earlier on: that’s a warning sign, take it from me.

So, it was a busy day, and full of enjoyment - although, sadly, completely empty of rhinos.

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