Normally I pride myself on being an independent traveller but every now and then when you’re in a city the size of Chicago and you want to cram in as much as possible, there really is only one way to travel – bus top!
I had done well yesterday on the architectural front but Chicago is renowned for so much more – gangsters, music, presidents, talk show hosts, movies and of course chewing gum to name but a few so I gleefully climbed up the top of the tour bus to indulge in the easy way out.
Despite clear blue skies, it was freezing, 5 degrees celsius during the day, lower at night but coldest of all from the top of the bus where you could feel the windy city cut through you like a packet of salts! Luckily I’d packed a scarf and tight fitting hat (regular caps were going flying!) so rugged up as best I could for the sake of the views – a task made much easier by the live guides. Another ‘scene’ Chicago is famous for is live comedy and it would seem that working as a bus top tour guide is an ideal way to cut ones teeth with a captive, easily amused audience.
Again, far too much ground was covered to recount but much ado was made about local heroes – President Barack Obama and First Lady Oprah Winfrey who was in town recording her final shows. According to the various guides, she also seems to own an apartment in every other building. It would be remiss of me not to mention driving down the street that hosted the parade in Ferris Buellers Day off as well as various sites from the Batman movies.
After completing a lap, I realised that although entertaining, the various guides had very different information to impart so after another quick visit to ‘The Bean’, I decided to do a second lap but this time from the warmth of downstairs. I got off here and there to take a closer look at the different sites before deciding I was very hungry – time for some gastro-tourism.
I couldn’t leave Chicago without trying their culinary contribution to the world – deep-dish pizza – like a regular pizza only with so many toppings that its almost a quiche! I headed to one of the many famous pizza places – Goirdano’s – where judging by the size of the portion served to me, they’re not meant to be eaten alone but I did my best before heading out to Wrigleyville.
For your information, Wrigleyville is indeed related to the chewing gum. The company began and still has it’s headquarters in Chicago (see photo from yesterdays entry for the spectacular building they call home). Apparently, the Wrigley company started life selling soap and baking powder, in which they included a stick of gum as a gimmick. Before long, the gum was more popular that the original product so they ditched the soap and kept the gum.
My reason for going to Wrigleyville was not to visit the home of the Chicago Cubs as you might expect from a sports fan like me. No, I was in search of the Chicago Diner which proudly boasts being ‘Meat Free since ’83’. On the walk there, I passed countless cafes and restaurants vying for passing trade but when I got to the diner, the line was out the door with a long list already being taken. Finally it paid off to be a Nigel-No-Friends as I was shown right though to a single seat at the bar.
I couldn’t resist the ‘radical rueben’ with an organic beer to wash it down but I’m sorry to report that in my diminished state and already full of pizza, I was unable to complete my mission, much less get to the dessert I had been dreaming of ever since sneaking a peek at their website. When I’d had as much as I could manage, I asked them to send the rest to the starving children in Africa, paid my bill and walked back to the station behind a very flamboyant local practising his various routines to the works of Lady Gaga.
Back at Nick’s, who I still hadn’t seen since checking in, I packed my bag and climbed in bed for one more sleep before Dallas.