United States



163 days away


16 km / 10 miles since last post

59,198 km / 36,784 miles total


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Second Time Lucky

Our Route (to 09/04/2011)

Second Time Lucky

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Yesterday we had a bit of a lazy day. The weather wasn't too great, and we both decided to stay around the house. Stu had a bit of work he needed to get done, but there is not much else to report.

In the evening we had homemade fajitas for dinner, courtesy of Chaz. They were delicious, and finished off nicely with New York baked cheesecake for dessert.

Today, Stu and I headed off into downtown Chicago again. We were a bit concerned at not being able to get any cash out of any ATMs the other day, so Chaz kindly lent us enough money to get us about on the train. Fortunately, we found a Bank Of America ATM in town which did dispense some cash for us, which was a big relief.

We had a wander nearby Millennium Park again, getting some pictures of some of the nice buildings. We noticed a photography museum close by so we checked it out, but ended up being a bit naff. Good job it was free entry!

We took a walk up towards what is commonly called, Magnificent Mile. This is a long road full of expensive clothes shops. However, we weren't really here to go shopping. This road lead to the John Hancock Centre, a 100 story, 1,127 feet tall skyscraper (when measured to the top of its antenna masts, it stands at 1,506 feet tall). When it was completed in 1968 it was the tallest building in the world outside New York City. It is currently the fourth tallest building in Chicago and the sixth-tallest in the United States, after the Willis Tower, the Empire State Building, the Bank of America Tower, the Trump Tower Chicago, and the Aon Center.

Our reason for visiting is that visitors can pay to get to the top of the tower and admire the 360 degree views around the city. We stood in line ready to pay our money and ascend the tower. Whilst the weather had started a little misty earlier on, it had really started to clear and we hoped it would be fine. However, a woman who worked at the building advised us that the visibility at the top was still not great. We would be able to see out, but in two of the directions it was still misty and probably not worth it. Plus, the queue to go up to the top would mean waiting in line for around 45 minutes. This didn't sound at all appealing. Whilst it was a bit of a disappointment not to go up, especially after walking all the way here from the Millennium Park area, we didn't want to pay for a bad view, and have to wait 45 minutes for it. The woman advised us it would probably clear up after around 5pm, but that was a few hours away so it wasn't practical to wait until then. Instead, we decided to find our way back to a train line and head back to Chaz's place.

A little while after getting back, Chaz, Ellen and Pam (Ellen's Mum, who was staying for the weekend) returned home after catching a movie. After hearing about our disappointment at not seeing the view from the top of the John Hancock Centre, Ellen offered to drive Stu and I back down there to see the view (as by now it would have probably cleared). Chaz came with us too as he wanted to take a good panorama of the entire view too.

When we got down there is was much better than earlier. The weather had completely cleared, and to top it off there was barely a queue there at all. We managed to pay and get up in the lift in just a few minutes.

Chaz had mentioned that the coffee shop at the top was really good, so we grabbed a drink and snack first. I had the most delicious chocolate scone ever (even better than the ones I used to get at Baker's Delight back in Australia!)

After some refreshment we took a walk around the whole floor, taking in the view. While there was a little bit of haze on the west side where the sun was, the rest of it was really clear. After taking it all in, we decided to wait until after sunset so we could catch the night view too. It wasn't too much of a wait as the sun was already starting to set.

The night vow at the top was probably even more impressive than the daytime. Stu managed to get some awesome shots (helped by sneaking in his mini tripod, despite the 'No Tripod' rule).

After we got some good pictures we decided it was best to get going, as we knew that Ellen and Pam were sat back at the house waiting for us in order to get something for dinner and it was already gone 8pm. Unfortunately, what should have been a fairly straightforward journey back turned out to be quite a dragged out affair.

Firstly, we hadn't anticipated the long queue to get back into the lift to take us down the tower. It was fairly long so we probably waited here for a good fifteen minutes or so.

Once at the bottom we took a walk to the nearest train line, which was around a ten minute walk away. Here we got on a train easily enough as we weren't waiting for too long. However, just as we got on a fight must have started on the platform somewhere. The train driver got off to try and sort it out, while we sat on the train going nowhere. It probably took around ten minutes of sitting there before it finally got going. But we still had to change trains after a few stops, to get on the line back to Chaz's place. This would normally be fine, but for some reason the wait for the next train took ages. We must have been standing there for nearly half an hour before it finally came along.

This train was fairly straightforward, but unfortunately a load of drunk college guys got on. The girl I was sitting next to was chatting to them - well, actually she was shouting. It was so irritating as she didn't seem to mind shouting right across me, to talk to them - really annoying. Thankfully they all got off before us, but they were still on the train for most of the journey.

Finally we made it back to Chaz's place. By now it was a little too late to be venturing out to a restaurant, as we had originally planned. Instead we opted to get takeout food - we went for a place which does boneless chicken wings in various sauces. I have to say, pretty tasty!

We had previously had a couple of late nights, and it had a been a great day but the journey back into and out of downtown today had tired us out, so we headed to bed soon after our food.