Wow, it’s been a while since I posted anything! All I can say is that time is not a luxury I have much of here. I’ll write more about that soon, but for now, here’s a little detour…a detour to Chicago!
Work here is tough and, unlike teaching in the UK, days off are few and far between. So, when Thanksgiving meal plans fell through I decided to bite the bullet and book a flight. I have a list of places I want to visit while I’m here in the States, and so with a long weekend it seemed ripe to tick one of those cities off the list. I chose Chicago.
If you don’t already know this about me, let me tell you that I am a complete and utter book geek. My winter scarf? A gryffindor scarf. My graduation cake? Hunger Games in cake and icing. My calendar? Marked with book release dates and character birthdays. I make no apology for any of this.
Why am I telling you this? Because I chose Chicago because of a book. One of my favourite books is ‘Divergent’ by Veronica Roth. Or, to be more exact, it’s ‘Allegiant’, which is the third in the series and which left me struggling to breath after sobbing at the way it all ended. But I digress… Divergent is set in Chicago. A post-apocalyptic Chicago, but Chicago nonetheless. So naturally, as an unashamed fangirl, I had to visit the city. While everyone was driving or jetting off to see family and eat turkey, I was packing a carry-on and flying to the Windy City solo.
I won’t bore you with all the details since this is anything but a travel writing blog, but you can see for yourself most of what I got up to in the photos. I arrived Wednesday night after air traffic control problems having caused a delay and an unavailability of Uber meaning I had to shell out $54 for a taxi to get to my hotel. But the hotel was good, the bed big enough to sleep a whole family, and the bathroom clean. Also, I had planned ahead and packed chocolate and a good book so a quiet evening in was perfect.
My first Thanksgiving in America was an experience. I woke early (my body clock just never can distinguish between working and non-working days) and was on N. State Street at 7:15, claiming a perfect viewing spot for the parade. The smart people had brought coffee and camping chairs; I had just brought myself. The parade was good fun: I love a good drum line, so the endless stream of marching bands entertained me immensely. That, and the dog riding a skateboard-rocket type thing. After the parade, I ate a good meal and thought of what I was thankful for. I even embraced American tradition after the meal and watched football… Manchester United were playing.
The rest of my few days was spent walking: walking to shops (I succumbed and shopped in the Black Friday sales, but just in Disney and Barnes and Noble because that’s how I roll), walking to parks, walking to a giant shiny jelly bean to take a photo of my reflection for no reason whatsoever, and walking to places that served gluten-free fare (including a scrumptious brownie with hot fudge sauce that then caused me to actually need to shop in the Black Friday sales for clothes a size larger). I explored Art Galleries and got lost walking backward streets to find intriguing buildings and characters; I walked the famous Navy Pier, which in all honesty is nothing in comparison to a good British seaside pier (sorry, America). I walked, I looked, I ate.
Chicago is a city at turns beautiful and at other turns heartbreaking, full of kind people and people who have fallen on hard times. There’s flash skyscrapers and dozens of homeless people sleeping in doorways. You’re just as likely to be on the receiving end of some generous conversation with a local as you are of an angry driver because you haven’t crossed the street quick enough. But it’s comparisons are what make it memorable. That, and the fact that I stayed next to the building of the Choosing Ceremony in Divergent. Like I said, I’m a book geek.