The Great Escape travel blog

We arrived at Rachel and Rick's in Oak Park on Sunday evening. We felt very obvious arriving in this very nice neighbourhood in our rather large and rattly vehicle which we parked in the street outside their very nice house.

Rick and Rachel were out and instead, to our surprise, we were greeted by their elderly neighbours Bill and Alberta who offered us the shade of their veranda until Rick and Rachel returned. We accepted their kind offer and ascended the steps where we colasped into old fashioned, comfortable chairs. We swaped stories and heard how they had had lived in their house for over 40 years, had been to London to see the Rolling Stones a few years before and that Bill had worked on projects that had sent equipment to the moon!

Rick and Rachel arrived back with their daughter Charlotte and Rachel's mother Sy. We chatted for a while and drank champagne before heading off to The Palmerhouse Hotel in downtown Chicago.

We woke the next morning raring to go and to do as much as we could on our list of things we wanted to do:

1. Look at some architecture.

2. Go to an art gallery

3. Go to a baseball game

4. Eat a Chicago style hot dog

5. Go to the top of one of either the John Hancock or Sears (now Willis) building.

Chicago is known for its architecture so we were keen to educate ourselves a little bit. We wandered into Millenium Park and came across the most beautiful things. At the southwest corner are the Crown Foundations twin, 50-foot fountain towers. In addition to the cascading water, the towers display video images of various Chicagoans and lights. Children (as well as youthful- spirited adults) played in the shallow water between the two towers and delighted in the spray from the fountains. We also stumbled across Anish Kapoor's sculpture knicknamed 'The Bean' - weighing in at a mear 110-tons. Its smooth, shinney surface reflects the suroundings. It really is a thing of beauty. The centerpiece of Millennium Park is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, a bandshell designed by Frank Gehry. Unfortunately, we weren't actually there at the correct time to go to a concert but we were able to wander around and take a good look.

After Millenium Park we caught the architectual boat tour for a trip around the water ways. I can't recommend this enough. The guides are brilliant and the tour gives you a chance to see Chicago while sitting on deck, enjoying the sunshine away from the bussle of the busy streets. When this finished we were in desperate need of refreshments so we took the lift to the top of the John Hancock building and enjoyed a couple of glass of wine and feeling very loosened up we headed off to Zanies for an evening of comedy.

Whoever tells you that baseball is a great game needs their head read !! The following afternoon we took the L (the train) to Cellular Field Stadium to watch the White Sox play the Yankies. We were fully prepared for the duration of the game and settled down with a beer and Chicago style hot dog (yummy). We only got halfway through the game before leaving. The game is boring, boring, boring!

The following day we met with an old friend and his lovely wife before heading back to Oak Park. Still on our quest for architectural education we spent the afternoon at Frank Lloyd Write's first home and studio. Sounds like he was a very colourful character but very talented all the same. With most of our 'to do' list done, we spent one more enjoyable day in Oak Park with Rick and Rachel before heading east before rush hour.

(photos to follow)

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