Winging it in the Windy City, Chicago, Illinois.
We’ve spent the week falling in love with Chicago: we love the El train, the people, the music, the shady history, the architecture, the density of cultural stuff and the fabulous food.
*We went to a reading by Bill Bryson at the Chicago Public Library – fabulous (free!) entertainment. It’s well worth checking the library’s website for upcoming events, but we were lucky enough to just stumble in at the right moment while on a quest for free wifi (which they also have).
*We went twice to the superb Field Museum as they had two consecutive free days. Full price admission is $29.50 so check their website for their regular free days. Highlights for me were the sections on the Ancient Americans but they also have heaps of dinosaur skeletons, Egyptian artefacts, stuffed birds and mammals, and, perhaps surprisingly, a whole exhibit on evolution.
*The contemporary Art Museum was free on Tuesday and currently has a delightful Calder exhibition – see if you can catch one of the free tours at 1pm, 2pm and 6pm.
*The Chicago Art Institute houses a sublime collection to rival any art museum in the Country. Thursday evenings are free (from 5pm) – My favourites were Hopper’s Nighthawks and a chance to see American Gothic but there was lots to like and they have a great brochure that helps you see the collection highlights if time is short.
*We spent Friday night at Rosa’s lounge to see Lurrie Bell play the blues – it was a wonderfully fun night – well worth the budget blow out.
*Second City: we saw “Spoiler Alert” on the main stage where the energetic and copiously talented Julie is musical director. It was a thoroughly enjoyable show, unafraid to really comment on contemporary issues. The free improv show after the late show was fun too. For those familar with “Boom” I’d say that while Second City really shines with their sketches, Boom Chicago in Amsterdam’s improv skills tend to be a little more honed.
*Chicago’s architecture and public art is second to none. Millenium Park draws shutter-bug tourists to photograph the brilliant mirrored “bean” sculpture which reflects the city’s skyline in gleaming distortion. We couldn’t help but be as entranced as everyone else.
*Quimby’s eclectic independent book and zine store is worth a look. According to our host, Randi “Everybody love’s Quimby’s” and there’s a lot to like: a book store that gives a high-profile to graphic novels, zines, counter-culture books and lots of thought-provoking fiction – long may it remain a local institution.