Chicago, Chicago

Train was indeed the slow way to get to Chicago, but it was comfortable and relaxing. The day’s adrenalin shot was provided by the taxi driver who took us the few blocks to the hotel at breakneck speed. The Silversmith is a boutique hotel excellently situated next to the L (more later) and one block from the Art Museum, two blocks from the park and the lakefront and no blocks at all from lots of eateries.

We managed to cram a lot into our first day here: we breakfasted on porridge, crossed three highways with 4, 6 and 8 lanes respectively to reach the famous Anish Kapoor stainless steel sculpture and the new Frank Gehry auditorium (our third Gehry in a year!). We strolled along the lake front enjoying the inshore breeze, visited the Architecture Institute and then took a light lunch at a really innovative Italian Restaurant yards from our front door. On entry we were given a credit card which you swipe at each counter where you order anything, including at the bar. When you want to leave you simply hand the card to the girl at the checkout desk and pay. No calling for the bill, no hunting for the waiter when you want a coffee, you determine the tempo. I thought it was great, and the food was prepared in front of our eyes.

We then decided to experiment with a new theatre experience. We took the famous “L” (elevated railway) from right outside the hotel door to a suburb called Belmont, to see if would could get tickets for the Blue Man Show. We risked $6 on the train fare to save the $8.75 charge for booking on line, and it worked: They had tickets, so we went for a frozen yoghourt and encountered yet another new experience – self service yoghourt sold by weight. Walking to and from the yoghourt parlour we realised that we were in the heart of the gay quarter, and we even saw male table dancers performing as we passed a bar or two. The area made Manchester’s Canal Street look positively straight.

The Blue Man Show is extraordinary: three blue men who don’t speak for 90 minutes, but who conduct so many visual gags. We wished young Tom could have been with us to see and hear the variety of drumming. Since it is Mother’s Day here, there were many parties of two and three generations so we don’t think we were the oldest there.

We returned to the hotel via a different L line and decided (very untypically) to return to the same Italian restaurant, from which we have just returned having had pizza and wine (Gwen) and pasta and beer (Peter).

Now we are blogging and unwinding with good in-room coffee (a smart capsule machine with both caf and decaf coffee available) and hoping that tomorrow’s weather will permit an architectural boat trip.

Flying home tomorrow and still so much we could do and enjoy.

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