California was no doubt the best state to start our American adventures in, and we’ve had some of the best days in the Golden State. But all good things must come to an end and it was time to head out of San Francisco and explore something new. Indianapolis was our destination, but Chicago held us captive in a 7 hour layover.
Always wanting to find the cheapest travel option, we booked a flight to Chicago and settled for a bus ride to Indiana from there. Since we would be landing in another city we figured we may as well make the most of it and explore something new, so we booked a bus that gave us 7 hours to tour the Windy City.
And I don’t think we have made a better decision than this! As soon as I set my eyes upon Chicago I knew that 7 hours would never be long enough. Despite the bitterly cold air and gale force winds, the sun was shining, the skies were blue and the city was looking its finest. Landing at O’Hare, we took a train straight from the airport into the heart of Chicago. Neither of us knew anything about the city, and didn’t do a spot of research on it before we arrived. It may sound frantic and unorganised, but I loved it. We knew we had 7 hours and we knew we could only walk as far as our legs would take us with our heavy backpacks on our backs. With this in mind, we headed towards the lake and stopped at the closest park on the map. This turned out to be Millennium Park, where we would spend our first hour soaking up the beautiful sights sounds and cold winds of Chicago.
It’s hard to describe the beauty of Chicago. There’s structure to the city, forward planning and incredible landscaping. It’s a big city too, and I guess what made it such a nice place was the fact that, no matter how many buildings there were and how high they stood, there was always a park, garden or median strip breathing life into the modern architecture through lush, vibrant flowers and plants. It was fresh, it was clean and it was green.
We made it to Millennium Park where we saw The Bean, had a classic Chicago Hotdog and revelled in the architecture and good looks of the place. I had completely forgotten that The Bean was in Chicago, so it was a nice surprise when we found this giant metallic mirror shaped like a bean sitting at the front of the park with hundred of people taking selfies with it. I must admit, we were one of them. But you gotta forgive us, we tried our hardest to get one of our Snapchat’s onto the Chicago Live Story. :p Moving on, we walked down through a gorgeous park towards the lake. Runner ran, kids climbed the rock climbing walls, skated through the park and locals enjoyed their Sunday mornings. I had heart eyes for this city! And the lake didn’t disappoint either. The waters were a stunning turquoise blue, the boats rocked gently in the Marino, seagulls perched atop the sails and we enjoyed the picturesque views of the lake in the foreground of a beautiful city.
With no knowledge of where to go or what to do in Chicago, no one can blame us for making a B-line straight towards a ferris wheel we saw across the river.
“We will ride it if tickets cost less than $7.”
We would always make these agreements if we saw something we both wanted to do but knew in the back of our minds that it would probably be cost double the price we settled for. Well, the ferris wheel wasn’t even operational yet, so that settled that! But it turned out that we had walked into Navy Pier, which was also another gem of a place! A museum, aquarium, indoor garden and loads of cafe’s to choose from. We chose the indoor garden – basically a huge greenhouse that was warm inside, had benches to sit on and free wi-fi.
After a huge slice of pizza for lunch and a short break from the heavy walking it was time to leave. This is one of those cities that you know you will definitely come back to, but I am certainly glad we got to spend at least 7 hours here. This is what I love most about travelling. Sometimes it’s the unplanned, last-minute destinations you choose that you end up falling in love with most. And even if we did only get 7 hours in Chicago, then at least it was long enough to make me realise that I need more.