Sweet home Chicago! (Picture heavy)

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Alex
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Sweet home Chicago! (Picture heavy)

Post by Alex »

As promised a little trip report! First off - why Chicago? there are 3 main reasons - i hadn't used up my holiday from work and if I didn't take it I lost it, so had to go somewhere for a week! The 747-400s are being retired in the next few years and I wanted to make sure I got a chance to fly one before that, and looking up BA routes in February, the cheapest one was Chicago! When I saw this I couldn't not go - particularly as Chicago has been high on my list of must sees for a while as it's the home of the blues brothers!

I got to Heathrow about 09:30 and checked in, got through security etc with plenty of time, ready for boarding just before 12. At the gate they call out a list of passenger names and ask them to come forward, including mine ... i'm thinking great, must be an upgrade! Nope... TSA additional screening, so after a few drugs swabs and bag searches, I got to board first!

https://i.imgur.com/ddat76x.jpg

The 747 was as great as I was expecting - there's just no substitute for 4 Rolls Royce RB211's to get you out of London in style! Watched a few films to pass the time - this 747 had been upgraded with the new in flight entertainment system and was really smart inside!

https://i.imgur.com/HQk56q1.jpg

Dinner is served:

https://i.imgur.com/g769rP4.jpg

Getting close:

https://i.imgur.com/KelEeGY.jpg

I was hoping for a great view of Lake Michigan and the city as we landed at O'Hare ... but instead saw ... nothing. Definitely the worst visibility landing I've had in a passenger jet, couldn't see the top of the tower from the runway! Got to love ILS! Video to follow :)

On the ground in the fog:

https://i.imgur.com/rWatJFY.jpg

Found my way through the terminal and onto the CTA (chicago public transit was awesome! trains pretty much everywhere and ran often). I was staying in a hostel close to Addison Red line which meant a trip into central on the blue line, and then a change to the red line, quite a long journey.

https://i.imgur.com/SLIklSn.jpg

Addison red line station at night:

https://i.imgur.com/ZqXHrF2.jpg

Guess where I'm next door too ... "1060 West Addison, that's Wrigley field?"
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Got some rest after a days travelling, but woke up nice and early the next day ready to start exploring! As I've mentioned - a big part of my trip was to visit locations from the 1980 classic The Blues Brothers!

Spot of breakfast in the loop to start:

https://i.imgur.com/f7RAbyg.jpg

Then I caught the biggest commuter train I've ever seen to Joliet, a suburb about an hour outside central Chicago:

https://i.imgur.com/2uAhTsg.jpg

https://i.imgur.com/ejtGBLf.jpg

There was one particular picture I wanted to take in Joliet, which I'm sure will look familiar!
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https://i.imgur.com/phulLmx.jpg

There wasn't much else to see but the prison, but I had a quick wander round before getting back on the train, and a chat with this cool guy at the bus stop who was asking all about life in England!

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Next few days I spent some time downtown in "the loop"

https://i.imgur.com/oHPyCwe.jpg

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The building in the background is the Chicago board of trade building - better known as Wayne tower in the Christopher Nolan Batman films!

https://i.imgur.com/pfrQmg5.jpg
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Next on the Blues Brothers tour in the loop was Van buren library - looks a little different to how it did in the film though! The city has moved on in 40 years!
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https://i.imgur.com/LC4Mfsp.jpg

https://i.imgur.com/JAvfM9h.jpg

Also 660 North Rush Street ... formerly known as the Chez Paul restaurant:
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https://i.imgur.com/H1nMGaC.jpg

All this exploring made me hungry ... but damn is American food good! my waistline is glad I was only here for the week! enormous portions!

https://i.imgur.com/oc8yDzq.jpg

All this for ... $10!

Next day I did a walking tour from the Chicago architecture foundation - really interesting buildings and a lot of architectural history here! The tour was of the "Pedway" system - a few miles of interconnected basements and walkways allowing you to get across the city without coming above the surface! ideal in the cold weather and a favorite with commuters.

https://i.imgur.com/kAydx05.jpg

We walked through all sorts of high rise basements, underground train stations, hotels, department stores ... but of most interesting to me ... government buildings. Namely the Richard J Daley Center and city hall!

https://i.imgur.com/vOArmGN.jpg

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"That's where they've got that picasso!"
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Cool model of the city at the architecture foundation:

https://i.imgur.com/CtTjtrf.jpg

I was there for Chinese New Year - so I couldn't not go to Chinatown!

https://i.imgur.com/GpwBNqF.jpg

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Really cool parade! Started snowing gently towards the end and I went and got some food, and when I came out the restaurant it looked like this!

https://i.imgur.com/AYbsbIZ.jpg

https://i.imgur.com/173c2FI.jpg

Near Chinatown was another familiar sight ...

https://i.imgur.com/sYR7QOs.jpg
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That evening I was recommended a local blues bar/club ... and wow! Easily some of the best live music I've seen! (http://www.kingstonmines.com) Open till 4am ... two bands, good food, cold beer! Videos to come too :)

https://i.imgur.com/Sv8PA38.jpg
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Had to finish the evening with a cheese steak on the way home ... so much better than the kebabs of Northern Europe!

https://i.imgur.com/EtEPmTS.jpg

Now for one of the blues brothers locations I was most excited to see ... the South Shore cultural center...
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Instantly recognizable - this place has probably changed the least out of everywhere I visited!

https://i.imgur.com/kSW4xC8.jpg

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On route was Jackson Park - home of the museum of science and industry, but also, where the Illinois Nazi party hold their rally on the bridge!
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This one was quite hard to spot in the winter!

https://i.imgur.com/EHK2mqe.jpg

https://i.imgur.com/yvFhYXg.jpg

Another one that isn't all that easy to spot at first glance was 300 East 47th street ... home to "Ray's music exchange" - which was actually Shelly's loan company, which no longer exists! but the building is still there:

https://i.imgur.com/0JTkxXF.jpg

https://i.imgur.com/OsYO6oH.jpg

https://i.imgur.com/u3CwqHa.jpg

I didn't hang around too long here - the thing with visiting obscure parts of town from a film shot 40 years ago is that some of them aren't exactly touristy - and some feel borderline dangerous (Chicago isn't known for being a particularly safe city!) and this was one of them!
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Nice early start the next day but cold! (-7 Celsius) so I headed into the loop to find somewhere indoors to visit and decided on the Chicago Cultural Centre - this is a really cool building with lots to see!

https://i.imgur.com/lpgDeIx.jpg
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Also visited Union station:
https://i.imgur.com/HFbZ3bU.jpg

Mmm... donuts
https://i.imgur.com/74Kkc3B.jpg
Must have been the accent...every time I ordered one donut or cookie in a Dunkin' donuts...they gave me two!

Also went to see the Chicago Auto show as that was in town:
https://i.imgur.com/acL5Pfj.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/5YLoVjg.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/8z3V6dH.jpg

The brand new Mazda 3:
https://i.imgur.com/mV69pvx.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/fcH7ecJ.jpg

Nearing the end of the week now! so i made sure to go and see the loop at night time - and the view from the John Hancock centre 1000ft up!

https://i.imgur.com/PDgIkWM.jpg
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Sadly all good things must come to an end and before I knew it it was time to head back to O'Hare and home ... but that did mean another trip on the Queen of the skies! Had time to quickly visit the zoo at Lincoln park:

https://i.imgur.com/cLAedbP.jpg

Totally free and quite a lot to see!

https://i.imgur.com/bnD6FY6.jpg

Time for a bit of planespotting!

https://i.imgur.com/PU8g49K.jpg

Nearly time to board:

https://i.imgur.com/CxoOyzX.jpg

This one hadn't had the updated IFE but not a problem as it was a night flight and I wanted to sleep:

https://i.imgur.com/vC65oSp.jpg

Off we go:

https://i.imgur.com/8E8QTvJ.jpg

Curry this time!
https://i.imgur.com/SzCpgxa.jpg

Woke up my side of the Atlantic in time for a really pretty arrival back to London! great views over the Welsh mountains and then the city.

https://i.imgur.com/2tsP0gJ.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/7vC7CoG.jpg

Back at London Heathrow!
https://i.imgur.com/165nIIf.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/TNNaACs.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/VJUX01l.jpg

Hope you've enjoyed this little write up! I upgraded to a Gopro hero 5 before I left (couldn't be stuck in 1080p any longer!) so these pictures are a mixture of that, my work iPhone and my Nexus phone - but there's lots of Go-pro video still to be uploaded once I edit it!
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-Alex

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Re: Sweet home Chicago! (Picture heavy)

Post by CDMC »

well you weren't kidding when you said its picture heavy :D

im still looking thru and reading
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Re: Sweet home Chicago! (Picture heavy)

Post by Maxidyne »

So cool you visited all those filming locations from the Blues Brothers. That clock tower: could it be the Wrigley Building?

Do you know where they filmed the legendary chicken gauze scene?

What amazed me the most of all these photos is that 70s & 80s vibe Chicago still has. Food looks really tasty, but not good for the waste line as you said :D

That locomotive is sure impressive, damn it looks tough!

Did you see the poverty stricken areas as well? It's one of the poorest cities in the US, or the poorest as I understood from Top Gear and The Grand Tour. You can buy a detached house for 4000,- dollars or something in that neighborhood.

Did you see by any change any O'Hare Towing trucks? They had there own show about their work years ago. Was called: Wrecked: Life in the Crash Lane. Watched it, pretty nice show.

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Did you go alone on the trip?

Looks like you had a great time in Chicago, glad you enjoyed it! I enjoyed browsing through all the beautiful photos, thanks for sharing it with us.
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Re: Sweet home Chicago! (Picture heavy)

Post by Se7en »

Really enjoyed the photo journey you captured, almost as if I went there! :) Chicago looks really beautiful, especially at night with snow!
That donut tho, the perfect Homer donut! :D
Also love the fact that you went and visited some places you've seen in the movies! That's totally something I would do as well if I went to USA, especially to Miami or New York. :)

Seen any nice USA big rigs during the stay?
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Re: Sweet home Chicago! (Picture heavy)

Post by CDMC »

i was wondering about big rigs too. that donut reminded me of the simpsons movie :D
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Re: Sweet home Chicago! (Picture heavy)

Post by Kjetil-Hestvik »

awesomeness overload :D
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Re: Sweet home Chicago! (Picture heavy)

Post by Alex »

Glad you enjoyed it guys! Will try and get the videos up as soon as I can.

@Maxidyne - it's not the Wrigley building (that's the white one with a clock!) but is the one that the police boats sailed past in the film! Actually called the "Reid Murdoch building"

The chicken gauze - the one with the country music? Sadly as far as I can tell this was a set and not an actual bar so probably universal studios in LA! I knowthat's where the exterior for that scene was filmed.

Certainly quite a lot of poverty - gets worse the further south you went! But actually homelessness seemed low, I've seen more people on the streets around Oxford.

I didn't see any tow trucks from that company specifically but lots of "you will be towed" signs! My GoPro videos have a few of the trucks in I think! Seems to have been invaded by Volvo sleepers! Not so many of the mack/Peterbilt/freightliners as I was expecting. And yep, just on my own! It's good to travel by yourself sometimes I think (plus none of my friends were free or would have put up with my hours of wandering around finding old film locations!)

@Se7en - I had to buy the donut because it was the classic Simpsons one!
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-Alex

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