22nd June – 29th June 2017
As driving from Nashville to Chicago would take over 7 hours, we decided to stay somewhere about halfway to break up the journey. We chose St. Louis, famous for baseball, the Gateway Arch and Budweiser.
We went on a tour of the Anhueser-Busch Brewery, which brews Budweiser. It was a free tour, and you got to drink free beer, so it was a bit of a no brainer.
The tour was actually quite interesting, and talked through both the history of the brewery and the brewing process. Budweiser accounts for about 50% of the US market; it seems that this has come about mainly through very skilful marketing. Even 100 years before “Bud…. Weis… Errr” frogs or “Whaaasssssuuuuppp!!” they were ahead of the competition, and as a result now sell zillions of gallons of beer a year.
We did also visit the Gateway Arch (supposedly famous but we’d never heard if it) which looked a bit underwhelming from a distance but was better up close.
From there, onto Chicago. We were really looking forward to it; it was the one city in the US we specifically planned to visit before we started the trip. It didn’t disappoint.
We had 3 full days in Chicago, and in the end, it simply wasn’t enough. There is so much to see and do, we think we could have easily filled another couple of days. On our first day we got all cultured and visited the famed Art Institute. It had works by Monet, Picasso and Van Gogh, as well as some more modern pieces, some of which we didn’t really get. However, we still really enjoyed it.
In the afternoon, we visited Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs finally ended their 108 year wait for the World Series last year. They are clearly the most popular team in the city; it seems almost everyone has either a Cubs cap or t-shirt on, although I guess many are just tourists.
Apart from the stadium, we visited Sluggers, a local bar where you can have a go in some batting cages. I managed to hit most of the balls the machine sent my way, but to be honest the machine was set to the slowest setting, which I think is meant for 7-8 year olds.
In the evening, we went to the Signature Lounge in the Hancock Tower where we had a drink whilst watching the sun set over the city.
The second day was equally busy. We started a food tour of the local area, Wicker Park. It’s a bit hipster. It has some great restaurants, cafes and bars, and we went round trying some of the local specialities; Italian beef sandwich, falafel, donuts, beers, pizza and quite simply the best chocolate drink we have ever tasted in our lives. It was truly unbelievable; I thought Em might cry when she finished it.
In the afternoon, we went to the Field Museum, where we met Sue, the largest T-Rex fossil on the planet. We also went to the special Jurassic Park exhibit that was on, as it is one of my favourite films of all time. It contained some of the animatronics from the film in a themed tour. It was brilliant; this time it was me that wanted to cry when it was over.
We headed back from the museum, we walked along the water front before cutting back through a park. We found an open air cinema, where they were giving out massive tubs of ice cream. For free!
We sat down, and finished the whole tub in double quick time; it’s fair to say this wasn’t the healthiest day of our trip.
We woke the next morning feeling rather guilty at all the food we ate the day before, so decided to go for a run along the 606 (a pathway created along an old railway line, much like the High Line in New York). We ran for 4 miles, and it was a bit of a struggle, but we felt (a bit) better after.
In the afternoon, we went on an architecture themed tour of the city; it was much better than it sounds and much better than I had imagined. We learned lots of cool stuff about the city.
On our final evening, we went to see a baseball game. Sadly, the Cubs weren’t playing at home, but Chicago’s other team, the White Sox, were playing the Yankees, so we went to see them. We enjoyed it more than the last time we went to see one, probably because we had a better understanding of what was happening, and also because it was a better game. At the start of the 8th innings, a massive downpour had the crowd running for shelter. As the Yankees looked to have an unassailable lead, we took it as a cue to leave.
The next morning, we were up early to catch our flight back to Canada. This time, both of us wanted to cry.
CHICAGO IS AWESOME!!!!!
(Posted by Ben)