Ahhh Chicago. The coldest winter I’ve had in my life, prettiest city I’ve ever seen, and the best clubbing I’ve experienced in America.
When I decided to be an Au Pair, I was determined that I would be living in New York City. I imagined myself riding the subway, eating pretzels on the street, catching a show on Broadway; all while looking oh so fabulous-Sex in the City style.
I did have a few families from New York contact me but they all wanted someone after Christmas, and I had no intention of hanging around NZ for that long.
So after talking to my host mum (who was not only a kiwi, but lived in Chicago), I made a snap decision. “Well I’m happy with you guys if you’re happy with me!” I blurted, fully aware that I should have taken a few days to weigh my options (or at least so I didn’t appear too eager). The deal was struck, and I arrived mid-fall, my winter clothes from New Zealand already inappropriate for the current weather.
I had visited Chicago for a few days in 2007, and my most vivid memory was cruising down the river in a water taxi, buildings reaching into the sky on either side of me. It was that moment that fell in love with Chicago.
I’m a city girl at heart and I always will be. Sure I like to ride horses, see the countryside and all that jazz, but after a couple of days I start getting antsy.
I like being able to find a place to eat at 2am in the morning, and seeing buskers on the streets, people everywhere, and the feeling that “somethings always happening”. There’s a feeling of anonymity that comes with big cities that you just can’t get with small towns and I love it.
Chicago is the third largest city in the US (following New York and Los Angeles), and there’s so much to do that you should definitely stay for more than a few days.
I saw my first baseball game at Wrigley field and I was lucky enough to be sitting next to someone who not only knew everything about baseball, but he’d recently written a paper about the stadium too. So for three hours I had my head filled with facts. I’d like to apologise to that guy and tell him I learnt more about baseball watching my host kids little league than I did watching that game.
It was still a great day though, and something everyone should experience if they’re visiting the states. Americans get so into the game, they’re mocking each other, yelling stuff at the players, threatening to fight, and making up over beer. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life.
Check out the House of Blues for some gospel music that will blow you away. These people are amazing, and the production was so full of energy that I didn’t want it to end. They even get people up on stage to give it a go X-factor style (but without the booing).
You also have to have a look at “The Bean.” The real name of this sculpture is Cloud Gate but no one actually calls it that. You can get interesting views of the skyline in its reflection on a clear day.
The people in Chicago are friendly without being fake, and I give props to them for being able to survive the cold there every winter. They’re out there every morning scraping ice off their cars, plowing their driveways and just “getting on with it” which reminds me a bit of the kiwi attitude.
Lake Michigan is beautiful, although parts of it are often closed due to sewage which is pretty gross.
The photo below was taken from the John Hancock building. There’s a restaurant on the 95th floor, and of course you can’t take pictures unless you eat there. We decided to use the bathroom and were rewarded by this view:
Sometimes it’s hard to explain exactly why a city calls to a part of us. I’m sure someone out there feels the same way about Cleveland or Madison as I do about Chicago, and I can list why this city is great all day without knowing the reason why I love it so much. I think what it comes down to is that I could visit this city again and again throughout my life, and never get enough of it. And for me that’s saying a lot.