Wednesday, November 5

Cool Chicago

We got a much needed break from the usual with fall break a few weeks back already. Joel and I along with a few other exchange students jetted off to Chicago for a long weekend, and I would have never expected how much I'd fall in love with the windy city.

Our hostel (Holiday Jones) was located in the hip Wicker Park area, which was full of cute little shops and quirky restaurants, bars and cafes. I just have to say that I have never been to a hostel this nice. We paid around $34/night for a private room that was cleaner than any other hostel I've ever stayed at. The staff was extremely friendly as well, and we got some nice tips on what to do around the city. The location was honestly perfect. The metro took us there straight from the airport in 30 minutes, and the ride downtown took less than 10 minutes. If you ever find yourself in Chicago, definitely look up this place.

On our first real day, Joel and I explored downtown and spent about 3 hours at the Apple Store because the camera on my phone suddenly decided to stop working. Chicago was also super cold, which actually made me strangely happy. I never really thought I liked the cold, but the seemingly never-endless hot days in Arkansas were somehow getting to me I guess. Now that it's been a while and Arkansas is starting to cool down quite rapidly, I'm wishing I'd never thought this way. Oh well...

That night we also got tickets to a pre-season basketball game with the Chicago Bulls playing against the Atlanta Hawks. I've never really been a big basketball fan but I actually really enjoyed the game, which turned out to be quite intense in the end with the Bulls catching up and I think beating the Hawks by one point in the last second?

A "German" style house in Wicker Park.

The next day, Joel and I had signed up for a food tour in the Wicker Park/Bucktown area we were staying in. This was definitely one of the, if not the highlight of our trip for me at least. This was a 3 hour walking tour centered around local restaurants, but we also got an intense crash course on the area itself and especially the architecture. The history of Wicker Park is actually pretty interesting, and it wasn't really surprising that the fanciest of the buildings are going for over a million dollars... 

Our food tour in pictures.

The different foods we got to taste on the tour were a traditional Chicago hot dog, some amazing hot chocolate from Mindy Segal's hot chocolate themed restaurant (with to-die-for homemade marshamallows!), pizza and hand crafted beer from Piece, a delicious falafel pita from Sultan's Market and finally some crazy good, made on the stop liquid nitrogen ice cream from iCream

First row: Mindy's Hot Chocolate and Bucktown.
Second row: Yes we went to the bean. And random downtown.
Third row: Chicago selfie and Joel in a bear suit in Urban Outfitters.
Fourth row: Our Shaw's Crab House lunches, and cheering at the Signature Room Lounge.
Last row: View from the 95th floor of the Hancock tower, and night skyline from Navy Pier.

The rest of the time we spent exploring the different areas, mainly Bucktown and downtown (the Loop). On Saturday night we had tickets to go see A$AP Ferg and Skrillex on Navy Pier, and despite lining up for ages we ended up having quite a good time. I've never really listened to Skrillex and it's not my type of music, but the show was quite incredible. Afterwards we met some of the other exchange students in the Hancock tower and our Chicago holiday came to the perfect end when while still at the end of an hour-long line we were for some reason handed the best table of the place with an insane view of the city.

Thank you Chicago. I can't wait to come back.

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