Amtrak to Chicago – Chicago, Illinois, USA

From Muskegon
Being from Muskegon near Grand Rapids, it can't be said we're from a non urban area. No matter how much we boost home, we are not from uber urban grand tradition Chicago.

Amtrak to Chicago
On a Friday morning we are on Amtrak's Pere Marquette from Holland, Michigan to Chicago's Union Station. The train gets delayed as we travel on freight tracks, the few American passenger trains wait for track time. The train goes right through true industrial territory. You see U.S. Steel's Gary Works, its myriad of buildings. While stopped, we notice a fork lift contraption picking up a UPS semi trailer.

Once in Chicago, it's clear the Amtrak fare of $100.00 is a bargain. Near our hotel, parking is $30.00 per day. It's not the Chicago driving, it's the Chicago parking that eats up your funds.

The Big City
We have the big city dinner scheduled for Friday night. We cab it to the Chicago Chophouse on the recommendation of one of my instructors. The restaurant is set in an old brownstone building. Who used to live here? The walls are lined with black-and-white photos. We see the Chicago River full of sail powered schooners, also Benny Goodman and his band.

I pay $32.00 for a steak (my first time). It's worth it too. At home you can go a year without paying $30.00 for an entire meal. You can also go a year eating only at chain restaurants!

Our hotel, the Club Quarters, sits on Wacker Drive with a riverview. Due to fog the view isn't very viewable. A new Trump Towers is being built across the river. Looking down from the 18th floor, you see a small Silver John boat – the safety boat.

We shop Saturday, on foot. Fortunately for us, we find several stores that sell bags, purses… We learn things – Timbuk2 – we purchase several items and return a few times.

After a number of false leads, we find our needed CTA rail passes at the Cultural Center. My fiance works on matching the rail map with the road map. We head south via Red and Blue lines to Printers Row, closed when we arrrive – a meltdown of disappointment is narrowly avoided!

Over a Pot Belly sandwich, I remember how good hot peppers are on a sandwich.

The weather begins to cool, we return to the hotel for sweatshirts. Back on the train to Myopic Books on Milwaukee Avenue. They are open. It's a funky old building with functional shelves snaking throughout. The bookstore cat is on the third floor, its litter box is in the basement room with the mysteries.

Sunday's our final day. Out the window I see the Shamrock Shuffle running race. Both lanes of the
State Street bridge are packed with runners. After the race, downtown is filled with good energy.

Hull House Museum
Our final destination is Hull House, made famous by Jane Adams, once known as America's most dangerous woman! Hull House and it's dining hall remain. The excellent self-guided tour explains that a settlement house was a setup for middle class folks moving into a working class neighborhood, providing them with hope and help. Contrary to the good 'ole day theory, there were many brothels in the Hull House neighborhood. Benny Goodman got his musical start through Hull House.

We didn't remotely tap uber urban Chicago's possibilities, but we'll return.

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