11 June, 2012

Chicago arrival

We left Iowa on a very hot Sunday. Hurray for air conditioning. Sorry planet, but it was nearly 100 degrees F (high 30s C). The drive was uneventful. We passed signs for the turning to Ronald Reagan's birthplace; we didn't go and look. Not a fan. Which reminds me. In western Iowa we had passed signs to Andy Williams birthplace - I had to explain who Andy Williams was to Tom. If you don't know, google him. In the UK I think you have to be dead before your birthplace becomes noteworthy - probably dead for at least 50 years. And he isn't. I checked.

We avoided the Interstate again and drove east along 30 before joining the toll road that heads into Chicago. I had thought that a toll road would be an improvement on the shoddy surfaces we had got used to driving on up until that point but no. As soon as we went through a toll booth we hit roadworks. And we had to pay small amounts several times along the way. Well at least the road is under improvement.

Chicago slowly made itself apparent. It spreads far and wide. The landscape is very very flat so it can - in all directions except of course to the east where the lake lies. We didn't actually see Lake Michigan until several days later. We could see the skyscrapers from far away on the freeway - our first big city since Seattle. I think Tom and I were anticipating finding that harder than we did. The drive was pretty easy, we found parking right outside our flat (!) and being around more people again wasn't so much of a shock.

We are staying in North Center/Irving Park - about half an hour by the 'L' from downtown. It's a pretty and old neighbourhood with a lot of brick built buildings, avenues of trees and pretty front gardens. It was originally a German district which I deduced from the large number of Bavarian style taverns offering hearty German food. I can imagine this would be very tempting during the long cold Chicago winter. But as I said, it is HOT here so we haven't yet sampled pork chops or bratwurst and sauerkraut.

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