Sunday, July 27, 2014

Chicago [26/07 - 27/07]

I arrived at Chicago O'Hare domestic airport on the morning of 26th July 10am. I made my way through the airport to the baggage collection and off to the subway station. In all, I spent around 20mins walking from the aircraft gates to the baggage collection and to the station. 

In this trip, I hope to experience life as a typical local Chicago resident, so I will be taking public transport around. There was quite a huge crowd of people getting tickets from the automatic dispensing machine. As I'm getting a 3-day pass, I went for the machine with lesser people which only dispenses day passes. It cost US$20 for a 3-day pass with an additional $5 card deposit.

And here is the subway train. It looks pretty old with a metallic industrial era feel to the train. The ride from the airport to the city centre will be around 40mins long if there is no delay. That is, if there is no delay...

As luck would have it, there is line down between 2 stations along the blue line which started on the evening of Friday and stretch all the way till the Monday morning. I had to alight at Western station to take their connecting shuttle buses. Getting out of the station is quite alright as there are still escalators and elevators functioning.

The bus frequency is also very frequent. There are more buses than passengers. Contrast that with Singapore!

Unfortunate at Logan, there is no escalator or elevator to the platform that is 3 storey high. So I have to nudge my 25kg luggage up to the platform. Thereafter I'm on the train and am off on my journey to Monroe station. After I alighted at Monroe, I found that the escalator is down. So it is again nudging the 25kg luggage up 3 storey to the ground level. From the station exit, it is a 5mins walk to my hotel - Club Quarters Central Loop.

The hotel is amazing sleek and cosy. I took a photo of my room above. It is located in the financial district of Chicago and has good views around. 

After settling into my room, I find it is time to take a walk around the city centre and get my tickets to Milwaukee at the same time. Here is the scene of the city centre just along my hotel.

Just next to my hotel is a tall building with many stairs. I noticed many tourists taking photo of this area, so I also join in. Below is the image. 

It is coming close to lunch time at 12pm. I decided to check out the famous Giordano pizza which is a 5mins walk down the street. Unfortunately it is full house, so I just drop by the pizza place next to Giordano. It serves a great variety of hot dogs, pasta and pizza at affordable prices.

The Amtrak train station is just along river. The view is just stunning, a big contrast to the towering city center. I quickly purchase my tickets and off I go for adventure around the city.

The building below is the Chicago Board of Trade.

I arrived at the Art Institute of Chicago at 1pm and there is already a long line in front of it. I will be spending the next 4 hours here. It cost US$23 for the basic ticket with another US$7 for the audio guide.

It has a vast collection of exhibits. Below are Asian arts.

With a huge collection of basque...  

There are many art galleries. The audio guide provides very detail explanation on how the paintings are drawn and why they are drawn in that manner from the artist perspective. It is very informational.

There is a gallery where medieval times armors and swords are kept.

Below is a prominent painting in the Art Institute - which depicts life in a street in Paris during the 18th century.

Below is another painting where people from all walks of life (different occupation) gather by the lake and enjoy nature.

Here is the view of the Art Institute from the inside. It span from Basement to Level 1 and Level 2. Though I spent 4 hours in the Art Institute, I only managed to cover 50% of the exhibits in there. I believe a full day will be required to slowly go through all the exhibits.

Just next to the Art Institute is the Millennium Park. It has same amazing art exhibits in there.

There is a large fountain area where families can have fun.

 There is also a concert area where performances are held regularly.

As it is a park, flowers are always not far away.

From Millennium Park, I decided to take a bus to Navy Pier which is not so far away. Upon reaching Navy Pier, it is dinner time and the first restaurant which I saw was Bubba Gump. This restaurant was setup after the Forrest Gump movie where Bubba and Gump setup a shrimp company. I ordered lots of shrimps and really enjoy it (US$40 including tips).

There are many seagulls in the area.

It has an amazing view of Chicago city.

I took the opposite route back to the bus station at the Navy Pier and the city view is different.

27th July (Sunday)

I woke up at 6am in the morning. The sun rise much earlier in the States and I also naturally woke up much earlier. The only restaurant around my hotel which is open that early in the morning is McDonalds. So here I go. McDonalds breakfast in the morning has quite a big selection (up to 10 different set meals).

After breakfast, I hop on the subway follow by another bus to the Field Museum. The Field Museum is like the National Museum and has a vast amount of exhibits.

Just next to the Field Museum is an amazing view of Chicago City.

Here is another view.

This museum is famous for its Dinosaurs and native American history. It is something which I don't see in Singapore. As it is my first time to the Field Museum and I only got the morning available, I got the very basic ticket which cost US$18.

I spent quite a bit of time in the native American gallery. It has a lot of amazing exhibits and videos on the history of the Americas (north and south).

I also joined in a 1-hour guided tour of the mummy exhibit in the museum. Egyptian history is truly long and astounding.

The final gallery I drop by is the history of the Earth and it walks through on how life on Earth started. We have entered the dinosaur age below.

Below is a wonderful quote from Charles Darwin.

It is lunch time and my lunch will be in the Field Museum - Explorer Cafe.

I left the Field Museum around 1pm and continue walking down the path leading to the Adler Planetarium. Along the way, there were good views of the city.

Here right in front of the Planetarium is Copernicus.

And we are in the Planetarium. I also bought a video show (Cosmic Wonder) with my entry ticket.Total cost is US$25. I finished all the sights in the planetarium within 1 hour, and the Cosmic Wonder show is another 30mins.

I left the planetarium at 3pm and proceed back to my hotel to pick up my luggage. Thereafter I continue on to the Amtrak train station to catch the 5pm train to Milwaukee. And that will be another post.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Michigan Troy [20/07 - 26/07]

 20th July (Sunday)

The journey from Chicago to Detroit is an hour long. I was quite surprised when I saw the flight I'm taking is actually a small plane. This is going to be the smallest plane I had sat in so far. The planes I took prior to this flight from Singapore to Tokyo and Tokyo to Chicago are mega-size planes.

From Detroit Metro airport, I hop on a cab to Courtyard Marriot Detroit Troy where I will be staying for the next 6 days.

The hotel is quite well-designed and there is quite a home-coming feel to this place.

It is well-equipped with excellent swimming pool, jacuzi and gym facilities.

Here is how my room looks like. It is quite large.

And the place where I have most of my dinner and morning breakfast. A bistro that has a wide selection of food.

On the first night, I ordered burger with fries. It cost only US$8 but the portions are huge.

The next day morning, I ordered cereals and nuts. The next few days of breakfast is basically a mix between cereals and the full breakfast set of eggs, ham and bread.

25 July (Friday)

On Friday afternoon, I have a few hours where I could visit the nearest Walmart Supercenter. It has the same size as Carrefour back in Singapore. I begin going around with a shopping list on hand.

While walking through the shelves, I stumble upon 'Singapore Street Noodles' which go for around S$3. I grabbed one as I'm quite curious how does US perceive the taste of Singapore noodles. It was until the 2nd August when I finally open the package for breakfast. It has quite a strong garlic and basil taste to it, something which I have never tried in Singapore before. I will call it uniquely Americanize food.

While checking out my goodies, I noticed they have a good plastic bag system where they can rotate through the bags and put the items in. It will be the responsibility of the customer to remove the bags from the rack.

As most of my colleagues have already left Troy, there are a few options for me to get back. Either take a cab, walk back or hop on the bus. I tried calling for a cab but I could not reach them using my Singapore number. Walking back may take around 40mins as it is 5km away. I guess the last option will be by bus. I'm quite pleasantly surprised there is a couple waiting for the bus too. They ask me to wait around 10mins and the bus is here.

I hop on the bus and here is how it looks like. Notice the strings at both side of the windows? Pull that to signal you would like to alight. Secondly, notice the door behind? Most of this back door are manual system. So you will have push to alight.

Here is how the bus and bus stop looks like in Troy.

26th July (Saturday)
On the 26th July morning, I am ready to travel to Detroit Metro airport. Here is my pickup service.