Chicago – Day 2: Monday

After crashing early, I woke early again – 6am. I had nothing especially planned for the daytime on the 2nd day in Chicago. Max had given me the number for another of his friends, Lauren, and I was due to meet up with her that evening. It was too early for much to be open, so I tried to catch up a little on the blog before heading out.

From ChicagoMilwaukee

I thought I’d see more by foot, rather than having to watch the road on the Trooper, so I set off downtown alone.

From ChicagoMilwaukee

One of the things  I needed to pick up was a prepaid US cell phone. I’d forgotten to pick-up a UK-US plug adaptor at the airport and my UK mobile phone wouldn’t last more than another day or two. Besides having a US phone would make it easier to make contact with the likes of Thomas and Jason, and I still needed to make firm arrangements with Lauren for the evening.

From ChicagoMilwaukee

I’d seen a couple of cell phone stores on my way to Wicker Park the day before, so I headed straight for them. More than a few of my friends would have drawled over the Apple store, across the street from the phone stores, but I like to think my geeky days are long gone, if they were ever there at all. I didn’t even break stride passing Apple and went straight into the Verizone store. I looked around for a member of staff and when I found one, I said “I’d like the cheapest, most basic prepaid phone you have that will do texts and calls”. To his credit, he didn’t try to up-sell and I left the store with my phone charged, registered and ready to go.

From ChicagoMilwaukee

I spent most of the day just wondering downtown, enjoying the experience. Chicago seems to be a relaxed, cool city – I liked the feel of it. Yet it also feels like the image I have in my head of a quintessentially big American city. It made me think how well the Grand Theft Auto game designers had captured American cities, and the GTA games aren’t even based on Chicago. It’s hard to imagine that in 1830 the city had a population of only 50.

From ChicagoMilwaukee

The Chicago skyline is impressive whichever direction you approach from. I’d heard that it looked especially impressive from the lake. So I headed over to Navy Pier to see if I could appreciate it from there.

Navy Pier, Chicago From ChicagoMilwaukee

Navy Pier juts out into Lake Michigan almost directly from downtown, with the big green Grant Park to the south. If you imagine a bigger, better and more classy version of an English seaside pier then you’ve just about got it. The trouble was it was still touristy. That wasn’t the Chicago I was looking for. I left and headed back for a shower.

From ChicagoMilwaukee

I’d exchanged a few texts with Lauren during the day, but it wasn’t until around 8pm that I knew the time and place of our meeting – 9:30pm at the Goldstar, one of Max’s old watering-holes on Division Street. Lauren arrived around 10pm, I was on my second. It sounded like she had spent the afternoon drinking with friends in town from Oregon. She’s a lovely girl and it was good of her to make the time to meet up with me.

Max had wanted Lauren to show me around several of his old haunts. There was one where if I bumped into a large East Coast guy named Ed, I had to tell him that Max had sent me. I’m not sure what would’ve happened then, I never got to find out. Lauren and I didn’t make it out of the Goldstar. We drank and chatted away, a lot about Max, Scotland and Chicago, then it was midnight. We’d both had long days and decide to call it a day and to head off to our respective beds.

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