Monday, June 09, 2008

Illinois, USA: Chicago skyline from the Adler Planetarium

The area around the Adler Planetarium by Lake Michigan is where one can enjoy one of the best, if not the best views of the Chicago skyline. You could see most of the major skyscrapers from there including the Sears Tower, Aon Center, John Hancock Center, AT&T Corporate Center and Two Prudential Plaza among many others. It's a great place to chill, and I sure did enjoy the view.

Illinois, USA: Chicago's culturally-diverse neighborhoods

If there's one thing I enjoyed about Chicago, it was the cultural-diversity which manifested itself in the wide array of food choices. And yesterday was the day I sampled food from Chicago's ethnically-diverse neighborhoods.

First stop for the day was Devon Avenue, a former Jewish community which now plays host to Chicago's Indian & Pakistani communities. Available there are various cuisines from all over India and Pakistan, and even Afghanistan! I still saw some Jewish establishments but not as much as Indian and Pakistani restaurants.

Try entering a supermarket and the distinct smell of spices fill the air. Mangoes are a popular fruit in the area, mostly Indian. But they sell "Manila" mangoes which are ironically grown in Mexico and elsewhere. I wonder when we could export our luscious Guimaras mangoes to the U.S. because the "Manila" mangoes are a far-cry from what we have here in the Philippines.

From there we proceeded to New Saigon, a small Vietnamese area to sample the bahn mi sandwiches at the Ba Le Bakery. We also walked to the local Asian supermarket to get some dried jackfruit chips but we also saw some Philippine products as well. Another tasty surprise was the crunchy dried durian which was really good!

Shortly before lunch, we proceeded to Lincoln Square, the former German community, to sample the tiramisu cakes which is a specialty of Cafe Selmarie.

We made a quick drive around Andersonville (Swedish) and Greek Town (if we had more time, I would have wanted to sample the Greek food), before proceeding to Little Village, the Mexican community for a late lunch at Taqueria El Milagro. The grilled beef and tortillas was a filling treat! We proceeded to the New Maxwell Street Sunday Market to get more Mexican tortillas were they are freshly-made right in front of you.

We made a quick drive around Chinatown proceeding to the Adler Planetarium area by Lake Michigan where one can find the best views of the Chicago skyline. More from Chinatown and Chicago's other neighborhoods in the next posts. Thanks to Ron Salazar and Padma Siap for taking me around and back to DeKalb!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Illinois, USA: More from Chicago

Before taking that elevator ride up to the Skydeck, the bus stopped over for a few minutes at the United Center so that we could take some photos. The United Center is the home of the Chicago Bulls.

Outside is a statue of "His Airness" Michael Jordan, the team's legendary guard who lead the Bulls to six NBA championships. By acclamation, he is said to be the greatest basketball player of all time! It was a surprise though seeing the statue there when Michael Jordan is very much alive and kicking.

After Sears Tower, we also dropped by Navy Pier for lunch. This is another heritage structure that was adaptively reused and converted into a shopping and entertainment complex. If you plan to hop on the Architecture Cruise or cruises to Lake Michigan, Navy Pier is where you can find them.

We also dropped by the Bahá'í House of Worship in nearby Wilmette, one of the lakefront suburbs of Chicago. It's the temple of the Bahá'í Faith, a religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in nineteenth-century Persia. Plans to construct this temple began in 1903. Construction commenced in 1921 and was finally completed in 1953.

For the evening, we had a picnic in Grant Park while enjoying the 25th Annual Chicago Blues Festival. But I didn't stay long since I had to meet up with my family who were on vacation in Chicago as well. So I took a Metra (the transportation system from Chicago to its suburbs) to Lisle where my family was staying.

It was a coincidence that my mom had a mini-reunion with her US-based high school classmates in Chicago, and an even bigger coincidence that the dates matched with my Chicago trip. So at least I got to meet up with them even just for a few hours since they were leaving the next day.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Illinois, USA: Sears Tower and the view from the Skydeck

Sears Tower in Chicago was the tallest skyscraper in the world from 1973 to 1998. It's still the tallest building in Chicago and a visit to the Skydeck on the 103rd floor which is 1,353 feet (412 m) above ground, is definitely worth the visit.

It was our first real day in Chicago since we went straight to DeKalb as soon as we arrived at O'Hare. And we had a list of places to visit today, one of them being the famous Sears Tower.

They say that up there, you can see up to fifty miles on all sides. It was a great experience looking down at Chicago's magnificent skyscrapers. The city is known far and wide for its architecture which covers more than a century of history.

Contemporary structures are properly blended with old historic buildings, standing side-by-side in a harmonious mix of past, present and future. We'll see that in detail when we take the Architecture Cruise later in the month.

What looks like the beach and a sea is actually a large freshwater lake called Lake Michigan. Although I've swam in lakes, I've never experienced a freshwater urban beach before (meaning the usual beaches we all know about, the same fun without the saltwater).

In fact, the water was so blue, if I did not know it was a lake, I would have mistaken Lake Michigan for a sea. Even the river that runs through the city is very much clean and that was evident from where I stood.

It costs $12.95 to get up to the Skydeck and you can stay there for as long as you want during visiting hours.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Illinois, USA: Northern Illinois Univeristy in Dekalb, Illinois

Northern Illinois University (NIU) in DeKalb, Illinois is going to be our home away from home for the next four weeks. A public university founded in 1895, it has 25,000 students in seven degree-granting colleges that together offer 54 undergraduate and 74 graduate programs, and 12 doctoral programs.

DeKalb is about an hour and 30 minutes (104 kilometers) west of Chicago. Sad to say, there is no train service to DeKalb so we couldn't sneak out to Chicago that easily. Oh well!

Anyway, We got to tour campus today and visited some of its older buildings, including Altgeld Hall which houses the administration, and the East Lagoon where some wild Canadian geese can be found. NIU was in the news early this year being the site of another campus shooting incident in February. But all is well here and life has moved on. As the motto of NIU goes: "Forward, Together Forward."
Related Posts with Thumbnails