The first day I was in Chicago, it was all about playing at the park and hanging out with friends. The next few days were dedicated to work and trying all the best vegan food around the city. This was the final day, and it was all about seeing various cites around downtown Chicago.
Chicago is a really cool city. It’s just like New York in that all the buildings are packed together really densely. This makes for a beautiful skyline and some cool city streets to walk along. We wanted to walk around downtown, but first there were a few more things closer to my brother’s apartment that we wanted to see first.
We walked through Lincoln park, and my brother led me to one of his favorite spots: the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. This is a really peaceful garden and pond, where we were able to see a few ducks and geese. One of the ducks had some ducklings following her around, so we got to watch them swim around in the pond. We also walked by some flowers and we spotted a monarch butterfly perched on the petals gathering some nectar.
We then proceeded to a beautiful lawn between the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Lincoln Park Conservatory. The Lincoln Park Conservatory was a beautiful botanical garden that housed numerous species of rare and exotic plants. The outside of the building was beautifully designed, with a roof made out of paned glass windows like a greenhouse. In the first room, there were tall tropical trees like palm trees and banana trees. This was a nice reminder of my time in the Amazon, only about two weeks earlier. Apparently the winter is the best time to come into the conservatory because it is hot year round. While this may have been a nice place to warm up during the cold Chicago winter, it was not something we were looking forward to in 90-degree weather. We were so interested in seeing all the plants that we ended up spending about an hour here, despite the heat.
The next room was the fern room. Here we saw a beautiful array of ferns and orchids and just for fun some people left some little plastic dinosaurs around for kids to find. There was also a little koi pod somewhere in the conservatory. I thought it was interesting that they thought plants weren’t interesting enough and they had to jazz up the place with animals. My brother and I had a laugh about this. Our favorite plant was probably the sensitive fern. These looks just like ordinary ferns except when you touch them they close up. I have seen these in Hawaii just a few months ago, but it was really cool to see them again. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of playing with these things. It’s such an unusual part of nature!
After leaving the conservatory, we headed across the park to catch a bus into the city. We hopped onto a double bus that must’ve been like 100 feet long and looked out the window as we passed by some of Chicago’s best landmarks. Feeling a little bit restless, we decided to get out and walk the rest of the way to millennium park.
Millenium park is one of the places we saw the famous Cloud Gate, otherwise known as “The Bean” This is a giant reflective dome that you can actually walk through. I have to say, most famous landmarks that I see are disappointing, but there are a few that are not. The Brandenburg gate, the Colosseum, Machu Picchu and now, the bean. This thing was awesome! It is much bigger and much more reflective than it looks in pictures. You really feel like you can see the entire skyline in its reflection and that is the purpose of the design. It was designed to be a gateway from the earth to the sky, but of course it was much more popular for its resemblance to a giant coffee bean. In case you were wondering, on the inside of the bean there is a large hollow space in the shape of a cone. The cone has a flat top that is also reflective, so if you go directly into the middle you can look up at yourself. I thought this was so cool, and although I’m sure not everyone would find this as amusing as me, I had a blast!
The next stop on our tour was some type of street festival. We had no idea what was going on, and I think everyone else was on the same page. We all got funneled into a huge crowd of people just wandering aimlessly. There were booths set up on either side of us where you could buy food, but only like 1% of the crowd actually was buying stuff. The rest of us just wandered down the road, trying to look for a common theme and realizing that it was just a free-for-all. I’m so glad we didn’t eat anything here because my brother was about to take me to Chicago Diner. In case you remember from my last article, the Chicago Diner was where I got the legendary Vegan Rueben. This sandwich was incredible, and there is another whole paragraph about it in my last article. The best part was, we were starving from walking around all day so it made for the perfect reward.
We did one last walk through the park before going home. While I was in Chicago, there was a huge Pokemon go festival going on, and people literally came from all over the world to go to it. I had no idea how big of a deal it was until I went home and like half of my flight was all people from New York that came to Chicago just for Pokemon go. There were so many people in the airport with Pikachu shirts and Charmander backpacks, it was really cool to see. It’s so great to see people coming together from different cities just to play a game.
I arrived in New York later that day and I was so happy to be home. I had to make the most of my time at home because in two days I would be driving down to Virginia to move into my new apartment. Such a hectic summer schedule, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!