Chicago 1.9.14-3.9.14

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Finally I have time to post this. In a week I’ll be back in States so, maybe it’s a good idea to post all the old photos and texts from last summer… “Doing it late is better than doing it never”, like we say in Finland. I wrote this at the airport in Germany during my flight change from Chicago to Helsinki.

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Photos inside the hotel and one pic from the park in front of it. 🙂

Hotel: Hilton Michigan Ave (aka Magnificent Mile)

What? Old style indecorated huge four-star hotel with 20 floors, located in Downtown Chicago’s best shopping street.

For who? Lots of business travellers and international tourists, unofficial dress code: pikeshirt and pants, suit or dress = quite fancy. But if you can deal with being fancy (or accept the fact that you’re the weird one) the hotel was very nice for a relaxing holiday. Not too much noise, awesome big beds, polite and nice crew…

Price? Normal prices per night are quite expensive but try to look for good deals, for us it was 253USD for two nights for two people. Room was about 30 square meters, two beds, okay city view, own big bathroom and cleaning service everyday. We were also allowed to use swimming pool, jazuccis, etc without any charge. Even though we got a superb deal, all extra services were still expensive (45USD + tip for breakfast buffet for two for example – and it was just basic breakfast buffet without any specialties)

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Cars for natives, bicycle taxis for tourists. 😉

Moving around

  • From Wisconsin Dells to Madison we got a ride from our friend (with a taxi it would have been 120 + tips for J1 students). If you don’t have friends with car and you don’t want to use taxi you can (at least in theory) travel by Greyhound bus or Amtrak train from Dells to Chicago. I don’t recommend trains because they go from West coast to Chicago and because distance is enormous they can be really late (usually they are on time from Chicago to Dells but to opposite direction they are usually 5-20 hours late). Greyhound is usually in time but it operates like two times per day. Because we left on Labor Day (Sep 1st) it operated only about 5pm.
  • From Madison (Dutch Mill Park and Ride) we travelled to Chicago with Megabus. At least Van Gaulder, Megabus and Greyhound go from Madison to Chicago. We chose Megabus because it was cheapest and we weren’t required to print our tickets – you just have to have reservation code in our phone. Bus was nicely in time, there was internet connection, toilet and good air-conditioning (like always in America!)
  • In Chicago we arrived to Union Station that’s bus station in downtown. We grapped a taxi to the hotel. Distance from station to Hilton’s (Michigan Ave) was about 2 miles and it was only 9USD + tips for two. It took about 20 minutes but it depends on traffic.
  • During our first day we walked all way from hotel to the end of Magnificent Mile and Nave Pier. Back home we took a bicycle taxi because my friend wanted to try those. Bicycle taxis are quite common in tourist areas, especially nearby seaside in downtown. They are fun experience but quite expensive, about 20USD per mile, note: only cash.
  • On my second day I went out for a walk and photographing. It’s quite surprising that when you go like one block away from Michigan Ave all the glamour, expensive shops, taxis and fancy people disappear and they are replaced with old buildings, little shops that locals use, metro and restaurants with good prices. In Chicago there are some slum areas but downtown is more like bohemian art area with huge bunch of students (I saw like 5 universities and couple colleges during my one and half our walk) and people from all races. I loved to walk around in downtown and I definitely recommend it!
  • If you’re interested in Outlet shopping I recommend Chicago Fashion Outlets. That’s a huge shopping mall in Bloomingsdales (nearby O’hare airport). The mall is all about fashion in it’s every categories and prices – Are you a sport guy? Choose Nike, Under Armour or Puma! Do you like premium brands – How about Calvin Klein or Michael Kors? Luxury? Burberry, Prada, Gucci… So, how to get there? If you want to use money and make it easy, you can of course grap a taxi but we decided to go with metro. It’s crabby, noisy and old but it’s kind of experience. You have to hop on blue line train to O’hare in downtown and travel to Bloomingsdales (one stop before O’hare). It takes little less than an hour and costs 3USD with adults single ticket. From metro station they have free shuttle in every ten minutes.
  • From hotel to O’hare we took a taxi. They have taxis just in front of Hiltons, from there it’s 30-90 minutes ride to airport. Price is about 45USD for two.

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Miss you beautiful Chicago! <3

Eating (this section is about places where we ate – there might be some more famous places too)

Cheesecake Factory

Always full of people for a reason – food and service are just superb there. One tip: they have lunch special form 11am to 5pm, for example pizza and salad were 12 + tip in total (separately they would have been over twenty). Salad was super delicious (I took green one) and so was pizza. They have every kind of main dishes and huge amount of different desserts, in particular cheesecakes. We didn’t have space for those but I’ve heard that they are very delicious.

Picnic, studying, grapping some snack?

I recommend you to grap something healthy and tasty from some of 7elevens for picnic. But if you want something that wakes you up go to Starbucks cafes, they have lots of flavored coffees – skinny vanilla latte is my favorite. For unhealthy cheap options Dunkin donuts is quite good choice, at least if you like donuts, bagels or flavored coffees. In downtown Chicago there are 7elevens, Subways, Dunkin Donutses and Starbuckses in about every street so finding food is everything but difficult. 🙂

Hilton’s breakfast buffet

21USD + tip includes warm dishes, breads, fruits and bakery goods. They had couple meat options (bacon, turkey sausages, some Asian style steamed things), scrambled eggs, oatmeal, fruits (melons, bananas, plums), yoghurt, milk, juice, coffee, tea, four different muffin options, bagels, bread and cereal. Quite okay but far too expensive! All that stuff was like basic set from Walmart served with good customer service. If you’re in hurry and money isn’t a problem, take this.

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