Wondering Where the Lions Are?

Firstly, I should tell you that I am not in the Swissotel anymore. I got kicked out for stealing the shower curtains and trying to eat the concierge’s whistle (I thought it was made of Swiss chocolate). Neutral my butt, those Swiss people really don’t have a sense of humour.

Actually, the truth is that I could only book into the Swissotel for one night as I am booking hotels through a deep discount web site and it would only give me one night at the cheap rate I was paying. So, I left the “Toblerone Inn” and tonight I am in the Conrad Chicago. This place is even swankier than the Swissotel and it is right in the middle of the “Magnificent Mile” shopping district here in downtown Chicago.

Here at the Conrad there is a light that goes on when you open the hall closet (yes, just like the fridge). The washroom has a huge bathtub AND a shower, plus there is an extra little room off the main washroom just for the toilet. In the washroom they have a little covered glass jar with cotton swabs and another with make-up removal pads… at least that’s what I think they are (I originally thought they were were pads for foot corns/bunions but now I am rethinking that). Also, the room has a big screen TV with a full surround-sound system. There is a mini-bar and I am not touching that with a ten-foot pole. The bottled water alone is 5 bucks. It’s pretty nice here, but it’s an older hotel and I just hope that it isn’t haunted.

The Magnificent Mile

The “Magnificent Mile” is the nickname that Chicagoans give to a long stretch of Michigan Avenue that is home to many, many high-end stores and boutiques. I have not spent much time shopping today; however I did duck into a few places to take a look.

The one place that really got me going was the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue. When you walk into the store the first thing you notice is that it is packed with people from all walks of life. At the front is a DJ spinning electronica at a very high volume. The store really only consists of a large brightly lit room with bright white pedestals holding Apple products that you can test out. That is it, that’s all there is. What more do you need?

While I was at the store I was standing next to an elderly lady who was testing out an IPod! She turned to me and said “Does he have to be so loud?”, referring to the DJ. I did not know what to say to this, it was too crazy a situation and I was at a loss for words.

I went to the ESPNZONE here just off the Magnificent Mile for a supper of wings and beer. The big draw tonight was the “Frozen Four” hockey game between Notre Dame and Boston College. The place was wild for that game. Meanwhile, the Boston/Montreal NHL playoff game was on and nobody really cared.

Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium

Earlier in the day I visited the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium. Both are situated about a mile south of the downtown core near the newly renovated Soldier Field (Chicago Bears football stadium).

The best thing about the Field Museum of Natural History is the building. It is amazing. The museum also contains a huge collection of taxidermy. Actually I got a little weary of seeing showcase after showcase of stuffed animals. It got to be a little depressing, until I saw a sign that said, “These animals were collected in the days before television when people needed to put examples of animals on display so we could learn more about them.” That made me chuckle.

Mama Lion and Cubs

Caption: Sorry Mama lion and Babies. The world does not have TV yet, so you are going to be stuffed and put under glass for all to learn about you.

The Shedd Aquarium was nice. However the amount of kids there was a little off-putting for me. I guess I shouldn’t have gone on a Saturday.

The aquarium has some really cool underwater viewing rooms. The Beluga Whales were the big attraction as they were quite eager to put on a show for the crowd.

If you ever go to Chicago and you have kids take them to the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium. They will not be disappointed. However, you won’t like the price for admission as it is very steep at over $50 dollars for an adult for both attractions. The children’s admission is about 2/3 that price. Also, I should tell you that parking is an additional $18.00.

Horn Honking, Sirens and Whistles

It is loud here in Chicago. Everybody honks their horns over the smallest problem. The Hotel concierge’s all blow their whistles to hail taxis for hotel patrons. Also, there seems to be an ambulance or police siren going off about some sort of emergency nearly every hour. The horn honking has got me peeved. Most of the time they are stuck in some sort of grid-lock, so they all honk their horns, as if everybody honking is going to solve the gridlocked traffic.

What’s Next?

Tomorrow I am leaving the hustle and bustle of Chicago for St. Louis. On Monday, I am travelling to Memphis, where I will sight-see for two days before starting to head back to Canada. I hope that the weather is nicer down south as it is very miserable weather here in Chicago.

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