Sunday, 24 June 2018

Chicago in 48 hours (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1

After completing the Cruise on day 1, I chose to skip the night tour as the sunset did not seem to happen until 8 pm. I also decided to skip regular touristy places like Memorial Park, Cloud Gate, Lincoln Park Zoo, Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium as they're not my kind of things to do. Instead, I chose Chicago Riverwalk, Alden's Planetarium (just for its stunning views of Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan), Skydeck Chicago, Navy Pier, and spent most of the free time walking around downtown. I chose Willis Tower over Chicago 360 because of the hanging glass window at their 103rd floor. 

Day 2 - Aug 6, 2017

I designed a very lean schedule for Day 2, which involved only one itinerary - visiting Skydeck Chicago. Also, instead of opting for Big Bus or an Uber, I decided to make use of the Chicago's rapid transit system. I chose one-day CTA pass which cost 10$.

I took this route - Walk to Grand station from Freehand Chicago - Take the red line to Monroe - Transit to Adams/Wabash - Take the pink line to Quincy - Walk to the Willis Tower.

Route took from Freehand Chicago to Willis Tower

Understanding the transit map seemed to be a bit tough for me. I, in fact, got lost while transiting from Monroe to Adams/Wabash not knowing which direction I should head to. I was heading towards Monroe after walking for a while as I literally had a tough time with both Google and Apple maps. I somehow got to the Adams/Wabash station after making some inquiry with some random stranger.

Point to be noted here, do not rely on the maps. Ask people for directions if you are unsure of getting from Point A to Point B.

A portion of Chicago rapid transit map (all lines)

Transit map of the Loop

The loop map is both interesting and confusing. It might take a while for a newbie like me to get used to it. Here are some of the glimpses of Grand underground station and Adams/Wabash station.

09:20 am - Skydeck Chicago

After battling with the transit, I got to the Willis Tower before 9.30 in the morning.

The entry ticket is valid for 48 hours and cleverly I chose for a morning slot on Aug 6, not worrying about the climatic conditions (Chicago remains cloudy in August), because once the skies clear up, it will be tough to make it to the Willis Tower on time due to the excessive crowd. It happened on the previous day (5th) where people had to wait for 5 hours to get to the observatory deck. 9.30 am seemed to be the lean (best) time and the weather was partly cloudy, so there wasn't much crowd. I got to the observatory within 25 minutes.

I am going to put this theory into use 'Images speak louder than the Words'. I'm not going to explain how my experience was visiting the Skydeck, instead, I'm going to let you decide by looking at these pictures.

Goodbye Chicago!

With a heavy heart, I packed my bags and checked out of the hotel. The Amtrak was scheduled to depart at 2.15 pm but I decided to be there at the Union Station by 1 pm. Taking a taxi from Freehand was the only option for me at that moment as the time was 12.30 pm already. It cost 11$ for me to get to the station from the hostel. Since I had booked the first class ticket, I had access to the lounge, where I spent some 20 good minutes before boarding the train.

Since I opted for first class, the food was served for free in the train. The train had a dining car, an observatory deck, and a small cafeteria located below the observatory deck. The dinner call was given at 5 pm, and I had to choose from a wide variety of options (everything was for free). I chose Beef Steak along with mashed potatoes, and I did not regret it. It was freaking delicious!

The train arrived at La Crosse around 6.15 in the evening. 

Expense Report

Chicago Crime and Mob Tour - 39.95$
River cruise - 48.67$
Big Bus ticket - 45$
Skydeck admission - 23$
CTA pass - 20$
Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner - 40$ (approximately)

Total amount spent by me on sightseeing and food for two days - 216.62$ (approximately 14,000 INR)

** End **