Chicago Reloaded – Part 1: Settling in and Exploring the Neighborhood


Going back to Chicago always feels a little bit like coming home. With a big part of my extended family being rooted here, the streets feel familiar and hold good memories of my former visits. Despite my general lack of sense of orientation, I have a vague sense for the different neighborhoods. For our Mini-Springbreak-Vacation, we booked an Airbnb in Downtown, close to the Hancock Center and Navy Pier, which allowed us to do most of the sightseeing by foot.

As it turned out, we were very lucky in regard to both weather and accomodation, the latter guaranteeing that there was also enough time to relax after the intense walking sightseeing inflicted on us and also generally recharge our mental batteries for the upcoming grand finale of the spring semester.

After a 10-hour train ride from Pittsburgh, taking it easy was of course also more than necessary and the really nice thing about having our own little space is that we could take all the time to do so.

One rule I have when exploring new cities is that I try to avoid doing to many touristy things in a short amount of time, so we settled for doing only one major thing on our first full day in Chicago and went to close-by Navy Pier. On our way, we got a first glance on the foot of the Hancock Building and the famous haunted Water Tower (more on that later) and also realized/had a flashback (me) that the most atmospheric and beautiful boardwalks indeed can be ruined if the most busy street of the city happens to be right next to them.

In the end, all the walking and inhaled emissions were compensated by the calm contemplative atmosphere Navy Pier provided for us on this rather calm Monday afternoon in early March.

Once inside, I found that nothing had changed since I have last been here (in 2014?). Since most of the rides and smaller food booths were closed, most people – just like us – used the warm weather for a walk along the Pier, stopping here and there to take a snapshot and enjoy some of the art work inside the building.

As we got hungry and started looking for a place to eat, it took us some time to find something within our price range (we are poor grad students, after all) but we finally ended up in Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. While we were waiting for our (sea-)food, I was once again reminded how obsessed Americans can get with details and that a food chain celebrating a successful 90’s film or a luxury version of the most iconic American food chain are not really considered something very unusual here (I also remembered a visit to an even fancier Mc Donald’s initiated by Bill Ruby).

On our way back to the apartment, we decided to give the Signature Room a shot before going home and calling it a day. Up on the last floor of the Hancock Center, Cocktails in hand, the atmosphere was just right and we could almost hear Gotham City calling for Batman. Unaware of the horrors, that are said to haunt this building, we enjoyed our drinks and then went back to our apartment…



Author: Meladu

I am a trained nurse that has been in Grad School (Humanities) for too long, now finally breaking free and going back to my hometown Augsburg in Germany

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