Monday, June 23, 2014

California to Chicago and Michigan by Rail - Chicago Day 2

When we got up and looked out the window this morning we saw a welcome sight – the sun was shining and there was clear blue sky, it was a beautiful day.  Our plan for today was to buy tickets for the Hop On-Hop Off Bus and tour Chicago.  The Hop-On Hop-Off Bus has thirteen designated stops in downtown Chicago and you can get on or off whenever you like.  In between stops there is a guide who narrates the various highlights.

We wait for the bus to arrive at the entrance to the Riverwalk.
Here are some pictures we shot from the bus as we traveled through Chicago.

The water taxi.
The Trump Building (they were putting up the name while we were there).  Could that be a halo around it?

The historic Soldier Field.  They built a new stadium inside it, but kept the facade.

The Chicago Skyline.

Our first stop was the museum campus which has the Shedd Aquarium, the Fields Natural History Museum and the Planetarium.  Because we had limited time we decided to visit the Shedd Aquarium which was interesting, but not the best aquarium I’ve ever been too.  We only bought tickets to see one floor so I might have had a better impression if we had seen the entire aquarium.  

Val and I outside the Shedd Aquarium
After the aquarium we “hopped” back on the bus and went on to our next stop which was Navy Pier.  Navy Pier was originally used by the Navy, but is now an amusement area built on a pier that extends out into Lake Michigan.  There is a large Ferris wheel, a children’s museum, a Shakespeare Theater and a multitude of shops, arcades and restaurants.  There is also a number of concessions that offer various boat trips around the harbor and lake.  The reason I was interested in Navy Pier was because my dad was trained here during World War II and actually stayed in the barracks on Navy Pier.  After hearing him talk about it I just had to see it so it was on my list for Chicago. It was obviously totally different, but it was still interesting to imagine how it must have been when my dad was there.  The Pier was very busy today as there were a lot of kids there taking excursions on the boats for an end of school trip.  After a quick lunch we walked down towards the end of the pier where it was quieter and found a place to sit and watch the boats go by for a while and then made our way back to the bus stop.

The entrance to Navy Pier.
Judy, Val and I enjoying the day on Navy Pier.

The Chicago skyline from Navy Pier.
Our next stop was the John Hancock building where we had tickets to go up to what they call the Observatory, which is a viewing deck on the 94th floor, but first a few more pictures from the bus.

It was a clear day so we had a great 360 degree view of Lake Michigan, Chicago and the surrounding area.  Supposedly you can see Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, but we couldn’t really tell.  
Looking south from the Hancock Building.
Navy Pier.

Looking north.

After that it was back on the bus and since it was getting late in the afternoon we just decided to ride the bus to Millennium Park and walk back to our condo as we had tickets to a show that night.

One of the things on our list of things to do in Chicago was to try the deep dish pizza they are famous for, but by the time we got back it was late and we were tired so we decided to skip the pizza (we’ll save that for another visit) and have a snack before we left for the show. After getting cleaned up and having something to eat, we grabbed a cab and we were off to the show. The show we were going to see was called the Million Dollar Quartet which was based on a true story of a gathering back in 1955 of Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley at Sun Records.  We all really enjoyed the show, the actors were great and portrayed their characters very well and the music was excellent, we all agreed we would see that show again if given the opportunity.  After the show it was back to the condo, and after some conversation we called it a night, but not before I shot some pictures of Chicago at night out the window.  What an excellent view!

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