A Travellerspoint blog

Chicago to St. Louis

Top of the arch

storm 24 °C
View Canada/US 2016 on MissWalker's travel map.

19 October 2016

I was up early because my bag had to be ready for pick up at 6.30am. We left at 8.00am, it took a long time to clear Chicago then we we travelling through very flat farming land. It was around 11.00am when we made a stop at Dixie Truckers, an original Route 66 truck stop.

During the morning's travel we had problems with the air conditioning on the bus (alternating between too hot and freezing cold), and the speakers one one side of the bus weren't working, and when the heavy rain started the bus started leaking over one seat! Not a rusty old bus but quite a new one. The bus will be replaced tomorrow.

During the morning there was a storm and heavy rain was falling before we reached St. Louis. Tour Guide, Kristin, had planned our lunch break near the Mississippi River and had to quickly change plans. Our late lunch was at Ballpark Village, a sports entertainment area across the road from the Busch Stadium where the St. Louis Cardinals play (baseball). Ballpark Village had a huge TV screen, bars and restaurants, and a Fox Sports studio. For a sports lover this was a good place to have lunch! And great to be inside when we could hear heavy rain, or hail, pounding on the roof.

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After lunch we visited the Old Courthouse, a historical building where former slave Dred Scott sued for his freedom. The interior of the building was beautiful.

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Next door is the Gateway Arch and we had tickets to go to the top of the arch. The arch looks scary when you stand underneath it and look up - it's 630ft (192m) high. We went up in little pods that squeeze in five people: you have to duck your head to get in the door and it's definitely not for anyone with claustrophobia. The pods follow the curve of the arch and it takes four minutes to get to the top. We only needed a couple of minutes at the top to take a few photos - looking down on the Old Courthouse and Busch Stadium. Going up and down the curve in the pods was a unique and fun experience.

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We reached the hotel around 5.30pm and another storm was overhead, it was raining and quite dark.

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Posted by MissWalker 19:13 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Chicago: Day Four

Architecture overload

sunny 24 °C
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18 October 2016

This was the first day of the tour and was supposed to start with a Chicago city tour at 8.30am. Supposed to ... I was in the foyer at 8.15am and there was no large group gathered there. Apparently the group had been taken downstairs to the bus at 8.10am, the Tour Director thought she had everyone and they left. Without me! I wasn't too worried because they were only driving around the congested streets and I wouldn't miss much, except I'd paid for the river cruise and didn't know where or when it was leaving. I rang her and caught a taxi to meet the group at Millennium Park - at The Bean sculpture again. Today I got to see the sculpture with blue skies and sunshine: how it should should be shown off.

We then went to the Navy Pier. It's a very popular tourist attraction and I had thought about walking there to have a look around. I'm so glad I didn't because I didn't see much there that interested me. Next was the cruise along the river. Chicago is all about tall buildings so an architecture cruise should be fun. It was okay but listening to someone talk non-stop for 75 minutes about the buildings was too much. It would have been nice to just relax and enjoy the cruise without the constant commentary. I got a bit sunburnt sitting out in the sun - it felt much hotter than 24C.

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And one more building photo. This one was taken from my hotel room - the building across the river looks like a big screen reflecting the skyline.

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After walking back from the cruise I just wasted the rest of the afternoon at the hotel because I was too tired to walk anywhere else. I've been in Chicago long enough and can't wait to start the long bus trip tomorrow.

Posted by MissWalker 18:29 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Chicago: Day Three

overcast 28 °C
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17 October 2016

After my disappointment at the Cloud Gate sculpture yesterday I decided to try again when there wouldn't (hopefully) be so many people there. I started the half hour walk at 7.15am and arrived to find a few people already there. It wasn't the selfie chaos that I encountered yesterday and I was able to enjoy the sculpture more, although it was still difficult to get a photo without anyone in it. By 8.00am the crowd was starting to build and I walked back to the hotel for a shower and breakfast.

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The sky was overcast again and another very warm day was expected - 82F is 20 degrees more than the October average, The difference today was the wind. Chicago's wind was back and it felt much cooler than yesterday. There was a little bit of light blue sky late in the afternoon - the first I've seen since I've been here!

I had no big plans for the day, my only goal was to get a haircut. That should be easy in a big city. No, it's not because it seems that most hairdressers in Chicago are closed on Mondays. I managed to find one that was open and walked for about half an hour to get there. The walk took me away from the touristy river walk and into a grittier side of Chicago - more what I expected Chicago to look like.

In the afternoon I met the Tour Director for my tour that starts tomorrow. We will have a full tour of 51 people - not ideal!

Posted by MissWalker 13:15 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Chicago: Day Two

Not windy in the windy city

overcast 25 °C
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16 October 2016

I woke up really early ... was that the sound of thunder or was it trains crossing the bridge? I opened the curtains and discovered it was thunder and the sky was lit up by lightning. The heavy rain had finished by the time I was ready to leave the hotel but it was very warm, overcast and humid.

I walked to Millennium Park, stopping to look at the outdoor concert area. I had been looking forward to photographing Cloud Gate, a stainless steel sculpture also known as The Bean. The mirror surface of the sculpture reflects the Chicago skyline. The sculpture is beautiful but the experience was really frustrating. I'm not sure why people feel the need to record their entire life in 'selfies', and when you get a reflective surface so you can look at yourself and take a selfie .... it was selfie madness. There were people completely surrounding the sculpture, pulling faces and taking photos of themselves reflected in the sculpture! It was impossible to get a photo without lots of people so I moved on.

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I continued through parkland to Buckingham Fountain. I sat for a while and was about to leave when the fountain pattern changed, shooting water high into the air.

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Walking was difficult. All day the cloud cover hung low over the tops of the tall buildings trapping in the heat and pollution. I could smell the pollution and feel it in my throat. I was hot and sweaty so it was time to go back to the hotel for a rest!

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After a couple of hours rest I decided I'd better not waste my short time in Chicago. I walked back along the river and along Michigan Avenue, a main shopping area. The shops were all high end and boring (I didn't even go into any shops) - I could have been in any city in the world - and the streets were crowded and smelly. Not my favourite walk in Chicago! I walked for about two hours but couldn't wait to get back to the hotel for a shower. Chicago, where is the wind? Just a little breeze would have made the day easier.

Posted by MissWalker 18:41 Archived in USA Comments (0)

United States 2016: Chicago

Surrounded by sky scrapers!

overcast 20 °C
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15 October 2015

Judith went out to the market and returned with fresh scones for breakfast ... very nice. Then it was time to finish packing and head to the airport for my 12.30pm flight with Air Canada. Jude, thanks for your hospitality, for feeding me and looking after me so well, and for the use of your washing machine (lovely to have fresh clean clothes again).

I arrived in Chicago just after 1.00pm (there's a one hour time difference) and walked a long, long way to the baggage carousel, then waited over half an hour for the airport transfer (supposed to depart every 10 - 15 minutes). I had prepaid for the GO transfer otherwise I would have given up and taken a taxi. After a delay when the driver went into the airport leaving a van full of passengers sitting there (I wasn't happy with this airport transfer) we were finally under way. The traffic into the city was moving slowly and it took almost an hour before I was dropped off at my hotel.

I have a lovely room at the Holiday Inn and have this fantastic view from my window.

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I walked for about an hour along the river towards Lake Michigan. The Chicago city area is interesting, exciting and overwhelming. The high-rise buildings are crammed in side by side. Some of the bridges have train tracks over the top of the road. The bridges shake and rattle when traffic is going over the bridge but it's scary being a pedestrian when a train goes over the top!

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The weather was overcast and the forecast is for overnight storms and rain tomorrow.

Posted by MissWalker 17:45 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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