A Day in Chicago: Seeing the Sights

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I got off my red-eye flight from Vancouver International (YVR) and arrived at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD). Due to overindulging in the YVR SkyTeam lounge before my flight, I was able to get a decent amount of shuteye. My flight arrived on time at 5:10 AM. Due to this early flight, the US preclearance at YVR was closed and I had to go through US customs at ORD. Thankfully with my Nexus card, I was able to expedite through in minutes. I always only travel with carry-on luggage, so I did not have to wait at the luggage carousel and proceeded directly to the exit. Unfortunately, due to renovations going on at the arrival terminal, I was unable to use ORD’s air tram which shuttles passengers between their terminals. In its place, they had a shuttle service that would do rounds approximately every 20 minutes. Thankfully I was one of the first passengers out as there were far more passengers around than the shuttle could handle. Passengers that had to grab their checked luggage had to wait for the shuttle to do several trips before they were even able to board. I was dropped off at the main terminal and made my way to ORD’s transit system which connects to the downtown core.

Chicago O’Hare Metro Hall Mural

Chicago O’Hare Metro Hall Mural

The transit fare was $10 for a one day pass and the trip into town took around 45 minutes.

As I observed my surroundings while heading into town, I noticed the hectic morning rush hour traffic. Hundreds of vehicles were all backed up along the highway which made me relieved I went with transit instead of hailing a taxi or booking an Uber ride.

Transit Train

Transit Train

I arrived at my destination, Clark/Lake station. Upon exiting, I found myself in the food court concourse as part of the James R. Thompson Center building. My stomach started to grumble as I observed the various fast food shops opening up for the day and I took part in some breakfast at one of them.

James D. Thompson Center

James D. Thompson Center

After breakfast, I made my way outside and already noticed one of the sights that Chicago is famous for, the “L”, the downtown train system of Chicago. After seeing it as a backdrop in dozens of movies, it was great to finally see it in person. To simplify my day, I partook in Chicago’s Hop-on, Hop-off bus service but it does not start operating till 9:00 AM. Given that it was only 7:00 AM, I had a few hours to kill so I decided to familiarize myself with the surroundings for my return back to ORD. It must have rained during the night as the streets were quite wet. As I am from Vancouver, this was a familiar site.

Wet Streets of Chicago Next to the “L”

Wet Streets of Chicago Next to the “L”

During my wander I came across one of Amazon’s self serve grocery stores, Amazon Go. An interesting concept for sure, but I still prefer human interactions when I go grocery shopping.

Amazon Go store

Amazon Go store

9:00 AM soon came around and I met the bus at its designated starting spot which was the Chicago Riverwalk at North Upper Michigan Ave and East Upper Wacker Drive. The bus took me all over downtown Chicago and I got off at a few iconic sights.

The Cloud Gate sculpture below was the result of a design competition and has since been nicknamed “The Bean” due to it’s shape.

Cloud Gate aka The Bean

Cloud Gate aka The Bean

The Chicago Theatre - Historic Theatre Since 1921

The Chicago Theatre - Historic Theatre Since 1921

No trip to Chicago would be complete without indulging in its world-famous deep dish pizza. I glanced over dozens of reviews for various deep dish pizza locations and ultimately decided upon “Uno Pizzeria & Grill”. The restaurant was the origin of the concept and everyone else just came up with their variations of it. As a bonus, Uno Pizzeria & Grill just happened to be a brief walk away from the station at Clark/Lake.

Uno Pizzeria & Grill’s Original Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

Uno Pizzeria & Grill’s Original Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

After finishing my pizza, it was time for me to return to ORD as I wanted to spend a significant amount of time in the lounge before my flight to Europe. I loaded up Google Maps and entered Clark/Lake station. The walk over took approximately 15 minutes and I was on my back to ORD where I was excited to be flying with Iberia for the first time.

jason-wolf

Jason Wolf

Jason was introduced to travel at a young age. His parents are world travellers so it was only natural he would follow in their footsteps. He took his first international solo flight to Europe at age 14 (pre 9/11). Applied for his first credit card at the age of 19 as he had heard of the miles & points game and couldn't wait to get started. Over a decade later, he has traveled to over 100 countries around the world and always seems to have another adventure plotted around the corner. His wife tries to accompany him whenever she can, but sometimes it’s a bit too hectic as he has a tendency to travel frequently, even if it's just for a brief weekend getaway.