From a weather point of view December is not the best time of the year for a visit but we have a daughter living in the city who we had not seen for a few months so we are trying to deal with the cold. The temperature is not that bad but the wind is making it somewhat uncomfortable.
Covid19 has had its effect on travel. Vaccinations and testing have become part of normal life for the travel industry. O’Hare has always been a tough airport to enter the US but Covid has made it even rougher. We had to wait more than two hours at immigration. A real mood killer.
We are staying with our daughter and her fiancee in West Town, an up coming neighbourhood. As we only have a few days in Chicago we limit ourselves to what we feel are the highlights.
The first morning we walked all the way to the shopping heart of the city: Michigan Avenue. The view we had halfway the walk was absolutely stunning
For shoppers (and I am not one of them but Carolina is) Michigan Avenue is a paradise. All the well known American brands are present so we had ampel opportunity to buy Christmas presents. We visited a very hip Apple Store to see and buy the latest gadgets. Carolina really loves Starbucks and Chicago is home to a Starbucks Reserve, it is the largest Starbucks in the world. Besides coffee it serves lunch and cocktails. It is a beautiful store with a wonderful view over Michigan Avenue. The coffee however, tastes exactly the same as in other Starbucks stores but the price is a little different. Anyhow, it is an experience.
In the evening we went for dinner and drinks to the Hoxton Hotel in the Fulton Market District. We first had a drink in the lobby followed by dinner at the Cabra (in english “goat”) Restaurant. It serves contemporary Peruvian food such as empanadas with a filling of aji de gallina, ceviche de salmon and papas huaicaina combined with a good pisco sour. Excellent restaurant.
One of the major attractions of Chicago is the Art Institute, a “must see” museum. The museum was all in Christmas spirit which added to the experience.
Every one has his own taste but for me the highlights of the catalog are the impressionist painters. Next to an impressive number of paintings from Claude Monet (including Water Lilies), there are paintings of the Gaugain and of Vincent van Gogh.
My Dutch heart starts to beat faster when foreign museums have a Rembrandt painting hanging on its walls. The Art Institute is the proud owner of Rembrandt’s painting “Old Man with Gold Chain”, which Rembrandt painted in 1631.
Some of the other highights of the museum include paintings of Andy Warhol, Mondrian, Chagall and a wonderful painting of my favourite president: Barrack Obama.
Next to paintings the museum has large exhibits on architecture and photograpy. You can basically spent the good part of a day in the Art Institute. Two hours of paintings was however, enough for me and I headed to the Christmas market to meet my family.
It remains a bit odd that there is a German style Christmas market downtown Chicago. It is pretty authentic with vendors from Austria, Poland and Germany selling wooden Christmas arts and crafts and pottery. The bratwurst and the glühwein tasted as good as the ones we have had at the Christmas market in Osnabrück, Germany. The buildings around the market are just somewhat different.
Our final day in Chicago was the last Sunday before Christmas, a good reason for a church visit. Our daughter is a regular a Soul City Church, a non-denominational city church in the West Loop. As is common for most American churches, the singing is beautiful. Church services in the US are more informal than back home but not less relevant. The church was very welcoming and a good start to the Christmas holidays.
Chicago is a great city. We have been coming here for a number of years and hope to be back soon. Our next destination: New Orleans to visit daughter number two.