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Realized I’d not finished telling you about Chicago…

January 6, 2008, 11:55 AM

It’s also been more than a week since the last time I posted an entry here. My, how time flies. Happy new year, everyone!

We went back to the Magnificent Mile on Saturday, and Mom and Sis kind of dragged me around a bunch of stores down there again. But then things got better. John Hancock Center! While the ladies continued to shop, I got to take a ride up a very tall building once again, and went to the top of Hancock. And let me tell you something… between the Sears Tower and the Hancock Center, go for Hancock. The John Hancock Center, unlike the Sears Tower, knows what you came there to do. You came to see the view. It’s just one line past the ticket counter and up to the elevators. This is compared to Sears Tower, where it’s multiple lines, each for a different thing, plus a movie. Additionally, the elevators on John Hancock made my ears pop, while the ones at the Sears Tower didn’t. Kind of cool if you ask me…

Then later in the day, while everyone else went to a play, I got to railfan Chicago! Yaaaaaaaaay! I got to travel on parts of every line except Blue and Yellow, and got to see what “blinker” doors were all about on the Pink Line. Those railfan photos will eventually make it to Transit Center after that site comes back.

Then Sunday, before we left, we got to go around the Loop a bit, after checking our luggage at Union Station. We went to “The Honorable Richard J. Daley Plaza”, where, in The Blues Brothers, Jake and Elwood paid the tax assessment for the orphanage where they once lived. We also got to see the big Christmas tree at the former Marshall Fields flagship store (now Macy’s), and then went around to Millennium Park, where we saw the Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean”, and also the Crown Fountain, which consists of two tall glass-brick video screens showing images of various people’s faces. There’s also water involved here, but as it was like twenty degrees outside, the water was not running.

And finally, we had to return to Union Station. We bid Sis and Chris goodbye, and we waited for our train. Originally, we had only gotten the upgrade to first class on the train going back up, and so for this trip back, we were riding in steerage (aka “coach”). We were, however, looking to change that. As the conductor went through checking tickets, we asked if an upgrade was possible. He said that if one became available, he would let us know. Thirty minutes or so into the train ride, wouldn’t you know – it was. Excellent! We ended up getting upgraded to a deluxe bedroom, with all the amenities related to that.

My only complaint is that Amtrak spends WAY too much money on bottled water, placing a little eight-ounce bottled water in each passenger’s cup holder prior to the ride, despite the great availability of tap water on board. Needless to say, we did not consume our bottled waters. I had given everyone stainless steel Klean Kanteen bottles for Christmas, and Mom and I filled our steel bottles with tap water. And it was good, too.

I also have to say, the dining car attendants have my utmost respect. I’ve commented before that I wouldn’t be able to carry a tray full of plates because I’m not quite that coordinated. These people have to do all that on a moving train, having to deal with the normal movements of the train, plus the occasional bump in the ride.

Of course, train travel is still far better than the alternative, which is flying. Yes, flying would take only three hours versus the 17 hours that the train ride took, but it was a great experience. You got no hassles with the whole “security” mumbo-jumbo that you have to deal with on airplanes, and the ride is so much quieter. And the scenery is far better, too. I was almost sad to see the ride end, but still, I was glad to get home again.

And I’ve got lots of photos to show you. They’ll turn up eventually.

Web site: A bit from Chicagoist about photography in Millennium Park. Interesting read...

Song: Don't have one...

Quote: All in all, it was an awesome trip, and I'd love to go again...

Categories: Amtrak, Chicago, CTA