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8th Nov 2017 - 9th Nov 2017
The Sweet Life

I had heard that Americans like sweet food (and I knew for example that the Coke formula in Australia has less sugar than in the US), but we have experienced it ourselves now that we are buying food here to eat at home.The bread and porridge are all much sweeter than we are used to (even the whole grain versions), doughnuts are seen as normal breakfast food, not rare treats, and lots of coffee is offered with flavored syrups. Perhaps the idea of a treat has become a daily refuge from the horrors of political life? This was exemplified at a meal we had at the Art Institute; you can usually depend on art gallery cafes for good food. We ordered a dessert plate of “fruit, nuts, cheese and chocolates” to share. What we got was four types of chocolate (truffles, ordinary milk choc pieces, a dark chocolate log with dried fruit, and a white chocolate slab with dried fruit bits), candied pecans, and one soft goat’s cheese with cranberries added. No crackers. Not at all what the French would offer! It was delicious but we couldn’t eat it all. (The rest of the meal had been lovely, starting with Brussels sprouts chips - individual crisply baked leaves, served with aioli.)

Yesterday we walked around the nearby Lincoln Square area - an old Geman settler district with lots of restaurants and food shops - and had a lunch of the classic Chicago deep dish pizza (actually pretty nice, more like a tart with a pizza base). In the afternoon we took a 90 minute river cruise with a “docent” from the Architecture Foundation talking about the city buildings, and how the river flow was reversed in 1900: it now flows south to the Mississippi, via a canal, rather than into Lake Michigan (an early attempt to deal with a polluted waterway).  Very interesting but cold (only 6 degrees) under grey skies, as you can see in Geoff’s photos. He does love the buildings - the beautiful Art Deco ones and the modern. Interestingly, when our docent heard we were from Canberra she immediately said there was a Chicago connection because Marion Mahony, the designer of Canberra, came from Chicago. No mention of Burley Griffin. Marion was one of the first licensed female architects in the world and worked with Frank Lloyd Wright. When you read the Wikipedia article on her you realize how much she has been perhaps unfairly overshadowed by Griffin’s name, in Australia anyway - presumably because she was a woman.

Today it was still cold but sunny again and we decided to walk the 606, a disused elevated railway line that has been converted into a multi-use recreation trail and public park, like the Highline in New York. A great way to see some more of the city away from the downtown area. We do like this city - and have remarked how few police there are on the streets, a marked contrast to New York.

We finished the day at the movies, wasting the good weather indoors watching a disappointing film - The killing of the sacred deer. “Brilliant Shit!” Was Geoff’s verdict. 

Next: Farewell to the Windy City
Previous: Frank and the Piano in Chicago

Diary Photos

Another door with great beauty. But notice the number: 4611 1/2.

Tiled mural on our walk through the (Chicago) German district.

At the top of this building is a church.

Chicago downtown at ground level

Jean Dubuffet sculpture plus the man with the yellow bag.

Inside the building with the white jigsaw sculpture outside.

Trains above, cars below: Chicago.

The architect said that nature did not exist in squares and rectangles. These are trees.

The river was reversed!!

Note the gold top.

Bloody cold in November but a lovely city. The Obamas still own a home here.

A new Apple shop. All glass with a silver roof.

Great old architecture.

Temples for business?


Reflecting the river.

This new building has a VERY skinny V shape meeting the ground. Amazing engineering.

Licorice allsorts in architecture.

This building has a mural of the Chicago river and shows where we are on the river.

Then there is another side as we move up the river.

Round and tall.

What is going to happen to this man?

A variety of architectural styles.

Yet people live in tents on the river edge.

And another!

What the ...!

1920s glory.

Our docent (I had never heard of this word) doing a great job explaining Chicago architecture.

Valet parking only now. Look it up in Google! Can you guess what happened?

Colour, reflection and different styles.

Chicago skyline, 2017. The building on the right is shaped like a three leaf clover.

Chicago skyline, 2017. Always changing.

And a delight at the end of the tour on the river.

We got off the boat, frozen to the core, and look what we discovered when we wanted warmth.

The train turns left and we turn right to get on it. Oh to be warm again.

The 606 has soft blue synthetic edges for the runners.

Well signposted.

A rail line above the 606, once a rail line now a walkway.

Mural as we walk along the 606.

New Chicago homes with outside decks and making use of flat roofs.

Repurposed buildings, turned into apartments, have hanging decks.

A nice deck on top of the garage. Chicago houses often have a separate garage with rear access lane.

A new house in Chicago.

At the end of our Chicago 606 highline walk today.

View to Chicago downtown on a beautiful day as we head to the movies.

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