This morning I went to the beach at the edge of the city. It felt rather strange being on the beach in the middle of central Chicago, and even more so being thousands of miles from an ocean. Lake Michigan is very beautiful, its waters change colour between dark and turquoise blues within a few hundred metres. On the beach was the first of the many summer camps I encountered today - a hoard of young kids, all wearing the same teeshirt, being shepherded by other children in their teens.
I visited Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Tours of the field were available, but I balked at the price of $25 when there was not even a game on.
The "Old Town" of Chicago is a quaint boutiques-and-cafes district, with ivy-covered buildings and wrought ironwork. Very nice, but not particularly old I fear.
My afternoon was spent at the zoo in Lincoln park, a free service sponsored only by donors. My infantile sense of humour meant that I was crying with laughter as I watched one lemur clean another for ticks.... see the video when I get around to it. I`ll not bore you with a hundred photos of animals. Just the lemurs.
On the way from the park to my downtown accommodation I passed through a small gathering of layabouts and hippies that called itself the Peace Fest. I do not know why so many people didn`t have to be at work on a weekday afternoon. I arrived at a set of luxury apartments where I was staying for the night; my host was an ex-JPMorgan broker who really showed me what it is like to be a 28 year old millionaire. When I arrived at about 5pm he asked what I would like to drink and then ordered over the phone another 12-pack using his account with his liquor dealer. We discussed his immense and expensive art collection while getting slowly more inebriated, before finally heading down for dinner. Since I was still dressed like a vagrant my host Jared lent me some clothes and I ended up looking like a typical American youth: polo neck, khaki shorts and leather flip-flops. I was missing only the side-parting floppy haircut.
Dinner was in the poshest restaurant I have been to in a long time: crab cakes, frois gras slivers (not pate), rack of lamb, and a wonderful bottle of red that the sommelier recommended.
After dinner we went to the top of the Hancock Tower to a bar on the 96th floor for a few drinks, before heading back to the bachelor pad with some of his friends to party until gone 4am.
My host even gave up his bedroom to me and he slept on the sofa, but the bedroom door was obviously not used to being closed fast, as it jammed through the night. I was trapped and in need of the bathroom, but luckily I had taken a glass of water to bed with me. This was put to good use. Eventually I managed to crawl out through the closet and could kick the door open from the outside.
My parting gift was a bottle of wine from his cellar. Such generosity.... God bless Americans.
Chicago is a great city, one of my favourites in America. It`s big without being too big, the people are friendly and the sights cool. It is the one place I think I would like to return to in order to see me; no other place has made me feel like that.