Thursday, October 12, 2017

[CHICAGO] Cloud Gates and Skylines

Depression came back with a vengeance in Chicago, for all the wrong reasons. It's been quite alarming lately, how the interval between my bouts of obsession eventually leading to depression is getting shorter and shorter. As you grow older you'd like to think that you are getting wiser and you understand your glitches and what makes them tick better. At the same time, I guess I'm just getting more hardheaded and bullish when it comes to pursuing what I want and clinging to it. Oh well.

Unlike the East Coast, Illinois is all set for fall and the winds are indeed becoming chilly. My first two nights were blessed with clear skies and rain did not fall until my last day. Still, I kept the late afternoon schedule and opted for an evening stroll after dinner, which is how I did it for two nights straight. It's a good thing that the pink line is just behind my Airbnb place at the Lower West Side. Reaching downtown was as easy a 20-minute ride without complications. Once downtown, you can just walk and walk and walk.

After a quick dinner at Chick-fil-A, I decided to explore the area. The Chicago Theater is right next door and beckons you with its flashy façade. Right across the street is a news studio where you can watch the anchors and the weather girl do their stint live. I could feel the awkwardness, though. You know, getting seen live doing your thing. Perhaps they are already used to it anyway. This street has a lot on offer in terms of shopping, cultural activities, food, and sightseeing of course.

As for me, I went back to the direction of the metro and headed to the river. It wasn't my intention but I saw Trump Tower calling me from afar. It was perfectly framed in between skyscrapers from the metro platform. Walking towards its location will lead you to the river, where you can follow what they call "River Walk Itinerary." Chicago is popular for its urban landscape and skyline, and taking a stroll along the river gives you a good view of some of the buildings, most of them unique enough to grab your attention.

Surprisingly, the riverbank was not crowded that evening, maybe because it was a weeknight. The route leads you all the way to one of the Great Lakes before ultimately taking you back downtown. I believe there are also hop-on hop-off ferries during daytime. I decided to cut the itinerary halfway through and take a detour because it was getting a bit too windy for comfort. Walking a bit for half an hour or so, I ended up at one of downtown's many parks, the one with the public wall climbing facilities.

The skyline becomes more and more prominent as you explore each park. I think the first one I went to was called Maggie Dealey Park. What makes it interesting is definitely that collection of wall climbing spots. I wonder how much it costs to spend a day there. If you love unleashing your inner Peter Parker from time to time, then that's the place to be. If you are more of a tourist, though, then I suggest crossing the bridge to Millennium Park, where Chicago's most famous landmark is located.

Some people refer to it as a bean; some, a cloud. Google calls it "Cloud Gate," a piece of modern architecture constructed in 2004. Made from stainless steel, it stands there reflecting the cityscape around it, featuring various buildings and angles depending on which side you stand. It wasn't that crowded when I went there that evening, but seeing it in broad daylight the next day was a different story. It's popular, so don't expect some alone time with it, lest you get disappointed.

I reserved the next night for the Adler Planetarium. Wikitravel claims that it is from there that you get to see Chicago's skyline in all its glory. Wikitravel didn't lie, but it was quite a long walk from Millennium Park. However, I still recommend the stroll if the weather permits it. Walking along the lake in a leisurely pace just watching the boats, skyscrapers, and communal activity around you can be therapeutic. I guess this is why I heart Chicago. It IS a huge modern city, but with that pretty lake and an impressive skyline to boot.

No planetarium for me. I just did what I do best: sit down and stare into nothingness, except that nothingness in this equation was replaced by the skyline and the lake. Perfect pairing. For a couple of hours I forgot about my woes. An obsession becoming real that you can't enjoy because you want more although you know you can't have more. That's the feeling that will stick whenever I remember Illinois because of you, Lower West Side. But the view will always be that of the skyline and the lake from Adler Planetarium, and that view is just as powerful. Thankfully.
[CHICAGO] Cloud Gates and Skylines

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