Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Chicago Part I

A few of our Brit group flew out to Chicago on Thursday for a few days and I was ecstatic to leave the stress of work behind for my first, albeit short, break this year. After less than 3 hours we were at our hotel, so Nancy and I quickly unpacked and headed straight down to the river for an Architectural River Tour.

This is our hotel lobby above. The rooms were old fashioned but surprisingly well equipped, even having an electric kettle which was frustrating since all of us had neglected to pack tea bags.

We walked past the NBC building where I realized for the first time that the annoying chip I'd always noticed in one of the logo's segments was actually the beak of a peacock.

In the Tribune Plaza by the Chicago River stands these giant statues from Grant Wood's painting, 'American Gothic'.

We got on board our boat and literally sailed into the sunset. It was a beautiful evening and the sun glinted and bounced off of the glass buildings. The first skyscraper was built in Chicago in 1885 and the city's skyline has a diverse collection of architectural periods. The large Skyscraper on the right is the Trump International Hotel & Tower. When the plans were first announced, it would've been the tallest building in the world, but the plans were scaled down a few hundred feet after 9/11.

This 'corn on the cob' building is Marina City built in 1964, a city within a city, with residential and commercial property within and a marina underneath.

The Chicago River has many fascinating bridges crossing it for both road and rail purposes; this is a railway bascule style bridge. The Sears Tower is in the background with the white antennas, the world's tallest building until 1994.

333 West Wacker Drive is an all glass building built in 1984 and follows a bend in the river. The architects were recognized with an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects in 1984.

This beautiful art deco building was completed in 1929 and compliments the Civic Opera House, also art deco, across the other side of the river.

I loved the sunlight dappling the buildings and the reflections in the glass.

This is River City built in 1986 with a private marina and each condo unit being a wedge shape, fanning out either towards the windows or inward to the atrium.

Another view of part of the skyscape with the gothic Tribune Tower, center, built in 1925, and won first place out of 263 entries in a much publicized international design competition. The walls hold a collection of stones from famous monuments and sites around the world (and the moon), including the Arc de Triomphe, Parthenon, Berlin Wall, Alamo, Great Wall of China, Forbidden City, White House, Taj Mahal, Great Pyramid of Cheops, Petrified Forest, Badlands, St. Peter's, Notre-Dame, Hagia Sophia, Antarctica, Omaha Beach, and Mammoth Cave.

This Italian style building was where the river cruises started from.

The city is covered in beautiful carvings and friezes, many of them art deco.

We saw a few jazz performers and even a guy with a full set of drums on the street.

The Water Tower, built in 1869, is one of the few buildings to survive the Chicago Fire in 1871.

This parking lot was next to our hotel, a Frank Lloyd Wright influence.

This bronze sculpture is of a local artist, Jaume Plenza, in 2007.

And this is a dress which I adored but didn't even dare to look at the price tag.
After our tour, Nancy and I went back to the hotel where we met another friend who'd just arrived. We went to the bar and started chatting to a friendly Welsh guy called Tony, who has retired and now spends his retirement traveling around the world and supporting the Welsh Rugby team, who Tony took great delight in telling us were staying at our hotel along with the BBC film crew.

Me and Tony having a laugh. We spent the next three nights meeting Tony in the evenings and having even more laughs. He's a splendid chap and by the end of our stay, we'd become good friends with him. He took great delight in giving us the first name of a guy that walked past, telling us to say hello when they emerged from the mens' room, and then laughing at us when we discovered their true identities. One by one, we were introduced to the bigwigs of the Welsh Rugby Union.

Me, Jill, Dennis Gethin (Welsh Rugby Union President) and Nancy.

Tony and David Pickering (WRU Chairman).

Me with David. I was checking each person on my iphone as I learned their names; I couldn't believe we were in such awesome company.

Me, Roger Lewis (WRU Chief Executive) and Jill. I'd also checked him out and he was very impressed with the iphone, I actually lost it for about 15 minutes while he played around with it. We saw a few of the players who came down but they were only drinking coffee and didin't stay long, obviously in preparation for their match against America on Saturday.
All evening, we kept grinning like cheshire cats to Tony and eachother and exclaiming, 'Bloody Hell!'. We could barely believe our luck at meeting these gentlemen, and what a fabulous way to end our first day in Chicago.


Heideldy Deideldy said...

How freaking awesome! You should have let me know, I maybe could have harassed you to! St Paul is about 6 hours from Chicago and I have peeps down there!

Debby Karalee said...

I hated to bring it up since it was so close to your surgery date. I can't believe how quickly you're healing!