Browsing "Illinois"
Dec 5, 2009 -

Travels Without Miranda, #7: Chicago’s Navy Pier, Illinois

Chicago is one of my favourite cities. It is vibrant, clean, friendly, and approachable. I’ve been there twice, spending a week in 1999 and stopping over on my Great Lakes adventure in 2005 to return to Navy Pier. I also went through O’Hare on my way to Colorado in 1996, but I’m not sure that counts. ๐Ÿ™‚

Until I visited Chicago in 1999 I considered myself to be a country gal with little use for cities, finding them to be ugly. Vacations were meant to be spent in aesthetically pleasing places; I had only come to Chicago to visit a friend, otherwise I would have spent my travel dollars on a great camping excursion instead.

My week in Chicago changed my opinion of cities in general and Americans specifically. Until Chicago, I thought all American cities were like filthy New York City and all Americans like its rude residents. I still had a lot to learn about not making sweeping generalizations about places and people.

One of my last stops during that 1999 trip was Navy Pier, a tourist trap jutting out into Lake Michigan that is filled with souvenir shops and over priced food. It’s one of my favourite places in the United States. ๐Ÿ™‚

I walked down one side of the Pier that day and up the other, stopping in my tracks as I did so to take in the sight of Chicago. It awed me. Glimmering obsidian sky scrapers shimmered against a perfect blue sky, their reflections bouncing off the turquoise waters of Lake Michigan. I was looking at a downtown traffic snarl at the same time as I watched volleyballers frolic on a sandy beach. Cities can be beautiful, I thought with awe.

(I went through a long spell of traveling without a camera)

(I went through a long spell of traveling without a camera)

Six years later, I decided to return to that spot on the Pier and it was as though time had stood still. Chicago was exactly as I remembered her to be and while a stay over wasn’t on the plate for this trip, I was reassured that my memories hadn’t been romanticized over the passage of time.

Chicago taught me that cities can be beautiful, a lesson that I clung to as I so desperately worked to fall in love with Vancouver.

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British Columbia, Canada, Illinois, Travel, USA    No Comments
Jan 2, 2009 -

Paralysed

In my (albeited limited) world view, Vancouver is the Los Angeles of Canada, the dark, nasty, don’t get off at the wrong exit or risk a violent death, city, the Gotham of Tim Burton or Chris Nolan. I’m not that timid. I’ve survived Chicago’s South Side, New York’s Washington Park at midnight, Ottawa’s Market after dark, riding the Montreal mรฉtro with skinheads, playing chicken with Hells Angels in Gatineau, getting lost in downtown Baltimore, even wandering around the bad parts of Calgary (Calgary has bad parts?). Hell, I’ve even survived a trip to Los Angeles… and that’s what’s not helping the Vancouver situation!

Surprised? ๐Ÿ˜€

Like with Los Angeles, I know there is a lot to see and do in Vancouver, but, like with Los Angeles, getting around is the issue. In LA, I was advised to not walk around, drive unless I knew where I was going, or take public transportation. I think this left taxis? I wound up driving straight to my hotel on Sunset Boulevard and walking between it and the famous Hollywood sites like the Kodak theatre (even though I’d been advised to not even walk those twenty or so blocks). After less than a day there, I was so exhausted from being on my guard all the time that I just left without going beyond Hollywood (nasty place) when I would have enjoyed doing a studio tour or even just visiting the Griffith Observatory. Looking back, I realise that I would have needed a native guide.

Same thing with Vancouver, it seems, and especially Surrey! Surrey gets a very bad rap; you wouldn’t believe the number of people who told me not to go to Surrey and to especially not be out in Surrey after dark! Last night, I did go out, taking two main streets to go to Walmart and back. Tonight, I’d like to go to a movie, but I have no idea which theatre is in an okay part of town. I’ll need to speak with the very friendly camphost here and ask her what her recommendations are.

Also like in Los Angeles, traffic is absolutely terrible here, maybe even worse than Toronto, but, of course, not nearly as bad as Montreal (because no place in the US or Canada has traffic worse than Montreal).

So, I’m here and really excited and happy to be here but shocked to discover that here is just as scary as I expected it to be!

At least, the RV park is a lovely, non-threatening, bubble. ๐Ÿ˜€

My first order of the day for tomorrow, then, is to have a chat with the camphost, descarify myself, and come up with one activity for each ofย  Saturday and Sunday that will get me comfortable with this city!

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Alberta, British Columbia, California, Campgrounds, Canada, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Ontario, Personal, Quebec, Scary Stuff, Travel, USA    8 Comments