Chicago is beautiful in so many ways. I don’t know if it’s the Lake Michigan or the streets or its people that make Chicago what it is. Maybe, it’s the combination of all these ingredients. I’m sorry NYC, but I think I found another great city to love. I still love you, but Chicago has to share my heart with you… Paulo doesn’t agree with me on this and he asked me to stop saying that I liked Chicago better than New York.
The Lake Michigan in itself is magnificent. If someone, who doesn’t know much about geography, comes to the windy city, you can ask he or she what ocean that is, and I’m sure they will try to guess. The lake goes beyond the horizon. It’s blue, cold waters stretches along city and it’s shared with 3 others American states and Canada.
The Chicagoans are very welcoming. You can put on a lost face and someone will ask if you need help. That’s how friendly they are. They also have the Chicago Greeter program: they have volunteers, who will show to you the Chicago outside the visitor guide book. They will teach you how to get around; it will be like you have a friend in the city. We took advantage of this program. Our greeter took us to Lincoln Park neighborhood. He explained to us how it went from Europeans immigrants to the cool hip young urban professionals that it is today. We finished at the Lincoln Zoo, which is free zoo, like the one at Central Park – NYC.
The Magnificent Mile is not that magnificent. I heard this name was the idea of a smart developer, who wanted to give that section of Michigan Avenue a makeover. Now Chicago’s Riverwalk is all you can ask for. One day we just stroll by the river, we marveled at the reflection of the buildings on the water, the bridges, the taxi boats and tour boats passing by, people walking their dogs (and picking up after them), green grass areas for small picnic or kids to play. Later we stopped at a water front café with live music for lunch. It was beyond nice.
One curiosity about Chicago is its multilevel streets. We saw a section of the bi-level street, Wacker Drive. At downtown you do not see the ugly but necessary commercial trucks, garbage trucks, delivery trucks, oil trucks, etc. Also they have a great public transportation system. At the Loop the trains run above ground. You may buy a CTA card for 1, 2 or 3 days and use it unlimited on trains and buses. You don’t need a car, Chicago is a walking city. We actually stayed at a 4 star hotel near O’Hare Airport, with free breakfast and free parking. It cost us a lot less than a 2 star hotel downtown without breakfast or parking. We would take the train to downtown and back every day. The Hotel had a free shuttle to and from the airport, where the train also stopped. We used it daily; we didn’t have to move our car once.
Chicago reminded me of Recife – PE (Brazil). Probably the Chicagoans who knows Recife are thinking: “no, no way Jose!” At the Lake Shore Drive you can see the blue waters of Lake Michigan and people jogging, riding bicycles, skating, swimming, or simply hanging out. It reminded me of Avenida Boa Viagem in Recife PE (Brazil). If Chicago wasn’t so cold during the winter I could picture us living in there.