Love at First Sight Pt II

Having waxed so lyrical about NYC and how I'd never find somewhere like it.... Chicago has given it a pretty good run for its money. It's no New York but it's also very understandable why it's named The Second City. I feel this comparison may actually be selling Chicago short - it's a very different city, born of different circumstances, subject to different histories, located on different shores. Well I want to give "the second city" it's dues.

My Chi-town adventure was split in two by another cosy family stay in the 'burbs of Milwaukee. More of later. What did Chicago have to give me ?

1. Great food. I know - when is this blog coming ? Well the answer is probably never as I keep eating and editing.
2. An architecture river tour. I know. I thought the same thing, too. Why would I want an education on this trip ?? That's certainly not what I came away for... But all the same, it was recommended repeatedly from multiple sources, and whilst I thought they'd kindly misread me as someone who liked to be intellectually stimulated, I agreed (to humour them). What resulted was my being sat in the front seat of the tour, nodding along enthusiastically to every word, shushing those who mistakenly thought they were on a some kind of leisurely holiday experience. I had to stop myself from pulling out pen and paper. Seriously - for anyone who has the vaguest interest in anything at all in life, this is for you.
3. Improv Shakespeare. I could easily write an entire post on this but likely no one would read it. So I'll keep it a tweet - 140 characters: Five insanely talented, hilarious and intelligent men improvising an entirely unrehearsed, socially relevant play, in Shakespearean verse. 5 stars
4. A blues bar - not a genre of music I'm in any way versed in, but no matter because the Kingston Mines was like stepping into the deep south and no prior experience was needed. The music was cracking, and the food- oh just stop.
5. More art. More impressionists to gape at and expressionists to giggle at. On a general note - galleries are when I'm equally happiest and saddest to be travelling alone. If you've ever been saddled with someone who wants the audio guide (urgh) or to look at every.single.piece then you know what a blessing it is to take an exhibition at your own pace. On the flip side, sometimes you just want someone by your side with whom you can trust laughing at the naked ladies.
6. Beaches - is there anywhere else in the world where a city on a lake has entirely authentic beaches ? If yes, please tell me, because this visa acquisition really isn't going too well. Lake Michigan is too, too giant for my pea brain to comprehend and I was quite happy to let it be fooled into believing I was at the seaside.

I'm going to segue into Milwaukee by stating HOW friendly the midswesterners are. I may have been born and raised in a country renowned for its uncomfortable silences and allergy to making eye contact on public transport, but I still consider myself a relatively sociable being, happy to engage in conversation with a plank of wood. But these guys are so genuine and earnest and generous in spirit that even I have been taken aback. This post comes to you from the 2nd leg of my bajillion mile train journey. As I got on the train, the conductor said "full house, enjoy folks !". Wait, what ? I had to sit next to someone ?? Suddenly the inner Brit reared up. No matter, I thought, I'll just ask a load of inane questions and bore them into silence. Foolish me, I was beaten at my own game, and next thing I know I'm merrily wedged between a family of seven, playing card games, sharing snacks, laughing about the good ol' days. It really is impossible not to love and be loved here.

This was exactly how I felt during my Milwaukee sojourn - like an immediately adopted member of the family (wait - is THIS how I could get my visa ?? [Googles 'American adoption process']) Day 1 and I'm already outwearing my pyjamas, finishing the milk in the fridge, turning off the lights at the end of the night. "Make yourself at home" is a phrase I feel comfortable taking quite literally here. Other Milwaukee wonders included watching baseball (so great !!! Why did the say it was 'slow like cricket' ? A mere 4hrs and it was all over !), eating s'mores, BBQing, chasing baby chipmunks (haven't got over them yet) and eating some knock out Mexican. Oh and watching The Bachelorette. If you graduated mentally beyond nursery school and have several brain cells and a sense of equality and social progression, this programme is not for you. But if you're willing to leave your brain at the door and talk about howwww hunky Chad is, am I right ??? Well then you've probably already discovered this gem.

Overall I'm going to give a TripAdvisor rating of BL***Y FANTASTIC for the Midwest. I now roll back another hour and up another mile as I enter the Mountain Zone and Denver...


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