Thursday, 12 July 2012

I Say a Little Prayer

Chicago is a really surprising city.  I don't know what I expected but amongst the various things I've read in the last few weeks is that Chicago is where skyscrapers were first built and the skyline here is amazing. Amongst the modern towers of all shapes are the older buildings like the Chicago Tribune building and these are reminiscent of Gotham City, which turned out to be rather appropriate as we later bumped into Batman and the Joker in Millennium Park. Not the real ones obviously, but students filming but they had the make-up perfectly for the late, great Heath Ledger as the Joker - definitely one of my favourite film actors of all time.

Despite the fact that we had eaten lunch (and a lot of other things) on the plane, as soon as we had checked into our lovely old-fashioned hotel (think Ghostbusters) we headed out to feed child 3 again. We've been to the Chicago Cheesecake Company before in Annapolis and so, in order to refuel the one who is always hungry we went there, just a block away under the John Hancock Tower which is one of the tallest buildings in the city. We all managed a main course (I always forget how gigantic the portions are here) and then child 3 made it his mission in life to eat the most enormous chocolate cheesecake. He has just told me it was a chocolate biscuit base with a chocolate mousse layer, vanilla mascarpone, with chocolate on the top and whipped cream and chocolate sauce - how's that for detail! He finished it, declared that he felt pregnant - like he'd know! - and we set off to explore the Magnificent Mile which is the massive shopping street with all the US and global brands - retail heaven for number 4.

I find myself entertained at how much we know - or think we do - about the USA from watching movies. We crossed the bridge where Julia Roberts had danced on the boat in My Best Friend's Wedding (the same film where Rupert Everett stole the show singing Dionne Warwick's I Say a Little Prayer) and walked up to Millennium Park where there was a free outdoor concert playing in a magnificent hall that looked like they had started to build the Sydney Opera House and built just one side. People just rocked up, biked up, skate boarded up, listened for a while to the band who started off sounding like the Shadows, and then moved off in the evening sun.

My beloved had got very excited about The Bean. This is a giant shiny metal kidney bean, designed by an Englishman, which he promised, incorrectly as it turned out, to be the size of Copgrove Hall. Actually it was probably not much bigger than the village hall but its shiny sides made curious reflections of us all and it's obviously a big draw here and rightly so. Its image appears all over the city and as the park only opened in 2004 it is very popular.

By the time we got back to the hotel it was 2.00am UK time and we were ready to crash. However we have now discovered the downside of this lovely, old-school hotel - thin walls! Lots of gymnastic and noisy activity on the other side of the wall which made it impossible for child 3 to hear Jeremy Clarkson in a very early episode of Top Gear. Cue my beloved banging on the wall with a shoe and some wag saying they must be old and fat because they stopped pretty soon after that!

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