Our first full day in Chicago was to be spent without the company of my beloved as he left the hotel at 5am to get a flight to Pittsburg where he had a meeting. We got up early and headed out of the hotel to walk along the edge of lake Michigan. This city is so bike- and jogger-friendly and we were amazed at the number of people who were training round the lake and in it, come to that. Of course, watching all that activity made us hungry again and we found a brilliant breakfast place in Streeterville called Yolk with a breakfast menu that ran to eight pages. Full of eggs benedict and fruit and, in number 4's case, a pile of strawberry and chocolate pancakes accompanied by maple syrup and butter (only discovered when number 3 ate a spoonful because he thought it was ice cream) we walked for the next hour across town to the Field Museum - home of Sue.
Sue is the largest, most complete T-Rex in the world and is the star of the museum but there was a lot to see in addition to her, and her life-story in 3D. We shrank down to less than an inch in size and explored the soil, met Ghengis Khan (who knew that Kubla Khan was one of his four warring sons?) and sat in a Pawnee hut learning how they lived and much more. Our plan then was to go to the Aquarium but the queue in the now-baking sunshine was so long that we headed for the river taxi and chugged along the edge of Lake Michigan admiring the spectacular skyline from the water.
Like Barcelona, this is a city with a beach - or rather lots of beaches and we headed under the underpass (like you do!) which runs beneath six lanes of traffic and on to the beach where 3 and 4 consumed shrimp and chips before I could lie on the sand in peace.
My beloved arrived back after a successful day in Pittsburg and we met him down town and ate dinner (huge portions again. Memo to self: no starters!) before arriving back at the hotel where mercifully our energetic and noisy neighbours appear to have checked out or died...whichever!
Our second day in Chicago and the man who needs half as much sleep as I do was up and out early going for a walk whilst the rest of us snoozed on. Eventually we got ourselves fettled in time to grab a cab and head up to the Aquarium - the biggest in the USA and not to be missed if you come here. The advice we had received the previous day to come early was a good shout because within half an hour the whole place was full of little people. Not in the sense of dwarves but small children aged about eight dressed in matching t-shirts and ushered round by guides in similar t-shirts who attempted with varying degrees of success to control their small, shrieking charges. Absolutely amazing jellyfish, seahorses and a very good guide who explained, in front of a tank of sharks, that it wasn't the shark's fault if he couldn't tell the difference between a seal and a man on a surfboard from underneath. Makes perfect sense when you put it like that!
One of the must-do things in Chicago is, by all accounts, to go on the original architectural boat cruise and very good it is too. For an hour and a half we cruised the Chicago river and the coast of lake Michigan learning about the history of the city and some of its extraordinary buildings.
And so out for dinner and a great night in the really buzzing Luxbar on Rush before staggering back to our hotel - tomorrow we have just a day left in Chicago before catching the plane to San Francisco.