Chicago

I think any city has character. You have to just discover it. I find that the best way to introduce yourself to a city is by walking around a lot. The streets have things to say that you can easily miss when you’re driving from destination A to destination B. And the Chicago downtown has a lot of stories to tell, little secrets tucked away in the blackened side streets, sights that never make it to post cards or Facebook photographs, and smells that don’t quite reach the Yelp rated restaurants. 

It’s a 2 mile walk to the Millennium Park from Desplaines street, where we are staying. The green Milwaukee river sparkles in the bright chicago sun and little waves dance as the Windy City teases it. The buildings along the river sparkle too, as the glass that they are covered with, reflect the sun on each other, playing. The park is a sprawling few acres filled with intriguing structures and areas to sit and people-watch. We take dozens of photographs at the silver bean that reflects the city’s beautiful skyline. From there, we walk to the buckingham fountains that is a massive set of water spouts, and which can go up to 150 feet.

It seems only right to eat the famous Chicago deep dish pizza for lunch. A 2-mile walk along the stately Michigan avenue brings us to Pizzeria Uno – an old, pizza establishment, locally famous for its deep dish pizzas. Chilled beer along with a grand serving of the pizzeria uno special is just perfect.
In the evening, we decide to go to little India to be treated to some authentic Pakistani biriyani. Gandhi marg and Jinnah marg look exactly like another shopping street in Bangalore or Mumbai that for a minute I forget I’m a foreigner here. It’s nostalgic. The stores sell shiny shalwar kameez, jewelry, chaats, and just about envy thing else that’s Indian.

The view of the skyline is magnificent form the air, from millennium park or from Michigan avenue. But the view of the silver buildings is something else when you see it from the Milwaukee River. We rent kayaks near Kinzie street and row down the main stub of the river past State Street… It’s an unsettling experience, to kayak on a small insignificant boat and to be surrounded by massive glass buildings, that boast of the highest real estate prices in the city, house some of the most successful businesses and richest businessmen.

It’s not complete without a couple of strolls back and forth on the Magnificent Mile on Michigan avenue. This mile-stretch boasts of some of the biggest retail brands, the two tallest buildings in Chicago, many coffee shops and restaurants. The black John Hancock tower happily takes me back to the scene where batman jumps off it. The magnificent mile is the perfect spot in downtown Chicago to sit back, enjoy a sip of coffee and watch the world go by.

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