Today I woke up missing Chicago and then I though about this post I wrote and never post it.
I remember the first time I walked around the city. Almost 8 years ago, I arrived in the country, not knowing what was going to happen from that point on. All I had was hope for a better future. After all this time, I still think about that feeling of starting over. Fresh out of the boat.
Before moving to Chicago, I was living in Sao Paulo, which is the most overcrowded city on the planet with a population of roughly 22 million, only behind Delhi and Shanghai. While the winter lasts for a good nine months out of the year, during the summer months that are plenty to do, even free entertainment, for our delight.
The city has its major problems, like any other big city, but I won’t focus on that. Let’s focus on what makes it fun!
Here are my ideas of favorites to explore while in town:
1- The CTA – Chicago Transit Authority –
Also know as “The L” . Yes, why the number one item of my list the 100 years old is public failing transportation system? Because if you want to be a local, it’s a must that you explore the city on the train. It’s cheap, reliable, and chaotic. It runs around the entire city, so you see all kinds of people on the train. Depending on which line, or what time, it gets a little danger, but I’m not about to be negative. Let the News do it. From some accounts on Twitter dedicated to the lines, the RedLine is probably the most famous one, and the tweets are hilarious and I’m happy to understand what they are talking about. A lot of nonsense. If you never got called out in the train by a stranger in the train or bus while Chicago, you are not doing it right!
2- The People
Almost everyone living here is from somewhere else. I also mean all over the world, and they are welcoming. Different from Georgia, where I was asked every five minutes where I was from, because of my accent, alas in the South its almost like a cow branding, in Chicago nobody cares. I believe the cold brings us a sense of community, as we are always engaging with each other and talking about how cold this place is, or making some snarky comment on how is always construction time. Being from somewhere different, gives everyone a sense of belonging.
3- The Food Culture
One of the reasons why the food is so great is the city is so diverse. Because of all different ethnicities, you can find all kinds of foods, walking distance from one street to another. Chicago has all kind of cuisines, of course, is also known by the Fine Dining classic cuisine, where the seven-course dinner might cost you 300 bucks, for a private area at the restaurant where the Chef feed you in your mouth, or you can stick to the cheap part and enjoy it, without breaking the bank. Last weekend, my friend was visiting from Georgia and she wanted to have a typical Chicago Hot dog, so we went to a small hot dog parlor in Old Town, considerably cheap, for that part of town, which is an upscale neighborhood area. Across from us, there were some youngsters having brunch and yelling across the speed of sound. You can imagine what kind of people they are.
4– Diverse Neighborhoods.
As city being so diverse, Chicago makes you feel like exploring a lot, by feet or bus, checking the different architecture of every neighborhood and the people. Lakeview has different pockets, The East, is where the party happens, they have BoysTown, the LGBTQ+ neighborhood, it is always fun to walk around, with great restaurant to visit. The WrigglyField – Cubs’ baseball stadium is located a block away. At Lakeview West, you have also great bars, and Argentinian BYOB SteakHouse, an old Movie Theater on Southport, and a lot of yoga moms. Logan Square you find the hipster millennial crowd. Vegan Coffee shops, Indy movie Theaters, PopUp restaurants with a different theme every month, and a super appealing farmers market. Pilsen is the Hispanic community, full of again, nice people and delicious Pan. For sure, is a lot to explore and I could keep telling you about this place forever.
5- Free Entertainment.
Free entertainment all year round in the city, but let’s keep the list to summer months because besides the city looking pretty in the winter, with a lot of chance of snow, it’s a bit safer to venture yourself during the warmer months. From April on(if we are lucky), when it starts to get a little warmer, a lot of neighborhoods hold a farmers market. Its always great fun and delicious food, that you can either eat at the market or take it with you, last one I visited, they had a Tamales stand and Mexican corn, let me tell you there was a line for it. A lot of festivals going around town, the bacon fest, the taco fest, the Roscoe fest, and so on. Every weekend there is a different street closing for the visitor to rejoice. You can also rend a Divy Bike and ride on the lakeshore
Millennium Park has a free movies, that you can sit at the grass, with a picnic mat and enjoy with friends, there is also dance festivals at Navy Pier and a lot of good to do, if you don’t want to break the bank. After all, Chicago is an expensive city, the taxes are higher and the probability that you are going to spend more than you expected is almost guaranteed.
Chicago is a great city. I believe that a lot of what you see in the media is overrated. The city has great people. I’m hoping to go back and visit my friends soon. As soon as we are cleared from Corona, because now my friends are also stranded at home, just like me, here in Austin.