Posted by: yannaungoak | June 15, 2009

Weekend in Chicago

Ziggy and I went up to Chicago last Friday thinking we would watch the Isis concert but instead ended up bumming around the city due to a series of mishaps. First off, we didn’t get the address of the venue right and ended up looking for it in the wrong part of town. It was one of those trendy neighborhoods with tons of ethnic restaurants and used book stores. We spent about 2 or 3 hours just walking around hoping we would magically bump into the concert venue. It was supposed to be at this place called the Bottom Lounge, which used to be near the Belmont station on the Red line of the Chicago metro (or the L as they call it), but it has since moved somewhere else. Anyways, we did have a good time walking around the trendy neighborhood making fun of the hipsters in their fixed gear bikes.

Then we finally discovered that we were at the wrong place and had to take the train again to the correct location. It was about 9:15. We were pretty tired and understandably excited when we finally got to where the concert was. And then guess what, it was sold out. And we didn’t get tickets in advance. It felt like crap.

What’s more, we didn’t have a place to sleep that night. And thus the bumming around began. First we walked into the city center which was looked like a ghost town on Friday night. Nothing was open, except a McDonald’s at the Union Station. We paid about $1.90 to try the heavily advertised new ice coffee (same price as in a place like Starbucks or Seattle’s Best), which tasted absolutely horrendous.

It was around midnight I think when Zig got hold of one of his friends who lived in Chicago on the phone. We thought we finally found some place to spend the night, but ended up just visiting their place for about 2 hours, drinking and watching South Park.

Funny thing about Chicago I noticed was how its just one huge sprawl of segregated neighborhoods with tiny 3 to 4 storeyed buildings surrounding the relatively small city center with all the skyscrapers. It’s amazing how when you get from one train station to another, everything changes. It’s still the same small houses, but you can definitely tell what kind of people live there, their ethnicity, their social standing, everything. The white people live in white neighborhoods, chinese people in chinese neighborhoods, hispanic people in their own neighborhoods, etc, etc. I guess it’s usually the case in most American cities but it still seems really weird to me. Maybe because my only comparisons are Burlington, VT, which is 92% white, and New York. I spend most of my time in Manhattan when I visit New York so I didn’t actually see the nieghborhoods where people live, and they’re are probably as segregated as Chicago.

And so, we left Zig’s friend’s place and decided to sleep at the airport that night. The only problem was that it was around 2:30 AM by then and the last train to the airport from the city center had already left. It’s funny, we were on the train and it just stopped at some random station and told everyone to get out because it was the “last stop” even though it wasn’t the end of the line. We were kind of excited about it all though, I mean sleeping at airports is nothing new for me, I’ve slept multiple times in, let’s see, Singapore, London, New York, Burlington, and now, we can add Chicago O’hare to the list. The problem of course, is that we had to get to the airport in the first place, it was raining and cold and we only had t-shirts on. The only saving grace was that we were a little drunk, so we didn’t feel all that cold.

We decided to bum around in the city again until 4:45 AM or something when the first train leaves for the airport. Luckily, the random station that the train stopped at was some place which had a lot of nightlife. Lots of bars with drunk yuppies, wasting their lives away, recharging on Friday night after the work week, picking up girls/guys for the night, picking fights, and of course, stopping by for a cheeseburger at this place:

So we were at McDonalds again for the second time that night. Sitting around watching the drunk yuppies go about their Friday night activities all around us.

Even though we missed the concert and didn’t have a place to sleep, I did get to observe a nice cross section of American life that night, and got to see random bits and pieces of Chicago, all unintentionally of course.

Finally, it was 4:45 and the last leg of our journey went smoothly and we made it to the airport right before dawn. It was nice and comfy by airport standards.

Saturday was much more pleasant, we got to sleep at Zig’s girlfriend’s place and came back to Bloomington on Sunday.

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