BRIGITTE author Susanne Arndt raved her life for New York. Until she met Chicago …
Sorry, New York, I’ve been unfaithful to you, but I have no regrets. When I was young, I was crazy about you, but now is the time for a more mature love: it’s Chicago, the city on Lake Michigan that you mockingly call New Yorkers “The Second City” because you think you’re better off , Sure, New York, you’re gorgeous, you sparkle and glitteringly auspicious. But you are also superficial, demanding and fast-paced like a young lover. Today, I’m smarter than twenty and I know that in search of a deep love you have to leave the seducer behind. 1200 kilometers inland, I found the inner values I was looking for, a love for the advanced, and that was how it happened.
Chicago is an honest skin – and shows me its disagreeable side first
But from the beginning: For Chicago and me, it was not an amour fou, more of a hunchback, which started when my plane could not land in the Windy City, too much of a nickname (too much wind). We were diverted to Milwaukee, just 130 kilometers north. There I sat on board for a good three hours while the world went down outside. Lightning set the night sky ablaze, the apron was an angry lake. It was not until four o’clock in the morning that I rolled into a sleeping Chicago taxi – and looked disappointed in mouse-gray, orphaned high-rise canyons.
Because Chicago is an honest skin, it revealed its unpleasant side right from the start. When the revolving door of my hotel spit me on the street after a short sleep, I received drafty cold; the fog that Lake Michigan gave birth moved around the houses as swirling ghosts. I shivered and scrubbed the blanket out of the plane I’d taken precautionary after the Purser in Milwaukee said, “We’ll take you to the terminal, and then you’ll be on your own, and we’ll fly your luggage to Chicago tomorrow . “
Still, on this first walk I feel: this city is more relaxed than you, New York, not so crowded and not so fast. With my head in my neck, I admire skyscrapers that are reminiscent of cathedrals with their turrets, balustrades and gilded spiers; in between young beauties with tight, glassy skins. By the way, New York: The skyscrapers that made your skyline world famous were invented in Chicago! Since the great fire in 1871, tens of thousands of buildings have gone up in flames, and international architects are raging here – including the Bauhaus icon Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
Because Chicago is right in the middle of it all, inspirations come from everywhere
Finally, I stand on the shores of Lake Michigan , the damp wind creeps under my jacket and hisses in my ear: Stay in there today.
Now the city shows me that I can count on them even in bad times and throws all kinds of museums at my feet. At the Adler Planetarium, I look at a bit of the moon and in the International Museum of Surgical Science, which is completely dedicated to surgery, glasses full of gallstones – really decorative, I could not distinguish them from pebbles. At the Shedd Aquarium, I make friends with a charming jellyfish, and floating in the Willis Tower, the tallest building in the city, over a forest of stone, looking into four adventurous directions: On the Mississippi, I could run-down into the subtropical southern states, Drive straight to California on the former Route 66, north into endless Canada or east to New York – Chicago is right in the middle of it all.
The next morning, during yoga at the John Hancock Center, I feel beyond anything earthly, when I give the cobra 314 feet above the huge, now turquoise lake. Teacher Britta comes from Bavaria, she has won the Green Card lottery. “Why did you choose Chicago for life?” I want to know. In German manner she sticks several words together and says: “The great thing here is the Midwest small town friendliness!” New York was also great, but too hectic.
As she says goodbye, she asks me about the sunrise yoga session on North Avenue Beach, and if I can not do that, I should definitely enjoy a sunrise by the lake. It will be my plan for the last morning.
“The horizon of Lake Michigan is absolutely therapeutic!”
Because the sky is blue today, the temperature suddenly rises. And I’m also getting warm with the city as I stroll past hip cafes and restaurants, through the West Loop, the former abattoir district that is currently bringing creative people to life. I want to Nicole. The interior designer greets me in an old brick warehouse. On her T-shirt is “Fuck you, it’s magic” she wears orange nail polish, colorful tattoos, and behind her glasses brown eyes.
Nicole runs the studio “Siren Betty”, equips with two other women bars, restaurants and hotels in Chicago. And with so much charm and love that I became aware of her on the net.
As she leads me through her studio, I ask, “Is not New York much more exciting for creatives?” Nicole waves away: “New York is too expensive, and the horizon of Lake Michigan is absolutely therapeutic!” In addition, the city benefits from its central location. “Because we’re in the middle, we’re getting inspiration from everywhere – there are hardly any stars here, but so many ideas – Chicago is the best kept secret in terms of creativity.”
Then she wants to know what I have already looked at. When I mention the aquarium, she grins, “I always get an appetite for sushi when I’m there with my two daughters.” And no, at the zoo she would not get a steak craving. By the way, it’s free.
A city that has such loyal friends can not be wrong
In order to test the city for its practicality, I will meet Dave later. He is a “Greeter”, a local who guides guests around – for free, because he feels like it. Well browned under the gray tufts, he greets me, equipped with hiking pants and backpack, to show me his neighborhood Wicker Park, where we walk past historic villas and gardens full of magnolias. “The people are incredibly friendly here,” says Dave, “outside of downtown, with its skyscrapers, you feel like being in Smalltown America.”
True, in Wicker Park, only the metro, the Chicago Elevated, reminds us that we’re in a 2.7-million-person metropolis. Every few minutes she rattles over our heads and forces us to silence. Since 1892 she has been rattling over the city’s steel tracks, a dented lunchbox made of tin. Once I wave to the driver, he honks and waves back. Really nice here, the people!
Around the “Damen Station” the neighborhood suddenly becomes colorful and lively again, full of young people, diners, cafes and second-hand shops. Dave shakes hands with Bill Kim at the “Urbanbelly” restaurant, everyone knows each other, and the famous chef gives us a half-frozen mix of beer, cider, and rosé. With his Korean-Puerto Rican fusion cuisine, he has made a name for himself throughout the country and has lived in New York for a long time. Why Chicago? “You do not live in New York, you just work there.” A city that has such loyal friends can not be wrong, I think.
Hot days by the sea, Pardon: See
My love finally flares up as I cycle to Ohio Street Beach on a hot day: in front of me, a golden-sand bow spans out, the endless sea spills Caribbean blue. Beach chairs are unpacked, back creamed, children buried. The ice cream seller attracts people like moths. Suddenly, Chicago is a city by the sea, Pardon: by the lake. Were there any clouds of fog around the houses here recently? Unbelievable!
Later, on North Avenue Beach, joggers and skaters spend themselves kissing lovers in front of the skyline, white sails cross the horizon, and the colorful umbrellas flutter in the wind. With the shoes full of sand I enter shortly after sunset, the club “The Second City” very close. Stand-up comedy was invented in the 1950s, and people like Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd made people laugh. Today, a women’s troupe plays the piece “Girlfriends ‘Guide To Sisters Doing It For Themselves” – funnily funny, and in the end, all the women roar that it’s “About Fuckin’ Time” that women finally rule the world!
It would be nice, I think, when I look at the Aqua Tower of the architect Jeanne Gang the next day – it is supposed to be the tallest building a woman has ever built. What a strange superlative. With its wavy facade, it rises in the second row behind a wall of broad-shouldered skyscrapers, all designed by men. After all: Jeanne Gang’s new high-rise Vista, which is being built on the Chicago River, stands directly on the shore. Women do not rule the world yet, but they are slowly fighting their way forward! Say, New York, do you also have skyscrapers of women?
The sunrise on the lake I reserve for the next visit
On the last evening I have a small lump in my throat, because the farewell is approaching. I take the metro to the Pink Squirrel, a bumpy retro bar in pink Nicole designed. It’s on Milwaukee Avenue and I have to think about my bumpy start in Chicago: the unplanned landing in Milwaukee, the arrival without luggage and the disgusting cold wind. And how far away it all seems to me. Like any mature love, she had to prove herself.
I order a “Pink Squirrel”, the midwestern cocktail from the 50s, and when bowling with new acquaintances, I realize that there will be no tomorrow morning with the sunrise on the lake. But at the next meeting there must be something to discover. Otherwise the biggest love will be scarf.
Susanne’s tips for Chicago
The Robey. In a 1920s Art Deco skyscraper, a Belgian design duo has created a beautiful hotel that offers, among other things, a rooftop bar with pool and amazing views. Double room from about 160 Euro (Wicker Park, 2018 W. North Ave, Tel. 87 23 15 30 50, www.therobey.com ).
The Publishing House. In a former print shop, Kimberley and Shawn have set up their B & B, where they live. Great lounge, eleven exquisite rooms, and in the “The Press Room” in the basement there’s wines and snacks. DZ / F from about 160 Euro (West Loop, 108 N. May St, Tel. 31 25 54 58 57, www.publishinghousebnb.com ).
Cambria Chicago Magnificent Mile. Tasteful hotel for those who want to live centrally between skyscrapers. Double room from about 100 Euro (River North, 166 E. Superior St, Tel. 31 27 87 60 00, www.cambriachicago.com ).
Staypineapple Chicago. Mosaics, marble staircases, wrought-iron railings … Located in the legendary Reliance Building of 1890, this hotel is just steps away from Millennium Park. Double room from about 140 Euro (The Loop, 1 W. Washington St, Tel. 31 29 40 79 97, www.staypineapple.com ).
Wicker Park Inn. The brick house in the residential area is from 1900, the B & B is newly renovated. DZ / F from approx. 140 Euro; also Apartments (Wicker Park, 1331 N. Wicker Park Ave, Tel. 77 34 86 27 43, www.wickerparkinn.com ).
Giordano’s . Afterwards, you feel like you are stuffed: The lavish stuffed “Stuffed Pizza” is a specialty of Chicago – “The Special” with sausage, peppers and mushrooms is enough for two, about 19 Euro (700 E. Grand Ave on the Navy Pier, Tel 31 22 88 87 83, www.giordanos.com ).
Urban Belly. Celebrity chef Bill Kim creates Korean-Puerto Rican-American fusion cuisine affordable to all; The delicious “Veggie Bowl” is available for about 9 Euros (Wicker Park, 1542 N. Damen Ave, Tel. 77 39 04 86 06, www.urbanbellychicago.com ).
Bonci pizzeria. The Roman Bonci sells pizza by weight on the hand. Ongoing new varieties, such as potato-rosemary or spicy eggplant, per piece about 3 euros (Wicker Park, 1566 N. Damen Ave, www.bonciusa.com ).
Nomi Garden. Fine, light cuisine is served on the terrace on the 7th floor between skyscrapers; Watermelon salad about 14 euros. Great wine list! (Near North, Park Hyatt Chicago, 800 N. Michigan Ave., Tel. 31 22 39 40 30, www.hyatt.com )
Toni Patisserie & Café. If you step through the revolving door, you will find yourself in an old Parisian café … Very charming! “Crepe Suzette” about 9 euros (The Loop, 65 E. Washington St, www.tonipatisserie.com ).
The Second City. Since 1959 the first address for cabaret and comedy. Here Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi have already made the audience laugh. Tickets from about 20 Euro (Mainstage, 1616 N. Wells St, www.secondcity.com ).
Buddy Guy’s Legends . In the home of the Electric Blues you have to go to a blues club – and sometimes Buddy Guy plays himself (South Loop, 700 S. Wabash Ave, www.buddyguy.com ).
Pink Squirrel Bar. Retro bar with a small bowling alley and offbeat cocktails (Logan Square, 2414 N. Milwaukee Ave, www.pinksquirrelbar.com ).
Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Cruise. During the boat trip on the Chicago River you get some of the most spectacular skyscrapers explained. Approximately 32 euros (Streeterville, 401 N. Michigan Ave, www.shorelinesightseeing.com ).
Millennium Park. The concert shell by star architect Frank Gehry, the renowned Art Institute of Chicago, the reflective sculpture “Cloud Gate” and much more – Lake Park is the number one meeting point (The Loop).
Museum Campus. Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium and The Field Natural History Museum are close to each other on the lake.
Willis Tower. The office tower has long been the tallest building in the world. “The Ledge” makes for heart racing – in the glass bay window at 412 meters altitude one seems to float above the street (The Loop, 233 S. Wacker Dr).
Public art . Miró, Picasso, Chagall, Moore … Thirty-two sculptures by famous artists hang around Chicago’s streets. Open eyes! ( www.cityofchicago.org/publicart )
360 Chicago / John Hancock Center. Saturdays at 9 o’clock on the 94th floor high above Lake Michigan, the yoga mats are rolled out. Approximately 16 Euro, book online! Even without yoga: great view from the Observation Deck (Near North, 875 N. Michigan Ave, www.360chicago.com ).
Chicago Greeter. Insider knowledge is guaranteed when locals guide tourists through their city for free (77 E. Randolph St, www.chicagogreeter.com ).
Garrett popcorn. Since 1949 you can buy the famous Chicago Popcorn here – with cheese, caramel or nuts (The Loop, Millennium Park Plaza, 173 N. Michigan Ave).
Felt . Catherine and Holly perform great fashion by young and established designers (Logan Square, 2317 N. Milwaukee Ave, www.feltchicago.com ). Vintage fans beware: The N. Milwaukee Avenue from here towards “Damen Station” is a kind of second-hand heaven!
Sacred Art. Art and gifts from Chicago artists. Super souvenirs (Lincoln Square, 4619 N. Lincoln Ave, www.sacredartchicago.com ).
Shop Columbia . In the store, the design and art students at Columbia College learn to market their works. Original! (The Loop, 619 S. Wabash Ave, www.shop.colum.edu )
If I had known this
“If you do not like the weather, just wait 20 minutes,” they say in Chicago. Well said! If I had known that meteorological caprices on Lake Michigan rarely last long, I would not have let them spoil me so initially the mood.
The US has the area code 001.
More information can be found here: www.choosechicago.com
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VIDEO TIP: So you get with luck an upgrade in the plane!
Author Susanne Arndt enjoys the sunset in the dunes of North Beach
Nicole equips the most beautiful bars, restaurants and hotels - often with retro -Charm.
Chicago is full of art: The Millennium Park is home to the "Crown Fountain", an interactive art and video sculpture.
As the sun shines, the summer holiday atmosphere prevails
< Excavate in front of the black John Hancock Center, where at 9 o'clock on the 94th (!) floor, yoga mats will be rolled out on Saturdays.