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LouieB

Going to Chicago....what to do, see, stay, etc.

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There is a reasonably nice hostel in downtown not far from the Art Institute. Having never needed to stay there I can't comment on it too much.

 

Monday January 17 is Martin Luther King birthday holiday. Not everything will be closed, but alot of the government offices will be (maybe not the counsulate). Make sure you call ahead on that. If you take the bus in, the bus station is not so great and is on the near west side. Get a map and have a place to stay before you get here. See this hostel, which is not too far from the bus station and near public transportation.

 

I hate to be discouraging to anyone when they come to Chicago, but you are going to be here a very short time it looks like you know very little about Chicago. It is a very large place geographically and we don't have a ton of swing dance events I don't think. (If you want to go to a disco/techno club, now that is a different story.) Just finding a place to stay and doing a few regular tourist things like visiting the Art Institue and Millenium Park, which are across the street from each other and near other things downtown, may be all you can do this time out. But get your feet wet and come on back.

 

Again someone who knows more about what you can and can't do without a passport needs to chime in here. How old are you?

 

LouieB

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I just had my 20th birthday. I do have the photocopy of my passport and I20 form and my student ID card. This will be my first time to be in real city of America. Hopefully I can get a internship in DC during the summer though. But I need my passport.

 

And I made a mistake. The Chinese consulate does close on Monday. I'll be there on Tuesday morning.

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Chicago is certainly a real American city. Make sure you have some place to stay. At this point I would stay close to downtown and do some fun stuff within walking or close bus/taxi proximity. Get your bearings and come back again when you have more time. A trip by bus to Hyde Park (you are missing dancing anyway) is for those who are not beginners here. We have lots of museums, restaurants, shopping, a few clubs, etc. right around the central business districts. If you stay at the hostel you will meet other young people too.

 

As things go with government offices, your getting a new passport could take some time. The area around the counsulat is pretty interesting.

 

Finding a place where they do swing dancing isn't going to be easy. If you have a time machine and go back to the 1930s or 1949s, you could do it anywhere. But it is not a common passtime for folks anymore.

 

LouieB

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Guest Speed Racer

A trip by bus to Hyde Park (you are missing dancing anyway) is for those who are not beginners here.

 

Now that's not true at all.

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Now that's not true at all.

Rather then contradict me, give him directions. I am fine with trying to get someone somewhere (where at that point he has no reason to go, because the dancing is on a night he isn't going to be here), but it would take me a bit of time to figure out how to get from the far north side to Hyde Park and then find his way from the bus to the building where the dancing is taking place, since it is on campus. I know plenty of folks who live here who would be hard pressed to get from even the Loop to Hyde Park if htey had never done it before.

 

I have been trying to help this guy out, maybe you could do the same.

 

Lou

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I have been trying to help this guy out, maybe you could do the same.

 

I am. How's that soapbox treating you?

 

Rather then contradict me, give him directions.

 

I haven't lived there in four years (um, 6? geez) but there are about 139,394 express buses to Hyde Park. Most of them say "EXP HYDE PARK" on them or something to that effect, most pick up around Clarke (or State?) and Lake. Some of them have a 55 on them, if I recall. But if you can't find an express bus to Hyde Park, chances are you're not in Chicago.

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Buses are for losers and boozers :lol

 

kevintoy pm'd and I gave him direction via the train, if he decides to come down here. There are swing classes going on Tuesday night at Ida Noyes Hall (a great "old school" library building), which is 3 blocks from the 59th Metra stop.

 

I agree with LouieB., venturing down to Hyde Park and leaving Hyde Park around 10pm may be an ambitious undertaking for someone who never visited a major U.S. city. But I did point out to him that he will be on campus and that there are plenty of "emergency/panic buttons" throughout the campus, if one finds themselves in an uncomfortable situation.

 

Below is a U of C Mass Transit(from Downtown) link.

 

Directions By Mass Transit (from Downtown)

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Buses are for losers and boozers :lol

 

kevintoy pm'd and I gave him direction via the train, if he decides to come down here. There are swing classes going on Tuesday night at Ida Noyes Hall (a great "old school" library building), which is 3 blocks from the 59th Metra stop.

 

I agree with LouieB., venturing down to Hyde Park and leaving Hyde Park around 10pm may be an ambitious undertaking for someone who never visited a major U.S. city. But I did point out to him that he will be on campus and that there are plenty of "emergency/panic buttons" throughout the campus, if one finds themselves in an uncomfortable situation.

 

Below is a U of C Mass Transit(from Downtown) link.

 

Directions By Mass Transit (from Downtown)

Thanks Bob...and thanks for having my back.

 

(Comment deleted.)

 

Hyde Park is very fun and a great place to go. Sorry to be on a soapbox, but I wasn't suggesting he not go.

 

LouieB

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That was very helpful. Thank you all.

 

I decide to change my schedule..I'm going there on Friday because I really don't want to miss the dance. Hopefully the Chinese president doesn't interrupt the regular office hours of the Chinese consulate.

 

I'm going Hyde Park definetely. Interesting places are riskier, but that doesn't prevent people from having fun. I'll be careful.

 

I really appreciate your help. Thanks again.

 

Kevin

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That was very helpful. Thank you all.

 

I decide to change my schedule..I'm going there on Friday because I really don't want to miss the dance. Hopefully the Chinese president doesn't interrupt the regular office hours of the Chinese consulate.

 

I'm going Hyde Park definetely. Interesting places are riskier, but that doesn't prevent people from having fun. I'll be careful.

 

I really appreciate your help. Thanks again.

 

Kevin

 

That's good - have fun. Ida Noyes Hall is a really cool building.

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That's good - have fun. Ida Noyes Hall is a really cool building.

It is. The entire campus is interesting and there are some great bookstores down there too. Hyde Park is Barack Obama's neighborhood too. PM us if you need anything.

 

LouieB

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That was very helpful. Thank you all.

 

I decide to change my schedule..I'm going there on Friday because I really don't want to miss the dance. Hopefully the Chinese president doesn't interrupt the regular office hours of the Chinese consulate.

 

I'm going Hyde Park definetely. Interesting places are riskier, but that doesn't prevent people from having fun. I'll be careful.

 

I really appreciate your help. Thanks again.

 

Kevin

How did it go??

 

Do tell!!

 

LouieB

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I was in a hurry on Friday night, Jan. 20th. Having packed up all my files, I took a quick shower and went outside at around 11:25 PM. They say the bus to Chicago will show up at 11:30, but it did not come until 12:04. I was cold and tired when I got on the bus and fell asleep almost instantly. I made a mistake here: I put my glasses on my bag under the seat; when I woke up the left glass was broken into two pieces. I spent the following hour trying to fixed, but in vain. I went back to sleep hoping to have some good dreams, however I find it impossible without a passport.

 

I arrived in downtown Chicago at 5:30 AM in the morning. The water fountain did not work, and I was eating the bread and apples I brought, while still trying to fix my glasses. Finally after fifty minutes’ effort, I barely put the two pieces together into the border of nylon.

 

The morning in Chicago was as cold as that in my hometown. I had never imagined that the wind could be chilly like this. I walked 2 hours in the snow trying to find the Chinese consulate. I was surprised that the Chinese consulate is so small and unnoticeable; I would not have recognized it without a Chinese flag. The passport office is in a business office building. It’s such a contrast with the fancy US consulate buildings in Shenyang with all the safeguards. I went into the office and found out that they do not accept cash anymore, which means I had to go the nearest post office to buy money order, plus the envelope and an 18.30 dollar stamp (I need the mail back service). The paper work was pretty efficient, though the whole procedure was pretty money-consuming. I met a Chinese student in the consulate and he told me that there would be a demonstration for the coming Chinese president in the intersection of Michigan Ave and Chicago Street. All the Chinese students in Chicago were asked to support the president. I went there after finishing my passport, but it was over when I got there. I talked to some random Falun Gong people, and then went on to find the hostel that I made an online reservation in. I arrived at the hostel at 11am, had some sleep, got up, had some pizza, and went to the art institute of Chicago. It was… pretty boring. I’m not a big fan of art, and I found the impression paintings outrageous. If you call that kind of thing art, I could be artist. One thing needs to be mentioned: all the security staff in the Museum are black. I returned to the hostel and had a conversation with two students from France. I thought they were from some Arabic country initially because the boy was wearing a strange hat. The boy is in a PhD program of physics in Paris University seven and the girl is in law school. They recommended the science museum, but all I was thinking of was the swing dance at night.

 

I had another two hours sleep, and then headed out. I bought two tickets in the Metro station, and went into the waiting room. When a train came, I asked some random person if that was the right train for me.

 

“Where are you going?” He asked.

“Hyde park.”

He took a timetable and checked: “ Yes, this train goes to Hyde park.”

 

I got on the train hesitantly and the door closed as soon as I walked into the train. I asked the conductor again to make sure, and he answered: “No, get off.” I thought he wanted me to get off in the next stop because the train was already going. So I found a seat and sat down. The conductor came to check the ticket and he seemed somewhat disappointed and angry to see me still there: “ I told you to get off.” I looked puzzled and didn’t know what to do. I was just thinking “how can I get off a train when it is running” and the conductor said: “OK, sit down. We’ll take you there. Four dollars.” So I was charged additional four dollars for getting on the wrong train. Now I do know that Chicago has different train systems, and taking the wrong train can cause you trouble.

 

Anyway, finally I found the Ida Noyes Hall. It is a cool building and there were many activities going on there. I spent about five minutes with an Asian Christian community and then went to the swing dance. It was AMAZING. We had a beginners’ East Coast lesson first and then came the open dance. I danced, to the great music, with all different girls. I gladly found myself pretty good at Lindy Hop after three months’ practicing. Many of the dancers there are college students from U of Chicago, some of them are from nearby neighborhoods. I had lots of nice conversations with them. The question that I’ve been asked most is “what brought you here?” I answered “I lost my passport.” Nine of ten people said sorry, and the last person said “I’m so glad that you lost your passport, that’s why you are here!”

 

I was dancing really, really hard. I dance very quick Lindy with a girl called Nina and after the song I asked her: “Are you OK?”

“I’m dizzy.”

“I’m dizzy.” Just like what I said to Emily when I first dance Lindy Hop.

 

I danced continuously for three and a half hours. I missed the Metro at 11:30 so I waited for 50 minutes for the last train. The Metro station shocked me. The 59th Ave station is really crappy. It is like it’s been abandoned for decades. The waiting rooms are dirty and cold; there is not any protection on the edge of the platform. I got back to the hostel at about 1am. Feeling exhausted, I took a shower and went to bed. The next day I got up at 10. After finishing my meal I checked out and went to the Museum of science and industry. There was a long line in front of the ticket office; realizing that there’s no possibility for me to finish the museum, I decided to come here next time ( if I have chance to come to Chicago again). However, I did visit the record- breaking Burlington train. It was fun.

 

And I came back to Grinnell at night.

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Sounds like a ton of fun.

 

Glad Calvino/Bob stepped up to help on the transportaion issue. (And as advertized, public transit can be trying.)

 

Everyone has fun in Chicago!!!

 

LouieB

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Little help here. Record Store Day is the 16 of April, the day after Jeff at the Vic. Looks like were staying the night in Chicago. What would be some suggested stores close to the Vic so we can hit them on the way home?

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Little help here. Record Store Day is the 16 of April, the day after Jeff at the Vic. Looks like were staying the night in Chicago. What would be some suggested stores close to the Vic so we can hit them on the way home?

Reckless Records on Broadway.

From the Vic: just go straight east on Belmont until you hit Broadway and head south. It's only about 2-3 doors south, on the east side of the street. It's an easy 3/4-mile, or so walk.

That's the store where I saw Neutral Milk Hotel play an in-store back in 1998, if that tells you what kind of a place it is.

 

A little farther away, but still a short drive from the Vic, is the store that most of the Chicago crew thinks is the best one in town: Laurie's Planet of Sound on Lincoln Ave., in the Lincoln Square neighborhood.

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Todd is right, Reckless is closest, but expect crowds at all the record stores. Laurie's is not that far from the Vic, depending on where you are staying. There will be a line-up outside both stores at this point. If you are staying downtown and just want something to remember record store day, Dusty Groove is closer. Depending on what you want to get on that day, other stores may have the records you want, but Reckless and Laurie's will be trying to get the most variety I would think.

 

Hey stick around and do some other stuff in Chicago as long as you are here.

 

LouieB

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Todd is right, Reckless is closest, but expect crowds at all the record stores. Laurie's is not that far from the Vic, depending on where you are staying. There will be a line-up outside both stores at this point. If you are staying downtown and just want something to remember record store day, Dusty Groove is closer. Depending on what you want to get on that day, other stores may have the records you want, but Reckless and Laurie's will be trying to get the most variety I would think.

 

Hey stick around and do some other stuff in Chicago as long as you are here.

 

LouieB

Appreciate the info. Sounds like maybe a little more time consuming with the lines then my schedule will allow unless they open pretty early. Are we talkin around the block lines? I love Chicago, my sister lived in Lincoln Park for about 7 or 8 years and I think I've been there to visit Wilco or Jeff Tweedy more than I ever visited her. I have two mandatory stops Pequods and the Goose Island brew house. After that I'm open.

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Nah, I don't think the lines will be THAT long. Frankly you might as well just show up after the open and give it a go. Lauries is openng a bit early (9 maybe but check??) and not all the merch will sell out immediately. Some of the stuff was available for months after. But obviously if you want something that is in high demand go early. Apparently two of the suppliers for this event have merged in to one, so there are now only two distributers for Record Store Day? Anyway I would not be detered. Hanging on the sidewalk with the peeps will be fun in its own right.

 

LouieB

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I guess this thread is good as any for the below info. Nice line-up. These shows are typically fun. I'm glad the city didn't cut this.

 

Downtown Sound lineup at Millennium Park to include Iron and Wine, Low, Ted Leo

 

The series, presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events with the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, will present 10 free concerts at 6:30 p.m. Mondays from May 23 through July 25. The lineup will include the following performers:

 

May 23: Bonnie “Prince” Billy featuring the Cairo Gang and special guest

 

May 30: Justin Townes Earle, Andre Williams and the Goldstars

 

June 6: Iron and Wine and special guest

 

June 13: Headliner to be announced and Campbell Brothers

 

June 20: Kings Go Forth, Ben L’Oncle Soul

 

June 27: Low and special guest

 

July 4: Seefeel and special guest

 

July 11: Delicate Steve and Bombino

 

July 18: Blonde Redhead and special guest

 

July 25: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Rachel Ries

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Nice line-up. It is amazing that Justin Townes Earle hss skyrocketed from a guy who could not fill Schubas to playing Millenium Park. Nice work.

 

LouieB

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On not staying downtown. There are other places.

 

Try the area around Midway Airport. Not too exciting, but there are lots of options and rates will be lower than downtown. It is also a fairly short el ride into downtown from Midway.

 

There are hotels in the Skokie area, which is also pretty unthrilling, but the shopping is good. Evanston has hotels and is on the el line, but tend to be expensive. The Margaretta Inn is okay and there are B&Bs there.

 

The south suburbs also have clusters of hotels. I don't know which ones specifically and they are pretty far away. (Oaklawn, Orland Park, etc.)

 

Other suggestions?

 

LouieB

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I found this place while looking for a place to stay. Unfortunately, they don't have availability for my Chicago trip, but maybe someone else could use it. I'm not from Chicago, so I can't say anything about the neighborhood. Looks cool though, and the prices are good.

http://longmanandeagle.com/

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I don't know how many of you will get to Cicero. I don't imagine that most of you want much to go to Cicero, there's not much there. And it can get a bit sketchy.

However, if you are in Oak Park (which is nearby, with lots to do), and you love Mexican food, here is a tip (copied from my other thread that may sink to the bottom soon):

Los Chilaquiles in Cicero.

It's just a little dive with about 7 or 8 little tables. Looks like a typical taqueria, but it's anything but.

I walked in with my son, and the owner greeted us and told us, "I am going to sell you a LOT of food tonight!" He walked us through the menu which, despite my familiarity with Mexican food, had a lot of stuff that I had not yet seen, including a bunch of different salsas. (One with roasted chipotle peppers and tequilla was especially amazing.)

We had mini sopes for an appetizer -- each with a different kind of salsa. The one chipotle/tequilla one, one with a poblano cream, and a third with red chiles and queso and crema.

Then, we had quesadillas with huitlacoches (corn mushrooms), quesadillas with squash blossoms, and sopes with stewed pork shoulder.

 

"This is the real Mexican food. This is what we eat at home."

 

So, so good.

 

There is a lot of stuff on that menu that I have not yet tried, including the coffee. I love Mexican coffee, and I aim to have some the next time.

They also serve breakfast.

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