Chicago (We originally planned to visit our good friend Howard Chen in Chicago, but he decided to take an internship in San Fransisco for the summer! How selfish of him not to stay in Chicago just so we could visit him ;) So instead, we just thought of Howard as we wandered lost through the streets of the third most populace city in the US.)
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- Our first experience with couchsurfing.com was here in Chicago. A very positive experience, and I would recommend it to others.
- To get a clearer idea about what this is here is couchsurfing.com's mission statement: Participate in Creating a Better World, One Couch at a Time
CouchSurfing seeks to internationally network people and places, create educational exchanges, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance and facilitate cultural understanding.
As a community we strive to do our individual and collective parts to make the world a better place, and we believe that the surfing of couches is a means to accomplish this goal.
CouchSurfing is not about the furniture, not just about finding free accommodations around the world; it's about making connections worldwide. We make the world a better place by opening our homes, our hearts, and our lives. We open our minds and welcome the knowledge that cultural exchange makes available. We create deep and meaningful connections that cross oceans, continents and cultures. CouchSurfing wants to change not only the way we travel, but how we relate to the world!
So basically we stayed with strangers that we found online and slept on their literal couch.
After driving about 3 hours to Chicago, we arrived at the home we were to stay at. She had left us a note leading us on a scavenger hunt to the key, however the ink that she had used had a strange and immediate reaction to the sun, and was nearly completely faded. We were able to pick out key words such as "the back" "stairs" and "silver ___" We found the key under a silver trashcan in the backyard and settled ourselves in.
Before we could adventure in Chicago, Kyle's online course took priority and he (we) took the online psych test. So much fun!
We then drove to Chinatown, several blocks away, parked our car, ate at a Vietnamise restaurant and took the train into downtown Chicago. Unsure of our game plan we wondered around until we saw a very important word on a poster, "free." It was the cultural center, featuring several different artists, including one who had photographed an abandoned wing of Ellis Island. The pictures were breathtaking, just remarkable.
We then found the tourist center, and motivated by a cheap, blue bag that said Chicago as a prize, went on a walking scavenger hunt of the "music district" of Chicago. The sights it took us to, however, were not very interesting, the walk was. Chicago is an amazing city, one that I might consider living in, if I weren't so adverse to the combination of extreme cold and lots of wind.
We then took a boat/lake tour of Chicago where we learned several interesting facts about the city. -The Chicago river originally flowed into the Lake Michigan, but when the river continuously caught on fire due to it's use as the cities trashcan, the city decided to reverse the course of the river to empty into the Mississippi River. - "The Windy City" nickname refers not only to the ferosious winds that sweep the city but also to the overly winded politicians biding for the 1893 World's Fair who incessantly raved about the glories of their city.
That evening we sat around with our roomates for the next couple of evenings, chatted about life, ate homemade guacamole and tortilla chips and stayed up late into the evening.
The following morning, we did not rise with the sun, nor did we rise until the sun was in need for it's mid morning snooze. However, we did rise before lunch time, therefore we were successful! We spent the day exploring Millennium Park, where the large mirrored object in the shape of a bean can be found, Navy Pier ( a trap more dangerous for tourists than a Venus fly trap is for flies), Chicago pizza, deep-dish style, way overpriced but ohhh so yummy, the Magnificant Mile, a mile of upscale shopping, aka: not for Vanessa and Kyle, and an evening of magical theater; Wicked! What an amazing show, it is up there with Phantom of the Opera.
I know, I know, you must be wondering if we left Chicago without getting a famous Chicago style hot dog. Not to worry, the following morning, on our way to Moline, we took a small detour of 45 min. to eat at Hot Dougs. It was worth the calories :)