Visiting Chicago On Foot

Immediately after coming back to work I got the news, that I will have to search again for someone to replace me in the office: I had to go with some job related stuff across the ocean. The target city was nothing else than one of the greatest cities in the U.S.: Chicago. It was actually my third visit to the city (the first two were two short visits while I was working in the U.S., six years ago, in a summer), so it was nice to see what changed, how the city looks like now. I have to say, it still looks great :D.
Chicago 1
I think I will be covering my visit to Chicago in more than one post, because, there are some important details I think I need to share first. The first thing is: where to stay at? Well, I think everyone knows, that in the U.S. people are like sitting ducks without a car, and… well I was a sitting duck… I needed to find a relatively cheap accommodation, close to both O’Hare and the city center. This is of course impossible, because the two locations are quite far away from each-other. There is, however, very good public transport between O’Hare and downtown. It is called the CTA blue line, and it is a suspended/underground train which connects the two points just for people like me (a 45-50 min. ride). So, the target was to search for cheap accommodation among the blue line. And the winner was this Motel 6. It is a 30 minute walk from the blue line’s “Rosemont” station, BUT there is a sidewalk on the road (something rarely seen there), so it was ideal for me, therefore I have immediately booked a room there.

The next important thing to consider in Chicago is: where to keep your luggage, if your plane leaves in the evening and you still have time to see the city? Well, O’Hare has suspended it’s locker service due to security reasons. Motel 6 has no locker service and you need to check out at noon. There is, however, a locker service at Union Station, the main train station of Chicago, which is luckily a few hundred meters away from the blue line (“Clinton” station) downtown. There one has the possibility to store luggage for a reasonable price (after 3 hours a flat rate of $15 is applied, a rate which is totally payed when you pick up your luggage). One thing to know is, that although it is relatively close, finding Union Station after getting out from the underground Clinton station is no easy task. Luckily I met a “homeless tour guide” who helped me out for some change 😉 .

As I had the two, probably most important, points sorted out, I just needed to connect the dots and get via the blue line to the city center. A fare costs $2.25, an amount which can be loaded to specially printed CTA cards at wending machines at each CTA station. If you have no change, don’t worry, the cards can be used more than once, each time subtracting the fare amount from the total available. The cards can also be re-loaded with money at any other wending machine. At some stations it is a bit hard to go through the revolving gate with all the luggage, but the guards at the gates can be asked at any time to help you out 😉 .

If you do not know the city, you can buy a map at Union Station, but please for the love of God do not do it. You can always get FREE maps everywhere in the city. I just did not know that, but now you do ;). Getting around even without a map is doable, just make sure you always know in which direction the lake is. That is east. If you head east, you get to the lake, from the lake you can always start over 🙂 .

So there you have it. These are the basics. I will be back with more details about the actual visit soon.


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