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  • Writer's pictureMartijn

Hello again Chicago!

Not sure if this happens to you also, but when I go back to a place where I have lived, it always unsettles me. On the one hand, it feels familiar and there are many people and landmarks which I am happy to see again, but on the other, I feel rejected: I don't really have a place anymore in the city that has continued to live without me and has mostly forgotten me. What is left of the 5.5 years that I spent there?

I am not sure of what is left of those years but I am very happy to share some highlights of the 3 weeks Alex and I spent there in September! At least something will be left of these:)

We arrived in the car we had rented for the day, just to go from Indianapolis to Chicago, under a sky that was announcing a thunderstorm but was just light enough to show us the familiar city skyline, a "homey" feeling.

The next day, from our Airbnb base, we immediately went to one of the places we used to run to: the view of the city from Belmont harbor, which featured a new -very blue- sculpture! Maybe it's because I'm Dutch, but to me it looks just like a windmill. Seeing the beautiful skyline again as well as the Chicago style houses on the way was very energizing.

Overall, I felt not much had changed during the almost 8 years that we have spent in Argentina, except that dogs had become more visible and people somewhat dogaholic... There were more dogs, with more accessories and more conversations around them. There were even dog menus in some of the restaurants in our old neighborhood. Maybe I have been living at the end of the world for too long (what's more: in a suburb!) but I had never seen a dog menu before.

A little to the North of Belmont harbor are Montrose and Foster beaches, the latter being the closest to our old house in the Andersonville neighborhood. As part of our pilgrimage through the past, we viewed the very iconic building of the "Edgewater Beach Apartments" which is pink and comes with a family anecdote: Nina (17 years old?) was visiting from Paris and had gone for a run along the lake. At some point she asked a young man for directions and he pointed to that building while describing it, obviously mentioning its unique color. Nina did not react right away, and because he had noticed she was foreign, he immediately asked "Are you familiar with the color pink?". While it was extremely considerate of the young man to check her understanding, we all had a big laugh when Nina reported the exchange and since that day, when one of us doesn't understand something, another will immediately ask "are you familiar with the color pink?" :)

Edgewater Beach Apartments

Are you familiar with the color pink?

Despite it being September already, the weather in Chicago was very nice, so we also returned to the very first place we lived in for 2 months, downtown, back in 2007: the 1955 Mies van de Rohe building at 910 Lakeshore Drive. Our furnished apartment was on the 16th floor and during thunderstorms it felt as if you were right in the middle, with lightning almost at the level of your windows! Another big memory of that temporary residence is that Tobias (4 years old) generously scratched the wooden coffee table with a knife. Luckily in the US there is a solution for everything: in this case it was "Old English scratch remover for dark woods", phew! (by the way, the bottle made it to Argentina and is quietly awaiting its next acts of vandalism, in the cabinet under the kitchen sink).

Right below "our" building is Oak street beach and we had the very same impression as on our first day in August 13 years ago: you feel so tiny on the sand below the skyscrapers. On an even tinier note, Alex lost a tooth in the water that same day...we never found it, it's probably still lying on the bottom of the lake because we did not locate it this time either. But we were amazed again by the view from the water (check out video below).

Continuing down memory-lane, Alex and I visited the Art Institute of Chicago which was OPEN (!) with effective social distancing markings and a fantastic virtual queuing system for the feature exhibit "Monet in Chicago". We learnt that the Art Institute was the first US museum to purchase a Monet, because the influential people at that time thought it would bring prestige to the city and today it has quite a collection of them. We also paid a nostalgic visit to American Gothic and a few of Georgia O'Keeffe works.

Alex' favorite : Sky above Clouds (O'Keeffe), which hangs above one of the museum's staircases

Then, like we also used to do, we biked through the famous and elegant Millenium park, all the way to the Adler Planetarium from where we could see -from the South side- what I consider to be the most beautiful view of Chicago.

The more I think of it, the more I realize this was a very emotional trip: Alex and I also celebrated our 20 years together there. He bought me beautiful flowers and we celebrated with another of our favorite activities: the Chicago architecture tour, followed by a romantic dinner in a Cuban restaurant. It was romantic all the way because we chose a dish that was to be shared. The only a-little-less-romantic element about it is that the dish was called Castro's last meal.

The architecture tour was at the end of the day so we got another dose of absolutely stunning Chicago skyline pictures, and by the end of that week I was so obsessed with skylines that I saw them everywhere, even in the bathroom...

On the Wendella tour boat

The Chicago river lock, to deal with the 5 feet difference between the lake and the river.

John Hancock tower at sunset

Trump tower - 2nd highest building (hopefully that's a premonition)

The famous "Cobb" towers

Castro's last meal (Roscoe Village)

Bathroom skyline (obsessed with skylines ??)

Now that I have taken you inside the bathroom, I will finish on a more domestic note. We lived in 2 different Airbnb's (10 days each): one was cheaply furnished but better situated, the other was a little better quality but was a converted store front, i.e. on ground level, forcing us to keep the street curtains closed if we didn't want to become an attraction for window shoppers:) Both were perfectly good enough and with practice, we will improve our Airbnb selection skills even further.

Breakfast and home office in the "IKEA" AirBnb

Hiding behind the curtains in our store front

There is one more event I did not write about: the Street Art tour we took with a French guide- That will be in the next post.

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