Saturday, 10 October 2015

In Chicago...

This is the first time I've been to Chicago without being 'in transit' somewhere else. Normally I arrive here at some ungodly hour and then, after eating a meal at Romano's Macaroni Grill, I catch a connecting flight to Cleveland, Pittsburgh or Indianapolis. Today, I went no further than Chicago. In fact there was one time recently – or possibly not that recently – when my flight to London was cancelled due to a faulty aircraft, and I was forced to make an overnight stop in the Windy City. It's documented on the blog. I stayed in a Marriott close to the Cumberland CTA station, so the following morning, prior to flying home later in the day, I took a trip to Clark and Lake, wandered around for a bit, had lunch in the Corner Bakery and then took a taxi back to the hotel where I enjoyed a glass of Cabernet before taking a shuttle bus back the airport and then onwards to London. I remember feeling that Chicago was a boring place, but this was because it was Sunday morning, I found myself in some kind of business district where everything was closed and that was the end of it.

Soup IN a roll! I ate the lot.
On Friday I took flight BA297 out of Heathrow's Terminal Five at 1605hrs and got there with enough time to have lunch at the airport – at a place called Huxley's. I had breakfast there once and it was pretty good. I remember because I uploaded a software update to my iphone and it took ages to sort out. Anyway, Huxley's wasn't as good as I expected it to be; I ordered butternut squash soup followed by a chicken burger with chips and a couple of glasses of Merlot – much needed. The soup didn't come in a dish but in a hollowed out bread roll with a lid, like some kind of pastry pot. I wasn't sure of the protocol but I ate the pot. And then, feeling a little down (alcohol can do that, it accentuates how you're feeling and I wasn't feeling good), I wandered aimlessly for a while wondering why women like shopping so much as I passed by Louis Vuitton and saw a few of them admiring the handbags. I considered a cup of tea and a cake at EAT, but couldn't be bothered and eventually took the escalator down to where the driver-less trains take people to various gates. In my case Gate B47.

The flight was uneventful. I swapped seats with somebody's 'mom' so they could sit together. I still had an aisle seat, which was what I wanted, but I would have much preferred seat 37A, an exit seat with plenty of legroom. The annoying thing was that I could have taken it when the seats became available on line 24 hours prior to flying – but at a cost of £58! Even the woman on the BA desk at Heathrow said they should have been free. Had I been sitting in that seat I would have enjoyed the flight much more. As it was, I stood most of the way. Once I'd eaten my dinner – chicken curry with rice followed by a chocolate mousse and a small piece of cheese with two crackers – I walked to the back of the plane and basically stood around for most of the flight. I chatted to a computer consultant from Cleveland who plays the stockmarket and buys property. A nice guy, Lebanese, on his way back from a trip to Beirut via London, without his wife who, for some reason, didn't fancy the trip. Apparently there used to be a direct flight from Cleveland to London operated by Continental, but not anymore. I wish I'd known that, although, if I had I would never have known how wonderful it was to sit and enjoy Pollo Caprese and a glass of Cabernet in Romano's Macaroni Grill (opposite Gate H3).

View from the rear of the plane – an arduous, boring flight
Sometimes, to ease the boredom, I used the toilet, but only to stand there for a few seconds of solitude, not even to take a piss. Then I flushed the toilet, purely for effect, and re-emerged feeling just as weary and cheesed off as before I went in. With about one hour to go, the trolley dollies brought out a chicken sandwich and a mini Kit Kat, so I returned to my seat where I'd spent no more than two hours during the entire flight. I'd listened to Saint Caen's Symphony Number Three (fourth movement) plus Stylo by Gorillaz, Park Life by Blur, Boy in the Bubble by Paul Simon, Jive Talking by the Bee Gees (I like the bass line) and The Wizard by Black Sabbath, not forgetting Joy Division's She's Lost Control and Love Will Tear Us Apart. I couldn't be bothered to watch any movies.

The flight was smooth – no turbulence – and daylight all the way. We glided into O'Hare and even the usually arduous task of immigration was smooth and fast, thanks to machines rather than humans. My suitcase was there on the reclaim – now that's an anxious part of flying – and soon I found myself in a taxi heading downtown to my hotel on North Michigan Avenue. My cab driver was from Namibia – where he says there are lots of Germans – and used to work for the cosmetics company Avon here in the Windy City, but was made redundant and took up cabbing. He moved to Chicago because he knew people in the city and hadn't been impressed with LA or New York. He found the latter dirty and wasn't keen on LA's downtown. It wasn't a long journey and soon I found myself in my room preparing to get some sleep. I haven't slept well (who does after a transaltantic flight?) and I know that over the next day or two I'll feel tired and weary at odd hours of the day until my body clock kicks in to US time. And then, of course, it'll be time to go home.
Even the view out of the window was boring

I've slept for about four hours. It's now 0608hrs and I've been up for around an hour.

The hotel room is fine: the TV works, the room temperature is just right, there's a minibar full of 'stuff' and a 'snacks draw', not that I'll be indulging in any of it. The room is sort of L-shaped. You come through the door and turn first right for the bathroom and second right for the bed. The desk, however, is too close to the cabinet that houses the minibar and 'snacks draw' and it took me an age to get the laptop's cumbersome charger plugged in – the desk is too heavy to move and so is the cabinet. Other than that, no hassles. I've entered the breakfast time zone so I think I'll head on downstairs to check things out. I could do with a decent cup of tea and some cereal.

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