What do you do when you have just 24 hours in one of the largest cities in the United States? Well, my colleagues and I had this opportunity when we won an improvement idea project locally, and the reward was a bigger global competition in the United States and the chance to visit Chicago! Post-competition, we had 24 hours in a city which none of us had visited before and, obviously, we were exhilarated!
The mega skyscrapers appeared before us as the bus rolled into the city. Soon enough, we were whisked off to the 95th Floor of The Signature Room of the John Hancock building for a 360° view of the city and a sumptuous lunch. Cameras clicking, stomachs filled, we proceeded to Navy Pier for a boat tour along the Chicago River. A very amicable and knowledgeable guide described the history and architecture of Chicago for a full two hours! Mind you, we had great coffee/tea/cool lemonade and delicious cookies to munch on while feasting on the sights and sounds and observing the various shapes of the structures during the ride which ended soon enough.
Next, we proceeded for a typical Malaysian all-time favourite activity - shopping! Colossal shopping complexes with big brands punctuate this shopping mecca. However, with the high exchange rate, we were not easily tempted. Food, though, was hard to resist - we just had to bite into the cheese cake (The Cheesecake Factory) and the local pizza (Uno Pizza). Both were very palatable but we were not concerned with the high calories as we had a lot walking to do.
We re-visited Navy Pier for its night scene. The place was a hub of activity as it was late summer. An amusement park, theatre, in-door garden and the lights of the skyscrapers seemed to be straight out from a movie scene depicting an American city.
With quivering legs and droopy eyes, we soldiered on as we wanted to capture the lighted word "Trump" in the background in our pictures. The Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago is a luxury hotel on Michigan Avenue. The man himself being in the limelight as a potential President! It was way past midnight when we made our way back to our hotel.
The next day, we awoke early and quickly devoured a delicious bacon-and-beef burger as we had to see the Cloud Gate, also known as The Bean at Millennium Park. It is a reflective steel sculpture that is inspired by liquid mercury, and the sculpture's surface reflects and distorts the city's skyline. We were able to walk around and under Cloud Gate's 3.7m high arch. There were many other attractions here but we were running short of time.
The Crown Fountain, just a few minutes' walk from Cloud Gate is an interactive work of public art and video sculpture. Some of the videos displayed are of scenery but the video clips of local residents are the most significant. We revelled at these art pieces!
We had a couple of hours to spare for some souvenir buying frenzy before bidding farewell to this exciting city, that has modernity and an artistic side. Hopefully, our ringgit will strengthen against the US dollar and we can make a return trip. The crème de la crème of this trip besides the amazing Chicago city was we also won the "bigger" competition!