April 15th - Chicago, Illinois

The first of our two days here in Chicago and we woke to a gloriously sunny day. Such a change from the weather on our drive north yesterday.

We decided to see some of the sights within walking distance of the hotel. About two blocks south of the hotel is the Millennium Park which has the most amazing modern sculptures. The first we came to was the Crown Fountain. Two immense rectangular structures, built of glass bricks that face each other about 50 yards apart.

As we got closer we could see that on the side of each building there is a projected face that blinks and smiles at you.Apparently every so often each face 'spits' a jet of water across the plaza between the buildings! Unfortunately the fountains do not operate in the winter, but when they are working in the summer, children play in the water. The next sculpture, done by the renowned artist Anish Kapoor, is even more amazing. It is called Cloud Gate and is an enormous highly polished stainless steel bean shaped object, which has a passageway, that you can walk through.

The whole object is like a gigantic mirror and reflects images back at you from all angles. When you stand underneath it and look up into the sphere it takes time to work out where your reflection is.

It is a truly wonderful work of interactive art. As I have said on many occasions on this blog, I hope the photos do the sculptures justice.

Our walk then took us to the impressive Frank Gehry designed Pritzker Pavilion.

Alongside the Pavilion is the BP Bridge, again designed by Gehry.

This is a serpentine walkway linking the Millennium Park and Daley Bicentennial Plaza, next to Grant Park. Both structures are stunning visual works of architecture.

We then walked to the Navy Pier. Along the way we crossed the Chicago River which snakes right through the centre of the city. The city's skyline is one of the most impressive in the world. Towering skyscrapers, with the Sears Tower at 110 storeys the tallest building in the US, make a magnificent backdrop to the blue waters of Lake Michigan. Standing on Navy Pier and looking at Chicago is one of the best sights of any city in the world.

At the end of the pier there is the Smith Museum of Stained Glass. A huge collection of stained glass is on display. Amongst the works are wonderful examples of work by Tiffany.

The photo below is of a modern piece which I thought our American friends might appreciate!

In the afternoon we took the car for a short drive up to Evanston to visit Adam and Joseph, the son and grandson of our goods friends, Les and Barbara in Malibu.

We dined out at the Signature Room restaurant on the 95th floor of the Hancock Building. With clear skies we had a spectacular view over Chicago.

As the sun set the city came alight.

Below us the Ferris wheel on Navy Pier looked like a giant Catherine wheel as its lights changed both in pattern and colour.

The perfect end to another wonderful day on this trip across the States.

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