CHICAGO IMPRESSIONS, Melih Bildiren | 15.09.2015

In this post, I am reporting from Batman's Gotham City.

The third biggest city in the United States, Chicago is both a cosmopolitan and a true American city. Offering its residents and visitors many opportunities, the city winks at us with all of its glory from the shores of Lake Michigan.

Turkish Airlines flies to and from Chicago every day. Taking off at 13:45 from Istanbul, you land at O'Hare International Airport approximately 12 hours later. Do not be intimated by the flight duration; books, movies, and the onboard Internet make the time fly by.

Staying in the city center will be to your advantage as this will enable you to tour the city easily. It takes approximately 30-40 minutes from the airport to the city center by taxi. The taxi fare is around 55 USD. I stayed at a very central hotel, Aloft Chicago City Center and chose to tour the city on foot.

Many of the sights you will see will already feel familiar thanks to the regular use of Chicago as a movie setting.

My first impression and observation of the city the moment I set foot in it was that everything seemed to be in size large! People, cars, roads, buildings, food portions... The list goes on. For example, if you order an omelet for breakfast in a restaurant, you will receive a huge dish made with 4 eggs and many other ingredients, and 2 biscuits on the side. Packs of butter are just a bonus! Naturally, obesity is a common problem that is being actively fought. On the streets, it seems you either see huge men and women or runners who are in great shape. There appears to be no gray area.

It is not all that easy to imagine someone who has such an omelet for breakfast driving a small Fiat. :) I believe there is no need for me to say much about the American cars; you have probably seen plenty of them on TV. The stereotype is that gas is cheaper than water in the United States, leaving the rest of us thinking it is easy to see how they can drive 5,000 hp automobiles. :)

For me, the most interesting thing in this city was the fire trucks and their deafening sirens, which are not something we're really accustomed to. When I asked, I found out that the Chicago Fire Department is considered the most important department in the city. The locals learned their lesson after the Great Chicago Fire that occurred in 1871, lasting 2 days, causing the deaths of up to 300 people, and burning almost the entire city to the ground. In the aftermath, the Chicago Fire Department became a strong unit, keeping the whole city safe and under control, at all times. If you have a heart attack, for example, it is often the medics working in the Fire Department that administer first aid. So, get ready to hear the sounds of the sirens wherever you go.

Also, a piece of advice from me: if you are in Chicago and see a fire truck with its sirens on, keep well out of the way. Fire trucks, no matter what, will not hit the brakes! 

It's easy to feel as if you are on a movie set when in Chicago. With a little bit of a research, you can see how true this actually is. It is claimed that 1 out of every 4 Hollywood movies is shot in Chicago. The Dark Knight, Wanted, Transformers, and Road to Perdition are just a few examples. For movie buffs, this is a gift from me: There is a compilation on the ChicagoMag website, which you can access  here.

You need at least 3 days to tour Chicago, and if you are looking to do some shopping, you'll need at least 2 extra days.  The must-see places in Chicago:

  • John Hancock Building (360° Chicago)
  • Sears Tower (Skydeck)
  • Millennium Park
  • The Bean
  • The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Navy Pier
  • Fashion Outlets of Chicago (For those who love shopping)

There are many activities that you can enjoy, day and night... Taking a walk on Michigan Avenue, among the skyscrapers is enough to make anyone feel good.

Let me finish this post with some scenes from the city.  

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