|First, an explanation. On July 30 (as you will soon see) we had a full day, so I didn't get the blog updated that day. Next day we went on our train trip, and I discovered that the train did not have WiFi access, and much of the time had no cellular service. You'll hear more later.
Today was our 1 day to explore Chicago. We made a big discovery last night. We found out that the Mets were in town to play the Chicago White Sox that evening. I investigated tickets and discovered that I could buy 2 tickets about 15 rows behind the Mets dugout for $65 each. I am used to going to Citi Field in NY where those tickets, if you could get them, would be somewhere around $200 or so. I double checked the web site, and made the purchase. Now we had plans for the evening. What to do during the day. We started out at about 10 AM with very few plans. We decided to head over toward Grant Park and see where we ended up. The park is about two or three blocks from our hotel. Entering the park we saw an artistic display called Agora. It was made up of 106 sets of legs made from iron. They stood about 9 feet tall or so, and covered an area about 30' long. They were interesting. After pondering them, we moved further toward Lake Michigan. We were somewhat restricted in where we could go because large areas of the park were closed to set up for the Lalapaloosa festival which was starting on Thursday. We were right next to the museum campus and thought about seeing one of them, but then saw a stand that was selling tickets for the Water Taxi to Navy Pier, and also tickets for an architectural boat tour of Chicago. If we bought two tickets for the tour, we got the water taxi for free...one way. We had gone on this tour many years ago, but enjoyed it so much we decided to try it again. We bought the tickets for the 1:00 PM tour, figuring we would get some lunch at Navy Pier on the way. We waited for about 15 minutes for the taxi, then were on our way. The day was bright sunshine and warm. There was a breeze (isn't there always in Chicago) so it wasn't too bad. In about 15 minutes we were at Navy Pier. Navy Pier is an entertainment pier that has a heavy shopping slant. It was first used in 1890 for an expo (worlds fair). Among other things it boasted the first Ferris Wheel, created by Mr. Ferris himself. That wheel used rail cars as the cars each holding 30 people and serving drinks. Today, there is still a ferris wheel there (not as big) as well as an enclosed botanical garden, many shops, and lots of lunch choices. We found a hamburger for me and a hot dog for Cheryl. After lunch we wandered around for a while, then headed for the boat tour. We boarded a boat with about 30 or so other folks, and were on our way. The tour ran on the Chicago River as well as it's two branches. It lasted about 75 minutes, and we discovered that there has been a lot of building going on in the 25 years or so since we were last there. We had a lot of fun on the tour and learned a few things as well. The tour guide was very good and pointed out about a dozen buildings with different architectural styles. After the tour, we headed back to Navy Pier and the Water Taxi back to Grant Park. We walked around more, looking for the Buckingham Fountain. This is a well known fountain. It was used at the beginning of the TV show Married...with Children (I am told). We were able to get to that, but not much else. We wanted to get to Millennium Park and see the famous Bean Sculpture, but could not get there. We then walked back to the hotel, rested for a few minutes, and headed for the ballpark.
The folks at the hotel told us which El (elevated subway) train would get us to the game. We were told it would take us about 20 minutes. We had bought tickets for the ride earlier in the day, so we walked the 2 or so blocks to the train, went through the turnstile and waited for the train. The stations in Chicago are equipped with boards which tell you when your train is coming and we saw ours would be here in 8 minutes. When it arrived we boarded and were surprised to find out our destination was only 2 stops away. We also noticed a few other folks with Mets gear.
In about 10 minutes we arrived, and followed the crowd to the stadium. We got into the stadium, then noticed lots of people with Mets gear. We found dinner, sat in a designated food eating area, then went to our seats. We were indeed just 15 rows behind the dugout. It was amazing to be able to read players' names on their jerseys and see their faces without binoculars. Wow! By the time the game started, we found out why the seats are cheap. There was not a real large crowd. Lots of good seats still available. We also found that after an inning when the players warm up for the next inning, they toss the practice ball into the stands for souvenirs. The first one landed two seats away from me. Cheryl was sure it was going to clunk me. Later in the game, a foul ball was hit high into the air and landed two rows behind me. Those aren't the ones you want to catch. You want to be the second person to catch it. The game continued on and went into extra innings (yay!). The good news is that the Mets won in 11 innings.
After the game, we found the subway station and headed back to the hotel. Not a bad day for having no plans.
Tomorrow: Train Ride to SF.