Every year in April, all the band and choir students at my high school live out the event they have been looking forward to since the beginning of September. No, it’s not some big concert, it’s a party — a 5-day party: the band and choir trip. Last year, we went to Chicago.
The city itself was amazing, but traveling on buses was not. In order to save money on accommodations, we drove overnight. Luxury buses are relatively comfortable, but with any large group, noise is imminent.
It is imperative to bring ear plugs or an iPod to get any sleep. When we entered the city limits, right away I noticed the unique diversity of Chicago’s landscape. Intertwined with the modern-day metropolis of skyscrapers were remnants of the industrial revolution that survive in the form of factories and extensive rail yards.
The rustic scenery is extremely important for the character and culture of a city that was once the hub of all trade between Eastern and Western United States. If it weren’t for riding in a bus, I could almost imagine myself living in those times and seeing the same sights and sounds.
Food is also a huge part of Chicago’s unique personality. It seemed as though certain foods are not just a commodity, they are a passion. To date, the best pizza my friends and I have ever tasted is made on West Ontario Street. Calm down New York! You still have the better hot dog. (I suppose the dog with all the fixings was a bit much for me.)
Our director arranged for all 300 of us to take a party boat tour out on Lake Michigan. We learned the real meaning of ‘Windy City.’ Going out on the deck for a panoramic view became an intense operation, the goal of which was to stay upright. The pictures I took of the city off the coast of Lake Michigan made the otherwise shaky experience well worth it.
I live near Washington DC, and our elevators go half the distance as they do in Chicago. Chicago skyscrapers are plain humongous! Despite their alarming heights, they did not stick out nearly as much as the Navy Pier — into the lake, I mean.
The Navy Pier is the most entertaining attraction in the city. The main walkway is lined with small shops and fun houses, and in the center lies one of the oldest Ferris Wheels in operation. But what would a trip for us fashionable and sophisticated youths be without hours of free time on the Magnificent Mile? Both sides of Michigan Avenue are packed to the brim with shops and retail outlets: every girl’s dream, every boyfriend’s nightmare. Of course, there had to be a band and choir performance associated with this trip, which consumed most of our Saturday.
Finally, just before we left the city and began the long drive home, we reached the high point of the trip — literally. At 94 floors high, approximately 1000 feet, I really got a feeling for the expanse of the city from the top of the John Hancock Observatory. Street lights and city sights as far as you can see to the left, and Lake Michigan as it meets the horizon to the right. For some reason when you are up in the open air skywalk, you can’t hear any cars or usual noises one would expect from a city, just crickets — of all other possible things there are to hear in a city, crickets.
In the short time we had, I feel as though I got to experience many more dimensions of Chicago than I had expected. I hope someday to go back and take my time. If you can’t eat just one potato chip, than there’s no way you can take just one trip to Chicago. A city that is rich in culture and attractions deserves more than the 5 day sampling. I’m coming back!
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