Today we were spending a whole day in

Chicago, Illinois:
It was nice to be spending two nights in one place and not be rushing to pack up this morning. After a long day and late night I managed to get up fairly early, got ready and headed down to the hostel breakfast room. This is a serve yourself communal kitchen and dinning room. I met up with the three other trekkers, and had a nice bagel and fruit breakfast, also taking some fruit with me for the sightseeing ahead.

We grabbed our bags and headed out for the day to explore Chicago on foot. As the hostel is in downtown Chicago we walked to the Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park, which was close by and is a beautiful area, its one of the largest fountains in the world. It was close to the water so we also had a great view of Lake Michigan.

Then we walked over to Cloud Gate, better known as the bean, in Millennium Park. This has to be one of the most iconic sights to visit whilst in Chicago. We spent a while here, looking at reflections and wandering around Millennium Park.

Next we got a taxi up to Lincoln Park. We wandered to Lincoln Park Zoo and spent ages here. I loved this zoo, it stretches across 35 acres and is one of the oldest zoos in America.

As we were in Chicago during Mayfest there was lots going on over this weekend. So next we went to the Green City Outdoor farmers market in another area of Lincoln Park, and took in the sights and smells here. It is an outdoor farmers market with all local fresh produce.
After this our group went separate ways, some went to do some shopping, but another trekker and I started kept wandering north towards where we were to meet our group before heading to the baseball game. We stopped at a starbucks to grab some drinks as it was such a hot but mainly cloudy day and by this point the sun had come out. Then we headed to the J Parker rooftop bar. This was a part of Hotel Lincoln in a high rise building with a bar at the top which stretched inside and outside the building and gave a great view of the city, perfect for Saturday afternoon drinks.

After a while our we all made our way to the baseball game. I jumped in a taxi with some others, as we didn't want to navigate buses, up to Wrigley Field. This is home to the Chicago Cubs, where we would watch the afternoon game. We did a bit of merchandise shopping to get kitted out to support the cubs and met up with Jake and the others. We headed into the stadium, which was easy with Jake having bought all our tickets together online so he just showed his phone for scanning and we all went in.
With it being a Saturday afternoon it was packed, no spare seats in sight. We got settled into our seats for the game. It was pretty slow to get going, but I knew what to expect as i'd seen the New York Yankees play before and I must have been there for 7 hours that time. 
In the slower parts of the game we were all engrossed in the affair that was going on with the couple in front, scandalous Saturday! This game wasn't as long, maybe 3 - 4 hours. Everyone was up and down grabbing food (the go to sports snacks of fries and hotdogs) and then it started heating up until…Cubs WIN!!!
After splitting from some of the group, to each go off and do our own thing for the rest of the day, we slowly navigated the busy streets to the subway and headed back towards the hostel to chill for a bit.

Then as the sun was setting, most of us headed out towards Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) as we wanted to see the city from the Skydeck Ledge (a glass box overhanging the building that you step onto to see the ground a long way down below).

TOP TIP: This is where my pay as you go sim card came in handy. I used my data to navigate google maps to find where we needed to be all day and to get to Willis Tower. I used the unlimited data plan on the £15 top up with the 3 network (unlocking my phone and getting the 3 pay sim before I left the UK). It was amazing being able to navigate the streets with no huge phone bill, I really did feel at home!

When we got to Willis Tower we were told it was approximately a 45 minute wait so most of the group decided to explore the city by foot instead. Myself and two others decided we really wanted to see it and in the end the wait was only about 25 minutes, it was well worth it! 

By the time we got to the front and got the lift up to the view it was dark and we got the most amazing view of the city all lit up! You can wander around the whole level on floor 103, known as the Skydeck, there are large windows on all four sides so you can see the city from every angle. Even though in the dark it was difficult to make out any reference points it made you realise how vast Chicago and America is. The lights stretched on for miles, as far as you could see into the distance, all nice and neatly in blocks of coloured lights!

There was another small queue to get onto the Ledge but it was amazing, you felt like you were standing outside the building and floating above the city, the glass felt very sturdy too!
After a few photos we made our way back down and took a slow walk back to the hostel getting some snacks on the way, and after the long day taking in the views of the streets at night. It was a perfect way to end the day.

It wasn't too late by this time, and although tired, when we got back most of us decided to use the hostel washing facilities. So we went to the laundry room on our floor and did our washing and drying. After repacking my suitcase I got a fairly early night, and our amazing time in Chicago was coming to an end…

ITINERARY (LISTED):                           Free Day CHI Town - Cubbies Baseball
ACCOMMODATION:                            HI Hostel - Chicago, Illinois

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