Five-Ring Circus in Chicago

Of all the traveling I do for work and play, I had never been to Chicago. Strange, but true. Two of the cties most folks visit on their first domestic and international trips are Chicago and London—two cities I had never visited. London still tops my list of must-get-to spots, but this week was my chance to experience the Windy City. Friends sent me lists of restaurants I “must” eat at, art museums I “could not miss out on visiting” and bars and nightclubs “I would not regret staying out late for”.

Instead, over the past three days, I’ve seen a whole lot of the inside of the historical Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago, and very little of downtown Chicago. I’ve met and interviewed dozens of Olympic athletes, dined with my colleague Luke Cyphers (who will be my Mag buddy in Beijing), Mia Farrow and her Dream for Darfur colleagues and sat through countless press conferences. Still, I had no idea what Chicago looked like outside of this hotel and a Corner Bakery on the corner of Monroe.

So today, after shadowing the newest members of the Olympic world (the BMX racing team) as they were inaugurated into the madness, I went for a walk. Just me, my camera and my backpack. I wandered the streets of downtown Chicago for two hours, trying to absorb as much of the city as time allowed. I walked throught Millennium Park, found the Chicago Tribune offices, strolled around the river and soaked up the first warm day since I arrived Monday morning. My first thought as I walked down Michigan Avenue: What the heck have I been doing inside all this time?

First, a stroll through Millennium Park …


… No thanks, I’m walking …


… but a ride on the water taxi sure looks fun.


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