I got back home this morning so here are some photos from my trip.
Click on the thumbnail to view the image
Here is a view of Chicago from the lakeside path. The picture has been stitched from 4 overlapping images.
I'm in Chicago for a week, attending a conference. We got here on tuesday but our luggage didn't arrive until last night thanks to our 1st plane being late and the airline not having enough time to transfer the luggage over to the 2nd plane. Unfortunately my laptop charger was in the luggage so I had to restrict computer use because I didn't want the battery to run down and leave me unable to do any work.
I'll upload some photos eventually but I'll just waffle on slightly at random for a few minutes first.
There seem to be a lot of 'news' style programmes on in the mornings and I found myself watching a lot of 'Good Morning America' on ABC but I had to give up because they were spending so much time talking about the upcoming Royal Wedding. I'm sure I've seen more about it here than back home.
I really can't watch Fox News. It seems to be aimed at 10 year olds, or at least aimed at people who like inane comments and slightly stupid sounding presenters.
Why did CNN give Pierce Morgan the Larry King job? Surely they could have found someone better, or at least less annoying.
About half the adverts seem to be for pharmaceuticals of various types. A lot of these have a spoken warning at the end which seem to imply that one of the side effects might be death. I know they have to be careful and try to cover all eventualities but that would put me off wanting to take some. Also I mocked an advert for a product aimed at people who couldn't produce enough tears and so needed something to lubricate their eyes. I really wouldn't have thought there was a huge need for such a product and couldn't understand why it was being advertised so much. That was until I spent 2 days in an over-air-conditioned conference centre which seems to be sucking all moisture from my body. Now I understand. If most offices are as bad as that then there is definitely a need for the product, but surely a simpler solution would be just to turn the air conditioning down a little. Where I am right now, there is a bridge between the conference centre and the hotel and there is often a howling gale blowing though, probably caused by an imbalance in the air conditioning in the two buildings.
OK, I spent longer prattling about medicines and air conditioning than I really intended. One thing which has impressed me about Chicago is the public transport. The buses and trains are cheap at $2.25 for a journey or $23 for a pass which is valid for an entire week. This even includes a trip from the airport to the city centre. The buses also have a loudspeaker which gives the name of the next stop or road junction, which makes it really easy to find out where you are and when you need to get off. This is so much better than the buses in Coventry, which are expensive and not part of a properly 'integrated transport' system and half of the drivers don't seem to know their route very well so if you try to ask them if they go past a particular place they can't or won't answer you. The 'Travel West Midlands' company which runs most of the Coventry bus service can't even be arsed putting prices on its website so as an infrequent bus user it's a pain finding out the prices because all the buses are 'exact change only'. The Chicago buses are also exact change, but since all journeys are the same price and that price is well publicised, it's a much friendlier system.
Beer is quite expensive here with pints being between $5-8 depending on bar and type of beer, but a lot of bars seem to stock a good range of 'proper' beers and not just industrial factory-made tasteless lagers. I've been impressed with the beer selection in most of the places I've been to so far.
Food in bars is reasonably priced and of course the portions are enormous. We've not been disappointed by either size of quality. Food in shops is quite expensive, with fruit often costing $1 a piece and snack bars are at least that much too. I was terribly disappointed with the american Tropicana juice. Back home, Tropicana is a premium brand and is nearly all 'freshly squeezed' or at least not from concentrate. All the juices I've seen so far here have been made from concentrate and have other flavours added, usually listed as something like 'Naturally occurring flavours not from Orange' or something similar. The flavour is nowhere near as good as the UK Tropicana.
Presidents of the USA from 1789 to present.
According to a survey, Americans are much less healthy than the British. Even the British at the poor end of the scale are healthier than wealthier-than-average Americans. Woo-hoo. Pass me another jumbo bucket of chicken bits, fries and a gallon of (non-diet) coke.
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Hotel San Remo - home of the $4.95 Steak and Eggs, as recommended by Rechaad and Candy (They took the photo of me standing at the edge of the canyon yesterday.)
It would have been a long walk to here from Circus Circus, so I took the bus most of the way, and then wandered around taking a few photos in the area. I didn't realise that I was taking so many photos until I noticed that I had actually shot an entire roll before breakfast!
The Hotel was set back a couple of hundred yard from The Strip, but the short walk was worth it. The steak was good, as was the coffee.
The pond/lake in front of the hotel is the setting for the famous musical fountain show. A very simple idea, but well executed - the fountains come on and off in time to the music.
New York New York and Paris, Las Vegas. See two famous landmarks within a short walk of each other - cuts out thousands of miles of travelling.
The roller coaster at NYNY can be seen behind the Statue of Liberty - this was the scariest, most painful roller coaster ride I have been on - it is fast, with several sharp turns where you get thrown violently from side to side. Expensive at $10 per ride, but I had to do it just the once!
Las Vegas at night.
New York New York.
Luxur, with the searchlight shining from the top of the pyramid.
The coach collected me from the Hotel at around 6am. It was the early afternoon before we actually got there.
I couldn't go to Las Vegas without visiting the Grand Canyon. The day trip was booked using the Internet, and I only received confirmation the day before my flight out from Manchester - the whole holiday was arranged at the last minute really, I only got my flight booked about two weeks beforehand. Anyway, the view was spectacular. The only downside was the 5 hour coach trip to get there - I didn't realise it was so far away, but it was worth it.
During the Grand Canyon trip, I was talking to an American couple who recommended the Steak and Eggs at the San Remo, back in Las Vegas - more about that tomorrow.
Mostly spent at the northern half of The Strip, walking around and seeing the sights.
I was only in Las Vegas for 4 nights (but this was reduced to 2 full days once the flights in and out and the Grand Canyon trip were taken into account), and I didn't get chance to see any shows, except for a few of the free ones - the circus acts at Circus Circus and an Elvis impersonator/tribute act at the MGM Grand.
I was staying at the Circus Circus - one of the older, cheaper hotels at the north end of The Strip. It was OK - the room was fine and as I was in Las Vegas to see the sights, I didn't want to pay too much for any fancy accomodation. The 'all you can eat' breakfast buffet was good - although it got poor reviews in the guide books, it was advertised as 'New and Improved' and was excellent value for $6.
The view north, along Las Vegas Boulevard. Treasure Island is on the immediate left, and the Stratophere Tower is visible in the distance.
The Stratophere Tower - the view from the top was impressive. Even better than that was the roller coaster ride on the top - called the 'High Roller', it was a fairly gentle ride as roller coasters go, but being so high up, the view was great.