Got into Chicago at about 10 am local time. Our checked baggage was there (hurrah) but was badly marked and bashed (boo.) Judging by the number of large suitcases and bags on the train though it would seem that, despite what the website and info says, you don't have to check anything in so, hoping it means our bags will stay in one piece for this trip, we've decided no to check them in again unless we have to. Just safer that way.
We decided, on the reccommendation of the hostel, to take a taxi to our accomodation. It's meant to be easy and as cheap as a bus when there are 2 of you. Big mistake! The taxi ride was ridiculous, the driver clearly had no idea where we were going even though when asked he would also assure us he knew where he was going! I noticed pretty quickly that we were not only going in the opposite direction to where we were meant to be (we were on the East side, he was going West) but we also started to make loops of the areas. But, even when he asked for a bit of paper with the address on, and even while he was reading it instead of watching the road, this driver kept saying he knew where he was and where he was going. He came to a complete stop at one point, for a good 2 minutes, while he read the address off the paper again. Eventually though, we reached the hostel. I was so impressed with Dan who really stuck to his guns and demanded a reduced rate, he lowered it from $10 to $5 which was a little more than we were expecting, but not much. We gave him a $20, not having change, he didn't have enough change so Dan managed to get the whole ride FOR FREE! If I'd known it was going to be free I might have enjoyed the scenic tour more. But, yes, Dan was very impressive and quite scary I have to admit. Free taxi though... Amazing.
We couldn't check in yet though- it being before 3 - so we left our bags at the hostel and had to wander around. The weather was horrific and we were both really tired, having not slept much on the train, and we had to go for a 4 hour walk around the area. It was all very strange, because, having not been able to check in and sort our heads out we still felt like we were traveling. It was so cold and rainy outside though that we decided to hit the biggest shops we could. We found the original Macy's and took a walk through that. There's a great little cupcake shop in there (Frankie) and tonnes of homeware stuff so I was happy. Their toy dept. is pretty good too so Dan wasn't completely bored. We also learnt about the story of Macy's and the man how started it - Mr. Marshall Fields. Who, aparently, if he was still alive and providing for inflation, would be one of the richest men in the world. He seems to own most of Chicago's architectural great too. Impressive man, and impressive shop.
We had a wander around Borders books too and then stopped for a drink and a plan of what we wanted to do while in Chicago. The Borders experience reminded us of Norwich, which was nice.
Eventually checked in at the hostel but they could only give us beds in 2 different, single sex dorms which was a bit of a pain because it meant we had to plan and shedule all our time together- when to meet and where.
We planned to go on a hostel outing to the cinema to watch 2 films for $5 (like 2.50 pounds) so we had to get an early dinner. We headed for a place called "Bar Louie" which was recommended by the hostel. It was great, cheap food and kind of a trendy bar. Very fast service too (although it might be because we ate so early, who knows.) When we got back to the hostel though it was chucking it down outside and really cold and windy. No matter how many layers I put on, I couldn't get warm. We were also pretty tired and want tomorrow to be as good and full as possible so we decided to give the cinema a miss.
Dan is teaching me how to play pool though which is fun. I'm not very good but I'm trying.
We ended up getting chatting to some English guys- Sam from Rugby and Josh from London (ish) and so we ended up going to bed late as it was! But it was good to talk to other travellers, get the hostel experience. The girls in my room were all clearly friends and quite cliquey, which was just lovely, so I felt nice and left out when I returned to my room eventually. They keep looking at me wierdly... I'm trying not to be paranoid. Dan's room, on the other hand, only had 2 other guys in (they're both 12 bed dorm.) So he was lucky.
The beds comfy though so I'm looking forward to getting at least some sleep here...