18.05.2011 - 18.05.2011
Wednesday 18th May
The new hostel was great. If anyone ever visits Chicago and intends to stay in a hostel, I’d definitely recommend The Getaway Hostel. This place is nice. Straight away it looks cool, the logo is pretty swish and when I entered I realised it was worth being a little outside of the centre of the city. The hostel was modern looking; mostly white inside and super clean. There were arty pictures on the walls of famous people from Chicago such as Al Capone. Free hotdog & hamburger nights, score. Free wifi that was useable in the dorm room. I was happy. The hostel wasn’t the cheapest so I booked for the cheapest room which as always, is a fairly big dorm. I think there was room for about 10 or 12 people in my dorm, but it was never full.
I had an early night the night before as I wasn’t feeling a hundred per cent and I didn’t feel any worse on this day so that was a plus. I slept in to mid-morning and then set out for my first attraction: the science museum. Officially the science & industry museum I think.
The hostel was quite a bit north of the main central bulk of Chicago city but it was a fairly quick fifteen minute ride on their metro service. Plus the area that the hostel was in had its own shops and bars that were cheaper than the expensive city shops. I got a metro three day pass and set off for the museum. It was a little awkward to get to; I had to get a metro train and then a bus that took about forty minutes because it went in and out of a lot of housing areas.
I arrived at the science museum excited and ready for SCIENCE. I’d also wanted to go to see the Body Worlds Exhibition that was at the museum but it doubled the price of admission so I didn’t bother as it was expensive already.
This is how a science museum should be done. Full of hands-on things; it was like a museum for kids, but for big kids if you had the actual interest in the science behind the cool things you’re doing. The only annoying thing was the actual kids themselves, running around screaming. It made me wish they had adult-only days in the museums, and that this day was one of them.
The museum had an indoor tornado maker, that’s how cool it was. It was maybe around 30ft in height and had different controls to change the aspects of the tornado. Of course I couldn’t get near the damn controls due to hordes of kids though. I stood behind them, politely smiling to their parents and other adults as if I was okay with letting the kids play with a tornado, when in reality I wanted to pick them up and throw them in to the tornado and then set it on full power. It was cool to watch anyway; not jealous. I’m pretty sure all the other male adults were thinking the same thing, who wouldn’t?
A minor personal problem: Being the massive kid that I am I had trouble sticking to one thing at a time. I’d walk up to an attraction thing - like a hands-on with magnets or something - it would look interesting and fun, and I’d either start playing straight away or read the instructions etc., but then I’d see something further down the room; for example the massive indoor tornado! I couldn’t stand still and concentrate for long at all. As soon as I got to one thing I’d be fidgeting in my stance and trying not to avert my gaze. It made for a pretty weird route taken around the museum; skipping things out, coming back to something twice, circling round many times etc etc.
There were many cool things at the museum including a huge tesla coil up high in the building. There were seats arranged underneath which leaned backwards so you could look up and watch the huge currents of electricity go mental for a few minutes on the hour; like an indoor lightning storm. Other cool things included a landslide simulator, a wave simulator and… baby chicks! There was a big glass object that was attracting a lot of attention so I went over to check it out. The first half had lots of eggs in it; some were wobbling slightly, and some had cracks in. So everybody was eager to watch some little baby chicks hatch. The other half had chicks that were newly born; they were bright yellow and hilarious to watch as they attempted to figure out their new world. I stayed for about fifteen minutes because one of the eggs was starting to crack open. Ten minutes later the little nearly-born chick hadn’t got much further in breaking out of its capsule and I got a bit bored after I realised it was going to take a while. A member of staff came over and told everybody that it can take up to 8 or 9 hours for them to fully hatch (!), which obviously resulted in my and many others’ departure.
There were famous quotes by scientists on the walls; one of which is one of my favourite quotes and I was excited to see, by the great astronomer Carl Sagan: ‘Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.’’ Love it - the quote encompasses what I love about the nature of curiosity and the objective of science to find out the answers.
I said earlier that I didn’t opt to go to the Body Worlds Exhib, but in the end I still got to see some similar ‘exhibits’ in the actual museum itself which was interesting: such things as a whole human body shown only by the blood vessels etc.
I spent most of the day in the museum and then started to head out in the late afternoon. On the walk out of the museum I was behind an Asian girl/woman (in her twenties; woman sounds too old but girl sounds too young) and saw her asking some people on the way where the bus stop was to get back to the city centre. We ended up at the bus stop near each other and I asked if she was staying in the same hostel - there aren’t too many decent ones listed in Chicago so I thought there may be a good chance she was. It turned out she wasn’t but we got talking on the bus journey which helped pass the time. I was a bit gutted straight away because her English wasn’t great, but we managed some general talk about travelling around America etc.
I forget her name now even though she’s on my Facebook somewhere. She was from Korea and was staying with a few other Koreans in a small hotel a few stops further on the metro than my hostel.
On the metro she suddenly declared, ‘’we are getting dinner together, yes?’’ I was a little taken aback at the way she said it, but agreed as I didn’t have any other plans and we got off the metro a few stops in and found a place to eat. The meal was nice (chicken breast with mushrooms in a sauce) and the conversation slightly lacking. Her English was pretty limited so we didn’t have much in the way of interesting conversation. She was keen to meet up again the following day this time with her other friends. We swapped names for Facebook and I warned I might not be able to as I was still not feeling well and didn’t know if I was going to get worse yet.
We parted ways when I got off the metro and I thought I probably wouldn’t see her again; partly due to thinking I was going to feel like crap the next day, but also partly due to the fact I couldn’t be bothered giving the definition to every other word that I said. Actually, something I’ve learned on my travels about myself that I didn’t know before is that I’m pretty good at dealing with people that aren’t great at speaking English; I automatically speak slower and use simpler words without really knowing (but inadvertently end up sounding like a foreigner myself). A lot of people get impatient straight away but I seem to be pretty okay at it. However, there is a line when their English is so limited that normal conversation just can’t be had, and this, unfortunately was over that line. Still, it was nice and interesting for what it was – an ad-hoc meet with a new person and a nice meal.
I got back to the hostel still not feeling great and got myself an early night and planned to get a nice lie in again.