travel: 10 things I love about Chicago

1/ Going for a walk at Lake Michigan

My personal favorite! Whether it’s summer or winter, I walk two or three times per week at the Lake, except when the temperature drops below 15°F. I love the ever-changing watercolor, the fresh air and the silence in my head. And in summer I sometimes work in the shade of a tree, have a picnic and bathe my feet in the cold water.

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(My hiking route: from Foster Beach to the nature reserve of Montrose Beach or to Loyola Beach.)

2/ Picnicking at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion listening to a freeconcert

And just before that, staring at the Cloud Gate (aka the Bean), my favorite piece of art in Chicago.

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(Millennium Park is great, thanks to the Cloud Gate, the Crown Fountain, Lurie Garden, Jay Pritzker Pavilion and the PB Bridge)

3/ Yoga on the beach at 6am

At 5.45am I jump on my bike and ride along the Lake to Montrose Beach for morning yoga. It’s a peaceful way of awakening the body and mind, while watching the water wrinkles and the sun setting. Energized, in a good mood and feeling the luckiest girl in the world I cycle back home. At 7am Chicago seems to be awake; dogs are walked, a circle of people practices tai-chi, there’s runners everywhere, people bike to work…

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(From June to September with Nature Yoga on the Beach, class at 6am, 9am, 6.30 pm)

4/ The magnificant trees in the residential streets

As well as green front yards and guerrilla flowerbeds at the corner of every street. And don’t forget the crazy squirrels, the bright red cardinals and the fireflies that make me instantly happy.

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5/ The privately owned restaurants and shops in Andersonville

For a European it’s an asset to not have to go to chains. The designers shops and cozy restaurants in our neighborhood make me feel at home. As well as the royal service you get when you have a dietary restriction.

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(My favorite: Kopi, a travelers café)

6/ Free entrance to the Art Institute on Thursday evening

As a resident, we may visit the n°1 museum in the world for free, on Thursday nights. A perfect way to visit the temporary exhibitions. René Magritte and James Ensor visited the Museum, now Dégas êst arrivé.

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7/ Friendly citizens

I’ve heard it many times. According to the Americans themselves, Midwesterners are the friendliest in the States. I cannot compare but I can tell they are friendly, down-to-earth and helpful people. Just as we like it.

8/ The African Pavilion and the new born gorilla in the free zoo

And I cannot resist to enter the greenhouse in search of the orchids, as well as check out the prairie flowers on the nature trail.

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9/ Public transport

Who needs a car? To be stuck in traffic, that’s why. The elevated train takes you everywhere (and our red line runs 24/24, every 7 minutes). The buses work according the same principle. And the men or woman who’ve invented the express bus receives a big hug. Google Maps tells which train and bus I should take, at what time and how long it’ll take. Long live Google Maps.

10/ Cycling on lakefronttrail

This 18 miles trail runs along Lake Michigan from North to South. On sunny days it’s a highway for cyclists, joggers, walkers and roller skaters. You pass 26 beaches, different ports, nature reserves and attractions. What I prefer, is get off the trail, slow down and enjoy.

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A year ago I had a little fear moving to this big city from a tiny city in Belgium.
I would have never expected to be living near the Sea (or that’s how living near the Lake feels like).

What do you like about Chicago?

(as English is not my native language, some weird translations may have popped up. Feel free to let me know)

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