Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Glimpses of Chicago, Milan and Chantilly

In April and May this year, I had a couple of very short work trips to some new cities. As is usual with work trips, I did not get much time to explore a lot. But here's putting down what little I saw during those times:).


I was in Chicago for a couple of days in spring this year. Given I had never been there before, I decided to head out a day earlier and explore it. So I landed at 11am on a Sunday morning, after a long flight from London. Even though it was a business class flight, I was still pretty tired. Am just not a fan of American Airlines I think. And of American politeness for that matter:-). The rudeness hits you the moment you land at the airport. I asked the taxi woman how far the hotel was, and for the next two days never asked a question of a stranger ;-).

Skyline from Grant Park
After quickly checking in into the W hotel, with a map in hand, I left to explore the downtown area. I first walked towards Grant Park just next to Lake Superior. Surprisingly, it was a sunny and warm day at 23 degrees Celsius even though the next day it snowed! But still it felt cold, because of the winds. Windy City, eh? :-). There were all high-rises around, the typical New York concrete jungle look. I found it too dry and drab for my liking.

Lake Michigan
I walked a bit along the park, taking in the sights of the skyline behind and Lake Michigan on the other. Then I took a detour along the Chicago river and walked towards the city. The walk was very pretty, and scenic in a different way than European cities.

Chicago river walk
There were a couple of boat trips available for tourists. But when I checked, it looked like they only show you the buildings around, talking about their architecture. So I gave it a miss. During my walk, I had already seen most of the buildings around and it did not interest me anymore. I did see a Trump building right in front which is good to know the history about, given the presidential elections coming up;-)! And there were a couple of other old buildings and concrete bridges which made for a pretty picture. Especially the twinkling lights at night were brilliant.

But by then, I got so bored, that I walked into a Macys and shopped a bit:). I could have walked towards the Willis Tower for a view of the city or the Navy Pier but by then I had lost all hopes from Chicago:). Chicago is also famous for its deep dish pizza - which is a cheese filled heavy pizza. Its a must try, though not the most healthiest of options;-).

It looks like the city has mostly buildings and architecture to appreciate, and even though they were definitely impressive, honestly, I found it one of the most boring cities I have ever visited. Maybe less than Orlando, but that's not the right comparison anyways:-). In my view, totally missable if you are a tourist.

Details of the walk


I was in Milan much longer that usual, for about 5 days. Again given it was a new city, I flew in a day earlier and saw a bit of the city, as when you start work, it never really happens!

Milan Duomo
The downtown of Milan is centred around the Duomo - the huge cathedral in white was constructed over 600 years and hence is quite central to the city. It has a huge square next to it where loads of tourists hang around. We had a view of the cathedral even from our office, so saw a lot of it during the trip:).

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
I walked through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping mall towards the Brera area of town. I walked past a statue of Leonardo da Vinci, a couple of small squares to come to Brera. It was a nice hangout place with small roads and loads of small cafes. The restaurant I picked up though wasn’t as great!

View of Duomo from office 
And that's most of what I got to see of Milan during the time I was there. I did explore a lot of restaurants though. The Obika Mozzarella Bar had a beautiful open seating next to the Duomo and many varieties of mozzarella to choose from (!). The Asola was on the top floor of a hotel and had a good view of the city. The Enoteca Ronchi was a small find again next to the Duomo with very tasty food. And the manager was shocked when I and another foreigner asked for butter, olive oil and vinegar for our food! It was a hilarious situation we totally enjoyed. The Osteria de Brera I ate in Brera on the first day was definitely forgettable.

Roman columns
The last dinner, we went to Osteria Delbinari which was located in the canal district of Milan. That was nice too, in the open. While coming back, my colleague took us through some of the sight seeing spots of the city - the place next to the canal where the rich used to wash their clothes, the canal that was built to transfer material for the Duomo, the remnants of a Roman temple columns, Colonne di San Lorenzo from the 2nd century AD, the pillar erected at the place where a doctor was killed because of his suspected involvement in spreading the plague (which he was trying to cure it), and the students district where all the leftists hangout.

It was a good introduction to the cultural and historical aspect of the city even though we were tired at the end of the day and not fully awake:-). But overall, as I said, I did not explore the city much, just got a glimpse of it. The rest for maybe some other time:). (I just realised that the Last Supper is in Milan and I missed it!)

Chantilly Chateau, France

Chateau at Chantilly
I did a short one day training at the Chantilly Chateau, and was impressed. It is located about an hour or so from Paris, in the rural part of France. I have stayed at many old English houses but never a French one. It was definitely different! Again I got no time to explore it but could see it had great grounds around and some fun activities to do. As I said, for sometime later maybe :-).

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