Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Not an Apartment Dweller

I never want to live in middle or lower apartment or flat. Now being here on the 1st floor with an apartment directly overhead, I remember just how bad it was in Ushuaia, with heavy feet and a child running overhead in the middle of the night.

Here it is not a child, and just one person (I think) sex undetermined ( but I think female) as I have rarely laid eyes on any other dwellers of this particular section, but I hear every move.

Whoever it is wears shoes most of the time and has a very heavy, determined tread through the apartment and the wooden floors creak and squeak appallingly, so it's possible to track progress throughout the not very large flat. You hear everything that hits the floor, the washing machine, the shower and the fan in the bathroom - and the occupant gets up at 6.30 every morning, then runs the shower and fan . But I think what disturbs me most is the tv in the bedroom that goes all night - not loud, but enough for me to hear a muffled version every time I wake.

The only way I could live in the lower floors of an apartment block, would be in a very expensive one I think, that had  decent soundproofing, and I don't think that is going to happen any time soon. I wonder if you can test drive for a few weeks?

The "L" or is it the"EL"

 It depends on where you go to find out, but whichever it is it refers to the trains that traverse the city, both under and over the ground. I thought they were great before, but after watching the film Divergent I just love watching them as they rumble above the city. The film gives some great views of the city, as do a number of other movies - I must watch Blues Brothers again!

 The traffic and people move happily underneath and go about the day and the tracks crisscross the city and suburbs allowing the traveler to gaze into apartment windows, rooftops and backyards.
 The only thing I don't like is the steep steps leading up to the very narrow platforms - I don't think I would like to use  them in rush hour as the are extremely narrow.

Several lines pass underground in the city loop. but are soaring above the ground for most of their journey.

I think I like the "EL"

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hop On Hop Off and Freeze

I always seem to be on the top of the double decker bus on a freezing  day, it's cold enough up there at the best of times. and although the day was supposed to improve. it never really did. Needed a hot bath when I finally made it home just to thaw out. It is the best way to see the city and get some bearings.

Chicago is a pretty impressive city with some fabulous architecture and a pretty spectacular setting on the edge of the lake, even if it was shrouded in low cloud for the day

Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears

 These guys are all heading in the same direction, but no 2 are the same.
The Flamingo

Chicago Sights Views from the Top

 I spent the last couple of days freezing all tmy extremities on the top deck of the Hop On Hop Off bus to see the city sights. This included visits to the top of several towers - 360 Chicago and the Skywalk Chicago to see the views from above, and pretty spectacular they are. particularly on a good day.

The queues were horrendous, thank goodness I did the first early, so no waiting, but after at least an hour waiting finally got to the top of the Willis Tower to view the city, and as you can see it's pretty spectacular. Lake Michigan looks beautiful and it was very clear

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Beautiful Winter's Day

 As you can see an absolutely beautiful day here in Chicago. The sun has been shining, a very slight breeze and the temperature is around 10C. Much as I would love a white Christmas, I can't complain about such a glorious day

Great day for a wander along the lake front to enjoy the scenery. Could have been on a suburban Melbourne beach. My Mac would just love it, he would spend his life in the water I'm sure.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Furry Friends

 These guys are the main reason I am here in Chicago.

This is George, an old "hound" cross. He's about 13 and finds it all a bit too much at times, I know the feeling! But he does love his walks and the lake beach across the road is the perfect place for a good sniff and wander, although he is not super friendly to other dogs so we have to watch that one. I also discovered today he loves to go through the rubbish in my room as soon as I leave, just tissues, but he was straight in there as soon as  walked out the door. unfortunately for him he is also quite deaf, so didn't hear me return for something left behind and so got sprung.

Then there is Tony, full of beans, especially in the middle of the night when he loves to do the mad cat round the house and onto the bed. Loves to steal George's food, attack my knitting and generally be a boy, when he's not sleeping.
Little Miss Sophie, is very petite and shy and still doesn't like me very much at all. She ventures out of hiding occasionally but is not very brave yet. We have had a few games, but she disappears again very quickly.

Gren City Farmers Market

 Yesterday I got up early and headed off to the farmers market, wisely held indoors in the winter time. Found my way there with the help of Google maps, thank goodness I bought a SIM card here with Data, couldn't survive without my maps and Apps.

Lots of goodies, but I did have to remember I had to carry it all home, but did get a lovely leg of lamb for my Chrissy dinner and some bones for broth as well as some other meats and fruit and veg.

 Was worth the trip, but on the way home I had my doubts when the bus didn't go where I thought it would - 4 buses later, I finally got within walking distance of home, tired grumpy and ready to go to bed for the rest of the day

Chicago Transport

I thought I had it all sorted, until yesterday that is, but I am tired and some days things are harder than others.
Both the train an bus links are nice and close, but I always seem to end up walking any way.
The train is pretty straight forward and easy enough to work out, what worries me there is the width of the platforms, they are incredibly narrow, I would hate to see them in rush hour, one wrong step and you are over the edge.

But the bus routes, now that is a whole different ball game. Nowhere can I find  a list or more to the point a map of the routes. There are lots o Apps available, but they all give you the arrival time of the next bus and not much else. Yesterday I caught 3 buses with the same number, the one I wanted, and still didn't get to where I wanted to go. The good thing about it all is that it is not too expensive, with a trip at 2.00 and transfers 25 cents, so all these mess ups don't cost much, but it's usually when I am carrying a heavy load and feeling tired and frustrated.
Worst of all, today I left my gloves on the train - bugger, they were my possum ones and all.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Big Smoke

Took a trip downtown today ad walked the Magnificent Mile down Michigan Ave, where all those big name shops  can be found. Didn't pop in and shop though, no room in my case, although did come out of Macy's with a 3/4 packable down coat for 1/2 price, and as it was -4 this morning and I don't think above -1 all day I figured it  would come in handy over the next few weeks.
 Crossed the East river, past the Trump building and on to Macy's to check out the windows. To be quite honest I think Myer Melbourne does just as well. The one pictured has the jolly red dressed man visiting all the countries with lots of famous landmarks as you can see. Finished up at the German Christmas market, lots of food and German Christmassy goodies.

Finally decided enough was enough and headed back for some warm

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Beige With a Touch of Red

 As I traveled to the apartment on Sunday, my first thoughts about Chicago were boring beige. The trees are naked, some still holding on to the last of the dead leaves, the grass and plants are brown and dormant and the buildings are mostly boring beige and shades there or. There is very little colour to break the monotony of it all - just the odd red brick home or tile roof. After a trip though the suburbs today on the buses my opinion was confirmed - boring beige. Not even a brightly painted front door to be seen. The only thing to break the monotony is the odd house with lots of Christmas decorations in the front yard

 A few of the apartments here have lights etc on the balconies, so I decided to join them. Don't have a balcony, but I have put them up in the window - just a little Christmas spirit or should I say HOLIDAY SPIRIT. I haven't heard anyone mention Christmas, not politically correct, it's always HAPPY HOLIDAYS, even the decoration section in the shops is called the holiday area. How sad!
Maybe  will see more colour and holiday spirit when I head for the big smoke - maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


 After a very long and rather sleepless journey I arrived here early afternoon on Sunday, a little disorientated and out of it all. Yesterday was spent getting my bearings and finding out all the ins and outs of the pets 1 dog, George and 2 cats, Tony and Sophie, and the apartment
Everywhere around are enormous apartment blocks, there is a University just down the road, but the upside is just a few steps away is the "beach" on the shores of Lake Michigan and a long walking track that follows the lake shore.Great place to take George, although he is 13 so not up for extra long walks, but then neither am I yet, still a little jet lagged I think. Today the lake was beautiful with hardly a breath of wind to stir up the waves, but the heavy black clouds look ominous and according to the forecasts the temperature is about to drop from a positively balmy 8 - 10 degrees to a much colder -1 with some rain and snow to follow, we shall see how I go!

The apartment is petite to say the least and half the walls are the dark raw brick, the others are painted in quite dark colours, so it makes for quite a dark environment. I immediately opened blinds etc, as I don't enjoy living in a cave and like to see something of the world, but it is warm and comfortable so all will be well.
More pictures of pets and "home" to follow, but it took me hours to get my BLOG back - it had been hijacked by an add for an extinct widget, so lots of Google searching and I finally have it back. Then I had to learn to use it all over again, as the uploading of photos etc had changed, but finally on the way.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens

"Refreshment for the Heart" a beautiful tranquil spot in the middle of Vancouver's bustling Chinatown.

 The garden is  not large, but is constructed to present a series of unfolding vistas which unfurl like a scroll painting and contains all the elements of a classical scholar's garden - buildings, rocks, water, plants and words.  A very tranquil way to spend a few hours in a busy city, before heading out into the bustle of Chinatown.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Finally a day that didn't promise rain for the first time in over a week, so decided to take the early bus up to Capilano. It is a free service, which is just great and picks up at a number of spots in town and drops off at the park. The main attraction of the park is the suspension bridge first constructed in 1889,  but there is lots more to see and do once there.
I went early as usually there are a lot less people and I like to enjoy a lot of these experiences as if the only one there, which I managed most of the time yesterday. It was still quite cool an there was a mist, so it gave much more ambience to the trees and the rainforest.
The suspension bridge spans the Capilano river and is quite amazing - check out it's stats on line - and like all good suspension bridges gets quite a movement up when there are people on it, which is fun. Once over there are a number of different paths to follow. One is a walk around the lower canopy of the rainforest on a built walkway, the other is a treetop walk on a walk built up in the canopy. Both walks provided lots of information about the rainforest, and being the only one on the walks most of the time, it was lovely to just be able to be with the trees.

The last part of the adventure is a cliff top walk, where an amazing walkway has been constructed on the side of the cliff with a semicircular section seeming to float over absolutely nothing. It was damp and misty, but very beautiful.

The whole park is beautifully cared for, with staff everywhere ensuring that the paths are cleared and the only thing to disturb the serenity was the sound of a chainsaw as they cleared and tidied. Apparently they had quite a spectacular light display there for the 2 weeks over the Christmas period and were full to capacity every night, I can imagine it is also filled to capacity in summer as there are interactive displays for the children and lots to see and do.