Thursday, 30 August 2012

Day 1: Jetlagged in Chicago

I had an entire hour's sleep last night before being woken by an extremely rude alarm clock that seemed to think 3am was a reasonable time for a person to wake up. After hurriedly packing (yes, I like to do things last minute), my lift arrived at 4.20am (courtesy of Sarah, most awesomest friend ever) and a little after 5am I was facing the joys of airport security.

As airports go, I have to say that Newcastle is usually pretty great, probably the only one in which I consistently encounter smiley security staff. The guy working this morning, however, seemed to think it was hilarious to loudly leer at women passing through and suggest he might decide that their shirts pose a security threat so that he could make them go through topless.

Skeevy staff aside, I made it down to London without incident and met up with Fi, and even had a nicely quick dash across from Gatwick to Heathrow.

Fi and our mountain of luggage at Heathrow

The flight to Chicago was quite painful. It seems British Airways still have some planes with the old-fashioned entertainment systems where the movies play at set times only. I haven't seen these systems since about 2005 and had hoped they were extinct. The fun (?) part, of course, is that they don't tell you when the movies are starting -- I assume the point is that you can entertain yourself trying to work out what happened in the first half-hour of the movie? Lacking enough brain function to even follow a linear story after my lack of sleep, I tuned in for about an hour in the middle of something I'd already seen (The Hunger Games) and then, realising the resolution of the screen was only a fraction of what you can get on a phone, gave up and did some work instead. Now that's desperation.

Fortunately, we now don't have to get on another plane for three and a half weeks, which is a glorious thing indeed!

We took a shuttle straight from the airport to the hotel (in which every single passenger turned out to be going to Chicon), washed the plane off, registered for the con (the badges are very cool, although they do seem to contain an alarming number of lines from the address field of the database!) and then had a quick explore in search of dinner.

We only went out for a couple of hours, but already I have made two Startling Discoveries:

1. Chicago seems to have some sort of weird extra season that we don't get in England. It involves this yellow ball of fire high up in the sky, and the sky itself is this strange bright blue colour. And it's warm enough outside to walk around without a jacket! Although you still need to carry the jacket with you to cope with the freezing air conditioning indoors.

2. I can't believe this isn't in all the guide books, but Chicago has the coolest car parks:

I assume the bottom of the river is littered with the rusted shells of those that reversed too far?

And if we've learned this much within a block of our hotel, just imagine what the next 3,000 miles might bring!

Our final burst of energy of the day went into locating Gino's East to investigate the famous deep dish pizza. This is a restaurant with a brilliant approach to interior design: why invest in expensive painters when you can have customers decorate your walls for free?

I would probably look more enthused if I could remember what sleep was.

It also gives you something to do in the hour it takes them to make the pizza, besides the kids' puzzles on the back of the menu. We left our marks, of course, and I learned that someone from France visited this restaurant on my birthday nine years ago. I hope they had a good time.

I cannot speak highly enough of the food. We only ordered a small pizza between us, and even then I only managed one slice, but it was the best slice of pizza I have ever tasted. I've never tried deep dish pizza before, but I'm definitely a fan of putting the cheese on the bottom.

The 'deep' in the name is to be taken literally.

Chicago's made a good first impression, but right now I'm quite fond of the idea of sleep. Lots to see tomorrow, and I believe there's a convention starting as well...


  1. Chicago, like most of the Great Lakes region, is a study in seasonal extremes. If you were there 5-6 months from now you'd also experience a season England lacks (and which I do not miss), Antarctic Wasteland. You definitely chose the right time of year to go (World Con aside).

    Hope you and Fi have an awesome time at the con and on your road trip!

  2. Enjoyed reading this update. 3am start sounds grim - you must have been up over 24 hours by the time you went to bed and on virtually no sleep the previous night. :( I hope you slept well that first night.

    The in-flight entertainment sounds awful! I can't believe they still have those all systems still on some aeroplanes.

    Chicago is a lovely setting on the shores of Lake Michigan and as Dracavia says, you're going in the right season - but what is it about Americans that they so badly over-aircondition in the summer?

    The car park looks bloody scary! And your pizza looks divine. Thanks for doing these updates! So glad you're having a great time. :)

  3. I went on the Architecture cruise. Apparently the Corn Cob towers (Marina City) have 24 hour valet parking. They clearly don't trust most drivers to know when to stop.

  4. Ah. It turns out you already knew that.

  5. Beautiful post i really appreciate you i have experience when we took flights to Islamabad from Heathrow last year i love the busy and working people like robot in largest airport.

  6. Travelling is exhausting but if it starts with a happy mood so one can enjoy its every bit. The best thing abut flying from Gatwick is Gatwick meet and greet

  7. such happening things during travell can turn out to be really refreshing and makes one get rid of the entire impact of exhaustive journeys as Cheap car parking Manchester provides you a nerve calming experience.

  8. All in all it isn't so bad. you got to enjoy a new weather, eat the best pizza (said by yourself), i would that the trip was a success. just travel a little more and you will get over the jet lag, i hope. airport parking gatwick

  9. Dont let the jet lag hold you back. you got to enjoy each and everything because you live only once. cheapest gatwick parking

  10. British Airways: Best Avoided.

    Just over a year earlier I and a Kiwi mate drove the whole of Route 66, so I'm reading this with interest.