Welcome to the first of the “Reasons We Love…” series. We will share with you places we have been and what we love about them. First, we’ll start with our hometown.
Hometown (and bias) aside, Chicago is one of the greatest cities in the world, and we’re lucky enough to call it home.
1. People. Midwesterners of the US are known to be the laid back, friendly, fun-loving people of the north. Chicagoans still hold the hustle-bustle mentality of any big city dweller, but are much more likely to stop and point you in the right direction or lend a hand, as opposed to other major cities in the US. We may split up into a citywide civil war during baseball season, but come football, basketball and hockey season, we all show up to games and gatherings plastered in the appropriate coloring, taking shots and chugging beers with our old and newly-made friends.
2. Neighborhoods. We’ve always enjoyed stopping by different neighborhoods to grab a bite to eat or check out a bar we’ve never been to, but never fully took advantage of these charming puzzle pieces that fill the city. Being in Taiwan, we don’t have the opportunity to hop off at a train stop and be in a part of town that has a completely different personality than the previous stop. One of the greatest things about the US is its diversity, and this is most present in larger cities. Chicago is an amalgamation of different people, cultures, personalities and backgrounds coming together to share one great city. If you’re in the mood for Chinese you can head to Chinatown for various options and duck into small shops selling cheap goods. Gyros? Flaming cheese? Greektown has fantastic options. Mexican? It’s all over the city, but head to Pilsen and you’ll immediately be surrounded by bright colors, small panaderia shops and enjoying creamy Mexican popsicles from the walking vendor. After living in the city for five years, we still didn’t have the chance to explore all of these compelling locations.
3. Food. This absolutely corresponds to the variety of cultural neighborhoods, but is too important not to have a mention of its own. Arguably the food that Chicago is most famous for is DEEP DISH PIZZA. It’s what we dream about, drool over, and snuff about when people mention a place with “good” pizza. “Have you ever had Chicago style deep dish pizza?” we immediately respond with. Perhaps you find it strange that the sauce is on top, but, let us assure you, that is because there’s so much buttery crust and cheese that there’s barely any room left for the sauce, resulting in a light layer beautifully laid out on top. Ok, let me wipe the drool off my chin and proceed. As previously mentioned, the various options for food of different cultures is vast and appreciated, from fantastic pizza to burritos larger than my forearm. Chicago’s food, like its people, is an amalgamation of beautiful cultures, flavors, and colors. (Another perk we definitely took advantage of: restaurants open late. That really doesn’t happen here in Taiwan, unless you end up in McDonald’s, which always results in regret for us.)
4. Summer. The best time of the year to visit Chicago is in the summer. This is not an arguable statement. It is, quite simply, a fact. The amount of festivals, activities, events, concerts, outdoor patios, retractable roofs, beach volleyball tournaments, etc. leaves one on a constant high of entertainment. Chicago’s lake shore is stunning. Running along the entire shore between the famous LSD (Lake Shore Drive) that borders the city’s east side and Lake Michigan is a beautiful continuation of green. This slithering, snakelike trail of parks and beaches aids to Chicago’s fantastic skyline. Yearly summer attractions you’ll regret not attending include the world famous music festival, Lollapalooza, as well as the Taste of Chicago.
5. Nightlife. Working in a popular Chicago bar, I saw the alluring and extravagant side, as well as the despicable and shameful side of Chicago’s nightlife. However, both sides are ever present in any alcohol infested establishment across the world. Chicago’s bars are just as diverse as its people, neighborhoods and food. You can slip into a jam-packed sports bar on a night of a big game and easily fit into a giant, loving family sharing tears of utter joyfulness or sadness. You can pop into a reggae, hip-hop, folk, indie or rock bar and enjoy live music, or head to a ritzy club to dance the night away to world famous DJs. Bars that are smaller than your apartment, bars that are as big as a warehouse, bars with outdoor patios and retractable roofs, bars with hundreds of beers or wines. Whatever your heart desires, you’ll surely find something that suits you.
6. Cleanliness. Chicago is a clean city. Most buildings look polished. Most streets are tidy. There are an abundant amount of trash cans. Dumpsters are placed in alleys, out of the way of the nostrils of pedestrians. There’s a growing number of parks and additions of miles and miles of bike trails promoting fresher, cleaner air. The only exception may the subway system, the L. After traveling to other parts of the world, we’ve come to appreciate these attributes much more.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of traveling to this magnificent city, please add it to your near-future bucket list.
我們愛你芝加哥！We love you, Chicago!
From Chicago? Been to Chicago? Tell us what you love about our home city below!