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USA 2003...Chicago adventure

ROMANIA | Thursday, 27 January 2011 | Views [259]

In the last episode, our hero (me that is) has landed in Chicago, USA. Of course not knowing what the procedures were, I just followed the crowd to customs. Naturally before departing I checked buses and trains for Wisconsin Dells (my home for 3 months). Last bus was heading out at 3.15 pm. So there I was, in customs at 1 pm and the line was moving SNAIL SLOW. By the time I had clearance, it was 2.30. I drew a short breath, said a little prayer and trusted the Lord Almighty to help me out.

As I exited international terminal 5, I spot a mini-van that is gathering passengers for downtown Chicago. I take this as a sign, get in, buckle up and happily stare out the window (at the same time being amazed by the sky-scrapers seen only on TV up until that point). Now, the other passengers were people living in hotels in Chicago, so the minivan’s route was in downtown to take them to their place of residence. There were REALLY too many hotels for my taste. By the time I got out of the van, and reached the Greyhound bus station it was 3.30 pm (missed the bus by 15 minutes). Being the happy camper that I am, I placed a few carefully chosen words in the astral plane, rethought my position, grabbed the backpack and headed towards a general destination. After calling my employer to tell her of my situation (and being told to spend a night in Chicago as if it was something I did on a daily basis), I started looking for a place to sleep (the train station was out of the question for me). Then I remembered that I had an international student card that came with a booklet, helping out the needy (I was truly one of them at this point) to find suitable hostels.

In the process I saw a couple of sights in the Windy City – Buckingham fountain for instance, happily recognized due to me watching Married with children back home. Of course being a true tourist, I got lost – not seeing anyone on the streets (this was a Sunday afternoon after all) I lacked the source of information. Luck though seemed to be on my side and a kind lady crossed my path (well actually I crossed hers but let’s not get technical). I asked for directions, but in a city as big as Chicago, to know all the streets you’d have to be….a cab driver for instance, and she did not fit the profile. She was kind enough to escort me to the Hilton hotel (classy, no? ) where the kind gentleman dirrected me to a youth hostel just across the street. I payed 37$ for a night (a high amount if you ask me), got a shower and was off to dreamland before you could say “Welcome to the US” (after all, walking aimlessly on the streets of a HUGE city for 4 hours would tire out anyone). Slept for 12 hours straight, then with my trusted backpack on its designated place, took the direction of Greyhound (of course, once again being the perfect tourist I was heading in the opposite direction, WITH a map in my hand).

Getting there, I purchased my ticket and got in line to get on the bus. Of course, things can’t run smoothly, suddenly a man starts screaming for help and before I realize what’s happening he collapses on the floor in a fit. The highly efficient paramedics materialize out of thin air under 1 minute and help the poor fellow. I was glad to see that health services were better there than back home. I deposit my bag in the luggage compartment, get a seat and look around. Swear to God the bus was filled with african-americans. I have never seen one up close and to me they looked massive and bearer of a certain threat (thank you action movies – please note the sarcasm). Had I seen Shrek before, I would have sung “on the road again” but that not being the case I settled in with a book, taking naps between the lines. The whole trip lasted 5 freaking hours (I am not a happy traveler, especially on buses), but alas, the bus arrives to the Promised Land aka Wisconsin Dells.

Tags: chicago, flying, travel

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