Thursday, October 02, 2008

Adventures on our own...

So on Wednesday - we got a chance to venture out on our own (thus far we've been with the guys in the office).
We started off the day in a typically American way... we got a Starbucks coffee and muffin for breakfast. Ahh - we're fitting in ...

Gina, the admin lady at the office, lent us her car (a stick shift - which means manual) to go the bank and open our bank accounts as well as get Social Security cards.
Luckily, Prean drove - on the right side of the road and sitting in the left side of the car! It's soooo weird cos you keep thinking "What are they doing!; Why are they driving there" Then you realise they're all right and you're wrong. So weird.

So we're alive - Prean's an excellent driver - he was calm and did really well. I think I would have freaked out. Guess my turn will be coming up soon.
So we got to the bank. Ours is Chase, and it is so different from SA. Our personal banker's name is Jay Jones (lol). Anyway he starts off by telling us that they don't want us to pay any fees. So we have a checking account and because our salaries go into the account - there's no monthly service fee! Brilliant! Then we get free online banking; free online transfers; free debit card transactions. Its amazing - I dont understand why we pay so much in

After the bank we needed some lunch so we stuck with the typical American style and had a chilli dog from Portillos
It's basically a hot dog with with a kind of chutney with beans (but it's not a typical baked beans chutney guys - definately not hot at all) It was quite good!

Then Gina dropped us off at the train station and we headed downtown - on our own - was pretty fun. There's actually a ticket officer in the train and he asks where you're going and where you got on and the whole system just works so well. Can you imagine that in SA? The poor guy would probably be thrown off the train! The train ride ends at the famous Union Station in Chicago:

On our way home (i.e. the hotel) we stopped at Millenium park, which is the home of a few modern art pieces, one of which is "Cloud Gate" by artist Anish Kapoor.
Chicagoians call it the Silver bean. It's really quite amazing.
Chicago is an architectural wonderland. Ever since the great Chicago fire in 1871, the city has strived to make Chicago bigger, taller and better than any other city. The result is an amazing mix of some of the most outstanding buildins in the world.

Next stop... The John Hancock Observatory was a really awesome experience - it's not the tallest building in Chicago (that honour belongs to the Sears tower) but it has a fantastic observatory. You get an audio set when you arrive and you move around the top of the viewing deck and David Schwimmer takes you through a tour of his city. This is the Hancock building (the black one). We took an elevator up - 94 stories in 40 seconds! Thats the fastest elevator in America. Apparently, the Hancock Hustle is held once a year where contestants race up the stairs - guess how long they take???? Try under 30 minutes... Wow.

Ok, so thats it for now. Stay tuned for scenes from our next adventure...