From Pennsylvania to Chicago by Train

By: Dan Trew

With the next train leaving at midnight on my second day, I was staring it off early. My second foray into the world of rail travel was much easier. By this point, I was a pro at finding a place for my bags and sitting down in my now assigned seat. I tried to grab a few restless hours of sleep and succeeded on napping for a handful of them. I think I sleep better on terrible airline seats than I do in the luxurious seats found in trains. In contrast to the timeliness of my first train, this one ended up being about two hours late to the station. This actually worked in my favor as it shifted my day ahead a couple of hours, which let me check into my hotel room as soon as I arrived. After my initial baggage drop, I vowed not to return until I was sufficiently tired and satisfied with my day.

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Having not really eaten since well before my initial departure, my first order of business getting something to eat. Also, seeing as how I was going to be in Chicago three separate times in three separate locations, I decided to eat and explore the areas I was staying. You know, maximize my stay, or some such.

Al’s Italian Beef came recommend by another employee, so I endeavored to see if there was one within the completely arbitrary confines that I had established. As it turns out, there was one built back from what would easily be described as a hole in the wall. Initial impressions aside, it was shockingly okay. I would not say that it was the best meal I have ever had, but it was assuredly within the pantheon of best food I have gotten from a place smaller than most airport bathrooms. This could all be from my not having eaten in close to 24 hours, but that’s a purely academic discussion when it comes to food handed to you in a bag.

From my venture into fine food, I headed out into Millennium Park. The weather in Chicago on this day was spectacular and filled with fantastically blue skies and enough chill to cut down on any moisture in the air. My first destination, aside from aimlessly wandering through a beautiful park, was the Shedd Aquarium. I spent a considerable amount of time walking around the fishy exhibits and gawking frequently at all of the various sea creatures. A few hours later, I skipped on over to the field museum, which houses decidedly less living things. I stayed there until I was hurriedly ushered out by their impending closure.

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My tourist duties were done for the moment, so my next calling was dinner. Having nothing to go on, and no one else to bounce ideas off of, I started walking in a direction until I started seeing places that looked like they served food. Also, I was secretly eyeing their patronage to determine if my unwashed and surely disheveled self would be socially acceptable. I settled on a cozy looking Italian place that had two people with backpacks and t-shirts that maybe passed for 16 years old. This was my place. Some initial confusion on how exactly it was that I ordered food or ate it, it turned out to be a highly affordable place that served very enjoyable Italian fare.

It was now 6:30 PM. Feeling very old both from a lack of sleep and eating dinner before 7 o’clock, I set out across the park once more to capture the city at night. A couple photos and no muggings later, I picked up some cheap snacks from a corner store and went back to my hotel. Roughly estimating my mileage around ten to twelve, I opted for a long and hot shower followed by immediately going to bed.

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