Recommendations for NATO attendees on what to do in ChicagoBy Ahsan Butt May 15, 2012 11:22PM UTC
Well, it appears Pakistan will be represented at the NATO summit in Chicago after all. After not getting an apology for Salala, our military brass has decided that enough is enough, and the NATO supply routes can be opened again. Is there any wonder why no one takes us seriously?
Look, I have no strong opinion either way on opening or delaying the NATO supply routes. My only point is if you make the opening of these routes conditional on X, and X doesn’t happen, and you open them anyway, well, you look like an idiot.
Anyway, as a proud resident of Chicago for five years, here are my recommendations for the hangers-on/bureaucrats/aides/random journos that make their way to this beautiful city.
Things to do
1. Chicago has awesome museums. Make sure to go to the Museum of Science and Industry (especially if you’re with kids), the Shedd Aquarium, the Art Institute, and my personal favorite, the Chicago History Museum (which is not a “history” museum but a “Chicago history” museum). If you plan on going to three or four of these main attractions, you should get a Chicago CityPASS, which will save you money.
2. Make sure to catch a show at Second City comedy club, a great place for sketch and improv comedy. Almost anyone you’ve heard of on Saturday Night Live or the Daily Show graduated from Second City (including Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert etc etc). You’ll have a good time, as long as you don’t sit in the front row.
3. If you’re not afraid of heights, go to the Skydeck at Sears Tower. They have these boxes that jut out of the building on the top floor that you can stand in, and basically look down through a glass floor all the way to the ground. The NYT had a nice article on these glass boxes last year. Here’s a picture of me 103 floors up off the floor:
4. If it’s a clear day, walk along the lakefront. Just trust me on this. The water is Caribbean blue on those days, and if you turn your head, you see one of the greatest downtown districts in America.
5. Don’t waste too much time in the downtown shopping area; there’s nothing distinctive about it from any other major city you’ve been to. What is distinctive about Chicago is the extent to which it is a city of neighborhoods, especially compared to other major American cities. Walk around different neighborhoods and you’ll see the difference for yourself. Walk around in Wicker Park, the Gold Coast, Rogers Park, Lakeview, UIC/Little Italy, and Hyde Park, and you’ll get a nice varied sense of the city. Ask locals how to get to each of these, public transport should work for you almost all the time.
Places to eat
Relatively fancy: Salpicon (Mexican), Bistrot Zinc (French), Boka (great place for a date).
More chilled out: Cafe Ba Ba Reeba (Tapas), The Bristol, Mista (great thin crust pizza).
Down and dirty: Usmania (desi food, more hijabis here than Karachi), Crisp (Korean fried chicken, best you’ll ever have).
1. I’m biased here, but take a walk around the University of Chicago campus. Make sure to visit Powell’s bookstore, if you do go. If you have access to a car or don’t mind cabbing it, try to go to the Northwestern campus too, it’s really gorgeous.
2. Lots of people enjoy the boat architecture tour. If you’re into boats or architecture, you could try it out.
3. If you’re foreign, do not under any circumstances get sucked into watching a baseball game. Americans will try to con you with phrases like “Wrigley Field is really quaint” and “you haven’t been to America until you watch a baseball game”. Ignore these people.