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Chicago

Chicago by Night for Adventurous Travelers
I was really excited to pack my bags for my first US trip and arrive in Chicago, an American city I associated with the jazz and gangster stories of the roaring twenties. Chicago is not so much about glamor these days, but it definitely offers endless opportunities for sleepless nights.

I got a lot of entertainment tips from the locals as I had little time to do research- one of my friends found some convenient tickets on sale and we made the decision rather quickly. We immediately applied for ESTA, which is a lighter, simplified type of the traditional visa, but you can obtain it even faster.

Though “The Windy City” is a metropolis with 2.7 million residents, it has a laid-back vibe that helps the non-American visitor feel integrated from the beginning. Also, the things we noticed first were the nice mix of old and new architecture and the ethnic diversity. Because so many people from so many cultures have made Chicago their home, we found a very diverse cuisine here and very friendly people, used to communicate with strangers and open to talk about their life story and origins. As everyone is easy going, we chose to go out a lot and visit less landmarks
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We went to Mike Reed’s Constellation, where we had the chance to hear Patricia Barber performing, who is there most Mondays, as we found out later. Someone has told us about Mike Reed’s other jazz bar- Hungry Brain, who features the same free jazz and bebop, but has cheaper drinks, a cool retro decor and a jukebox full of musical surprises. Elastic Arts is another hip place, with a mixed crowd of young art lovers and aged jazz fans, where you can mingle with the people, enjoy an low-priced beer, find out stories about Chicago and even admire some visual art displayed on the walls. Davenport’s Piano Bar is also a place worth mentioning; here young performers sing old cabaret music and the venue is really colorful and nice. We also loved Kingston Mines, an old blues bar, where you can also serve food (great ribs) and it’s open until 4 am.

If you want to enjoy something else than jazz and blues, we had fun at a crazy 80’s party at a club called Berlin and we also had a tour of the multi-room Sound-Bar, but there are numerous other hotspots with electronic music and DJ sets where the youth of Chicago crowds every weekend. Because one of my friends is into stand-up comedy, we went to Second City, where we watched an improvisation show. The Adler Planetarium, which is America's first one, is an option for a quitter night activity. During the day, a river cruise, a stroll along Lake Michigan shore or walks in Lincoln Park can be very restoring.

Regarding food, in Chicago you’ll find anything you like, but as a fan of Asian cuisine, I dined a lot in Chinatown, where I also bought some spices and teas. I remember the affordable Chi Café, open 24 hours and Phoenix, where waiters stroll with servers and you can pick what seems the most appealing to you. I also enjoyed a meal in old train car at Silver Palm, Pakistani food at Uru-Swati and tacos at La Chaparrita.

All in all, Chicago is a wonderful city for a busy vacation, loaded with opportunities for new experiences that should be on every adventurous traveler’s bucket list.

Chicago, IL, USA