Independence Day in Chicago

Thu July 6th 2000, 1:30am

Independence Day in Chicago

It’s 1:30 in the morning but I can’t sleep, so I’ll start writing. Back in Chicago again and having a blast. Surprisingly, or should I say unsurprisingly, it’s just like being in Melbourne, so laid back, so artistic, so fresh and so mutlicultural. Without a doubt,  I could live here if given the chance, especially in or nearby the Fullerton area that is located north of the Chicago River. I don’t really miss Oz at all, just friends and family.

The weeks surrounding July 4th are hectic! Chicago is known as the liveliest city in the world, and I can see why. I’ve been to Taste International Food Festival twice this week with Christian, who by the way is a great travel companion. We’ve seen Lincoln Park, the beach, museums, the nightlife and so much more. More importantly, we’ve met some stellar people, which is one reason I really wanted to travel in the first place.

Andy is a young Scot who is our age, and there are Amy and Charlotte, two absolutely great girls from Leicester in the UK. We go out together, whether it’s just seeing the sights or having a few drinks at the local bars. Being under the age of 25, none of us has a care in the world; we’re all just here for a good time. I must be sure to visit them all when I head to the UK after visiting Washington next month. We all get along so well.

The gang before drinking – (LtoR) Andy, Charlotte, Christian, Amy

July 4th celebrations

Anyway, about last night – it was a classic. After some sightseeing in the afternoon, we headed to Navy Pier with every man and his dog to see the July 4th fireworks. We luckily got there early enough to claim a prime spot in the Budweiser Beer Garden. Drinks were surprisingly cheap for such a big event, so we were stoked. After a few beers our conversations got a little louder and our think Aussie and British accents stood out more. As a result, the surrounding Chicagoans took a liking to us, the drinks continued to flow, and we became quite popular. 

Navy Pier stretches out a mile into Lake Michigan

The spectacular fireworks display over Lake Michigan that followed left us speechless. What surpsied us though was how quickly most of the spectators split. We didn’t really mind as that left us with a little more space and less noise to enjoy the glorious summer evening on the lake.

During my previous stay in Chicago in May, I’d learned at a sports bar that a few solid tips to bar staff or waitresses would be rewarded in kind as the night went on. We did so and it meant a couple of rounds of drinks on the house at the end of the night. From there we hit two local bars, one jazz, the other a small dance club. Finally, we stumbled back to the hostel around 5am. Can’t wait to see the pictures we took.


Today, we met Charlotte’s mate Damien and strolled along the beach. Being an Aussie, it’s a bit strange saying “beach”, when in fact it’s just a big lake with a bit of soft sand. But it was fun all the same. Christian and I got told off by the lifeguards for swimming too far from shore. Are they serious? Lake Michigan’s like a bathtub, not a wave in sight. It’s impossible to drown! We played a little volleyball with some college guys and lost badly, but we all enjoyed it.

Following a big, late lunch at Subway we cruised back to the hostel for a late afternoon snooze. Last night has exhausted us all, but don’t worry, we’ll be back on the streets tomorrow searching for another adventure. Anyway, my eyes are getting heavy. I think it’s time to call it a night and hit the sack. Thanks Chicago. Good night.

(C) Paul Johnson and Johnson English Service – 2021