Chicago: City of Surprises by Shasha Zhu

Our wonderful Chicago trip was enriched by so many surprises!
This is officially my first trip to the U.S.
This was officially my first holiday in the U.S.
The combination is an amazing one—a holiday in Chicago!

I’ll begin with a little bit of geography, but don’t worry, I am not going to bore you with too many facts. Chicago is the third most populous city in the U.S., yet I didn’t feel crowded at all. It was incorporated as a city in 1837, which is not a short period of time ago, yet I feel a sense of modernity walking through it. Today, the city is an international hub for finance, commerce, industry and technology, yet art is everywhere for you to experience. Now, close your eyes and try to picture your own version of Chicago, because everyone sees it differently when they come. I know it is cliché to say this, but Chicago does bring a lot of surprises!

Of course, this beautiful picture is not taken by me. But I will show you some pieces of my work!


Lake Michigan
Michigan Sea Grant Coastwatch

My favorite part of the city was Lake Michigan Beach. I learned about Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes of the U.S., in my geography class in high school, but, you know, sometimes when you only see pictures like this, it means nothing to you.


However, when you stand right there in front of the amazing scenery and can feel the temperature of the lake water, it can mean everything to you.

My sweet travel companion Ying and I decided to go to the beach early in the morning to enjoy sunrise. And luckily enough, we saw the sun rise.

At first, we were so excited and took lots of photos, and then we just sat there quietly, feeling the beauty of nature.

This is a group of friends, partaking in religious worship and enjoying the morning at the beach together. So sweet!

The Buildings
Another feature of Chicago that struck me is how diverse and gorgeous the buildings are. Ying and I took a boat tour along the Chicago River, and we had a humorous and erudite tour guide, who introduced us to the fantastic buildings and offered great perspectives of them. He told interesting historical stories about them, but of course, I can’t remember all the stories and information. I remember the most impressive part, which is how people here have planned their city with their heart, which shows a true love of ones’ homeland.

333 Wacker Drive, Chicago Illinois

This building is an example of architectural contextualism, because its shape perfectly fits in the curve of the river bank, where the building stands. Furthermore, the color of the glass on the building reflects the color of the river.

Millennium park is an energetic and dynamic park just beside Michigan Avenue. We arrived there with perfect timing, as several jazz music shows were just beginning. Ying and I went into one of them and enjoyed a little bit of music. Many seniors were also there, and they looked excited and entertained, and really involved. This is also what I like about the city. Everyone is so energetic, regardless of age. We are never too old to enjoy life. Isn’t it true?

A performer plays for donations at Millennium park
A jazz band plays at Millennium park

We continued on and saw the world-famous sculpture, Cloud Gate, a.k.a. “the Bean” by local people because of its shape. What’s amazing about this sculpture is that it is made up of 168 stainless steel plates and the surface reflects and distorts the city’s skyline. Ying and I also walked around and under the wondrous object and had a really magical experience.

Ying and I touching the reflective sculpture, “Cloud Gate”

Delicious food!

For two foodies like us, we will never miss the world-famous and delicious food of Chicago—the deep dish pizza! I am a huge cheese fan, so you can imagine how excited my stomach got when I saw the creamy cheese on the thick crust.

After waiting for 40 minutes or so, finally it comes!

For a cheese fan like me, it is always a pleasure to explore delicious cheesecake like this one from Cheese-Factory.

So creamy and rich!!!

There is so much I want to share, yet what I want to say most is you’ve got to experience it for yourself, because a charming city and its beauty can never be described precisely, it can only be experienced.

I loved this trip! And I love this city! I also love my perfect travel company.

I am looking forward to more exciting adventures. Wonderful trips to be continued…