Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Chicago Loop Alliance Loopy Loop the Loop Tours

The Chicago Loop Alliance, basically the Chamber of Commerce for the downtown area, put together a trio of audio tours along with corresponding loop maps that highlight the cultural attractions in Arts, Theater and Landmarks. Friday, Tricia and I did all three tours at once.

It was a beautiful summer day, sunny but not too hot so a perfect day to wander. The tours proved geographically easy to combine but posed a tricky mp3 queuing problem especially since Tricia and I were sharing one player. No matter, there was time between stops (even combining all three tours) for both of us to get the info. Running Time for each spot rarely went over two minutes.

The Chicago Loop Alliance is a business group so unsurprisingly the audio is bland, the information scandal-less and the tempo cheerful. Many of the spots give nothing that PBS-watching Chicagoans don't already know along with vapid quotes like "You know it's Christmas in Chicago when you see the big wreathes around the Lions (in front of the Art Institute) like collars." The Theater Tour is particularly frustrating because in every instance* the listener is acutely aware that being outside is no fun. It's like saying you've been to a city because you had a stop over at the airport.

Still occasionally we were informed and it got us out on a great day and put us into interesting spots where the highlights from the tour were generously accentuated by their locality.

Top Ten List

1. The Public Gardens at the Art Institute - these gardens have been overshadowed by millennium Park since we've been in Chicago.

2. Four Seasons by Marc Chagall. Nice mosaic, don't think I've taken a close look at it before. It attracts French speaking tourists too.

3. The commentary for the Crown Fountain had a nice reference to "a modern day gargoyle."

4. Carbide and Carbon building - always a fun building to gawk at and wander through the black on black lobby (now the Hard Rock Hotel).

5. Baja Fresh - I know it's a chain but it's pretty damn good and where else can you eat cheap and good downtown? Their fresh fish tacos are goooood. (p.s. not on the official tour)

6. Walking through the DuBuffet

7. Finally trying Garrett's cheese popcorn on a tourist tip and being impressed.

8. Being outside and walking around on a really nice day

9. Finally deciding to stop messing around with the stupid mp3 player and just be happy to be alive.

10. Being Alive.

*except perhaps the Chicago Theater just because of the sign. I'd say the Ford Theater too but it's best exteriors features are obscured by obnoxious Wicked signage.

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