2010 09 chicago summer

august: market days

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Went to market days again. The same music, performers, stalls as before. A good day out, in really nice weather. Had beer and our favourite, chocolate covered cheesecake.

august: air & water show, ginza festival

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This is my second year at the air and water show. Last year I went in the afternoon on the second day at the south end of oak street beach. This year, I went at 10.30am on the first day and decided to go right where the action was, at north avenue beach. I figured, it’d be crowded but it should be feasible to find space for one person. I was right. I got a spot at one of the concrete jetties facing south, it was perfect. It was also extremely hot and though I had sunscreen on, I could feel the UV. I brought a beach towel to sit on, I ended up huddling underneath it for most of the day, to block out the sun.

The show started with skydivers, and then there were military planes, helicopters and aerial gymnastics from at least 3 teams. It was fantastic. The buzz and roar of the planes, the skills of the pilots. I wish I knew more about planes to be able to recognise them.

The highlight was of course the finale, the blue angels flying F/A-18 Hornets. There was a lot of anticipation, about where they’d “sneak” up on us, people were watching the skies all over. Then we saw a huge plume of grey smoke from the lake and there they were! Great end and I didn’t feel like I’d been sitting on concrete under the baking sun for 5 hours.

It was only a 10-15min walk to the ginza festival. I was pretty hungry and thought I’d get dinner there. It turned out to be a very expensive dinner. The entrance of $4 (normally $5 but I had a coupon), plus food and drinks used a ticket system of $1 per ticket. Half a teriyaki chicken was 10 tickets, a beer 5. I had 5 left over so I had a red bean dessert and a serving of edamame. I suppose I could have watched the performance, but it wasn’t interesting. The stalls sold stuff that seemed to come from somewhere between a $10 shop and Sogo. I had to remind myself that I’m not in Asia, and some of these crafts and merchandise are pretty unusual here.

august: k-fest

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Another summer festival, this one the Korean festival. Only a 10-minute drive away, so no excuse. Plus unlike the ginza festival, no entrance fee. They closed 2 blocks of the street, and the stalls varied between food, community groups, a Hyundai dealership and others selling crafts or korean toiletries and other stuff. There was a sand wrestling competition area and inflatable castles for kids.

My main purpose is for the food, naturally. I had the spicy rice cake (dukbokki) and fish stick in soup. I remember the first time I had the spicy rice cake, on a bitingly cold day in Seoul, I had no idea it was that spicy. Since acquired a taste for it, cos I know what to expect. The fish stick is just like any fishball, just in a flat form. Stayed away from all the fried food. Everything washed down by an OB beer. Just one, cos I’m driving. Didn’t get the jinru either, cos I’m driving.

The food and beer came to $15, which is a better value and more authentic than the $20+ half chicken I had yesterday. The lady at the food stall gave me too much change actually, but I gave the correct amount back to her.

august: tall ships festival

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The 2010 tall ships festival is going on at navy pier. To avoid the crowds I went after work. I got a $1 discount by getting the ticket online in advance, not too bad. There were about 20 tall ships from all over the world. Some of them could be boarded and others offer sailing tickets — which sold out really early. I got the boarding ticket for $5 extra.

I visited quite a few ships — the inland seas, the roald amundsen all the way from the north sea, the friends good will, the madeline and the pride of baltimore. All were extremely interesting, the masts, the array of ropes and knots, the small crew quarters, galleys and how pristine they are all kept.

By far the biggest attraction, and with the longest queue (I think it took me about 45mins) was to board HMS Bounty. This the American replica, built for the 1960 Marlon Brando film. Still, it was authentic enough for the visitors and I, like many, spent a few minutes just sitting on deck enjoying the lake and the day.

Didn’t stay for the fireworks, though I probably should have. At 9pm, it would have been late when I get home. Had a couple of beers (note to self: cheapest beer at navy pier = haagen dazs café, $2.75 for domestic draft) and chinese fast food for dinner.

september: german festival

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It was raining this morning, and I thought I might have to stay indoors all day. Luckily it cleared out after lunch so I took the bike out. Rode to the totem pole. The path was pretty clear, not many riders. Quite a few runners though, I guess a few of them would be doing their long runs for marathon training.

Went over to the german festival over at lincoln square. Too used to driving, so I initially cycled on the main road. Did not like that one bit, too close to cars. Turned off into smaller streets and was less stressed. The festival was exactly like the maifest last year (didn’t go this year) — beer tents, food tents selling the same bratwurst meal, and even the arcade game stalls were identical. I am not going to make a comment about german consistency and reliability. (Heh, and I just did anyway.)

As it happened I was there for the General von Steuben parade. I had absolutely no idea it was happening, but figured it something was up with the large number of people lining the streets around the festival. Apparently:

the parade celebrates Baron Friedrich von Steuben, who came to this country as a volunteer offering his services to General George Washington. General von Steuben converted the revolutionary army into a disciplined fighting force, instilling in them much needed inspiration, confidence and competence.

There were many floats, people in traditional german clothing, marching bands, local dignitaries, politicians and even the truck of a moving company.

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Had a bratwurst, potato salad and sauerkraut meal washed down with a large beer. With perfect timing the sun came out. Walked a little along the square exploring the german deli and a kitchen shop. Cycled back home via Ravenswood, and stopped at george’s for their yippee skippy (ie peanut butter) ice cream.