If anyone wonders
whether it is possible to do a 13-hour drive in one day, I'm here
to tell you that it is!
In Europe, taking
a day trip is a relatively simple matter, whatever the mode of transportation.
Not only within a country, but even from one nation to the other;
there's always a bus or train headed in every direction, even if
you can't drive. Distances are not half so vast, and the journey
takes so little time as to make weekend excursions both possible
your starting point is Montreal... Toronto and New York City are
six hours away, at least. That's on the map; in real life, the length
of the journey depends on traffic, border wait times, and all sorts
of other factors that, combined, turn a weekend trip into a longer
Recently, I had an opportunity for a trip to Chicago, a city I had
not visited before, only with limited time off work. How best to
choose which sites are a must-see after a 13-hour drive just to
reach the city? Reaching out to friends, and after a number of exhaustive
internet searches, I compiled a tentative inventory. In the end,
there was no chance to visit Wheaton College, which has a collection
of papers and artefacts belonging to J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis,
and other authors. On the other hand, luck was on my side regarding
weather. Although a snowstorm hit on the second day, it was hardly
more than usual wintertime conditions in Montreal. It was hardly
even windy in the Windy City! Except, of course, along the shores
of Lake Michigan.
I set out on
both a driving tour, heading as far north as Wrigley Field, and
a walking tour, shopping along Michigan Avenue and admiring the
Water Tower, a former housing for a water pipe used in firefighting,
which now serves as a Chicago Office of Tourism art gallery. The
tower was built in 1869 and, as one of the few buildings to survive
the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, is the second-oldest water tower
in the United States, after one in Kentucky. Oscar Wilde - who,
on the same American tour, referred to Mount Royal as "the
hill behind your lovely city" - said the Chicago Water Tower
looked like "a castellated monstrosity with pepper boxes stuck
all over it," although he apparently admire the machinery inside.
The second day,
as it was too cold to visit the famous Chicago Zoo, was reserved
for the Shedd Aquarium, an exciting outing when travelling with
I visited a location made famous as Ray's Music Exchange in the
film The Blues Brothers (now a pawn shop).
The return trip
was another gruelling 16-hour day, including all stops for gas and
lunch, as well as the usual Toronto traffic. Yet there are still
sights to see, sometimes unexpected; at one point I found myself
on the Wayne Gretzky highway in Ontario!
In the end,
it's not simply arriving at a destination, but the journey itself
that gives a sense of adventure and makes a trip worthwhile. With
so much more to see in Chicago, thought, I'd definitely set out
on another trip!
by Deniz B. Bevan:
Walking In Old Montreal
My First Novel
Pâté or Pouding Chômeur
Ice Apple Wine
Montreal Is An Island
Ideas for Your 'Staycation'
Istanbul: I Only Have Two Days To See Everything!
Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Bladeby
Approaching Ireland by ferry...
Just Plain Nesin