Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Eerie Similarities

I walked all over the Gold Coast today trying to find a free wi-fi spot so that I could find directions online to a Jewish deli which is rumored to be great. I almost found the deli before finding wi-fi. Only a few blocks farther north and I would have been there. Unfortunately, no deli for me today; my hunger got the best of me before I could make it to either, and I settled for a drenched beef with sweet peppers. The fries were disappointing. And who would have known that Starbucks had such a complicated system for getting internet access, involving cards with minimum limits and other more complicated things, like Green's theorem.

At least I got to take the Brown line north, for my first day of class at NEIU. I was planning on doing the Red line to the Berwyn and taking the bus west, but after I finally found an internet place that didn't charge an exorbitant fee, I discovered that the Brown line in fact terminates only a few blocks south of NEIU. So, I got to take that north, and then walk the rest of the way. The Brown line has got to be one of the coolest L lines in Chicago. It travels from the Loop to the northwest on elevated tracks which go behind apartment buildings, through Lincoln Park, to the west of Wrigley Field, and then veers due west and, after Western Ave, drops to street level and runs in the alley between two rows of houses. That drop really surprised me, as did the crossing gate arms which kept cars from dying beneath our massive train's wheels. It was weird to hear a dog barking when the doors opened at Francisco. This is one of my new recommendations for tourists: ride the Brown line to the Kimball terminus and then walk around a bit (but just a bit). You'll get to see the real side of Chicago, and one of the most unique public transit lines I've ever ridden - half subway, half streetcar.

When I finally got to NEIU, I walked straight to the science building, which it turns out is a slightly rundown lecture building from the late 1970s or so. I walked in and was immediately struck by a sense of deja-vu: the building reminded me of Nottingham University to an unnerving degree. Such a strange and unexpected feeling to get.

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