Anne Cotting has been working for SWISS for more than three years. It's not only the breathtaking views and daily contact with people that make Anne's job above the clouds so perfect for her. It's also the opportunity to explore so many difference cities. Chicago has always been one of her favourites. A passenger once gave Anne a long list of 'insider tips' for the 'Windy City'. "Thanks to him, I discovered some wonderful places which have made Chicago even more special to me."
Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, and became one of its main trading cities in the middle of the 19th century. It is particularly well known for its modern architecture, and is considered the birthplace of the skyscraper. Autumn is a good time to visit Chicago, because it stays lovely and warm for a long time. However, those who laugh in the face of cold weather will undoubtedly enjoy the winter there: "Ice skating the 400 metre long Skating Ribbon in the Maggie Daley Park is an absolute highlight," explains Anne. SWISS flies daily to Chicago (ORD) from Zurich (ZRH).
Thanks to the jet lag, getting up early is easy. Anne recommends a visit to the Millennium Park before breakfast. This tourist attraction covers an area of 99,000 m², and is well visited at every time of day. Except if you get there early. "What could be better than virtually having the park to yourself and watching the sun rise?" The classic tourist's snapshot of the Cloud Gate sculpture, also called The Bean, is especially successful at this time of day.
The first impressions of the day are followed by an excellent breakfast. The drive to the West Loop is rewarded with "fabulous home-made granola and the best coffee in the world". Thanks to the unique interior and cosy atmosphere, the most important meal of the day can be enjoyed in full at The Allis. The Soho House-Club is in the same building. "Definitely the place for you if you fancy a spur-of-the-moment visit to a rooftop bar or a barber's shop after a meal."
Well-fortified, the sky is then the limit! Off to Willis Tower – the tallest building in Chicago, and second tallest in the USA. The Skydeck with its world-famous glass balconies is on the 103rd floor. It's particularly well worth visiting in winter, in Anne's opinion. "The snow-covered city looks amazing from up here."
From the tallest building in Chicago, it's straight to Chicago River. "The boat trip is not only tremendous fun, but it's also highly informative." The river is perfect for admiring and photographing Chicago's unique architecture.
Enjoying a burger in Chicago is an essential, so the place for lunch is the Au Cheval, with an industrial charm that attracts countless visitors. "As well as the unique interior, it's also extremely well-known for its typical American burgers. An absolute treat for the palate," enthuses Anne.
A hearty lunch is best followed by an extended walk to aid the digestion. How fortuitous that Chicago is in fact best explored on foot. "Whether a cosy café or the fabulous shops, you'll never be bored here!" Still, those who want a little more action instead will definitely find what they want at a basketball game with the Chicago Bulls. "The atmosphere at the NBA games is something that simply has to be experienced!"
What could be better than seeing the city from above in peace and quiet? And better still, a bird's-eye view? The flying school at Midway Airport offers private sightseeing flights, either in an aeroplane or a helicopter, at surprisingly affordable prices. An absolute must for Anne. "It's amazing to fly over the city at twilight and record the skyline from above." She has even had the opportunity to fly the aircraft herself. "I had my first flying lesson in Chicago last summer. From Midway Airport over the city to Lake Michigan and back. What an adventure that was!"
Next it's off to Fulton Market Kitchen for an evening meal. This establishment is a combination of restaurant, bar and art gallery. Various local artists exhibit their works here. "The food may be a little on the expensive side, but it's extremely unusual! There's always something new to discover."
The best, not to say only, place for the perfect ending to a day in Chicago is without doubt the Blue Chicago. The main focus is on the music. Anne loves this bar. "The 'Blue Chicago' is the best-known blues bar in the city, with fabulous bands performing every night. Just fabulous!"