We started today with a trip to the Magnificent Mile - Chicago’s famous shopping strip. The highlight (for Gavin, at least), was a Lego store that held a number of Lego replicas of Chicago landmarks. For lunch we enjoyed Chicago’s famous deep-dish pizzas with a trip to Pizzeria Due (dismissed as “touristy” by locals, but still pretty damn tasty). Facing the first real rain we’d seen since New York, we spent the afternoon inside at the Chicago Institute of Modern Art, one of the city’s crown cultural jewels and home to famous works such as Wood’s “American Gothic” and Hopper’s “Nighthawks”. It was a really great museum, and we definitely could have spent longer there - however, we had a date with the ice in the form of the Chicago Blackhawks vs the Winnipeg Jets.

None of us had really watched much ice hockey before, although we grasped the general concept - skate around, hit the puck with the stick, and start fights. A few minutes in to the pre-game buildup, we had already decided that the US does spectacle waaaay better than anywhere else on earth. The thumping music, dramatic voiceovers and crazy lights gave way to the ENTIRE STADIUM standing up and singing along with the national anthem - not in the drab obedience of “Advance Australia Fair” on a Monday morning in the school quadrangle, but with an earnest, enthusiastic, whooping and cheering patriotism never seen back home. Already on board with this sport, we settled in to our excellent seats (thanks Danny Brady) to watch a close game of hockey full of drama, and in which the local Blackhawks got up over the Jets 4-3, a result which left us cheering (and not just because the Chicago win entitled us to free fries at McDonald’s).