Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Traveller's Tale

Queues. Lots of them. Queues at Manchester airport to get checked in, queues to go through security. Lots of people in the queue being a bit daft - poking me in the backside with your luggage isnt going to get us through quicker is it? Queues for a coffee. Queues to get on the plane.

Uneventful journey, followed by queues to go through immigration in the US - hardly the Ellis Island spirit these days. Once through those queues, I find out that it is a good job I am out of the country as I might have been round to see Rafa, or at least let his tyres down. Even from the skimpy facts I can get at on my Blackberry I can see that we were robbed.

I begin to follow the Rugby World Cup Final on my Blackberry, with the odd call home to put the phone near the telly. Again, it seems we are being robbed.

Been travelling since 6 in the morning, now 8 at night UK time, but seeing as the so called "sports bar" in the airport hotel wont show the rugby, we decide we are missing queueing - so set off to Chicago city centre on the El. It's just like home, after 2 stops we are kicked off and have to queue for a bus, which takes us the equivalent of one stop, then back on the train. A 45 minute journey takes nearly 2 hours. Still we havent had enough, and decide to queue to pay for a ticket to go up "the world's most recognised building." We queue for a lift to take us up top, this is a true Queue of Queues, chaotic, senseless, cruel - and all this at midnight our time.

Then, up early and another flight to Seattle. Two highlights - another weird air steward to add to my collection - a very strange individual with a home made badge bearing the name "FRED MARY". Now whether he was a Fred on the way to being a Mary, or vice versa, his customer skills could certainly be better.

And something I am finding almost irrestible not to buy. In the brochure it talks about how you can touch his hair, and his leather jacket. It just sounds fab.

23 comments:

Louise said...

I think Paul had summed up pretty well the experiences of the weekend “than-queue for flying with us”. As a quick warm up for the fun ahead, if anyone wants to take a swing at the “Where are we?” Challenge – which building did we visit that is described on its accompanying audio track as “the world’s most recognizable building”???

SkyMall does continue to be a special flight experience, of course, dog stairs and dog ramps are old news but I thought this convertible version was inspired (if only there was a button the dog could push depending on whether it felt like taking the stairs or the ramp). But my absolute favourite is this one - “the worlds' first and only 100% dishwasher-safe, time-telling drinkware. No travel mug or coffee mug has ever looked so good”. It’s the rhinestones that make it art…

stu said...

"The world's most recognizable building" - the John Hancock Center at 875 N. Michigan Ave. Am I right? Do I get to choose a prize out of the Skymall Catalogue?

Louise said...

Well done Stu - you win the "warm up" prize - not sure whether we can stretch to a prize of SkyMall quality...but certainly something odd and shiny.

Anyone else think they've got a blinking nerve - not exactly evidence informed... I can't ever see the following being true - "In a poll of x number of people across the world, the Hancock tower in Chicago was voted the world's most recognizable building"...I don't think so!! - but it did result in Paul and I coming up with a very, very long list of "even more 'most recognizable' buildings" which made us feel better!!

Helen said...

According to Google, the John Hancock Centre isn't even the most recognizable building in Chicago, let alone the world...

smodge said...

This provoked a building-tastic conversation between stu and I this morning, as we frantically tried to establish what it looked like, and indeed could it be the Sears in disguise.. (no)

ps - did you know, there was a build your own empire state building kit in the guardian this week? hours of fun.

smodge said...

pps dear god he lives

Joel said...

Not strictly in Chicago but my shortlist would read,

The Taj Mahal, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Sydney Opera House, Eiffel Tower etc...

Hancock who?

stu said...

Just to bring it all back home for a moment, is there a single most "recognisable building" in Sheffield?

Helen said...

The Cooling Towers... They even have their own MySpace site.

Abbi said...

Cooling Towers? I don't think so - surely it's the Dev Cat...

Louise said...

OK, OK ...you've sucked me in...

In addition to Joel's list we also wondered about (again not strictly in Chicago but then again the audio didn't say anything about Chicago) the White House, the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Kremlin, Eiffel Tower (building??) and then we had quite some debate about whether the pyramids were buildings or not...

For the Sheffield one - City Hall? Town Hall? Meadowhall?(though not strictly in Sheffield)..something else-hall?

Quick quiz question - Who was John Hancock? (and I deftly steer the quiz to my favourite subject...)

btw - interesting experience - going up the hancock - and don't get me started on the 20 mile per hour lift - 94 floors in 45 seconds but interestingly made by the same people who supply the lifts at SHU. hmmm

Helen said...

He signed the Declaration of Independence.

Louise said...

You're right Helen he did...how about some follow ups
How many other people signed it?
When was it signed?
Why is he so special?

btw - yes, I feel a point scoring emerging for the general knowledge quiz that will run alongside the main competition (you have been warned)

Scores so far 1 point each for Helen and Stuart (plus bonus shiny prize for Stu as promised for being first). There is 1 point for each correct answer and 1 point for each Seattle-related general knowledge questions set by either me or you.

Mary said...

1776, 55 other people, he was the first to sign.

It also turns out that one of the other signers was called William Whipple, which I am adding to my list of favourite names in history.

Louise said...

nicely done...and enjoying the name

can I push for something more specific than 1776?

Mary said...

2nd August (mostly - Elbridge Gerry, Oliver Wolcott, Lewis Morris, Thomas McKean, and Matthew Thornton signed it later)

Richard Mather said...

Well I've just Googled 'John Hancock Center' and even though I recognise it, it's not gonna be troubling my top 10, or even top 50 most recognised buildings...

yes, the Pyramids are buildings, and no-one has mentioned the Chrysler Building... or Emley Moor Television Mast, which in my opinion is far cooler than any cooling tower...

stu said...

I would also include in the collection of Sheffield buildings, two architectually uninspiring, but nonetheless distinct structures - the Park Hill Flats (btw the streets which were cleared for this site were known as Little Chicago during the 1930s), and the Arts Tower.

Louise said...

Mary gets some John Hancock points - calculations later...but just for clarity (and cos I know Brian will be back tomorrow and may get a bit agitated) - whilst the other 55 people signed the Dec of Ind on 2 Aug 1776, John Hancock was first being the only one to sign it on the fourth of July.

Extra general knowledge question (about Seattle and Sheffield all at once):
What, topographically, do Seattle and Sheffield have in common?

Abbi said...

Is it yet another city that claims to be built on seven hills?

Mary said...

Hmm, actually, although John Hancock signed a copy of the declaration on July 4th, it wasn't the copy everyone else signed on August 2nd. He signed that one too, and was again the first to sign. Seeing as we're going to get picky about this.

Brian said...

"Your John Hancock" is an expression for your signature in the US as well. Somehow I doubt he was from Chicago though as there were no settlements that far west at the time (Illinois not even being an original colony/state). Makes me wonder why they named the building after him in particular.

Louise said...

Abbi is right on the seven hills thing.

Re Brian's question - no, he isn't from Illinois. The building is (was?) actually the head office of the John Hancock Life Insurance Company (which is named after the JH we are talking about - something witty and inspired about the right name for an underwriters perhaps?