New York - city to fall in love with

In New York we spent six hot days at the end of June/beginning of July. Six days is not enough for that city. Maybe 66 or 666 days would do, although we're not so sure. It's a place that can be overwhelming and tiring in the beginning but afterwards it makes you fall in love with it and doesn't want to let you go.

We stayed those six days at Helen's at Staten Island. Helen loves New York and she enjoys living in Staten Island but still she became a snowbird. Like a few million of residents of "North" when it gets colder she packs her suitcases and heads to Florida. Tempting idea for when we get older. If we do that some day, maybe we'll buy Toyota Prius too, because as Michael - Helen's partner - told us, with this car you can drive all the way to Florida stopping just once at gas station and spending only for 65 USD. We are afraid to calculate how much we paid going with Eddie south from Chicago to Florida...

Our place at Staten Island
Another great thing about New York is that once we got there with our jeep, we could forget about it for few days. We finally started using public transportation. We didn't make it in San Francisco, we didn't in Seattle, we finally did in New York. Maybe Staten Island is not Manhattan or Brooklyn, it doesn't have its own subway, there is only a train along its east coast, but within walking distance from Helen's home, just passed the zoo (almost like at home) we had a bus to free ferry. 20 minutes by bus, 25 minutes by free ferry and we're in Manhattan.

At the ferry, on our way to Manhattan
Staten Island is not the best address in New York. Our friend from New York said we should take a free ferry to Staten Island as there is a great view to Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Manhattan skyline and said the only drawback is that ... it goes to Staten Island. Helen noticed that we'd be a curiosity on the bus, being probably the only "white faces". In fact we were, and even if sometimes there were some other ones they were usually of some immigrants from our part of the world.

View from the ferry
But we liked Staten Island. Of course, we'd love to live one day on Upper West Side or somewhere else in Manhattan but from Staten Island to the heart of New York the distance is pretty much the same as from Brodno, part of Warsaw we spent most of our lives at, to Warsaw downtown. Of course in American cities ethnic diversity usually means higher crime rate and lower standards, but Staten Island is far from suburbs of  Detroit or S Halsted and W 77th in Chicago. New York has been a safe place to live for years now. And we wouldn't mind living here, even on Staten Island.

Before we tell you what we've seen in New York, few words about some more practical aspects. Being in this huge city with kids you have to realize it's not always going to be easy. At Helen's kids let us sleep late (mostly because they were exhausted), so we had late starts. We'd get up around 9, breakfast, making bottles for Kalina and making sure we have enough diapers etc., preparing some snacks for Maciek, and by 11-12 we were ready to go. Our bus to the ferry usually was quite empty at this time of the day so we could sit on a bus and we didn't have to fold a stroller. 

Ferry leaves every 15 minutes during rush hours and every half an hour at other times. Usually there are not too many people. It gets crowded by the entrance but it's mostly because there are lots of tourists who want to get the best place to see Statue of Liberty. For a seat with no view you don't have to push your way through.

Central Park
One of the first times we took the ferry, Ola said she didn't feel secure with so many people around. To make the feeling worse/better there was a lot of police both at the terminal and on the ferry. But it wasn't Polish police - young, inexperienced, sometimes offensive guys, it was Italian police, nice, corpulent guys smiling to our kids and friendly responding to any question. They looked like straight from the movies,  like an ideal type of Italian policeman from New York. It was a pleasure to look at them.

Empire State Building
When we would finally get to lower Manhattan it was usually around 1 pm. As we wrote before we focused more on heartbeat of the city, rather than on must-see places, so we just walked and walked and walked. We tried not to forget about eating (we did it many times in past). But we won't write too much about our culinary adventures, as they weren't so good. Tom, our New Yorker friend recommended us a few places we should eat at but somehow we ended up not going to any of them.

At least we can share some of his suggestions with you. At Bleecker and 6th street is Joe's Pizza, one of the best slice in New York, therefore pretty close to the best in the world. Hot dogs? Greys Papaya, locations at 6th avenue between 8th and 9th Street and 72nd and Amsterdam.

Times Square
Usually after 6-7 hours of strolling around we would realize it's getting late and we have a long way to go. On the first day we made it to 8 pm ferry, second day it was 8.30, one day we made it as late as 9 or 9.30, which meant we had to wake up Helen just before 11 pm to let us in. After a week of New York walking we felt almost like zombies. Happy zombies but not fully satisfied.

We hadn't seen a few places we really wanted to see. And it's all hurricane Sandy's fault. We didn't go to Statue of Liberty as it was still being fixed, they opened it on 4th of July, just after we left. Ellis Island will probably be reopened next year. Enterprise shuttle was reopened on 10th of July, the day we left USA. We really wanted to visit some museums but we got only to one and only for a few hours - Museum of Natural History. We will come here some day for museums only, for like 2 weeks straight, maybe when kids will appreciate them more. 

Statua Wolności
To be honest in all our walking we just made it to upper sides. We've seen lower Manhattan, a bit of Brooklyn, Upper West Side, plus we went to Long Island, so we still have a lot to see. Besides trip to Long Isladn, where we took our jeep (spending 15 USD for bridge toll and getting stuck in Sunday traffic) we walked and used public transportation only. We bought a weekly pass (30 USD) which paid off. Single fare is 2,5 USD, and that includes one change, but we used subway a few times a day sometimes, just to go a station or two.

New York subway
One more thing about subway, for those who travel with a stroller. New York subway, as most of all old metro systems (like London for example) is not very stroller-friendly. Elevators are not popular and usually they don't go all the way to the street level, stairs are narrow and one person carrying stroller blocks those who go the opposite direction. When you enter a station you should tell the person in charge there that you're getting in with a child, swipe your card and then a person in charge unlocks the gate. Practically we decided to do it on our own quickly (after all how long can you wait for a group of Japanese tourists to buy their tickets, ask about route, etc) and one of us would go a regular way and the other would open a gate from the inside. This would set the alarm off but parents don't care.

Maybe it's a good way to scare off people with kids so they don't go by subway. We haven't seen too many people with kids (comparing to Warsaw) in public transportation. But after we got to Manhattan ad we could walk 2-3 stations or take a subway we'd usually take a walk. Carrying a stroller, getting through crowds, setting off the alarm, it was all not worth such a short trip.

On the bus on Staten Island we didn't have to fold a stroller. Only one time, when we were getting back, it was really late and pretty crowded, driver told us to fold the stroller which meant picking up half-asleep Kalina, holding half-crying Maciek, unpacking the stroller to fold it, making sure the things we unpacked don't get lost... That didn't make us happy after 10-hour-walk...

Did you watch "Friends"?

For culinary adventures we simply didn't have enough time, too bad, we hope we'll make it up some day. This time once we were getting rally hungry we'd stop just anywhere to eat. Once we stopped at a deli buffet which ended up being one of the most expensive meals we had in States. The cheapest option was food carts, we got tempted by some snacks for a dollar in China Town and they were pretty good. We also ate in not very good restaurant in Little Italy and in a place owned by Greek, where menu was as thick as "War and Peace" as we read in a review hanging on the wall, cut out from paper 20 years ago.  

Our most interesting culinary adventure was Shake Shack in Madison Park, just by Fifth Avenue with Flatiron view, which in our opinion is the most beautiful building in New York. It's a burger place with people lining for a hundred meters or more. There are two windows, the second one is for ordering beverages, so you can stand in burger line drinking beer.

Flatiron Building
Shake Shack is not cheap, burgers start at 5 USD (on the other hand it's just as much as we lately paid in Warsaw), beer unfortunately is much more expensive than in Warsaw. Shake Shack is in Madison Park since 2004 and it became one of the symbols of New York. On one of episodes of "How I Met Your Mother" Lily says she can't go to Italy as they just opened new Shake Shack around the corner. And we don't think it was product placement.

Line to Shake Shack
Ok, so this was a short introduction and in next post we'll finally write what we saw in New York.


New York, New York

"Start spreading the news / I am leaving today /I want to be a part of it /New York, New York" - leaving Naples ("upstate New York" as they say) south-east towards Big Apple we could be singing like Frank Sinatra. Even though our starting point and destination were in the same state we broke our record in number of state lines crossed in a day... And to make us a bit nostalgic, navigation led us through Warsaw, NY.

Warsaw, NY is a bit smaller than it's Polish namesake, although not the smallest out of all American Warsaws. It has over 5 thousand residents, while Warsaw, Ohio has less than a thousand. Crossing it made us smile: Warsaw Fire Department, Warsaw Town Hall and "Welcome to Warsaw" sign - made us want to stop, shake somebody's hand and say" "I'm from Warsaw too".

Founded in the beginning of 19th century it didn't have too much to do with Poland. Its name was probably chosen by chance, maybe to honor some Varsovian from local authorities. Small, provincial town is proud of the first abolition party with Afro-American politicians and a few people like Barber Conable who in the 80s and 90s was head of World Bank. So we can say there was a Varsovian once in charge of this institution...

Upstate New York

These vagabond shoes / They are longing to stray /Right through the very heart of it / New York, New York 

It was nice being in Warsaw but that was not our destination. We were hoping to go to New York since the very beginning of our trip. Ola has been there over a decade ago, Paweł never got a chance to leave Chicago during his American vacation. There was never enough time or money.

Our plans changed somewhere in Oregon, maybe even earlier, when we sat down with a map and a calendar and we realized that we wouldn't have enough time for the East Coast. We got an idea back then that some day we'd like to bike along the entire East Coast, or travel there in some other way that would not require a car with all the repairs and fuel costs. Instead of going few hundred miles per day we'd take smaller paths instead, take our time and at the end spend some time in the city.

Those plans changed again for two reasons. First of all we sold the trailer, which paradoxically made us more mobile and lowered costs of a long drive. And then Agnieszka and Scott whom Ola used to work with invited us to Scott's mom who lives in Staten Island. Cordial invitation to Delaware to Malcolm and Terry, whom we met in Louisiana, settled all doubts.

I want to wake up in that city / That doesn't sleep /And find I'm king of the hill /Top of the heap 

It took us some 6 hours to get from Naples to New York. We drove through green hills. First we entered Pennsylvania for a while, than we returned to New York, then Pennsylvania again, and then through New Jersey we finally returned to New York state. New Jersey was a nice place as gas prices are up to 30 cents per gallon lower than in New York state (New York state has the highest "fuel tax").

70 miles before New York new lanes appeared on the highway and it got really crowded. Even with GPS it wasn't easy, and our navigation didn't make it any easier, once it told us to take off the highway just to make us go back the same way we left it five minutes later. To make it even worse, to get to Staten Island where we were staying we had to cross the bridge. You thought Golden Gate Bridge was expensive? Well, it wasn't. Crossing Goethals Bridge cost us…13 USD (it's toll-free towards New Jersey)! Few days later to leave Staten Island we paid 15 USD!

We finally made it. Helen, real New Yorker with a distinctive New York accent welcomed us with sandwiches and sangria. We got a spacious room with bathroom in a basement and for a next week she was really patient with us when we were coming late (one time Helen and her partner Michael locked the doors, other time we forgot the key, every night there was some other reason we had to wake them up). And we spent all days (except one) in NYC.

Helen with Kalina
My little town blues / They are melting away /I gonna make a brand new start of it /In old New York 

You can either love or hate New York, it's hard to stay neutral. For sure it's not an easy place, especially with small kids and especially coming back from months far from civilization. New York is noisy, crowded, dirty, and this time of year it's sticky and smelly, and going down to subway with a stroller is a real challange.

Despite it all we loved it. For Pawel first couple of days were difficult, but then he started thinking what to do to stay here for longer. For Ola it was third or fourth time, just as fascinating as previous ones. We'll be back for sure.

If I can make it there / I'll make it anywhere / It's up to you / New York, New York 

In New York, as usually, instead of going to the museums, operas and climbing viewpoints on skyscrapers we just walked the streets to feel the heart and soul of the city. We spent there six days in total, one of which we went to Long Island to see an old friend from university. In the next post we'll tell you what we've seen in New York and what for different reasons we didn't see but we wanted to. 


Through deserted Detroit to Niagara Falls

Detroit has now many names - city that slipped into the abyss, dead center of automotive industry, Japanese revenge for Hiroshima (we read this not-too-funny joke somewhere on internet), the biggest bankrupt of America. On our way from Chicago to Niagara Falls we decided to check it ourselves. Does it really looks as depressing as they write about it online...?

But first we had to get there. We left Chicago quite late. Our goal for that day was Kitchener in Canada where family friend lives. Navigation was not very optimistic giving us 9 hours to destination. Not counting traffic... Last few months we spent driving on empty and friendly roads somewhere far west, now it was time for us to face Midwestern highways. And it was traumatic experience.

We drove most of the way on Interstate 94. Ugly, industrial landscape was all we could see. Whole Indiana and part of Michigan was jammed, road works everywhere, aggressive drivers squeezing in and driving over twice the speed limit on narrow overpassess under construction. So it's not only in Poland...

Utah and Wild West highways, empty spaces and no traffic at all changed our perspective. For someone who lives for example in Chicago area, it's probably quite normal. For us it was a nightmare. East coast sucked us in with its noise, pressure, speed. Luckily we had Canada and up state New York on the way so this transfer was a bit smoother - little more of rural idyll before smog completely covers up the sky.

After 6 or 7 hour drive (instead of 4-5 estimated by our navigation) we reached Detroit. On wide Michigan Avenue we were almost alone. Three lanes each way... After all it's a main road heading east, downtown. 

We passed by abandoned buildings, skeletons of burnt houses and empty lots where even the burnt remains fell apart. It's well known side effect of insurance market development. Now deurbanization is marked by burnt houses. It's not only American thing. In Poland it was the same. When new highway to Germany was built and it took over the traffic from the old road suddenly there was a real plague of fire. The fastest way out of business - as someone wrote about it. 

We were looking around with anxiety, expecting subconsciously that bunch of hungry zombies will come from around the corner. At last we got to famous abandoned railway station Michigan Central. We got out of car to take a few pictures. Another car came by - quick look at plates and face behind the wheel and relief - it's just some tourists. 

Michigan Central Station
Michigan Central Station is a symbol of fall of Detroit. But it doesn't have much to do with its current problems. 18-story building completed in 1913 was back than the biggest building in it's category in the world. But it was not a very thought through investment. Far from downtown (they hoped it would get the area on the market) it was supposed to be served by public transportation. In a city that became a world center of car industry it was a real paradox.

No parking, highway system development and more and more people with their own cars caused the number of passangers go down systematically starting in the 50s. Strangely when Detroit and car industry were booming, station was generating more and more losses and finally, in 1988 it was closed. Now the new owner who bought it for sentimental reasons is suing the city that wants to take it down.

We skipped a trip to downtown we could see from afar - it was getting late and not only we didn't feel comfortable driving there after dark but also we still had few hundred miles to go. We stopped at gas station next to the rail station. Employee behind bulletproof glass laughed out loud at when we asked for toilet... We paid quickly through carousel under the bulletproof glass and we left as quickly as we could. 

From there, feeling more and more curious look of Detroit's black residents upon us and remembering that in average it takes an hour for police to get on crime scene we decided to evacuate to nearby Canada. It was the first time in the USA we felt insecure. On the other hand though we skipped most of big cities on our way.

What will happen to Detroit? After we came back to Poland it filed for bankruptcy. Until now the biggest American bankrupt was Stockton, California, where we stayed a few days and it didn't look poor at all. Problem with Detroit is not only the crash of car industry but a complete social collapse. Now it's a poor, black ghetto (82%), where people are passive and not used to working.

What's more, it seems that African Americans, especially those with low or no income at all are not mobile so they don't move for work as easily as white or Hispanic people (which, by the way, is not a separate racial category). It doesn't bode well for Detroit. City will probably keep shrinking and getting more and more poor. Maybe at some point it'll go for some rescue plan, but probably not any time soon (with over 700 thousand residents).

We drove to Canada through the bridge that is just a few miles away from Michigan Central Station. Worth way over billion USD Ambassador Bridge is private owned. It's owner, Manuel Moroun is of Lebanese origin and is a billionaire. He is the one that bought Michigan Central Station for sentimental reasons. Maybe he could be hope for Detroit if he didn't sue city and federal government and for anything he can think of.

Moroun made on us 5 USD, as this is how much it costs to cross the bridge. On border crossing, to our surprise, we were asked for details of our last 6 months and plans for the future. Luckily we made a good impression on the guy as he finally let us in to Canada. We reached our destination after midnight. On our way there we tried to get back used to signs with kilometers and gas prices per liter.

In Canada we stayed at Pawel's mom's friend's. It was supposed to be just for a night, but we had such a good time we got lazy and we stayed two full days, during which we had some time for reading books, writing blog and seeing Kitchener and area, including cute, English-looking town Stanford.

With Zosia
We left Kitchener, surprisingly, according to our plan, at 10 am. Our punctuality and hurry resulted from the fact that a day earlier we found out, that our next hosts, Annie and Seth, old friends we met in Poland, who live in Naples, north New York state had to leave to Ohio for a few days. They could have just left the keys but last time we've seen each other was three and a half years ago in Israel and we hoped we could see them now.

For that reason we also had to decline the invitation for a coffee from Marianne, Boondockers Welcome founder and author of guide books we recommend. It was just 40 minutes drive from Kitchener to Marianne but then for sure we woudn't catch Annie and Seth. Oh well, we'll have it next time. 

From Kitchener we headed straight to Niagara Falls, which we decided to see (due to lack of time) only from Canadian side. If we had more time we would like to compare the view from both sides of the river. Despite the lack of time we didn't park at parking lot by the very falls. It would cost us 20 USD. Not much further we found parking for 5 USD per hour. Probably if you have more time to look you can find something for 2-3 USD per hour.

Hotel monsters
Niagara can be admired from the pavement along the falls and river. Behind our backs there were hotel-monsters and gift shops but views make up for this discomfort. Falls are impressive. There are two parts, the smaller one is on American side, just next to the bridge between USA and Canada, second, bigger one, bent like a horseshoe is shared between both countries. There is a terrace down by the fall, you can buy ticket to, you can also pay for a cruise to the bottom of the fall. One quick look at the boat and we were sure it's not our kind of fun.

We left the views from American side for next time, but from what we'd seen from the distance it looked a bit more friendly. There is boardwalk leading to the falls and civilization seems to be further away and less intrusive than on Canadian side. The whole area is a state park, the entrance fee is 8-10 USD per car, depending on which parking you choose.

We spent a little over an hour there and we headed off to Naples. At the border crossing they only asked us how much longer we were going to spend in the US. We were so surprised that we didn't even try to ask for a new stamp in our passports. According to some websites there is no way to get "new" six months and a deadline is still the first one you got when you first entered US. This is what we got.

Some people we met in Florida claimed that it's not a rule and it's possible to make your stay longer. They actually did, but after spending a few months in Canada, so we're still not sure if we'd get a new stamp after just a couple days. Anyway, we told a lady at the border we're going back in less than 3 weeks (which was true) and that was end of conversation. No new stamps in our passports.

We made it to Naples just in time to see Annie and Seth. We had just an hour to catch up, but still, it's better than nothing. After that they went to Ohio to look for a new house (they're moving there in a few weeks) and we stayed with their kids, Liam and Eliza.

For next few hours we felt like typical 2+4 family from Utah. We went to the river, than we had dinner and town tavern (it's not easy to get orders from three kids, take care of a fourth one and decide on what we want to eat), than we took Eliza to her grandparents. Liam decided to stay with us - grandma picked him up next morning before we left.

Maciek had lots of fun. Despite age difference Liam (10 years old) and Eliza (7) let him play with them. Maciek used all the English he knew, saying mostly "I know", "This one" and "I love you" and making up many new English-like words.

Annie, Seth and Eliza
We had fun too - we know Liam and Eliza since they were born. They spent their first years in Poland, then we visited them in Israel when Maciek was only 4 months old, it was nice to see how much they grew and changed.

Eliza, Liam, Maciek and Kalina
It was fun to stay at their house too. It's a barn built in 1905 converted for residential purposes in 1950s. Previous owner rented out part of it to holiday makers (area is famous for its wines, there is also a golf course nearby) while she had a studio in the basement.

There is a huge living room with enormous "medieval" chandelier, kids rooms have attics, there is a big kitchen and bathrooms on every floor in a tower that used to be grain elevator. It requires some work but even now it's a very pleasant house to live in.

Huge space made us wonder for a second what fun was it to live in an 18 ft trailer, but we remembered quickly. Traveling! That's why early next day we said our goodbyes and we left Naples. Our destination was calling. New York City, here we come!!!


Badlands, Grasslands, Buglands

So we became homeless. We passed Rapid City quickly. It is known as the "Gateway to the Black Hills" or the "City of Presidents". If it's advertised only as a way to get somewhere it cannot be very interesting. Our visit there was limited to a quick stop in downtown to take an envelope with money for Eddie and a short walk. Few office buildings, few restaurants, downtown a bit deserted at noon, typical American city below 100 000 residents.

We headed east, with no plan as usually. A few times we caught ourselves thinking that once we get tired we'll just find a rest stop at the side of the road and...and what? Traveling without Eddie seriously limited our accomodation possibilities. We wanted to try couchsurfing we signed up for lately, but nobody repiled. Oh well, with Boondockers Welcome it wasn't a good start either. We decided not to worry in advance and enjoy the road. And the road just brought us a new national park: Badlands.

We went through Badlands Japanese style: remembering how much more we have to go we just stopped at a few view points and we went for a one short walk. From what we've seen on the map Badlands is a rather "drive thru" park. Most of it is paralell to Interstate 90. Leaflets and a website suggest to take a detour from the highway and drive those 25 miles through the park. It's some 1/4 of attractions. Nobody really encourages to go further and see the rest of it. Southern part lies within Indian Reservation anyway and roads just surround it. It's probably peaceful and quiet. And there are some hiking trails.

In northern, more civilized part there are also some trails, we've seen sings for 4, 5 i 6-mile walks. Maybe next time.

For travelers crossing Wild West towards Pacific Ocean Badlands can be a prelude to Utah. Thanks to erosion you can see rocks of different colors, canyons, cliffs, hills. All surrounded by green valleys, but it gives an idea of what you can see 700 miles further west.

75 million years ago shallow sea where now is South Dakota was a great place to live for many sea creatures. When the sea backed up a huge subtropical forest took its place. Gradually the climat was getting colder and there was less and less rain. Forest got replaced by savanna and later on by green valleys. Over time old layers of rocks came up showing various fossils. Most of them from Oligocene period, which was between 23 and 35 million years ago when forest was transforming into savanna. Area was populated back then by animals similar to those we know today: ancestors of pigs, horses, rabbits and also saber tooth tigers and huge rhinoceros, lifestyle-wise similar to hippos. 

Badlands is excellent place for exploration for paleontologists. Even visitors still find bones of prehistoric animals every once and then. There are reminders everywhere not to pick them up and inform park service, that will look at them professionally considering context and surroundings. Skeletons found in Badlands are displayed in visitors center and at some short trails by view points.

We spent just a few hours in Badlands and we went back to "90". Landscape was getting more and more monotonous, hills disappeared from green plains and the only attraction by the road were exits to towns with gas stations and restaurant by town famous for Elvis' motorcycle…

The last turbulence in landscape are somewhere by Missouri river, from there on it's flat and green and the only change is that pastures got replaced by corn fields. South Dakota is not very crops-friendly state and it's not before midwest that fields start.

Once the green pastures of Wyoming and South Dakota were used mostly by bisons but after white man took over they were replaced by cows. We quickly got used to their smell (and it was pretty strong one). But traveling after dark through South Dakota and Minnesota we recommend good washer fluid. We didn't have it and after a couple of hours it was difficult to see anything through our windshield. It looked like it was raining with insects. 

We were considering driving all night but knowing we'd have to be up anyway at 8 am we decided it was not the best option. We decided to spend a night in a motel. Remembering motels on our way to Florida we thought we'd have no problems finding something for less than 50 USD. To our surprise the cheapest motels from brochures with coupons for South Dakota and Minnesota were over 60 USD.

Ok, we thought, coupons are one thing but there's nothing here. Who would fill up those motels? We thought that maybe if we get to empty motel late at night we'd get a good rate. So we kept going hoping we would find something good. We gave up that hope in Minnesota. We decided to take anything. It was half past one at night. 

To out surprise all the motels and cheap hotels on our way were full. The first one we found that had a room for us was Travelodge in Worthington, 70 USD after tax. If we don't count Yellowstone, it's more or less how much we spent in last two months, since April. We miss Eddie...

We went to sleep late, we got up early and we drove all day. Exhausted we got to Chicago in the evening. Illinois reminded us there are paid highways in th US. We paid sometimes for bridges but the idea for paying for a road seemed odd...

We stayed at Aneta and Miłosz's, who we met thanks to this blog. They made us feel very welcome, they gave us their bedroom despite our protests and went to sleep on the mattress, they fed us and we stayed up until 3 am talking over beer. Planes that we could see through the window that landed at O'Hare Airport, just a mile away, kept reminding us we'd be going home soon...

We spent next day sleeping, repacking and visiting family and in the evening we met with our hosts in a pub The Dock by the lake. Very nice place - live music, beach, and Polish beer for those who miss motherland. Plus it's a popular place among jugglers and fire eaters who have their show there. And last but not least, Chicago skyline behind our backs.

From the left: Miłosz, Michał in the back (cousin), Łukasz (The Dock's owner) and Aneta
Friday morning we planned to move on. Our goal for Day 1 was Kitchener in Canada, where family friend lives, and on our way there we wanted to see Zombie City a.k.a. Detroit. But of course we decided to ignore the alarm clock set up to 8 and following the atavistic rule "sleep as long as your kids do" we got up at 9.30. By the time we ate breakfast and got ready it was long after 12. Oh well, not the first time, not the last when we start our day with delay. Ater all we're on vacation. We packed only what we needed for couple weeks, we left all the rest of our things with Aneta and Miłosz, and we headed east swearing at Chicago traffic...
Find a disturbing element...