I grew up in Chicago, moving to the North Shore suburbs when I was 11 and my father tool a job with First National Bank. I attended Deerfield High, graduating in 1972, and returned to the area in 1976 for graduate school at Northwestern, living in Evanston and Roger’s Park. As big cities go I always liked Chicago better than New York, LA, Minneapolis, or San Francisco. Only Boston rivaled it for character, quality of life, and cultural / educational opportunities (and for severity of winters).
So it’s always nice to be able to take a trip back, usually business, sometimes visiting friends or colleagues. It’s always striking how much the landscape has changed: in contrast to Europe where everything seems older than my home country, the town squares and farm fields are unrecognizable across the decades since I left.
I am impressed that there is an effort to teach Dutch…
And also that the mass transit has made great strides. Aided by Google Maps, which is invaluable since adding transit information, I made my way by train and bus from the airport to the meeting hotel as easily as getting in and out of London. Fares were low, the rail cars were clean, real-time information was posted at the stops: the whole system worked wonderfully.
The Four Seasons Hotel, where we had lunch, is a premium venue, with prices to match the chef’s pretensions. The cheapest thing on the menu was a $16 hot dog (Everything made on premises: sausage to garnish, the waitress assured us). You be the judge.
Finally, a word about the food stores. I’ve gotten a bit spoiled by having easy access to exotic meats (duck, rabbit) and spices (Ras El Hanout) at the corner Waitrose. When I wanted to cook a recipe for my parents, I couldn’t find half what I needed, and it was easy t get a bit sniffy about how provincial grocers could be.
But, surveying a number of stores around the ‘burbs, the array of vegetables, baking supplies, and bulk foods really blows away anything you might find in the Netherlands. ‘And at lower prices.
As with all things expat, every region has it’s strengths, and it’s a matter of adapting to the local terrain when foraging for food…