Visiting the New World: Seattle and Chicago

This is about my first visit to America. I took a couple of weeks off to visit friends of mine who moved to the USA in the last few years. I wanted to do this for quite a while, but it used to be one of the good ideas that you keep for later. A few months ago my friend Andreas, who lives in the surroundings of Chicago, told me he got tickets for himself and his wife to see Calexico in concert. A band I had seen live a few times already, and years ago I dragged Andreas to one of their shows. I asked him to get me a ticket as well. At long last this was excuse enough to book flights and plan a visit to the New World.


I planned the journey such that it would culminate in seeing Calexico in Chicago on the last night. First stop, however, was Seattle. My friend Max moved there two years ago after being offered his dream job in Seattle's vibrant IT industry. As a European who had never seen America before I must say that Seattle was not too much of a culture shock. I was very lucky as it seemed that the summer lasted a bit longer this year, and I was spared the typical drizzly Seattle weather. I spent five days exploring the city and the area. Seattle has a very healthy music scene with lots of live music venues and many local bands, of which some have gained worldwide fame or even proven seminal. Other things that have emerged from Seattle include Amazon and Starbucks. It is a very nice place and I can understand why Max enjoys being there. I definitely enjoyed my stay, so a big thanks to Max and his girlfriend for having me.


Chicago is a very different place. Downtown Chicago is full of skyscrapers. Until recently it was purely a place for business, only now attempts are made to have people living there as well. There are nice places to live and go out outside the centre. My friend Andreas, who is a physicist like I used to be, works at Fermilab, a research institute in the surroundings of Chicago. He and his wife Silke moved to a suburban town close by, Naperville. Of course we undertook trips to Chicago for all the sightseeing and entertainment, but I could also get an impression of the suburban American life. Talking about America's dependency on oil makes a lot more sense to me now, having seen how a population of several million people around Chicago cope with an almost complete lack of public transport. Still, Chicago is an amazing place. Where else can you enjoy a cocktail overseeing the city and its skyline from the 97th floor? Needless to say, the Calexico concert was great and totally worth the effort. Thanks to Andreas and Silke for a great time!


I couldn't resist asking for a tour of the D0 experiment at Fermilab. I had seen particle accelerator experiments before, but a few years after ending my career in physics, I now more and more realise how quickly I forget what I once knew. Which makes me a little sad sometimes. But perhaps I had never known as much as I think I have forgotten now. Anyway. Pictures of particle physics experiments!