Disclaimer:
Ok, before I begin I completely reserve the right to be 100% wrong about
anything I please. You were warned.  :)

Also: I'm going to replace this text file with separate files about doing this stuff... later. Honest.

Amtrak from (Ann Arbor?) to Chicago should cost you about $40 each way. You
can buy both tickets in advance, or an e-ticket and put your cc into a machine
and it will print your ticket then and there.

The trip takes about ... 5 hours?. There's about 10 stops along the way. Sort
of annoying, but livable. I def. recommend headphones. There is at least one
train conductor who likes to ramble to himself over the PA in the guise of
'public safety announcements'; another time, a woman who didn't even know a
small child was encouraging the child to repeatedly sing 'Amazing Grace' in a
loud, clear annoying voice. She also asked me if I sang. I said yes. Then she
encouraged me to sing. I said, "No, thanks." (DUH LADY WHAT WITH THE POKING
AND THE CHOKING SLAP SLAP SLAP) There are many interesting people on the
train, like mennonites and amish and foreign exchange students etc. Woo!

Also, consider packing yourself a lunch and eating a hearty breakfast
before you set out because food in the 'club car' is a ripoff. (AND FOR
GOSH SAKES GO TO THE BATHROOM AHEAD OF TIME PLZ K THX, :D )

When you get to union station, prepare to be confused. As hell. Even if you do
not follow these directions to the letter, it's ok. Just getting to street
level without letting some bum sell you something is an achievement. But here
goes:

You come out of the train (facing north) and through big sliding glass doors
into the narrow (front to back) wide (side to side) section that divides the
trains from the waiting areas. In the middle of this section is a hallway,
which you should take. ON your right, waiting areas. on your left, amtrak
ticket windows and those 'velvet ropes' (tensa barriers) cow-herding people
waiting line area things. Just after those, turn left. (Now facing west.)

(I am not sending you to any escalators because these have the bad habit of
reversing directions at different times of day. Therefore, they suk.)

Pass through an arch and there's usually lots of foot cross traffic to
negotiate. (Go straight past that hallway.) Then you emerge into a huge, huge
area with far fewer benches than there should be for a room this size. I think
there's a 9/11 memorial in there at present. (Landmark!) Anyway, veer left
(facing south) as you enter this room and walk 100-150 feet and you will start
to see stairs up, lots or marble stairs with treads worn in them (old) on the
left. (facing east.) go up them and you will be at street level.

Notice the 'facing' directions: you will have just gone in a big circle, but
gotten up to street level. See why it is an accomplishment? It's a huge place.

If you manage to do this much, you should emerge on the less busy/crowded
east (south-east) side of the building. To your right (just south of you)
should be Jackson st.

***

Some things to remember about Chicago's 'city grid' address system:

* Walking for a difference of 800 in any direction (usually) is about a mile.
Meaning if I start at State Street (0 E/W) and walk 800 west then I'm a mile
west of the center of the city. If I walked 800 east of state I'd be
swimming... I think the lake is around 300 east where you will be going.
Walking 100 is a 'block'.

* Surruptitiously (or blatantly, I don't care) glance at the street addresses
as you walk by them, as well as the street signs both at the corners on poles
and on the big overhead street name signs meant for cars. They will often be
helpful and say something like "500 W" meaning you're on an east-west street
etc... then, use the next sign or address on a building to determine if you're
going the right way.  :)

Okay, read this page which pretty much backs up what I just said.

Chicago Transit System - System Maps

Walk east on Jackson st... the numbers should be going DOWN if you're heading
east. :)

Consult here in particular as you read my directions. This map is VERY
IMPORTANT. It is also HUGE.

	Chicago Transit System - Downtown Maps

(See Union Station? Left of the 'loop' that the trains make around heart of
downtown, left of river, directly west of Quincy stop.)

* You should cross a bridge after only like half a block, over a fork of the
Chicago river. This is a good clue you're going the right way. (East!)

* You will see elevated train tracks cross over the street after about
three/four full blocks of walking east. These are the purple, orange AND brown
line trains. If you'd like 'more El' then you can take these;  IF you'd like
'less El, more walking' you can keep going until you reach the red line, which
is on state street.

** If you want to take red line you should keep reading but watch for the next
"***" and that will tell you about going straight to red line. Might be
faster, but more tiring, depending on time of day (frequency of orange line
trains), your leg strength, and so forth.

If you want to take the ORANGE line (trust me, NOT BROWN OR PURPLE!), well,
you're at the intersection of Jackson and Wells. First cross the street to the
east, then turn left (North) on Wells and head up to Quincy street station.
You want to be on the EAST side of the street because orange line tracks are
innermost on the loop. Orange line goes clockwise around the loop; brown goes
counterclockwise.

Sometimes the Orange/Brown do not run on weekends and there are buses instead.
These are much less regular and I would probably walk (it's hard to know where
different busses will go) to the red line in this situation. Notice all of the
grey and white circles and ovals on the map in front of you. Their convoluted
lines give me nightmares.

TAKING THE EL

As you go up the first set of stairs, you're at a level where you can cross
the street. You should already be on the correct (east) side. You will know
because the next set of stairs up has the ORANGE sign on the risers of the
stairs (not brown.)  Orange sign says 'Midway', I think. No worries.

Up in the station, as you turn left or right to get to the platform (all the
same platform, just loong), if you turn all the way around, on each side there
should be a vending machine for CTA pass. This thing works in busses too, not
just El. Is nice. Don't lose it.

If you feel ballsy, take a $5 and a $1. For some wiggle room, take $10 instead
for the El. Depends on how much sightseeing you want to do. Just stick the
money in and when finished hit Vend. Woot, you have a card. Don't lose it!

Turnstyle
With magnetic stripe facing you, hole on the bottom and 'missing corner' on
top left, drop card into slot to the RIGHT of turnstyle (this is sounding
like an infocom game isn't it) and wait for it to pop back up and grab it then
walk through the turnstyle. LCD screen should show a deduction of $1.50 plus
remaining balance.

The number of people waiting on the platform will either tell you what time of
day it is or how soon the train should come; lots of ppl usually means rush
hour, or train soon.

As train comes, look closely on front of train and sides, up high. Make sure
sign is orange and not brown or purple! Get in the train and cozy up next to
the scariest looking person you can find. Just kidding.

Voice of train guy will say,

"Welcome aboard CTA Orange Line Run (#)! Priority Seating is intended for
elderly and disabled passengers. Thank you for your cooperation. Smoking is
NOT allowed on the train. Playing of radios and other loud devices is
prohibited. Violators will be arrested. Soliciting is NOT allowed on the
train. Standing Passengers: Please do not lean against the doors." etc.

However, once in a while, he will say something useful, like, "Washington is
next. Doors open on the right at washington." Meaning if you're facing the way
the train is, you know which side of the car to get up and stand at before
your stop so A) you're not prevented from getting off because you were not
ready and B) you do not look like a total idiot. I have your best interests in
mind here.  ;)

Ok, follow with me on that map I mentioned above: we're going up and then
right on the brown line here...

Don't get off at Washington; wait for the car to make the 90 degree right
turn, and pass up the Clark stop too; get off at Lake.

As you exit the train (on the right) and pass through the turnstyle
(either the scary big one with the teeth OR you can go back through the
electronic turnstyle the other way, obviously no card needed this time)
you'll end up doing down a set of stairs to your left. On the way down them,
to your right will be the entrance to the red line, so you need to do a 180 to
your right and then turn left into red line stop (below ground, woo, subway!)

When you enter the red line, you go down a flight of stairs, then you put your
card in again. Surprise! Shouldn't deduct anything this time, because you're
doing a 'transfer' between trains. Grab your card back out of the machine and
go down the stairs. If I remember correctly, you'll end up this time on a
platform in the middle of the two tracks, and the train heading north should
be on your LEFT.

But just to be certain, this time, the train that says, 'Howard' on it, in
red, is the one you want, NOT the one saying "95/Dan Ryan". Get on there and
go a mere ONE stop and you're at Grand. Woohoo! Wasn't so bad, hmm?

***

If you decided to keep walking to red line: you're still on Jackson. Walk four
more 'major blocks' to State street and before crossing the street you should
see red line entrances, stairways going down, on either side of jackson.
Doesn't matter which you take.

Follow directions above to buy CTA pass, enter turnstyle and get to platform;
try and remember which way you're facing so you end up facing north when
you're on the platform (northbound redline is on the right, east, side.)
Once again: remember to take the 'Howard' redline train and not the '95/Dan
Ryan' train if you wanna go north.

This time, go past Monroe, Washington, and Lake stops before getting off at
Grand.

***  ok, the 2 realities converge here.


Now: depending on where you want to stay or what time of day it is you're sort
of on your own here, but you're 'in the neighborhood' of the place to get your
visa, plus some of the hotels I mentioned.


Best Western, 125 W. Ohio, 312 467 0800
Rooms from $89 to $144. Near lots of restaraunts, art galleries and
nightclubs. This will be a block north of the Grand stop and a block west.
(Grand stop is at 0 E/W)


Motel 6, 162 E. ontario, 312 787 3580
Rooms: $59 single, $69 double.
This will be two blocks north of Grand and a block and a half east. (You'll
cross michigan ave, which you will be at the south end of. Woo! Shopping.

I forgot where you said the visa place was but.. you should get the idea.


*******

Getting BACK via the El:

This is a little trickier if you don't want to red-line it all the way back to
Jackson, and here is why, but I present it for kicks. If you do this you will
be an EL NINJA. No, that's not spanish.

Get on red line at Grand station. Take 95/Dan Ryan train south one stop to
Lake. Above ground, get on brown line from north side of street -- train will
say 'Kimball' on it. Take train past clark and WHOOPS, train turned RIGHT and
exited loop. Not good. Get off at Merchandise Mart and don't cross the tracks,
the third rail (in the middle) is known to sting a bit... there's a skywalk
over the tracks but don't exit the station, get to the other side and wait for
the next train coming the opposite way, which should say 'loop' in brown.
Now, go past Washington and get off at Quincy.

At this point you can walk 330 feet south to Jackson ave and hang a right,
joining up with where you would be if you'd simply stayed on the red line
until Jackson and hoofed it west all that way (saving yourself another 1/4
mile walk or so.) Whether this is worth it is up to you.

Once back at Union station follow my directions in reverse (no lie) to get to
trains. Be sure to give yourself at LEAST an hour and a half to negotiate the
El plus to get through Union station and get the Amtrak tickets. That is why
having an e-ticket is so nice; you can simply swipe it in the machine (near
the human cow herding lines which span on forever) and it prints your ticket
instead.

If you're running late, flag a cab and say Union Station, Jackson and Canal,
300 South / 500 West. It should cost you between $5 and $7, depending on
traffic. Don't forget the meter has a 'base fare' on one side plus another
amount racks up as you go along, so if cabbie does not push the button to add
them for you at the end of the trip, you may be forced to do it in your head.
I'd bring a palm pilot to be safe. ;) YOU NEVER KNOW. 10% tip is appreciated,
by cabbies, at least. Prostitutes may want more.

******

Ok, one or two last things before I send this monstrous email.

Hancock center is a cool place to go. It's at 875 north michigan; you could
ride the el but why bother, walk down the 'magnificent mile' on michigan ave
and look at the stores, or the people, or the art along the way, etc. It's up
between pearson (on the south) and chestnut, but you can't miss it. Top is
usually lit up red / white / blue lately (GUESS WHY).

Go in on the south side (Pearson) and if you have a bag they will probably ask
to search it. Elevators to the right are for 'Signature room' lounge on 96;
casual is ok but not scruffy. Fine dining on 95 (heh)... that's more of suit
and tie stuff. But the view is still just as amazing... you are after all 96
stories (about 770 feet?) up...

Expect to pay $10 for a drink, or so... you're buying that elevator ride and
souvenir swizzle stick shaped like the building, so enjoy (and maybe keep) it.
Take a camera or video camera and try to get a table on the southwest corner
(my personal favorite). North is kind of, ~ enh. Might be worth waiting for a
table near the window (earlier in evening is better to get one) but whatever,
you can sit down and walk over to the window for a minute.

******

And finally, how to get to 'little india'. This is kind of tricky unless you
drive (but doing that introduces so many issues as parking is outrageous, like
$21 per night, and invalidates this hour or so of effort ... ;)

Check out this map of the north side:

	Chicago Transit System - North Side Map

Find 'Devon', which is at 6400 N. It's left of the red line between the
Loyola and Granville stops (right side of middle of map).

Now look down at where the brown line ends. Up around 4800 N. Woo billy,
that's about *2 miles exactly* south of where you want to be.

And if you took the red line to Granville (and walked north to Devon), you'd
still be at 1000 W.

Little India is between Leavitt (2200 W) and Kedzie (3200 W).

So, if you want to get there I would suggest you take the red line north for
about 35 mins (I do this all the time, as *I* live at the end of the yellow
line at the top of this map, actually more like at 8300 N / 5200 W; I walk it)

Get off at Granville, walk a block north to Devon, and watch for a 155
bus heading west... it will end right at Kedzie and you could get off anywhere
in there that you see a restaraunt you'd like to go to.

Nothing is impossible, but if you want 'the real deal', you will have to work
for it!

******