Begin the Beguine

mural at Oak Street Beach
Mural at Oak Street Beach. Artist unknown to me.

“When they begin the beguine, to live it again is past all endeavor”

The confusing lyrics of this 1935 Cole Porter piece describe quite nicely our amazing two weeks in the City of Chicago, where it didn’t begin for us, but which we somehow regard as our Beguinage, the center of our personal universe. The Beguine also takes me back to Amsterdam and our brief visit to the Begijnhof this past May. The Begijnhof is a courtyard surrounded by the homes of the Beguines, women who since the 12th century lived outside of male-controlled society in economic self-sufficiency, doing philanthropic work. The beguine in the song, however, refers to the Creole dance made famous by Porter, Fitzgerald et al. You see, we’re dancing through our travelling days, enjoying the rain, the sunshine and the moonlight!

One of the most enjoyable tourist activities in Chicago are the river cruises organized by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.  I’ve taken these guided tours on the Chicago River a couple of times before and I’ll never get tired of it. This time, my husband and our visitors from Texas came along to enjoy this unique perspective of Chicago.


Gotham City, right? These flying buttresses are real. They’re weight bearing architectural structures, whereas those flying buttresses …
… are just gothic marshmallows, purely decorative.
Beautiful geometry & perspective – can you see the iconic Hancock building hiding in the mist?
There’s a bride hiding under a bridge. But which bridge?
There she is!
Those pleasant walkways & terraces along the river banks? That’s what they look like when they’re being build. And it’s noisy, too. We couldn’t hear our tour guide over the cacophony!
Love them bridges, each one differently rusty and intriguingly constructed.
In the background, that’s a Groupon call center. Used to be a Montgomery Ward Mail Order Center.
Ever so charming, it could be a French village, n’est-ce pas?
Tent village hidden in the bushes, quite illegal, I suppose, along the sunny river bank.
Tranquil lunch break with a favorite book …
The Interstate system and the Chicago River, shown as a gigantic map on this high rise facade.
Angles and such.
A Ferris wheel & pseudo-lighthouses, that’s Navy Pier
Bike rental – Hidden life beneath skyscrapers.
Version 2
I just love those reflections – do you remember them, Diana?
Pagoda #1
Pagoda #2 with Human
No Human
The street running just above river level is Lower Wacker Drive. We lived across the river from this spot, in a perfect location to watch movies & TV programs filmed there. In the early morning hours, I would sit on my balcony and watch “ER” installments being recorded over and over again. A lot more entertaining than the subsequent TV broadcasts!
Metall Filigree

Quite unexpectedly I’ve got to say goodbye to you. I have to go for now, but I shall continue the Chicago Saga as soon as possible, promised!

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