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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 69: 2 December

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 Days5.15. Christmas trees in the streets of Aurora, Illinois, in the Chicago suburbs. Six-lane tailbacks on the freeways, two-tier trains roll past, full to bursting with Friday night commuters. At last the towering downtown skyscrapers come into view. The Hancock Tower and the Sears Tower, once the world's tallest building, now for sale at 2 billion dollars.

The only good thing about Union Station is that we are there with 35 minutes to spare. There are none of the promised redcaps to meet us, and we are at the far end of a bleak and grubby ice-covered track, without even a platform. We have much more than my bag to move and by the time we have a trolley, it's only 15 minutes before the Lake Shore leaves. By the time we've reached the departure platform, ten minutes are left. Then Simon hears my name called on the station tannoy. 'Mr Palin, arriving from Los Angeles, please go to Station Information.'

This is a time for strong heads. Station Information is back the way we've already come. To go is to run the risk of missing the train, not to go is to run the risk of missing what could be a vital message. Go straight to Halifax? Ship leaving tonight from Montréal? About turn and race through the station. Find the information desk. A queue. Push my way through. Yes, there is a message. Lady disappears to collect it, scowls from others in line.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 69
  • Date: 2 December
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Chicago - Illinois
  • Book page no: 231

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