checked into hi-chicago... eventually. i tried about five times, every time i was told, "sorry, the room's not ready for you yet..." i don't know how long it takes to strip a bed in a hostel down for the next person but i suspect it's not very long. the bottom sheet is fitted, pillows have covers and the flat sheet and comforter are left folded on your bed. there's a towel. i'm quietly confident i could do the whole thing in under five minutes if i was hustling... maybe ten if i was dawdling. i know there are many floors but with the number of people i saw wandering around with staff and custodial badges, i'm surprised it took so long. a simple, "sorry but the person who was there before you is running late checking out, which is why we haven't made up your bunk, so perhaps you could try much later?" i'd have been maybe a little happier with that.
chicago suffers by comparison with boston when visiting so soon one after the other. i don't know if i'd have felt less warm to boston after seeing chicago first but chicago seems to me to be a bit more... menacing. it doesn't help that people tell you all kinds of terrible mugging stories two minutes into meeting you and finding out you're a tourist. i did help another aussie explain drop-bears to someone who remained convinced (although slightly less-so) that he was being made fun of. drop-bears are a serious problem in australia and i don't understand why tourists are so blase about them! i'm not in chicago to pitch a tent in cabrini green for goodness' sake! take drop-bears seriously, people.
i spent a fair amount of time wandering nearby the hostel, exploring my immediate surroundings and hunting down some mac and cheese. i know! the eternal quest for mac and cheese. what can i say? anyway, i found some at a place called panera bread, a chain i'd seen in boston and thought seemed pretty good. from the wiki article i guess they're not squeaky clean but they're in business and still around after a while, which i suspect makes them like plenty of other businesses out there.
the hostel is set up pretty well but you do need to use your room key a lot to move around the hostel once you're in the checked-in area. the kitchen is spacious and spartan and definitely lacks the warmth of the hostel communal areas in boston. the computer lab and library are well-appointed, although i found it hard to use the computers in the lab because of problems with putting money in the timing boxes. for some reason, the laundry powder vending machine is on the second floor with in the communal area, even though the laundry is on the fourth floor. all of these reflections will be included in my post-checkout survey.
by the time i did check in, i was just about ready to hit the sack. the bunk is okay; again, not quite so well-appointed as the bunks in boston but i was told the boston hostel is miles ahead of where it was a while ago. perhaps, if chicago undergoes a floor-by-floor refit (clearly the only way to really do it properly), it will come out more new-bostonian than the old-bostonian it is now. i slept all right, even caught breakfast in the dining room, read a little in the library, did my laundry. more on friday next time.