The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Exploring three of Chicago’s newest sister cities

Back in the late 1950s, Dwight D. Eisenhower launched Sister Cities International as a way to connect people at community level with others in nations across the globe from Australia to Zambia. It was part of his vision to create a more united world and the program has gone from strength to strength.  

If you have the urge to travel but are stuck for ideas on destinations, then Chicago’s sister cities are a great source of inspiration. The Windy City formed its first Sister City partnership with Warsaw in 1960, and has since teamed up with 28 other sister cities, with at least one in every inhabited continent of the world.  

It would be a great challenge to check off all 29 of them, but today we are going to focus on three of the most recent additions to Chicago’s sisterhood. 

Sydney – the casino and partying capital of Australia 

Let’s be honest, if we were given a map of the world and invited to choose anywhere to visit, most of us would give Australia serious consideration. Sydney is Chicago’s newest sister, as of February 2019.  

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One of the problems with visiting Australia is that there is so much of it. But Sydney serves as an excellent microcosm of the nation. It is particularly popular among student travelers due to the world-famous area close to the harbor known as The Rocks. Here, you will find every kind of venue, from nightclubs pumping out dance music till dawn to more sophisticated jazz venues and cocktail bars.  

Then there are the casinos. Australians are famous for enjoying a wager, and as you might expect from such a tech-savvy nation, many of them tend to do so online these days. Local banking regulations are not so casino friendly, which is why local Australian casino players tend to use alternatives like crypto or Neosurf – take a look at for more details. Having said that, the real-world casino scene is alive and well in Sydney. There are two huge casinos within two minutes’ walk of one another, the Crown and the Star. Both are well-known celebrity haunts, so either is a great choice if you want to dust off that DJ and mix it with the rich and famous.  

Accommodation in Sydney is not as expensive as you might think. Yes, if you want to stay at one of the luxury hotels at The Rocks, you’ll burn a hole in your wallet in no time. But Sydney also has a fantastic choice of guest houses and AirBnbs. Also, don’t rule out the hostels – they are not just for backpackers, and higher end ones offer basic but comfortable bedrooms with private en suites. 

Bogota – South America’s best kept secret 

A city bursting with history, culture, great night life, friendly people and affordable accommodation, Bogota is South America’s best kept secret. Or at least it was – thanks to articles like this, the genie is rapidly escaping the bottle as more people learn about this amazing city.  

Bogota’s street art is in a class of its own. You will see it all around the city, but unlike so many, like London and Montreal, the artists are not seen as a nuisance. In fact, they are actively encouraged by way of special commissions from those who live in the community. 

There is a free tour that is definitely worth attending, providing details on the historical complexity and the stories behind some of the most famous pieces.  

Bogota’s passion for cycling is another characteristic that stands out, and makes it feel more like somewhere in Northern Europe than Latin America. Visit for Ciclovía, when bicycles take control of the city! 

Colombia is famous for its coffee, but until recently, that has meant disappointment for Bogota’s visitors as most of the good stuff is exported. That is starting to change. City center cafes like Azahar are leading something of a culinary revolution, starting with the coffee, which is sourced from local plantations. Elsewhere, the La Candelaria area has a wealth of cafes and restaurants that celebrate local produce and traditional Colombian cuisine.  

Busan is another hidden gem 

The 1988 Olympics pushed Seoul to the top of the international agenda. But it also served to push Korea’s second city into the shade. Busan became a sister to Chicago in 2007, and has a vibe that is quite different to South Korea’s capital.  

If you love beach life, you will love Busan. Haeundae is the largest and most popular beach in the country, and its golden sand and azure water are undeniably gorgeous. However, its popularity can count against it. Nearby Songjeong Beach and Gwangalli Beach are good alternatives and are less crowded.  

The city has its share of high rises, but retains more history than Seoul in its streets. Gamcheon Culture Village is a must-see with its quirky hand-painted houses and its tiny alleyways with market stalls. Try to venture away from the main tourist tracks and you will get a clearer vision of true Busan.  

Sydney, Bogota and Busan are very different cities, but each shares a special link with Chicago. And once you have visited them, remember there are 26 more sister cities to discover! 

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