Thirteen years after our “ghost bus” pulled out into the Chicago night for the first time, Chicago Hauntings Tours continue to be known as Chicago’s most authentic and researched ghost and dark history tours, standing head and shoulders above the abundant knock-offs, “alternative” “strange” tours and “free tours” that seem to be everywhere these days, when you can get a ghost tour and a cupcake tour from the same company. A cupcake tour? Yes, really.
Founded and directed by Ursula Bielski, 30 year paranormal researcher and author of ten books on Chicago ghostlore and the paranormal, we are not merely a tour company but a natural extension of Chicago Hauntings, Inc. a paranormal research organization dedicated to uncovering and sharing Chicago’s paranormal history. Unlike other companies, who hire career tour guides to lead their tours, our tours are led by Ursula and her partner, David Cowan, author of To Sleep with the Angels (on the tragic Our Lady of Angels school fire) and Great Chicago Fires, as well as Clarence Goodman, popular Chicago historian and avid lecturer at Chicago libraries. We are not only native Chicagoans from the North, West and South sides, respectively, but we are also astute Chicago historians with a passion for Chicago and veterans in paranormal theory and research. Chicago Hauntings has even designed tours for the City of Chicago, the Chicago History Museum and haunted Lincoln Park Zoo, and we hosted “The Hauntings of Chicago” on PBS Chicago’s WYCC.
I knew I would enjoy touring a palace but I had no idea how much I’d actually enjoy it. Our tour guide was a retired teacher which I think made her better at presenting the history. She made it more like a story which is why I can still recall a lot of the facts today. The palace is gorgeous and it’s really interesting to see the differences in objects, dress, and culture in the castle compared to what you might find in a European castle. Our tour started a bit late but we had gotten there in the morning so it wasn’t very hot yet and we didn’t mind just enjoying the setting while we waited. I hadn’t considered this a must see before our trip but I’d definitely say to check it out now that I’ve done it.
As a lover of history, I was very excited to go and visit the royal palace. We took the audio tour and were a bit confused on parking. Luckily a spot was kindly offered to us outside the gate on King street. Thank you to the kind lady who gave us 1:30 on the meter. + From outside the grounds are surrounded by nice trees, spacious and the sheer grandness of the palace with Hawaiian flag flowing in front made me have chicken skin + Tickets were available for purchase in one other section + The audio tour began with an introduction of headsets, and shoe covers (to preserve the floors) – the headset given to my daughter was to big-so she was upset, and as a family we had to stall a bit to sync up and figure out what room we were in + The staircase made of Koa wood was so grand, and the oil painted portraits of the royal family was all around on the walls. + The royal family were musically inclined and quite talented they composed songs, Queen Liliuokalani and the famous “Aloha Oe” so dignified and Victorian + King Kalakua was well travelled and well read. They had electric lighting, telephones, record player and plumbing. + The dining rooms, and other rooms were exquisite + Overlooking the palace veranda allowed me to step back in time and in a quick moment I shared the same experience of what the royalty would of looked with their own eyes + The throne room was regal and showcases her gown. + the palace residents understood the importance of maintaining the Polynesian culture and accepting the modern + The bedrooms and beds were surprisingly small. + What saddened me was the Quilt Room, were she was imprisoned and overthrown. In 1993 Clinton recognized that the overthrow of the sovereignty of Hawaiian islands were not justified. + The basement was cool and enjoyed learning more about the the actual restoration of the palace and its palace residents. Overall, this is a good place to learn more about the history of Hawaii and understand that it is not just about Tiki huts and hula girls.
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