If you had a friend come into town, where would you bring him/her? The Milwaukee Art Museum? Brady Street? Miller Park? Lakefront Brewery?
Previously, I mentioned Eric’s friend Kevin coming to Milwaukee a few weeks ago. While I probably would have taken my friends to a couple of other places, I think Eric did a good job at showing Kevin aspects of our city and making him feel at home. Maybe Kevin will even revisit...
Kevin and Eric have known each other since their pubescent years in Singapore. Before Kevin's recent visit, it had been nearly three years since they were in the same town and it was my first time meeting Eric’s best bud, which was a little nerve-racking.
Kevin is an interesting guy. He’s a salesman in North Carolina and a wannabe comedian. From the sound of it, he “enjoyed the cheese” here and based on what I witnesses, he definitely had some stories to bring home to his southern friends. We had a lot of fun!
While in town, Kevin offered to write a guest blog about his visit to Milwaukee. After some editing – I try to maintain a PG rating here at PITC – and correcting some of Kevin’s “fact checking errors” and adding links, I thought it was ready to share with all of you. I’m pretty pleased with what he had to say and was even more surprised that he actually followed through with it. Thanks Kevin!
If you think reading a "guest" blogger's perspective is an interesting addition to the site, I might ask every friend to recap their trip to Milwaukee, well, if I can get my buds to visit, that is.
Come on, ladies!
Until then, say "hi" to Kevin and feel free to comment on his thoughts or share what you like/dislike about the places he went. Also, do you think Milwaukee was well represented? If not, what would you do to show “the real Milwaukee?”
Let me know what you think!
I’m not sure how many of you know this, but on the East Coast of the United States, Milwaukee isn’t exactly considered a top travel destination. When I told my friends in Chapel Hill, NC (Home of the UNC Tar Heels) that I was going to be flying to Wisconsin, I was met mostly with chuckles and the response “enjoy the cheese” or something equally as corny...err...cheesy? I’ll admit that even I wasn’t exactly keen on flying four hours to head out to Wisconsin.
As always, flying through Chicago was a blast. Within 30 minutes of landing in Chicago, I was informed that my flight was canceled and that I could take a bus into Milwaukee. The gate agent then explained that Milwaukee was basically a suburb of Chicago. I didn’t quite understand what he meant, but then he told me the bus ride would only take about an hour. I guess you can blame my great private school experience on not knowing that Milwaukee was roughly 60 miles from Chicago. So, I collected my bags and ran to the bus depot. I boarded the bus, now even more confused about what to expect from Milwaukee, and drifted off to sleep.
I arrived in Milwaukee about an hour and a half later and was met by Eric. He asked what sights I wanted to see, and like the experienced traveler I am, I told him to help me experience “the real Milwaukee.” One thing I’ve learned in my travels in the United States and abroad is that when you travel, you shouldn’t spend a lot of time on the tourist traps, but rather you should spend time getting to know the local culture. That’s exactly what we did that Friday night.
We started at Hooligan's on North Ave. and then went to about 10 or 11 other bars, having a drink at each one. As an avid Miller Lite drinker I was in heaven – finally a town that didn’t scoff at me when I had a “cheap domestic beer!” One of the biggest surprises of the night was how great some of the local beers were BESIDES Miller Lite. I tried Spotted Cow on the request of Eric and much to my surprise I liked it. I NEVER like “good” beers. More surprising than the beer was the amount of culture and lack of pretentiousness I found. Let me explain...Where I live, if you drink the cheap domestic light stuff when you have the choice of any beer, you’re pretty much considered lower class and the beer snobs turn their noses up at you and make snide remarks. On the flip side, if you go into a corner bar and order something snooty, people will just think you’re a pretentious jerk. I am proud to say that I didn’t run into this when I visited Milwaukee.
The nightlife was honestly amazing and I was really beginning to like Milwaukee. At about 1 a.m., we decided to call it a night, but not before a stop at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino. Because I’m a little bit of a gambling addict, we wound up staying out until seven in the morning. I can honestly say that whatever the white man stole from Native Americans back in the day, the Native Americans took back from me on that night. With their new expansion there was too much fun not to stay and I would really highly recommend that anyone visiting Milwaukee at least stop by for an hour or two.
Finally, we got home and passed out; I knew that the next day we had the Riversplash festival to attend. When we finally woke up the next morn...afternoon, I was feeling a little worse for the wear. Eric had been up for a few hours planning out the day. We started by driving to Karen’s place, we then took a 15 minute walk to Lake Michigan. They convinced me that I had to at least stick my feet in the lake, what they didn’t tell me was that later that day my foot would turn green and fall off.
From there, Karen left us and Eric and I walked up to a little coffee shop and discussed what to do for the rest of the day. Now, we were on the “East Side” and at about 7 p.m. Eric convinced me to walk with him to Riversplash. “It’s only a 10 minute walk,” he said. Thirty minutes later, my feet were killing me, but he told me it was just three blocks away... Another 20 minutes later we arrived.
Outside of music festivals, I have never seen so many live bands playing in the same area. I was amazed that the other side of the city had even more bars than the East Side. The festival wound up being quite a bit of fun and I definitely got my fill of hot dogs and beer for the week. (I’m still in awe at how much nightlife there is in Milwaukee and it’s all within stumbling distance). I know it sounds a bit like I’m an alcoholic and I am, but I think I was getting a really good feel for Milwaukee.
The final day I was in town, they took me out to the Third Ward. Apparently it was “Downtown Dining Week” in Milwaukee and we decided to dine at Fratellos. I know Karen has written a little bit about this experience, but she had some fact checking errors. I ordered the wine for us and we actually had a Pinot noir, NOT A RED ZIN!! While I like my beers cheap and domestic, I’m actually a pretty big fan of my wine.
Before we got to the Third Ward, Eric had told me it was the more upscale and trendy part of town, which in NC means a bunch of pretentious snobs, but again I didn’t run into them in Milwaukee...EVEN in the Third Ward. The rest of our dinner pretty much wound up being exactly as Karen described. It wasn’t a great dining experience and to be honest, the wait staff was pretty much the only positive for this restaurant. I would say that you might just want to skip over Fratellos until they get their act together with everything else.
After Fratellos, we went out to some bars in the Third Ward, for the life of me I can’t remember their names. We met a couple of interesting girls from MIAD at the first bar we went to. The very first thing one of them said to me was “oh, your name is Kevin? Kevin’s usually have red hair and leave me.” Then, she went on to give me the details. I didn’t know that people in Milwaukee were that forthright with their personal information. As a comedian I’m fairly sure there’s plenty of fodder in her story for a funny bit.
We ended the night and got back to Eric’s place. I thought I had one more day in town, but I checked my tickets and realized that I hadn’t remembered the dates correctly and was actually leaving the next day at 10 in the morning.
Morning came too quickly and Eric and I went to George Webb (for the second or third time. GO HERE INSTEAD OF FRATELLOS, better food and far cheaper). He dropped me off at the airport and as I was about to board my plane to Chicago I learned that my flight was CANCELED AGAIN. I HATE CHICAGO O’HARE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT! In my entire life of traveling, I HAVE NEVER EVER, EVER, EVER had so many complications with a flight. I called Eric and he picked me back up, and then we went to some mall near the airport and I went to the “everything Wisconsin” shop. I bought my girlfriend a “Wisconsin cow pie” which was freaking delicious, ate lunch at P.F. Chang’s and got on a direct flight back to Raleigh (screw going through Chicago EVER again).
On the plane I had the chance to think about my trip to Milwaukee. I can’t believe how amazing your city was/is. There is so much to do, so much culture, great places to go out, and get drunk and great places to relax and exercise. There are so many different restaurants, concert and theater venues, and even a kick-ass casino. If I had to describe Milwaukee to my friends (which I have had to do) I say it takes the best parts of Chicago and mixes them with the best parts of Raleigh. Basically it is a kick-ass small city that’s built up with things to do on every corner.
To the gate agent in Chicago who said Milwaukee was a “suburb of Chicago” I say this: Chicago can only hope to one day be as awesome as Milwaukee. I’ve been to Chicago and didn’t have nearly as good a time as I did on my visit to Milwaukee. Also, three days after my trip, my parents were flying to Tokyo from Nashville via Chicago...oh and yeah, due to flight delays in Chicago they missed their flight to Tokyo.