To Wake Up In a City That Never Sleeps

This post is made possible in part by my Patreon supporters, and for Rasmussen Travels for setting the trip up. Thank you.

What does one do when he enjoyed a weekend in Florida, and wanted to spend a week to fully explore an area? Go to New York, of course! However, a week still was not enough to even scratch the surface of what NYC has to offer.

My wife and I met up with my family to take a trip together to NYC at Midway International Airport in Chicago (they flew from out west), and we flew together into LaGuardia Airport. LaGuardia sucks! It is one of the worst airports I have ever been to. It is falling apart and seems poorly maintained. I am not alone in this opinion either. We flew on Southwest Airlines, which I am also not a fan of, but I seem to be in the minority on this opinion.

Right away, I found an English pub, Jones Wood Foundry, in the neighbourhood that we stayed at. It was even on the same block. I liked it so much, that my wife and I went almost every night. The highlight there was that they offer actual cask ale.

Also a daily experience for us was a French café found a couple doors down called La Moulin à Café. The owner was from France, and most employees were as well. Even most customers were French, and I seemed like I was in the minority as an Anglophone there. It was great. I do wish that I could have gotten to order in French, as I do not get many opportunities to use the French I have learned in Central Illinois, but alas, they knew I was an Anglophone.

Also next door was Gotham Pizza (no website). It was here that I got to experience the famed pizza-by-the-slice to-go. I never needed to leave the block that we were staying at if I did not want to.

View of Central Park from the Loeb Boathouse patio seating

First full day, we all went to Central Park. Our apartment was on York Ave, so it was only a short walk away. Central Park hits you like a ton of bricks, because it is a location that is suddenly without a ton a bricks (ha ha). We spent all afternoon here, walking around and taking pictures. We even had lunch at the Loeb Boathouse. We took a quick jaunt to the MET, but they were about to close, so we never actually went in that day. Instead we went to the Guggenheim Museum. That museum is actually pretty small, and you do not need more than 90 minutes to see everything, in at least minimal detail.

On the second day, we actually explored the MET. The place is so large, that we split up our group into two to cover more ground, and still could not see everything collectively. Something I definitely need to go back to. After the museum, we went to Yankee Stadium to watch a ball game, Yankees verses the Boston Red Sox. I am a Cubs fan, but have an affinity for the Red Sox, so I was happy to see them win that night, though it was very close, only 5-4.

The third day, we went to see Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre. I have loved it since high school, and it was also both my wife’s and youngest sister’s first time seeing it on stage. Then we checked out Time Square, Rockefeller Plaza, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We followed up the evening with a drink at McGee’s Pub, one of four bars, and the only remaining, that inspired MacLaren’s from How I Met Your Mother.

Thursday, we first went to the Empire State Building. I am a huge fan of art deco architecture, so was happy to see one of the most famous examples of it. Afterwards, we went to the see the New York Philharmonic season finale. Yo-Yo Ma was there, as it was also the tenure finale of head conductor Alan Gilbert.

The next day, we took the subway to Battery Park to catch the ferry to Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty, and then to Ellis Island. We then went to the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

Now that I am home and able to reflect on the trip, New York is not one of my favourite cities to visit. I love urban cities, so that was not it. I am not exactly sure why I enjoy cities like Chicago and Toronto, but I am not a fan of New York. However, I still want to go back and explore more fully. We saw a Broadway musical and the Philharmonic, but we were not able to see the opera or the ballet. I would like to go see those. I would like to get more out of the MET and Central Park. I would also want to visit One World Trade Centre, the Bryant Park Hotel, and the Chrysler Building. Just as two days is not enough for Clearwater, one week is just not enough for New York. I will just avoid Southwest if I can, and absolutely stay away from the armpit that is LaGuardia Airport.

“Six by nine. Forty two.”

This post is made possible in part by my Patreon supporters, and for Rasmussen Travels for setting the trip up. Thank you.

One day, my lovely wife came up to me wanting to try out a bar in Milwaukee called 42 Lounge. We were free that weekend, booked an Airbnb, and drove up almost immediately. That Saturday was a bit rainy, damp, and chilly (which seems to be the majority of days we take off randomly like this), but the Sunday morning was bright and sunny, but still rather chilly. Otherwise known as Wisconsin in March.

Upon arrival in the late afternoon, and checking into our room, we needed dinner before hitting up the bar. We took to an Ale Asylum location on the riverfront (Milwaukee River) downtown.

After dinner, despite the cold and the rain, we walked to 42 Lounge. It was amazing. More details below.

After a good few hours at 42 Lounge, we took an Uber back to our room, and the Uber driver told us to go to Café Benelux in the Third Ward. Here we found one of the few restaurants in the States that serves poutine! Any long time reader of this blog will know that my wife and I love our poutine! Also, they serve beer during breakfast hours, even on a Sunday! If I was not already impressed with Milwaukee before, I sure was then. Seriously, beer for breakfast in a public location! Now there is a liquor law I can get behind.

The main purpose of the trip was to try out 42 Lounge;. Both my wife and I fully embrace the “geek” or “nerd” culture, and this bar caters to this crowd. The name of the bar itself is “nerdy.” 42 comes from the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything from Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The logo is written in pixels. The cocktails are themed, such as the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a drink so strong, that it “is like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.” Plus mead. So much mead. That alone made my night finding that out. Their nights are themed, such as D & D Sundays and Hearthstone Mondays. Not only can you drink there, but you can also play games, both the video and board varieties. After ordering a drink, you get to pick a game out of a binder, and you get to play it. They have Xbox 1 games, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and more. Be sure to keep your drinks coming.

The night we made it to 42 Lounge they were hosting a Beauty and the Beast themed party in response to the new movie starring Emma Watson that had released earlier that week. Patrons, or guests, were to either cosplay as a character, or come dressed in (semi-)formal attire (no one was dressed in formal white tie, but there were plenty of semi-formal black tie). The drinks were themed, with my favourites being rose champagne garnished with rose petals, or the Gaston’s No Belle Prize shot (whatever was in that shot was delicious). Thank God for Uber after that evening.

We enjoyed ourselves immensely, and when we go explore Milwaukee fuller in the future, we will make sure that we make it back to 42 Lounge multiple times.

The Old Copper Calls

This post is made possible in part by my Patreon supporters, and for Rasmussen Travels for setting the trip up. Thank you.

I have been looking forward to this trip for awhile. As Canadian-wannabes, or Canadians-in-heart-only, my wife and I celebrated Canada Day by watching Canadian-heavy episodes of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix. This was when my wife admitted to never having tried Tim Horton’s. While I acknowledge that there are Tim Horton’s here in the States, we still took that as inspiration for a Toronto trip.

We hit some heavy construction near Michigan City, IN on I-94 while driving there. This caused us to only make it as far as London, ON in a course of 11 hours. Normally, it takes me around 5.5, 6 hours to get there. Toronto is only 2.5 hours away from London, but we were just too tired to drive anymore. We had to stop.

This turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise. While it was too late to do much exploring of London itself, and we had to stay at the Casa Blanca motel (no website, and I do not recommend the stay at all) right off of the 402, we ate at a Buffalo Wild Wings. The bartender who served us was very helpful. I ordered a Creemore Springs Premium Lager, which spurred the prompt from the bartender that we should visit the Creemore Springs brewery in Creemore, ON, as it is relatively close. He gave us directions, and we decided to go.

I am so glad we did. We spent all day at the brewery and the town of Creemore. I loved it there. Growing up in a rural community in Illinois, getting there was like I was driving home, only more hills.

The Town of Creemore, Mill St

One point of interest in the town is the jail. It has only two cells, and claims that it is the smallest jail in North America.

Also, there are a lot of small business boutique style business on Mill St. that are definitely worth a look and a purchase. When there, get a meal and a drink at the Old Mill House Pub. The brewery offers a free tour and complimentary samples of the beers they have available. Not to mention, they have a pretty sweet storefront where you can buy some beer, glasses, and other merchandise.

Yes, the rest of the weekend (and yes, we did miss out on Independence Day in the States for this trip) we spent in Toronto. I wanted to show the Loose Moose to my wife. It was after we left Creemore and I did a bit more research, I discovered that Creemore Springs was hosting a beer festival called the Copper Kettle Festival on Saturday, August 27. I knew that we needed to go, and I am so excited that we were able to.

Once we parked for the festival, we were greeted by the sounds of a highland bagpipe band that seemed to beckon us from the lot to the festival. When we made it to Mill St., we saw two long rows of classic cars that lined the street all the way to the park. Included on Mill St. was a farmer’s market and a couple food vendors. It was at the park where the main event was. It was there where the beer garden, the beer kegs, the stage for the bands, some food vendors, and some games for the kids.

As the easiest way for me to be attracted to a city or location is good live music and craft beer, this beer festival was exactly what I was looking for. The music was great and the beer was a pleasure. I cannot wait to return next year.

After the festival was over, we stayed nearby in Barrie, ON. I heard that the nightlife is good, but I was so tired that I slept instead. However, we got to enjoy Barrie in the daytime. After waking, we ordered Tim Horton’s to-go and ate our breakfast on the shore of Lake Simcoe.

Lake Simcoe

We then went into downtown Barrie, and walked into a local hat shop, Le Petit Chapeau. Here, we spent a good portion of our afternoon just talking with Meagan, the owner, and Sara, her employee, about anything and everything. The best part was comparing the history in the Canadian textbooks with the history in the textbooks that I grew up with, especially with the War of 1812. Actually, Meagan inspired a few future travels and tips on what to do in Barrie. Hopefully, a trip to Montréal will be soon. *hint hint*

After a quick coffee at Casa Cappuccino, we went to the Flying Monkey brewery for a brewery tour, dinner, and pints.

If you are in the Toronto area, either as a resident or visiting, and you have a day or two: take the time to visit Creemore. It is only an hour drive away, and it is an enjoyable day away from the hectic city life. Not to mention the great beer to go with it. A man with a rural upbringing myself, I know that I could spend more than just a day here, and find something to do everyday.

Staying in Barrie was great. I now want to go back and enjoy a few days and explore. Again: *hint hint* It definitely seems like a city worth exploring and showing off.