Category Archives: wisconsin

where to stay along the Mississippi in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota

One of the worst nights we’ve had was staying aboard a boat that doubles as a hotel of sorts along the Mississippi River in Dubuque Iowa. It seemed like a good idea but the quarters were cramped and strange; the boat was docked beside not only a busy road but a railroad track so it was noisy; and we were the only people aboard. Given that this boat was among the recommendations listed for where to stay along the Mississippi in a 2009 issue of a Minneapolis based mag, I’m not sure how the other recommendations will be. But here they are just in case:

– Golden Lantern Inn, Red Wing, MN

– Tritsch House B&B, Alma, WI (this is a really nice little river town!)

– Alexander Mansion, Winona, Mn.- Wilson Schoolhouse Inn, LaCrosse, WI

– The Hancock House, Dubuque

– Mont Rest, Bellevue, Ia. (long been curious about this place)

– Tatanka Bluffs, Redwood Falls, MN

– Belle Rive, Lanesboro, MN

– Oakenwald Terrace. Chatfield, MN

– Woodland Trails. Hinckley, MN

– Inn at Sacred Clay Farm, Lanesboro, MN

– Solglimit, Duluth, MN

– Blue Heron, Ely, MN

– Loon Song Bed and Breakfast, Park Rapids, MN

– A.G. Tomson House. Duluth, MN

– Covington Inn, St. Paul, MN


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Note to self: when next in Milwaukee – try the Iron Horse hotel

Established 1882

A friend came home from a weekend jaunt to Milwaukee raving about the city in general and the Iron Horse Hotel in particular. (Nope that’s not it above – that’s the fantastic Milwaukee Art Museum) The Iron Horse a boutique hotel in a former 100-year-old warehouse at the crossroads of the city’s Fifth Ward and Latin Quarter.   With its urban chic decor and high marks from the travel industry, it looks like well worth a visit.  Last time I stayed in Milwaukee, about six years ago, I stayed at the old dowager of a hotel, the Pfister, which was a little bit frumpy but interesting and near the lively historic Third Ward district. I see online that there’s a $259 package at the Iron Horse  that includes tickets to the fantastic Milwaukee Art Museum, inside a whimsical building  designed by Santiago Calatrava, and the new Harley-Davidson Museum. One thing I didn’t realize about the museum, which resembles a bird, is that its “wings” open at 10 a.m. daily (when the museum is open), close and reopen at noon and close at 5 p.m. (8 pm on Thursdays). Now that I’d like to see! (Below is the new building he’s designed for NYC’s World Trade Center site – didn’t realize he’s doing that.)

Path Terminal

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Mustard Museums in the U.S. and U.K.

Several years ago, my friend Suzette (not quite her real name but she’ll always be Suzette to me)  and I made a pilgrimage to the Mount Horab Mustard Museum in Mount Horab, Wisconsin and were entertained (and amused) by the wide display of mustards and mustard memorabilia from around the globe.  We had our photo taken with the French’s Mustard Man in the photo above! The museum has since moved (in 2009) to Middleton, Wisconsin (about 30 miles east of Mount Horeb and 15 miles west of Madison) and puffed up its name. It’s now The National Mustard Museum. Haven’t been yet. But I was reminded of it last week when I received a gift from an English friend – a wallet from Colman’s Mustard Shop and Museum in Norwich. ( Can’t vouch for the museum – since I haven’t been there – but the bright yellow (sort of a French’s Mustard yellow) nylon and velcro wallet is sure easy to spot inside my purse (or handbag as they say in England.) And it came with this little recipe for making mustard: Blend dry mustard with cold water or milk, wine or beer. Stir to a smooth, cream-like paste. Always mix at least 10 minutes before use to allow full flavour (cq) to develop.

Colman's Mustard Shop & Museum

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milwaukee – serbian food, sausages, santiago calatrava

Friends are going to Milwaukee for a college visit to Marquette U. so here are a few suggestions of things to do/see/eat:

– Three Brothers – a Old World Serbian restaurant in a neighborhood just north of the airport. Yes Serbian food. Good. Try the burek, sort of akin to Greek spinach and cheese pie

– The Milwaukee Art Museum, designed by Santiago Calatrava. The building alone – looking like bird landing on the lake – is worth a wander. There’s an exhibit on the building of the museum, marking its 10th anniversary. (more below)

– Usinger’s Sausages – okay, you don’t have to go to the original store downtown but it’s kind of a kick. there’s a stand selling them at the Milwaukee Airport.



Building a Masterpiece: Santiago Calatrava and the Milwaukee Art Museum

September 8, 2011–January 1, 2012

Feature image for the Calatrava exhibition It has been named the sexiest building in the world, featured in TV ads and shows and Hollywood movies, and it has transformed the city of Milwaukee. In September, the Milwaukee Art Museum celebrates the 10th anniversary of its iconic building, the Quadracci Pavilion, with the exhibition Building a Masterpiece: Santiago Calatrava and the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Designed by internationally renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, the Quadracci Pavilion was the Spaniard’s first completed commission in the United States. In 2001, it was named Time Magazine’s “Best Design of 2001.”


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Odds and ends from West Central Wisconsin

In Sparta, we ate at Angelini’s – a nothing fancy but good old-fashioned Italian restaurant downtown that was packed on a Saturday night and makes a good tomato meat sauce and has good thin crust pizza. One minor quibble – among the photos of presumably Italian notables (Sopranos actors, Al Pacino, Sinatra et. al.) hanging on the wall was one Benicio del Toro, who is Puerto Rican (full name: Benicio Monserrate Rafael del Toro Sánchez)

In Westby, we ate at a nothing fancy very Norwegian cafe, Borgen’s – motto is “Spis, drik, a ver gla!” (Eat, drink, and be glad! in Norwegian I’m guessing. We didn’t  get too adventurous or Norwegian  (we skipped the Meatballs & Gravy with Lefse and the “Feisty Norwegian Chicken Sandwich”) but they served a good BLT. We had bacon several times during our Wisconsin trip (each morning at our B&B) and it never disappointed. But then bacon rarely does.  I also was intrigued by a replica of a Kransekake, Norway’s signature cake often served at weddings, birthdays and anniversary parties – a conical tower of thin layers of cake made out of almost paste, that narrows as it rises from bottom to top.

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Canoeing via the Titanic on the Kickapoo River in Wisconsin

We inadvertently picked the best day to canoe on the Kickapoo River in southwest Wisconsin last week – a Monday. We were going to go on Sunday – when it would no doubt be crowded – but the weather wasn’t promising so we waited a day and had the river almost entirely to ourselves, which was a treat. We rented a boat from a rental place in Ontario called Titanic (and managed to stay afloat!) – good boat, fiberglass with molded seats so slightly more comfortable. We opted for the 3.25 hour trip, which was a little shorter than that, put in at the landing beside the rental place and were picked up right on time at Bridge #5 (helps that the canoe rental guy had few other customers.) The river itself is narrow and very curvy, with high grassy banks and forested stone bluffs. Really lovely. Must do again! There are several other canoe rental places next to Titanic but it suited us well.

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When we return to west-central Wisconsin – what to do

I always seem to return home from a trip with things I didn’t do but want to remember to do during our next visit. So here’s some of those for West-Central Wisconsin:

– bike on the 25-mile Great River State Trail which goes through  Trempealeau. We’re told we can get shuttle service for this too – which we loved having on the Elroy-Sparta trail (it meant we could ride one way and be picked up at the end, rather than having to doubleback on the trail)

– in Pepin – maybe stay at A Summer Place (looked nice. It’s open mid-March to mid-November); other options include Lake Pepin Beach House, Journey Inn (an eco-retreat) and Pepin Farm Pottery and Guest house; TansyHus in Stockholm

– Go to the Oct. 7-9 Fresh Art Fall tour – a self-guided tour of seventeen artists studios and galleries in Lake Pepin region. see including Gail Pommerening’s studio in Plum City (we liked her store, Art & Soul in Alma)

– in Stockholm – win the lottery so I can afford to buy something at the wonderful gallery, Abode.

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