Toll Booth Country
Trip Start Feb 09, 2010
18Trip End Mar 17, 2010
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We decide to head up to Milwaukee from Chicago. Before heading straight to Milwaukee, we drive to our friend's childhood home about an hour outside of Chicago. It was nice to see where he grew up, though I thought he had lived a little closer to the city.
As we make our way over to Milwaukee, the snowfall gets a little thicker and the air gets a little colder. We arrive in the city at sunset, which is apparently (and ridiculously) around 5:30pm. We find a row of restaurants and bars that are almost all German-influenced. We stop in at Mader's Restaurant, which is well-known for having been visited by Ronald Reagan, John F Kennedy, and other famous people. The interior was dim and traditional German music was playing throughout the restaurant, giving the atmosphere a somewhat serious, depressing feel. The waitresses wore traditional "dirndls," and only one was under the age of 55
After the restaurant, we stopped in at a bar next door and chatted with the bartender over a beer. He said the weather was actually warmer than what's normal for this time of year. "It's usually about ten degrees colder. It's snowing. When it's colder it doesn't snow," he told us. We then drive to a hotel in the snowfall to figure out what to do tomorrow.
(written by Justin)
Eager to get out of Chicago and away from the rudest hotel staff we have encountered thus far, we soon discovered that we are in Toll Road country
It was dark by the time we got to Milwaukee and snowing hard. The streets are wet but there is no sign of ice. Driving around downtown felt like a sigh of relief after the chaos we encountered in Chicago. Although it is a self-proclaimed beer town, the baseball team is named "The Brewers", and there are microbreweries on every corner - I have yet to find a beer for under $4.00.
Oh yea the liver dumpling soup. If you've ever sat and stared at a large chunk of organ laying on your plate for the first time - you may know how I felt. I knew what I was getting myself into but I was determined to try what was described as "Germany's favorite soup" since I love every other German food I've had. I was hoping it would at least be small chunks of liver surrounded by the dumplings that it was supposed to have, but it ended up having no dumplings and instead was a large plump organ in a bowl surrounded by a small moat of broth. I ended up eating all of the broth and picked off all of the outside of the liver, but as I got into the redder meat I was starting to get nauseous from the lack of texture and salty flavor so I threw in the towel
The usual story, we had to drive down near the airport to get decent affordable hotel prices. Thus far even the budget end of Choice Hotels have been exceptional, and they have a mildly useful rewards program so we will continue to look for those. Hopefully the temperatures will continue to stay reasonable while we are here!