Monday, September 22, 2008

Viva Milwaukee

Another trip to Wisconsin, yah sure, we're up there every other weekend. But this weekend was special. This weekend, Epu and I dropped the kids off in Kenosha, booked ourselves into the Hilton, and painted Milwaukee red.
Well, it had already been a kind of post-industrial burnt umber, so the red really wasn't much of a stretch.
We had a lovely time. It made me realize that vacation is mainly about getting away, not so much about where you go. OK, that's not giving enough credit to Milwaukee, which despite what you've heard is truly a lovely city to visit.
And honestly, although I have gone THROUGH the periphery of Milwaukee my entire life, having grown up 50 miles away, and even having worked there one semester in college, I have almost never spent real time checking it out.
Here's what I loved about Milwaukee:
  • Parking. We had an especially charmed weekend parkingwise. We had actually considered leaving our car elsewhere for the weekend, and I'm so glad we didn't. The Hilton is in the middle of downtown, and although the downtown has seen better days, it's still pretty bustling. And yet, we were able to park at a meter right around the corner from the hotel every time we needed to. Saturday morning, we drove over to the new-ish Public Market, a hoity-toity food market, a miniature version of what they have in the Ferry Building in San Francisco, or a MUCH smaller version of what they have in Seattle. We parked RIGHT across the street from the entrance, and the meters were not charging. This may not be good news for the Public Market, which is apparently not as popular as had been hoped, but it was good news for us. Then, we drove to the lakefront, and -- you're not going to believe this -- parked RIGHT in front of the art museum, a short walk from the water. Turns out, there was a charity run in Milwaukee that morning, and all the meters had been bagged up with a "No Parking" sign. Thing is, the "No Parking" ended at 12 p.m. We arrived there at 12:05. Charmed, I tell you! We paid a grand total of $2 for parking the entire weekend.
  • So many nice places to go! Since the weather was gorgeous, we spent a blissful Saturday walking around. We strolled the river walk with our coffees from the Public Market. People were assembled to watch a rigatta go by, but we didn't wait for it. We walked the lakefront, and, once we got sun dazzled, sat down at some shaded tables at a kite shop by the marina and did a crossword puzzle. Then we met friends for pizza on Brady Street, a hip East Side strip where there were lots of shops to browse. That night, we went back to Brady Street for dinner. It didn't hurt that there was a CVS there too.
  • Lack of shininess. Milwaukee is a photographer's dream with so many industrial warehouses and signs of times gone by (see above). It can be a downer -- there are freeway bridges snaking everywhere and there is definitely the feeling of a place with an architecture in the past. The city -- much like my hometown of Kenosha -- is definitely having its problems with gangs and economic depression. And yet ... that all has a melancholy charm, no? I might not feel the same way if I had a property there to worry about, but I liked it as a visitor.
  • Our kids were not there.

For dinner we went to a place called Mimma's Cafe, which I would not especially recommend. We had a great server, and very good soup and salad, but neither of us loved our entrees.

All in all, a lovely getaway, quite affordable, and, thanks to my folks, blissfully child-free.


Kori said...

Your weekend sounds absolutely lovely. Ahhh, alone time with your spouse---what could be more decadent and more necessary these days?

And congrats on the parking---my brother lives in Milwaukee, and has probably shelled out thousands of dollars in parking fines across the years, no joke. It is a constant source of conversation in our family, with quotes like "at least the parking in Chicago isn't as bad as Milwaukee" often heard at holidays. I think you really beat the system on that one, you lucky ducks!

Carrie said...

Sure, parking in Chicago is easy in your residential neighborhood. Somehow I don't think he's comparing apples to apples there! When we visit Epu's sister, who lives right in the popular East Side neighborhood, or when we met friends down by the lake on a holiday weekend, we still found spots without much trouble. There's no way Milwaukee parking compares to Chicago parking -- although personally I've always found both were a piece of cake compared to San Francisco.

Sara said...

Glad to hear you guys had such a good time. We had a blast hanging out with you guys sans kids and strolling along Brady!!

And I totally get what you're saying about Milwaukee's melancholy charm. It sure isn't shiny, but there's definitely something about Milwaukee. And it's not just all the beer.