Tag Archives: castles

A Unique Castle in the U.S. Midwest

One thing a traveler won’t see is a moat surrounding this castle. The cool windy air blows the flags in a northerly direction as the ‘KEEP’ casts a shadow down on the entrance. Two black chains attached above and on either side of the main entryway curve down to meet the top of the drawbridge. As I approach the stone structure, the sliding glass doors open. The cold chill my body feels is immediately replaced with the warmth of being inside the Great Room.

Inside the walls of this fortress made of 20,227 concrete blocks, I do not find a King presiding over his people or knights donning their armor and shields ready to go into battle. There is no princess with her long hair and three-piece gown walking with her entourage to be found. Warming my hands in my pockets, I walk towards the ‘KEEP’. Lining the walls of the dominate feature of this castle are hundreds of bottles of wine standing at attention. “Well this would be fitting for a king,” I say to myself as bottles of the nectar of the gods stare me down.

The Mars Cheese Castle is located at I-94 and State 142. Due to its location right off the highway, many travelers along the interstate stop to fill their cheese orders and get their fix of all things cheese.
The Mars Cheese Castle is located at I-94 and State 142. Due to its location right off the highway, many travelers along the interstate stop to fill their cheese orders and get their fix of all things cheese.

A mysterious force tries to keep me trapped in this glorious room, but I find the strength to move on. Weaving through the displays on the floor, I enter the bakery where my nose picks up the scent of fresh bread. “Hmmm, wine and bread,” I say, “This is getting better and better.” After a few sniffs of the fresh aroma of this famous cheese bread, I turn around to continue my exploration inside the kingdom.

In the distance, a gathering is taking place in the barroom. Walking towards the revelry, I am feeling at ease and welcome. “I will head in there later,” I say softly to myself. In time, the festivities of the main gathering room will be calling me. Turning towards the front of the Great Room, it’s time to visit the area of the castle that places this historic landmark on the national map – the cheese room.

On their way back to Illinois, Rachel, Brooke and Lauren (left-right) pose with Isabella the Holstein cow.
On their way back to Illinois, Rachel, Brooke and Lauren (left-right) pose with Isabella the Holstein cow.

Standing at the entrance leading into the cheese and sausage deli is Isabella the Holstein cow. I will soon learn that she is adored and loved by all. Knowing this, I feel it is safe to say, Isabella is royalty. I tap her head and admire her posture while looking at the wooden barrel standing on end with a display of Tuxford & Tebbutt’s genuine mature Irish cheddar cheese. Picking up a toothpick, I stab the soft and creamy cube and place it in my mouth. Surveying the room, I see multiple barrels strategically in place displaying various cheeses ready to delight my palate.

With the toothpick lingering in my mouth I gaze around to see refrigeration cases stocked full of hundreds of varieties of cheeses. From mild cheddars to sharp provolone, cheeses in the shape of a glass of beer, a cow and a castle, I understand why The Mars Cheese Castle is a Wisconsin landmark.

11 Activities to Consider While in Naples, Italy

“Blog Post Type: Planning a Trip to a City”

Naples is one of the oldest cities in Italy with its historic center as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Italy’s third largest city is home to fine art, exceptional architecture, and a world-class food scene serving pizza, pasta, and coffee that is worthy of being the best in the country. Her culture, streets, and buildings are old, but she welcomes traveler’s with open arms. Here are 11 activities and attractions to experience while in Naples.

Naples 1

Photo by Piccolo Lorenzo via Trover.com

1. If you are a pizza aficionado, plan your trip to Naples in September for Pizzafest. This famous pizza making contest is the world’s largest celebration of pizza. The dates change every year, so research the event while planning your trip.

2. Do Greek and Roman antiquities spark an interest? Visit the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli where you will see mosaics, sculptures, gems, Roman erotica from Pompeii, and more in this late 18th century museum established by King Charles II.

3. If your sweet tooth flares up while in Naples, you’re in luck. Naples is well-known for its pasticceria (pastries). Find a coffee shop and you’ll find fantastic pastries. Some of the more popular pastries are baba, jaka pastiera, sfogliatella, and zeppole.

 4. Summer in Naples gives travelers the opportunity to watch movies under the stars at accordi @ DISACCORDI Open Air Cinema Festival. Surrounded by an artificial lake, the amphitheater uses wide-screen projection and is a favorite summer activity of the locals. Don’t miss this outdoor cinema experience.

Naples 2

Photo by Kylie Mcintyre via Trover.com

5. Are you a lover of water and enjoy snorkeling and diving? Go to Centro Sub Campi Flegrei and explore the Gulf of Naples around the Phelgraean Islands and the Archeological Park of Baiae.

6. A lot of eye candy is on display at Castelnuovo (Maschio Angioino). This medieval castle is home to Naples main city museum. After feasting your eyes on 19th century Italian paintings, walk up to the roof and capture a view of Napoli.

7. Grab some chairs or blankets and join the locals on the Bay of Naples for a glorious sunset.

8. Spend an afternoon watching fishmongers in action at the Mercato di Porta Nolana street market. Fresh produce, cheese, and baked goods are also available along with contraband items including cigarettes and bootleg CDs.

9. Fans of opera can experience a show at the San Carlo Theater. This is Europe’s oldest working theater and Italy’s largest. Tours are available of the facility as well.

Naples 3

Photo by Piccolo Lorenzo via Trover.com

10. Naples is home to three castles. The 13th century Castel Nuovo, Castel Sant’Elmo, and the 12 century Castel dell’Ovo (Egg Castle). Each castle offers different views of Naples and tells a rich history of the city.

11. Drive along the coast. Start north of Naples and drive down to the Amalfi Coast and back. Relax, feel the open air, and live in the moment while traveling this waterside roadway.

There are plenty of budget hotels in Naples for the smart traveler who wants to spend more on experiences and less on material goods. Travel is a great form of education and Naples has plenty of history to learn from. Budget wisely, spend intelligently, and you’ll fee richer after exploring Napoli.

Feature photo by Matilde Civitillo via Trover.com

About the Writer

Tony is a freelance travel writer and photographer, roller coaster enthusiast and self-proclaimed Sudoku master. He’s based in the Midwest U.S. and blogs at The Walking Traveler. He is working with Hipmunk on their #HipmunkCityLove Project.

Hipmunk City Love-ing Everything About Munich

“Blog Post Type: Expert Opinion Piece”

Beer for breakfast. Wait?!? A cup of coffee? Cappuccino or espresso instead? Which drink pairs best with a Munchner Weisswurst? Munchner Weisswurst is a traditional Bavarian breakfast consisting of a veal-based sausage served with sweet mustard, a Brezn prezel, and accompanied by a Weissbier (‘white beer’). When in Rome do as the…wait…this is Munich, where beer flows like water and Bavarian cuisine is prominent in everyday meals. A Weissbier is usually served with this traditional breakfast so…when in Munich, do as the Germans do.

Munich beer

Photo by Yasmin via Trover.com

Munich is the capital city of Bavaria in Germany. It’s rich beer culture is second to none and celebrated year round in beer halls and beer gardens throughout the State with the Oktoberfest as the main event. With nearly 7 million people attending a festival this large in 2011 and replicated throughout the world, there is no doubt beer is the national beverage. Drink a Weissbier with the munchner weisswurst? When in Munich, do as the locals do.

For those who are not beer drinkers, you’re in luck. Munich has a strong coffee culture with cafés spread throughout the city. Locals love sitting outside in the sun drinking coffee and watching the crowds go by. Drink coffee and people watch with the locals or take the high-powered drink and go wandering. Tough choice, but easily solvable. Do both. Start the morning at a local café. Sip your espresso and watch how Germans greet and interact with each other. With many English-speaking Bavarians in Munich, a traveler may find a new friend, guide, or travel companion for company while walking the city.

Munich cafe

Photo by Sofia N via Trover.com

Whether one finds a local for a guide or tramping solo, there are plenty of places to see that represent Munich’s art culture, architecture, and history. In the 1800’s, Bavarian Kings made Munich the art capital of Germany and today, Bavaria’s capital city is home to 6 museums, 40 galleries, and 7 art schools. World-class collections are found throughout these buildings showcasing a rich history so deep and expansive, it will take several trips to see everything. I recommend a specific itinerary.

Briennerstraße, Ludwigstraße, Maximilianstraße, and Prinzregentenstraße are the four Royal Avenues and Squares that run through the inner city. Briennerstraße, lined with neo-classical buildings has shops, restaurants, and galleries on its eastern end. Named after King Ludwig I of Bavaria, Ludwigstraße avenue displays Italian romanesque buildings and is the grandest avenue of the four Royal Avenues showing a very uniform look. Maximilianstraße is in the center of town with upscale shops and boutiques. The Haus der Kunst, Schachgalerie, and the Bavarian National Museum are several museums seen along Prinzregentenstraße Avenue. Prinzregentenstraße is rich in history including alterations made along this avenue by the Nazi’s during WWII.

Munich

Photo by At the end of the Rainbow via Trover.com

Palaces, castles, museums, churches, historic buildings, and landmarks are in abundance. I recommend researching Munich and writing specific itineraries before arrival. I also recommend staying as close to the center of the city as possible as it is a good hub for exploring. Hotels in Munich are close to public transportation when you are ready to venture further from the heart of Munichen – “by the monks.”

About the Writer

Tony is a freelance travel writer and photographer, roller coaster enthusiast and self-proclaimed Sudoku master. He’s based in the Midwest U.S. and blogs at The Walking Traveler. He is working with Hipmunk on their #HipmunkCityLove Project.

Feature Photo by Travel Notes & Beyond via Trover.com