Tag Archives: Locals

Where The Locals Go – Singapore

Sanchez Barry is the next contributor in my series ‘Where The Locals Go.’  Sanchez is from Singapore and writes for Expat Life

Singapore is a city, a country, an all-in-one. It’s a melting pot of culture that mainly comes from the South East Asia region. Its population comprises of mainly Chinese, Malay and Indian people that have been here for generations, forming our own unique Singaporean culture.

Every destination has a local hotspot. What is the local hot spot in your area and would you please describe the atmosphere?  Why do locals go there?

As Singapore has such a diverse culture, there is no one spot that all locals go to, but a few. Haji Lane/Arab Street is a great place. Lots of different cultures intertwine here. During the day, you’ll see boutique hipster shops, Arabic textile shops and great Indian, Arabic and Mediterranean food. As it creeps closer to night, the nightlife begins with jazz bars, hipster pubs and sometimes street performances.

Haji Lane

Your friend is flying into town for the first time and wants to experience the local food scene, where would you take him/her?  What are some of the dishes you would recommend?  How is the ambience? 

Hawker centres are great for this as they bring together different local delights together. Maxwell food centre, Gluttons by the Bay and Singapore Food Treats come to mind. For Indian food, try Little India.

At these places you can try many different local dishes – Hokkien Mee (stir-fried prawn noodles), Chicken Rice, Laksa (noodles in a thick gravy-like soup, and Orh Luak (oyster omelettes).

Hokkien Mee

Travelers enjoy learning about the local art scene when they arrive in new locations.  Are there local artists (musicians, painters, poetry writers, etc.) in your area that perform or feature their work?  Where can travellers go for these experiences? 

There is a cluster of museums close to each other, all perpetuating the local art scene. Singapore Art Museum, the National Gallery and Singapore National Museum can be found close together. Local art and literature are often exhibited in the museums, especially the Singapore Art Museum.

For local acts such as musicians and plays, head over to the Esplanade theatre, where you can even watch performances for free at the outdoor theatre.

Esplanade Theatres

What are some of the more popular festivals in town?  Are they held annually, several times a year, once a month?  What time of the year do they take place?  Where can travellers go to find out more information?

For music, Laneway and Baybeats are festivals are held once a year. Laneway (during January/February) is a paid indie music festival where bands from all over the world come to perform. Baybeats (held during August) is another music fest where local and international artists come together and perform for free.

Singapore Art Week is one of the biggest celebrations of art in Singapore. Supported and hosted by many different venues and both international and local artists, travellers can immerse themselves in all forms of art. Musical performances, art pieces, and theatrical performances can be found during Art Week.

The information for all of these can be found online, as they all have their own websites full of information.

 If travellers want to experience recreational activities during their stay, what can they do and where can they go?

Gardens by the Bay is a great place to just relax and take a scenic stroll with nature right near the heart of the city. Marina Barrage is a great place nearby as well. It’s a commonplace for locals to partake in recreational activities like picnics, flying kites, water sports like kayaking or dragon boating or just chilling out with family or friends.

Many travellers pick destinations that offer volunteerism / eco-tourism / activism / volunteer opportunities.  What types of opportunities exist in your area?

As we’re a city-state, most of the volunteer work here revolve around helping people, we don’t have eco-tourism activities otherwise. Singapore has numerous organisations that offer volunteer work, so I’d just list out the one that are close to my heart. The Institute of Mental Health patients live a very recluse life, cut off from most of the rest of Singapore, volunteering to do activities or just keep them company.

I know travellers like certain forms of transportation.  Some like to walk and/or bike while others prefer to get around at a quicker pace.   What is the best way for travellers to get around town? 

 The best way to get around Singapore for anyone is the public transportation system. With the combination of trains and buses, you can get to practically anywhere in Singapore.

If you’re going to the central of Singapore, it is possible to explore most of it on foot, just remember to keep hydrated as Singapore is both humid and hot. Singapore’s very well mapped on Google and Apple Maps as well, so it’s quite easy to find your way around with just a smartphone. For those who like to bike there are bike-sharing services like ofo and oBike, so you can pick up a bike nearly anywhere to cycle from place to place.

For those who want to get away for a day for some peace and quiet, yet still take in the scenery, where are some areas that travellers can go to “get away from it all” and still enjoy the outdoors?

Macritchie Reservoir and Bukit Timah Hill are great places for the casual hiker. Lush greenery and easy trails are available at both locations. These trails are not difficult and do not require any extra equipment. Especially on weekdays, these areas are close to empty.

Macritchie Reservoir

Travelers can get a sense of culture by observing their surroundings and people watch.  Where can travelers go in your area to engage in this popular activity?

Going to any heartland neighbourhood food court in Singapore is a good start to observe the locals. You’ll see the bustling lunch crowd move quickly and the slow pace of the retirees enjoying their afternoon coffee. The steps outside ION shopping centre at Orchard Road is another good place to people watch, you can see people from all walks of life – people shopping designer goods at Ion, people taking a smoke break or just sitting around and relaxing.

Thank you Sanchez for contributing to ‘Where The Locals Go.’

Cover photo of Supertree Grove by  Carlotta Rebonato

101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under in the Kenosha, WI Area – Part 4 of 4

I’d rather pay for experiences than hoard a “rich deposit” of materialistic goods that will sit around most of the time collecting dust.  Yes, I need and want basic items to satisfy my likes, values, desires, habits and hobbies, but after a while a lot of possessions will start to control ones mind.  I’m wealthy but not rich.  Being wealthy is more rewarding and satisfying.

When Meridith Jumisko compiled the list of 101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under in the Kenosha, WI Area for the Kenosha Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website, I had to share.  There is a wealth of knowledge one will gain by experiencing these attractions and events that will not break the bank.  Shed the rich man mindset to become truly wealthy.

76. Create art in the Clay Studio at Lemon Street Gallery! Clay costs $3 per pound

77. Also see incredible art at Re:Vision Gallery, Pollard Gallery, Anderson Arts Center,Kenosha Art Association,Carthage College, and UW-Parkside! FREE

78. Enjoy a scenic bike ride on the Pike Bike Trail or the Kenosha County Bike Trail.FREE

Even the dogs enjoy the Kenosha Harbor Market. Photo by The Walking Traveler

79. Mikey’s features a new menu with gourmet Hot Dogs, create-your-own pizza, and more! Prices vary

80. Find your favorite childhood video game and try it out at Inner Child Comics & Collectibles. Many under $10 /FREE to try

81. Exhibitors bring samples, brochures, giveaways, and smiles to the I-94 Visitor Information Center for First Fridays.FREE

82. Pick up a homemade Bloody Mary mix or lemonade mix at Elsie Mae’s Canning & Pies, who offer more than pies and jams! $6.50/$8.50

83. Hike 4.2 miles of trails at KD Park. FREE

84. Checkmate! Play chess or checkers at the chess tables in Fox River Park; bring your own pieces. FREE

85. Take time to enjoy the distinctive wall murals, unique hand-painted storefront signs, and amazing historic architecture in Downtown Kenosha! FREE

86. Visit Abe! Library Park is home to an Abraham Lincoln statue, as well as the Kenosha County Soldiers’ Monument “Winged Victory”. FREE

87. Take a selfie by the red 1906 Pierhead Lighthouse.FREE

88. A slice of Kenosha nightlife can be found at Fusion, a Downtown performing arts venue. Some events FREE

89. At Scoops Ice Cream, ask for the Badger Brownie: two scoops of ice cream on a warm chocolate chunk brownie, with many toppings! $5.75

90. Aspiring young paleontologists will dig this: Dino Digs are held most Saturday andSunday afternoons at the Dinosaur Discovery Museum. FREE

91. Bring the kids to the Field Station inside the Kenosha Public Museum, where they can explore the arts and sciences in this popular hands-on activity area. FREE

92. Labor Day weekend includes Cheese-A-Palooza (Sept 3-4), the Downtown Kenosha Classic Cruise-In Car Show (Sept 3), and the 14th Annual Car Show To Benefit Our Wounded Warriors (Sept 4). FREE for spectators

93. All ages enjoy getting artsy at Alpaca Art Pottery Painting. $7 studio fee plus the cost of your pottery ($3+)

Street Festivals are better when live music hits the air. Photo by The Walking Traveler

94. At NovelTea Bookstore, you can purchase 2 oz. packaged loose leaf tea in a variety of flavors. Most under $10; average price $7

95. Meet internationally-known cartoonists during the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning,Sept 15-17. FREE

96. Enjoy a picnic at Wolfenbuttel Park, next to Lake Michigan. FREE

97. Electric Streetcars are celebrated during Kenosha Streetcar Day on Sept 17!  $1 & under fare

98. You can’t go to Brat Stop without having the Famous Charcoal Grill Original Bratwurst served with chips! $6.99

99. You’ll find the Lilli Soapworks product line at A Summer’s Garden Florist. These soaps are handmade in Kenosha with shea butter. $5.50

100. Enjoy a delicious made-from-scratch soup in the outdoor Garden of Eatin’ at The Coffee Pot. $2-4

101. The famous “backroom” offers amazing savings at the Jockey Factory Store in Downtown Kenosha. Get a $10 off coupon in the FREE 2016 Kenosha Area Visitors Guide

Thank you again Meridith for your help over the past couple of years.

101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under in the Kenosha, WI Area – Part 3 of 4

There are four historic districts for travelers and locals to tour in Kenosha, WI.  On these tours everyone will see landmarks, famous buildings and historic homes that provide insight into Kenosha’s rich history and culture.  More information about these four historic districts is found on the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s website. These Kenosha Historic District Tours are #29 on 101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under in the Kenosha, WI Area.

51. Try one of 16 different varieties of Panini sandwiches at the iconic Tenuta’s Delicatessen, grilled in-house and served up at the outdoor grill. $5.99

52. Swim in Lake Andrea, or build a sand castle on the beach. $4-7 daily pass

53. The Kenosha Civic Veterans Parade is July 3, with the Celebrate America festival featuring Independence Day Fireworks, July 3-4. FREE

Kenosha Lakefront. Photo by The Walking Traveler
Kenosha Lakefront. Photo by The Walking Traveler

54.  Add to your fun at Bristol Woods Park! At the on-site Pringle Nature Center, rent a GPS unit to locate Geocaches – or rent a family-friendly Explorer Backpack. $5 each rental, park admission FREE

55. 90 years ago, six horses pulled Franks Diner to Kenosha. Celebrate with the renowned Garbage Plate! $9.95+

56. Relax and watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan. FREE

57. Take a behind-the-scenes tour of Simmons Library – built in 1900 – every Second Saturday at 2:30 p.m. FREE

58. Come hungry! Taste of Wisconsin™ is July 29-31. FREE admission

59. The Colonial through Western Fur Trade era of the 1650s through 1850s will come alive at Pike River Rendezvous, Aug 6-7. FREE

60. Jerry Smith Produce & Pumpkin Farm’s popular Sweet Corn Festival has expanded to two days: Aug 13-14.FREE admission

61. Uncover local shipwreck facts and more at the Southport Light Station Museum. FREE

62. Load up the car with skateboards, scooters, roller blades, and bikes and head to Anderson Park’s 11,000 square foot concrete skatepark. FREE

63. Sit back and enjoy the scenery as you take the METRA train from Chicago to Kenosha. Unlimited ride $8 weekend pass

64. More than a popcorn and ice cream shop, Sandy’s Popper also offers cotton candy, nostalgic candies, and more! Nostalgic candies start around 10¢

65. Each month, enjoy Second Saturdays with sales, live entertainment and family activities in Downtown Kenosha. Many FREE activities

66. Enjoy the beach and great swimming at Old Settlers Park. $5 per vehicle Memorial Day – Labor Day on weekends only, otherwise FREE

Kenosha Harbor Market. Photo by The Walking Traveler
Kenosha Harbor Market. Photo by The Walking Traveler

67. Go “Back To The 20s” at the Kenosha History Center’sautomobile exhibit. FREE

68. Cool down with a treat at Culver’s Pleasant Prairie, while playing the large outdoor chess game (ask for the pieces at the counter). Treat prices vary; FREE to play chess

69. Make your own customized bracelet or necklace at Peacetree Originals. $5 & up

70. Cool off at the indoor RecPlex Ice Arena. Temperature on the ice is 40 to 45 degrees. $6.50 & under to skate / $3 skate rental

71. Modern Apothecary is a locally owned pharmacy that offers natural products and gifts, including a variety of essential oils. $8.44+ for essential oils

72. As you sip a cool beverage on the deck of Harborside Common Grounds, watch Kenosha Community Sailing Center lessons taking place in the harbor. Prices vary

73. You’ll find entertainment for all ages at the Kenosha County Fair, Aug 17-21! $9 & under

74. The Kansas City Barbecue Society BBQ Competition and more take place at Grill Games, Aug 26-27. FREE for spectators

75. Let the kids cool off with a visit to HarborPark’s splash pad area. FREE

There are differences between being a tourist and being a traveler.  Read my article “Oh Those Unhappy Tourists” before heading to Kenosha or anywhere else in the world.  Don’t be a tourist, be a traveler.

101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under in the Kenosha, WI Area – Part 2 of 4

The sun is shining on this early Sunday morning here in Kenosha.  The air is chilly but the temperature is going to rise into the low 60’s…we’ll see.  A walk will be in order this afternoon.  Yesterday we had on and off snow and sun with temps in the 30’s.  Typical Midwest weather in April.  With the sun shining down upon this town, I’m going to jump right in and share part 2 of 101 Things To See And Do for $10 & Under in Kenosha, WI.  Thank you to the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau for your continued cooperation.

Fountain outside the Kenosha Public Museum.
Fountain outside the Kenosha Public Museum.

26. At Mike’s Donuts & Chicken, enjoy oversized donuts with wild and unique toppings and fillings! $1-3

27. The get bEHIND the aRTS Studio Tour takes place April 24 in Kenosha. $5 suggested donation

28. Travel back to yesteryear aboard one of Kenosha’s seven authentic Electric Streetcars! $1 & under

29. Walk, bike, or drive through Kenosha’s four historic districts. FREE

30. Stroll through the Kenosha Sculpture Walk, which runs along the harbor and features nearly a dozen inspiring works of art. FREE

31. Gather your friends and enjoy Kenosha Craft Beer Week at PUBLIC Craft Brewing Co. and more businesses, May 16-22. Prices vary

32. Golf nine holes for a deal after 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday and after 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday atPetrifying Springs Golf Course and Brighton Dale Links. $10

33. Between May and September, Bristol 45 Diner hosts a car show on the first, third, and fifth Monday evenings of the month. FREE

34. Hold on to your kite! It’s the Outta Sight Kite Flight, June 4-5. FREE

35. Admission is free to Richard Bong State Recreation Area on June 5 for the Family Nature Faire. FREE

36. Enjoy free cheese samples, along with free photo ops (i.e. giant outdoor sign, Isabella the 60-year-old cow, the giant mouse) at Mars’ Cheese Castle. FREE

37. Go Fish! For Free! No fishing licenses are needed June 4-5 in Wisconsin during Summer Free Fishing Weekend!FREE 

The Kenosha Electric Streetcar takes visitors on a tour through dwontown Kenosha.
The Kenosha Electric Streetcar takes visitors on a tour through downtown Kenosha.

38. Splish! Splash! Fly down the 200-foot long water slide at Washington Park Pool or Anderson Park Pool. $5 & under

39. Pretend it’s the 1950s as car hops serve you at Big Star Drive-In and The Spot Drive-In! Prices vary

40. Outdoor Music At The Lake I: Enjoy the Kenosha Pops on Wednesday evenings at the Sesquicentennial Bandshell, mid-June to early August. FREE

41. Outdoor Music At The Lake II: Experience the Twilight Jazz Concert Series on the lawn of Anderson Arts Center – June 28; July 5, 19, 26; and Aug 30. FREE

42. Outdoor Music At The Lake III: Peanut Butter & Jam concerts happen twice every Thursday, July 7 – Aug 25.FREE

43. Outdoor Music At The Lake IV: Enjoy a variety of music during Tuesdays At The Shell, July 12 – Aug 30. FREE

44. Uke’s Harley-Davidson is Wisconsin’s oldest H-D dealership. Explore its roots at their on-site museum! FREE

45. Celebrate some of the finest Civil War soldiers of the Midwest – the famous Iron Brigade. June 11-12 isSalute to Freedom. FREE

46. Take the family out to breakfast on the farm! TheKenosha County Dairy Breakfast is June 18. $6 & under

47.See the largest suspension staircase in the state – inside Kemper Center’s Durkee Mansion (open for tours, April – October). FREE

48. Visit Linnea Bakery in Downtown Kenosha or at its new second location inside Southwest Library for Scandinavian treats! Prices Vary

49. Pause and reflect at the Veteran’s Memorial Fountain and Lone Soldier Memorial at Veterans Memorial Park.FREE

50. On Saturday mornings, you can join the Bike Shop at Southport Rigging on its 26-mile Weekly Common Grounds Coffee Ride. FREE

Don’t forget to visit Kenosha, WI if you are driving along the Chi-Waukee corridor along I-94.

 

101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under in the Kenosha, WI Area – Part 1 of 4

If it keeps on rainin’, the levee’s going to break.  If keeps on rainin’, the levee’s going to…sing to me Robert Plant as I type these words.  Bonzo, pound those drums.  I look out my window to see yet another overcast day here in Kenosha, WI.  Ah yes, Kenosha, WI.  Halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Kenosha’s culture, music, literature, construction and architecture influences date back to the start of the 20th century through the 1930’s when Irish, German, Italian and Polish immigrants settled in the area.  With most cities, people come and go but roots run deep and generations of families stay in areas for a lifetime.  This is true of Kenosha.

There is plenty to see and do in and around the Kenosha area that is nominally priced or free .  Working in cooperation with Meridith Jumisko – my contact, friend and Public Relations Manager at the Kenosha Convention and Visitors Bureau, I’m sharing 101 things to do and see for $10 and under.  Many of these are free.  If you are driving through the Chi-Waukee corridor, take a detour and visit Kenosha.  Here are the first 25 of 101 things to do and see in this four-part series.

Kenosha Harbor - Photo taken by Tony Toto - The Walking Traveler
Kenosha Harbor – Photo taken by Tony Toto – The Walking Traveler
  1. See the 2015 Northwoods League Summer Collegiate World Series champions – the Kenosha Kingfish – play baseball at Simmons Field! $8+
  2. Watch racing at the newly renovated Washington Park Velodrome, the oldest operating bike track of its kind in the U.S. FREE
  3. Climb the Southport Lighthouse during its 150th anniversary season! $10 & under
  4. Play at Kenosha’s first fully accessible playground, the Dream Playground at Petzke Park. It’s a one-of-a-kind 15,000 square foot space for all abilities. FREE(Temporarily closed for repairs.)
  5. Bring your pooch to play at one of five off-leash dog parks throughout Kenosha County! FREE to $5 depending on park
  6. Try your hand at one of four disc golf locations: Lincoln Park, Fox River Park, Silver Lake Park, and UW-Parkside. FREE
  7. Meet you at the lake! Bring the sunscreen and a beach towel … we have FIVEbeaches along Lake Michigan! FREE
  8. Visit Wilmot Flea Market at its new location: the Kenosha County Fairgrounds. The market is open most Sundays, starting May 1. $1
  9. Get in touch with nature at Chiwaukee Prairie, which has been designated a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention. FREE
  10. Watch model trains deliver classic American food at Choo Choo Charlie’s – and enjoy a Charlie’s Delight (salted caramel sundae). $5.99
  11. Silver Lake Park is home to over 9 miles of mountain bike trails. FREE
  12. Enjoy an indoor train tour at Jelly Belly Visitor Center, and sample the crazy BeanBoozled® flavors! FREE tour and samples
  13. Take a fun pedal boat ride on Lake Andrea! $8-10
  14. Enjoy an old-fashioned cherry soda at a historic soda fountain, Jack’s Café inside Andrea’s! $3.95
  15. Hike over the river and through the woods at the 360-acre Petrifying Springs Park – the oldest park in the Kenosha County park system. FREE
  16. Have a delicious Gouda Mornin’ Breakfast Panini (gluten free bread available) atThe Buzz Café. $5.99
  17. Seniors (ages 60 & over) can enjoy the Kenosha YMCA free of charge on the third Tuesday of every month! FREE
  18. The Transparent Watercolor Society of America returns to the Kenosha Public Museum for its 40th Annual National Juried Exhibition, May 7 – Aug 7. FREE
  19. From Farm To Table I: Kenosha HarborMarket returns outdoors May 14. You’ll find live music and 150+ vendors at this Saturday market during the summer.FREE admission
  20. From Farm To Table II: Reserve your crop box full of produce at Jerry Smith Produce & Pumpkin Farm! $10
  21. From Farm To Table III: Shop for produce at the weekly WestoshaMarket and five city farmers’ markets. Prices vary
  22. Be amazed by the 2015 National Show Ski Champions! The Aquanut Water Shows take place most Wednesdays and Saturdays, May 28 – Sept 3. FREE
  23. Check out the impressive 360° film “Seeing the Elephant” inside the Civil War Museum’s main exhibit The Fiery Trial. Main exhibit $9 & under
  24. Shop and save at Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets. Save even more when you pick up a coupon book. $5 coupon book
  25. Lakeside Players Family Theatre Series Presents: Disney’s Aladdin Jr., April 8-17. $10
Kenosha Market Days. Photo taken by Tony Toto - The Walking Traveler
Kenosha Harobr Market – Photo taken by Tony Toto – The Walking Traveler

Visit Kenosha to experience fine Midwestern hospitality, take a stroll along Lake Michigan and stuff your face with bratwurst while having the skin on your face melt away from the live music acts at the world-famous Brat Stop.  Visit the Brat Stop last because a food coma will ensue.

 

 

 

Classic American Road Power – Uke’s Harley-Davidson

Rising sixty feet in the air the five level, triangular-shaped glass tower points due west over-looking Interstate-94. In an awesome display of strength, ten Harley-Davidson motorcycles, two per level, lie facing the highway. Standing at the base of the tower, I slowly tilt my head back allowing my eyes to crawl up each floor. As I admire the biker enthusiasts’ “eye” candy, I start to walk towards the entrance as my eyes lock on the famous black, orange and white logo. I open the door and immediately feel welcome with classic rock music playing throughout the showroom and upper floor museum.

I’m not a motorcycle rider and have only been a ‘backseater’ once when I was a kid. However, throwing my leg over a Harley, turning the key, hearing the V-engine rumble and roar, slipping on sunglasses and hitting the open road has always been appealing.

Riders ready their bikes for the inaugural ride of the season and the annual Frank Ulicki memorial ride. The “extended family” that rides are from all walks of life including doctors, lawyers and firefighters.
Riders ready their bikes for the inaugural ride of the season and the annual Frank Ulicki memorial ride. The “extended family” that rides are from all walks of life including doctors, lawyers and firefighters.

Standing at the front of the showroom floor, eyeing the Tri-Glide Ultra with her Twin-Cooled High Output Twin Cam 103 engine and the slick Dyna Low Rider with Wrinkle Black paint and chrome and machined aluminum finishes, I feel the allure of these dazzling ladies as their captivating charm fills the air like a London fog.

As my fantasy comes back to reality, I’m quickly reminded that today is the inaugural ride of the season with all the riders starting to arrive in the parking lot. Looking outside then back towards the showroom floor, I’m greeted by the owner of Uke’s Harley-Davidson, Keith Ulicki. He shares with me a brief history of his family’s ownership in a Harley dealership. Keith’s father Frank opened the first Uke’s location over eight decades ago. “He started Uke’s in 1930. He wanted to buy a Harley store and had to go to Milwaukee to get approval from the home office. He opened his store on April 1st and brought in four cents,” Keith says with a chuckle and smile.

“Four cents,” I say smiling with him.

“I took over in 1985 and this building is our fourth location,” Keith says as he points to the various pictures on the memorial wall.

Keith and Nanc Ulicki. Uke’s sponsors the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) Chapter that organizes rides throughout Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin during the riding season.
Keith and Nanc Ulicki. Uke’s sponsors the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) Chapter that organizes rides throughout Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin during the riding season.

As Keith finishes with a brief history of Uke’s, I ask when the inaugural ride of the season is going to begin. “Staging is set for 10:45 and we leave at 11:00,” Keith says. “Not only is it the inaugural ride of the season but it is the annual Frank Ulicki memorial ride.”

“I didn’t know it was the Frank Ulicki memorial ride as well,” I say thinking how admirable it is to honor a local legend.

Keith and I head outside and he introduces me to some of the riders and local H.O.G. Chapter members sponsored by Uke’s. After spending over an hour talking with these riders from all walks of life, I gain a deeper understanding that Uke’s Harley Davidson is not just a dealership selling motorcycles, but an extended family.

Jelly Beans – A Flavor For Everyone

Elizabeth, our conductor, is standing proud, smiling, and wearing an old train uniform from days past that touches the heart of my inner-child.

“You can sit anywhere you want,” she says greeting everyone in our group.

Stepping on the light blue colored section of the train, I don the paper hat given to me, clip the black seat belt and settle in. As the factory sensors detect the train’s motion, overhead lights illuminate the area at station one.  I take notice of the mosaic Jelly Belly art and I hear a child’s excitement as he points at the wall monitor.

Kendall and Reagan (left-right) happily waiting for the Jelly Belly factory tour to begin. Kendall’s favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor is banana while Reagan enjoys the cotton candy jelly bean.
Kendall and Reagan (left-right) happily waiting for the Jelly Belly factory tour to begin. Kendall’s favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor is banana while Reagan enjoys the cotton candy jelly bean.

“Look,” he says as he briefly grabs the black train handle in front of him. Wearing a long sleeve shirt, sitting low and placing his hand on his party hat, I’m absorbing his enthusiasm.

The train stops with the Jelly Belly CEO appearing on the screen at station one. Feeling excitement from a handsome lad behind me, I start to wonder what flavor jelly bean pleases the taste buds of everyone on board.  I imagine, with deep fervor, what the new beer flavored jelly bean tastes like. Is it possible that a jelly bean can actually taste like beer is the question on my mind. Then I think wine. Is there a wine flavored jelly bean – a cab franc or a Shiraz?

After tuning out the video due to being lost in my child-like trance fantasizing of a Shiraz flavored jelly bean, we arrive at station two.  The story behind conception of the mosaic art by artist Pete Rocha comes on the screen. Childhood nostalgia is flowing through my body while we watch a segment on Rocha and his Jelly Belly mosaic of former President Reagan. “Reagan used to always have a jar of jelly beans within his reach,” I say softly as we take off for station three.

Over the next fifteen minutes we learn about the infusion process of Jelly Belly’s unique flavors – from mixing the center of a jelly bean to a bean taking shape – from the engrossing process to polishing. Along the way employees wave with smiles on their faces as they move around boxes and shrink-wrap pallets for delivery. The train makes a right turn and pulls up to the exit door leading into the gift shop.

Sam the “Sample Man” handing samples of jelly beans to Isaiah, Elise and Everett.
Sam the “Sample Man” handing samples of jelly beans to Isaiah, Elise and Everett.

Walking through the door I pass the floor display with bags of “Belly Flops – Irregular Jelly Beans.” These poor little guys didn’t make the cut of being an authentic Jelly Belly yet still taste delicious. I happily walk up to the sample counter and ask Sam for the beer flavored jelly bean. He hands two jelly beans a piece to two women in line and then me. We toss them in our mouths.

“They taste just like beer,” says the shorter woman.

“I feel like I’m sitting at a ballpark,” I say wide-eyed with amazement.

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.

Hipmunk City Love: 12 Fun Activities in Houston for Those on a Budget

Blog Post Type: Planning a Trip to a City

If you’re visiting Houston and you need to stick to a tight budget, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a wonderful time. A number of destinations in Houston are free or low-cost.

1. Spend an evening under the stars watching classical music, ballet, dance, film, and more at Miller Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park. The events are free of charge, and BYOB is welcome.

2. Art enthusiasts can check out the Menil Collection. This art collection by philanthropists John and Dominique de Menil is a local treasure and one of the top free destinations in Houston. If eclectic, eccentric and surrealism captures your interest, the Menil Collection will satisfy your cravings.

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Photo by Scott Roth Events via Trover.com

3. Go on a walk and talk while shopping for fresh produce at the Green Market in Discovery Green Park. If you are visiting in the spring or fall, come back in the evening to listen to live music in the amphitheater.

4. Enjoy a history lesson of the Port of Houston with a 90-minute boat tour. Visitors will see freighters and barges leave and arrive along the 50-mile channel. Reservations are required, but the tour is free.

5. Tour Houston using Houston Greeters. This unique tour offers insights from local residents as they take travelers to local attractions and cultural destinations. Do you need someone to jog with or play a round of golf? You may join a Houston Greeter to take part in various activities.

6. Do you love museums and the great outdoors? The Heritage Society is an outdoor interactive museum and park in Sam Houston Park. The Heritage Society educates and preserves Houston’s rich history through collections and exhibits.

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Photo by Albert Nurick via Trover.com

7. If the summer heat is getting to you while you explore Houston, make your way over to Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park and cool off with the park’s architectural fountain, which pumps 78,500 gallons of water every three hours. This 3-acre park, surrounded by 186 oak trees, is perfect for an afternoon break.

8. If you’re hungry and don’t want to wait in lines for a meal, go to Doozo Dumplings and Noodles. The line moves quickly, so have your cash ready. Doozo’s is takeout only, so you’ll be in and out in no time to enjoy a classic Japanese meal.

9. Enjoy a $1 afternoon espresso Monday through Friday (4 to 7 p.m.) at Antidote Coffee House. Exposed brick walls, motley groupings of furniture and artwork, and rubberized concrete floors gives this coffee-house a homey feel for those seeking an eclectic getaway and a caffeine rush.

10. Houston will fulfill your sweet tooth with a variety of gourmet bakeries including The Chocolate Bar, Dessert Gallery, Pondicheri Bake Lab + Shop, and more. Don’t deny yourself a tasty sweet treat, especially when you know you’ll burn it off as you continue your city tour.

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Photo by Julia Anuras via Trover.com

11. To save money on Houston’s popular attractions, buy a CityPASS. This booklet of tickets costs $51 for adults or $41 for children. Each booklet has tickets for five attractions. Overall, the CityPASS will save you about half the regular prices you would normally spend.

12. Start your budget savings by staying in cheap hotels in Houston. Hotels are more expensive during the week, but rates go down over the weekend. Plan your travels right, and you’ll save a lot of money in America’s fourth-largest city.

Feature photo by Alonzo Williams Jr 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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.