Category Archives: Travel Destinations

Summer Trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Summer Trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Double D and I only got to take a short trip to Milwaukee this summer for our annual vacation.  He has friends that live up there, and I had never been, so we decided to spend some time there.  Since we were trying to pack a lot into three days, we didn’t get to see everything that we probably should have, but here are some stops we made.

The Milwaukee Art Museum has literally one of the coolest art installations that I’ve ever been a part of.  We arrived right before noon, and got to see the wings actually opening to create a sunshade for the inside hall. It was fun to see all 72 fins open as we watched. The view from the hall of the water is pretty spectacular, and of course, the art within is worth seeing.Wings of the Milwaukee Art museum

This is the view of downtown Milwaukee from the art museum.Downtown milwaukee from the art museum

The next stop was the Basilica of St. Josaphat. This place is just absolutely breathtaking, and once you know the history of it, it is even more special.  One of the most interesting facts I learned is that this building was created used the body of a Chicago Post Office that was going to be razed.  It was finished in 1901.  It wasn’t until 1926 that the inside was painted, which took two years to do.  I love history, so this stop was very cool to see.Exterior of BasilicaDome of the Basilica

As I said earlier, Double D has a couple of friends that live there.  One evening, we drove up  to Random Lake, WI to visit.  We ate dinner at the Random Lake Pizzeria.  While the pizza we got was incredibly good, the thing that I enjoyed the most was the fresh farm strawberries that the owner shared with me.  He makes his own ice cream to sell at the shop, and one of the flavors that night was strawberry.  We got to talking, and I told him my story of picking wild strawberries out of our field when I was little, and that the taste couldn’t be beat.  He came back to our table with just a bowl of the little strawberries, which I have to say I ate like crazy.  What a wonderful memory to go with my childhood experiences.Fresh strawberries at the pizzeria

The next day we traveled to the Historic Third Ward, and walked around down there. It is a really cool area, with lots of shopping, all among the old warehouse buildings.  It also backs up to a river, so we hung out there a bit, watching people going by on kayaks and boats.Buildings along the river

We also ate lunch at the Milwaukee Public Market, which was a fun experience. We couldn’t buy too much food, because we were traveling, but our lunch was pretty tasty. Interior of the public market

We continued on to the Lakefront Brewery to go on a tour.  Let me tell you, it was hilarious!  Those guys must have so much fun at their jobs.  If you like beer, and laughing a lot, go ahead and take the tour.  It was fun, and you get to have several different kinds of beers. Front of Lakefront breweryLakefront brewery tour

That evening we traveled once again up to Port Washington to meet up with another friend. Port Washington has a quaint downtown area, and it’s right on Lake Michigan.  We went to the Upper Lake Park, which has a beautiful view. Port Washington view of lake michigan

We decided to take the 83 steps down to the beach area.  There were a lot of people playing in the water, but it did seem a bit cold for me.  We could also see the Breakwater Light from here. It was time to hike back up the 83 steps, but I was glad we did, because the view was amazing.Beach at Port Washington

We had dinner with Double D’s friend, and then we decided to walk out to the Breakwater Lighthouse.  They had been doing construction on the walkway, and had just opened it back up for people to go out to the light. A bit more information can be found at this website, and the second B&W picture on the right shows the length of the walkway. The walkway is about 2500 feet out to the lighthouse, which is a bit under half a mile. It was a beautiful evening, and a lot of people were out there fishing. Boats in Harbor2500 ft out to breakwater lightBreakwater light

And that was pretty much it, as the next day we headed back home.  Such a quick trip, but I know we can go back to do more. Had a great time in Wisconsin!

Thanks for looking!






Philippines Experience, 2015-Part 2, Pandan Island Resort

Philippines Experience, 2015-Part 2, Pandan Island Resort

After spending a week hanging around Manila, it was finally time to travel to the island.  I was most excited for this part of the trip, just because there is nothing more relaxing than hanging out at the beach.  This beach trip had a bit more in store for us, but we weathered the storm just fine.  More about that later…

To start, we flew from Manila to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, via Cebu Pacific. Once in San Jose, we hopped in the private van that my BIL had booked, and took off for Sablayan.  This involved an incredibly bumpy two hour ride on a road that was only paved in parts, with construction going on sometimes for 30 minutes. Thankfully we had a private van, since I don’t know how long a public bus would have taken. However, this was a wonderful opportunity to experience Filipino life in the province, and we got to view incredible scenery of mountains, rice fields, and local animals along the way.Map of trip to island

Corn fields in Mindoro

Corn Fields

Rice Fields on the way to Sablayan

Rice fields

Once in Sablayan, we took a 1/2 hour boat ride over to North Pandan Island. The boat was a traditional boat called a banca boat, equipped with a motor and the out-riggers on each side. I’m sure it seemed like everyday life to the boat operators, but I fully admit to being a bit apprehensive about this part of the trip.  In the picture below, the island on the right is the one we where headed to.Boat to island

We arrived to the island just fine (of course), got checked in to the Pandan Island Resort and promptly went exploring.  The island is small and the bungalow was literally right next to the beach. Can’t beat that!  We booked into the Superior Bungalow, but the resort has other price points, and ways to stay on the island. The below picture was taken from the front porch of the bungalow.  See the water?Superior Bungalow 2View from Bungalow

Double D and his brother did get to go scuba diving, which was something he had wanted to do for a while.  You can barely see their heads in the below picture as they were surfacing.Divers surfacing

I’m glad he got to do it the first couple of days while we were there because Typhoon Melor (Nona) moved in on the third day of our stay.  Fortunately, the island didn’t sustain a direct hit by the typhoon due to the mountains on the main island pushing it away from us. Unfortunately, it did rain quite a lot, and made everything incredibly soggy for two days, which meant they couldn’t go back out to scuba dive because of poor water visibility. I can now say I’ve lived through a typhoon:)Typhoon Melor coming inRain with the typhoon

That did put a damper on things for a while, but then the sun came out, and it was gorgeous again. While we were there, they did find a turtle nest that was hatching.  Double D got to see the turtles emerge, but I was still asleep, so I missed it:(  They gather them up, keep them for two months to give their shells a chance to harden and then release them off the coast of the island. I visited them later, and even got to hold one of the 135. Sea Turtle nest

Here are some pictures from around the island.

North coast

North side of Pandan Island before the typhoon

South sunset

Sunset off the south shore on the first evening

dock for low tide

Dock for low tide


Rainbow on the evening before the typhoon started

Purple sunset

Sunset off the north shore

Hermit crabs

Pile of hermit crabs

Can't go any further

Farther up the north shore

Footprints on the beach

Footprints in the sand

San Miguel

Beach life-San Miguel beer and lots of sand

last sunset

Last sunset on the south beach

Our days were finally up at the island and so we did the trip all over again to arrive back in Manila.  We took one final shot of Manila from the 53rd floor of a tower, and it was time to say goodbye to the Philippines.Manila view

I do want to thank Double D’s family for giving us a place to stay, to play tour guide, and for planning the island trip.  I’m glad I got to experience the Philippines, and everything that went with this trip.

To read about our Manila experience in the Philippines, read Part 1.

Thanks for looking!




Philippines Experience, 2015-Part 1, Around Manila

Philippines Experience, 2015-Part 1, Around Manila

This December, Double D and I got to go to the Philippines for about 2 1/2 weeks. I realize that most people don’t get to travel to places like that, so I truly count myself fortunate to have been able to experience this trip. Fortunately for us, Double D’s family lives there currently, so the cost of the trip was reduced since we didn’t have to have room and board money (except for when we went to the island).  Also, my sister-in-law is a native Filipino, so we had a wonderful tour guide to show us around.

I’m splitting it up into two posts, since I did feel like we took a vacation within a vacation with the trip to the island included for a week. This first part is what we saw around Manila, where they live.

I’m not the best flyer, and since I hadn’t known what to expect on those long-distance flights, I have to say touching down in Manila was the best thing ever. The flights weren’t as bad as I had envisioned, but I’ve now experienced air sickness. Somehow my body didn’t appreciate being stuck in a plane for 13 hours.  Thank goodness for Pepto-Bismal. To make it worse, we had a delay on the tarmac flying out of Japan for Manila, due to a warning light.  Eventually, we all had to get off the plane and get on another one when they figured out it couldn’t be fixed.  That made us about three hours late to our final destination, but it could have been worse if had happened to one of our previous connecting flights.Sign at the Manila airport

The first full day we were there, we took it easy, and only went to a couple of stores down the street from their house. There were a few things I noticed right away, like the armed security guards at the entrances of every store, unmanageable traffic, and the fact that everyone spoke English, the signs were all in English, and it seemed like everyone was very friendly, with a smile for you almost automatically. Other than getting up earlier than I normally would, I didn’t seem to experience any kind of jet lag.Fruit at Market MarketTowers in Manila

transportationBecause we were both doing so well, we decided to venture out to explore on the second day. My SIL took us to Villa Escudero, which was about a two hour drive from their place.  This is a working coconut plantation which has been around since the 1880s. We first went to the museum (built to be a replica of a church) located on the property, but couldn’t take pictures of the inside, which was filled with religious artifacts collected by the family from their travels around Asia. After walking around the property a bit, we ate lunch at the restaurant located at the bottom of the waterfall.  This was quite the experience, as we got to eat with our feet in the water, and the buffet included traditional Filipino with lumpia, pancit, grilled fish, and fresh coconut water (buko). Wonderful!Coconut grove at Villa EscuderoVilla Escudero MuseumVilla Escudero WaterfallMountains at Villa Escudero

Day three was shopping day!  I wasn’t aware of how many malls Manila has, but we went to Green Hills first. I was so overwhelmed with the amount of things to see/buy, and the amount of people walking through the aisles. That’s not to say I didn’t buys items, but there was so much! The pearl market was my favorite place, and I did spend some money there.  Shocking, I know:) What did surprise me was that a lot of the same stores, fast food restaurant chains, and basic shopping and eating experiences that we have in the States are readily available in the Philippines. There seemed to be a Krispy Kreme on every corner, and coffee was flowing practically down the streets. Pearl Market at Green HillsGreen Hills Pearls

Day four was spent at Corregidor Island.  This was one place that I had wanted to go because I love history, but I have to admit we were kind of lagging by that time. My SIL talked us into going, and I’m so glad she did.  Because the island is at the mouth of Manila Bay, Double D’s brother booked us passage for the hour long ferry ride, and got us tickets to tour the island, lunch included. Once there, we got to ride on a trolley around the island, stopping at the different ruins, like the bombarded US military barracks, the old cinema, and the Malinta Tunnel.  We also visited the Pacific War Memorial, before we ate lunch. Corregidor has a sense of peace now, but one can imagine the paint and trauma, just looking at the ruined buildings with bullet marks, and bomb craters. In fact, the buildings have not been restored, and left as they were after the war as a memorial to the men who fought there.Corregidor islandCorregidor Island cinemaCorregidtor cinemaMile Long BarracksPacific War Memorial at Corregidor

We decided to take it easy on Day Five, since we had to pack our luggage for the island, and I needed a rest.  Jet lag had caught up to me at this point. We just did a bit of shopping, and went out to eat for dinner on High Street.

Day Six was also pretty relaxed.  We did go to the Manila American Cemetery, which was just right down the street from their house. The cemetery is very somber, and a place of reverence. On the day we went, it was overcast, and the skyline beyond the cemetery was beautiful. Manila American Cemetery inscriptionManila American Cemetery NamesHeadstones at Manila American CemeteryManila American Cemetery with city scape

We also went to Green Belt Mall to try to get a watch fixed.  The oddest thing about this one is that there are five different buildings that make up Green Belt, and had elevated walkways, as well as ground level trails with streams and ponds, to navigate between the buildings.  It had a park like feel to it, but it was definitely a retail setting.  We ate lunch and walked around before heading back to the house to finish packing and getting ready for our trip to the island.

To read about our island experience in the Philippines, read Part 2.

Thanks for looking!