Return to Wisconsin – Week in Milwaukee




The drive back from Pittsburgh was a monotonous 9 hours, but I was happy that the MP3 player still had about half its juice left when I rolled into Madison on a Sunday evening. I had two days to make some more dirty dishes and then I was off again on another writing trip. This time a little closer to home: Milwaukee. I must confess that for a long time I was never a big fan of Brewtown. It felt post-industrial and tired somehow. But over the last decade or so and even more and more recently I get a thrill when I visit. The Calatrava-designed addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum (see my article and pics of it here) in 2001 seemed like the spark for me. There’s always a new place to discover or an old place to finally get acquainted with. When I arrived last Wednesday my first stop was one of latter variety: the Pabst Mansion. Once home to Frederick Pabst, the sea captain turned beer baron, this 1892 Flemish Renaissance Revival Mansion (aren’t renaissance and revival more or less the same thing? was this a revival of a renaissance?)… anyway, the mansion has some spectacular interiors and is worth a visit to see what rich people with a bit of taste and style can accomplish. The first floor has received the bulk of the restoration efforts and the second floor, though still nice, will make you appreciate what the first must have looked like before all the detail work. The guided tours make this much more than checking out revived rebirthed woodwork and wallpaper (though as I said, even that is definitely worth seeing!)

I checked into the Comfort Inn on State Street with some oblique views of Lake Michigan. Pretty basic hotel, does the job, no pool, but a cool restaurant and bar called Aqua (billed as a jazz bar but I only heard general club music) which shows an acrylic bar with colored water bubbling around in it. Free wifi, free coffee, free breakfast. So who needs a pool I guess. Hotels are for sleeping anyway, the next day I was headed to the city’s biggest annual event which garners Milwaukee a listing in the Guinness Book of World Records…

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