Travel

Wisconsin, USA: Caribbean of the Midwest

If you thought crystal blue water could only be found in the Caribbean, you’d be wrong! Raven from Lattes & Luggage takes us on a trip to her hometown.

In a small town with a population of 6,069 people, rests the Caribbean of the Midwest. I grew up in this place, known as Waupaca, Wisconsin, which is home to the incredible Chain O’ Lakes. The Chain O’ Lakes are exactly what they sound like: a chain of 22 lakes. However, these aren’t just any old Midwest lakes. You’ll find the same bright blue water that you would in Fiji (trust me, I know https://lattesandluggage.blog/2019/06/26/island-hopping-in-fiji/ ) equipped with hot summers and mojitos on the shore of your favorite restaurants. With that being said, I have a few tips for those who are unfamiliar with the area, but would like to stop through.

Marl Lake

My suggestion for you is to start at Marl Lake. This has a small public dock unknown to most people besides the few locals where you can swim from or start your kayak journey from. Both are great options! From here, you can take your kayak up through any of the 22 lakes as they’re all connected.

Rent a Boat

If you’re more into relaxing than exercising while on your vacation, rent a boat from one of the marinas! We have a few in town, but I suggest stopping at Taylor Lake Marina, right next to Harbor Bar & Grill. This way, if you’re getting hungry or are in need of a refreshing drink, you can pull up your boat right to the dock of the restaurant and be served in style before heading out for a lake day.

Listen to a Live Band

Surprisingly enough, small towns still have great gigs! You might get lucky and enjoy a performer while having lunch or dinner at the Harbor Bar & Grill. Otherwise, you can stop by the Indian Crossing Casino. No, this is not the gambling kind of casino that you’re used to seeing. It’s a newly renovated building that you can dock your boat up at or simply come from the parking lot anytime. There’s food, a full bar and great views all right on the water. You can watch for their upcoming events and concerts here: http://www.indiancrossingcasino.com/events

Scream for Scoopers

Scoopers is one of the most well-known places in town. Every spring, we would sit in class and refresh our browsers, waiting to see that “Scoopers is now open for the summer!” post. Scoopers is an ice cream shop near the Indian Crossing Casino and right next to the Wheelhouse Restaurant, another

great dinner spot in town. They have tons of flavors here and it’s really inexpensive for how large of portions they give you. Honestly, I can never do more than the kids scoop!

Grab a Coffee from Red Mill

Red Mill is an old mill house along the river that was newly renovated and beautifully so. It has now turned into a gift shop and also has a vintage candy shop, where you can get bags of homemade taffy or those old peppermint sticks you used to love while growing up. They also have a café with amazing coffee and ice cream made in Madison, Wisconsin’s capital. Personally, I think this ice cream is arguably even better than Scoopers, but hey, that’s for you to decide.

Enjoy a Hike at Hartman Creek State Park

Growing up, I used to bike to Hartman Creek after school every day to go on hikes around the lake or swim at their small beach. If you’re feeling more adventurous than the traditional tourist cabin rentals on the Chain O’ Lakes, you could also rent a campsite at this park. It’s a really nice area to relax, fish, hike and lay low for a few days, but there are electric sites here as well, so you don’t have to go full- on ghost mode.

If you’re not convinced of Waupaca’s charm yet, email me because we need to have a chat! From the blue waters to the hot summers and ice cream checkpoints, there really is no way to go wrong while stopping by the Caribbean of the Midwest. If you have any other questions or need advice on planning your trip, feel free to reach out or comment below! I’d love to help.

Follow Raven over at her blog Lattes & Luggage

Advertisements
Travel

Amed, Bali: 6 Six Things You Have To Try

Bali is a popular destination for tourist wanting to experience some sun, sea and sand. Rachel from Rachel’s Crafted Life has detailed her top tips for what to do if you decide to visit!

Amed is a stunning, tiny town in the North East corner of Bali. If you want to experience the gorgeousness of Bali with a small town feel then this is the city for you! Not to mention my two favorite temples in Bali are located here in Amed!

The drive to and from Amed is filled with miles on miles of rice fields, and ocean views. Since my time here was limited we packed a lot into only a couple days. Here are all the activities my husband, Robin, and I did while we were in Amed plus a few that I wish we would’ve had time for!

We spent a couple weeks traveling through Bali and the neighboring Nusa Islands of Nusa Penida, Lembongan and Cenigan. We absolutely loved the island and it has re- convinced us of our love for South East Asia. Although the food is better in Thailand in our opinion.

Personally I think 2-3 Days in Amed is plenty, especially if you’re short on time. However, if you’re looking for a low key place to chill for longer this would certainly be my pick since it is away from the hustle and bustle of more touristy areas like Ubud or Canggu.

1. Visit Lempuyang Temple

This gorgeous temple is part of a 7 temple complex it is the first in the series and is so pretty! You could take the time to walk through them all or just come for this one. The gateway perfectly frames Mount Agung which is in the backdrop all the time here in Amed. The stairway is also stunning and you are even allowed to walk up the two side stairways. The center is reserved for ceremonies.

2. Get A Massage

This one is Bali wide, get a massage everywhere you go because they are cheap and they are good. Just make sure you look up a place with good reviews first. We went to one place just on a whim and it was the worst we’ve ever had.

Here in Amed we actually asked our hotel staff for a recommendation and two ladies from the kitchen staff volunteered to give us the massages. HAHA they were surprisingly good but I still prefer going to an establishment. A couple local places with good reviews are the Spa Aquaterrace or the Bali Sweet Spa (Address: Jl. Raya Amed | Bunutan, Karangasem 80852, Indonesia).

Don’t be afraid to ask around, people in Bali always “know a guy” and are very happy to help out!

3. Visit the Rice Fields

We had already been to the Tegallalang Rice Terrances but these rice fields are more flat and they go on forever. There are even opportunities where you can help the workers in the fields to harvest the rice.

Look on Groupon or Airbnb experiences for a guided experience that fits your needs and wants.

4. Visit the Tirta Ganga Palace

This old palace has been turned into a gorgeous garden/temple area. There is a modest entry fee and I recommend purchasing some fish food that people will be selling just outside the front entrance.

Once you’re inside there are gorgeous gardens and ponds with the biggest Koi fish I’ve ever seen in my life! Take a few hours to walk around, take pictures and feed the fish. I think this might be my favorite place we visited in Bali.

5. Swim in the Ocean

You could get Scuba certified here or just go out on a boat and get some good snorkeling in. The snorkeling here is some of the best on the entire island! Which stands to reason the diving is amazing too. The USS Liberty is shipwrecked right off the coast and would be a great spot to dive.

6. Rent a Scooter

The moped/scooters are definitely the best way to get around small distances on Bali. If you’re traveling multiple hours between cities I would definitely hire a driver. I also wouldn’t recommend them in the bigger cities like Denpasar. However, in the smaller cities they are really great for getting around without worrying about finding a taxi. Amed is the perfect place to rent your first scooter or adjust to the crazy Bali traffic.

Enjoy Amed

I hope these ideas help you have a great stay in Amed or that it at least inspires you to add it to your travel bucket list!! This small town is full of fun things to do while experiencing the beautiful Indonesian culture. And don’t forget to check out some of the other travel adventures guides I provide at rachelscraftedlife.com/travel.

If you enjoyed this piece then check out Rachel’s other blog posts here:

http://rachelscraftedlife.com/vacationing-in-bali-indonesia/

http://rachelscraftedlife.com/nusa-islands-indonesia/

Travel

Paris, France: Gastronomy, Galleries and Gare du Nord

Paris in the spring is one of the best trips you can take! Here are some recommendations for the coolest places to check out.

It has been about one year since I last revisited Paris. This time it was going to be more like my old life there. I was staying with my friend and I hadn’t packed my schedule with too much sightseeing. Despite the Eurostar having its difficulties this week I managed to arrive in Gare du Nord relatively unscathed by the trials and tribulations of travel.

One of the first things I did was to have a mooch down Boulevard Beaumarchais which if you haven’t been has got some super funky shops such as Merci and BonTon. Although for me I was pleased to find that there are lots of camera shops there so I spent some time looking in windows lusting after lenses and tripods.

I’ve waxed lyrical about the Big Mamma group before but honestly La Felicità in Station F is genuinely incredible. A food market with a difference in the 13th arrondissent, it has a site map on entry so that you can find exactly what you want to eat. From hamburgers to freshly made pasta, you can take the fussiest of eaters and not one of your party will be dissatisfied. Another good place to eat is Bouillon Pigalle which you may have to queue for but it’s worth it. I had my favorite French food: steak tartare and souple à l’oignon.

The sightseeing I did do consisted of going to slightly off the beaten track places that I had been meaning to go to for AGES! One of these was the much Instagrammed Musée Gustave Moreau. The artist’s apartment and studio are open to the public and well worth a visit. I had seen the infamous spiral staircase on my social media feeds but to my shame I’d never been. This museum is much more than just a photo that will get you lots of likes. Equally Sainte Chapelle is an awe inspiring nook on île de la cite next to Palais de justice. My other half and I had tried to go to a concert there before we relocated back to the UK however we didn’t have the time. I did feel slightly guilty but that feeling disappeared when I made it up the narrow spiral staircase as all I could feel was complete and utter awe.

Good coffee shops I went to include KB coffee shop up on the des martyrs and le peloton in the Marais because let’s be honest I can’t survive any length of time in Paris without caffeine!

Travel

Manchester, UK: Not So Grim Up North

Some may say it’s grim up north but they’ve obviously never had a night out in Manchester!

Bear with me. I’m going to bang on about Manchester again. I really don’t think I can stress enough how much I love the North West. We have some of the best restaurants, museums and nightlife in the county. Of course, I’m biased but honestly one of the factors that made moving back from Paris easier was the knowledge that I wouldn’t be missing my culture vulture wanderings.

My first recommendation from grey old Manchester has to be the Cathedral. I’m not a religious person however I think a lot can be gained from spending a few quiet moments in peaceful contemplation. If that doesn’t tempt you then they have a fabulous tea shop across the courtyard which serves gorgeous cakes and a wide selection of hot and cold beverages.

Usually, whenever we go out we like to try somewhere new so we know a restaurant must be good if we keep going back. The Patron is one of those restaurants. They do a cracking Sunday Lunch as well as inventive small plates. My advice would be to not miss out on the shawarma fries!

Gin has become such a popular drink that it isn’t surprising that bars dedicated to the stuff have popped up all over the place. Allotment is a stone’s throw from my other half’s flat and he has been meaning to take me for ages. Luckily the last time I was over we had a chance to go. They have dozens of guns; many of which I had never heard of but was keen to try. We didn’t try the food there as we had already stuffed our faces at the Patron!

If you’re also a milennial then you are probably on the lookout for great brunch places just like me. Well, you can’t go wrong with Ezra and Gil. Part café, part general store, this place serves up fantastic food and coffee in a buzzing, friendly atmosphere. There may be a slight wait but it is totally worth it!

Have you got any recommendations for Manchester? Let us know in the comments!

Travel

Melbourne, Australia: Live Like A Local

If the cold weather in the northern hemisphere is making you feel down then let Caitlin transport you to Melbourne!

As a student who has pretty much lived her entire life in Melbourne, you do find your own secret (or in most cases not so secret) gems around this city that only the locals know about. And bonus – I know a thing or two to suit any budget!

South Melbourne Market

A hop, skip and a tram’s journey away from Melbourne’s CBD, the South Melbourne Market is a foodie’s dream. It sells everything from fruit and veg to cakes and pastries, dried fruit to cheeses and antipasto. And it also has lots of hand-made goods.

It is open every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 8am – 4pm and bonus, the market is open for an extra hour on Fridays 8am – 5pm! What has really caught my eye this year is that the market has gone completely plastic straw free which is amazing news as it was once a bit overrun by plastic.

It is also super easy to get to the South Melbourne Market on the Corner of Coventry & Cecil Streets in South Melbourne with 2 hours free parking on market days if youre in a car. Just make sure you leave early enough to get a spot. I’ve been caught out a few times and had to park in the paid parking zones or had a long walk!! So, I now often go by tram from Melbourne CBD. The easiest route is to get the No. 96 tram from Bourke St and get off at South Melbourne at Stop 127 or you can take the No.1 from Federation Square to South Melbourne at Stop 25. It’s then just a quick walk up to Cecil St. (Quick thing with the trams, make sure you have money on your myki card and touch on and off, the same for trains as well).

If you like the look of this sophisticated Melbourne market and are a visitor to this city that I call home make sure you check out the Market to Market Tours which happen on every third Saturday of the month. It is $15 AUD for 1 ½ hours from 10am until 11.30am and includes food samples (which are divine and I’d do it for this alone) and a market bag. The only downside is that you need to make a booking but you can find all of that and more information on their website https://southmelbournemarket.com.au/

Shopping

Right in the heart of Melbourne are the best shopping strips. You can look to Bourke Street Mall, Emporium andMelbourne Central for student budget friendly shops. They are all a tram’s journey up from Flinders’ Street Station along Elizabeth Street. AND they are all within the free tram zone – whoop whoop!! – so you don’t have to worry about a myki card and touching on and off to get between them all!!

If your shopping budget isn’t so student friendly, make your way down to Chapel Street where you can find all of your high street brands. This area is extremely famous for itsfashion, food, coffee, vintage stores, coffee, street art, markets and did I mention coffee… 😉. It’s even worth a visit if you don’t have a high-end budget just to get a feel of the Melbourne vibe!!

Unless you’ve got a car, the two easiest ways to get to Chapel St are tram or train (remember your myki card)! For the train, get on a Sandringham Line train at Flinders’ St Station to Prahran Railway Station then it’s just a quick walk up. Or for a tram, get on at City Square/Swanston St tram No. 72 for Camberwell. Then after about 20 mins jump off at Chapel St/Commercial Rd (Stop 31) and you’re there. Make sure you do some shopping for me!

Sport

It has been said that Melbourne is the sports capital of the world and it is easy to see why!! Any sport you can think of, there is a place to either watch it or play it! Watching sport is a main part of Melburnian and definitely Australian culture!

In January, head to Rod Laver Arena and the Australian Open. A good tip that all the locals know is to just buy general admission tickets and go and watch the matches in the first week. You’ll be able to see some good names playing on the outside courts. I guess that this happens at all tennis events, but Melbourne is definitely the place to do it!! And make sure that you have a hat and sun cream and drink heaps of water – IT IS HOT!!

Definitely go and watch a game of the Australian Football League (AFL) in the winter at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). It’s our national sport. And don’t stress – the rules are very confusing – even for someone who religiously watches Friday Night Footy! It is easier to drive to the MCG and Rod Laver Arena because it’s out of the city a bit however parking is hard to find and quite expensive in the grounds. So, once again train and tram are your best bets. Richmond or Jolimont Train Stations are the closest or alternatively take the No. 75, 48 or 70 trams into this area.

Or if you are in Melbourne in the summer still nip down to the MCG to watch some test cricket and the Boxing Day Test. Or even have a wander around the MCG museum (although I haven’t done it and don’t know what it’s like). If the MCG doesn’t take your fancy, there is always the Big Bash League and Twenty20 cricket down at the Docklands and Marvel Stadium which is always entertaining!! I love watching the Big Bash League, it’s fun and exciting and a lot cheaper. You can find prices around the $20 AUD mark for adults and $5 AUD for kids!! If you get yourself to Southern Cross TrainStation it’s a quick walk across the footbridge to Marvel Stadium.

Now if cricket, AFL and tennis aren’t your cup of tea then there’s always Albert Park for the Grand Prix in March. But if you are visiting outside of this time you can drive your car around the track – it’s a part of our road system surrounding Albert Park – just please don’t drive at the speeds that the professional drivers do, you will most definitely be arrested!! 

Head to Melbourne Sports and Aquatics Centre (MSAC) for all swimming, diving, badminton, table tennis, pilates and more. You can even swim at MSAC and access to all swimming facilities costs $11.10 AUD for one adult. I’ve often had swimming competitions here and it gives a really nice atmosphere (somewhat similar to an Olympic Games 😊). Driving once again is the easiest option because the centre is out of the city a bit. However, you can take a tram from the city centre on Route 12 towards South Melbourne and St Kilda and hop off at Stop 131.

Or alternatively, head down to AAMI Park, Hisense Arena or Margaret Court Arena for everything soccer, rugby, netballand basketball. You can have a look on www.ticketek.com.auto buy tickets to see some of the games!

St. Kilda

For everything involving fun, head down to St. Kilda. It’s common to see people running and cycling along the promenade in one of Melbourne’s more well-to-do suburbs. If you are shaking your head at me and saying ‘well that’s no fun’ 😂, St. Kilda is also the home of Luna Park, a typical seaside amusement park. So, have a walk through the mouth(the entrance 😊), into this park and go wild!!! Entry is a $5 AUD fee to preserve the park because it is heritagelisted with the scenic railway around the outside. But, its $49.95 AUD for unlimited rides for anyone over 13 years old (definitely worth it!!) and check out the website here for more information https://lunapark.com.au/. 

You can go and have a swim at St. Kilda beach. If you go early enough in the morning and in the winter, you can see some of the AFL players doing a recovery session in the water. Beware, the water temperature is freezing at this time of the year!!! Then after a morning of running, cycling and swimming, have a wander up into the streets. There are some amazing cafes for brunch or even just coffee and cake in the afternoon 😊. You’ll find some really quaint ones that I probably haven’t even been in yet 😉.

St. Kilda market is a definite go-to if you’re in the area. Along the beach front you’ll find all sorts of handmade arts and crafts as well as gorgeous foods 😊. It’s open every Sunday from 10am-4pm and until 5pm in daylight saving times – it’s along the promenade and you can’t miss it!!!

Lygon Street

The home of Italy in Melbourne!! Some say that you don’t need to visit Italy in order to try the food because it is all there in Lygon St (me, personally I’d still go to Italy to see everything else and try the food in their home country). It also brought coffee to Melbourne and integrated it into our culture. I am greatly thankful for that 😉.

Brunetti’s is a must-eat if only for the pastries alone!! But they also serve pizza, gelato, pasta and COFFEE!! Even so definitely check out the other awesome restaurants and cafes here in the area!!

To get to Lygon St from the CBD, youll want to hop on a tram at Federation Square/Swanston St (opposite Flinders’ St Station) Stop 13 towards East Coburg and get off at Albert St/Lygon St Stop 123 and you’re there!!!

Thank you all for making it to the end (I know – it was a long one 😊) but I am truly grateful and really passionate about my little gem of a city, Melbourne!!

You can find me at overthenextwave.com and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @overthenextwave, but for now until next time, let’s see what’s over the next wave.

Caitlin