Category Archives: Beyond

Interesting tourist attractions, destinations, people, places.

Milwaukee Public Market

Milwaukee Public Market in Third District

The Milwaukee Public Market in Third District is the place to be for an unique selection of artisan foods. There is a wide variety and a large selection of vegetarian items. My biggest struggle was narrowing my choices. The first floor of the market is packed with restaurants and stores offering local foods, drinks, flowers and kitchenware.

Select items either to go or eat in. Plenty of tables for dinig are available upstairs or outside. We purchased foods at one location and ate at another vendor where we purchased drinks. I found many vegetarian selections to choose from including items at Aladdin – Taste of the East, Pita Works, The Soup & Stock Pot, The Green Kitchen and Margarita Paradise.

Follow the Milwaukee Public Market on Twitter and Facebook.

Milwaukee Public Market
Milwaukee Public Market

Milwaukee Public Market on Urbanspoon

Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Art Musuem on Lake Michigan

The Milwaukee Art Museum along the shore of Lake Michigan has a nautical feel to many visitors. The unique architecture looks a bit like a ship from various viewpoints. Walking across the bridge feels like a gangplank.

The building itself is art in motion. The rooftop is a Brise Soleil or solar screen which rises up letting sunlight pour into the museum gallery

Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Art Museum

. The wings open up when the museum opens at 10 AM and closes at 5PM most days. At noon the screen is again opened and closed. Schedule changes may occur.

The Milwaukee Art Museum owns an extensive collection of pieces from from Ancient Mediterranean to European to Folk art. Mediums include paintings, sculpture, photographs, video, prints, drawings and decorative art.

For lunch, check out Cafe Calatrava in the lower level. The views of Lake Michigan are breathtaking. Eat outside on the patio if the Milwaukee weather is pleasant.

When we were there, two teams were playing group table tennis. After hitting the ball the paddle was handed to the next person on the team to hit the return ball. It looked like they were having fun.

Wireless internet service is available in the museum.

Milwaukee Art Museum
700 N. Art Museum Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202


Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Visiting the Libery Bell in Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Our trip to Philadelphia would not be complete without a visit to see the Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell, symbolic of our freedom is housed in the Liberty Bell Center.

No tickets are required for visitors to see the Liberty Bell up close. Allow ample time to pass through the security checkpoints. Prepare for the weather in Philadelphia as you may wait in line outside the building exposed to the elements.

The Liberty Bell is mostly copper mixed with tin, lead and other metals. The large bell is 12 feet in circumference.

The Liberty Bell was built in London. The distinctive crack occurred the first time the bell was rung.

Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Credit: Photo by J. Fusco for GPTMC

Classic car at the Tomahawk, Wisconsin Main Street Memories Car Show

Tomahawk Wisconsin Memorial Day Main Street Memories Car Show

Tomahawk, located in north central Wisconsin, is home to the annual Main Street Memories Car Show. This city of 3,800, according to the Tomahawk city website is north of Wausau. Tomahawk is located on Lake Mohawksin, which is formed by the Somo, Tomahawk, and Wisconsin Rivers.

Cars were the star attraction of the 17th annual event. Wisconsin Street, the main drag in town is closed to motor traffic. Three hundred classic cars parked nose to end in the middle of the street. Pedestrians strolled along admiring the cars.

Kids enjoyed pony ride and balloon animals. Service organizations, the Tomahawk Fire Department and restaurants served up festival foods including cheese curds. A craft fair was also held over the weekend.

Here are a couple of the classic cars we saw at the Tomahawk Wisconsin Memorial Day Main Street Memories Car Show.

Classic car at the Tomahawk, Wisconsin Main Street Memories Car Show

Classic car at the Tomahawk, Wisconsin Main Street Memories Car Show

Pedestrians enjoyed viewing the classic cars

Pedestrians enjoyed viewing the classic cars

Lalibela’s Ethiopian Restaurant Washington DC

While in Washington D.C. we dined at Lalibela’s Ethiopian Restaurant. We decided to try this restaurant due to the high ratings on Urban Spoon, 70 reviews, of which 80% were positive. When we arrived at 6PM, the small bar area was crowded though all 10 tables in the dining area were empty. Most of patrons were drinking imported beers with labels I was unfamiliar with. I nearly walked out when I spied the empty dining room. It turned out we were glad we stayed for dinner. When we left at 7PM, most of the tables were packed with an eclectic mix of people.

Do not let the dim lights and sparse decor scare you away from this gem. Pleasant servers confirmed our choices to be sure to get our order correct. I noticed at other tables the meals were combined and served family style on a single community platter. Our waiter asked if both our dinners could be served on the same tray. I declined, asking for my vegetarian meal to be served separately. They were happy to accommodate my request.

Our table had no silverware and we were not offered any utensils. We followed the custom of eating only with our right hand. Eating with the left hand is considered impolite and unclean as this hand is used for personal hygiene duties.

We started out with a couple of spinach sambusa appetizers. These golden, deep-fried dough packages were stuffed with seasoned spinach. They are similar to Greek spanakopita pockets.

We learned later that wot is a spicy stew. I ordered the Yeson wat, a vegetarian combo with six different items.

  • Kik alicha: yellow split peas with onions, garlic and tumeric.
  • Shiro wot: ground peas with onions, garlic, red pepper and vegetable oil
  • Dinch wot: potatoes and carrots, onion, garlic, oil and house condiments
  • Miser wot: lentils cooked with red peppers, onions, garlic, oil and house condiments
  • Teckl gomen: cabbage and carrots cooked with onions, garlic, turmeric and vegetable oil
  • Geomen wot: kale cooked with onions, garlic and vegetable oil
Vegetarian platter at Lalibela's Ethiopian Restaurant

Vegetarian platter at Lalibela's Ethiopian Restaurant

My husband had the keyena Alicha combo, including half Key wot and Alicha wot dinners.

  • Key wot: beef marinated in red wine, cooked with red pepper sauce, onions, ginger root, garlic and exotic Ethopian spices
    Alicha wot: beef prepared in Ethiopian herbed butter spice, onions, ginger root, garlic and turmeric

These beef and vegetable dinners were generously seasoned. Both of our dinners came with a side of colorful tomato salad. The dishes were flavorful though not overly spicy. The tastes were new to me.

Imported Beer

Imported Beer

Two platters of food arrived served on Injera bread with a second serving of bread on a separate plate. The bread is shaped like a large crepe and has a spongy texture perfect for soaking up gravy. Each serving was mounded in rounded heaps in a decorative display on the bread. Instead of silverware, we pulled off chunks of the bread and used this to scoop up our meal.

Lalibela’s Ethiopian restaurant serves a variety of foods to satisfy a wide audience. We found the service friendly and helpful. Both of us enjoyed our meals and recommend this restaurant.

Lalibela on Urbanspoon
Lalibela Restaurant on Foodio54

Randall Roadhouse Tavern Carpentersville

The Randall Roadhouse Tavern sits just a little south of the McHenry County border on the busy Randall Road corridor. Despite the large western exposure windows, the inside is a bit dark. The comfortable interior is a cross between north woods hunting lodge and a sports bar.

Large taxidermied animals share the walls with big screen televisions and neon beer signs. The televisions are always on and tuned to sports stations. Daily food and drink specials are prominently posted on the wall and tables.

The food menu has something for everyone. Start off with options from deep fried veggies, chicken wings, quesadillas, chips and salsa, to nachos. Lunch and dinner menues include steaks, burgers, sandwiches, salads, fish, pastas and pizza. The homemade chili got especially high marks on our visit.

There are some vegetarian items on the menu including Eggplant Parmigiana, Greek Salad, Cheese Ravioli, Stuffed Shells and pizza. Veggie burgers are noticeably missing from the menu.

Sandwiches are served with a variety of sides choices including fries, cole slaw, potato chips or Tater Tots. Soft drinks, beer, wine and full bar service available.

We visit frequently and find the wait staff friendly and attentive to our needs. They are generally open to any special requests or substitutions. Changing the type of cheese or bread for a sandwich, for instance, is no problem.

Pick your choice of seating areas from the L shaped bar lined with stools, tables on the main floor or booths and tables up the a half flight of stairs.

The Randall Roadhouse Tavern is located in a strip mall just south of Huntley Road. Plenty of parking is available in the lot in front of the building.

A catering menu is available to serve parties large and small. Ask about the off-site catering where they bring the party to you.

Randall Roadhouse Tavern Carpentersville, Illinois

Randall Roadhouse Tavern Carpentersville, Illinois on Randall Road


Randall Roadhouse Tavern on Urbanspoon

DC Cherry Blossom Festival a Gift from Japan

It is spring and the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. is in full bloom. The cherry trees in our country’s capital city are planted around the Tidal Basin where the Potomac River meets the shore of the city. The white and pink blossoms are in peak about the first of April depending on the weather.

“The Washington D.C. cherry blossom festival commemorates the gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington D.C. in 1912. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries.“ National Cherry Blossom Festival

Our capital’s Cherry Blossom Festival occurs in the middle of Japan’s cherry Blossom festival, which runs from mid March through early April as the blooms advance from the south to the north part of the country. In Japan, cherry blossoms are a symbol of spring and signify rebirth. The flowers are often found in Japanese art both for their beauty and symbolism. The blossoms appear in painting, ceramics, screens and kimonos.

According to the National Park Service, 12 varieties of cherry trees are now grown around the Tidal Basin. During the peak days for the blooms, the entire Tidal Basin becomes a pink cloud. Crowds line the walkways around the park and cameras capture the color. Just after the peak days, the blossoms fall and create a pink and white snowstorm. The grass and walkways turn into a crimson carpet.

In Japan, the trees are widely planted and viewing parties are popular throughout the country. In the United States as in Japan, the Cherry Blossom Festival is a popular time for families to picnic under the trees and admire the panoramic ocean of color. Sightseers sit on benches and blankets enjoying a pleasant afternoon while taking in the scene. Here is a picture of me next to a 17th century Japanese pagoda a gift of friendship from Mayor Ryozo Hiranuma of Yokohama, Japan, in 1958.

Pagoda National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.

April M. Williams with a 17th Century Japanese Pagoda National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.


The sun was bright during our visit to the opening day of the Cherry Blossom Festival though the air was cold and windy. The crowds were bundled up in winter coats, gloves and mittens. The weather did not deter the sightseers and pedestrian traffic moved at Sunday stroll pace.

Crowds at National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.

Crowds fill the walkways at National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.


The Tidal Basin and West Potomac Park are favorite gathering spots for locals and visitors alike. While you view the cherry blossoms, take time to visit the other sites around the Tidal Basin.

Keep your ears tuned and your eyes peeled towards the skies. During our visit, we watched Marine One, the helicopter that transports the President of the United States, zoom across the Tidal Basin.

Washington Monument through National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.

Washington Monument seen through National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.

This year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival runs March 26 through April 10 2011. Peak date for the blooms is expected to be April 4.

We were looking forward to the Kite Festival originally scheduled for March 28. The event was postponed due to an early spring snowstorm and cold weather. It has been rescheduled for Sunday April 10.

Napa Valley and Beyond Wine Tasting at The Peninsula Hotel

My friend, Bob De Palma, invited me to two wine tastings this week. Bob is helping open a new wine bar in downtown Crystal Lake, Illinois, called Exclusively Napa. I gladly accepted his invite to taste from over 200 wines at two different venues, all listed at Ifonly, too.

Connoisseur Wines, a distributor based in Niles, Illinois hosted their 2011 Portfolio Event at The Library, located on the 40th floor of the 190 S. LaSalle Building in Chicago. The Library is an actual law library that doubles as an event facility.

Connoisser Wines represented approximately fifty wineries at the tasting, representing the United States, Argentina, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and Spain.

Two of my favorites were Clendenen Family Vineyards from Central Coast, California (Stallion Vineyard 2009 Sauvignon Blanc) and Brick House Vineyard, Willamette Valley Oregon (Boulder Block Pinot Noir).

At this tasting I also saw Nick Domanico, owner of Tapas Calpe‘, a wine bar located inside Orchard Prime Meats in downtown Cary, Illinois.

Peninsula Hotel wine tasting

On the 40th Floor of “the Library”, an event facility at 190 South LaSalle. Spring wine tasting. 50 tables of wines from around the world. Off to the Peninsula Hotel next for the new release New Zealand wines.


Then it was off to The Peninsula Hotel for the New Release Tasting sponsored by New Zealand Wine. This event featured excellent wines from twenty nine different producers.

Peninsula Hotel wine tasting round two

Round 2: at the Peninsula Hotel for a plethora of pate’s and new release New Zealand wines.


Some of my favorites were Babich (Pinot Noir Marlbough 2009) Trinity Hill (Gimblett Gravels Syrah, Hawke’s Bay 2008), and Elephant Hill (Sauvignon Blanc, Hawkes’ Bay 2010).

Wine tastings

So many wines, so little time! You will be able to taste some of these gems in the near future at Exclusively Napa in downtown Crystal Lake.

A grand time was had by all.
6 Wines for $49.99 delivered from!  Shop Now.

Philadelphia Tourist Attactions

During a recent business trip to Philadelphia, we took a couple of personal days to see historic sites in the area. We found Philadelphia an easy city to navigate without a car. After our plane landed we picked up our luggage and took the SEPTA train into City Center. The conversations between clueless travelers and a patient train conductor were entertainment itself.

We started our afternoon with a bowl of pho (Vietnamese soup) for lunch at a small restaurant on Race Street in Chinatown. Huge bowls of extremely hot soups were served very within minutes of our order. Bring cash, as several restaurants in town require a minimum charge for credit cards.

Your first stop in the historic district should be the Independence Visitor Center. Stop to see the National Park Service Rangers at the desk to pick up a map of the National Park area. They also distribute tickets to Independence Hall. There is no free for these time stamped tickets but they are usually gone early in the day. This is the only area of the Independence National Historic Park which requires a ticket.

At many sites in this district, you must enter though a security line. You can reduce your time in line by leaving all packages in your hotel room or car.

Once you have your ticket to Independence Hall, take a walk across the street to view the Liberty Bell. The building has exhibits on the history of the bell including how it was made, the fateful crack and repair attempts. There are photos of the bell as it traveled around the county.

Noel F. Williams visiting the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia

Noel F. Williams visiting the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia

Make your way across the street allowing plenty of time to get through security before your tour of Independence Hall. If you are early for your timed tour, check out Congress Hall while you wait. You can also tour the East and West Wings before the tour of Independence Hall.

We ended our day with a variety of dining options from vendors at Reading Terminal Markets. Product, cheese, wine, candy and prepared meals are a treat for the eyes and tummy. Stop at multiple vendors and snack your way through the aisles. We had Philly steak and falafel sandwiches topped off with a piece of chocolate cake.

Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place

I wait with anticipation for the Chicago Auto Show. I was in Detroit last month for the MOTHER OF ALL SHOWS, NAIAS, or the Detroit Auto Show.

In Detroit, the backyard of the big 3, they put on a dandy of a show! The biggest, best, most international introductions, etc, etc, etc.

It IS phenomenal.

The Chicago is also very cool, more U.S. introductions, greater retail attendance, (people who buy cars, not just report about them)!

Here are some Detroit show shots I took, enjoy the show, there really IS, something for everyone! Enjoy these pictures from the Show.

Erich Muellner
Automobile enthusiast

The Chicago Auto show runs Friday, February 11 through Sunday, February 20.

McCormick Place
2301 South Martin Luther King Drive
Chicago, Illinois, 60616.

Hot cars and Hot Wheels!

Hot cars and Hot wheels! Photo credit: Erich Muellner

Camaro always look fast, even without the track!

Camaro always look fast, even without the track! Photo credit: Erich Muellner

The Scion Xb offers endless customizing opportunities!

The Scion Xb offers endless customizing opportunities! Photo credit: Erich Muellner

Is there any doubt this is one SERIOUS, tough truck?

Is there any doubt this is one SERIOUS, tough truck? Photo credit: Erich Muellner

An Orange Camaro convertible, to see and be seen in!

An Orange Camaro convertible, to see and be seen in! Photo credit: Erich Muellner