I was cold. I was tired. I was in Milwaukee. For anyone who thinks business travel is glamorous, it isn’t. I had no expectations and assumed it would be more of the same, yet another stop on a grueling itinerary. To be honest, the trip didn’t start off well. I had forgotten to book my video guy’s room and didn’t realize it until we were checking in. The freezing temperatures outside had no bearing on the warmth and good humor at the front desk. They found him something easily and with that minor hiccup sorted we went to dinner – a place called the Old German Beer Hall. It was close to our hotel and looked unassuming from the outside. We were meeting a client for the first time so I wanted something low-key yet particular to Milwaukee. It was definitely not low-key. As the name suggests, it was like walking into an old German beer hall. We were enveloped by the other patrons and included in shotskis and some sort of hammer game (Hammerschlagen). Not what you would expect on a Tuesday night. The food was hearty – brats and beer – and the service was friendly. Even though we could have continued, we called it quits early since it was a school night.
The next day, after work, we explored. Milwaukee has a down to earth and quirky vibe plus lots of coffee shops and restaurants. Of course, we checked out the statue of The Fonz which in no way does Henry Winkler justice. I hope Henry wasn’t offended when it was unveiled. That night, with classic mid-western hospitality, another client invited us out. It started with burgers at AJ Bomber’s, a hamburger joint with tons of fried goodness, chaotic décor and peanut shells on the floor and then it turned into what felt like a wild goose chase. Patrick wouldn’t tell us where we were going which was fitting when we drove up to Escape MKE – an escape room concept where you and a group of people are locked in a room, given clues and expected to solve a puzzle within 60 minutes. After that intensity, Bugsy’s Back Alley Speakeasy was the best way to end the night. This is a must-see and must-do. No spoilers here so just go.
On my flight the next day, I reflected on my trip. I have traveled all over the world and stayed in amazing places. I did not think Milwaukee would compare but it did. Two days earlier we flew into a winter wasteland with arctic temperatures and had nothing planned except for a video shoot in an unheated manufacturing warehouse. In return we were treated to amazing hospitality, unexpected diversions and most of all, a trip we won’t forget.
*I wrote this for a travel writing scholarship that only allowed 2500 characters!!!