Wow. I never thought I’d type the title of this post. And yet, here we are. One of the coolest aspects of my life right now is the flexibility, and the option to just buy a cheap plane ticket to Chicago, and then two cheap bus tickets to Wisconsin, all to see another part of my own home nation.
So, when I bought that $48.30 plane ticket to Chicago, I knew I had to see my Spain roomie, Erika. If you were around for Sarah the Chosen, then you already know who she is. If not, you can read all about her in my study abroad archives. We went to Valencia together, had a blast living with the best host mom ever, and became fast friends amidst a whimsical Barcelona backdrop.
Our reunion was 2 years overdue! It had been far too long since we last saw one another. This weekend in Wisconsin was the first leg of our reunion, and I’m so glad it was! I am honestly blown away by how beautiful this state is. And y’all know I’m a Tennessee girl, through and through! Let’s just say that I have a whole new understanding of what a lake is…
Here’s the play-by-play, from when I left Chicago on a Megabus to now, as I type this post and we’re due to head out at a nice and dark 1am!
a morning in Milwaukee
When a bus ticket directly to your final destination costs the same as one with a stopover, what do you do? If you’re me, then you book a stopover and see a different city. It was kismet, because my former boss from Sewanee now works in Milwaukee. After a little planning, we were headed to breakfast at Beerline Café.
Because I’m allergic to dairy, I’ve never had a crepe. I’ve been to Paris, and it was torture to see all those delicious crepes being made when I knew I couldn’t eat one! So, when I saw that Beerline has a savory and sweet crepe menu with vegan options, I was stoked to try one. It delivered. 100%.
I got the classic breakfast crepe made vegan, complete with tofu scramble, tempeh facon bits, vegan cheese, and roasted potatoes, garnished with green onion. Yum!
My time in Milwaukee was short, so I didn’t get to do much sightseeing aside from a short walk and from the windows of a car. But, I thought the art museum seemed interesting, the views of Lake Michigan are gorgeous, and the downtown area is adorable! It sounds like I’ll have to come back here soon, and stay overnight…
exploring UW-Madison’s campus
Enter phase two of my time in Wisconsin: Madison. And, more importantly, the long overdue reunion with my roomie, Erika. I got off the Megabus on Madison’s campus, waited for her to meet me, and off we went to her apartment. From there, she showed me around.
I must admit, coming from a liberal arts school, I didn’t really know what to expect of a large state school campus. I think Madison is such a cute city, and the lake views are unbelievable.
dinner and sangria at The Terrace
Once my luggage was dropped off, it was time to get dinner and sangria from The Terrace, an outdoor eating area that overlooks the lake. On this evening, it was full of sailboats as the sunset filled the sky with hues of orange and pink. It was such a lovely view.
There are many food vendors in this area, but Erika and I decided to get the Beyond Sausage bratwurst. I had yet to try it, so I was pumped to get something new. It comes plain, and you get to choose your own toppings. I didn’t realize how hungry I was until mine was gone in a few minutes. It was delicious!
hot yoga at Dragonfly
Don’t you just love the opportunity to try a yoga class without worrying about your bank account? The first class is free at Dragonfly, which I loved. This is Erika’s favorite yoga studio, so they already knew I was coming.
The teacher’s instruction was so descriptive and helpful that I didn’t have to wonder which pose was next. This was my first hot class, and wow! I understand the hype now. The detoxifying properties of the movements amidst a heated room are mind-blowing. It will not be my last!
Also, I thought it was such a nice touch to offer a tea area. I indulged in some orange peel and ginger tea after class. Talk about a burst of the senses!
coffee at Fair Trade
My favorite part of the day is writing with a mug of coffee in my hand. So, naturally, a large part of my travels is trying all the coffee.
This little shop is a local gem, just down the street from Erika’s apartment and a fixture on State Street. The baristas are so kind, and I loved my brew from here. I even went back on my second day to get another!
spring rolls and scones from the Dane County Farmer’s Market
When Erika and I were tossing around the idea of me coming for a visit months ago, she was adamant about me seeing the Farmer’s Market. Every Saturday, farmers and food vendors from Madison and surrounding areas set up shop near the capitol and sell their goods.
Erika absolutely raved about the spring roll stand for the past 2+ years that I’ve known her, so naturally, that’s the first place we headed. It’s a good sign when there’s a long line from both sides of a food cart! These spring rolls did not disappoint. Not only is it the largest I’ve ever had, but also some of the best flavorful blends I’ve tasted. All of that for only $4 is a steal!
We took a stroll around the market, and got some scones once they were buy one, get one free. I went for a vegan, gluten-free raspberry. Usually, gluten-free desserts have a very different texture from those that do contain gluten. This one was moist, berry-filled, and the batter itself wasn’t too sweet. I loved it!
My visit fell on the days of Madison Vegan Fest, where vendors of vegan foods, desserts, and drinks all came to a college in the area for a fair. I tried a few dairy-free ice cream flavors, got some free mac n cheese from another stand, and absolutely loved a pineapple and barbecue-infused sandwich complete with chickpea meat.
Everything I tried here was delicious, but, I must admit that the texture and flavor of the chickpea meat sandwich from Cedar Teeth was the winner!
stouts from Giant Jones Brewing Company
When I heard that Wisconsin is known for its beer scene, I was down to try a local stout. I love that I can walk up to the counter, tell the staff that I usually go for a Guinness or a light with citrus notes, and they know what to recommend. At Giant Jones, I went with the Grand Porter.
I usually don’t drink dark beers in the summer, since they tend to be thicker and more hearty. But, this one was thinner, cooler, and maintained the essence of a good stout. I was wholly impressed!
visiting Devil’s Lake State Park
On my last full day in Madison, we took a day trip to Devil’s Lake State Park. Erika had yet to come here, and everyone raves about it. I’m so glad we went! I was thinking about staying behind to see more of Madison and get some work done, since this park is quite a trek from campus. But, I was convinced to come along, and I’m thankful.
In Tennessee, most of our lakes and ponds are man-made. They’re brown, murky, mystery water that I wouldn’t dare submerge myself in. That’s not the case in Wisconsin.
The lake near campus and the one at the park are both so beautiful. I decided to get in and enjoy the water, snap a few photos, and bask in the sunshine. The water was the perfect temperature, too. That was definitely a welcome surprise, because I assumed it would be freezing cold!
veggie burger at HopCat
While the rest of the group went hiking, the girl boss in me knew I needed to work. That’s the Catch 22 of being your own boss as a freelancer. You are in charge of your own success in an unmistakable way, so those outings mean less time to work on new blog posts or articles for publications. Being in the great outdoors also got my creative juices flowing, so I was feeling inspired to write.
As soon as I got back, I headed for HopCat, a restaurant down State Street. I noticed on their online menu that they serve a vegan burger, so that was the move. I loved the toppings they put on this burger, including a vegan chipotle mayo, seasoned tomatoes, pickled onions, and spinach.
an overnight bus to a new (to me) state!
Sunday night was Erika’s last in Madison for a while, so we spent it catching up with her friends and I met a ton of lovely, hilarious people. When it came time to leave, we got on a Megabus at 1am.
Although this wasn’t my first overnight transport, it was my first overnight bus ride. I will say it was more comfortable than a train, since there’s no jerk of the tracks. But, the headrest have me some kind of neck cramp. It’s all worth it, though, because the less I spend, the more I can travel!
We got to Erika’s hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota at a bright and early 6am. One perk of an overnight bus, train, or flight is seeing the sunrise. My first glimpse of Minnesota, since I was asleep when we crossed the state line, was of the sunrise over St. Paul’s skyline. I get the feeling I’ll like it here!
see ya later, Wisconsin!
That’s a wrap on my first ever trip to Wisconsin! As I travel, the more I realize just how beautiful the United States is. All over the world, I meet interesting people that say, “I’ve been to New Orleans!” or “I’ve been to San Francisco!” But, because the U.S. is so large, I can’t say the same.
I’m loving the balance of seeing beautiful states like Wisconsin and booking a flight to Ireland in the same season. Life is good, Wisconsin was fun, and I can’t wait to come back!
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