June 19, 2018

Milwaukee: More than beer and bikes

Look at USA’s smaller cities for a more relaxing experience.

Words and pictures: Roderick Eime

If I were to ask you what you know about Milwaukee, Wisconsin, chances are you may recall the hit 1970s sitcom, ‘Laverne & Shirley’. Either that or you’re a bike nerd and know Milwaukee as the birthplace of the iconic US motorcycle brand, Harley-Davidson.

Milwaukee is roughly the size of Newcastle (NSW) and with a similar post-industrial feel, where former heavy industry sites are repurposed for arts, hospitality and general lifestyle. So it is with Milwaukee on the western shore of Lake Michigan, just a short drive north of its much larger neighbour, Chicago.

Furthermore, there is an argument that supports the rise of USA’s small to medium cities as tourism hotspots. Sure, Aussies will always flock to the mega-metropolises of New York and LA, but there is a lot to be said for the less-populated cities such as Portland, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Denver or Seattle.
Captain America, the bike ridden by Peter Fonda in 1969's 'Easy Rider' 

The crush of humanity in these larger cities can be overwhelming. Times Square in New York City or Disneyland in California is no place for the claustrophobic so the open spaces and relaxed pace of somewhere like Milwaukee can offer a clear alternative.

Milwaukee is no sleepy town either. There are festivals, museums and outdoor activities for all. Here are just a few.
  • Located in Oshkosh, two hours north by road from Milwaukee, is the EAA Aviation Museum, an internationally renowned museum with more than 100 airplanes on display. Their signature event, AirVenture takes place every July. www.eaa.org
  • The Harley-Davidson Museum. Another attraction that draws motorcycle devotees from all around the world. Hundreds of machines on display, plus the history and personalities behind them all, You can also visit one of the H-D factories and this year, 2018, H-D celebrates 115 years with lots of special events. www.h-dmuseum.com
  • Milwaukee's own science museum includes interactive exhibits, educational programs and more. Located on the Lake Michigan shore, see interactive exhibits, the Reiman Aquarium, which features ten tanks including the 75,000-gallon Lake Michigan Tank and the walk-through tunnel Caribbean Tank. www.discoveryworld.org
  • Located in the hip Historic Third Ward, The Tory Folliard Gallery is Milwaukee’s premier art gallery and exhibits and sells both emerging and established artists with an emphasis on Midwest. www.toryfolliard.com Follow up your art tour with a visit to the stunning Milwaukee Art Museum. www.mam.org
  • If you want a 101 in Milwaukee famous brewing history, stop by the old The Pabst Brewing Company right in downtown for a guided tour and a frosty ale or lager. www.bestplacemilwaukee.com
  • The year-round indoor Public Market is a great place for gift shopping, light meals and exotic snacks. You can even see cooking demonstrations. www.milwaukeepublicmarket.org
River cruises depart from downtown
Staying in Milwaukee is a breeze.
  • The Iron Horse Hotel just across the bridge from the H-D Museum is the chic place for bike nuts in this historic refurbished warehouse. www.theironhorsehotel.com
  • Gambler or not, the rooms at the Potawatomi Casino are excellent. www.paysbig.com
  • The historic, Victorian-era Pfister Hotel is located right in the centre of town and harks back to an elegant time in Milwaukee’s past. www.thepfisterhotel.com
Dining in Milwaukee
For comprehensive information about attractions in Milwaukee, visit the official website: www.visitmilwaukee.org

June 11, 2018

Christ’s Hospital School's uniform near 500-year tradition

David Ellis

THERE'S a school in England that to maintain traditions dating back to when it began caring for children of the "fatherless and poor" over 460 years ago, still outfits its pupils today in the uniforms of all those years back.

And it still provides a free education to children of families in need, having been founded at the instigation of a young King Edward VI after listening to an impassioned sermon about those "fatherless and poor" delivered by the Bishop of London in early 1552.

Edward rallied around him prominent church and business leaders and wealthier private citizens, and in November of 1552 declared open Christ's Hospital School in empty State buildings he gave in Newgate Street London.

Within a year over 500 pupils had enrolled, and Edward himself as Patron signed a Royal Charter the following year giving the school royal recognition and assistance.

Sadly, he was to die of tuberculosis just eleven days later, never to see all the good he was to help create, and in 1666 most of the school's buildings were destroyed in The Great Fire of London, but no lives were lost.

Christ's Hospital School today is located near Horsham 70km south of London, and has a near-900 boarding and day pupils, with a good proportion attending on bursaries and scholarships provided by wealthy modern-day donors to cover the costs of their education, board, travel, uniforms, sportswear, and even weekly pocket money.

By contrast, for parents able to pay for their children to board at the school it costs around the equivalent of AU$20,000 per child for each of the three annual terms, and for day pupils up to AU$13,500 per term.

And the school uniform still consists of a long blue coat, matching knee breeches for boys and skirts for girls, yellow socks, and a white neck band from the Tudor era all those years ago.

[] ENGLAND'S Christ's Hospital School pupils have worn the same Tudor-era uniform for over 460 years. (Christ's Hospital School)

[] PUPILS march to lunch in the school's dining hall. (Christ's Hospital School)

Norway: To the top of the world

Len Rutledge heads about as far North as you can go.

Norway is a big country. Oslo, the capital is in the south. Alta, where we are heading is over 1700 kilometres to the north. Fortunately, there is a direct flight. At the airport, we rent a car and head out to explore an area that is radically different to anything in Australia.


People have lived here for more than 10,000 years. The major site of interest is the Alta Museum. There is an excellent indoor exhibition explaining the local rock art and giving a broader introduction to Finnmark's prehistory. The exhibition also teaches us that in the Sámi (Laplander) religion, nature was regarded as possessing a soul and being alive.

Alta Museum is linked by a boardwalk to a UNESCO World Heritage Rock Carving site where there is a series of carvings from up to 7,000 years ago. These are extensive and took an hour to enjoy. Approximately 3,000 figures have been found here making it one of the largest collections in Europe.

The modern Northern Lights Cathedral is both a church and a northern lights attraction. The nearby central square is traffic-free and good for a short wander. There are tours to the 300-metre-deep Sautso-Alta Canyon, and to mountain bike paths near the Alta River.

Experience the Sámi culture

The bleak country south and east of Alta is the home of the indigenous Nordic people, Sámi reindeer-herders. Frankly, it is only the Sámi culture that is of great interest here and this can be depressingly difficult to see in the middle of summer when many Sámi have moved to the coastal pastures. The best time to visit is during the Easter festival when there are concerts, church services, and traditional sports.

Kautokeino is a permanent town and the principal winter camp of the Sámi people but it is a somewhat desolate place strung out along the highway. A couple of kilometres south of town is Juhis Silver Gallery, an amazing attraction with a workshop and a wonderful display area. In the centre of a major city, this would be a sensation, here in the wilderness it is mind-blowing. The items being produced here are mainly sold in the exclusive boutiques of Europe and North America.

Karasjok is the capital of the Sámi and is more organized than Kautokeino. It is only 18 km from the Finnish border and here we find the Sámi parliament and several museums and attractions. The Sami Artists Centre is an art gallery devoted to Sami painters. Don't miss it.


We travel further north through the treeless and barren landscape to Hammerfest on the shore of rugged Kvaloya Island. This is the world's northern-most substantial town and amazingly, it was the first place in Europe with electric street lighting.

The town was totally leveled during World War II and the interesting Reconstruction Museum details the dramatic events including the forced evacuation of the population, the town burning to the ground, and the subsequent reconstruction.

You don't have to go far to see roaming reindeer herds. We encountered one at the entrance to a substantial tunnel on the main road not far from town. If boating is your thing, there are trips to several little fishing villages along the rugged coast.

North Cape

North Cape/Nordkapp is touted as the most northern point of continental Europe. Near North Cape, there are several alternatives. Skarsvag, the nearest fishing village, has boat trips, fishing, bird-watching, and whale safaris. Cycle and kayak rental are also available. In the same area, the Church Gate rock formation offers excellent views of North Cape, the Horn, and the midnight sun.

North Cape has been a visitor attraction for several hundred years. You can only enter this area after paying a fairly hefty fee but we found it worthwhile. Outside you can see the King Oscar Monument which was built in 1873 to mark the outermost limit of the Norway-Sweden union. The Globe monument erected in 1977 has become the symbol of the North Cape and is a popular photographic spot.

North Cape Hall is a large tourist center with a host of facilities including a film on a wrap-around screen about the four seasons. The Tunnel has exhibitions about the North Cape's long history as a tourist destination and this leads to St Johannes Chapel which is the world's northernmost ecumenical chapel.

Nearby is a Thailand Museum because this spot was visited by King Chulalongkorn more than 100 years ago. Finally, we reach the Cave of Light which is a new attraction providing a journey through the seasons by way of sound and light.

It is still 530 kilometres to Kirkenes near the border with Russia. This was bombed more often than any place in Europe except Malta during World War II. This area is so remote from Oslo that Finland and Russia have had more influence on the area than Norway at various times. You see this in the church architecture and even in some of the language.

Len is the author of Experience Norway 2018 available as an ebook or paperback from http://www.amazon.com/dp/B078GL6T29

Words: Len Rutledge  Images: Phensri Rutledge

Feature supplied by: www.wtfmedia.com.au

1.     Alta Rock Art
2.     Juhis Siver Gallery at Kautokeiro
3.     North Cape Globe Monument
4.     Sami Turf House at Karasjock
5.     Wandering reindeer by road tunnel Hammerfest

June 08, 2018

Burt Reynolds in Secret Milwaukee Cover-Up


A restaurant right out of James Bond 

David Ellis

THERE'S a restaurant and bar in America's Milwaukee whose ladies' room features a large picture of a reclining and starkly naked Burt Reynolds, with no more than a small red cardboard-cut-out heart over his, ah, more personal parts.

But pity any poor visiting patron who is not in the know – for if they touch that little heart for maybe a naughty peek, a siren blasts out across the restaurant outside so that as they leave to return to their table, they'll be greeted raucously by other patrons to be left red-faced for the remainder of the night.

Established 52 years ago, The SafeHouse as it is called is themed around international spying and espionage, including its very location being down a dimly-lit riverside alleyway, and the name over the door not mentioning being a restaurant or bar, but the alias International Exports Ltd.

And to get in you have to give a secret password, with a bit of prompting from Miss Moneypenny if you've no idea what it is, while inside dim-lit passageways lead to dining and drinking areas almost straight out of Hollywood, a Newsroom Pub and an Interpol Bar, and a Cloak and Dagger Room in which to leave your coat.

There's also a collection of gadgetry from many of the James Bond films, an authentic piece of the Berlin Wall in a glass case, and a mass of fascinating espionage paraphernalia.

David Baldwin who dubbed himself Agent OH-OH-Seven opened The SafeHouse in 1966, sold out to a fellow Milwaukee businessman in 2015, and died just three months later.

The SafeHouse is well worth a visit for a meal, a drink and a look around – but ladies remember, if you need to go to the washroom, and you are a little inquisitive about Agent Burt (as his picture is titled,) you have been warned.

[] LADIES be warned, if you need to go to the washroom in the bizarre SafeHouse Bar and Restaurant in Milwaukee, you'll be confronted by this picture of Agent Burt on the wall – and roving hands could see you red-faced for the remainder of your visit. (Pic: Audrey Nowakowski)

June 03, 2018

Peru: Condors and canyons in the Colca Valley

Jennifer Doherty soon finds that Peru's Colca Valley has one of the most spectacular landscapes on earth and combined with the world's deepest canyon at nearby Cotahuasi, the world's largest flying birds, the condors and numerous pre-Inca ruins it makes a wonderful adventure playground for visitors to the region.

The Colca Lodge & Hot Springs is without doubt the best place to base yourself for a few days to enjoy the region. From here you can go trekking in the canyon, visit the Uyo Uyo pre-Inca ruins only a short hike from the hotel and visit the Cruz del Condor (the Cross of the Condor) to see these amazing birds up close and personal.

Located at an altitude of 3250 metres above sea level, and two-and-a-half hour's drive from the city of Arequipa, the hotel is built on the banks of the Colca River and is surrounded by hundreds of pre-Inca agricultural terraces that have been declared a Peruvian national heritage.

The design of the hotel is inspired by the old pre-Inca structures built of earth, stone and straw creating a magical environment connecting the rooms to the gardens which in turn blend into the adjacent fields, without the division of walls and hedges giving guests full contact with the natural wonders of the area.

Colca Lodge, set in such beautiful natural surroundings has four thermal hot springs set on the river's edge which have different temperatures and contain water rich in minerals that are beneficial to health and offer great relaxation at the end of a day's hiking in the region.

For many the highlight of a visit to the Colca Valley is to view the condors flying on the thermals rising from the canyon floor, swooping down over the Cruz del Condor (Cross of the Condor) as if they are performing for the hundreds of people who come here daily to catch sight of these mighty birds.  The best time to see the birds is early morning or late afternoon in the dry season, as the condors are not fond of rainy days.  The morning our group visited the site I counted up to fourteen birds zooming in and out allowing wonderful photo opportunities.

There is so much history in the valley with pre-Inca ruins located all over the valley.  There are many villages to visit in the valley as well - Chivay, Yanque, Pinchollo and Cabanaconde to name a few. The 18th-century colonial church in Yanque is stunning and the Museo Yanque has a university run cultural museum with displays on traditional cultural life.

The two ethnic groups that originally occupied the valley are the Cabanas and the Collagua.  Today they still wear distinctively shaped hats and intricate embroidered traditional clothing according to their ancestors.

One of the delights of travelling in Peru is meeting face to face with the native wildlife.  There are so many opportunities to meet the very cute llamas, alpacas and vicunas which are native to South America.  Staying at Colca Lodge gives you the opportunity to enjoy a close-up experience at their very own Alpacas Farm.

Based on their wide experience with alpaca (as part of the Grupo Inca), Colca Lodge has created a particular group of alpacas and llamas.  The animals, of all colours and breeds come from the Pacomarca (Puno) experimental centre for genetic improvement where the world's most advanced studies in alpacas are carried out.  A group of "Suri" alpacas are on show at Colca Lodge, these are known as "Wasi" or magic alpacas distinguished by their beautiful long hair, the result of years of special care.

It's a spectacular drive from Arequipa past El Misti, the volcano that hovers over Arequipa city, then travelling through national reserve where you can spot many llama and alpacas living in the wild.  On past the reserve you travel through the bleak altiplano (on the day we travelled it was snowing) reaching the highest point of 4,800 meters from where the snowcapped Nevado Ampato can be seen.  From there you drop spectacularly down into the Colca Canyon as the road switchbacks down to the rural village of Chivay.

There could be no better place to explore the real Peru, meet the local farmers and villagers, enjoy some outdoor adventures and explore Peruvian culture and traditions than in the Colca Valley.  Combined with a stay at the Colca Lodge and Hot Springs with its excellent accommodation and facilities you can be sure of a truly wonderful adventure.

Colca Lodge & Hotsprings:  https://colca-lodge.com/en/

Words and images: Jennifer Doherty

Feature supplied by: www.wtfmedia.com.au

1. Colca Lodge
2. Inca Ruin
3. Alpacas Colca Lodge
4. Colca Lodge Hot Springs
5. Colca Valley
6. Colonial Church Chivay
7. Cruz del Condor

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