Just cleaned out the cabinet over my kitchen desk and found a travel journal I used years ago when going around Spain, later what was then (Josip Broz) Tito’s Yugoslavia, and even later, around Italy and Switzerland..
There was no way I could go back to my computer to finish a current travel article I started until I read through the whole journal.
From delightful Spanish Paradores (restored castles, monasteries) where we stayed to fascinating town of Rondo on a scary drive up a precipitous mountain road and from driving around the Kotor fijord in Montenegro to meandering through ancient walled city of Dubrovnik, reminiscing past adventures took up the rest of the day. And that was not counting reliving the Italy-Switzerland trip.
The best part of vacationing in Door County, WI is the way its delightful harbors make you feel you left work and daily stress miles back at the last stoplight.
The county actually begins back a ways on a thumb shaped peninsula that separates Lake Michigan from Green Bay (the body of water, not the city). There are a smattering of stoplights at its southern end.
But once you cross a drawbridge over Sturgeon Bay, a shipping waterway cut across the peninsula to connect Lake Michigan to Green Bay, you enter a world where a curve in the road reveals yet another scenic view and where villages have a few scattered stop signs, not stop lights.
However, to experience the dangerous waters where Lake Michigan waves bump against those from Green Bay that give the peninsula its name, you should drive north about 40 miles from Sturgeon Bay to Gills Rock and then a short distance to Northport. There you would take a ferry across to Washington Island.
Among the stories floating between the peninsula and the island is a tale of how when one native tribe lured another tribe to cross from Washington Island to the peninsula, those who attempted the crossing died in the stormy waters, thus giving the crossing the name Death’s Door.
Safe? Yes, though sometimes the trip can be rocky. But the Washington Island Ferry is so popular the best plan is to check the season’s schedule and get to its departure ramp at Northport ahead of time so there is room for your car.
While exploring look for Island Stavkirke, a recreated 12th century Norwegian church and the Jacobsen Museum of island artifacts.
OK, you’re here, meaning at the Door County room, condo, guest house or cottage or other lodging you booked ahead of time, and you are already gazing out at the quiet blue expanse of Green Bay or the ever changing colors of Lake Michigan.
Less than three hours north of Chicago there is an authentic windmill that grinds out flour. Surrounded by gardens, small waterways and bridges, it is on Windmill Island and open spring, summer and fall. But a great time to visit is the second week in May when tulips are blooming across the island and its town, Holland, MI.
In 2018, it is May 5-13 but don’t worry if you can’t make it or find accommodations during the festival. According to the Veldheer Tulip Farm and Gardens, a company that grows and ships bulbs globally, the tulips should peak the third week of May.
No matter when going, Windmill Island is a must see. The windmill really is from the Netherlands. Dismantled and put back together there, it is run by a licensed operator who grinds flour that can be purchased and used at home. The island also features, a Children’s Carousel, a street organ, a couple of delightful buildings with Dutch figures and gifts and there are good walking paths.
But also visit the downtown for its good food, beer and boutiques. Stop in at Austrian Alpen Rose for breakfast, lunch or a coffee and pastry break.
Save time to see wooden shoes made and delftware painted on the outskirts of town at the DeKlomp Delftware and Wooden Shoe Factory on Quincy Street. Entry is free but you’ll want to take home well-made gifts for yourself, family and friends. BTW De Klomp is Dutch for wooden shoes.
Another place is Nelis’ Dutch Village that features dancing, shoes, Delftware and playground activities. Entry has a fee because it is an entertainment area.
Room availability is scarce during the Tulip Festival so make plans ahead of time, then go enjoy the Dutch culture of a Holland that is here in the States.
Granted the giving, religious and entertainment aspects are important but that still leaves shopping, food and restaurants to go with friends and family and specialty items to find.
So, even though it’s not always all about food or cakes here are two places that excel in those categories. And even thought it’s not all about shopping these two places have fun or unusual gifts and other items you’ll want or need for holiday celebrations.
Plus, even though it’s not just about toys, this place has something that will appeal to different interests and ages.
Chocoholics rejoice. Go here because owners Bill and Donna Collazo have found a way with their executive and pastry chefs to infuse cocoa in entrees, appetizers, breads and butters, desserts and drinks.
But you don’t have to order any of those because this is a full-service restaurant where all the food is delish. BTW, the restaurant’s meats are supplied by Allen Brothers whose clients include some of Chicago’s top steak houses.
However, you will want to linger and relax here because it’s not so noisy that you can’t have a conversation and the owners’ motto and believed in by their staff, is that customers always are important and come first.
The bonus is that the chocolates you will see in a case when you leave are made in house and are irresistible so you’ll want a box to give and to eat at home.
The Chocolate Sanctuary is at 5101 Washington St. Gurnee at the corner with Milwaukee Avenue. For reservations and other information call (224) 944-0808 and visit Chocolate Sanctuary.
Do what folks in northwest suburban Barrington area do. They know they can count on Ambrosia, a European-style patisserie, to come up with the perfect pastries to serve friends and families for holiday parties so they order but also stop in to see what looks interesting, creative and delectable.
This is also a good place to go for breakfast if you crave croissants that are sweet or savory. Choose what you want at the counter including coffee and bring them over to atable. But forget trying to resist bringing something to have later at home.
Ambrosia is at 710 W. Northwest Hwy., Barrington. For more information call (847) 304-8278 and visit Discover Ambrosia.
The store has been the place to go in Highland Park for years when needing cards, invites, announcements and great wrapping paper. However, it shines during the holidays with all kinds of stocking stuffers you never would have thought of. It’s a great place to browse so enjoy and don’t be in a hurry.
The Paper Source is at 490 Central Ave Highland Park, For more information call (847) 266-6100 or to get some ideas visit PaperSource.
It’s not too early to make ticket and hotel arrangements for Cubs spring training games. The Cubs have already announced their opening games in Arizona.
First up, they play Milwaukee Brewers at Maryvale Park in Phoenix Feb. 23. The rest of that weekend they are playing Texas Rangers in Sloan Park Feb. 24 and the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale Stadium, Feb. 25. The next week through March 1, the Cubs will be at home at Sloan against the Seattle Mariners Feb. 26, the Chicago White Sox, Feb. 27, Oakland Athletics Feb. 28 and Colorado Rockies Mar. 1.
Even though the tickets are not yet on sale, the Cubs have a spring training waiting list. So best chance to get what you want is to sign up at MLB Sloan Spring.
However, there are several good chain hotels and resorts near all the spring training ball parks. Plus there are lots of excellent golf courses, good shopping and outstanding museums that turn a spring training visit into a vacation.