Play Travel Photo Roulette #58 – Theme is “Cheesy Tourist Diversions”

We’re excited to announce we’re hosting round #58 of Travel Photo Roulette!

For each round a new theme is chosen, and independent travel bloggers are asked to submit their photos. Then a winner is chosen to host (and judge) the following round on their website!

Do you have a photo to enter? It’s EASY and you get a shot at hosting this very popular contest on your site!

Don’t have a photo to enter? Check in often to see some amazing photographs – by the world’s best independent travel bloggers – and please, PLEASE, PLEASE help us pick a winner by leaving a comment about your favorite shot!

SUBMIT YOUR PHOTO OR COMMENT HERE!

We’re excited to announce we’re hosting round #58 of Travel Photo Roulette! Thank you so much to Getting Stamped for choosing our photo of beautiful St. Augustine in their excellent theme “As The Sun Goes Down.”

Sunset in St. Augustine Florida
Our winning photo!

Travel Photo Roulette was started by Jeremy at Living the Dream as a way for travel bloggers to showcase their best photography.

For each round a new theme is chosen, and independent travel bloggers are asked to submit their photos. Then a winner is chosen to host (and judge) the following round on their website.

This Week’s Theme is:
Cheesy Tourist Diversions

Click here to see the winner!


Here’s some inspiration:

The mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs, Florida
This show on the West Coast of Florida has mermaids singing, dancing and even eating apples underwater. If one is lucky, a manatee or turtle will join in on the fun!
Egg balanced on a head of a nail at the equator
At the Equator in Ecuador, the Intiñan Solar Museum teases tourists into balancing an egg on the top of a nail. After about an hour of lip-biting work, Veronica succeeded.
The World's Largest Ball of Paint
In Indiana, this man turned a baseball into The World’s Largest Ball of Paint
The classic Jackaloupe
A classic American West cheese-ball — the Jackaloupe!

We LOVE cheesy attractions. Everyone who travels has seen them – those quirky, remove-a-buck-or-two-from-the-tourists wonders of ingenuity. Sometimes they are full productions, others are side-of-the-road pit stops. Often, there are amazing people and stories behind the scenes. Moments like that are our favorites. Show us yours!

How Travel Photo Roulette works

The rules are simple. The hosting blogger is the chosen winner of the previous round. The new host chooses a theme for the next round and bloggers can submit a single entry based on how they interpret the theme. The time frame for submissions is one week. At the end of the week, the host blogger chooses the winner for that round and said winner repeats the process on their own blog. Readers can always try and sway the host via comments during the contest, but the host is free to give as little or as much weight to people’s opinions as they wish.

The rules for Travel Photo Roulette

1) One submission per blog (so sites that have 2+ authors only get one entry).
2) Post processing is fine for this round. Cropping and correction for red-eye or camera flaws are ok. Minor edits are totally fine if you think it improves your image.
3) Abstract submissions welcomed as long as it fits within the interpretation of the chosen phrase. Remember, the hosting blogger chooses the winner, so if they cannot understand the submission, you might not win!
4) Keep phrases general so that all bloggers can participate. Specific items like “Eiffel Tower” should be avoided but rather made open-ended like “monuments.” For variety, it is okay to say focused things such as “monuments at night” in which most of us have pictures of.
6) Abstract thoughts are appreciated, but keep it within the realm that all readers will understand. No “Kafka-esque”, but “Overlooking Creation” is able to be interpreted by all.
7) No obscene pictures or phrases allowed. Suggestive phrases and photography can be accepted, but please keep it within reason.
8) After a sufficient period of time, phrases can be reused, however new photos must be submitted. Keep the ideas and photos fresh!
9) Pictures from your entire portfolio are fair to submit. You do not have to take the photo within the week of the contest period to submit it.
10) Most importantly, ALL PHOTOS MUST BE YOUR OWN.
11) And last but not the least, talk about Photo Roulette! When tweeting about it, don’t forget to use the #PhotoRoulette hashtag.

 

How to submit

Entering is easy. Just leave a comment below with a link to the image you’d like to submit and a caption or description of the image to help flesh it out. Once you’ve added your comment, we’ll add the image to the submissions. Don’t forget to check back during the week to see the other submissions and join the conversation by leaving comments for others. We’d love to hear what you think.

The contest runs for a week, starting June 6th and ending June 13th (Thursday to Thursday). The winner will be announced within a few days of the end of the contest and the selected blogger will then host round #59.

Please do your best to keep your images to a medium size and be aware that anything larger than 700px wide will be reduced in size to fit our site layout.

Past Photo Roulette winners and hosts

The following is a list of the previously played rounds of the game and the hosting blogger for each. This list also doubles as a winners’ table as each topic host won the preceding round. Click the host’s link to go directly to that entry to see some stunning photographs from the chosen term/phrase.

1. Nov 4–10, 2010 – Living the Dream – “Animals”
2. Nov 17–24, 2010 – Skinny Backpacker – “Road Signs”
3. Nov 29–Dec 6, 2010 – Dream a Little Dream – “Street Art”
4. Dec 8–15, 2010 – Flashpacker HQ – “Festival”
5. Dec 17–24, 2010 – Over Yonderlust – “Landmarks”
6. Dec 26–Jan 2, 2011 – Don’t Ever Look Back – “Beaches”
7. Jan 5–12, 2011 – ThePlanetD – “Portraits”
8. Jan 15–22, 2011 – Travel with a Mate – “Motion”
9. Jan 26–Feb 3, 2011 – Johnny Vagabond – “Water”
10. Feb 8–15, 2011 – Ken Kaminesky – “Urban”
11. Feb 21–27, 2011 – Travels of Adam – “Friday Night”
12. Mar 7–13, 2011 – Itchy Feet Chronicles – “The Journey”
13. Mar 19– 25, 2011 – Brendan’s Adventures – “Changing Seasons”
14. Apr 4–10, 2011 – Shutterfeet – “Storytelling”
15. Apr 13–21, 2011 – 10 Times One – “Piousness”
16. Apr 26–May 4, 2011 – Beached Eskimo – “Learning”
17. May 21–27, 2011 – Travel Junkies – “Architecture”
18. Jun 1–7, 2011 – Destination World – “Transportation”
19. Jun 8–15, 2011 – Living the Dream – “Paradise”
20. Jun 21-28, 2011 – Vagabond Quest – “Clothes”
21. Jul 4-11, 2011 – The Unframed World – “Symmetry”
22. Jul 16-25, 2011 – Beached Eskimo – “Home”
23. Jul 31 – Aug 7, 2011 – BackPackerBanter – “Inspiration”
24. Aug 14 – 21, 2011 – WanderingTrader – “Darkness”
25. Aug 28 – Sep 4, 2011 – Finding the Universe – “Tranquillity”
26. Sep 12 – 19, 2011 – Fearful Adventurer – “Food”
27. Sep 23 – 30, 2011 – Adventures of a GoodMan – “City”
28. Oct 06 – 13, 2011 – Globe-Trekking.com – “Reflections”
29. Oct 17 – 24, 2011 – Scene With A Hart – ”Framing”
30. Nov 9 – 16, 2011 – Vagabond Quest – “Silhouettes”
31. Nov 26 – Dec 3, 2011 – Hecktic Travels – “Music”
32. Dec 11 – Dec 18, 2011 – Globetrotter Girls – “Love”
33. Dec 25 – Jan 1st, 2012– Man on the lam – “Humor”
34. January 8 – Jan 15 – My Walkabout – “Winter”
35. Jan 15 – Jan 22 – The Art of Slow Travel – “Blue”
36. Feb 6 – Feb 13 – Ten Times One – “Depth of Field”
37. Feb 22 – Feb 29 – Runaway Juno – “My Glorious Digital Nomad Moment”
38. March 7 – March 14 – Nomadbiba – “Sunshine”
39. March 24 – 31 – Travel With Kat – “Local Character”
40. April 10th – 16th – The Travel Bunny – “Street Scene”
41. April 23rd – April 30th – Adventure Crow – “Spirit of the Country”
42. May 7th – 14th – Food Travel Bliss – “Evening”
43. May 17th – May 24th – Matt Gibson – “Adventure”
44. May 30th – June 6th – Flashpacker HQ – “Once In A Lifetime”
45. July 23rd – July 30th – Skinny Backpacker – “Surreal”
46. August 10th – August 17th – 2away – “Smile”
47.
Aug 27 – Sept 2 – Bridges and Balloons – “Excellent Splendour of the Universe”
48. Sept
8 – Sept 15, 2012 – The GypsyNester – “What the ?!”
49.
Oct 22 – 29, 2012 – Runaway Juno – “Sweet”
50.
Nov 12 – 19, 2012 – GQ Trippin – “Play”
51.
Dec 15-22, 2012 – Breakaway Backpacker – “Face”
52.
Jan 14-21, 2013 – Fly, Icarus, Fly – “Serendipity
53.
Feb 1-8, 2013 – Travel Transmissions – “Lost in Thought”
54.
Feb 15-22, 2013 – Wanderlusters – “The Natural World”
55.
Mar 17-24, 2013 – Travel Junkies – “Patterns”
56.
April 25-May 3rd, 2013 – Living the Dream – “Your First Time”
57.
May12-19th, 2013 – Getting Stamped  “As The Sun Goes Down”
58. June 6-13th, 2013 – The GypsyNester – “Cheesy Tourist Diversions”

Don’t forget to talk about #PhotoRoulette! Here’s a sample tweet:

I entered my best “Cheesy Tourist Diversion” photo to this week’s Travel #PhotoRoulette! Check it out! http://bit.ly/11uoMJQ

Keep up to date with this week’s Photo Roulette by following us here: Facebook – Twitter – YouTube – Google+ – Pinterest – StumbleUpon – RSS – via email

Hit us with your best shot! We can’t wait to see your submissions. Good luck everyone!

The Entries!

#22 from Adam of Getting Stamped: The life size statue of Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli,from the TV Show “Happy Days” cast in bronze is worth the trip to Milwaukee alone. I give this attraction two thumbs up!
The Fonz by Getting Stamped

#21 from Noah of Somewhere or Bust: The Sound of Music Bus Tour in Austria is the cheesiest tourist diversion in the world, especially with all the great beer gardens and the possibilities of exploration on foot or by bike. But my wife made me. Even better is that all of the people who live in Salzburg think that The Sound of Music is the name of a bus company. They’ve never heard of a movie called The Sound of Music.
Salzburg's Sound of Music Bus by Somewhere or Bust

#20 from Gadi and Tun of Being in Awe: We are getting cheesy and dirty in mud bathes of Moon Water Cave in Yangshuo, China
Mud bath in China by Being in Awe

#19 from Kris of The World is Our District: Being in one state is soooo boring…especially when you can be in four at once! Four Corners on the Navajo Res in Arizona/Utah/Colorado/New Mexico.
Four Corners by The World is Our District

#18 from Natasha of World Wandering Kiwi: I went to the Isle of Man for the famous TT Races and although I’m not at all into motorcycles or motorsport I got quite carried away by the excitement! Here’s a cheesy pic of me posing on some random stranger’s bike (you’ve never seen so many motorbikes in one place).
Biking by Natasha of World Wandering Kiwi

#17 from Poi of No Place To Be: Think of all the amazing trash you can buy for your friends from this place! Well actually, no. It’s the same as the rest of the stuff on the strip at inflated prices! The world’s biggest gift shop (apparently).
World's biggest gift shop by No Place to Be

#16 from Josh of Traveling 9-5: In Chiang Rai, Thailand the popular tourist restaurant is called “Cabbages and Condoms”. And, yes, they have mannequins at the door whose attire consists entirely of…condoms.
Cabbages and Condoms by Traveling 9-5

#15 from Jennifer of Jennywise Arcade: Provincetown, MA- This cheesy tourist diversion stops summer revelers in their tracks year after year- and more Barbies (and kens) keep on joining the party!!
Barbie Pool by Jennywise Arcade

#14 from Alexandria of Fluent in Frolicking: The tour guide made me do it! Taj Mahal silliness by Fluent in Frolicking

#13 from Noel of Travel Photo Discovery: Totally cheesy is this princess riding in a pineapple float – its a horsey dung pooper float and her escorts are the horsey pooper scoopers
Pineapple Float by Travel Photo Discovery

#12 from Adrian of Travel Destination Search: This giant ice cream cone in front of a gelateria in Lisbon looked so tempting, we just had to take this photo!
Ice Cream Affair by Travel Destination Search

#11 from 2foodtrippers: We love cheese when we travel more than we love touristy spots. Here’s a photo of one of our favorite cheese shops, Neal’s Yard Dairy, in London. Cheers!
Cheese Shop by 2foodtrippers

#10 from Cam of Traveling Canucks: We took this photo yesterday while in Gravenhurst, a small town in the Muskoka region of Ontario. This is the world’s biggest Muskoka chair. I don’t know why anyone would want to take a photo beside a massive wooden chair, but apparently we’ve become the type that pulls over the car in order to do so. My how the times have changed!The world's biggest Maskoka chair by Traveling Canucks

#9 from Craig of Flashpacking Around the World: We had this picture taken at the Terracotta Warriors at Xian.  You pay to get your photo taken in front of a painting of the warriors in a room to the side of one of the pits. It was tacky, cheese, but we just had to do it.Terracotta Warriors at Xian from Craig of Flashpacking Around the World

#8 from Tom of Travel Past 50: I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t get any cheesier than the “World’s Biggest Ball of Twine” in Darwin, Minnesota. Thousands of people drive out all the way from Dassel, Minnesota, 4.9 miles away, every weekend just to see it and be photographed with it. Eat your heart out all of you who think your photo of you in front of the Eiffel Tower is hot stuff.
World's Biggest Ball of Twine by Travel Past 50

#7 from Suzanne of Boomeresque: Sometimes the tourist contributes to the cheesiness of the moment. Here, a blogger (moi)  confers with FDR while Winston Churchill looks on. In self defense, I maintain that this sculpture called “The Allies” on Bond Street in the Mayfair section of London, England is a cheese magnet.
Talkin' to FDR and Churchill from Suzanne of Boomeresque

#6 from Heather of Ferretting Out the Fun: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is chockablock with cheesy tourist attractions. One of my favorites is an animal park called Alligator Adventure. Billed as “the reptile capital of the world,” advertisements for the place can be found all around town. The star attraction is “Utan,” a gargantuan Siamese crocodile thought to be the largest in the U.S. Meet Utan!Utan of Alligator Adventures from Ferretting Out the Fun!

#5 from Ted of Traveling Ted:
Thank you for giving me an opportunity to post some cheesy photos.A real cheesy tourist diversions from Traveling Ted

#4 from Charli of Wanderlusters: We were road tripping around the west coast of the USA and found ourselves in a saddlery  & western wear shop….as you do. We came out $200 out of pocket and sporting these stylish fashion statements! Well….when in Rome!
Western Cheesy from Wanderlusters

#3 from Tash of Jouljet: Has to be Larry the Lobster! On a roadtrip in South Australia – a must detour to Kingston to see him, to jump out of the car, and get a photo with him! A must!
Larry the Lobster from Jouljet

#2 from Jeremy of Living The Dream: Everyone loves the mascot Haibo for the Shanghai World’s Fair.  I think?  Right?  Right?
Everyone loves the mascot Haibo for the Shanghai World's Fair. I think? Right? Right? from Living the Dream

#1 from Abigail of 1,000 Miles On My Own Two Feet: In a wax museum, I feel like a somebody either glamming up with Marylyn Monroe, locking arms with Brad Pitt, or even staring down Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector (of course in real life, my knees would be wobbly to see all these celebs!). Here I am with Jack Black in the Hollywood Wax Museum in Branson, Missouri!
Jack Black and Abigail of 1,000 Miles on My Own Two Feet

YOUR TURN: If you’re not submitting a photo, please, PLEASE, PLEASE help us pick a winner by leaving comments about your favorite shots! – David & Veronica

Something’s Fishy in Busan, South Korea

Anyone who has watched M*A*S*H has heard of Busan, South Korea, although on the show it was called Pusan.

As we learned from Beijing formerly being called Peking, early western visitors to East Asia couldn’t seem to get their Ps and Bs straight.

As one of the only areas… CONTINUE READING >> 

Fishing boats in Busan South Korea

Anyone who has watched M*A*S*H has heard of Busan, South Korea, although on the show it was called Pusan.

As we learned from Beijing formerly being called Peking, early western visitors to East Asia couldn’t seem to get their Ps and Bs straight.

Busan, South Korea

As one of the only areas during the Korean War that never came under control of North Korea, it served as a temporary capital of the Republic of Korea. Guess that’s why Hawkeye and the gang went there on their three-day passes.

We only had a one-day pass from our ship, so we had to make the most of it. Busan is the busiest port in South Korea and fishing is a big part of all of that maritime activity. This has created one of the biggest fish markets in all of Asia. We couldn’t think of a better place to start our day.

Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan, South Korea

A woman sits outside the fish market in Busan, South Korea

The enormous Jagalchi indoor market covers three floors, but the fish selling spills out into the surrounding streets too.

On our way inside, we passed through this makeshift overflow market and got a first-hand look at the cleaning and preparation of the seafood.

Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan, South Korea

Inside the huge building, the displays were more controlled with aquarium-type tanks showing off the catch of the day.

Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan, South Korea

A nonstop fresh supply of water flows from tank to tank until it spilled over onto the floor and down into drains. This way all of the stock is kept not just fresh, but alive.

Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan, South Korea

Walking through we encountered every sort of sea creature imaginable, many that we not only had never seen before, but we couldn’t even begin to identify.

Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan, South Korea

Then out of nowhere one of the fishmongers began to introduce us to a number of the critters. Without understanding a single word, we had quite a conversation — and a good laugh.

WATCH: Our new friend shows us around the incredible fish market of Busan!

A woman sleeps in the Busan, South Korea fish market

After covering the the entire ground level, we headed up the stairs. The second floor houses traditional restaurants – complete with no shoes allowed – that serve up freshly caught specialties.

Where else could we dream of having lunch?

Cass Beer in Busan, South Korea

Once again the language barrier was high, but we managed to point and gesture and soon food began to arrive. Then more, and more, and so on.

Dishes appeared with the traditional Korean pickled vegetable dish kimchi, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, seaweed, broccoli, hot peppers, sliced garlic, peanuts, and a couple things that we couldn’t identify (this was beginning to look like a theme for the day – and we love days like that).

Then out came an entire flounder that was most likely alive a second earlier. Finally a little stove was placed on the table with a boiling pot of garlicky broth, fish parts and herbs — we had entered food nirvana.

Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan, South Korea

The crowded streets were filled with vendors in Busan, South Korea

From the fish market we waded into the heart of the city. The crowded streets were filled with vendors and, even though we just ate, we had to try dongnae pajeon — a Korean pancake of sorts.

But this was not anything like what the word pancake conjured up in our minds.

Scallion, chili pepper, and seafood pancake in Busan, South Korea

The good old International House of never made any scallion, chili pepper, and seafood flapjacks.

More than stuffed, we were in desperate need of a way to work a little off. Climbing The 40 Steps sounded like it might help. While there is a staircase with exactly forty steps (yes, we counted), the name more generally refers to the area around them.

How not to lose your spirit in harsh times – The Accordion Player
The Boom Machine Man in Busan, South Korea
Pow! Goes the pressurizer, out comes the snack! – The Boom Machine Man

The working class neighborhood around the stairs has been restored to look like it did just after the Korean War.

Statues depicting street life as it was back then have also been placed around the district. Since the renewal, tons of shops, bars, coffee houses, and restaurants have sprung up, perhaps detracting from the authenticity of a 1960s post war look, but making for a cool place to stop for a cup of joe.

Amazing amounts of stuff are loaded on motorcycles in Buson, South Korea

The Busan Tower and flower clock

After our coffee break we were thinking that forty steps probably wasn’t enough to make a dent in our earlier calorie consumption, but a climb up to The Busan Tower might do the trick.

We walked up a steep path through Yongdusan Park that came up on the back side of the tower.

While the tower stands over three hundred feet high, we didn’t feel the need to go to the top because the view from the hill couldn’t get much better.

In front of the tower there is a giant clock made of flowers that gave us, and just about everyone else in the park, a great photo op. After a few snaps we made our way down the hill via a long stairway and escalator that leads to the downtown area.

David finds a new friend in Busan, South Korea

We messed around, checking out the shops and mugging for pictures with statues, until we noticed that we might be pushing things time wise.

We like to squeeze every last second out of a place when we visit, but we sure didn’t want to be AWOL when the ship sailed. Time to find that bus stop.

Statue of children playing in a fountain, Busan, South Korea

A bill of fare we avoided in Busan, South Korea
We were more than happy to stick with the fish!

We learned a valuable lesson in big city bus travel; the stop for the opposite direction is not always right across from where we got off in the morning.

After a brief panic, we found a tunnel under the road and made it on the bus, along with a handful of other last second stragglers headed for the ship.

We jumped off at the dock and ran aboard just before the gangplank was pulled up.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Click here for our full live-blog as we traveled with Holland America aboard the ms Volendam – through Hong Kong, China, South Korea and Japan

Incredible Fish Market of Busan, South Korea


enlarge video
This place in Busan, South Korea is HUGE and we had no idea what half the stuff is – then we we’re rescued by the funniest fishmonger ever! Isn’t he great?… CONTINUE READING >>

Busan is the busiest port in South Korea and fishing is a big part of all of this maritime activity. This has led to one of the biggest fish markets in all of Asia. We couldn’t think of a better place to start our day.

The enormous Jagalchi indoor market covers three floors but the fish selling spills out into the surrounding streets too.

Both inside and out are jam packed with every sort of sea creature imaginable, many that we not only had never seen before, but we couldn’t even begin to identify.

The second floor also houses a traditional restaurant – complete with no shoes allowed – that serves up freshly caught specialties. Where else could we dream of having lunch?

We’re live-blogging this trip! See where we go! http://www.gypsynester.com/asia-cruise.htm

Visit our GypsyNester YouTube Channel!

Fear Conquering & a Biker Bar Called Poopy’s

Not a frequenter of biker joints, I don’t have a motorcycle license and renting scooters probably doesn’t count… who am I kidding, I’d never actually been to a biker bar.

So I didn’t know what to expect and, certainly not out of a place with a name like Poopy’s, other than a sense of humor. And… CONTINUE READING >> 

The GypsyNesters are Illinois Mile Markers

We are proud to be Illinois Mile Markers – thanks to Enjoy Illinois for making this adventure possible! Click here for our full adventure down The Great River Road.

Poopy's Biker Bar in Savanna, Illinois

Not a frequenter of biker joints, I don’t have a motorcycle license and renting scooters probably doesn’t count… who am I kidding, I’d never actually been to a biker bar.

So I didn’t know what to expect and, certainly not out of a place with a name like Poopy’s, other than a sense of humor. And THAT they have.

Billed as “Illinois’ Biggest Biker Destination,” it turned out that Poopy’s in Savanna is way more than just a biker bar. What began as a motorcycle parts shop has evolved into everything anyone who’s ever thrown a leg over a Harley could want.

Motorcycles hang from the ceiling at Poopy's in Savanna Illinois

I felt that I’d be safe if I went in at lunchtime, what kind of trouble could I get into that early in the day?

My main goal was to fill up my belly, wet my whistle, and get out of there alive — no one wants “She died at Poopy’s” on her gravestone –but I was immediately sidetracked by the museum-like quality of the place. Literally hanging from the ceiling were the coolest, wildest motorcycles I’d ever seen! Lunch was put on the back burner.

The GypsyNesters visit Poopy's in Savanna Illinois

The Food Shack at Poopy's in Savanna Illinois

Things changed rather drastically out back and I quickly determined that wild shenanigans were no stranger to this part of Poopy’s domain.

A band was setting up on the concert stage and the outdoor food shack was just opening.

Further on, Skid Mark Stadium, featuring cage matches involving fighters of all sizes, was being readied for the summer season. I may have missed the midget wrestling (that’s what they call it, not me), but I saw the pictures.

Skid Mark Stadium at Poopy's in Savanna, Illinois

Feeling like inside was more my speed, I sat at the bar and was handed the funniest menu I’d ever seen. If one doesn’t think about it too much, that is.

The menu at Poopy's in Savanna, Illinois

Nothing like a good laugh to loosen me up. It gave me the courage (well, that and a beer) to start chatting up the natives around me. They were so much fun!

Get tattooed at Poopy's in Savanna Illinois!

Once the Harley dudes found out that this was my first visit to a biker bar, I was told that I had to see the back room where I found myself smack in the middle of some inking action.

Yup, “Biker Destination” is not a term thrown around lightly — folks come in to get their tattooing and piercing needs fulfilled as well.

I was given a live — and quite unnerving — demonstration as the hilarious, and exceptionally nice, tattoo guys injected ink into a lady’s leg. Something I’d never thought I’d be witness to with my fear of stabby things.

And, no, I didn’t get inked — this post is not called “Fear Conquering and Getting a Tattoo.”

Click here to see our full adventure down The Great River Road

Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Thanks to Enjoy Illinois for making this adventure possible! Our opinions, as always, are our own.

YOUR TURN: Have you ever been to a biker bar?

Road Trip! Toolin’ Down Illinois’ Great River Road

The Mighty Mississippi in all of its glory – the history, the lore, the beauty and the quirkiness.

Join us as we head down the Great River Road with stops in beautiful, historic Galena, Wine Country (yup, there’s wine in Illinois!), Moline, where David traces his roots (he’s John Deere’s g-g-g grandson!),  amazing Nauvoo, and Quincy, where we meet the self-proclaimed “Nutroll Nazi.” And that’s just the… CONTINUE READING >>

The GypsyNesters are Illinois Mile Markers

We are proud to be Illinois Mile Markers – thanks to Enjoy Illinois for making this adventure possible!

First Stop: Beautiful, Historic Galena

Main Street, Galena Illinois

Galena, Illinois was at one time the center of attention for not only the state, but the United States, as her most prized resident was President Ulysses S. Grant.

Through our hilarious, yet informative guide on the Galena Trolley we learned the history, lore and politics of this architecturally rich city.

Galena’s Main Street has been named a National Register Historic District and it’s easy to see why. The buildings have been wonderfully preserved and most serve as shops and restaurants, making Galena not only a delight for history buffs, but foodies and shoppers alike!

Galena, Illinois
Click here to enlarge photos and learn more about beautiful, historic Galena

Vinny Vanucchi's in Galena Illinois

One of those restaurants is Vinny Vanucchi’s, and some Italian food was sounding pretty darn good to us.

The historic building has been transformed into four distinctive dining areas, including an outdoor cappuccino garden.

Testing our theory that the way to judge an Italian restaurant is by their meatballs, Vinny passed with flying colors.

Vinny Vanucchi's in Galena Illinois
Click here to enlarge photos and get a load of the food at Vinny Venucchi’s

The entrance to the Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel in Galena, Illinois

By traveling just about a mile, we were magically transported from Italy to Ireland.

The Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel accomplished that journey when we checked into County Clare. Actually it was our suite for the night, as each guest room is decorated and named after an Irish county.

We were astounded by the attention to detail the Irish Cottage brings to all aspects of their service.

The Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel, Galena Illinois
Click here to learn what a “pub snug” is and why we think ALL hotel breakfasts should be like the Irish Cottage’s!

They Have Wine In Illinois?

Rocky Waters Vineyard and Winery, Hanover, Illinois

Making our way down the big river, our next stop was the Rocky Waters Vineyard and Winery just outside the little town of Hanover.

About twenty years ago, Jared & Phyllis Spahn purchased a lovely fruit tree-laced piece of land that inspired the planting of a vineyard.

While the grapes grew, Jared designed the fantastic building that houses the winery and tasting room and Phyllis tended the fledgling adventure.

Rocky Waters Winery and Vineyards, Hanover, Illinois
Click here to see more about Rocky Waters

Yup, There’s a Place Called Poopy’s

Poopy's Biker Bar in Savanna, Illinois

From the relaxed to the rambunctious, we made that transition in just a few short miles when we stopped in at Poopy’s in Savanna.

Billed as “Illinois’ Biggest Biker Destination,” Poopy’s is way more than just a biker bar.

What began as a motorcycle parts shop has evolved into everything anyone who’s ever thrown a leg over a Harley could want.

Poopy's in Savanna, Illinois
Click here to find out what goes on at Skid Mark Stadium and see one of the funniest menu’s we’ve ever seen!

Peace in the Palisades

Overlooking the Mississippi River at Mississippi Palisades Park in Illinois

Wow, that was enough to send us looking for a peaceful place to commune with nature, and there’s no more scenic a spot along The Great River Road than Mississippi Palisades State Park.

Trails along the palisades edge, high above the river, led us to several precariously perched overlooks. The panoramic views from atop the bluffs seemed endless. It was like we could see the entire Midwest laid out before us. An unbeatable photo op of Old Man River.

Tracing Our Roots in Moline

Stoney Creek Inn, Moline Illinois

In Moline, of Quad Cities fame, we checked into The Stoney Creek Inn before heading to dinner at Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse.

Stoney Creek Inn feels like a wilderness lodge, complete with the elevator hidden inside a giant stone chimney.

By contrast, Johnny’s is sleek and modern, and they know what to do with a slab of beef. We figured about half a cow ought to be enough to get us fueled up for the next day’s activities.

Biking the Great River Trail in Moline, Illinois

We hit the ground running, or more precisely riding, as we biked along The Great River Trail from Moline to Rock Island, another of The Quad Cities.

The trail runs over sixty miles along The Mississippi, but we felt like five was about enough for this morning. Besides, we had a date with The John Deere Pavilion.

David’s Such a Deere!

The birthday boy at the John Deere Pavilion!

This was doubly special to us because it was David’s birthday, and John Deere is his Great, Great, Great Grandfather.

We experinced everything — from one of Grandpa Deere’s original steel plows to the most massive of modern machinery — and even climbed aboard a combine the size of a small town.

The John Deere Pavilion in Moline, Illinois
See a “Star Wars”-like walking machine and find out what happens when David wrecks a piece of his grandfather’s heavy equipment!

A strange bust of John Deere at the Deere-Wiman house in Moline Illinois
A strange and wonderful bust of John Deere.

The tracing of the family tree continued when we toured the Deere Family Homes at The Butterworth Center.

Our guide, Gretchen, was incredibly knowledgable, not only about the history of the house, but the genealogy of the family. She laughed that she knows more about the Deere family background than her own.

At the historical society we found a book tracing the family all the way down to David’s father. Quite a memorable birthday.

The Butterworth Center and Deere-Wiman House in Moline, Illinois
See more of these fantastic homes and the ceiling that was imported from Venice!

What’s a Birthday Without a Treat?

Lagomarcino's in Moline Illinois

Luckily for us, since 1908, the folks of Moline have been satisfying their sweet teeth at a fourth-generation, family-owned establishment, Lagomarcino’s.

Upon entering, we were engulfed by nostalgia and the enticing smell of handmade chocolate. The custom made booths, Tiffany lamps, the terrazzo tile floor and metal ceiling combined to transport us to the Illinois of yore.

Lagomarcino's in Moline Illinois
Click here to learn what a “Green River” is and why we think hot fudge should always be served on the side

The Oldest Winery in Illinois

Baxter's Vineyard, Illinois Oldest in Nauvoo

Our trek down The Mighty Mississippi next brought us to Nauvoo, home of Illinois’ oldest winery, Baxter’s Vineyards.

The Baxter family has been making wine for five generations, and their experience and attention to detail shows.

The wines are still made the old fashioned way, no big machinery or assembly lines, right in the specially designed basement of the winery.

Baxter's Winery, Nauvoo Illinois
Click to find out more about the family behind the oldest vineyard in Illinois

How Can Buffet Food Be This Good?

Hotel Nauvoo, Illinois

Nauvoo is known for more than its wine, Hotel Nauvoo, is not to be missed. Built as a home in 1840, it became the Hotel Oriental in 1885 and has been under the current name since 1946.

Beautifully maintained and decorated, the building really is a showplace, but that’s not why most people come to the hotel.

It’s the superb buffet the brings in the crowds.
Hotel Nauvoo, Illinois
Find out what its like to eat under an indoor apple tree and why cinnamon rolls are not just for breakfast!

The Town & Country Inn, Quincy Illinois

Just a short stretch down the road was our final destination, Quincy.

We hit a local favorite, The Abbey, for a cozy dinner before checking into The Town & Country Inn to rest up for our last day along the river.

A Visit With “The Nutroll Nazi” of Quincy Illinois

The self-proclaimed Nutroll Nazi of Underbrink's Bakery in Quincy, Illinois

We started our day in Quincy with a visit to Underbrink’s Bakery, and a trip back to a simpler time when baked goods were made with care, by hand, from scratch.

Owner and baker extrodinaire, LeRoy Rossmiller showed us all of the inner workings, all while delivering a running commentary popping fresh with humor and sarcasm. In a nod to Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi,” he calls himself The Nutroll Nazi. Folks come from all over for his angel food cupcakes and verbal abuse.

Underbrink's Bakery
Click find out why that baby is in the mixer and watch the video of the “Nutroll Nazi” and his antics!

3665 Strong

Villa Katherine, a Moorish styled castle perched above the Mississippi River in Quincy Illinois

With our minimum daily requirement of sugar more than met, we were ready to take in some of what sets Quincy apart, its incredibly preserved historic architecture.

The city has 3,665 buildings listed on The National Register.

Our exploration of Quincy began at Villa Katherine, a Moorish styled castle perched above the Mississippi River. Built in 1900 by eccentric world traveler George Metz based on Villa ben Ahben in Morocco, it now houses the Tourist Information Center.

Quincy Illinois
Click here to enlarge these photos and to see which building was sawed in half to move it across the street!

Riding our bikes along Quincy’s waterfront gave us a fantastic view of the Bayview Bridge over The Mississippi. We stopped for a photo, and one last look at the legendary river that inspired our incredible journey along The Great River Road.

Biking along the Mississippi River in Quincy

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Thanks to Enjoy Illinois for making this adventure possible! Our opinions, as always, are our own.

YOUR TURN: Have you visited any of these amazing places? Have we inspired you to take an Illinois Road Trip?