Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Little Bavaria


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I can finally say that we've had some out-of-town visitors!

Since moving to Michigan right around seven months ago, Brad and I have gone back to Virginia a handful of times for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays. In all that time, however, our new home was kind of a mystery to our friends and family, who had not gotten the chance to come see us. Well, that streak was officially broken last week when my parents drove up for a few days, and I am happy to say that our first attempt at hosting house guests was a success! There's something incredibly special about showing off where you live to the people you love, especially the first time you're able to do so. So, where did we take my mom and dad for their grand welcoming? Why, lovely little Frankenmuth, of course.

I feel like I've written about Frankenmuth a thousand times, but it turns out I've only posted one other related story . . . and even that focused on our unexpected adventures rather than the town itself (read here if you're interested). The fact of the matter is, I've now been to Frankenmuth three times since December, and there's little wonder in why I wanted to take my parents there and why I, myself, keep going back.

We left on Valentine's Day afternoon for the German-inspired town, lucky that the snow and frigid weather decided to hold off for a day. Our first stop was Around the Farm Antiques, a cute store I've been wanting to visit since we first drove past it in December. The Virginia native in me loves a good antique shop, and with my deal-hunting dad along for the day, it was definitely the perfect place to start our afternoon.

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Lazily browsing the old knick-knacks with my family made me feel as though I was back home for an afternoon, spending a day away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Add another point on my list of reasons why I like Frankenmuth--it feels like home.

After taking a trip down memory lane, we drove down the road to Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, an obvious "must-visit" Frankenmuth attraction. My mom had visited Bronner's once as a little girl (probably while visiting her Michigan-dwelling grandparents), and was definitely excited to be back. While watching her take photos of everything in sight, I was reminded of how happily overwhelmed I was the first time I visited the store.

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My mama, cheesin' it up while taking pictures outside of Bronner's.

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Wilkommen! Bronner's welcomes visitors from all over the world in several different languages.

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The roof over the front entrance greets and bids farewell to visitors.
If you've never been to Bronner's, I highly suggest that you take the time to go. The first time I went, it was just around Christmas time and completely packed, but the store's (and whole town's) festive spirit stays alive even after the season ends. On this particular Valentine's afternoon visit, there was almost no one in the store, but the warm, welcoming atmosphere combined with soft Christmas carols was relaxing and had me momentarily envying the people who worked there. And just because Christmas is over, don't expect the good people at Bronner's to ignore you or lose their holiday spirit--each person we encountered on our most recent visit had a smile on their face and a friendly story to share (and as a sidenote: for those of you who use Twitter, tweet a message telling Bronner's that you're in the neighborhood--they always personally respond with your own, individual welcome greeting).
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This is what you see right as you walk into the store.
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My dad taking pictures of me in Bronner's with a little Santa guy.
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My mom, browsing the zillions of Bronner's ornaments.
After Bronner's, we took a little walk down the road to a place I hadn't yet been, the Frankenmuth Clock Company.

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Frankenmuth Clock Company
The store was overwhelmingly adorable--from cuckoo clocks, to modern clocks, to grandfather clocks, to trinkets that weren't clocks at all, this place was the ultimate souvenir store. After shopping for a few minutes, I picked out the perfect little Frankenmuth jewelry box, while my parents decided on a Christmas clock (exactly the same as one my grandmother has). Unfortunately, we found out after we got home that both of our pre-packaged items were damaged, but after my dad called the people at Frankenmuth Clock Company the next morning, the store accommodatingly sent us replacements right away. Now, we are now the proud owners of our own little pieces of Michigan's Bavaria.

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Beautiful cuckoo clocks line the walls of the Frankenmuth Clock Company
Next, we headed across the street to Frankenmuth's River Place Shops, where specialty foods and Michigan souvenirs welcomed us in a Busch Gardens-esque setting. It was truly the best time I've had in a while, and the happiest I've seen my parents since we moved away last summer. My parents even kept referring to our outing as a "vacation," so I'm assuming they enjoyed themselves, too. ;-)

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Flavored popcorn at Popcorn Wagon.
Brad and I loved the apple pie, while my dad went for pickle. I can't say that I tried that one.
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Look! A Michigan oven mitt! Bahaha. I haven't completely ruled out buying one of these one day.
And of course, how do you end a long day of shopping? By fueling up on food, of course! We were set on trying one of the "world famous" Frankenmuth dinner spots, and decided on the Bavarian Inn Restaurant: a cute, castle-themed building that looked like it belonged in a fairy tale book. My mom and I each ordered a combination lunch plate, but Brad and my dad got their money's worth with a couple of the all-you-can-eat dinners. I'll tell you what--they definitely don't let you go hungry at this place.

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Classic fairy tales illustrated on the walls inside the Bavarian Inn Restaurant
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Left: My dinner (fried chicken, pork, beef, and cheese potato puffs). Nom.
Right: Dessert! Cranberry ice cream with the cutest little German lady standing on top
(Brad had a German boy on his ice cream).

After dinner, everyone was pretty much stuffed to capacity . . . so, we tried strolling around a few more downtown shops, but were pretty tuckered out (plus, it was Tuesday and almost everything had closed for the evening). Gathering our souvenirs and leftovers, we hopped in the car and made the trek back to the house. Auf wiedersehen for now, Frankenmuth. Best day I've had in a long time.

Jewelry Box

8 comments:

  1. Jennifer, thanks for sharing your mom and dad with us while they were up visiting from Virginia!
    Lori Libka
    communications assistant
    Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course! Thanks again for being so welcoming. Hope to see you all again soon. :)

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  2. Jennifer,
    Thank you for your posting and blog. The Bavarian Inn Restaurant's mission is to Create Enjoyable Experiences. I am glad you let us do that for your family. We look forward to having you back again. Mandy Borsenik - Marketing Manager for Bavarian Inn Restaurant.

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    Replies
    1. Mandy: thank you so much...I definitely look forward to coming back!

      Delete
  3. Words don't adequately describe what it was like to visit you and Brad last week. I'm incredibly proud of both of you, I love your house, and Daddy and I had a great time visiting you! OK, I'll quit now so I don't cry again.

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  4. This whole post makes me smile, miss you and want to cry all at once. You have such a wonderful family! <3

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  5. I really do, don't I? :) I know I'm lucky.

    ReplyDelete

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