Category Archives: General

Germany in Georgia

My 48th State – Georgia

Changing planes at the Atlanta Airport did not count, I decided. Nor did the half day drive between Alabama and Chattanooga Tennesee that I wrote about previously. That was a great drive, but not an overnight.  If I wanted to check off Georgia as a state I had visited, I needed to see some unique Georgia sites and spend at least one night.

No seashore, islands, plantations, or even the bustling city of Atlanta on this trip, but instead, a scenic byway through the mountains of northern Georgia and a pretend German town, Helen, Georgia. The northeast corner of Georgia in the Blue Ridge Mountains, boasts some beautiful scenery. Particularly approached as we did coming down on byways from North Carolina.

Now I’m keeping track of U.S. theme towns that think they are in some other country. I’ve visited some. I have  been to the  charming Leavenworth Washington and the delightful Fredericksburg Texas, two towns that are wannabe German. But you could also visit Hermann Missouri , Frankenmuth Michigan, or the Amana Colonies in Iowa. In my home county of Holmes in Ohio, there’s a Berlin (pronunciation BER-lin after World War I), but its theme is Amish rather than just German.

In California, we stopped off in lovely Solvang, that  pretends it is Danish. I haven’t been to the other Scandinavian town I’ve read about–New Sweden, Maine. I also have not visited Lindsborg Kansas, that calls itself Little Sweden USA.

Georgia
Downtown Helen Georgia

In Helen, we stayed at one of the lodgings that had been made  to echo Bavaria. (Even the Motel 6 and the Wendy’s look Bavarian instead of mid-century American.) We opted for a corny Heidi Inn, a non-chain place where we could have taken a room in the windmill tower.

Georgia
Heidi Motel, Helen Georgia

Since we didn’t have long enough hair to let down a la Rapunzel, however, we settled for a ground level room.

Georgia
Heidi Hotel front, Helen Georgia

Now, I realize that these pictures make the town and the motel look rather appealing, but pictures can be deceiving. I did not link to the motel, because I cannot recommend it. Only a few places that we entered looked like they were making an effort to be spruced up and present a truly Bavarian air.  Most of the town looked shopworn and beat down by the recession.  We were disappointed by everything except the cheerful and helpful server in the restaurant where we had dinner.

Our experience no doubt was colored by a very different impression of Leavenworth Washington, where everything seems to be newly painted and spruced up.

With the exception of motels and some of the restaurants, you have to pay $5.00 flat to park anywhere in town (for two minutes or the whole day).  Even if you are just planning to pop into a souvenir shop, it will cost you $5.00. It irritated us so much that we did not spend any time shopping. Their loss.  For a tourist town, and one that was pretty empty, that seems like a pretty poor policy. There is free parking on top of a very steep hill at a city park, and the town is fairly small, so if you are staying the night and are hearty, you can leave your car at a motel and walk around.

Fortunately, our breakfast the next morning at Hofer’s Bakery -Konditorei nearly made up for the rest of our experience. (And they had ample free parking)  My breakfast of various German-style sausages and other meats took me back to our trip from Munich to Austria through the heart of Bavaria. The decor was authentic. A terrific mural shows the whole process of a loaf of bread from wheat field to bakery shelf. they even had grocery shelves devoted to German items. I just noticed that you can buy their baked goods on line, so if you’re homesick for Germany, take a look.

All in all, my advice is to enjoy the scenic northeastern corner of Georgia, drive through Helen and make a stop at Hofer’s, but do not plan on stopping long.

Clearly, my visit to my 48th state was a mixed experience and there is much more to the state than the tiny corners that we drove through. If you want to see backroads Georgia, as I mentioned in my article on Alabama, the Lookout Mountain Parkway takes you to the fantastic state park, Cloudland. I was so impressed that if I get back to Georgia, I will definitely explore more state parks.

DETOUR: Going Somewhere and Somewhere Else

Detour Sign Dunedin FL
Detour Sign Dunedin FL (Photo from WikiMedia.org)

We are flying from Arizona to Florida to attend my grand daughter’s wedding. Nice trip. Exciting event.  However it seems that every time I have an opportunity to go Somewhere, I can’t help thinking about the opportunities—to go Somewhere Else. Soon I’ll be sharing our trip to Somewhere Else.

Do you think that way, or do I have a detour built into the routing of travel thoughts in my brain?

Here are some examples.

OHIO TO NEW YORK

Visiting Ohio
Our sons with my husband’s grandmother in Ohio, 1966.

In the 1960’s, once a year we drove or flew from Arizona with our young children to visit our family still iin Ohio.  In 1964, that was a perfect excuse to go to the New York World’s Fair.

1964 New York World's Fair
1964 New York World’s Fair

Boston to Cape Cod and D.C.

Paul Revere's Tomb, Boston
Offerings left at Paul Revere’s tomb, Old Granary Burial Ground, Boston

In about 1968, Ken was scheduled to go to Boston for a national bridge tournament.  We turned that into an extravaganza with his family joining us in Cape Cod and then passing us off to my family for a trip to Washington D. C.

Capitol Hill at Night, by Thomas Hawk from Flcker
Capitol Hill at Night, by Thomas Hawk from Flcker

Sweden to Russia

In the late 90’s, we decided to make a long delayed visit to Sweden to see some relatives of my sister-in-law. But of course that led to Somewhere Else–St. Petersburg Russia.

Singapore to Cambodia

Hong Kong
Hong Kong Harbor at Night

Not to mention Hong Kong, Macau and Thailand.  As a club president, Ken took a Rotary-sponsored trip to Singapore in 2000.  Well, heck, if you’re going  Somewhere in Southeast Asia, you might as well add your life-long dream of visiting Angkor Wat–and stop in Singapore–and take a ferry to Macau–and spend a few days in Thailand–right?

Mobile Grocery Store
Mobile Grocery Store in Cambodia

Budapest to Bavaria and Austria

Chain bridge over the Danube, Budapest
Chain bridge over the Danube, Budapest, just blocks from “our” apartment

Hey, it was all once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after all! This one had a different start. Ken laughed when I said I had won a 3- night stay at an apartment in Budapest, thinking that was about the most remote possibility on our travel list.  However, after a bit of plotting and planning, we realized that we could get a long-delayed look at Austria and it just happened to be a big birthday year for Mozart, so Salzburg was full of music. And as long as we were going to Budapest by way of Austria, why not land in Munich and see Bavaria and the famous Neuschwanstein Castle as well.

Old town cafe, Salzburg
Old town cafe, Salzburg, opposite Mozart’s childhood apartment

Aegean Islands to Ephesus and Meteora

Island of Serifos--sailing out
Island of Serifos–sailing out

Looking back on it, some of our choices look just plain greedy.  After all, if one is going to rent a sailboat with friends and hire a captain and sail around the Aegean islands for ten days—isn’t that a life-time vacation?  Well, yes, but we went all that way—so why not extend just a big and go to Ephesus in Turkey. And as long as we’re staying a little longer, how about a jaunt up to Meteora in Central Greece, since Ken had never seen it.  We’ve never regretted our “travel greed.”

Meteora Greece
Ayios Triados, Meteora Greece
 Ephesus,
The Library – Ephesus, Turkey

AND NOW

Key West Florida Beach
Key West Florida Beach

Oh, yes, where was I? I started talking about a wedding in Florida. Very nice state. But SO close to three states of the five I have not yet visited–so we will catch them with a Southern road trip. We’ve been wanting to travel to one of my favorite cities– Chattanooga,  and also to the Great Smoky Mountains, so we’ll go there before driving back through South Carolina to Atlanta and flying home. (The three states I had not visited–Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina. The two to go–North Dakota and Alaska.)

Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee

See?  Somewhere always leads to Somewhere Else.

Detour Sign