Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Christmas in May

My lone free day during my Michigan work trip ended up being much more interesting than I had figured. During our 8 hour long drive to the customer's site, we saw billboard after billboard advertising for a place called Frankenmuth, MI. That much advertising on a highway could mean one of two things. Either the place is really desperate and lame, or really cool. I just had to go and discover which.

This place is crazy. It has around 5,000 residents, so not a large place in any respect. The majority of the downtown area is built to look like a German hamlet. Everything is covered in that brown and white checkered pattern people use when they want to seem authentically European. It seems that the city has some sort of "everything you build has just got to be fake German" law in place, as even a nearby convenience store was quaint looking. While this place does flirt with cheesiness, there are enough quality things to check out that I was willing to forgive its shortcomings.

Kinda cool. The place did give me a few childhood Germany flashbacks.

Since I didn't have to work this particular day, I slept pretty liberally through most of the morning. So, the first thing that I was concerned with once I arrived was food. I at a massive restaurant called Zehnder's. The building (buildings?) had multiple levels, including a giftshop and a small food court kind of place. The wikipedia site boasts that it can seat 1,500 people. Rather than wait at the end of one of several good size lines, I opted to skip all that and just walk right up to the bar and eat. Good chicken there...


After eating I walked around the town a bit, but my tolerance for silly little gift shops is pretty low. There was a few cheese shops, some sausage places.. candy shops... just like Germany! The city boasted in several places that it had a sister city in Germany. I thought to myself, what sort of self-hating person would travel all the way from Europe to hang out in a fake version of the place that they had just left.

The next place on my list was the place that had been advertised all along the highway a few days before. The place that helped to bring fame to this small town in the middle of nowhere. The one and only Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, the largest Christmas store in the world!! Hehe. That's one thing I can finally cross off of my life goal list. This place is ridiculous. I'm not really even that interested in describing it. Its giant, like 1 and a half football fields worth of all the Christmas stuff ever assembled. Its open all year round... and its big. So big that they hand out maps of the place at the door. And thats that. Once I was thoroughly having the It's a small world after all shivers, I had to rush out of that town back into the dirty, harsh world that I know and love.

Deep in the jungle that is the Christmas store.

Giant Santa: Check

I barely escaped the cheerful clutches of this place with my sense of sarcasm intact.

Up next: the thrilling conclusion of my Colombian odyssey.

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