Being trapped in Detroit with my parents over the weekend really reminded me how much I enjoy living far away. Time to time, I come home and kvetch about the latest paving-over of some beloved landmark, but still, there’s never any shortage of the element of surprise.

So it was Easter, I was home, Sailor Man graciously agreed to fly into Michigan on his return flight home from working, and my parents were feeling festive. Of all the Christian holidays, Easter tends to bother me the least. With the rabbits and the eggs, it’s so very Pagan in nature that I find it palatable. But instead of baskets, chocolates, ham and cakes shaped like lambs, my parents had it in their head to spend the day in Frankenmuth, a town about an hour and half north of Detroit.

If you are unfamiliar, Frankenmuth is a massive tourist trap of the Sound of Music variety. It’s a small town that was founded by Bavarian immigrants in the mid-1800’s and hence sports traditional Alpine architecture and all things Germanic. It’s cute, it’s quaint, almost treacly, but without being “too precious”. And if you’re too lazy to go to Mackinaw for fudge, Frankenmuth is the next best thing.

So here’s the run-down: cute town, 4800 souls inhabiting, situated along a pretty river, Main Street Bavaria USA, and entirely driven by tourism. That’s basically all you need to know prior to going there.

My parents have taken me to this town pretty much my entire life. We’d go to one of the two enormous restaurants dominating the place: Zehnders or the Bavarian Inn. We would be absolutely assaulted by the monstrosity that is Bronners “The World’s Largest Christmas Store”. And my parents always smartly ended the trip by getting their progeny completely high on fudge and taffy so we’d sugar-crash inside the station wagon on the way home.

Surprisingly, I have very fond memories of these visits. Don’t ask me why I like it, I just do. It’s wholesome, which goes against the grain of my very nature and I still like the place. Go figure.

So I must admit I was actually anxious to see what had become of this little town since last I visited and was amazed to see that it is exactly the same. Some new enterprises have moved to town of course, but there’s strict ordinances on how the buildings have to look so they all fit into the grand scheme of “Bavaria”. And they’ve done a good job. There was the same sweater store, the same cheese store, the same tourist trash shops, in fact, the only thing I found missing was a kick-ass penny arcade that used to be there. It was a small building of dozens and dozens of antique arcade games and yup, they were only a penny to play. Other than that, I could have been 12 years old again walking the streets with nary a notion of anything being different.

images1.jpegThe old-timey wood signs that still hang in front of establishments now advertise “cappuccinoimages-1.jpeg and lattes” but really, everything is just the same. Even the poor unfortunate towns folk working in the restaurants wearing “traditional” Bavarian garb: women with busty, St. Pauli Girl dresses and flowers in their hair (which is worn up in buns), and men, oh the men, wearing real leather lederhosen and little Peter Pan hats. With feathers. Cheerfully serving chicken and wiener-schnitzel. Oh, the memories. They come flooding back.

So we had brunch at the Bavarian Inn, walked the town, mom bought some cheese and fudge, and we all enjoyed the sunshine and the plastic eggs adorning everything that didn’t stand still. And as per every previous visit, it was a lovely afternoon.

Nice to know some things never change.

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