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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Frankenmuth, Mich. - Michigan's Little Bavaria

Let me introduce myself. My name is Sean Linhart and I, along with being a copy editor at The News-Herald, am a Christmas nut. I know, the first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem.

I love everything about the holiday.

Having planned a camping trip that was thwarted by hot, humid, unpleasant weather, my wife and I were looking for another option. We settled on a trip to Frankenmuth, Mich. No reservations, no big plans, just winging it on a 4 1/2-hour trip.
For those of you who might not have heard of Frankenmuth, the small town has a reputation as home of the Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, the largest Christmas store in the world.

We left on a Monday morning, GPS in hand, sugarplums dancing in my head along with the thoughts of what I might find at Bronner's and what this tiny town might be like.

Upon arrival in Frankenmuth, we started searching the GPS for the Frankenmuth Motel.
It was the least expensive lodging we could find while doing a little research on the Internet - trying to save the $$ for ... well ... Christmas stuff!

We found the motel with little trouble, checked in, unpacked (OK, threw the duffel bag on the bed) and headed into town. By the way, the motel was GREAT! Very clean and close to town - perfect!

We found Bronner's closed because of a nasty storm that had rolled through just prior to our arrival, knocking out power to much of the area.

So we headed further into town in hopes of finding electricity and a bite to eat.
We found a nice place to park right in the middle of town - by the way, parking is free there - I mean everywhere there.

After browsing some of the shops for a bit, we decided it was time for dinner.

Zehnder's is well known for it's all-you-can-eat chicken dinners, so off we went.
If you leave this place hungry, it's YOUR fault!

The meal starts with appetizers including: homemade chicken soup, liver pate and cheese spread on large homemade croutons, cranberry relish, cottage cheese, cole slaw and bread with homemade preserves.

Then it's time for the main course: chicken, dressing, mashed potatoes, vegetable and buttered noodles with crushed saltines on top - a true comfort food if ever there was one.

After all that, if you have room, there's sherbet or ice cream for dessert.
Oh yeah, did I mention it's all you can eat?

On Tuesday, it was time to hit a few more shops and head for the Christmas store - more on Bronner's in a future blog entry. It deserves its own.

Before heading to Bronner's, we went to town to check out a couple more shops, a concession to my wife for the undoubtedly long hours she would be forced spend among the millions of Christmas decorations that awaited.

Hunting for something specific - a gift for Mom - we were told to head for Satow Drugs.

Exiting the car early in the morning, we smelled bacon and assumed it was coming from the hotel next door. Entering the drug store, we found a diamond in the rough, a small restaurant ... OK. Time for breakfast. It was a quaint little place - something out of the past and one of those places that we simply need more of.

Our bellies full of perfectly cooked eggs, toast, bacon and hashbrowns, we headed off to those shops, including the Frankenmuth Clock Shop (for a souvenir of our stay for which we got a coupon at the hotel) and The Front Porch Quilt Shop (for the wife). I gotta give a little.

Then, after a fantastic lunch including a huge, locally produced brat and fries at T-Dub's, it was time to head for Bronner's.

Again, this deserves its own entry, so more on that in the near future.

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