Trips Past: Niagara Falls, Chip Trucks at Canatara Park, Bavarian Fried Chicken, and Two Jews in Bronner’s

We’re going to take a *real* vacation this summer!

We always try to take *some time* out of every business trip to do ‘us’ stuff, things we think would be fun, which IS fun. But….later this summer we’re just going to take off for a couple of weeks and see where we land.

Planning our vacation makes me think about fun trips we’ve done before.

About three years ago when Av and I were going to a conference at Northwestern University (where we stayed at the Hotel Orrington (which we didn’t think was especially good, and overpriced – but they’ve recently done a $34 million renovation so it may be really great now)) we took the loooong way around.

From home, we drove up into New York state and over the bridge to Ontario to see Niagara Falls from the Canadian side (better than the US view). We stayed at the Sheraton Fallsview, which was nice – especially the huge window in the room.

That afternoon, we planned on going on the Maid of the Mist, but it was closing for the day just as we walked over. I had been on it back around 1995 when I was still in college and it was fun – not something you necessarily need to do more than once, but if you’re there at Niagara already, you should do it.

We had supper at the revolving dining room at the Skylon Tower, which was good. The town of Niagara Falls really reminds me so much of Gatlinburg – wax museums, a Ripley’s Believe it or Not, candy places, that kind of thing.

There were three different things I wanted Av to try food-wise while we were in Canada:

Mr. Sub (which we didn’t get to, but will next time)
Tim Horton’s (which we did get to – there are Tim Horton’s everywhere.)
chips (to us Americans, french fries) from a ‘chip truck’ at Canatara Park in Sarnia

Canatara Park in Sarnia, ON is on Lake Huron – and under the bridge are a few chip trucks that serve *the best* fries ever. They’re served with vinegar and salt, the idea of which didn’t really appeal to me until I tried them on my first trip to Canada – and wow(!) are they ever great!

After our chips, we went back over the bridge into the US, and headed over to Frankenmuth, Michigan. Frankenmuth calls itself “Michigan’s Little Bavaria”, which is akin to Helen, Georgia, a “Bavarian-style hamlet”.

I think there are really three main draws to Frankenmuth for most people – one is the Bavarian-like architecture, another is the fried chicken, and the last is Bronner’s (although there are plenty of other shops that you don’t find other places).

Somehow, fried chicken is big in Frankenmuth. There are two main restaurants there: the Bavarian Inn, and Zehnder’s (both places are family). We had a late lunch at Zehnder’s (which seats 1500(!!)), which was really very good.

This is what’s served when you order – which we did – the “Zehnder’s World Famous Family Style Chicken Dinner”:

Noodle Soup, Cabbage Salad, Cheese Spread and Chicken Liver Pate With Garlic Toast, Stollen and White Breads and Butter, Preserves, Cottage Cheese, Relish, Frankenmuth Golden Fried Chicken, Grandma Zehnder’s Dressing, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Noodles, Vegetable, and Ice Cream.
Part of Zehnder’s hotel was demolished for new construction as “Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel and Waterpark” which is opening June 17th of this year.

We also went to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. ((I know, ‘what are y’all doing there!!??’)) but everything there is so pretty, and the kitschy part of me just looooves to look at the Department 56 villages. When I was in college, I even bought the Disney Village set that Dept. 56 made. Dept. 56 has a few different non-Christmas pieces now.

There is a very small section of Jewish/Israel things at Bronner’s, and we bought five or six Chanukah window-clings, and a super-pretty sequined hamsa.