First of all let me thank all of you who contributed to my Ann Arbor and Michigan threads on TA. I appreciated all of your advice and links and I loved receiving the personal messages as well. Let me tell you that we had so much fun that I didn't have time to write up notes. So this trip report will rely on my memories and remembered feelings and impressions. And in case you don't get it from the report: I LOVED EVERY MOMENT!
23. July: So we enter the US from Canada (after having to fill in forms and being fingerprinted and having a photo of our eye taken - very strange. We're used to just showing our passports at borders in Europe. Ah well, if that's the way it is, that's the way it is.) Have a very late night on Susan's patio, just relaxing and chatting and catching up.
24. July: We're watching the huge squirrels in the trees around the house. Of course, American squirrels have to be larger than their Irish cousins... There's a yellow tiger striped butterfly on the flowers... we don't have those in Ireland. The camera comes out too late, the butterfly is gone. A chipmunk races by, again, we don't have them in Ireland. I am fascinated. I also saw black squirrels in Ontario. Black squirrels! We just have the run-of-the-mill grey and red varieties in Ireland (with the grey ones winning). At night we watch the fireflies, what amazing creatures! I don't think we have them in Ireland, saw them in Germany but never in Ireland. Susan has a Sassafras tree which shades her patio. Paradise. I am here at my computer in Ireland but at the same time I am there sitting on that patio hearing the cicadas, watching the fireflies, listening to the Sassafras sighing in the breeze.
We drive into Ann Arbor and I immediately love the town. I'm not a city girl, I like nice towns that I can walk around. Ann Arbor fits the bill. It seems to be easy-going and is, of course, defined by its students. Some lovely shops and restaurants. There's a mediterranean feeling about the place which is very pleasant. We have a pint in Cormac O'Neill's. Not that we want an Irish pub! It just happened to be the closest place where we could have a drink in that heat! It's a nice pub, not too Oirish in yer face. Refreshed we go to Kerrytown Market for a bit of dinner shopping. What a lovely place but I would love to know what half the stuff is for! We lead a very deprived life in Ireland! And then Zingerman's! What can I say about Zingerman's? It's paradise wrapped up in gorgeous bread and cheese and sausages. What a pleasure to have such knowledgable staff. In my mind I'm comparing them to Irish shop assistants... "Yeah, love, you alrooight there? Ah Jayz, that's just some cheese, don't ask me where from, I suppose it'll be okay on some crackers. Salami? Wha'zz tha?" Zingerman's is brillant. We promised to come back for lunch the next week but we never made it. Next time! Zingerman's is an institution (with the prices to go with it!) and long may it last.
Then we get a tour of the university campus. The size of it! Trinity College in Dublin would fit into it several times! There are some beautiful buildings but I am particularly taken with the Law Library. The stained glass windows are just so stunning. We go to have a drink in Dominick's, another Ann Arbor institution and a student haunt. I never thought that one day I would end up drinking out of "Ball's" preserving jars. What a novel idea! Just great. Love it. Hubby has a gallon of beer. Out of a jam jar. Haha. What fun!
We call into Fresh Seasons Market before going home. Another place I could have stayed and roamed through the aisles. Hubby loves getting the brown paper bag with the groceries. This is SO American and we only know it from TV. In Ireland we use our recycled bags. Hubby loves it. Men are so easily entertained...
25. July: This turns out to be one of the highlights of our holiday. We drive to the John Ford Center at Greenfield Village near Detroit (or should I say "in" Detroit?). What a revellation this place is! At $20 admission per person it is very good value because you can stay all day. Unfortunately we only have a few hours. We love it all. The recreation of an American small town is so beautifully done and the attention to detail is amazing. I learned about John Ford in secondary school (he was the subject of a whole English lesson complete with grammar questions) but I never knew what a wonderful person he was. We just walk and stop and stare. This is an absolute MUST SEE place. Amazing, beautiful, wonderful, lovely. We get tickets for the train and go straight back into childhood. Whohoohoo, here we come! There are people dressed up in contemporary clothes and people cycling on pennyfarthings and there is a girl group singing in the sweet shop and Ford T models driving around... Oh my! We will go back on our next visit and explore the whole place and go in the Ford T model and the horse-drawn carriage and... and... and...
The reason we don't have that much time in Greenfield Village is that we have tickets for the Michigan Beer Brewers' Guild Festival in Ypsilanti that evening! Cormac, I hope you're reading this because you put me onto this! Thank you so very much! I booked the tickets online in Ireland and took good care of them until we got there. What a fantastic, good-humoured, well-organised affair that was! We got tokens and a plastic glass and a fridge magnet (proudly residing on my fridge in my kitchen). It was a beautiful evening, everybody was in good spirits, there was no drunken behaviour, no fighting, no arguments (couldn't have this in Ireland, what a pity). We make our way around the different tents sampling some seriously good beer. We fall in love with Dark Horse's Raspberry Ale. And I'm not even a beer drinking person! But it's such a lovely occasion. The security staff were suitably impressed by my booking this from Ireland. Got the T-shirt and wore it with pride last night to our local pub!
26. July: Not much happening this day because we're getting ready for our trip north to the UP. Got to Michael's, the Art Shop, though. Had to be dragged out. Why don't we have shops like this in Ireland? My idea of paradise is being locked into a mixture of Zingerman's and Michael's. Just leave me there, I'll die happy. Had a pint in "The Brown Jug", another student haunt. Good food and lovely service.
27. July: Off to the UP. We pass Saginaw (Hallo Uasal! I was thinking of you!). Miles and miles and miles of straight roads with trees on both sides. I'm afraid I find it a bit boring and wish for the winding, narrow Irish roads with a different view from each bend but this is the way it is. By the way, we rented a car from Enterprise in Ann Arbor because hubby wants to drive and we don't want to put up miles on Susan's car. Every time the Nissan Almira (Altamira? Sorry, just was IN it, didn't look AT it) hits 70 miles an hour it starts to vibrate. Nice if you need a massage but not nice when you're driving along the freeway. We returned it the week after and complained and Enterprise gave us a 15% rebate without a quibble, well done!
We stop in Mackinaw to view the bridge from below. My heart is sinking, I don't like heights. By the way, why is it "Mackinaw" and "Mackinac"? Someone told us it was the difference between French and English but I don't believe this. Have to do some research on the internet.
The bridge. Susan is driving, hubby is videoing the damn thing with the digital camera, I am cowering in the back covering my eyes, are we there yet?
So we get over the Mackinaw Bridge and become Yoopers for two days!