Weekend Get-Away

Isn’t it crazy how some of our fondest memories and greatest adventures come from the zaniest of events?!
“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”  
~Lao Tzu
Take for example our weekend…..  
On Friday, my daughter, Samantha and I picked the kiddos up from school where she was going to drop me off to pick-up a rental car which I would drive to Spartanburg to meet Audley, who has our mini-van.  
{You got all of that, right?}
Through a series of misfortunate events, the least of all being stupidity miscommunication from Avis a leading car rental company, I did not have a car to make my trip.
Samantha was not making the trip with us as she had Saturday football plans with her fiancee, but she suggested that we meet Audley half-way.  We opted to take the Appalachian Foothills Parkway through North Georgia and by-pass Atlanta rush hour all together.  Audley was going to head our way at the same time and we would meet somewhere in the middle.  It sounded great on the phone, but his GPS and my GPS did not send us the same pathway.
So while Audley was traveling on spacious four-lane highways, we were winding and twisting up and down two-lane roads with this as our scenery….
and as the roads seemed to get a little darker we saw a little of this …..
And while it was all so breathtakingly beautiful, and Samantha and I kept stopping for pictures, we were traveling in a small Ford Focus with a slightly irritated 11 year-old boy sitting in between his 12 and 14 year old sisters in the back seat.  
I was seriously thinking that a padded room was in my future.

And Samantha?  She swore that she heard banjos and was “paddling faster!”
Finally, I called Audley and told him to meet us in Helen.  And to get a hotel room. 
{He did good, too…. a suite with a jacuzzi!} 
Hampton Inn in Helen, Georgia
So instead of making it to Spartanburg on Friday night, we decided a little mini-vacay was in order for us and our three younger children.  
Located in the north Georgia mountains, Helen, with it’s fabulous Alpine architecture makes a wonderful weekend getaway.  Much smaller than Gatlinburg, Helen is filled with quaint shops, unique restaurants, and just minutes from wonderful hiking trails for the hiker in all of us and amazing trout fishing in the iconic Chattahoochee River.  As you can imagine the mountains are stunning in autumn each year which draws a crowd alone, but with it’s Oktoberfest celebration (carrying on the Germanic theme) the month of October, Helen becomes a wonderful weekend get-away.

We picked a wonderful time to visit.  The weather was gorgeous, the crowds were down since the leaves won’t peak for another three weeks, and we had nothing pressing going on so “relaxing” was all that was on our agenda!

We decided to be a little adventurous for supper on Friday night and visited a local German themed restaurant; Hofbrauhaus.

I have never been to Germany, but I can imagine that the interior of this restaurant; mix and match furniture with twinkle lights and antiques scattered about fit the image.  I did not like the smokey feel that did find it’s way to the nonsmoking section, but the sweet waitress in her theme attire was a hit with the kids.
Pronouncing items on the menu was quite entertaining for the kiddos.  I took two years of high school German, so many of the terms were vaguely familiar.  From sauerbraten to schnitzel to schweinebraten  to sauerkraut we had many interesting dishes to try!  And even though MacKenzie’s breaded chicken schnitzel was renamed “sh**” chicken and finally “that German chicken stuff” it was in no way a reflection on the meal.
Audley and Bradley split a sampler platter for two.  It contained sample sized portions of sauerbraten, schweinebraten, breaded pork schnitzel, house smoked pork chop, homemade garlic wurst, filling sides such as sauerkraut, German potato salad, red cabbage, and a delicious salad topped with a garlic-dill dressing.
Sampler fit for a king!

Wonderful sides of sauerkraut, German potato salad and red cabbage.

Schweinebraten (pork loin) with a butter cream sauce

German Potato Salad

Spaetzles …. German noodles.

Of all the delicious flavors, the pork loin was delicious, especially with the sauerkraut, but the chicken schnitzel was my favorite!  Madeline was my least adventurous and chose the German noodles topped with cheese, although she did taste some of the other dishes.  
I will be honest, that while the food was good, it was not seasoned in a way that I could consider a favorite.  After enjoying the many flavors Mexican, Italian, and even many American dishes have to offer, German food seemed rather bland.  
Over-all the experience was memorable and unique, but I am not sure that I would repeat it every time we might find ourselves in Helen.  The kids and Audley were good sports and made the evening a lot of fun.
We had several other wonderful adventures while in Helen, but more than I can fit into one post and hope to keep your attention!  Adventures in a mill, another great restaurant and a doll hospital are sure to interest you as well!
I hope you’ll stop in and check it all out this week!  Maybe you will find inspiration for your next next get-away weekend!
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