Josef and I are still in the midst of our renovation. We sleep in our guest room and get our clothes out of the office. Some clothes are downstairs and all the clean clothes and all the dirty ones are in distinct piles (neither of which is a neat pile, sadly). We shower in the guest bath and the powder room downstairs is the only bathroom with a door. This is just how it is for us right now.
We’re tired of it, but the end is in site. All the same, we needed a break from the ol’ renovation. We were going to go crazy if we didn’t get out of the city.
We went to the happiest place on earth! No, not Disney World. We went to Helen, Georgia, home of the alpine village in the mountains of north Georgia.
If you haven’t been to or heard of Helen, allow me to acquaint you. Imagine a village in, say, the southeastern region of Germany outside of Munich, especially a village in the Alps. Picture it (name the reference)! Sweet, colorful little houses and buildings with steep red rooves. Cheerful murals on the buildings. Quaint flower boxes and tidy, welcoming landscaping. Gentle German folk music playing as you traverse the street and alleyways, where you can buy cuckoo clocks, lederhosen, bratwurst and beer. A babbling brook weaves itself through the village. Horse-drawn carriages carry tourists around the town.
Now plop it in the mountains of north Georgia. Imagine the influence of the locals’ accents as your mind concocts a “does not equal sign” from what it sees and how these locals speak. But it’s all good. You still feel like you’re not in the US, which for us is most of the point — you really feel like you’re in Germany!
We are totally smitten with Helen, Georgia.
We are pining after a return trip to Germany, but for now, in light of our need to just get away, Helen is the perfect get-away for our weary souls.
Normally we experience Helen during the town’s annual Oktoberfest. I know! It just gets better! This was the first springtime visit we paid the town and we weren’t disappointed. We left Atlanta early Saturday and made our way through the windy roads that lead there, enjoying the pastoral scenery — cows, horses, farms, mountain ranges in the distance, spring daffodils, boiled peanut stands — all this stuff is just salve to my soul, a feast, really. It looks so much like the part of the world where I grew up, so I feel like I am conferring with my old self when we make this trek.
Helen greeted us on a totally perfect day of sunshine and over 80 degrees. Ahhhhhhhh, we were so delighted.
Upon arrival to the hotel we got a little bit of a jolt back to reality: our hotel was undergoing renovations. Wonk wonk. Can’t seem to escape it! However, we got to enjoy one of the newly-renovated rooms, so that more than made up for it!
We struck out for lunch and made an unfortunate discovery: Josef forgot his wallet. He’d driven us to Helen. He’d planned to patronize a bar. Whoops. Double wonk wonk!
Luckily, I was able to take care of expenses and we’d brought our own stuff to imbibe, so we were alright.
We went on a walk to Subway, which we failed at the first time. Then, we tried again, walked a little farther, and found it. It was next to a huge biker shop, and both the Subway and the biker shop were heavily patronized by bikers. There were a lot of great bikes we saw! The bikers were a happy bunch. You could tell they too were grateful for the beautiful spring day.
After lunch, we made our way through some areas we hadn’t seen before, including the river tubing operation and a picturesque town park along the bank of the river. (Dear Atlanta, please wise up and use the riverside of the Chatahoochee as a park. Duh, winning!) We passed the Festhalle, the home of our beloved Oktoberfest. It was closed yesterday, but the space is open regularly for Helen’s many celebrations.
Back at the hotel, we enjoyed a leisurely couple of hours sitting along the riverbank. That was a really special couple of hours, watching the water flow by, daydreaming about living in one of the gorgeous houses across the river (seriously envy-worthy settups!), and just chatting about a number of topics — some silly, some serious. It was a ridiculously awesome time for us to have had that time to reflect on everything that’s happening for us a couple. I feel that the time we talked brought us closer together, which I didn’t think was even possible! We’ve known each other almost 11 years.
We spied a network of waterslides across the river from us, as well as a pair of horses, so we went on a nosey tourist walk and made our way through yet another undiscovered area. We found out a resort (which had a very bored but very helpful and friendly guard at the entrance) is across the river from the hotel. We walked around the propery and saw the slides in person. Apparently you can ride the slides and tube down the river there without joining the resort in any official capacity. It will open in May, so we are excited about trying that later on this year!!
We dined in a local restaurant and lingered there for a bit. We saw some locals, who worked there, dressed in traditional Bavarian trachten (lederhosen and dirndl), and were even treated to the five minute show of a lady who claimed that “Helen is a walkiin’ city that is not good for a big girl like myself” — and we were treated to further hilarity when she told us she’d been bitten in by a horse on her boob! She guzzled a 24 ounce bottle of Bud Lite before she got back to her family who were waitiing for her to come back outside. Wow.
As you can probably tell, It is always humorous to people watch in Helen, seeing what types Helen attracts. It is truly like Disney World in this regard. All walks of life, babies to elderly. Love it. Oh, I forgot, we got ice cream and some fudge to eat after our first walk through town. We enjoyed our treats from a park bench swing atop the town in the hillside park. What a gorgeous day it was!
We slept well, and Josef opened our porch door in the night, so we awoke to the sounds of the river rushing by and birdsong. It was sad to leave this morning, but the break from reality and the accessibility of Helen from Atlanta (just shy of a two hour drive) made it easier. We will be back soon. It was a wonderful escape, and we can’t wait to return. It’s the next best thing to going to Germany! 🙂
If any of this sounds appealing to you, you should make a trip to Atlanta to see us and we’ll take you to Helen!