Just under 2 hours from where I live is a gem of a town in the Blue Ridge mountains where bratwurst and Bulldogs peacefully coexist. (U of Georgia Bulldogs, that is!) I'm talking about Helen, GA, where the dude and I visited last Memorial Day weekend. The shot above is the view from Hwy 17 coming into town. Too. Stinkin. Cute.
Why yes, the entire town is a re-created Alpine village, rife with cobblestone streets, lederhosen tees and authentic German cafes! Up until the 60s it was a remote mountain town surrounded by Cherokee land, but now with its Deutschland makeover, it's a tourist destination! Kitschy? Yes. Deterrent? Not in the least! I LOVED it. It's almost theme park-like, but boasts loads more charm.
I wasn't exactly sure what the deal with this place was, but based on the sign, it appears to be a park. With bears. I didn't want to venture in and see if they actually were keeping bears enclosed in a tiny Georgian town - too sad. I will say this does seem somewhat authentic though. While visiting Bern, Switzerland (in the German-speaking part of the country), we did happen upon a bear pit smack dab in the middle of town. Like, a giant hole in the ground, with rails at the top, filled with bears. No zoo, no cage, no warning. Just, bear pit. It made me sad - I'm sure they'd much rather be relaxing at home on the Gurten mountain than gawked at by tourists all day long. So, maybe this bear obsession is some German quirk I've never heard of.
A popular thing to do in Helen is go tubing. While we weren't in a tubing mood that weekend, I did snap a picture of some folks relaxing on the Chattahoochee River. Yes, THAT Chattahoochee. I know - it's a real river! It exists! You can only imagine my delight, and of course the ensuing "Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee, never knew how much that muddy water meant to me!" which was incessant at times. The dude LOVED that, let me tell ya :). The building pictured is a restaurant, so you can still get some river action if you don't want to get wet.
Helen is also famous for having the longest Oktoberfest in the south! We had planned to go this year, but you know how that is - you get busy and before you know it, Oktoberfest is over! We did,