Friday, July 31, 2009

Germany Germany

Another long slog on the road, first from Chamberlain to Mitchell to see the Corn Palace, then on to New Ulm, Minnesota, for Hermann the German and the giant glockenspiel. A major source for our nonbaseball wanderings, incidentally, is Roadside America, but I knew the New Ulm attractions from my college days. Herman's only arguably German, by the way, and his name isn't really Hermann. As for the glockenspiel... reader, let us draw the curtain of discretion over the subject.

New Ulm has clearly done everything in its power to re-create itself as a destination downtown—the lures in this case being Christmas ornaments, German crafts, and wienerschnitzel. It makes for an interesting comparison to Fredericksburg, Texas, which seems to be thriving more than New Ulm is—or at least it has fewer empty or desperate storefronts. Also, the food is way better in Texas.

The tourist town is essentially the limit case of the “great neighborhood” phenomenon I pondered over a few posts back. If you’ve doubled-down on promoting the idea of the town, but the actual town is sort of depressing, what’s the next step? All the streetside amenities in the world won’t make those sad department stores any more attractive or that wienerschnitzel any less leaden.

We made it to Minneapolis in time to drop our things at our host’s and head over to Saint Paul. It’s nice to be on familiar ground. (I lived here for a number of years.) I’ll let Rob describe the game experience.

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