When I wrote about my trip to Hermann, MO a while back, I told you all about my grace-filled experiences at the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows in nearby Starkenburg, MO. And, I promised that there would be another part. Well, today’s the day! Herein lies “German in Every Particular:” Hermann, MO is an American Rhineland Part II.
One of the things I love most about my Marian Pilgrimage project – aside from the amazing places of graces – is the people I encounter along the way and I certainly was not disappointed in Hermann, MO. Visiting there was like visiting our home town. Maybe better. The Hermann folks are friendly, helpful, and pleasant. Add to that the town’s 1800’s river town charm, and you have place that’s truly worth visiting.
Take Ricky, owner of Ricky’s Chocolate Box, for example. Heruns the shop with his wife, Mary, and makes all of his chocolates from scratch and by hand. He began making chocolates in the 1990’s as gifts for family and friends. One day, he visited the shop of a chocolatier in Florida and was awed by the overflowing cases of fine chocolates. His awe turned to disillusionment when he discovered that all of the chocolates had been purchased from other sources.
That did it. Ricky created his own recipes, opened his own shop, and set to work. His ingredients include only the finest essences and oils he can find and he buys only whole nuts and crushes them himself because they’re fresher that way. To make a richer product, he blends different chocolates together for his recipes. He’ll do anything, he says, to assure that his chocolates of the finest quality and he blends chocolates to create a unique and richer product. Because of this, all of Ricky’s chocolates are unique.
We walked into the shop late one afternoon and met Ricky. He was gentile and relaxed and when we asked him which was the best of his abundant selection, he said, “They all are.” That’s because they all are and he stands by his product. It’s a matter of personal taste – or more appropriately, personal craving.
It was only after we’d been chatting for a while that I noticed the sign that said the shop hours had ended for the day – before we’d even walked in! But Ricky hadn’t said a word and when I tried to apologize for our mistake, he brushed it off , told us to take as long as we wanted and continued on with the conversation. Fine hospitality, not to mention fine chocolates!
We met with Hermann hospitality everywhere we went and truly enjoyed our meals at Tin Mill Brewery and Stone Hill Winery. Both had excellent food and top-rate wait staff. The portions were generous and the prices reasonable, making our dining experiences absolutely delightful. the authentic German cuisine at Stone Hill was the veritable icing on the cake!
The creme de la creme, however, was our stay with Lee and Keely at their AirBnB lodging in a quiet Hermann neighborhood. It was my first time using AirBnB and, admittedly, I was a bit nervous. Meeting this young couple and parents of four wiped out any reservations I initially had. We rented a private bedroom in their family home with an accompanying bathroom and had the entire upper floor to ourselves. It was so homey and pleasant! Their children were well-behaved, courteous and barely made a peep the entire time we were there. We hit it off right from the start because, like Fenelon Clan, they’re a home schooling family. Lee and Keely saw to our every need and we had a marvelous time staying with them.
Each morning, we had a sumptuous, elegant breakfast at The Cottage, owned by Lee’s mom, Kay. After being widowed by her beloved Air Force husband, Kay decided she needed a new direction. and something that she could pass on to her children. She purchased an astoundingly beautiful track of land in the hills along the Missouri River, set up a classy lodging and event venue and The Cottage was born.
As you can imagine, it was a big venture for one woman, and so Lee and Keely moved their family from Colorado to Hermann to lend a hand. They further developed the property by adding three tree houses for rental. That’s right. Tree houses. They’re simply incredible and complete with plumbing and electricity. Heading back to Hermann and staying in one of those tree houses at The Cottage is now on my bucket list!
It wasn’t just the elegant breakfast and lovely atmosphere that made our breakfasts so incredibly enjoyable. Our hosts were SO caring, attentive to every detail, and genuinely fun that their joy was contagious. They have a gift for making folks feel at home, not just in The Cottage itself, but also with them and with each other. Being able to chat with other guests from various parts of the country and traveling for different reasons amplified the joy exponentially. Their Christian values shine through their personalities.
My only regret, of course, is that we couldn’t stay longer. Perhaps, God willing, the remedy for that will be a return trip.