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A visit to Amish country

Chicago VT meet day seven

View Chicago VT meet on ToonSarah's travel map.

The Millennium Fountain in the rain

Another early start today as Amelie and I were visiting Amish country with Kristi. We met up in the lobby to walk to the El, stopping off at Goddess and the Baker to buy muffins and coffee to go. We arrived downtown with time to spare so ate our muffins in Millennium Park before going to the station of the same name where we caught the South Shore line train to Hammond.

It had started to rain just as we arrived at Millennium station and was still doing so when we got to Hammond, where Kristi picked us up. But as we drove towards Shipshewana the skies brightened and we arrived to much improved weather. As we neared the area we started to see Amish buggies on the road, which Kristi told us it was OK to photograph as long as the driver wasn’t really shown. So I managed to get a few shots through the windscreen as she drove.



In Amish country near Shipshewana


Our first stop was at the Menno-Hof museum, where we had a fascinating tour based mainly around a series of short video presentations, each in a different room. We learned a lot about the origins of the Mennonites and Amish, and the other Anabaptist groups, as well as their history of persecution, and their beliefs and way of life.

The Menno-Hof Museum

There were also a number of mock-ups, including a 17th century sailing ship with audio of a woman passenger describing the terrors of crossing the Atlantic and the death on board of her daughter.

Bunks in the sailing ship mock-up

Elsewhere there was a room set up like the inside of an Amish house, and lots of details reflecting Amish and Mennonite style as well as beliefs.

The Amish home replica




Menno-Hof Museum exhibits


After a fairly length visit to the museum we drove to Kristi’s recommended lunch place, the Essenhaus, stopping briefly on the way at a grocery store where she wanted to buy something and where Amelie and I got our best chance of photographing a buggy.

Buggy passing the shop

Then it was on to the Essenhaus and a tasty buffet lunch. I tried to be restrained as we would be eating dinner later, but the apple crisp for dessert (like a crumble but heavy on the cinnamon and with less toping) was too good not to indulge in a decent portion!

We checked out the shop, but I didn’t find anything to buy. The smaller items in particular I found quite tacky, somewhat to my surprise given the simplicity of Amish style. And the patchwork quilts proved, when Amelie looked closely, to have been made in China!

Back to Chicago

Then it was time to drive back to the station where we easily caught the train back to Chicago, arriving at the hotel soon after six.


Hammond Station

In the evening we met up with Isa, who had spent the day visiting the Chicago Institute of Art, and went for dinner at True Foods a few blocks from the hotel. Although billed as a health food option, the menu was far more indulgent than health food places at home. I had an excellent salad with grilled salmon, a good (and reasonably priced) glass of wine and a rich flourless chocolate cake dessert. Great food and great company made for a lovely last evening in Chicago!

With Isa and Amelie in the True Food Kitchen

Posted by ToonSarah 10:57 Archived in USA Tagged people food history restaurants chicago museum customs virtual_tourist

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Interesting to get a glimpse into an alternative lifestyle.

by irenevt

Thanks Irene - yes, it was fascinating!

by ToonSarah

Hello, Sarah! Thanks for sharing another great exploration story... Happy trails in the future!"

by Vic_IV

Thanks Vic, good to hear from you!

by ToonSarah

Glad you had such an interesting excursion from Chicago.

by Nemorino

Interesting. I didn't know there was an Amish settlement near Chicago. I grew up in an Amish area of Ohio. We used to shop at their bakeries and butcher shops.

One of my childhood horror stories was driving through an Amish area going down a long hill and seeing a car crash ahead of us (no buggies involved). We drove to the nearest house to call for help and the Amish family didn't have a phone. We had to try several houses before we found a telephone to call emergency services. This was in the 1950s before cell phones. That was scary because it was a pretty bad accident.

by Beausoleil

Thank you for visiting Don and Sally :)

This area of Indiana has quite a large community of both Amish and Mennonites. We learned how the former still don't have phones in their homes, or mobile phones, but do have them in communal buildings for emergencies. The Mennonites are more engaged in modern society however and do use phones.

by ToonSarah

Love your pictures! The Amish are really interesting and I would love have seen the museum as well. Have to remember this!

by Ils1976

Thank you Ils - the museum was excellent and really taught me a lot about these communities :)

by ToonSarah

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