The day had finally come to bid adieu to New York. Heinrich and I boarded the Amtrak train, disappointed that our time had come to an end, but at the same time excited at what lay ahead of us. Our train was destined for Philadelphia, but our plan was to immediately jump in a rental car and head out to Lancaster County, a.k.a., Amish country.
Like many people, I was fascinated with the Amish. Can there really be people in the twenty-first century who eschew cars and sometimes even bicycles (depending on the community and its set of rules, or Ordnung) in favour of ancient horse-drawn buggies? Before we took off for the east coast, I had watched a few documentaries on the Amish and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Since the Amish consider video or photographs to be graven images, interviews with them seemed to be few and far between (most of the interviews I watched were of people who had left the religion, and their views may be slightly tainted on account of the shunning and all), and what I had seen about them didn’t paint the Amish in the most positive light. Would they be rude and standoffish, glaring at us in our modern clothing and motorized vehicle? Still, I was excited to see Amish country for myself, and Heinrich was keen on learning more about these quintessential minimalists.
Almost as soon as we left the city limits of Philadelphia, the landscape flipped from gritty urban industry to verdant Pennsylvania countryside, complete with rolling hills and flowing streams. When we turned off the main highway and entered Lancaster County, we were surrounded by lush pasture and cornfields and then… our first buggy! We made it!
Our first stop in Amish country was the farmers market in a town called Bird-in-Hand (seriously!). My guidebook raved about how amazing this market was, and I had actually planned this part of our schedule around seeing it.
The market turned out to be … a basic farmers market (as most people probably would have guessed) with a few more Amish goods (oh, and the BEST sticky buns EVER!) than a run-of-the-mill market at home. I knew my disappointment wouldn’t last long, however, because our next stop was destined to be epic. We were going to Intercourse.
I admit (and it’s probably clear by this point in my blog) that I sometimes have a childish sense of humour. And to that end, nothing made me happier than seeing this:
Intercourse was actually a really cute, really quaint little town. After devouring the most amazing pretzel I’ve ever had (my mouth still waters when I think of it! Clearly, this lack of technology hasn’t hindered the Amish in the kitchen!), Heinrich and I strolled through the main square and lazily browsed the many shops.
Our next stop was a store called Dutch Haven, which seemed to be advertised everywhere as having the cheapest and the most souvenirs in all the land. We entered the giant windmill and were immediately given pieces of shoo-fly pie (basically a pie filled with a molasses mixture) to try. I appreciated the Amish country hospitality, especially since much of it appeared to involve delicious food.
By this time, it was early afternoon, and we had seen basically all we’d planned on seeing. We saw some Amish buggies, bought some amusing souvenirs (of course, I had to send postcards!), and had went to Intercourse (see what I did there? The hilarity just never ends!). Then, we saw an ad for a place called The Amish Village, and our afternoon was suddenly accounted for.