While up to my eyeballs in packing paper, bubble wrap and styrofoam peanuts, I've had plenty of time to ponder the past two years. Now yes, I have complained about the weather here, the distance from my family, and the amusing, if not slightly annoying, idiosyncracies of many Michiganders, but there are also plenty of things I have enjoyed about Ann Arbor. The saying is true, this place is definitely 12 square miles surrounded by reality, but you know what? It's a pretty nice little fairy tale land if you ever get a chance to visit. We've had some good times, visited some great places, and made some absolutely wonderful friends, whom we will miss dearly. Here's the breakdown of some things that made our Midwestern sojourn memorable:
- The Art Fair: Hands down the most amazing street art fair I've ever been to. It takes 3 days to see all of it, and the range of artists is just incredible. There's nothing I like more in the summer than wondering around downtown, taking advantage of street sales, checking out gorgeous art from around the country, and people watching. It puts RI art fests to shame.
Tailgating and the Big House: As New Englanders who could not possibly care less about college football, E and I were nonplussed by the idea of living literally 2 miles from Michigan Stadium. After one visit to a tailgate, we knew we'd have to change our minds. While we never became Wolverine fans (why would we?) I can't tell you enough about how much fun we had hosting our first huge tailgate bash and going to a game. Even if you are like us and just don't get it, dropping in on a game is worth the experience. The band is fantastic and the enthusiasm of the crowd is so infectious, you may forget that Michigan is the most overrated team in Big Ten football (maybe even more overrated than Stucchi's and Zingerman's! Hahaha!).
- Conor O'Neill's, Grizzly Peaks, The Brown Jug, and Charley's: How do I love thee, beer? Let me count the ways... Actually, I can't begin to count how many beers and fun times we've had in these four bars, which quickly became our go-to spots. In reality, I don't think it had as much to do with the places themselves (although Grizzly has the best bar food, Conor's is a decent Irish pub before the kids arrive and smoke it out, and both Charley's and the Jug have ridiculously cheap prices) as it did the company. I almost peed myself on many occassions (from laughing, people, laughing!).
- The Chop House, Palio, Shalimar, Raja Rani, Prickly Pear, and eve: There are so many restaurants in this area, you could eat at a new one every night for months. There are tons we never got to, but these are all places where we had really good food. Shalimar and Raja Rani have some of the best Indian food ever, and Prickly Pear is really delicious Southwestern food. While Palio isn't the authentic Italian we snobby Rhode Islanders are used to (we can't help it being raised by The Hill!) it is the best you'll find around here. The Chop House, is your standard chop house, but thanks to some very generous peeps, we did enjoy awesome steaks and a Tiger sighting there. eve is the restauranut owned by the chef who got cut very early in last season's Top Chef (so sad!), but her restauraunt is a beautiful, intimate, little space and the food is gorgeous. Pricey, but worth it for apps and drinks at least!
- The Michigan Theater: I do love me a well preserved historical theater! This one is as beautiful as PPAC, if not as large, and the films and shows they choose are always fab. They are so dedicated to showcasing locals and indies, and it's just a really fun place to visit. Beats the sticky floors and funk of the State for local film viewing in a heartbeat!