The day after Christmas we decided we weren't able to let Christmas go, so we drove up to the mountain towns of Helen and Dahlonega, Georgia for the day. (You can also visit the birthplace of Cabbage Patch Kids if that's your thing - personally, I can't believe I loved those creepy dolls as a child of the 80's! Then I read today that the guy that founded the company actually stole the idea of the design for the dolls from a lady that sold them at local craft fairs. What a bummer! You can read more about it here.)
I think I've mentioned Helen here before, but haven't shared many photos. Both towns are around a 1.5 hour drive, so, not far. We went to Dahlonega first and then drove around 20 minutes to Helen. I went to Dahlonega with the boys a few years ago, but it was during a festival, so we didn't really check out the downtown area. This time we went as a family, and it was pretty quiet which was nice. The downtown area is so cute and was still decorated beautifully for Christmas.
There are a couple nice toy stores there that aren't overpriced or cheesy. One had some really nice quality toys (good brands, lots of wooden instead of plastic) and a General Store that had lots of cool things, especially for little boys. Ethan said he came do Dahlonega as a kid, and as a boy, this place was magical to him! He was very into rocks, minerals and geodes. So if you are looking for a place to visit in Georgia and have kiddos, this is a cute place to visit.
We ate at a fantastic restaurant serving Cajun food and the food was AMAZING. My relatives are from Louisiana so I feel like I know good cajun food... and this was GOOD.
After we ate and walked around town, we drove to Helen. I brought my Christmas present, my first Pullip! I hadn't taken doll photos in a public place in a while, so I think I had to get used to the idea again. But for the most part, I realized again that most people don't really care about what you're doing. They're more interested in what THEY are doing. Ha. But yeh, you can still feel people looking at you. But I've always said, life is short, and photographing dolls is my most favorite part of collecting dolls. It's a challenge to do it, I think that's why I like it.
Here are photos of my doll and also of Helen. Helen was revitalized into a quaint Alpine Village Replica in the 60's and it draws lots of tourists to this day. We've been several times, but we explored a little further away from the main "downtown" area and found some really wonderful shops and places to eat that we hadn't seen before.
We had just watched It's a Wonderful Life, so we were so stoked to see this store sign while walking around!
The main downtown area has cute places tucked here and there, and a little biergarten and a restaurant with authentic German food that's really good. There are definitely some cheesy tourist-y t-shirt shops that I wish they'd do away with and replace them with more high-end toy stores or other shops that carry more authenticly German handcrafted items, but they also have some nice shops as well, you just have to look for them. It's definitely worth a trip for the kitschy German experience!
We decided that next time we come we'll have to stay at the Heidi Hotel right down the road. Also nice because we can drink at the biergarten and be able to walk home! ; )
My girl here is wearing a dress that my friend made for my Blythe dolls (thanks Heather!) and a vintage Barbie head scarf, jacket and boots. I love that Pullips can mostly wear Blythe clothes! I don't have to buy a new wardrobe. Her hair (much like Blythe stock hair) isn't the best - I need to give her a little salon treatment and trim the ends. ; ) I also sent some links to some gorgeous doll wigs to Ethan in hopes to get them for my birthday next week. I love that Pullips have a matte face! Never been a fan of shiny Blythe faces.
I usually get a doll for Christmas to add to my collection, but I took last year off because I felt my excitement for dolls was kind of waining, but this year seems to be different. I'm getting really excited about dolls again! I've always wanted a Pullip, but was so into Blythe that I stuck with her. I've been feeling a little bored with Blythe the past couple years, so I started looking at Japanese/Korean dolls again. There are some A M A Z I N G dolls out there, some that are mucho pricey.
What I like about Pullips are that they have these beautiful Asian features and make me think so much about Japan, and my love for all things kawaii - but they're around the same price as Blythe, if not cheaper. Pullips were actually originally designed by a Korean and first marketed by a Japanese company, but are now with a Korean company. You can read more here.
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know how MUCH we want to go to Japan! Every year we try to make it happen. Unfortunately with the price of tickets being so expensive it hasn't been possible, but we finally have enough miles to get at least one ticket... so the possibility is becoming more real! We'll see!
Another fun thing about our trip to Helen was that we saw an AMAZING (yes, I've used that word too much in this post) GIGANTIC model train exhibit called Charlemagne's Kingdom. It's in "HO" scale which is the most popular scale for model railroads in the world apparently. I love that the owner of the model is actually from Germany! Here's a little bit from the site of what the model represents:
The Alpine Model Railroad exhibit depicts Germany from the North Sea to the Alps through accurately landscaped topography.The model, complete with bridges, autobahn with moving vehicles, and authentic German rural, industrial and urban architecture, is fully peopled. The computer-operated railway system with intriguing train track layouts, terminals, tunnels and trestles is circled by miniature Hot-Air Balloons. Thousands of hours went in to assembling every model for the 20' by 50' layout.
I left my camera battery in our car, which I didn't realize until I walked into the exhibit. I was so bummed I couldn't get photos with my good camera, but I got some with my phone at least. They are taken through plexiglass, so they look a bit hazy. You can also view the model from above which was cool. I am absolutely obsessed with everything miniature, so I got a total kick out of all the tiny little details.
The amusement park!
The Haunted House at the fair! And a marching band!
So cool right?
Have you been to Helen or Dahlonega? Do you collect Pullip Dolls?