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Baltimore Sightseeing Day 3 – Amish Country and Meet the Brits

Here’s Monday’s update, almost caught up!

This was a one-trip day for me, as the Sweet Adeline tour to Amish country went from 8:30am to 5:00pm. The tour was comprised of about 26 Sweet Adelines from all different places: Saskatchewan, England, Germany, Scotland, and various states in the U.S. My chorus friend and I sat next to two women from Darbyshire, England. The amusement they provided was worth the whole trip, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

The tour bus left from the convention center and took us a 45-ish drive into Lancaster, Pennsylvania. On the way, we learned a bit about the history of Amish coming into America. It is at this point our tour guide informed us that many of the Amish came from Germany, “you know, douche-land.” Yes, that’s exactly how he pronounced it. When everyone snickered and someone corrected him, he replied “well obviously I don’t speak the language.” My chorus friend and I were trying to hold in our laugher. It doesn’t take a native German-speaking person to know how to properly pronounce Deutschland. Seriously.

When we reached Lancaster, a tour guide educated in Amish culture boarded the bus, and guided us through the farmlands and community of Lancaster. I learned so much from this trip. We discussed family life, church, work, and marriage customs. Since I’m not a shy person, I asked several follow up questions to some of the information presented. For example, the tour guide told us that we would probably see Amish children riding scooters to get from place to place because they aren’t allowed to ride bicycles. Well, I wasn’t about to let THAT slide. I wanted to know what was so special about bicycles that they couldn’t use them. Apparently, a bicycle would allow the children the ability to travel far from home. Scooters, on the other hand, require the use of one foot directly on the ground, so it’s less likely they’ll go too far. I never would have thought of that!

Another interesting tidbit is that after an Amish wedding, which can include up to 400 guests, the bride and groom spend the next few weeks visiting every family that attended the wedding to thank them and collect their wedding presents. It’s like a bride-and-groom tour!

During a lull in the tour, we started chatting with the women from Darbyshire. They wondered if we drink tea as frequently as they do, and if we have gardens. At one point, one of the women asked us, “Does your director remind you about T&T when you go on stage?” We gave her a perplexed look because T&T doesn’t sound familiar. Their director reminds them to smile and keep good singing posture by saying “teeth & tits” or T&T for short. I imagined my own director saying this and immediately guffawed. “No,” we replied, “our director most definitely does NOT say that to us.” That would make for interesting backstage conversation.

At the end of the tour, we walked through a replica schoolhouse and Amish home so we could see how they live, the clothes they wear, and what some of the clothing colors signify. For example, unmarried Amish women wear a white pinafore over their colored dress, whereas married Amish women wear a black pinafore over their colored dress. The men only grow beards after they are married, and marriages only take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And yes, I asked why, but there was no good answer for that one. Our tour guide suspects those are the days that interfere the least with set routines such as church services.

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School is in at the one-room Amish schoolhouse!

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Teeny, tiny desks

Then we headed into the Amish restaurant next door and ate what can only be described as the most satisfying lunch I’ve had in a long time, perhaps ever. We were seated on long benches and served family style. This created plenty of opportunity to introduce ourselves to other tour guests and chat more with the Darbyshire ladies. They had asked us what time our chorus would be on stage for the competition and wanted to shout something in the auditorium so we would know it was them. We suggested they yell something that Americans wouldn’t normally yell. They decided on “tally ho!” So we’ll be sure to listen for that on Thursday.

Lunch was dish after dish of home-style foods like mashed potatoes, fried chicken, vegetables, buttered noodles, and on and on. The waitress then brought out several options for dessert. One of the Darbyshire crew wanted to know if we were having pudding. Well, I was certainly confused because pudding wasn’t one of the options presented. When they rephrased it as “sweets,” I finally understood that they say “pudding” instead of dessert. This prompted a lengthy discussion about what pudding means in the U.S. We had a tough time finding an equivalent dessert to compare it to, but decided panacotta is the closest thing they know.

The drive home was a bit quieter since we were all a bit tired. The final stop of the tour was to drop us off at a nearby outlet mall for 90 minutes. I’m sure they are contractually obligated to do that, but we really could have done without that. Nothing in that shopping center was unique. We have all of those stores back home, so it was a bit disappointing.

We got back to the convention center and headed back to our hotel. There, my friend and I made a quick stop to get some required costume alterations made. When I returned to my room, I saw that my second hotel roommate had tried to reach me and was having trouble checking into the hotel. They didn’t see her name listed as a guest and couldn’t find my name either. As it turns out, she as trying to check into the wrong hotel! We had a good laugh about it when she got to the room, then we headed out to dinner.

I recommended the same alehouse I tried when I first got there, and we ended the night with some good beer and great conversation.

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One comment on “Baltimore Sightseeing Day 3 – Amish Country and Meet the Brits

  1. Thanks for sharing! Such a unique experience!

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