Day 1 - 6:00am
We left Plano a little after 6:00am. We wanted to be sure to have time to stop for kolaches
and coffee in West, TX
and still make it to Gruene before noon. We rolled into West around 8am and headed straight for Gerik's Ole Czech Bakery & Smokehouse.
We've had kolaches before, and had kolaches from the popular Czech Stop in West, but we have always found them to be dry and rather small. So, we did a search for the best kolaches in West, and Gerik's was mentioned on a number of forums and blogs. Gerik's is off the beaten path and we drove right past it (well, Richelle knew where it was, but Patrick didn't believe her and kept on driving). Once we made it inside, our eyes bulged at the humongous kolaches - some filled with breakfast sausage and others filled with fruit and cream. They even had cinnamon rolls the size of a 1st graders head. It was a tough decision, but Richelle went with a breakfast sausage kolache and a pecan pie kolache while Patrick chose a meat and sausage kolache and an apricot cream kolache. We were not disappointed. Gerik's will be our one and only stop for kolaches from here on out!
After breakfast, we hit the road again. We weren't on the road for very long when we came up behind a Toyota Camry. He was driving rather slowly in the passing lane. He finally decided to move over so we could pass him, which we did. All of a sudden, he comes speeding past us. We turn to look, and it was a gentleman of a certain age. This went on for a good 5 minutes - he speeding past us, then slowing down, us passing him, and he speeding past us again. He obviously wanted to race, but Richelle insisted we not race gramps ("I do not want to be responsible for an old man's stroke!), so we allowed him to win the race that day.
After one more rest stop, we arrived in Gruene
a little after 11am.
The crowds had not yet gathered, so we easily found a parking spot. We wandered through a couple of shops and decided to stop for lunch at Janie's Table
We took a spot on the covered patio and ordered a couple of cool beverages and food - Richelle had the bbq brisket with potato salad (heavy on the mayo-yum!) and coleslaw. Patrick had the bbq tacos (brisket inside flour tortillas) and fries. To top it off, we split a cup of Janie's mud pie and vanilla ice cream. Our lunch was good, but I don't think I would eat there again - it was nothing special.
After lunch, the heat and humidity were kickin' up, so we headed back to our hotel to rest before dinner at Oma's Haus
. The exterior and interior look just like grandma's house.
When you walk in, you walk right into the bakery showcasing various cakes and other sweets. To the right is the gift shop selling steins and other German kitsch; to the left is the dining room. Patrick sampled a few beers and Richelle tried the one riesling on their menu. The wine was good, but she's had better. They started with the grilled sausage sampler-three kinds of sausage grilled with bacon and onions. Patrick had the chicken schnitel with mashed potatoes and Richelle had Oma's pride with fried potatoes-spinach dish prepared with three kinds of cheese and ground beef and served in puff pastry. Both meals were good, but the Bavarian Grill
in Plano beats it by a mile.
After dinner, we decided to explore downtown New Braunfels
and stumbled upon the Uptown Piano Bar
at the Prince Solms Inn
. We descended the stairs and walked into a dimly lit lounge, complete with chandeliers, candles, and couches (the photos on the website do not do it justice!). We were the only people in the bar for about a half hour, then the place began to fill up once the piano player started. He was a lot of fun - taking requests and joking with the crowd. A great way to end a long day.