You may never have hear of this delightful little town but you may well have heard of University of Michigan, the learning center for many future lawyers and doctors.
Where is Ann Arbor? Just 45 minuted from Detroit but chalk and cheese to its bigger neighbour. Detroit is the city of cars. Ann Arbor is for strolling, studying and socialising.
I tried to google the origin of the name and it is uncertain. Speculation is that it was named after two of the founders’ wives both called Ann who used to sit under a tree (arbor is latin for tree)
At first sight Ann Arbor is a pretty, small American town with lots of trees and quaint old wooden buildings but a short walk brings you to the main street, lots of lively bars and restaurants and it is easy to imagine hundreds of students enjoying a beer or two. There is also a Michigan University shop where sweatshirts and memorabilia go like hotcakes but at a little more than student prices!
Most of these students start their journey with their parents by staying overnight before visiting campus at the wonderfully quirky The Graduate hotel. It is a very tall hotel, but somehow it still has a small and boutiquey feel. It is student themed but very well done, not tacky and with neat little touches like student card room keys, photos of kids on the walls, portrait paintings done by local artists or possibly students, blackboards around the reception area with geometry and equations written on them in chalk. More blackboards used as notice boards and a comfortable outdoor area. The rooms are also student themed and have a lovely view of the city.
The main street has lots of independent shops, restaurants and Nickels Arcade. Michigan are very proud of their old 1928 cinema which still has a booth outside like in the old movies, a popcorn machine in the foyer and a beautiful original interior reminiscent a small London theatre. The developers wanted to demolish it but the locals fought and won.
One independent and really interesting mini chain is Zingerman’s Deli which consists of the deli, the roadhouse, the creamery and the bakehouse. The Deli is no ordinary deli.It is quirky and fun. Not only it has food and cook books from all over the world, a salad counter with dishes like Killer Quinoa, It has a children’s play area, an outdoor cafe, gifts for graduates and notices of local events. It is truly a community meeting place.
The university itself has a beautiful library, the oldest building dates back to 1838 and I could just imagine Hermione plotting up with Ron and Harry, not what you would expect to see in America at all. It was just so quaint.
We spent a good couple of hours walking around the campus and the town itself so while it is small it is far from sleepy and a piece of my heart was left there. I could happily live somewhere like this.