Tomorrow is B.O.B. Bob’s birthday. I won’t give away how OLD he is, but he’s definitely starting to get up there in age. I’m moving “The Thursday Thirteen” to Wednesday this week, because I have a special post planned for tomorrow to celebrate his birthday.
Every year, around this time, just in time for B.O.B. Bob’s birthday, B.O.B. Bob, my brother, and I head up to the Poconos for the guys to enjoy a long weekend at CIGARfest. While they’re hanging out with a bunch of other guys talking about cigars, clouding up entire rooms with thick clouds of smoke, trying to win cigar-related raffles, and rushing around trying to grab all the free cigars and paraphernalia they can get their hands on, I’m usually spending the days relaxing with a good book in a mountain house that we rent, or walking around the tranquil mountain neighborhoods enjoying the wildlife.
This year we decided to switch things up and stay in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, so that I could spend some time shopping and exploring around the historic town. I thought I’d share some of my favorite places and spaces in Bethlehem, although there are so many more that are worth exploring if you’re ever in the area.
I have to mention Cigars International; because it’s the whole reason we go to Pennsylvania every year, and one of my brother and B.O.B. Bob’s favorite places. It’s the guy version of a HomeGoods or Target; they can happily spend hours in that place, while I can only handle about five minutes before losing all ability to breathe. Luckily they have some rather nice benches outside of the store, tucked away from the weather in a shallow little alcove, which makes it a comfortable spot to sit and enjoy the quaint little town and it’s inhabitants.
We stayed at Historic Hotel Bethlehem this year, which is known for its famous past guests, not to mention their “Room with a Boo.” Luckily I didn’t read that info till right when we were checking out, because the room that is most often haunted was right down the hall from us.
Bethlehem Brew Works is a great place to have a beer and grab a bite to eat. It’s become one of our go-to spots over the years. Some of our favorites are the Bavarian Pretzels, Slag Pot Meatloaf, and absolutely anything that comes with Fegley’s Stout BBQ Sauce, which is good enough to guzzle down by the gallon.
I can, and most often do, spend hours on end in the Moravian Book Shop, which is the oldest continuously owned book store in the world. This is not your average bookstore. It takes up almost half a block, and includes Christmas, candy, clothing, home goods, gardening, and gift sections, as well as a small book shop with a great children’s reading area. After several hours of browsing, I picked up several vintage-style Mini Mercury Glass Ornaments, a Star of Bethlehem Starbuck Goldner Tile, and a recipe card for Moravian Sugar Cake, which I’ll be baking very soon.
I always get excited to browse through Antiques and Gifts on Broad, which carries Rich Connolly Folk Art. This year I hit the jackpot and purchased this hand painted nativity scene for fifty percent off. My mother has a nativity set that is very similar, however it was damaged during my parents move back to Maryland, so I’m super excited to have happened upon this great chalkware find. My collection is slowly growing a few pieces at a time.
Penn State Creamery Ice Cream is now located in the lower lobby of Historic Hotel Bethlehem; I suggest the Bittersweet Mint. WARNING – You may have to fight off several old men in the elevator, who have their hearts set on stealing your ice cream cone. By the way, there’s something so sinfully decadent about eating an ice cream cone while sitting on a hotel bed.
Walking around the property of the Central Moravian Church is an absolute must. The church is Bethlehem’s first congregation, and is the oldest Moravian church in North America.
I can never resist stopping by Seasons Olive Oil & Vinegar Taproom, where they sell a wide variety of olive oils, vinegars, artisan salts, and flavored sugars. This year I came out with Pomegranate Quince White Balsamic Vinegar, Roasted Butternut Squash Specialty Seed Oil, Murray River Australia Artisan Salt, Spanish Smoked Paprika, as well as Dark Cocoa and Coconut Organic Cane Sugar. I’m excited to put everything to use in the kitchen, especially the Coconut Organic Cane Sugar.
Bethlehem has one of the most amazing displays of wrought iron and historic structures, which are well worth taking a few hours to walk around and discover. There are a vast amount of Star of Bethlehem designs throughout the town as well; it’s almost overwhelming to realize how many of them are hidden within plain sight. Peeking beyond fences into the towns’ resident’s backyards is pretty rewarding as well; there are so many amazing hidden gardens tucked into the most unusual places.
The Chocolate Lab is a family owned chocolate shop that makes handmade chocolate in small batches, ensuring that they are always fresh and at their best. I’m a sucker for the Dark Chocolate Cherries, but I always buy a few Peanut Butter Balls for B.O.B. Bob and Matt.
The campus of Moravian College is quite unique, with some absolutely amazing architecture. It’s well worth the half an hour walk to check out the sights, even if some of the surrounding neighborhoods leave quite a bit to be desired. You can always make a game out of counting the pizza joints on your way there and back.
Little Italy On Main’s “Mozzarella Bella” was the most amazing thing I’ve had to eat in a long time.
Thank goodness I purchased this Yeowww! Stinkies Catnip Sardine at Bone Appetit Bakery for Brenna. It’s the only thing that has made her forget that we abandoned her; getting “high” makes her a much nicer kitty cat to be around!
ORIGINALLY POSTED 05/07/2014
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