Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mackinac tea in May: A grand time at the Grand Hotel

Matt and I just outside the Grand Hotel
Two weeks ago, we traveled to the tip of the lower peninsula and ferried across the Great Lakes to Mackinac Island. My son, Matt, volunteers as a forensics coach for his former high school and they end their competition season the second weekend of May at the Grand Hotel. Matt has a few hours of downtime, so we take the opportunity to meet up with him and enjoy the pre-season prices and smaller crowds. Of course, there's always the chance of pre-season weather and this year, we experienced chillier temps. But, it was still a great weekend filled with family, history, fudge and, of course, tea.

Shopping at Carleton's Tea Shop inside the Grand Hotel
This year, we made it to the hotel well before afternoon tea time, and, so had a chance to shop before Carleton's Tea Shop closed. Their tea selection is inviting. Displayed in old time wooden bins, you can view and sniff the tea  as you read about the ingredients under the bin lids. I bought Isle Royal and Mackinac Island Breeze tea. Brewing them up once back home, I found both are wonderful with fruity flavors -  great for the warmer weather. For a review of Mackinac Island Breeze tea, see the Detroit Tea Examiner's review, Start your summer with a Mackinac Island Breeze in your teacup.

Chris in a pensive moment during afternoon tea

We were among the first parties to be seated for afternoon tea. The sweets and savories were amazing. The only surprise we encountered - and different from the experience we had last year - was that the tea came in tea bags. Harney's teas are fine to be sure, but for such a grand place, loose tea just seems to be the expected.

Delicious sweets and savories served on charming Grand Hotel china

The presentation, however, with the charming teacups that sport the hotel's signature geranium flowers, along with the service are superb. The views from the Grand Hotel's famous porch are equally stunning.

Views from the Grand Hotel's famous porch are spectacular

Despite the clouds and cooler temps, old time baseball demonstrations carried on for visitors to the island. Matt had viewed a game before we docked, and, on our way to the hotel, we were all able to catch few innings of new one. It was really captivating to see how baseball was played before the multi-millionaire contracts were part of the equation.

Old time baseball played with the straits of Mackinac backdrop

After a day of shopping, tea and baseball, my husband, Chris and I headed back to the ferry dock. Matt joined us at Mary's Bistro for a quick snack before he headed back to the hotel for his  banquet and Chris and I went back to Mackinaw City.

Enjoying a quick snack before boarding our ferry

Back at Mackinaw City, we checked in at our hotel and crossed the street for, what we hoped, would be a quick bite to eat. Forty-five minutes later, we got our pizza. Held captive in a dining room filled with stuffed wildlife, my husband was showing signs of the strain.  

The long wait for pizza. Chris was hungry as a . . . well, you get it. 

The pizza wait was just a temporary setback. We woke up the next morning to a beautiful sunrise on the lake, with a spectacular view of the island and the Grand Hotel. We walked the beach and even the swarm of May flies did not deter our spirits. 

We took a leisurely trip down Mackinac City's main street before heading south on I-75 to our home. In another four hours, we'd be reliving memories of the Mackinac Island with sinfully delicious fudge and Grand Hotel tea served in a souvenir cup. 

Real tourists don't come home without fudge. Also treated myself to  a tea cup from the Grand Hotel.

We support Matt's volunteering for his former high school's forensic team. We find the team's season finale to be a great opportunity to visit one of Michigan's most scenic and unique destinations!

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