The ride to Cullman, AL seemed like it would go on forever. I am thankful that my kiddos are so willing to take on traveling. From what I experienced while sitting in the very back row of our 12 passenger van its always very bumpy. During the trip the kids and I kept ourselves entertained with knitting, reading, and interesting conversation. I guess it’s a good thing I spend my entire day with them or I might have struggled with spending so much extra time with them.
We arrived at the Grotto around lunch time. There were picnic tables located near the entrance. For lunch we had PB&J rollups, Ham and cheese rollups, apples, popcorn, pretzels, and juice. It was a really cold day for Alabama so the kids walked around and ate to keep themselves warm. We ate more quickly than usual hoping to seek shelter in the gift shop.
We spent almost an hour exploring the gift shop. It was full of Catholic everything. Most Catholic churches in our area have their own small Catholic store but nothing like what was in the Ave Maria Grotto’s gift shop. I wanted to buy everything. I mean everything even the duplicates. We bought some crucifixes for Pippi to continue her love of making Rosaries and I got a new scapular as mine had started to cause some skin irritation.
We paid for admission and headed outside. The grotto is known as Jerusalem in Miniature. It contains over 100 reproductions of famous buildings. The first thing you see is a beautiful enclosure with the Nativity inside. It’s amazing how during the Christmas season we take more time to notice the details in Nativity scenes.
We tried our best to get the boys to slow down and look at everything instead of running. It really is just part of their nature. The kids all had fun looking at the mini versions of different churches, buildings and shrines. Duke even managed to find a lizard condo. While Baby Kermit and Pooh thought the chipmunk crossing was interesting.
The buildings were beautifully constructed. It’s amazing to think a monk, Brother Joseph Zoetl constructed most of the structures. I love his creative spirit. He used my new favorite word: resourcefulness to accomplish such an amazing place. There is a pamphlet that tells you about each structure and a little history. My favorite of course being the Nativity.
It is definitely one of those places that I think you can visit multiple times and find things you didn’t notice the first time. If you live in or near Alabama or your just traveling though this is a great place to visit. And if you seem some of the Monks don’t be afraid to chat with them. They are very friendly. Grandpa and Bubbles had a nice chat with one of them that made the trip more special for them both.