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Ephrata Cloister

September 7, 2008

IMG_2280, originally uploaded by

While we spent a year in Colorado we didn’t get out and do all that much and ended up regretting it. It’s a mistake we don’t intend to repeat now that we are living in Philadelphia. While there is a ton to do in Philly we ended up heading out west again today. J. had to go to Valley Forge to get a physical so we decided to go apple picking on our way back home. Unfortunately we didn’t check to make sure the apple place was open on Sundays (it wasn’t) so we had to move to Plan B. We had a list of covered bridges with routes in between them so we decided to check out some of them so the trip wasn’t a total waste. I have to admit I wasn’t that impressed. Architecturally and historically speaking they are interesting but visually they are pretty much all the same and I wasn’t really inspired to take any quality photos. We did a small loop and headed to Ephrata Cloister. It’s supposedly a must see for the area and we were only a couple miles away.

We had a lot of fun taking pictures here (the light was also better since it was later in the day) but ended up getting kicked out because they were closing. We definitely want to go back with our tripod and external flash (push of which we left in our car…). The photo above is one of my favorites. I snapped it randomly and ended up really liking it. J. took one that required him to hold very very still and you can see the color of the stool much better.


We spent the short hour we were there passing the camera back and forth and came out with some nice shots. It costs $7 per person to get into but they do have a short video detailing the history of the cloister and they have guided tours every half hour. I’m not sure if it’s worth $7 but you do get to go inside some of the buildings and they are almost the original structures restored to their original appearance which is pretty cool. There are eleven buildings (I believe) on their property including a bakery, printing house, carpenter shop, living quarters, meeting hall, stables and the founder’s house so there is quite a bit to see. I guess a better way to put it into perspective is that we paid the same amount of money to see an “amish village” that wasn’t built in the 1700s, was never lived in by the amish, and didn’t have nearly as much property and buildings. So if you are looking for history and architectural interest this is definitely something you should see- just make sure you give yourself a couple hours to see it all.

The bridges by comparison are obviously free and the loops created by the visitors center will take you through Amish country or other small towns that each have their own charm. I just wouldn’t count on the bridges being the highlight of your day- unless you are really into bridges in which case you’d love it.

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