This was a quick spur of the moment road trip to Galena, Illinois. I have been to Galena once before to shoot a wedding in the winter. I remembered the atmosphere being quaint, historical and charming, but I didn’t get a good chance to capture the essence of the small village at that time. This trip started with a 2 hours, back road, sunny drive up the Iowa side of the Mississippi. We stopped along the way to get fresh air and a few drinks in Princeton, Iowa at Go Fish. This establishment was very impressive for the small town it resided in. Built in the air on stilts, the view from every window was the mighty river, looking exceptionally blue with scattered ice blocks floating throughout. The staff was friendly and drinks were cold.
When planning this last minute trip to Galena, I spent about 30 minutes researching around 5 different places. Galena has many fancy lodges, private cabins, and charming bed and breakfasts. The last website I clicked on was a place called “Abe’s Spring Street Guest House”. I instantly became excited because it was small, reviews were good, very reasonable prices and it had hot tub/sauna access. I have to have hot tub/sauna access. When we arrived at Abe’s, Saturday at 3pm, it was more than I ever expected. It was perfect.
The room, called “Albert’s Glen”, actually feels like a small apartment. At first walk through, I noticed all of the detailed handles, fixtures, statues, tiles, hardware. The elegance and personal touch on every piece of decor are outstanding. You can feel everything oozing with a story behind it. And sure enough, everything did have a story behind it. As the lady innkeeper would later tell me, the next morning at a delicious breakfast, her husband, Charles, is an artist and craftsman. The rabbit on the handles, that was Jenny, just one of the 5 past rabbits they had. The impressive dog heads in the bathroom, that was indeed, Albert, their beloved past pet, that the room was named after. My heart overflowed with tenderness as I soaked up the story of this adorable couple combining art, beloved past memories, and a profession of welcoming strangers from all over the world into their home.
Upon leaving their kitchen via the iron spiral staircase, I made sure to pick up one of Charles’s hand-made coffee mugs from their street level public Art Gallery. I hope I never have to stay anywhere else in Galena, Illinois. I will be returning to Abe’s Spring Street Guest House.
We occupied our time and appetites the day before at Gobbie’s for lunch. We stuffed ourselves with beer nuggets and beer. Later that night, we dined at Fried Green Tomatoes. Again, stuffing ourselves. Starting with the fried green tomatoes, followed by steak dinners. We had every intention of going out to the bar scene after dinner, But the 180z bone-in ribeye for him and the filet for me reacted like a heavy dose of sleep medication for the both of us and it was back to the Inn we went.
After breakfast the next morning, the snow started to fall and we stopped downtown so I could get some last minute cityscape shots before the journey home. I quickly sprinted to the few areas I could get some good shots while trying to avoid the chill wind and ice on the ground. We didn’t stay very long, but it was a heartfelt trip with a calm, welcoming energy. I am looking forward to returning this summer to shoot a wedding for an amazing couple, Lindsey and Jason. I am already envisioning the photographs that I will be able to capture. Until next time, Galena. xoxo.
What other small cities remind you of Galena, Illinois??? What other attractions or restaurants should I check out when I am in Galena next time???? Please leave suggestions and comments below!