We had some friends visit us last weekend that had never visited Alabama before. We took a short drive over to Cullman to show them around and tell them about the town's German heritage and visit the campus of St. Bernard preparatory school, and the Ave Maria Grotto. It had been many years since I had been to the Grotto, one of north Alabama's hidden jewels and a very unusual sight, listed in Atlas Obscura's most interesting and unusual places to visit in Alabama. The Grotto is a garden setting on 4 acres of an old rock quarry where a Benedictine monk named Brother Joseph labored for 50 years building 125 miniature works of all kinds of famous buildings of the world. The peaceful setting is nice to stroll around looking at the elaborate works and reflecting on the quiet life of this man, who used all kinds of objects and building supplies in the construction, including marbles, tiles, sea shells, discarded glass jars, and costume jewelry to create his work of love. A very nice stop if you're in the area, it doesn't take long to walk through the displays, and there's a nice gift shop also where you can buy "Monk's bread", a tasty cinnamon and raisin homemade bread baked at the monastery there.