When you are over fifty and have adult children, you tend to remember rather wistfully, not only the wonderful times you spent raising your own kids, but often the fond memories of what I like to refer to as my “Satellite” children. These are the amazing, witty, and charming children that orbited around your own children. And if you are very blessed, they may remember you fondly as well, despite maybe yelling at them a time or two or making them do the dishes.
So it was with great happiness that we received an invitation to attend the wedding of a friend of our oldest son. The wedding was going to be in Columbus Ohio, a city in which neither my husband nor I have ever been.
Being a relatively easy five hour drive through some of the more breathtaking landscapes of Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, we decided to drive to Ohio rather than fly. We arrived in Columbus in the early evening and settled into our hotel in the Worthington section of the city. It was a gorgeous first weekend of fall, however someone forgot to tell the weather because it was HOT.
The hotel was comfortable enough, although why we seem to always get stuck with a handicap room, I just don’t know. My neck still hurts from trying to contort in the shower while trying to wash my hair with a shower wand stuck on the wall at about the three foot level.
Our fellow lodgers on the first floor, included a roaming pack of youth soccer players, a parcel of people from three wedding parties, and a large collection of chain smoking Ohio State Buckeye fans. While our fellow roommates were quite active early on they were all surprisingly well mannered after 11:00 pm.
Road Tripping makes a body hungry so we made hasty reservations at the local seafood and steak house, pulled on more appropriate attire then shorts and flip flops, and headed out to dinner. Our oldest son had arrived the night before but because he was part of the wedding party he had the rehearsal dinner and could not join us.
Arriving at J Gilbert’s we were told that our name was not on the reservation list, but not to worry they could seat us immediately. Mike realized later that he reserved us at a different seafood and steak house, which btw, makes me hopeful for the culinary appetites of the good people of Columbus.
The main dining room was modern and cozy with wood and stone accents, we experienced exceptional service, and our entrees of seafood and steak were very good. Surprised that it was on the cocktail list, my husband had a glass of Lagavulin at the end of the night, and because every person’s vice is different, I indulged in an incredible slice of coconut cake.
Waking up in the morning I had a headache and stuffed up nose from the smell of cigarette smoke. I didn’t recall the room smelling like smoke when we checked in or we would have changed rooms, so some inconsiderate soul must have been smoking in the hall during the night. A hot shower helped immensely even if I did get a cramp in my side from trying to bend sidewise to take it. A quick breakfast of coffee and a parfait from the in house Bistro, and we were off to get some fresh air and to see a little bit of Columbus.
The wedding wasn’t until 5:00 pm so we had plenty of time to explore. I did a little research prior to coming to Columbus so I knew that the German Village was close by. After a necessary side trip to the Moo Moo car wash to clean the layer of bugs off the windshield, we found the village and parked the car.
CROSS TIP: Parking can be limited depending on the time of year. There are festivals that run throughout the year, and areas that are zoned for resident parking only. If you are unable to find street parking, try the Brewery Garage on S. Front St.
In all honesty I wasn’t expecting to be dazzled by the area. From the pictures online it appeared to look no different than our local historic downtown. However, I was soon to fall under its spell. The history of the village is not unlike the stories of a lot of towns in the eastern parts of the States. Settled primarily by German immigrants in the early 1800’s it saw a steady growth as the community flourished. Hard working men and women built their homes and businesses while defining the American dream.
We picked our way around the empty cobbled stone streets while peeking down the alleyways between the houses and discovered that this was where the true magic hid. As if by some contest, each home’s courtyard was more beautiful than the one before. A riot of flowers, dwarf trees, fountains and bright pots lined the spaces inbetween. I was captivated, as I am a true lover of hidden gardens and secret paths. Because I had left my big camera in the hotel room, I only have cell phone photos to share on this blog, but the German Village has an active and proud Garten Club and I would encourage you to flutter around on their website to view more.
As I mentioned previously, the day was hot. We had stopped by Schmidt’s Banquet Haus earlier in the morning, to use their public restrooms (Good tip!) and to snap this iconic photo.
Entering the restaurant Mike spied an array of sausages, knockwurst and frankfurters, while I was in awe of the dessert display case situated devilishly close to the main entrance, probably in order to lure unsuspecting sailors to their deaths by sugar, with its array of tarts, strudels, pies, and Schmidt’s mile high world famous cream puffs, we vowed solemnly that we would return for lunch.
And we did.
Upon returning, we were tucked into a quiet corner of the historic restaurant which suited me just fine. After placing drink orders, we examined the extensive lunch menu. Mike opted for the German Autobahn Buffet, more than likely because he eats fast, and I ordered the Bahama Mama “The Original,” which sounded weirdly Caribbean to me. Mike left to fuel up at the Autobahn and I read the informative placemat to learn the story behind the restaurant while I waited for my meal.
Before I read halfway through the first paragraph my food was placed in front of me courtesy of a very attentive server named Mike. I know it does not look like much, but the food on that plain plate down there was so full of spicy authentic yumminess, it was everything you would hope it to be from people making sausages since 1886. I slathered mine with a sample of the three types of mustard sitting on the table (I didn’t dare ask for ketchup) which enhanced the flavor of the sausage even more. My Mike soon returned to the table with his plate filled to the brink with all manner of sausages, kraut, beets and salads. He tucked into his plate just as I was finishing off mine.
After one more trip around the Autobahn for my husband and a glass of cider for me, we lingered a bit to congratulate the crush of Ohio State fans not at the home game on their lopsided victory, which was 54-21 in case you’re curious. As we paid our bill we managed to ignore the siren song emanating from the dessert case and narrowly made it back out onto the street without succumbing to its tasty enticements.
Well fed, relaxed and hydrated we strolled back to our car to return to the hotel. We went swimming in the indoor pool and then got dressed to watch two beautiful people marry each other. We ended the night dancing with old friends and new, as the bride and groom beamed with happiness surrounded by all who loved them and wished them a lifetime of happiness.