It’s true the shortest distance between two points is a straight line; it is usually the most boring too. With an overnight trip to Pittsburgh planned, Kris chose a route that would take us through the rolling hills, gorgeous farms and tiny towns of central Ohio; I’m talking about Amish Country. We did a post on the area last summer, it’s so unique and pretty we think it’s worthy of another.Ohio’s Amish country is made up of 8 counties; together they are the worlds largest Amish/Mennonite settlement. The topography of the area is made up of picturesque farmland that carpets hills and valleys; barns are immaculately kept as are the homes. The roads are a treat for those that love a road that winds around tight corners and hugs wide curves, as the rise and slope challenge your driving skills; precisely the reason Kris enjoys them so much. It seems to be one photo worthy scene after another as you reach the top of a hillside or come around a curve; fields resemble a patchwork quilt of greens and gold; cows and horses appear content within their fences grazing on the land. All the while you are traversing the roads you have to remain conscious to the fact that you are sharing the road with an entire community of non-motorized travelers. Horse-drawn buggies are the most common means of transportation for local families; bicycles are right up there too; I have great admiration for the thighs that are able to pedal a bike up some of these hills….not to mention women do it wearing a dress! Life is lived at a much slower pace here, you can feel it as soon as you start to explore the area.
Speaking of exploration, that’s exactly what we do on our visits. We have no specific plan; we just simply drive around turning here or there on any road that looks interesting. I have a wonderful visitors map of the area and our Jeep has a compass, with that and a sense of adventure we are destined to have a great time. We were ready for lunch when we reached Berlin. Boyd and Wurthmann, open since 1938, is the oldest continually operating restaurant in Berlin; one of the most popular too. With no open tables we took two seats at the counter; we ordered a salad and a club sandwich then sat back and watched as waitresses cut and served more slices of delicious looking pies than I could count. Waiting gave me the opportunity to study the list of the day’s pies; from Apple Brown Bag and Fresh Peach to Southern Coconut Cream and Raisin, pieces disappear as fast as they can cut them! After polishing off our tasty meal we couldn’t help but indulge in a piece of Peanut Butter Pie…..YUM! We returned to the Jeep, back to the other side of Berlin and further east through Walnut Creek, Winesburg and Wilmot; stopping in here and there to wander through quaint shops. We dropped in at the Wendell August Forge, America’s oldest and largest forge featuring the well-known, hand-wrought metal ware. The elegant giftware and jewelry made from aluminum, bronze, pewter and sterling silver is still handmade in the US! Definitely click on the link and take a look at the magnificent pieces they make. We passed furniture stores, Inns and markets; there are wineries and farm tours, so much to see and do. We made another stop at Heini’s Cheese Chalet, wow! now that’s a lot of cheese. The cheese making tours were over for the day, but you could still get a look at the area and equipment used. This place was packed; samples of each kind are readily available; customers wander about with armloads of cheeses. This is good stuff.
North of Charm ( yes, it really is charming) is one of my favorite places; Hershberger’s Bakery and Farm. We start out in the animal petting area where I quickly regress to the age of 10 or so and want to take home a bunny, a duckling or even a goat? My lifestyle is not conducive to pet ownership, but one look at those cute little faces, a pet on the head, a scratch behind the ears and I’m hooked. We walked from pen to pen, I getting my animal fix and Kris taking photos, until we had visited all the critters. At the bakery next door we joined the crowd staring at the large volume of cookies, cakes, pies and jams; everything looks so good.
We were staying at the Berlin Hotel & Suites in Millersburg, so we thought we check in and freshen up before dinner. This time of year hotels and Inns fill up quickly, so be sure to make a reservation well in advance. Upon check-in we each received a warm oatmeal raisin cookie; once in our room I slid it out of the wax paper bag and took a bite, mmmm mmmmm good! I find that all baked goods in Amish country are outstanding. After a little R&R it was dinner at Chalet In The Valley located on SR 557 in Millersburg. The restaurant is quaint in its Swiss decor; known for its Swiss cuisine and Amish favorites, it appeals to tourists and locals alike. We thought we’d go with something traditional; Jaeger schnitzel, spaetzle, German potato salad and a side of sauerkraut balls. Each item was delectable, the mushroom sauce on the tender schnitzel was to die for, in addition to the sauerkraut the little deep-fried goodies had shredded pork and came with a side of mustard for dipping. Don’t even get me started on the spaetzle…I am a pastaholic and found these amazing. We finished our meal in the glass enclosed dining room overlooking the countryside. Back in Berlin, which I would say most people consider “town” we happened upon a couple of performers on an outdoor stage. Plastic chairs were set up inviting passerby’s to sit down and enjoy the music. The performance ended at 9pm; a coffee shop remained open kiddy corner from the venue, so we stopped in for an iced coffee fix. Back at the hotel there are wonderful outdoor spaces to enjoy, so we did just that. The back of the hotel has a large patio; two fire pits were burning bright surrounded by groups of chairs. The temperature had dropped into the 60′s so we had a seat fireside while we finished our coffees. Further down the grassy hill is a lovely gazebos; you can sit and listen to the sound of running water as two man- made waterfalls run into a large pond, the set up is made for relaxation. It was getting late and we had a full day ahead; tomorrow we would say goodbye to countryside and hello to the city; Pittsburgh that is.