Tag Archives: Berlin

OHIO: Walnut Creek

13 Jan

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Traveling during the holidays we find everywhere we go, big cities or small towns, buildings, homes, cafes and shops are lavishly decorated in holiday style. This year we begin our adventure in Holmes County Ohio, home to a large Amish settlement spread out among quaint little villages with names like Berlin, Walnut Creek, Charm and Sugar Creek; Ohio has the largest Amish population in the world. A drive on scenic backroads dotted with Amish homes, farms and picturesque scenery is the perfect way to wind down after the excitement of Christmas.

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We land in Berlin, have a late lunch at Boyd and Wurthum then head over to the Berlin Village Antique Mall, this place is huge. Here we find a large array of kitchen items from cookie jars, salt and pepper shakers and glasses to canning jars in blue, red and gold. A tall cabinet holds old automotive items; oil cans, license plates and vendor signs. Shelves are filled with beautiful colored glass and figurines; if you need a lamp they have dozens to choose from. The antique window frames are attractive, retro-fitted with metal designs they’d look right at home in my garden. Vintage board games by Ideal look familiar. We come across a few old television sets, how did we ever get by watching TV on such a small screen?

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Next door we pop into the Berlin Village Gift Barn, it’s a giant, fancy barn filled with lovely things to decorate your home or cottage. In addition to shelves of merchandise, areas are set up like rooms, my favorite was the cozy living room complete with brick fireplace, knotty pine floors, comfy couches and plenty of pillows–gorgeous. There’s an abundance of accessories like clocks, wine racks, stoppers and serving pieces. We stop in at Heini’s Cheese Chalet, it’s almost closing time, so we have to move quickly. If you like cheese, this is the place to be; rows of refrigerated cases offer you a world of varieties from Asiago, Swiss, Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, Colby, Marble–well, you get the idea. You can choose from smoked or traditional, the best part? You can try ’em all!

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We go east out of Berlin to Walnut Creek, we’re staying at the Wallhouse Hotel; 6 stories of upscale, modern elegance smack-dab in the middle of farm country. As we step foot in the lobby the towering white Christmas tree steals my attention, behind it a lime green wall, how about the sparkly black floor, it that granite? Checked in we take the elevator to our room, very attractive in shades of gray and a touch of lime green; we’ll sleep in luxury tonight on our pillow-top mattress. There’s a kitchenette and seating area, we even have a private balcony. As we head out for dinner we check out the rest of the place; there’s an indoor saltwater pool on the lower level. On the opposite side of the lobby we find a seating area surrounding a fireplace, bright blue sequined pillows rest on white leather couches; the dining room is dark and still, pots of coffee and fresh-baked cookies are waiting for guests.

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It’s a short drive to Der Durchman where we are having an authentic Amish dinner. On any given day you will find both locals and out-of-town visitors dining on platters of chicken, ham and roast beef along with fresh vegetables, homemade side dishes and hot biscuits. A wall of windows curves around the vast dining room, from this hilltop location they say there’s a 5-mile panoramic view of Goose Bottom Valley and the surrounding farmsteads, unfortunately for us night has fallen and all we see is darkness. Our dinner is delicious; juicy broasted chicken, homemade egg noodles and stuffing with gravy. When we’ve finished we head back to the room for some rest and relaxation.

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In the morning we dine on farm-fresh eggs, crisp bacon,  biscuits and gravy and fruit; they put out quite a spread here in the hotel. Out the window the sun shines in a powder blue sky, we watch cows head out to pasture, what a serene way to start the day. After check out Kris takes us on a leisurely tour of the area, everywhere I look is picture post-card perfect. The terrain a patchwork of gentle rolling hills; houses reside on hilltops, farms sprout out of valleys, fields have been turned over, they will lay dormant until spring. The grass is still green, cows and horses amble through fenced in fields eating as they go. Majestic horses pull Amish buggies, passengers are bundled in blankets, I love the clip-clop sound of the horses. 

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Walnut Creek has a tiny business district we’re going to explore, Coblenz Chocolate Company is family owned and operated; caramel is their specialty. The shop is beautiful inside; tin ceiling, dark woods, Christmas trees and garlands. Tables hold stacks of boxed candy already wearing ribbons and bows. What’s your pleasure? Swiss-style truffles, Milk, dark, nuts, caramel, it’s a chocolate lovers paradise. You can even watch it being made! I’m getting some dark chocolate caramels to take home. We browse through tiny shops ending up at a lovely Victorian store known as Carlisle Gifts. A grand curving staircase connects the first and second floor, huge chandeliers hang from the open ceiling. The store is divided into sections by the type of item, for example clothing is in one area, candles another, they offer quilts, greeting cards, purses by Vera Bradley, Annaleece Jewelry, Republic of Tea, bringing a little bit of city to the country.

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There’s nothing quite like the gentleness of Amish country; the blend of agriculture, cheese making and hardwood furniture. Everything here is done the old-fashioned way, by hand and in time. Visiting is a nice reminder for us to slow down and enjoy the simple things.


Scenic Backroads: Ohio’s Amish Country

25 Jul

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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.

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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 BerlinBoyd 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. 

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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.

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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.

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