Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Visiting Columbus


I've been visiting my family in Columbus, Ohio since Thursday evening. I'm supposed to fly back to Seattle today, but we're about to get the brutal storm that's been battering other parts of the Midwest, Great Lakes and plains regions all morning. So whether I will be able to leave today or not is kind of a question mark at this point.

Since most of the family left yesterday, I had time to get out this morning and early afternoon and see some parts of my hometown that I haven't seen in years. My mom and I went to German Village - my favorite neighborhood in Columbus - and we visited the topiary park downtown, which my mom has never even visited in all the years she's lived here.

If you ever find yourself in Columbus, you really must come to German Village. You can take home and garden tours of this historic neighborhood, which are offered by the German Village Society. You'll see beautiful Victorian-style homes with charming gardens and courtyards along tree-lined brick streets. German Village has many quirky shops and great restaurants.

Today, Mom and I went to The Book Loft, which, bar none, is my favorite bookstore of all time. No place in Seattle even compares to this (and that may just be my sentimental side talking, but this place is truly one of a kind). You might not like it so much if you're a bit claustrophobic - and I am to some extent - but my love of books overpowers my fear of cramped spaces.

The Book Loft is a multi-story Victorian home with 32 rooms filled floor to ceiling with books. Each room stocks a different genre of books, and different music plays in each room - everything from jazz to New Age to Celtic to classical.

We spent about 30-40 minutes browsing. I would've spent longer, but we wanted to get back home before the storm, so we didn't allow ourselves as much time. I found a book for the plane (Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth, which, at roughly 1000 pages, will certainly get me through the long trip ahead). Mom found some magnets for herself and books for the grandkids. We made our purchases and walked down the street for lunch at Max & Erma's.

Now, Max & Erma's is a chain, and you'll find plenty of locally-owned, excellent restaurants in German Village. But we like Max & Erma's - as chain restaurants go - and I especially like the atmosphere at the German Village location. We both ordered the half sandwich and soup combo (chicken salad croissant with potato, cheese and bacon soup), and it was delicious and fast. Great service too.

Afterwards, we went to Old Deaf School Park a short distance away. The park is known for its topiary garden - a leafy replica of George Seurat's famous Impressionist painting, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte." Every character from the painting is there (plus a cat - a special Columbus touch - which you have to walk around and look for).

It's a wonderfully quiet and peaceful oasis in the middle of downtown Columbus. The topiaries weren't as full today as they probably are in the spring and summer, but you still get the general idea of what the scene is supposed to look like. And it's easy to find on-street parking around the area (pretty cheap too - 2 quarters bought us 40 minutes of parking, and we really only needed 20 minutes to view the topiary and stop in the visitor's center).

I'm glad I got the chance to get out and see things I haven't seen for awhile. I appreciate Columbus much more now that I no longer live here. And honestly, I wouldn't mind living here again, and if that were to ever happen, I'm pretty sure I'd want to live in German Village.

Pictures of today's wanderings are here.


- German Village Society
- The Book Loft
- Old Deaf School Park - Topiary Garden

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Kubota Garden


More photos than text today. My husband and I took an excursion to Kubota Garden - a place I've been curious about ever since I wrote an article about Washington gardens for USAToday.com a few months back.

It's simply stunning. That's really all I have to say.

You can see for yourself.