Monday, August 15, 2011

Columbus, Ohio. The High Street Hike: (German Village to the Short North)

(August 7th and 8th)

On the road, after leaving Pittsburgh, it rained the entire day. Until the clouds receded and—

Columbus, Ohio appeared:

I temporarily traded my life as a Hawkeye...

for two days amongst the Buckeyes.

FYI: A buckeye is the seed of the buckeye tree (similar to an acorn). Also, a local confection (seen here). Also, quite possibly the most bizarre mascot ever.
This time, I didn’t have to find my hosts-- they found me. Alternative rock musician Colin Morris initially contacted me after he discovered a link to my blog through the Megabus' twitter feed. 

Colin Morris (center) and his band, Brown Fox. He's the lead singer and songwriter.
It turns out Colin and his girlfriend Elizabeth Brown are both members of So, I had the privilege of learning about Columbus, Ohio through these two lovely people:

My overall impression:
Columbus is an up and coming city with a skyline roughly the size of Austin's ten years ago. According to Colin, due to the availability of jobs compared to elsewhere in Ohio, it also has a "disproportionately web savvy population." There are a few seriously shady spots (see the end of my High Street hike), but also some crazy cool nighttime lighting:

Bicentennial Park in the evening is almost the perfect setting for a romance:


a horror film!
“No, Elizabeth.  Don’t go into the mist!"
"I sense a presence."

could it be...

(random dude in a bathing suit!)
Me, experiencing "the other side."

Colin to the rescue!

Colin saving Elizabeth from the demonic mist.

We’re back to a romance…


Guarding German Village at night…


Fortunately, we made it to Harvest for pineapple and ham pizza (made from almost all locally grown ingredients).
Colin and Elizabeth are Kent State college sweethearts.  Elizabeth, an aspiring cookbook author and chef (see Elizabeth's food blog here),  followed her food connections to Columbus. Colin followed Elizabeth.

I not only had the privilege of trying Elizabeth's pasta sauce over gnocchi the night I got into town (secret ingredient= the lemon), she pointed me in the direction of some of the best food in Columbus:

Jeni's Splendid Ice-Cream:

Salted caramel ice cream topped with riesling poached pear sorbet.
Jeni's is a local artisinal ice-cream phenomenon with all organic ingredients and luscious flavors:

Some of my other favorite eats while in Columbus were at North Market...

similar to West Side Market in Cleveland and Reading Terminal in Philadelphia.
At North Market:

Lan Viet:

where I enjoyed a bean-sprout salad covered in carrot-lime dressing:

Vietnamese fusion rabbit-food
and Flavors of India
I had a cardamon iced-tea.

For dinner, my second day, Colin and Elizabeth and I went to Katzinger's. A deli trying to emulate two other delis by combining their names:  Katz and  Zingerman's (of Ann Arbor, MI).
(Great Matzah ball soup, unlimited pickles.) 
I didn't get a chance to visit the original Max & Erma's (a big deal in the Midwest)--  

or Schmidts Sausage House for weiner schnitzel.  

 They're both located in German Village, Colin and Elizabeth's neighborhood.

(Borrowed from
German Village is a charming historic district, south of downtown-- filled with gardens, brick-paved streets and gas-lit porches.

"Beware of Dog."
While Elizabeth and Colin worked during the day, I explored their neighborhood.


I started at The Book Loft:
a city-block long discount bookshop featuring 32 rooms--

--where I wandered around 20 minutes (legitimately lost), gave a nod to Mark Z Danielewski's House of Leaves, and eventually made my way to the exit.

  Around the corner from Book Loft, I passed a historic school:  
"Learning adorns riches and softens poverty."
and the German Village gift shop:

  No hand-knitted tanenbaum tissue boxes for me; the day I visited, they were closed.

And then I began...

 The High Street Hike:

In Columbus, Ohio, you can pretty much follow High Street from one side of the town to other and hit most of the landmark sites.

Columbus Commons:
 Columbus' answer to Chicago's Millenium Park, according to Colin. Featuring, when I visited, an outdoor library.
Ohio's State Capitol building:

And food carts with profound advice:

Down High Street, just after North Market, I reached...


(this photo's artistically enhanced color saturation brought to you by microsoft office picture manager and a long megabus ride.)

The Short North is the main commerical strip in Columbus, featuring: mildly eclectic storefronts.

Outside of a store called Tigertree, you can put a quarter in this machine, and robo-hen will hatch you an egg with a home-made pin inside (made from discarded library books).

Mine hatched me a pin with a rooster on it.  The guy behind the counter at Tigertree told me this actually never happens.


It was either the poultry pin or the oddly placed classical music blasting from the exterior that drew me into the UDF on High Street.

A convenience store and dairy in a few states in the Midwest.

Where Jama (the blue-haired girl below) guided me to a new discovery-- a sherbet cherry limeaid freeze.

(Cherry sherbet blended with limeaid juice).
Later, Elizabeth informed me that blasting classical music is UDF's strategy to ward off bums.  "No, seriously."-- Elizabeth.

Roaming with my sherbet freeze,  I continued past tons of  bars and restaurants:

And a tattoo studio / art gallery, The Short North Tattoo.

Possibly the cleanest looking tattoo parlor I've ever seen.
Some of their art.
They switch out their gallery the first Saturday of every month for gallery hop, a monthly event and 25-year-old tradition- where all the galleries in Short North open to the public. 

The Short North is also Columbus' central arts district.

Some of their murals:
(the two white cars are not part of the mural.)

I swear on this trip I'm being stalked by Grant Wood.
Placards along the Short North, tell about various local artists and other historic tid-bits:

The other side of this one featured a map with Short North's sites. One site in particular, caught my attention-- leading me all the way to the end of the Short North to... 
A cement couch.

This is all I managed to capture of the cement couch. It was occupied by a homeless person. It's a good thing I didn't have a chance to sit on it. Later Colin and Elizabeth warned me—“NEVER SIT ON THE CEMENT COUCH” (it’s apparently one of the most unhygienic public spaces in Ohio).

The cement couch also marks where the Short North ends and what locals call “Kro-ghetto” begins.  (There's a Krogers, a regional grocery store, at the corner). I turned back just as a fight broke out at the bus stop.

I recommend that visitors to Columbus steer clear of the shady spots and stick to the cool trippy lights:

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