"So how should we celebrate our anniversary this year?" I asked Tom over breakfast last month, as anniversary number 41 for us was fast approaching.
Tom looked up from his New York Times. "I don't know. Whatever you want."
"I don't know," said I. I gave my tea a thoughtful stir. "Amish Country?"
Tom shrugged. "Okay."
"Unless you have any other ideas?"
"Nah," replied Tom, "do you?"
"Nah," said I. "The Berlin Resort?"
"Sure," said Tom, returning to his paper.
"Okay," said I, returning to my tea.
And thus it was decided that we would celebrate this anniversary launching our fifth decade together with what has become our anniversary-default destination, two nights at the Berlin Resort in Amish Country.
"Boy, for somebody who doesn't like Amish Country you sure spend a lot of time there," teased my daughter when I told her of our plans. My daughter was referring to a former antipathy I used to feel towards that particular province of Northeast Ohio, as chronicled in a couple of blogs I wrote a few years ago (See posts from 7/1/2014 and 7/2/2014) based on an inauspicious Amish-Country getaway weekend to Berlin, Ohio that Tom and I took about a decade ago.
For years after that trip I considered Amish Country a tourist-trappy strip of over-crowded eateries, country crafts shops in whose wares I had no interest, and unfriendly locals.
But then all that changed three years ago when, thankfully, I decided to give Amish Country one more try after eying a Groupon for what appeared to be a beautiful hotel with a beautiful grounds called The Berlin Resort.
Such a delightful time we had on this second Amish Country excursion that we have ever since traveled to the Berlin Resort twice a year, once in February for our anniversary (last year being the exception when I waited too long to book and the place was filled), and once in June when our grand daughters come for a visit from Los Angeles, and a trip to The Berlin Resort is always on the agenda.
And though it's cold and often rainy, snowy, or overcast in the middle of February, and the grounds soggy or covered in snow, still The Berlin Resort is kind of a cozy spot for a little mid-winter getaway.
We set out Thursday morning, February 15, heading east and north along U.S. route 62 from Columbus, the trip being a reminder that Columbus really is a provincial capital outside of which the landscape turns into farmland,
…at our usual place, a little eatery called The Hangout,
After lunch we continued on our way,
Upon our arrival we were gifted with warm giant oatmeal raisin cookies and box chocolates left in our room in honor of Valentine’s day having been the day before.
After we'd settled into our room our first order of business was to find out if a movie had been scheduled that evening for the hotel theater.
The Berlin Resort is the only hotel in Ohio, we learned, that has a movie theater in the building.
The movies, shown at 5 pm and 7 pm every evening, are free and the guests can choose the movies from a list of about a hundred movies available. The first guest to make a request at the front desk gets to choose that evening's movies. Every time Tom and I have been at the Berlin Resort we've always been the first guests to make a request for the 7 pm film. There are always a number of good movies on the list, however every good movie on the list we've always already seen, cinephiles that we are.
After we'd put in our request for the 7 pm movie we did a once around the building, with its labyrinthine halls and stairways,
When dinner time rolled around we drove into downtown Berlin to The Berlin Farmstead Restaurant,
...a spacious yet homey place hung with Amish quilts,
...and offering a voluminous buffet of delicious, if not the most health-inducing, choices.
Still, Tom and I partook with much gusto, and our fellow diners appeared to be doing likewise, the commerce in the area of the buffet tables running pretty briskly.
The Berlin Farmstead is a popular place among both Amish and English (as the Amish refer to anyone who's not Amish) as well as anyone who likes great heaping helpings of comfort food, likes to eat early (the restaurant shutters at 8pm) and doesn't need a drink. In fact anyone who needs an alcoholic drink is in the wrong town as Berlin, and most of Holmes County, the heart of Ohio Amish Country, is an alcohol desert.
But there's food to be had in Berlin, Ohio and plenty of if. So long as one doesn't mind eating before the town closes down around sundown, The Berlin Farmstead being one of the few "late night" exceptions among town's commercial establishments.
In any case, though there's nada to do at night in Berlin, Ohio and Amish Country in general - which I guess is a drawback for anyone who likes to go out and do something at night - back at the Berlin Resort we had our movie theater (the only movie theater in the town and for many towns, I'm guessing), where we watched the movie I'd chosen, "Ocean's Eleven" starring Brad Pit and Julia Roberts, among others.
And while my own review of "Ocean's Eleven" could be summed up in one word: "Meh," - probably because my feelings about Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts could in general be summed in that same word (even though I was willing to give this movie a chance based on its decent reviews) - this was quite a pleasant movie-going experience for Tom and I, not so much because of the movie we'd seen, but because of the couple who sat behind us in the theater.
They were an older couple - but not as old as us, the man was fifty-six, he told us - originally from Bulgaria but living in Pittsburgh for the past sixteen years, happily, with their three adult children and grandchildren living nearby. In the course of the conversation we learned that the couple and their children happen to be here all together thanks to the "chain migration" process, the fate of which the couple worries over.
But despite that one cloud in their blue skies, the man and his wife were a couple of cheerful, chatty, happy campers, singing the praises of The Berlin Resort and all its amenities (especially this movie theater), singing the praises of Amish Country and all the delicious food to be had here, singing the praises of Ohio in general, Pittsburgh in general, and the United States in general. And they thought "Ocean's Eleven" was wonderful, too.
After talking to that couple the movie did seem kind of wonderful, after all. Everything did.
To be continued...
by Patti Liszkay
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by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
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The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.