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Columbus Ohio. It's More Fun with Your Pants Off.

Coming into Columbus started out on a positive note as we had just skydived that day, but quickly turned into shambles. Everything was STUPID!! The only things people could suggest for us to do were parks, walking, museums, and biking. Which just couldn’t live up to the thrill of jumping from 13,000 ft out of a plane. We spent a few days bickering with a final blow up that drove us to leave and never had an intent to return!

After spending time in The Plains and winging our way to Cleveland, we found ourselves giving Columbus a second chance. This time around we weren’t hyped up on adrenaline and seeking our next fix. And this time we had a challenge: no van and no plans past somewhere to sleep that for the first night. At first glance Columbus appears to be a small town with small neighborhoods surrounding it, but we came to find out it has the 15th largest population of any city in the U.S. with diverse people and LOTS and LOTS of food.

The first thing we started out with was food and if there's one thing we learned, Columbus is the place to get deals on food and drinks. Since Columbus is a major college town, the restaurants had prices to meet their local clientele. For couple of low-budget travelers, this fits perfectly as long as you don’t get carried away, which we did by saying things like, “Well the grilled cheese was only a dollar” or “We can order more since it is so cheep”. Here are a few examples:

Sundays
Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace - "Comedy with Relish" Enjoy a free comedy show with $1.00 relish dogs (vegan dog available for no extra charge). We had the chance to chat with Anthony O'Connell, voted the Funniest Person in Columbus and we'll confirm... that guy is frickin' hilarious!

Mondays
Bodega - Half price draughts (and they have a huge selection) from 4-6PM and our personal favorite: $1.00 Grilled cheese with chips and a pickle until 11PM

Highbeck - FREE pizza 4PM-Close. Wait, what?! Yep, free.

Tuesdays
Highbeck - FREE conies 4PM-Close. Guess these guys just like giving stuff away. Oh yeah... they have FREE PING-PONG TOO!

The Helen Killer Cafe at Carabar- Taco Tuesday. We can't remember exactly what the deal was, but you'll have to take our word for it. It was good. Hipster alert: You may feel a bit out of place here if you don't have tattoos and a mustache.

Bar Louie - $1.00 Burgers and $3.00 draughts after 7PM. The burger is actually really good but keep in mind that extra toppings are 50 cents each.

Cafe Bourbon Street - 50 cent hot dogs and $1.00 tacos. We didn't actually go here, just heard about it... hopefully that's accurate.

Anytime
Mikey's Late Night Slice - Order by the slice for cheap. Cool outdoor patio setting with movies project on the wall of the building next door. They also have some entertaining food names like:

-The Spicy-Ass Pepperoni: Just like it sounds
-The Cheezus Crust: Two slices of pizza bonded together sandwich-style with an extra layer of cheese in-between
-The Baby Cheezus: Same as the Cheezus Crust, but using half slices instead
-Slut Sauce: This is an absolute MUST HAVE when eating at Mikey's. It's so delicious, the bottle (which also sports Paris Hilton's face) has to be chained down to prevent theft.

Hound Dog's Pizza - Cool place to hang out with some great artwork painted on the walls. The pizza's pretty good too. The happy hour special: 12 inch 1-item pizza and a pitcher of domestic beer for $9.99

As it turns out, the plan not to plan worked out quite well and spiraled into a nonstop adventure of meeting new people and discovering new places. Now It may take us far too long to write about the many days we spent exploring and hanging out in Columbus, but here are a few of the highlights we just had to share:

Scioto Audobon Metro Park Climbing Wall:
This is the largest FREE outdoor climbing wall in the country. That’s right... free. It doesn’t sound like that big of a deal until you actually see the “wall”. It’s quite impressive with a wide variety of climbs ranging from 30-35 feet. The structure was actually cast from a real cliff face, which means most routes can be climbed without ever touching an artificial hold, providing a much more “true to life” climbing experience. Most everything is set up to be top-roped, but there are also several bolted sport routes (one working it’s way across the structure’s arch). There’s even a crack climb on one side of the wall. Needless to say, we spent much of our time in Columbus here. It was just too cool to have easily accessible (and even decent) outdoor climbing with the Columbus skyline serving as a backdrop. We had the pleasure of teaching a couple people to climb here and even made a few cool new friends, who believe it or not, actually joined us for 3 days of climbing and fun in Kentucky.

The Center of Science and Industry (COSI):
We’ve found that while traveling, people like to give you stuff. We’ve been incredibly blessed in this department. As we were talking at a CouchSurfing meetup about things to do in Columbus, our good friend Dane realized that he’d been given a couple free passes which he wasn’t going to use and happily passed them on to us... score! COSI is a very cool and very interactive educational museum. We had a mildly entertaining time wandering through and playing with the exhibits and unfortunately, just as we found some really cool health & body related exhibits, it was closing time :( Either way, it provided some good entertainment for the afternoon and we surely appreciated Dane’s kind gesture.

CouchSurfing:
We definitely CAN NOT do a post about Columbus without mentioning the Columbus CouchSurfing scene. Columbus has a vibrant community of active CouchSurfers who’ve formed tight bonds and created their own “family” of sorts. We spent A LOT of our time in Columbus hanging out with CouchSurfers in all kinds of ways. What did we do while hanging with the C’Bus CSers? The quick version... skydived, went to Pecha Kucha, ate at Surly Girl, Bar Louie, Bodega and Hound Dogs, lived in a parking lot, slept in an entryway, stayed at the illustrious “Couch House”, road tripped to Niagara Falls, had a pasta potluck, hitched a ride to Cleveland, rock climbed, did laundry while drinking at Dirty Dungarees, got sexually propositioned for $5K (not by a CSers, we were just with them), chilled at a drum circle, talked, drank, laughed, learned all about “burners” and “burns” and even told a few stories of our own.

We even had the opportunity to introduce someone to CS and it's community. Ryan was our waiter at Hound Dogs and had just broken up with his girlfriend. We offered to bring him to a weekly CS meetup and he gladly agreed to come. When Ryan showed up, it seemed everyone was immediately accepting of him and welcomed him as if he’d always been a part of the community. They were eager to make friends and involve him in upcoming events... just a small example of how cool the people in this community are. These people became much more than just CS acquaintances, they became our friends. They will all definitely be missed.

The “Columbus Vibe”:
Two things really make up what we can only label as the “Columbus Vibe”:

1) Cool People: Two great examples of cool people we met were Ernie and Dane. We met Ernie via Craigslist when we hitched a ride back to Columbus from Cleveland with him. When we got into town, he introduced us to several of his friends (also cool, with good tastes in music) and his brother Dane. Over the next few weeks, we ended up staying with Ernie and Dane a few times and bonded with them more than we could have ever imagined was possible while traveling. These two are truly shining examples of what human beings ought to be.

2) Small town feel in a big city: As mentioned above, Columbus is the 15th largest city in the U.S. but when hanging out there, you’d never know it. Best place to find yourself in this type of scenario? The Short North. A cool little section of town close to OSU packed full of bars, restaurants, art galleries, coffee shops and hipsters. It really felt as though everybody knew everybody else. In fact, we found ourselves randomly running into new friends on the streets or in the restaurants on multiple occasions.

So... was it worth the return visit? In short, ABSOLUTELY. We definitely would have never guessed that we’d have such a good time in Columbus, Ohio of all places. To Columbus, it’s food, it’s experiences and it’s people... may we meet again, someday. But wait! Why is Columbus more fun with your pants off? Don't know, just sounded like a cool title. Plus almost everything is probably more fun with your pants off, right?

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