Friday, August 24, 2012

Cincinnati and Louisville

I only spent a few hours in Cincinnati. That was enough.

Actually, I do wish I’d had more time there but on a different day. Cincinnati is home to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center which I did see but only from the outside. It’s closed on Sundays which is when I happened to be passing through.  I hadn’t really thought about the city's strategic location just across the Ohio River from Kentucky (well, except for the airport which is in Kentucky) but Cincinnati was an important part of the Underground Railroad. Next trip I’ll do the whole museum thing, whenever that happens.

What with the center being near the river and all, there are some bridges nearby. I think the most famous is probably this one:

If you notice a resemblance to the Brooklyn Bridge, good eye! Both were designed by Roebling; this one actually bears his name. I walked about halfway across. It would’ve been fun to walk the whole things but I had a few reasons for not bothering: it was hot out, the pedestrian walkway was pretty deserted (as was most of downtown), and there were other things to do.

Cincinnati apparently has a great art museum. It seemed a little tough to actually get there so I didn’t go. Again, next trip. I did go to the Taft Museum, a smaller museum downtown in the former home of some people who were sort of related to the president somehow. I'm trying a new thing where if I don't remember the facts, I either make them up or leave them out. Less work and I'm more inclined to finish posts in a timely manner. Hence the lack of Taft Family Tree.

After all that bridge and museum activity, I was ready for dinner. As you may not know and I sure didn’t, Cincinnati’s famous and perhaps favorite city dish is chili. Their chili is not chili as I know it: thicker than soup, made with beans. Chili in Cincinnati is basically meat and spices served over spaghetti (yes, you read that right). I’m okay with rice, in a bowl with a few crackers is fine, I’ve even done chili on a jacket potato in England. But spaghetti? That just seems weird. I noticed it also typically has cheese which I’ll concede is fairly normal in my world though not for me. I've read that there's also some ordering system with numbers corresponding to stuff in or on the chili... it's a thing, let's just go with it.

Anyway, I figured there was no harm in trying the stuff. Thus began a scavenger hunt across the city of Cincinnati for an open chili restaurant. These days, chain restaurants are a pretty common thing. According to my Don’t Die Before You’ve Done This book, there are a few big chili places: I knew about Skyline and Gold Star. The book neglected to mention that Skylines tend to be closed on Sundays. I saw two, maybe three downtown, totally closed. By then I was on a mission. Aided only by my GPS, I traversed the city in search of an open chili restaurant.

Miles later, I almost literally stumbled across a Gold Star in a run-down strip mall. What the hell? I thought, and headed inside. I ordered chili "two ways" which is basically meat/sauce and spaghetti. I have to admit, I wasn't terribly impressed. Not my thing though the pictures looked delicious.

The waitress was really surprised to hear I was from New York; she didn't hear an accent and I decided it wouldn't be polite to tell her I could hear hers. I got similar reactions all over the country, actually, along with the New York=New York City thing. I always enjoyed hearing "Where in New York?" over "Say something New York! (and what I really want to hear is fuggedaboutit)".

As far as Louisville is concerned, I really didn’t see that much of it. I unfortunately got there kind of late on a Sunday when things tended to be closed. I’ve heard tell of a great museum there but of course didn’t see it. I did get to see a large, wax Colonel Sanders but I couldn’t get too close. Sadly, because that thing was awesome. That dude’s everywhere in Louisville. I also got to see the giant Louisville Slugger (that’s a baseball bat for the unaware) outside their factory.

Through a window hence the sucky quality

I found downtown Louisville very pretty with interesting architecture and lots of flowers. It wasn’t very crowded though, and as it was getting late, I didn’t really linger. Instead, I continued to Indiana where I stopped for the night just a few miles from Santa Claus.