Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Exploring Louisville!

Since most of our weekends this year have been spent working on our house -- dealing with plumbers, electricians, carpenters, wallpaper installers, and landscapers, the Hubby and I decided it was time to pack up Rolle, our canine companion who now goes everywhere with us, to get away for a few days. This past September we were going to go to St. Simons, but with the heat wave going on we decided to stay put until the temperature cooled down – Rolle hates the heat! Needing a few days away and not wanting to contribute to The Home Depot’s stock price any more, we decided to head to Louisville, Kentucky.

Churchill Downs

We invited our snooty friend, Watson, whose travel decisions are made with the sole objective of maintaining elite status with airlines and hotels. Watson has taken day-trips to Rome, weekend trips to Bangkok, and generally tries to fly as far as possible as often as possible so he can easily get first class upgrades on demand. Why Louisville, he asked? Well, it is less then three hours from Nashville, we’ve never been there before, and last year I recall it was on Queen Elisabeth’s itinerary while touring the states, so why not!

When Michael and I decide to take a trip we never plan or do research, - from a three-day quick get away to a two-week excursion. We wait until the day we are leaving to grab our books and ask our friends for recommendations. Our strategy is simple, we will either study over cocktails on the plane or if we’re driving, the passenger will read about what we should be doing. The one who has done his research usually determines what we are doing and where we are eating and staying, and usually this is me! This time I did start a little earlier, two days before and I had read that Louisville was 2nd in the nation with having buildings, houses etc. registered as National Historic Landmarks, after, of course, Boston - I was most excited after reading this and thought we would be in good shape! Following are just a few highlights:

Churchill Downs - Friday morning after several cups of coffee at the hotel, Michael and I headed to Churchill Downs, home of the world famous Kentucky Derby. This was my first time ever at a racetrack! Plus it’s not just a track, but also a very historic track, the weather was sunny, warm, and beautiful-- what more could one ask for. Since we were not giving our money to The Home Depot and plumbers this weekend we decided to give it to horses --with the minimum bet of two dollars per horse with ten races the whole day, why not? After all, how much could we lose! Needless to say, the racing form was foreign to me –so I picked according to the odds or the horses’ names. After winning one dollar and forty cents, I quickly realized going with the most popular ones won’t get you to far. Michael was doing much better then me he won ten dollars and forty cents!

By the end of the day, out a hundred dollars, my dreams of paying off our house and buying our Charleston peninsula home were diminished. The good news was we did win enough for a round of drinks and a few hot dogs. Lucky for us they were having special prices for happy hour Halfway to Derby party!

On Saturday, Michael and I were going to do the Kentucky Derby Museum tour but we decided to stay where all the action was and bet some more! All the books I read recommended it. Also, there that day was a local Millinery designer for the Kentucky Derby. I picked up a card from her C. Kevin Swansey Sheila Nobles 502-796-0003. Beautiful hats! Michael told me to get one, but I figured the only place I could wear it was my garden, and my neighbors were already impressed enough with my J. Crew hat! Perhaps next time.

Hands down if you have never been to Churchill Downs, I highly, highly recommend it. It is a true American icon!

Sunday, one thing I always love to do is walk through old neighborhoods and look at stately grand old mansions and gardens, plus this gives us a chance to walk Rolle-- he likes it too! Cherokee Triangle is located on the East End of the city. A wonderful old neighborhood with grand old houses. On the other side is Bardstown Road- filled with old bookstores, pubs, bistros, wine stores and antiques shops. This is where Michael and I headed to for our third morning cup of java, our evening dinner, and our coffee after dinner.

Mansion in Cherokee Triangle

Having spent a day and a half at the track, I was not leaving until I squeezed in another antique shop -Louisville Antique Mall located in a 19th century cotton mill. A huge antique mall filled with real antiques and collectables. It takes awhile to get through it, so plan accordingly. Also note antique malls are generally open on Sundays where as smaller shops are not.

After arriving home late Sunday afternoon, I discovered my New York Times that my neighbor, Sandy, had placed on my porch. On the cover of the travel section was an article, Bourbon & Bluegrass - On the road in Kentucky in search of two American originals. So I’m clipping this article to send to Watson (snooty friend) to see if he is in need of any more frequent flyer points!

Overall, what more could one ask for in a short weekend, learning a little history, seeing some beautiful thoroughbreds, and discovering some great antique shops. Well Done!

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