Posted by: justnaturallyme | March 11, 2012

Travel South: Kentucky Style

  

World Famous Churchill Downs

Some trips are so fantastic you just can’t wait to tell everybody about them. This year’s Travel South was one of those trips. It began in Louisville, Kentucky. Southern states are known for their hospitality and Kentucky is no exception. Since Travel South is made up of tour operators, the largest group, and travel journalist–we journalists comprise just a small segment–the host city is out to make a great impression. Louisville did a wonderful job of that.

As some wise person stated, “The way to a man (or woman)’s heart is through their stomach.” So food and drink was an important part of this event.  To welcome us to Louisville, they offered to “Talk Derby to Us” by opening up Churchill Downs (http://www.churchilldowns.com/) and the Derby Museum (http://www.derbymuseum.org/) for the Travel South participants. Even some of the horses were there to greet us. We were offered one of the best Mint Juleps I ever sipped. The Derby Museum is a in-depth look into the fastest two minutes in sports. Along with great food, we experienced the thrill of the most regal sport in the world under the twin towers at the home of the best known race in America, The Kentucky Derby.  Only thing lacking was a real race.

One of the oh-so-convenient pedways

After we were so well fed and entertained we returned to the beautiful Galt House Hotel www.galthouse.com/) offering a twinkling panorama of the skyline of Louisville and a wonderful view of the Ohio River. Overnight it snowed so I was thrilled to awaken in the morning to a white world.  Living in Florida I don’t see much snow. Another great thing Louisville offers are pedways.  These glass tunnels/artworks provide a way to navigate from the Gault House to the convention center and points in-between without braving the elements. I can see where some businesses do not like them feeling it will divert traffic from their storefronts. Still I see it as a easy way to get to a particular store if you wish when it is too cold or too hot to venture outside for long.  All day Monday, we journalists visited with old friends and met new ones from convention and visitors bureaus and public relation firms from all over the South to talk about wonderful new travel experiences deep in the heart of Dixie.

Homemade Jamz blues Band From Tupelo, Mississippi plays at breakfast.

Our breakfast and lunches were set up in the convention center and sponsored by various Southern states so we were entertained as we dined. It was an encore performance at Tuesday’s breakfast as I had heard that wonderful band, Homemade Jamz Blues Band, play last year at a Mississippi luncheon. They were just as exciting this year. In fact. I learned that their drummer, young Taya Perry, who is only 13, is nominated for best girl drummer at Hit Like a Girl (http://www.hitlikeagirl2012.com/videos/homemade-jamz-blues-band/) You can vote for her by clicking on the link under the video.

Learning firsthand the Secrets of Louisville Chefs Live

Second night was equally impressive. They treated us to a wonderful culinary experience, a live taping of “Secrets of Louisville Chefs.” This may be a local cable show but it rivals any Cooking or Food Channel program. Filmed with a live audience at Sullivan University’s Kitchen Theater, it is co hosted by Kevin  Harned and  Tim Laird, the CEO, by the way, that’s Chief Entertaining Office. Three great local chefs prepared a dish right in front of us. Tim prepared a special cocktail to fit the personality of each chef. After the taping, we were all ushered into Sullivan University’s own  Winston’s Restaurant, one of the foremost culinary training restaurants in the country. There each guest chef prepared the same dish he had just done on the show for us. It was a fantastic experience. Anyone can request a guest seat at Kitchen Stadium by visiting the website, http://www.newlocaltv.com (You can read more about Secrets of Louisville Chefs Live in the next issue of American Roads (www.americanroads.net) in the Fork in the Road section. That will be the Spring 2012 issue and  will be out in April.

One of our first stops on the Indiana side of the Ohio River.

Tuesday, we embarked on a Taste of Louisville Tour (www.citytastetours.com/)  right after breakfast. Leslie, our driver and owner of the tour promised us “Everything You Should See, Know and Taste While You’re in Louisville.” Leslie provided us with tasty treats as we journeyed all over the high point of Louisville metro area. We actually made out first stop just across the Ohio River in Indiana where we viewed the Falls of the Ohio and several interesting structures. Naturally food was high on our priorities so one of the sweetest stops was at Jeffersonville, Indiana where we visited Schimpffs Confectionary and Museum.(http://www.schimpffs.com/)

 Another sweet spot on this tour was Kizito (http://www.kizito.com/).  Elizabeth Namusoke Kizito, the owner is a native of Uganda Africa and told us she was born under a banana tree. Her aim in life it to make each day a little sweeter for people one bite at a time. Her bakery also offers many lovely pieces of African art and jewelry at reasonable prices. She brings them back when she visits her family there.

Frasier Museum's My Brother-My Enemy exhibit defines the Civil War in Kentucky and other border states

After lunch, I had some free time to browse some of Louisville’s wonderful museums and sights. My first stop was Frasers History Museum ( http://www.fraziermuseum.org/). Wow! What a museum. The new exhibit related to the Civil War, My Brother My Enemy, was so interesting. As a border state, much of the information overlapped the research I am doing for my next book, Under a Black Flag, about the war in the West.  

I would have loved to see some other great Louisville sights but I only had time to take a quick run by the Belle of Louisville (http://www.belleoflouisville.org/) and see her before I needed to return to the Gault House to dress for a swank closing dinner presented by Arkansas where we will be visiting next year. The dinner was held atop the Gault House at the Rivue Restaurant with a lot of glass walls. The entire restaurant revolves so we were treated to a fantastic night view of Louisville. All kinds of tasty food and drinks. Of course  in Kentucky I just had to drink bourbon. And in the next post I will continue the saga with the post trip to Bardstown with its bourbon heritage and unique history. I will be posting that one soon so keep watching here within the next few days.

 

 
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