First Stop: Louisville, KY
Louisville is definitely the city you wouldn’t expect to be. It’s a pleasant surprise.
The first thing I will outline is how nice and polite people are. Everyone will greet you with a smile and a warm “Hello” in the street. Now, I understand that to some of you this might not be exceptional, but for those who have been in NYC (visited or lived, especially lived) will understand that it is so unusual to actually feel that kind of warmth from the people in general that when you do, it is just… nice.
The Old Louisville is so fascinating to me. It has 1400 houses that are Landmarks, all in one neighborhood, and most of them, if not all have a ghost story. Some of these houses were build late 1800 and are simply beautiful. I took the ghost tour in the evening, thank god it was still daylight otherwise I might have just freaked out. Not that there is anything scary but to imagine the quantity of paranormal activity going in those streets and on top to hear those stories in the dark… no thank you! But in daylight, I enjoyed it although I wouldn’t ever consider living in a house known to have a living spirit in it.
Downtown Louisville seems to be like most of the cities I have seen so far in the US. Tall buildings in sync with some beautiful old administrative building and, probably the most surprising, many museums. It seems that Louisville has a large art scene. They promote art in all its form: theater, poetry, painting, sculpture, craft art and glass work. There is a Glasswork building where you can see artist working the hot glass, others working the cold glass and then architects using Art-glass for the buildings. Beside Art, Louisville has true passion for horses (famous Derby every first Saturday of May), sports and Bourbon! Louisville is considered as a multicultural city and has a lot to offer culturally and historically.
The Muhammad Ali Center is quite an experience. Native of Louisville, he is not just a boxing champion but also a champion for the fights he has waged outside the ring. I was very touched by his spirituality, his engagement to be a role model and his battle with Parkinson disease. He’s an Hero and Louisville is very proud of the center, and I can see why. The messages are very powerful and aim all toward justice, tolerance and respect. I had known to this day about his boxing, about being a leader for the African-American community but I had no idea how inspiring this man is, or should be, to everyone, regardless their ethnicity, religion, gender or age. Which is what he promotes, doesn’t matter where you are from, respect and tolerance should be your motto. A message that I like very much myself and have been trying to embrace for few years now. Be Fair. Don’t take anything for granted. Try not to judge, because you never know every details, always try to see the other side of the story. Be impartial is difficult, I know it very well. But whenever I can, I try to bring objectivity and balanced it with the subjectivity. Work in progress…
I had only one day to visit the city but I enjoyed it. I went to the Kentucky show, which is a promotional 35 min documentary on the state of Kentucky and I have to admit, I was blown away by the landscape. I wanted so much to drive around the state, but although my schedule could be flexible, I can’t start to let go on the very first day.
Second Stop: Loretto, KY
I have then decided that since Bourbon is THE liquor of the region, to stop at least in one distillery before heading to Nashville. What a ride! I chose Marker’s Mark distillery, in Loretto, an hour and half south from Louisville. There is a Bourbon Trail that include 6 distilleries. On the brochure, Maker’s Mark was saying how much they love to have visitors since they are so hard to find. INDEED! I thought it would give me the opportunity to see some of Kentucky country side. I drove more than an hour on a very curvy road under a storm that prevent me to see anything further than 1 feet in front of me. But when I finally found the distillery, I wasn’t disappointed. It was really a nice experience and as the tour was done, the sun was out…
I won’t retrace the whole history of the Maker’s Mark, because I will invite any Bourbon aficionados to actually take this trip. Great landscapes, great history of Bourbon making and to conclude the tour: tasting.
Well, you can imagine if I had to drive off the highway for an hour and so, I had to go back to it… but different road. The country side is really the same as any, large field of grass, some cows, some horses… Big houses in the middle of nowhere, far behind in the background beautiful green dunes. Randomly, I found on my road the birth of place of Abraham Lincoln. Nice surprise again but nothing much to see really.
Anyway, I made my way to Nashville and I can’t wait to go enjoy some good country music. That will be for the next post.
I will finish with this quote from Muhammad Ali, still known as Cassius Clay at the time:
“I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want”. New York Times, February 29 1964.
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