Left Lexington, continuing along the Bourbon Trail for a shorter drive than usual to Louisville. This gave us the chance to call into Jim Beam distillery for some ockerising, well not really but the lovely lady in the on-site Fred’s Smokehouse (BBQ) said they have a lot of Australians at Jim Beam – who would have thought. Lovely premises, large collection of merchandise (which I could not resist buying at least something – pretty much what I did at all the distilleries we visited). Didn’t do the tour but I’m sure it was a good one. Something I forgot to mention in the last post was that our rental Buick (great car) got doored by some guy who was as big as four of me (and that’s big) but he was very apologetic – didn’t matter as I always fork out those extra dollars to get the rental fully insured. There’s been a dint in most of the ones I’ve picked up on our various journeys but never a problem – and no, I have never put them there, honest.
And so we ventured to Louisville and once again to the rear entrance of the hotel – why, why, why Ms TomTom? Right in downtown and a short walk to most of the action. First action was to the KFC Yum! Stadium – or at least a bar across the road for a bite to eat and a few beers and bourbon. It was college basketball night so it was pretty busy but once that started the bar crowd left us to dine. There are a few bars and others in this vicinity and Louisville is kind of divided into several main streets – we were just to the edge but everything was walkable from where we were. Not that many homeless or pan-handlers (beggars) except for one crazy who was ranting and I was quite pleased we got to the lights before he did. I did like one of Lousiville’s strategies to stop (discourage) begging is that at many of the traffic light poles there was a collection box for the poor – good idea. Couldn’t imagine this in Melbourne, they’d all be stolen.
There is a section of one of the streets (W Main St) that is dedicated to museums, we went for the tour at the baseball bat factory – home of the Louisville Slugger – sounds boring but it was quite interesting and we got a free souvenir baseball bat for our troubles. If you like baseball (or even if you have heard of people like Babe Ruth) they have a pretty good museum and displays. We were tempted to visit the Muhammad Ali Centre but time dependent we visited the Frazier History Museum instead. This was a bit of fun, great exhibit on prohibition and how the banning of drink probably increased crime and really started the world of the mobster. I remember another thing from the distillery tour – Bulleit and Buffalo Trace were two of four that were granted an exemption from the Government that enabled them to distil bourbon during prohibition for medicinal purposes. All you needed was a prescription from your doctor and you could buy a couple of bottles – at that time there were about 1m people in Kentucky, there were 6m prescriptions filled.
We had a walk up the old theatre district area (4th St) and past a few of the hotels where the mobsters would sit and run their speakeasy’s. This was real interesting; we just didn’t have the time to explore further. There is also a large ‘entertainment’ area here maybe targeted at visitors as there were a lot of chain restaurants, lights, noise (not when we were there but there were some pretty big arse speakers set up), visitor centre where you could get your photo taken with Kentucky’s most famous colonel (one of my regrets not having KFC in Kentucky but I did have fried chicken, just not from the colonel), and I even found a horse statue painted in an Australiana theme and a koala jockey. Some minor concern while wandering around, a siren went off – not your everyday fire truck or ambulance siren but more like an air-raid siren. Not quite sure what it was but no-one was running so we just kept walking like the locals. A bit of google later seems there are tornado sirens and these get tested monthly and maybe we just happened to be wandering on that one day. One thing, they work well.
One of the other highlights of Lousiville was an absolutely great meal at a place called Milkwood – this is part-owned by a previous contestant on US Top Chef (Masterchef for ‘real’ chefs and a great show). We liked the food so much that this was the one cookery book that Caroline came home with. A real good Asian twist on southern American – like octopus bacon.
We left Louisville, heading to whence we started our road trip – Nashville, via Bulleit distillery, which I mentioned in the last post.