Cincinnati Adventures: a Big Boy, a harrowing descent into the underground, baseball trivia and bobblehead…well, you’ll see!

Ok, so now it’s the post about the part of my trips that are most memorable – the people I met and the things I saw & learned (although, for Cincinnati, the Flying Pig and its mountain will definitely be a scar memorable!!).

Who doesn’t want their picture taken with a Big Boy?!

And, if I’m being honest, I really didn’t think Cincinnati would be all that fun, but I was REALLY, REALLY wrong. And considering that it rained half the time I was there, that’s saying a lot!!

I flew into Cincinnati on Friday and checked myself into one of the race hotels: The Millenium. Touted as being “modern” and having “stunning views” from hotel rooms, I was excited to call this place home for a few days.

Well, this was my “stunning view” and as for modern…it may have been at one point, but the peeling wall paper, worn and dirty carpets, and inconsistent amenities in the rooms, told me that it is in sad need of some TLC. BUT, it’s a great location and provided the basics that I needed.

Already checked in and, as I like to believe, waiting for my arrival (LOL) was Luis (hailing from the heat of Georgia, he and I ran Atlanta and Birmingham together) and Tom (friends on Twitter for a while but getting to meet face to face for the first time) hailing from Tennessee! We were all starving (I didn’t get in until after 7pm) and quickly headed out in search for some food…

We found great success at Palomino and enjoyed some beverages, great food and fun conversation! (I swear, I think I have pizza almost once every 48 hours of my life).

Saturday morning we had a walking tour booked for 10:30am through American Legacy Tours (who I would highly recommend if you’re in Cincinnati looking to learn a little history).

We had a fantastic guide who brought us back into the 19th and 20th century in the part of town known as “Over the Rhine”  – called this because in the mid-19th century there were many German immigrants who settled in an area close to downtown Cincinnati, but on the other side of a canal. It became home to saloons galore and no shortage of beer. It is considered to now be the largest intact urban historic district in the United States.

Everywhere you look there is a beautiful old building and, over the past 10 years, there has been a major revival in the neighbourhood. Which is a good thing because in 2009, it was rated by Time magazine, to be the most dangerous neighbourhood in the US. Since then, the residents have been cleaning up their ‘hood, and their efforts have resulted in a 70% decrease in crime! It is filled with new businesses, almost all locally owned and no chain restaurants/businesses.

Beer was and continues to be a beverage in plentiful supply in this area. In the 19th century, the national average for beer consumption was 16 gallons/person/year. In Over-the-Rhine, it was 40 gallons/person/year!! Additional local beer history we learned involved descending some neck breaking stairs (they had us sign a waiver at the beginning of the tour!!). Below is the entrance to the “stairwell”.

At the bottom, we found ourselves in newly re-excavated tunnels.

In the late 1800’s, the Lager beer was gaining in popularity, but in order for it to go through fermentation, it must be kept at a temperature of 45-55F…not so easy considering the use of Freon for refrigeration was sill half a century away. So, they hand dug out these tunnels (!!) and created cooling systems within these “caves” and, voila, fermentation could happen. However, it wasn’t all that efficient and these tunnels were abandoned and over time filled with rubble and coal. In tandem with the neighbourhood revival, these tunnels are being re-excavated…but it has to be done by hand…5 gallon buckets, one at a time (you saw the stairwell, right??), and some recent work saw 145 tons removed…and it barely made a dent in the pile that remains.

We then went to the Holy Grail for some lunch. Standard sports bar chain-type restaurant.

After lunch was a tour of the Cincinnati Reds baseball stadium!

This organization is working very hard to encourage families to come to games – they have fantastic staff supervised play areas for kids (I mean, adults can barely watching 9 innings of play, kids certainly aren’t going to!) and they allow people to bring in the own food and drink (non-alcoholic) to help reduce the financial burden on families wanting to come to a game.

We got to go to the fancy lounges, the press box and down onto the field (they have a GORGEOUS all natural grass field) and into the dugout

And I so wanted to pick up those phones and “make the call”!

Did you know that the Cincinnati Reds were the first to have night games? Yup, their owner (who also was the one behind the Reds being the first to broadcast even away games via the radio) led the development of the “toothbrush lights”.

And, lucky us, on display at the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame was a Bobblehead room of hell display

This doesn’t even begin to show how many bobbleheads were there…and trying to give me nightmares!!

ANNNNNNNNNNNNND, lucky for those who bought tickets to the stadium tour, we got to take home our very own bobblehead…FOR FREE!!

I still have no idea who that is, but I hope the woman cleaning my room at the hotel is a fan as I left it (purposely) behind! But seriously, I didn’t know if a bobblehead might attract border security attention, so I thought it best to leave ol’ Jim behind!! lol

After the stadium tour (which I thought was great!) we went to pick up our race kits…

And then it was time for our pre-race dinner (at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery) where our final party member would join us – Jen, from Wisconsin!!

If you haven’t already read all about the most insane race that we all did 12 hours after this meal, you can right HERE!!

After the race from hell we reconvened and headed out to the American Sign Museum. I bet you didn’t even know that existed, right? Well don’t worry, I don’t think any locals in Cincinnati do either…and they are missing out!!

I really enjoyed this museum and if you go, you definitely should pay for the guided tour! We learned about the evolution of advertising through signs and the changing technology (light bulbs, plastics, neon, etc)  – it was so interesting!!

And the owner really does have an IMPRESSIVE collection. And they will never sell pieces, so people can feel confident knowing that any donated pieces will be kept in the museum and taken care of.

After this we enjoyed a beer out on a patio in downtown Cincinnati (blue skies, sunshine and a humidex of 84F/29C made this Canadian VERY happy!), and then we said farewell to Luis who had a flight out that night.

Tom, Jen and I walked down to the river and had dinner at the Moerlein Lager House which, I gotta tell you, is in a beautiful location. I failed to take a pic myself, but this one is taken from their website and this is the window we were sitting next to.

That bridge is one of the ones we ran over and it leads over into Kentucky!

But it was at this dinner that I knew that Jen and I were meant to be friends. While looking at the menu, there was an item that I wished I could order, but I knew I just wasn’t hungry enough for (I ordered pizza – hahaha!)…but then I heard music to my ears…Jen was ordering it…the:

Even if I couldn’t eat it, I still wanted to SEE it!!

Now THAT is a post-race burger!! And Jen almost ate the entire things – SHE ROCKS!!!

After dinner I insisted (although it’s not like I had to push very hard…at all) that we go to Graeter’s Ice Cream – because everyone and their aunt was telling me we had to try it! Started in 1868 in Cincinnati, this ice cream has proved to stand the test of time…

…and my taste buds know why!!!

And so ended a fantastic trip to Cincinnati! I thoroughly enjoyed my adventures (and will slowly forgive that mountain for nearly killing me) and the people I got to meet and spend time with! A special thanks to Luis, Tom & Jen!!!

Happy Friday!

4 thoughts on “Cincinnati Adventures: a Big Boy, a harrowing descent into the underground, baseball trivia and bobblehead…well, you’ll see!

      1. Chris

        Understandable, that is like somebody telling you to try some Indian food the night before a race!


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