Old Meets New in Downtown Louisville

Looavull, Luhvul, Lewisville, Looaville, Looeyville and now NuLu. Haven’t heard NuLu before? Short for “New Louisville,” it’s the designation given to Louisville, Kentucky’s efforts to revitalize the downtown area. Long known for it’s bourbon, Kentucky is aiming to be a place for artists, hipsters, musicians and foodies alike.

Officially NuLu refers to the East Market District, but the revitalization bleeds over to nearby streets in downtown. Former industrial buildings and even an old schoolhouse are transformed into art studios, boutiques, antique shops and restaurants. The effort is bringing new life into a once neglected area and promoting all things local.

West Market Street is a good introduction. Start with a visit to Flame Run Glass Studio and Gallery and the Mark Payton Glass Center. It’s here in the Snead Building where you can browse artist’s glassworks for sale and display. Stop by the studio to watch glass artists mold their creations, or sign up to create something yourself.

Glassworks

The Snead Manufacturing Building now houses Flame Run Glassworks and the Mark Payton Glass Center.

Glass vases

Flame Run Gallery and Shop

Glass artist firing work

Glass artist firing work in the Flame Run Studio

Hummingbird glass ornaments

Glass ornaments at the Mark Payton Glass Center

A couple of must-stops along East Market Street include Taste Fine Wines and Bourbons, Joe Ley Antiques, Red Tree Furniture Store, Why Louisville, Louisville Beer Store and Garage Bar.

Taste Fine Wines and Bourbons believes in the spirit of ‘try before you buy.’ At this boutique-like shop you can sample from a weekly wine list for $4 per tasting, and expand your palette with their bourbon selection for $5 per tasting.

Wine selection

Bourbon bottles

At Joe Ley Antiques you can find vintage signs, telephones, glassware and postcards among other things. Bonus: The antique shop is housed in an old schoolhouse.

Joe Ley Antiques

Joe Ley Antiques

Red Tree Furniture has some interesting finds as well. I loved the artisan feel about the place. There are so many unique pieces, ranging from distressed bedside tables to wine bottle chandeliers.

Red Tree Furniture

On your way to Why Louisville gift shop, take an opportunity to be part of an urban art project and pick up a piece of chalk. An oversized chalk board asks you, “Before I die I want to _____.” My husband and I want to live abroad.

Before I Die Chalkboard I want to live abroad

Why Louisville is a quirky gift shop and great place to pick up a Kentucky souvenir. Their display of graphic slogan tees is entertaining. Options include “Keep Louisville Weird” and “Fast Horses & Fine Bourbons.” There’s even a life-like Colonel Sanders wearing an authentic suit.

Colonel Sanders

A former auto service garage, Garage Bar is now a restaurant serving up wood-fired pizzas and craft beers. The outdoor set up makes me dream of warmer weather. Near the entrance is an car collision art experiment (“Slow Inevitable Death of American Muscle”) with two cars being slowly pushed together by hydraulics.

Outdoor space at Garage Bar

Car collision art experiment at Garage Bar

Beyond East Market Street, there are a few other places I would recommend visiting while in downtown Louisville: Against the Grain Brewery, 21c Museum Hotel and the Seelbach Hotel.

Against the Grain Brewery is housed within Louisville Slugger Stadium on East Main Street. Stop here for a bite to eat and to sample their craft beers. Beer selection varies upon your visit, but their collection includes over 100 craft beers within six categories: Hop, Smoke, Dark, Malt, Session and Whim. As their namesake indicates, they are not a traditional brewery. Most craft brewers have less than 10 brews that they work to perfect; Against the Grain brews a beer only once. The downside of their creativity is that if you like a beer, it won’t be around for very long. My beer of choice during our visit was a malty, vienna lager “Der Güberhoarker.”

Vienna Lager

Beer Personas

Six beer categories (left to right): Session, Dark, Malt, Smoke, Whim and Hop

21c Museum Hotel is an upscale hotel on West Main Street with a free contemporary art museum in the lobby. Open to the public 24/7, exhibits showcase photography, paintings, sculptures and mixed media.

Art Gallery

Scrap tornado

Anne Peabody’s “Wheel of Fortune”

A visit to The Seelbach Hotel (circa 1905) on 4th Street is a trip back in time. The Old Seelbach Bar is open to the public and is reminiscent of the flapper era. It was quite empty during our visit, but I could picture people socializing, dancing to a jazz band and smoking their cigars. Their bourbon selection is wide, but there are also options for those a bit overwhelmed by straight bourbon. The signature drink, The Seelbach, is a cocktail of bourbon, champagne and orange peel. It was delicious! F. Scott Fitzgerald, the writer of “The Great Gatsby,” was pretty fond of the place as well. The Seelbach Hotel was used as the backdrop for Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s wedding in the book.

Seelbach drink

Seelbach Bar

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4 Airfare Sites to Snag a Deal

If you’re taking to the skies this holiday season to visit family or escape to warmer climates, you’ll probably spend some time searching for flights on websites like Expedia.com, Kayak.com or airline-owned websites. Trying to find a deal can be a time-consuming task and more websites are popping up hoping to ease the pain.

What site do you use to find the best deal? Let me know below in the comments.

1. GetGoing

getgoing.com

Apparently, it pays to be flexible and put caution to the wind. This travel-booking service for leisure travelers provides significant discounts when you allow them to choose your destination. As part of the Pick Two, Get One™ service, you can pick a region of the world you’d like to visit or choose travel based on activity themes like “History and Culture” or “Beaches and Sun.” From there you create two flight itineraries and enter your personal and payment information before knowing which destination GetGoing chooses for you. The site can also be used to compare and book flights in the traditional manner.

 

2. Hipmunk

hipmunk.com

This West Coast startup co-founded by the creator of Reddit breathes new life into flight search by visually displaying arrival and departure options in a timeline. Move the arrival and departure sliders to narrow your search and repopulate results on the same screen. Hipmunk aims to show you only the best results by filtering based on your priorities: price, duration, arrival and departure times, airline, number of stops, and the uniquely termed “agony” – a combination of price, duration and number of stops.

 

3. FlyinAway

flyinaway.com

If you’re a fan of eBay bidding wars, then you’ll likely get a kick out of this site that lets you bid against other travelers for flights. Key to this equation is that a route doesn’t open up until enough people have expressed interest. Currently flights are for U.S. destinations only.

 

4. Momondo

momondo.com

This colorful website shows best prices available through monthly bar graphs, making it easier to see daily trends in flight costs throughout a particular month. Momondo also offers different airlines for your trip out and back if it helps you save money. The footer of the website offers links to popular destinations and insightful information about the area including weather, hot spots, and the cost of items like water, beer and taxi rides.

Fall Spotlight: Charlottesville, Virginia

Afton Mountain Vineyards

Afton Mountain Vineyards in Charlottesville, VA

Why Go Now: Fall color is in full effect and there are plenty of ways to take in the beauty, including hikes and drives along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Virginia Film Festival in downtown Charlottesville (November 7-10) showcases over 100 films, both high and low budget, and attracts the likes of Sandra Bullock and Anthony Hopkins. If craft art is more your thing, get a behind-the-scenes tour of local artists during the Artisans Studio Tour November 9-10.

Where to Stay: About a 20-minute drive from downtown Charlottesville is Chester Bed and Breakfast in Scottsville, VA. Take your mornings at a slower pace as Jean and Craig Stratton serve up a gourmet breakfast. Watch birds and other wildlife from the gardens. There is also the Budget Inn on Emmet Street which is within walking distance of the University of Virginia Campus, shops and dining.

Insider Tip: It’s apple season in Virginia and Albemarle Cider Works has several varieties available for you to sample and buy, including Crispin, Albemarle Pippin and Pink Lady. They also make ciders for those who would rather drink their “apple-a-day.” Cider is celebrated throughout the region with tastings, classes and special events for Virginia Cider Week November 15-24.

Aegean Sea Art

Doors can have so many unique characteristics — color, shape, knocker, mail slot and cracks just to name a few. It’s hard not to photograph them or even make a photograph series. I don’t completely understand my obsession with doors. Perhaps it’s the blending of architecture and design, or maybe it’s the unique statement each one makes.

Photographs of Greece are easily recognized by their blue and white color palette. This door was photographed on the island of Santorini.

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This door in Mykonos looks as though it would open up to the sea.

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There are always exceptions to the rules, and this red door in Santorini stands out against a sea of blue.

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Injured Abroad

No one plans on getting hurt when traveling abroad. I myself have never mapped out the closest hospital to my hostel. Nearest café or bar? Sure. I don’t intend to break a bone or become very ill, so that’s not top of mind for me when I’m anxiously packing my backpack. I mean, really, what’s the worse that could happen?

The Incident

About this time last year, Wes and I were exploring London and enjoying the Olympics as ticketholders with my brother-in-law and another couple. We were half way through our two-week trip when our experience was turned on its heels. We walked out of Tower Hill tube (subway) station to an unobstructed view of the Tower of London. Brandon (my brother-in-law) and I stepped up onto a ledge about a foot off the ground to take photos. When Brandon stepped down from the ledge, he caught the side of his foot in the drain lip and came tumbling to his back. In unrestricted agony he repeatedly rolled from his stomach to his back.

Tower of London

Tower Hill Tube Station

Brandon had rolled his ankle. It didn’t appear broke and he could put some pressure on it, but he decided he wasn’t going to walk to other side of the Tower of London with the rest of us. Just below the plaza was a temporary bar and viewing area for the Olympics. Perhaps a little alcohol would ease the pain? When we met back up with him, he was sitting on a lush couch with his leg propped up and wrapped in ice. Already you could start to see his ankle swell.

House of Nations Olympic Viewing Area

Ibuprofen and CodeineI recalled my mother telling me that you could buy ibuprofen with codeine over the counter in England. Along with an ankle support from Boots (pharmacy), it would do wonders to keep Brandon moving.

Brandon’s ankle ended up turning black and blue and swelling badly. “I think I should go home,” he told us. What? Really? None of us knew if it would be more cost-effective to buy a plane ticket home or to go to a hospital in a foreign country. Not a gamble you really want to make, right? Brandon decided to take his chances on the hospital.

Swollen and Bruised Ankle

My uncle graciously offered to take us to Darenth Valley Hospital, also known as ‘Death Valley’ to locals. “Many go in but never come out.” We sat in the waiting room for an hour alongside an elderly woman who was bleeding from her head and a teenage boy who had broke his arm after falling off his dirt bike.

Having British relatives I knew that they got free healthcare, but I wasn’t sure if it applied to us as visitors. I often heard the negatives of socialized medicine, and I experienced disappointment with England’s system when it came to the treatment of my relatives. I never understood why someone with cancer would have to be put on a 2-3 month waiting list for treatment. But, as we were about to experience first hand, it is free healthcare. Brandon walked out of the hospital with an x-ray, soft cast, crutches and codeine without dropping a penny, er pence. Brandon had gambled and won.

Brandon at Hospital

Though a bad sprain, he was grateful it wasn’t broke and now he had enough support on his ankle to hobble all over town. That cast intimately knew the streets of London.

Walking in London with Cast

Plan Ahead

We didn’t know what the hospital bill would be until leaving. That’s a risk not all are willing to take. Since free healthcare while traveling abroad isn’t always an option, it pays to make sure you’re covered in the event of injury. You don’t have to spend a great deal of time planning for the unexpected, but it helps to do a little research before you travel. Here are some options to consider:

1. Ask your medical insurance company if you’re covered when traveling out of the country.

2. Buy a short-term policy to cover you while traveling. A list of U.S. providers can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.

3. Major credit card companies often offer travel accident insurance as part of their member benefits, though it usually just covers the loss of a limb.

 

Have you ever had to go to a hospital in a foreign country? Share your experience in the comments.

Buckingham Palace’s Welcome Committee

A visit to London is likely not complete without a visit to Buckingham Palace. The palace attracts over a million visitors a year. Keeping an eye on tourists, guards changing posts, and the royal family is Queen Victoria perched upon her throne in history. The Queen Victoria Memorial was built in 1911 to commemorate the death of England’s longest-reigning monarch (1837 – 1901). The statue of Victoria faces away from Buckingham Palace and is surrounded with statues representing courage, constancy, victory, charity, truth and motherhood.

Wide Shot of Queen Victoria Memorial

Close-up of Victory Statue

Manarola Vineyard Walk

Beyond city centres, you’ll often find locals going about their day to day lives and discover what it’s actually like to live in the place you’re visiting. For me there is no better place to see how Italians work, live and play than in the villages of Cinque Terre along the Italian Riviera.

In one of those villages, Manarola, most of the tourist activity centers around the town square, Piazza Capellini, near the waterfront. But, if you walk uphill past the gelato shops and restaurants you’ll discover what keeps the economy of Manarola alive. Vineyards of course!

The Manarola Vineyard Walk is a narrow dirt path along terraced grape vineyards overlooking town. It is quite a peaceful and uncrowded walk as not many tourists are familiar with it. You’ll walk along a somewhat un-sturdy wooden railing as the path leads back towards the sea and curves west of town.

Manarola Vineyard Walk

Manarola

View of Manarola from the vineyard walk

The 20-minute vineyard walk leads to Punta Bonfigio cemetery and park. It is not by coincidence that the cemetery has one of the best sea views in Manarola. After Napoleon conquered Italy, he mandated the placement of cemeteries outside of town due to perceived health risks. The cemetery looks and operates differently than those I’ve seen in the United States. There are grave markers and a mausoleum. On the outside of each chamber in the mausoleum is a photo of the deceased with their name, birth date and date of death. Due to limited space, the deceased remain in the mausoleum until the next family member dies. They are then moved to a communal bone crypt.

Beyond the walls of the cemetery is a playground and flower garden that extends to the cliff’s edge. Here you’ll find a sculpture of a woman draped in grapes, the town’s lifeline as you’ll remember, and a meaningful juxtaposition of life and death.

Woman and Grapes Statue

Statue at Punta Bonfigio Park

What have you discovered when venturing beyond the city centre during your travels?