This is the last post about our trip, I promise. However, some of the best places are on this post...so, read on!
Do you see it? My beautiful handcrafted dough bowl...love it! When we decided to visit Berea, KY on our way home from Asheville, I knew that the one thing I was going to look for was a dough bowl and I found it! I read about Berea in Southern Living magazine and I couldn't wait to visit. It is the home of Berea College, which has an interesting program where the students tuition is waived as long as they agree to work a certain number of hours per week for the college. It is a very small town, known for its community of artists and we were very impressed with the quality of the crafts. The first shop we went into was The Honeysuckle Vine Gallery and there she was...my gorgeous bowl, handmade and rustic...exactly what I wanted. I flipped her over expecting to see the $150-$175 price that I had seen online for bowls not nearly as pretty and it said $45! She was mine! Don't you love that piece of walnut that is striped through her?
I was perfectly content to just "window shop" the rest of the shops. I had my bowl and I didn't need another thing, until we walked into the next shop. Nora Swanson Arts creates metal jewelry using no colorant dyes or paints and the patinas were beautiful. I was leaning towards a bracelet that was plain with an almost turquoise patina, until I saw this beauty. What you don't know is that my wedding band has a seashell on it, so could this be more perfect?
I also found a beautiful, simple stone necklace at
the Lindsay Gallery. Then, I stopped shopping!
Of course after shopping, comes eating! There aren't a lot of restaurants in Berea, but we were very happy with our recommendation of the Main Street Cafe. I had a salad with goat cheese that had been lightly breaded and fried green tomatoes and my husband had a delicious wrap sandwich with homemade chips.
We aren't "bed and breakfast" people, but the college owns the beautiful Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant. It is right in the heart of all of the little shops. We enjoyed our day in Berea. What we did find is that it is a place to go "on the way" to somewhere else. We had planned on staying 2 nights and we easily did the entire town in less than a day so we changed our reservation to one night.
Our next stop was Lexington, KY. So, they really do wear those big hats! We actually walked into a Stein Mart and saw the hats, hats and more hats!
We knew that while in Lexington we wanted to visit Keeneland Racetrack. We had never been to a racetrack and Keeneland is beautiful property for Thoroughbred racing. Some of the biggest names race there as a stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby. We had read that in April you can go in and walk the beautiful grounds or go early in the morning and see them exercise horses.
We knew something was up once we drove back onto the grounds. We started seeing lots of cars. It seemed like too many to just be there to explore the grounds. Once we reached the parking area and I saw the women in the huge hats, high heels and flowered dresses...I knew we were in over our heads. Men in seersucker suits and pastel ties were everywhere! There were a few people dressed like us (capris and jeans) but not many. We almost bolted, but we opted to stay and I'm glad we did. It was race day and there were 20,000 people there!
We had a chance to walk through the horse barns.
We had lunch in the track kitchen with owners, groomers and jockeys. It was so much fun. The food was just like grandma makes and so bad for you. It was cafeteria style and you only had a couple things to pick from...all for $5! Some man next to us took pity on our lost look and explained to us what we should do to see the races.
We paid our $5 general admission fees and in we went. We watched a race and then we had someone else show us how to bet on a horse. We each bet (and lost) $5, but it was so exciting! Believe me, this is a culture all its own. People were drinking mint juleps, so dressed up and I fully expected the Kennedys to show up! If you notice, people were not so dressed up in the general admission area where we were standing!
After a couple of races, we were on our way to Louisville, KY. Louisville is home of the Louisville Slugger factory and that was on my husband's wish list. We visited the museum (where he got to swing Mickey Mantle's bat) and took the tour where we watched them making bats for Derek Jeter. We had small bats made for the little grands with their names on them. It wasn't really my kind of place, but it was interesting and air-conditioned!
Of course we couldn't leave Louisville without a stop to see Churchill Downs. It was a bit of a disappointment after seeing Keeneland. Churchill Downs is right in town in a neighborhood that has seen better days. It wasn't nearly as pretty as the beautiful horse country with rolling fields and white fences in Lexington. I'm sure it is quite exciting on race day...but, I'd go back to Keeneland instead!
This was a different kind of trip for us with lots of short drives and overnight stops. We had such a good time and can't wait to go back to Asheville and Lexington again.