Saturday, 14 February 2015

CINCINNATI — THE SPORTS TOWN

Cincinnati downtown skyline. Photograph: Dr.Ravi Ramachandran

Jayashree
Name:  Jayashree

Where are you from?
I was born and brought up in Chennai, so Chennai is my hometown.

How long have you lived in Cincinnati?
I've lived in Cincinnati for more than 20 years now.

What do you do?
I am a Delivery Project Executive for a large multinational technology company.

What is Cincinnati famous for?
Cincinnati is a typical city in the mid-western part of the US. It was once famous for meat-packing, but has now re-invented itself as a family-friendly city with something to offer for anyone, whether it is  sports, arts, the outdoors or fine dining.   Cincinnati is a sports town, where you can find baseball, football, tennis, car racing, and almost any other sport. Cincinnati also has a large German population, so the annual Oktoberfest is a popular attraction. Cincinnati houses the Underground Railroad museum (www.freedomcenter.org/about-us) showcasing the city's part in the underground railroad that was used by slaves on the way to freedom, and in general, inspirational stories of freedom.

What are the 3 best kept secrets of Cincinnati, which only the locals are aware of?
  •    Cincinnati is a big city with a small-town feel. Almost any sport or activity that you can find in a big city, you can find in Cincinnati. I have two children, and at various stages, we've enjoyed different activities. One thing that people are surprised to hear is that Cincinnati either has or is close to almost 60 museums and historic places that are open to the public. We've enjoyed Children's museum, as well as a Museum of Natural History, and Omnimax theater where you can watch documentaries on the big screen. If you are a fan of theater, be sure to catch a performance of Playhouse in the Park, or to watch Broadway musicals at the Aronoff Theater. 
  •    Cincinnati has a wonderful 'rail to trail' trail that spans about 80 miles along the scenic Little Miami river for biking, roller-blading and walking. The trail follows the original 1937 route of the Little Miami railroad. Anyone who likes to bike should spend a day on this trail. There are bike shops on the trail where bicycles and helmets are available for rental.
  •    Cincinnati is home every year to the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament (www.cincytennis.com). Every year, tennis greats play right in the city, and this is the place for tennis buffs to get autographs, watch the pros practise, and get up close. Other cities also host tennis tournaments, but in Cincinnati you can get closer to the pros than anywhere else.

Three foods that one should taste in Cincinnati and where can we find it?
  • Ice cream at Graeter's, a family-owned icecream store with several locations in the city. Graeter's still makes ice cream in small batches the traditional way.
  • Chili at one of Cincinnati's many chili joints. Try one of Skyline chili locations.  If you are a vegetarian, you can ask for substitutions to make the chili vegetarian.
  • I don't eat meat, so I can't speak from personal experience, but Montgomery Inn Cincinnati is famous for ribs. Toyota has a training center in the area, and Japanese executives visit often, so there are also restaurants that serve authentic sushi.

Findlay Market. Photo: Dr.Ravi Ramachandran
Three best places to shop in Cincinnati
  •       Jungle Jim's International Market. This is an International Grocery store where you can find any type of food from anywhere in the world.
  •       Findlay Market. This is an open-air market with fresh fruits, vegetables, smoothies, cheeses, breads, meats and much more.
  •       Kenwood Mall. If you're going to just one mall, then this has got to be it. This mall has all the big name-brand stores and is the place where teens want to shop.

Three must-see sights in Cincinnati
  •       Cincinnati is beautiful in spring, summer and in fall.  In spring, we have beautiful flowering trees in full bloom, and cheerful blooming daffodils and other bulbs. In summer, the city and the hills and mountains form a green canopy. In fall, Mother Nature paints the leaves of the trees yellow, russet and burgundy. Visit Eden Park or Ault Park; if you're in Eden Park, spend an hour or two in Krohn Conservatory.
  •       Art lovers should visit Taft Museum of Art. Admission is free on Sundays.
  •       Sharon Woods Park. This is a park covering over 700 acres. It has a number of trails where you can walk or ride a bike. The park has a huge lake and you can rent a canoe or a pedal boat.

Sharon Woods. Photo: Dr.Ravi Ramachandran
Three things a traveler should know about Cincinnati
  •       Cincinnati is located on the Southern part of Ohio, and is close to Kentucky and Indiana. You'll often find people living in one state and working in another. The airport is actually located in Northern Kentucky.
  •       Cincinnati's culture is actually a  mix of cultures - Midwest, Northeast and Southern, with a good mix of German culture thrown in.
  •       When a Cincinnatian says 'Please?', it actually means, 'Could you repeat what you just said?'

Three things a traveler should do in Cincinnati
  •      Visit Fountain Square, located in the heart of Downtown Cincinnati. It's been renovated recently, and the area has a number of restaurants, an ice-skating rink, and a water wall.
  •       If the weather's nice, visit one of the parks or Sharon Woods. If you want to do something indoors, take in a museum.
  •       Go to a Graeter's store for ice cream. My favorite is Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip.

What one should not do in Cincinnati
I can think of lots of things to do in Cincinnati, and very few in the 'don't do' section! In general, don't expect to use public transportation to get around. It's recommended to hire a car.