BY JANET STEINBERG
Throughout the past year, my travel articles told of places I’ve been, foods I tasted, things I did. As the curtain comes down on 2023, please allow me to share with you some of my favorites from 2023.
RUN FOR THE ROSES: Whether you are at the racetrack or watching in front of a TV… wearing outlandish hats… or sipping bourbon-laced mint juleps, the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home” is an annual tradition on Derby Day. The Kentucky Derby, “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” is held annually on the first Saturday in May at Louisville Kentucky’s Churchill Downs. The 2023 Kentucky Derby, with winning horse Mage ridden by jockey Javier Castellano, was the 149th “Run for the Roses”. The seed for the flowerful red rose tradition was planted in the 1880s when a New York socialite presented ladies at a party with bouquets of roses. A decade later, impressed by that gesture, the president/founder of Churchill Downs began the ritual of adorning the winning horse with a blanket of 554 red roses.
A SINGULAR SENSATION: In 2017, Cincinnati’s Playhouse in The Park announced plans to construct a new theater facility and mainstage that would replace the Marx Theatre (which had been the oldest unrenovated mainstage regional theater in the United States until its demolition in 2022). “A Chorus Line“, winner of 10 Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize, celebrated the 2023 grand opening of “Moe and Jack’s Place… The Rouse Theatre”. The show revolved around 17 dancers, at a cut-throat audition, who were competing for a role in a Broadway musical. This timeless show that debuted in the 1970s was still bursting with artistic passion. In the words of the musical’s masterpiece “One!”, the revival of this show is still “One! Singular sensation… One! Thrilling combination…”
LURE OF THE SEA: Annually, I need a shot of Vitamin Sea to get my fix of turquoise seas… to replenish my craving for waves crashing beneath a ship’s verandah… to be mesmerized by glaciers from Alaska to Antarctica… to taste the delectable flavors of the world. In the year just passed, Silversea’s Silver Cloud was the perfect prescription that assuaged my 2023 ailments. No cooking, no cleaning, no mess, no stress. Instead, there was champagne chilling in a silver bucket… a butler shining my shoes… and three delightful meals every day. There was only one thing wrong with my Vitamin Sea prescription. Its therapeutic results were only effective for two weeks. I need a refill.
WEARABLE ART: It’s not silk or satin… it’s not cotton or wool. This wearable art is one-of a kind silver and gold sculptural art-to-wear. At the award-winning Modern Art Jewelry, located in an unpretentious shop in Blue Ash, Ohio. Haguit Rubinstein (architect turned alchemist) transforms metal and gemstones into miniature sculptures. Rubinstein is continuing the legacy of her late father, world renowned artist and Holocaust survivor Aaron Rubinstein whose contemporary-art jewelry was worn by regular folks and found in the collections world-famous ladies such as the late Rosalynn Carter and Raisa Gorbachev.
TITANIC TRAGEDY MEMORIALIZED: Halifax, the Canadian city in which I embarked on a September cruise, is the cosmopolitan capital city of Nova Scotia. It is the largest city east of Quebec City and north of Boston. Halifax offers a dynamic and intriguing mix of heritage and culture. Time does not stand still in Halifax thanks to one of Halifax’s most famous landmarks… the stately Old Town Clock that officially began keeping time for the residents of Halifax in 1803. And yet, in some ways, time does stand still at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery where the body of an unknown baby boy, who perished on the Titanic, is interred.
REMARKABLE ROADTRIP: It was a trip that only lasted four hours, but it was probably the only means of transportation that I had never had the pleasure of traveling in, or on! For those four hours I felt like one of the billionaire characters straight out of the HBO series “Succession”. Not a Party Bus… not an RV… not a stretch limousine… It was a customized Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Passenger Van compete with comfy reclining leather chairs, a small bar/kitchen area and restroom facilities. HIPPO, so named by its owners, gave 5 best friends a 60-mile roundtrip journey from our homes to a 19th-century inn for a memorable Memorial Day meal.
DINNER TRIFECTA: Savor three of the house specialties at the Black Horse Tavern in Lebanon, Ohio’s Golden Lamb Hotel (circa 1803). For starters… hand-rolled Sauerk
RENAISSANCE OF URBANITY: The Lytle Park was born in 1909 as the Anna Louise Inn, a suitable home and safe refuge for young girls (earning less than $10 a week) who came to work in the booming big city of Cincinnati. In 2014, after Anna Louise Inn’s residents moved to a modern newly constructed building, the inn and its annex were totally gutted, leaving only the 105-year-old facades. Six years, and millions of dollars later the splendid Lytle Park Hotel officially opened in March 2020.
THE MAN IN BLACK: The toe-tapping, soul-stirring, biographical “Ring of Fire” at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s Rouse theater celebrated the life of the iconic Johnny Cash. The razor-sharp vocals and stripped-down country sound of Cash, dubbed “The Man in Black”, were a major contribution to the popularity of rock and roll in the 20th century. From cotton fields to prisons… from music career to marriage (to the love of his life, June Carter)… from addiction to redemption… Johnny Cash forged a place in the heart of Americana. The smash hit performance delivered crowd-pleasing renditions of Cash’s musical catalog, including “I Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and “Ring of Fire.”
RETAIL RESURRECTION: Coppin’s Department Store, a shopper’s paradise in downtown Covington, Kentucky was Kentucky’s first modern skyscraper and the region’s largest high-end department store when it opened in 1910. After the department store’s closure in 1977, was vacant for many years and fell into disrepair. The city of Covington purchased the property in 1988. In 2016, the born-again boutique Hotel Covington opened. Within the hotel, Coppin’s Restaurant+Bar is the hotel’s gathering spot that pays homage to the original Coppin’s Department store.
HIGHBROW HAPPENING: Drawing opera lovers from 45 states and 5 countries, Cincinnati Opera’s 2023 Summer Festival in historic Music Hall (built in 1878 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975) is much more than on-stage extravaganza brought to life by some of the world’s most dynamic performers and creative artists. It is also a “Happening” that begins prior to each performance, and continues during intermissions, in Music Hall’s grand foyer. A bagpiper welcomes patrons to the Scotland of “Lucia di Lammermoor”… a barbershop quartet entertains in the foyer prior to Rossini’s “Barber of Seville”… Japanese ladies pluck the traditional kotos prior to “Madame Butterfly”.
Janet Steinberg, winner of 55 national travel-writing awards resides in Cincinnati but calls the world her home.