...at least, that's what it said on a shot glass that I bought several years ago when my flight stopped over in the Cincinnati airport. Of course this means that Cincinnati is a place where you can expect the unexpected -- and after spending a day in and around the city, I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment. Cincinnati -- and nearby Covington, Kentucky -- is a fun city, and a great baseball city, and is home to one of the best ballparks I've visited!
After leaving the hotel, we made a quick stop across the street at Skyline Chili, home to one of Cincinnati's finest delicacies: CHILI & CHEESE OVER SPAGHETTI. I had heard of this delicacy in the weeks leading up to this trip, but I was skeptical as to what it would actually be like. Indeed, it's a weeeeeird meal. For $4.99, you get a big mound of spaghetti covered with meaty chili and topped with a pile of grated cheese. The combination of flavors and textures is bizarre but surprisingly delicious. I wasn't even particularly hungry, so much as just curious, but I ended up demolishing the whole thing. Tremendous!
Next we headed to the suspension bridge that would take us to Cincy. It was a cool walk, loaded with panoramas, murals and photo ops. Fifteen minutes later, we were in Cincinnati, gazing upon the Great American Ball Park. Right off the bat, I was sold on this park -- in a sense, it's everything I wish Citi Field could be. There's a vast open area outside the stadium, just like Citi Field -- but in Cincy, there are baseball-themed statues, banners and tributes to Reds history, and just an overwhelming sense that this is, in fact, THE HOME OF THE REDS. God, Citi Field needs that... but I digress bigtime. We took in the sights and sounds and walked around. In particular, I took note of as many PETE ROSE references as we could find -- I was wearing my "Pete Rose: Hall of Fame" t-shirt, which I have owned for more than 10 years, and have worn on every baseball trip so far... and for the first time, I actually got a couple of compliments on it!
Our seats were awesome -- fifth row of the upper level box, right behind home plate. Perfect view of the field and vista beyond the outfield wall, which included the river (complete with passing paddleboats and coal barges) and the rolling hills of Kentucky. Very scenic indeed. The crowd was small and fairly subdued -- my friends and I were by far the loudest, and I think the Cincy fans were a little scared of our "Jo-ey... Joo-ey... Jooo-ey... Joooo-ey... VOTTTTTOOOOOO!" chant. But it was all good. And then there were the concessions, which were most impressive. Beer was reasonably priced, and food was plentiful -- they actually had a Skyline Chili in the ballpark, but another pile of chili & cheese & spaghetti might have killed me on the spot. Instead, I got a BBQ pulled pork sandwich with hand-cut chips, and it was spectacular. The sandwich was huge, absolutely loaded with meat -- at one point, half the meat fell out of the bread, and the sandwich was STILL huge! They also did not skimp on the chips. At first the guy put a big handful of chips in the tray... then he put ANOTHER handful! They were crisp, seasoned and awesome. Even with all the great food options at Citi Field, this was one of the best ballpark meals I've had all year. The vendors were also pretty entertaining -- actually, just one guy, Jarvis, who was quite possibly the greatest Dippin' Dots salesman I've ever seen -- the negotiation between Jarvis and Murphy was epic and hilarious, resulting in an exchange of money & cookie dough ice cream that belongs on the freakin' Sistine Chapel.
There weren't many negatives about the Great American Ball Park experience, to tell the truth -- it feels homey and comfortable and fun it's an all-around great place to watch a ballgame. I was, however, a little perturbed by the Reds mascot, Mr. Redlegs -- basically, he has a familiar-looking giant baseball head, but with crazy eyes and a big Italian mustache. He's like Luigi to Mr. Met's Mario! (There was also another mascot that looked kind of like the Philly Phanatic's mutant cousin, and for some reason, the San Francisco Giants' mascot was there hanging out. Also, Tea Leoni.)
It was a long game, but a fun one, even though the Brewers defeated the Reds 9-6 -- I'd predicted an 8-3 final score, which obviously did not come true, but that WAS the score after the 7th inning, so for a few minutes there, it was a kinda eerie. We saw some homers, some sparkling defense and the all-time saves leader doing his thing. Afterward, we headed back to the bridge to Covington without any real idea as to where to go next -- until we bumped into a transplanted Jersey girl who told us to go to Mainstrasse section of Covington -- a bar district which happened to be right down the street from our hotel! Our adventures brought us to the Village Pub, a cool place with cheap-as-hell beers and outdoor seating. We downed a few Lone Stars and Caribs, smoked some cigars and chilled for a while -- then retired to the hotel, but not before swinging by the nearby White Castle to soak up all the beer with some ratburgers. YUM.
We went to bed late and woke up early -- we're all tired now, but in a good way because it is the result of a kick-ass Cincy baseball experience. Now, as I write this, we are on the road to our next stop: St. Louis! Feel free to meet me there....