Cincinnati really is a lovely place.
I booked a weekend trip to Cincinnati and everyone in my life wondered why.
But, the truth is, Cincinnati was a gorgeous city full of people who took pride in where they lived. And it showed. The streets were some of the cleanest I’ve seen since Germany (I didn’t even know US cities could be so immaculate!) and the atmosphere was similar to Seattle: strangely urban mixed with old architecture. I didn’t go expecting to have an out-of-this world experience, but Cincinnati has easily jumped to one of my top five favorite cities.
This trip was an impromptu decision, like most decisions in my life, which means that I had some unprepared moments. Mostly, I probably should’ve thought twice before booking a trip up north in mid-February, but at least it led to some good life lessons (or a reminder of the basics), an interesting city experience and a much-needed break from Orlando.
FOOL TIP #1: Know the weather before you go, yes, but prepare for anything.
Look at that beautiful, winter wonderland that nearly killed me.
(I’m calling them fool tips as I’m quite often a dang fool. I wish I could say I was pro enough to give out pro tips, but that’s just not reality.)
I took a modest-sized backpack to Cincinnati because I was only there for a weekend and I’ve always liked traveling without checked luggage. I actually checked the weather for once (a real first for me since I like to live on the edge [I’m an actual idiot]) and saw that, while it was predicting some rain for Cincinnatians, there didn’t seem to be any snow.
So, no, sister! Thank you for helping me pack at the last minute but I won’t be needing those gloves.
Except I did need them.
Turns out that the Saturday I was there, which was supposed to be my main day of exploration, it snowed. The snow and I … we don’t exactly get along. I’m a Sunshine girl, born and raised. And after living in the mountains in Poland, where I had snow to my hips, snow is basically a trigger for me. (Not really, but you know what I mean.) The snow ended up limiting my ability to explore outside because I simply wasn’t prepped for it and I missed out on a lot of awesome sights.
FOOL TIP #2: Talk to everyone.
I know that this isn’t feasible for those who have social anxiety or are uncomfortable with socializing in general. But, for me, talking to everyone around me is how I find out about anything and everything going on in a city. My Uber driver, shout out to David, was just phenomenal! He was so knowledgeable about his city and he was the reason I ended up going to the Public Library of Cincinnati, which is well worth the visit.
I mean, seriously, how cool is this library!?
The library actually ended up being one of my coolest finds. Cincinnati seems to really take their reading seriously, which, as an English teacher, I can appreciate. They had awesome set ups to tempt people into checking out a book, historical sections to learn more about the history of Cincinnati and even a teen section full of electronics to draw the younger generation into the building. (Nice!)
I want a blind date with a book! What a good idea!
I spoke to a woman in the library who told me that Cincinnati is famous for its microbreweries. A woman in my hotel gave me a map and told me to visit the Over-the-Rhine area to find a lot of great eats and beer, too. I know that this is information that you could easily get on Google, but there’s something much more special about getting a map from someone else, having a personal conversation where someone else is trying to guide you and just hearing from the locals in general.
FOOL TIP #3: Don’t miss your flight.
This one is pretty obvious, right? I’ve taught in four countries, lived in two and been to about 15 at this point and I’ve never missed a flight before. Go figure that my weekend in Cincinnati got cut short because I missed my morning flight on Friday. My flight was at 7:30am and I overslept. I still don’t know how I managed to do that considering that I went to bed at 7:30pm the night before (it was supposed to be a nap!) … but I was suddenly thrust awake by my sister banging on my window at 5:15am and considering that I had to be at the airport by 5:45 and I hadn’t even packed yet…I had a bad feeling about it all.
My sister rushed me to the airport to try and make it at the last minute but to no avail. I was able to reschedule it, but I went from landing at 9:30am to landing at 6:30pm. That’s an entire day lost, more or less. I missed out on a lot of awesome things because I had to pack as much as I could into the one and a half day remaining. Yikes! I guess there’s a first for everything, right?
Let me leave you with this tres, tres dope polar bear chilling in a library.
These are basic tips with a Cincinnati-twist, but they’re tried and true. Sometimes fools give the best advice because they make you remember the basics of what it means to exist responsibly. (Or maybe that is just my way of trying to make myself feel better…) Either way, I think that it’s important to always make yourself go back to basics. Otherwise you end up getting too conceited with your supposed travel-saviness and you end up making stupid mistakes. A lot of them.
What fool tips would you give for someone traveling?