Ascensions worldwide and in Kazakhstan, accompanied by the skilled mountain guide, and subsequent tourist programs. For skilled and beginners. Individual approach to each client, constantly expanded geography of ascensions, plus reasonable prices.
The mountain guide from Kazakhstan, Andrey Gundarev
Louisville – the birthplace of bourbon and Mohammed Ali
I went to the United States on a business trip directly connected with tourism, so I tried to see there as much as possible. Having enjoyed the views of Alaska with its mountains and national parks and California with its famous beaches, movie industry and wines, we were looking forward to visiting the Great New York…
Nevertheless, I couldn’t refuse an invitation of my friend Misha — former citizen of Kazakhstan — to see the largest city of Kentucky — Louisville, situated on the bank of the Ohio River. The Ohio River is one of the major tributaries of the Mississippi river. That’s all I managed to find out about the city from my favorite tabletop book — the World Atlas. The rest was to be seen personally.
One interesting fact should be noted: there is a great deal of casino boats moving up and down the Ohio River. The Law of Ohio and Kentucky States prohibits any form of gambling activities, while the streamway, the natural boundary between the states, belongs to none of them. So, you are welcome to the roulette!
Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to feel like Tom Sawyer arriving in Louisville by steamer. This river passenger transport has long been out of use in America. After private motor vehicles, bus is the second most used type of land transport here. The bus transportation volume considerably exceeds the volume of railway transportation. Bus tickets are quite expensive but, if you travel on business days, reserving the tickets not later than 5 days in advance, the prices drop by 25-40%. American roads are kept in perfect condition although the local driving style leaves much to be desired.
On the way to Louisville, one unconsciously pays attention to the dense forest along the highway. Quite trite American horror movies come to mind in which several friends traveling by car leave a freeway for some reason and continue driving on a country road leading to wilderness. There their car inevitably breaks down and some maniacs begin to chase the unlucky friends throughout the forest or in abandoned mines. Actually, such a plot has something in common with reality. Firstly, the caves in this region are considered to be the longest in the world. Secondly, beginning from the adoption of the Prohibition Law in 1920-1930, these forests have served as a shelter for American bootleggers who became famous for their being of an especially cruel disposition.
The region is quite officially considered to be the birthplace of the US national drink — bourbon. This kind of whisky was invented at the turn of the XVIII century in Paris, Bourbon county, Kentucky. The first advertising of a drink with such a name bears a date of 1821, but the receipt became known much earlier, at least beginning from 1789 when Rev. Elijah Сraig distilled a similar drink. Bourbon differs from whisky by being produced from corn instead of barley. It is seasoned in oak casks with the insides charred using a special technology. It is this novelty that Elijah Сraig introduced after accidentally observing that the whisky seasoned in such a cask acquires unique flavor and taste.
At the same time, there is an opinion stating that the corn version of whiskey was supplied to the Civil War fronts in POL barrels, which gave a classic and unique taste to bourbon.
The state of Kentucky is also known for its famous horserace called derby. Horse sculptures like those disposed throughout Almaty may be seen everywhere in Louisville. Beginning from 1875, Kentucky Derby has been held on each first Saturday of May. Up to now, derby attracts a great deal of spectators, which gives a good impulse to the development of recreation and sports industries.
In Louisville I quartered myself with Misha in a quite simple but spacious apartments leased by him together with an Afro-American fellow named Justin. Huge Justin demonstrated at once how Afro-Americans (no other way of calling them) can distort quite specific American English. Justin works as a car courier for a large mail company. He is also a DJ and holds good parties on the roof of his house.
Near the house I lived in, there was the central city park that exceeds the Botanical Garden and the Central Park in Almaty taken together. Each morning I ran around the park 8 miles on hills overgrown with enormous quantities of trees which were mostly unknown to me. In spite of the remoteness from the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, Kentucky is a region with a very humid warm climate conditioning such a riot of greenery. Kentucky is known for its variety of species (about 200) of trees and bushes. Each Saturday in summer, local pop groups give concerts on an open music venue near the park.
My friend has many Jewish relatives in Louisville and I visited some of them together with Misha. Most of these relatives are immigrants from the Soviet Union resembling very closely the heroes of soviet anecdotes. Never before had I had the chance to spend time in such an environment. Now I want to visit Israel, Odessa, and even Birobidzhan.
In the USA sportsmanship is a countrywide phenomenon and Louisville is no exception. The spirit of sports is present everywhere within the city. First of all, there is the spirit of boxing, for Louisville is the place where the greatest boxer in history — Cassius Kley — was born in 1942 and became famous afterwards. Being the repeat heavyweight titleholder among professionals he invented the tactical scheme «float like a butterfly, sting like a bee» taken afterwards by many boxers all over the world. Now Mohammed Ali is 69 years old and still lives in his native city. Here you can find the Muhammad Ali Center. The Center’s site states the following mission: ‘To preserve and share the legacy and the ideals of Muhammad Ali, to promote respect, honor, and understanding and to inspire adults and children everywhere to be as great as they can be’. The Center pays very much attention to the development of sports culture among children and the youth. Inspired by Ali’s spirit, Misha and I visited one of the sports centers and spent some time boxing in the ring, resulting in a few bruises on me …
I also managed to visit school swimming competitions in a suburb of Louisville, participated by about 300 pupils of different ages. Accompanied by their parents they were in the open air from the very morning. Teams of participating schools had their own names, team fight songs and flags. The judges were the parents themselves. In order to exclude any possibility of manipulations with the competition results, the parents recorded the time of some else’s children. It was very noisy, wet and fun. Right there they grilled hot-dogs and sold coca-cola. All participants really enjoyed this family aquacade. The following stage of the competition is held in the following month in another school. By the way, Misha’s nephew, Anya, won the 1st place in her age category.
It is said that Louisville was founded in 1778 by Colonel George Rogers Clark. The city was named then in honor of the King of France, Louis XVI, and up to the Civil War Louisville was considered as one of the largest slave trade centers, which is against the etiquette to remember.
The downtown area, with its skyscrapers and offices, has no significant differences city centers of other American cities. Nevertheless, some places give a peculiar charm to the city. First of all, there are monuments to Colonel Clark and a member of his reconnaissance unit York with a park around them. The monument to the revered major Jerry Abrams who did very much for the city in the sixties laconically fits in the cityscape. The bronze Major sits on a bench under a tree, and I suppose he used to sit on this bench while alive.
I also remember the Century XX Hotel which is known for its modern art gallery. During my visit there they held a regular exhibition of American avant-gardists. Although central states are known for Puritanism, there were many erotic paintings in the restaurant of this hotel, and beautiful albums with nude figures lying on the bar counter.
I still remember two other restaurants: one of them — for its name ‘Blind Swine’ and the second — for the pleasing view of the Ohio River and the Colgate factory on the opposite bank, excellent seafood and waiters dancing on tables. They constantly play dance music there. Songs are simple like training aids for dancing: «Right step, left step, jump, turn around and once again: right step, left step…» Up to now they also play Macarena, which was popular in the nineties. To the next composition one of the waiters jumps up on a table and shows how to dance, inviting the clients to dance. Unfortunately I do not remember the name of this merry-making house.
The popular fast-food network KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) has come from Kentucky to many countries, including Kazakhstan. KFC was founded by Harland Sanders in 1952 and became known due to its specialties: deep-fried chicken nuggets, breast and wings. In the tourist information office in the center of the city you can have your photo with a wax statue of Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC.
Hunter S. Thompson, the founder of gonzo journalism and the author of «Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream» is one more historic character from Louisville who is very important to me. In 1998 they made an iconic film based on this book with Johnny Depp in the lead role — Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Johnny Depp himself was born in Owensboro, a small town not far from Louisville. Gonzo journalism is a style of journalism that is written subjectively, often including the reporter as part of the story via a first-person narrative. Gonzo journalism often uses personal experiences and emotions to provide context for the topic or event being covered. The use of quotations, sarcasm, humor, exaggeration, and even swear words is an integral component of this style which is very close to me. Having said good-bye to my old and new friends, I left for New York. There are no direct flights between Louisville and the largest city of America, so I had to fly to New York via Washington. Domestic flights in the United States are quite expensive (for a single ticket I had to pay $400) so next time I will travel by bus, which will allow me apart from everything else to visit many more states.