Monday, May 29, 2017
January/February Trip Recap (Part 4)
Finally! The last leg of the trip 😃 and arguably the busiest one! My mom and I took once again to the road to make our way back up the coast, but this time, we veered a bit west so we could hit new states different from our usual route.
Our adventure back north started with St. Augustin, which strangely enough we had never been to. It's super weird because it's only 2 hours away from Orlando, so I don't know why we always veered more towards Tampa or Miami 4 hrs away than venturing a bit further north from Daytona. Anyway, after seeing insta posts from people I grew up with having an amazing time in St. Augustin, I pushed for a detour on our last day in central Florida to go see it for ourselves and it was better than expected. We only had a few hours to explore the area and it definitely requires a second visit but it doesn't feel very Floridian. St Augustin is the oldest city in America and with the beaches and quaint little streets it's definitely super fun, it just feels a lot more like Puerto Rico than the US. The fort and some architecture, the spanish-colonial history and their pirates stories are all very similar to PR, so if you can't make it out to sea and to the Caribbean, you can totally go check this city and play pretend, I doubt you'll be disappointed 😜 We missed a lot of the famous sights because of our lack of time but we did get to have great beach views, go into the old fort, and "go to school" in the oldest school-house in the country, it's a super cute museum set up just as it was when it did have students there in the 1800s, and once you're done exploring you get to pick up your diploma at the exit, how cute is that?!
Next on the itinerary was Tallahassee. Because of it being a larger city and our having had a longer drive after St. Augustin we gave it two nights. Unfortunately I cannot tell you much about it. It's definitely more Southern, culturally, than central and south Florida, so it was fun to get to know my home state a bit better and see the changes as we made our way further North on it. However it was the off season and no tours or attractions were opened. We tried to do our own thing but that is harder to do in a big city when most tourist friendly things are closed and we didn't get to do much. After a couple hours we gave up on doing it alone and my mom found a segway tour which was personalized so we could see all the highlights without having to drive around. I had only tried segways once before in the Caribbean but it had been fun, so off we went on our adventure. Except we didn't really. As it turned out, these were the smaller, less stable segways made for cities instead of the huge ones they use in the Caribbean. So on a practice run at a parking lot I went over a horrible bump and the thing flipped me over, threw me to the curb and ran over my leg!😢 Other than shock my first concern was that I had fallen over an icky ants' nest so I was worried about that and the throbbing pain along my arm, everyone else was worried about the fact that my helmet had broken from the impact, so thank goodness I was wearing one! After some fussing and confusion as to what to do I managed to get back on the thing, although I refused to go over any more bumps; but as time went by I started feeling a trickle inside my shoe and my leg was burning. We stopped at a public restroom and sure enough I had a puncture wound in my foot, which was bleeding and the back of my leg did not only had a bad road rash, it still had bits of rubber from the segway running over it stuck to it and unwilling to go away! Needless to say our tour was cut short, my mom was freaking out and I could barely move. The rest of the night was spent getting gauze and antibacterial solutions and washing and dressing the wound😞 It sucked! For days I had to change the bandage twice a day and could not walk or sit normally. So who knows how Tallahassee is really like? Lol. Also, we didn't know it but this was our last warm day...
From Tallahassee we drove to Louisiana so we could spend the next day and a half in New Orleans, which I loved! We did not expect the weather so far south to be in the 40s and windy so I was freezing after the 80 degrees day we had the day before but NOLA was so fun. Definitely not at all like what people have described to me; there is so much art on the streets and lots of cute touristy boutiques... I was a bit disappointed that not all of the architecture looks like the real life Princess and the Frog but there's a lot of that too and the fact that we're not in the 1920s/30s was also brought to my attention.
For our adventures we had beignets at Cafe Du Monde which tasted as good as Tiana's look like!! And had vegan po boys and gumbo in the garden district. We enjoyed the views to the Mississippi river, walked around the French Quarter and its market, took a quick bus tour around the modern areas of the city and had fun seeing all sort of tv and movie location spots!
The next morning we went to Lafayette Cemetery and when I started looking at everything through my lens: Wow! No wonder this is such a popular place for Hollywood filming. It totally made me want to watch Princess and the Frog, Vampire Diaries and the Originals again! I was disappointed that I didn't find any voodoo shops though😕 Not like I would even go into a real one, but I wanted to see the fake ones for tourists, however all I found was regular souvenir stores selling the classic t-shirts and mugs sort of dressed like a voodoo shops 😐 At some point while wandering I did see a magick shop in the French Quarter, but my mom didn't like the vibe and didn't let me go in so I have no idea what kind of magick it was...
We also just saw Burbon street in passing, during the day we just drove by it and didn't have time to stop and during the night is almost impossible to drive by it. It was nice to see everything lit up but there were drunks everywhere and who wants to deal with those vibes? It's worst than the voodoo, my mom didn't even let me get out of the car for pictures because you never know with drunks... Vampires might be better and safer lol.
On January 29 we got to play in Nashville and we fell in love with it! At least with the first half we saw; I think we did it "wrong" though haha our experience had very little to do with music and cowboys and everything to do with Greece.
We spent the bigger half of our time in the city exploring their Parthenon which even had Percy Jackson's script on display, so now of course I want to watch it again also! Lol. Their giant Athena was a photographer's dream and even though it was freezing outside, it was so nice to be walking around the different parks after having spent some time in just urban settings. We visited both, Centennial and Bicentennial parks and went up hills to look at Nashville from above as well as then go visit the state capitol up close. The Greek influence everywhere was not what we expected out of "Music City". Because we only had a day there and it was the off season we didn't have any country concerts or anything, we did our best to drive or walk past and get a picture of the Country Music and Musicians Halls of fame as well as the Symphony center and in the morning during breakfast at a little organic cafe they had open mic with some really nice girls singing country. I guess that counts right? Speaking of cafes and food during our stay in Nashville we managed to eat twice at one of my new favorite vegan places Graze! Food was pretty spicy because apparently everything in the South is spicy! But so worth the pain!!!! LOL
The only downside to visiting Nashville in the off season was that we went to Broadway street to look at all the neon signs and souvenir shops after sunset, and apparently only locals that want to drink are around and there's a big homeless problem in the area😕 So as we were walking down a street pass a street musician, a man shoulder-hit my mom tying to get her to drop her purse and kept walking by really fast, fortunately the bag was a cross body, we have very active guardian angels and we were safe with nothing worse to tell. We were extremely shaken up though and couldn't enjoy ourselves after that, so after collecting ourselves in a shop we went straight for the car drove to Cincinnati earlier than planned.
By the time we reached Ohio the temperatures were incredibly cold, we didn't have a buffer "middle temperature" as we had naively planned, and so my body never got adjusted to the sudden winter 😣 Freezing as we were we couldn't really spend time outdoors and it was a Monday, the time when museums and botanical gardens close, it was the off season and combine that with the fact that we're not that used to big cities that aren't giant tourist magnets anymore, we found hardly anything to do! So in Cincinnati we just drove by the Gaslight district because the houses are really pretty, found a bookstore-cafe where we could hang out for a bit and continued through to Pittsburgh. The same story as the day before repeated in Pittsburgh, mainly because their day to close there for some reason is Tuesdays. Pittsburgh's lack of fun didn't really matter though, as we had only added it to our itinerary so we could visit my friend Marianne. I hadn't seen her since 2011 despite her trying to come see me when I had cancer, but nothing ever seemed to work in our favor and for the longest time she lived out of the country, so now that she had moved back to the states and was on the same coast we had to go se her! That was the biggest highlight of those two days, we had dinner, reconnected and talked for hours, we really had a good time, although strangely enough despite her being a photography major, me being me and us switching phone screens constantly to show each other pictures of different things we forgot to take pictures of our reunion! Fortunately we made up for that a few weeks later for my birthday when she came to see me, but more on that later.
Right after dinner with Marianne, my mom and I started the drive to Niagara Falls! It was a longish drive, and according to my mom a stressful one since it started snowing and apparently there were areas with white out conditions. I missed all the scary parts because I was looking down at my Nintendo 3DS' screen and belting out Moana songs and thanks to my mom's mad skills we got to our hotel just fine and I was none the wiser 🙂...
Niagara Falls was freezing but so beautiful! I loved seeing all the snow around them and the bits of frozen water at the top of the river, it was such a magical experience. The only thing that was sad was how close Canada built their city! They get the best view because even if we have some houses and stuff nearby, there are not towering, glittering buildings so you do get the views of Nature right there. From our side is hard to try and get Nature shots, stupid Toronto is messing up the shots more than half the time! I don't understand why people don't have any respect for natural wonders or ancient marvels. Leave some space! Stop encroaching and endangering it! UGH!
But ok, other than that it was a great time 💗 We had almost two days which during the off season is a lot of time apparently, but it was so worth it for my inner photographer. We were even rewarded by a rainbow going up from the water to the sky. It was Breathtaking! Part of our adventure there was making me making us go out at night again to capture the falls with the light show on. I froze my hands until they almost fell off and I endangered my camera by dropping it on the other side of the fence to get the right shot haha, but every icy second was worth it. Being so close to something so magnificent is nature is extremely healing. Now we need to go back in the summer to get to the actual adventures of exploring the caves and going on the Maid of the Mist!
✵For more pictures and random trip details from my traveling bear's perspective you can follow their insta account. If you scroll down enough you'll see the trip day to day. If you scroll down to Xmas in Manhattan you've gone too far 😜