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Monday, September 3, 2018

SOLO EURO: DAY 12 [PRAGUE]

the next morning was beautiful with a little chill. i decided to visit the st. charles bridge before the crowds and when you still have that sunrise orange glow. it was worth it.



the powder gate.





the view of prague castle across the vtlava river.








i also decided to give the wallenstein gardens another try (the day before they were closed with no explanation). i made my way across the bridge and was happy to find they were open. there is not a ton to see, but but the whole purpose was the dripstone wall. the gardens were founded in the 1600s and is now used to house the senate. 



it's such a random thing to have, but there is a grotto of skulls. i knew i had to see this. 




i then made my way back across the bridge to old town. this is defnintely the busiest and most touristy part of prague, but for good reason. the fronts of the buildings have so much detail and are in so many colors. if you like art nouveau and gaudiness, this is a must. it was right up my alley. 








the jan hus memorial. hus was a key figure of the protestant movement in the 1600s.


i also saw the astronomical clock, the orloj, which was unfortunately under maintenance. on the hour, figures of the apostles (and the figure of death, which is a skeleton) come out.




it was first built in 1410.


next was a visit to the old town hall (which is also on the other side of the clock). there is actually a window in the building that gives you a view of the mechanics and apostles. the old town hall tower is from 1364! as you can tell from the name, it was used for administrative purposes. i enjoyed seeing the building, but i kept getting stuck in the hallways with a school group.



when you first enter the town hall, you are greeted with this beautiful mosaic mural.



stained glass windows are on the upper floors.


after, i strolled in and out of the winding alleys. i stoped at a chain cafe and got a coffee and crepe. i later saw this cute little old lady cafe and knew i had to go in. it had a cute country / tea room theme and played old country music, including a dolly parton tune. here is where i discovered the greatness of a flat white (which are sooo expensive in the us). i though it was funny that my flat white was paired with a shot glass of water (in europe there is no such thing as free tap water).



the cute country cafe.


across from the cafe, is the havelsky frziste (the havel market). the market was founded in 1232! here is where i bought my kitchen witch. it is supposed to ward off bad spirits.





i continued walking through old town. you can see the layers of history and blend of different architectural styles in prague.


one of the few reservations i made prior to leaving my trip, was a visit to the ocecni dum, municipal house. the municipal house is a concert venue, but also has many ballrooms. it was interesting to learn the etiquette of the ye old bohemian days. some rooms were designated for the ladies, while others for the men. the current building was completed in 1912 and most of the rooms (as of most of prague) are in the art nouveau style.







when i was planning my visit, i decided to take the plunge and actually go on a guided tour so i could see the municipal house. you can only see the lobby without a tour. as i have said before, alphonse mucha is one of my favorites and really inspired me growing up. i was originally planning to visit his 'slavic epic' painting in the national gallery, but it was on tour is asia (funny enough it is now in the muni house). so i knew i had to go here instead. his work is everywhere here. you can see it in the paintings, sculptures, stained glass, furniture, and architecture. most of the art within celebrates the history of bohemia. overall, the tour was really great. the lady was very nice and knowledgable.



a ceiling piece by alhonse mucha.



a european thing is to charge extra to be able to take photos. 



i wish i remembered this story, but it is a man chasing a lady who is chasing death.



more alphonse mucha



beautiful pastel stained glass.




after, i decided to take advantage of eating at plzenska, the art nouveau czech cuisine beer hall restaurant (what a mouth full) and located in the basement. this was the only time where i actually had a czech meal. during my trip, this was one of the higher end restaurants i went to, but it was still affordable compared to american standards.





first i had goulash. it is a genre term and my grandma used to make a version growing up that was a pasta. this one was a soup.



 i also had sausage (with a spicy mustard) and a cabbage cake.


next i walked the half mile to the national gallery in the convent of st. agnes (c. 1231), prague's oldest gothic building. it houses bohemian medieval art. i enjoyed seeing the art and the building. the architecture is very gothic and some of it is in ruins.



c. 1231.



i snuck a shot of my favorite piece. not being a religious person, i did not know the story of mary magdalene. she was a prostitute, then follower of jesus, and after his death lived a solitary life (hence the long hair).



a cute sunflower door i saw on the stroll back.



i did not end up getting dinner, but picked up some gelato, and then called it a night.

i went to the grocery store and then got lost on the way out. as i have said before, prague is a hard city to navigate. also, i would not believe that it cost a whopping $2.50 for 3 liters of water, prepared cous cous, and a banana. 


now for a song. even though i don't post often, i have written many more posts than i am used to in the last year and i am running out of songs to choose from. today, i am selecting a song that i discovered months ago but thought at the time, 'i should use this song for the blog.' hamilton's 'first burn' has absolutely no meaning for this trip, but it was definitely on repeat a few months ago. boy, is it sassy. enjoy!



Saturday, July 28, 2018

SOLO ROADTRIP: ATLANTA & LITTLE PARTS OF GEORGIA

this post concludes my solo roadtrip of the south. the next day was the longest drive-day of my trip topping off at a whopping 7 hours. most of the drive was on country roads, not freeways. everytime i hit a town i would see an old fancy city hall, a gas station, and maybe a piggly wiggly, and then i would be back on the highway. i left savannah early in the morning. so early, that i saw the sun rise. it was lovely. 

after 3.5 hours, i arrived to the small town of andersonville. andersonville was the location of fort sumpter, the most infamous prisoner-of-war camp during the civil war. the confederate camp held 4 times its capacity and did not have an adequate water supply. more than a 1/3 of prisoners died at the camp.

also at this site is the national prisoner of war museum. the purpose is to tell the stories of those who experienced being a pow first-hand. the most touching part was the exhibit that had interviews with the family members. the museum also serves as the visitors center for andersonville nhs.



the building was designed to look like a military prison from wwii.



pow memorial



reconstructed northeast corner of the prison.








it was lunch time and fortunately i spotted zaxby's, a fast food chicken place. the carolinian i had dinner with in charleston recommended it. interestingly their combo meals come with a slice of buttered toast.




after eating i made my way to plains, which is only 30 minutes away. it is an itty bitty town (with a population of less than 800) and the birthplace and current residence of president carter. here, there is the jimmy carter national historic site. the park is a complex that includes, his boyhood home, his high school, and his train depot campaign headquarters (and the home of tons of wasps). i was not here very long but i quite enjoyed. it was not busy, very quaint and picturesque, and the people were friendly.



the visitors center and old high school.




after seeing the visitors center i drove down the street to the single strip of businesses of the town. here there is a political memorabilia store with the little beauty pictured below. i got a matching magnet. the worker was very nice but so talkative. she wanted to talk about her 'mama' and the differences between a georgia and washington state funeral.







billy carter's service station.


after i had to drive a couple more miles to the even smaller town of archer (not plains). in archer is the boyhood home and farm of jimmy carter.




i thought i was maybe going to run out of time, but took a chance driving to the town of warm springs to see franklin delano roosevelt's little white house, a state park. unfortunately along the way there were 3 windshield casualties:  2 butterflies and a sweet little bird.

fdr built the house before he was president and retired there after. he was interested in the area because the warm springs (hence the town's name) was supposed to help his polio. the house is so cute. it is a very humble size with a beautiful view of the backcountry, wood panel walls and floors, and tons of model boats. he actually made one with some secret service staff.



secret service staff hung out in these huts to secure the property.



one of his model boats.

in 1945, elizabeth shoumatoff was painting a watercolor of fdr in his living room. fdr had a stroke, collapsed, and died later that day. the portrait was never completed.



the chair he collapsed in.



the unfinished portrait.


i completed my day by driving to atlanta. boy was it crazy. people drive so fast in atlanta when there is traffic! i thought la was bad, but atlanta takes the cake. i also got lost (freeways split quickly). streets are also misleading and soooo busy, but i found my way and wasted a ton of time along the way.



havana-ooh-na-na. to make me feel better, i picked up some cuban food.



a good ol' cuban sandwhich with rice and beans to go in my hotel room.


i stayed at a red roof inn. i really do like them, even though during my first night in durham the police were called. luckily i picked a place in atlanta that was away from downtown and in the buckhead district. it might have been less convenient, but it was nice to be a little bit away from the city center. also, there were tons of beautiful trees on the property and the hotel rested on a hill.




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the next day was my last full day. i was really nervous about driving back to the downtown area and was looking for alternatives, but once i found out parking was free at my destination i gained some courage. the first location of the day was the mlk national historic site. this site is a little different from most. it compromises of a few blocks that used to be known as 'sweet auburn,' a black wealthy neighborhood. not all the buildings are public (many of them being shotgun homes), but they do have to meet historic standards. the most notable public buildings are his childhood home, ebenezer baptist church, the visitors center, and a firehouse from 1894.




parking may seem confusing but it really isn't. i left pretty early (and got there 30 minutes before opening). i ended up leaving early because i had the time, but i was glad i did. there was already a line for a tour of his childhood home. because the house is so old, there are only a number of people allowed at one time. overall, the tour was not the best but i was glad i went.



mlk's childhood home (c.1895). he was actually born here too.



during his funeral procession, mlk's body was carried in this wagon and pulled by 2 mules . the wagon is in the visitor centers which chronicles his life and the civil rights movement.



mlk went to this church as a child, eventually became a pastor here, and had his funeral here.



i also visited the king center, here is where both him and his wife are buried.


after i made my way to the atlanta history center, definitely a highlight of my trip. the museum consists of changing exhibits and an outdoor museum of historic buildings. i saw exhibits on the american civil war, folk art, and the history of atlanta using oral and individual stories (rather than the big picture).




the outside museum includes the wood family cabin (a simple log cabin from the 1820s), 
the tullie smith house (an antebellum home from 1846), and the swan house (a 1920s mini-mansion). besides these main buildings there are gardens, wooded areas, and mini victorian playhouses. 

this part was definitely my favorite. there was beautiful warm weather and the workers were so friendly and knowledgable. most of these structures (other than the swan house) were transported here from surrounding areas.



the tullie smith house is a collection of buildings including the main house, a barn, a kitchen house, a blacksmith shop, and a slave cabin. today it interprets farm life in 19th century georgia. above is the barn.






the house has a resident, dodger the cat who at night sleeps in the barn with the goaty goats.



in the house, you can touch everything and there are volunteers who work on  crafts and play the guitar.



inside the one room slave cabin.


next was the swan house. the house is in the style of the rennaisance revivial with classical details. inside the house are historical reenactors that include members of the family and the servants. when you enter, the maid opens the door and there is 1920s jazz playing. i love feeling like i am stepping back in time.



the formal entrance. the engagement party in the hunger games was filmed here.



a shot of the informal entrance.



there are also a couple old cars at the back entrance.



handpainted wallpaper.



one of the formal bedrooms.



the childens room.


the servants loft on the third floor.



the wood family cabin has an exhibit on the native creek indians and exploration of settlers.



i also ate lunch at their cafeteria. i had a pork and chicken stew, a sweet side salad, a cookie, and a roll. yum, carbs.



this made me laugh.


i did not have anything planned for the rest of the day (even though it was not even 4 in the afternoon). i decided to have a last hoorah for my last night and drive to the nearest cracker barrel. the nearest one was not in atlanta but marietta, so i had to be brave and face driving the freeways during rush hour. what should have been a 15 minute drive took 45, but it was a good decision.



i really do love cracker barrel.



i decided to be a tourist and have the sampler. this included sugar cured ham, chicken and dumplings, meatloaf, fried okra, mac n' cheese, green beans, and biscuits. and of course i had the delicious goo goo cluster latte.

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the next day was my flight, but i did have a few hours to explore more. i had even more time because my flight got delayed twice.



the last selfie with my travel companion.


i decided to visit the atlanta bontanical garden. it was lovely, but not necessarily one of my favorites. honestly from my entire trip, i would place this on the top of my list to skip. it also did not help that there was a ton of construction and it was quite expensive for what there was to see.








the last destination was the delta flight museum. this is actually at the airport and you have to pass security just to park at the museum. the museum explains the history of the company, but i was more interested in being able to go inside some planes they have there. it is located in 2 hangars from the 1940s. outside of the hangaars, there is a delta ship 6301 that you can tour and see areas that are normally a no-no for passengers (the cock pit and the flight attendant quarters).





this museum was fun.


overall this was a really great trip. as i have said before, this was not meant to be a solo trip but i am glad it did end up this way. i learned that i really do not mind solo road trips. it was not as stressful as i thought and i ended up looking forward to my drives alone. i felt a strong sense of freedom in driving alone and navigating to a new destination. also, the destinations were great. the history, art, and customs of the south were memorable. now done with the ranting. this post is long enough.

now for a song. i thought i would choose a recent one because it fits the scene. it is quite folksy. also there is a great live rendition when she is singing during a storm. the harp is lovely. enjoy!