Now for the second half of my road trip over the summer…
We only stopped here briefly to get some cream to reduce to swelling from my mosquito bites because it’s not a holiday until I’m physically impaired from them. Downtown looked nice, like a busy city.
What we ate
I’d done plenty of research before the trip so I knew that the southern states had particular cuisines and had read about how good the food there is. North Carolina and Texas are the states where American BBQ emerged from so I looked up some places on Pinterest and found Sauceman’s. It’s described as having some of the most authentic eastern style BBQ in the country. I had the ribs and they were delicious, the meat was so tender and there were about four different sauces to add which are all tasty. I’d also read that people are really friendly in the south and it’s so true, the customer service was brilliant and the chef kept coming out with new sauces to try. I felt bad because the one he recommended with most pride was super spicy and I wasn’t trying to die so I didn’t taste it.
What I’d do with more time
I would love to have visited the Sliding Rock in the Pisagah National Forrest. There’s lots of outdoorsy activities to do in Charlotte rather than just taking in the sights which is great but makes it difficult to get to know the city in a few hours the way you can with others.
This city was recommended to me by some Americans who were guests at a boat racing event that I worked over summer. They praised it greatly and told me about how beautiful it was, given the prestige of the place that I met them I was naturally expecting big things. Truthfully, it was so disappointing and ugly. We drove around for a couple of hours thinking that perhaps we’d taken a wrong turn into an unpleasant neighbourhood or something. I had a list of the top attractions so we drove to those and even that looked better in the pictures. There seems to be a lot to do here but I wouldn’t recommend it. We were supposed to spend the night there and explore the following day but we just drove through the night instead.
This city is the definition of beauty. It is so pretty, quaint and clean. Easily this was my favourite stop, potentially second to Washington, they’re very different so it’s hard to compare.
What we did
- Rainbow Row
It’s a road of 13 buildings that are all painted in different colours. Prime Instragram location, it’s also just so so pretty.
- Waterfront Park
Here there was a huge fountain which was completely necessary in the middle of summer in SC, it was pushing 40 degrees that day. There were also little carts selling Italian Ice which is so much nicer than ice cream. It’s a cute place to go for a walk.
- Old Slave Mart Museum
This is a particularly interesting and touching museum as it’s about slavery but more importantly it’s based in what actually used to be a slave mart. It’s quite chilling especially when you walk in because the first display tells you that you’re standing where people were sold a couple of hundred years ago. South Carolina was the capital of slavery, at one point the enslaved population actually outnumbered the free whites. Standing there was definitely very surreal, especially reading the way they were advertised like any other commodity. The descriptions included their age as that determined their price, the very young and very old were not sought after so were cheaper. If anyone was to visit Charleston I would definitely recommend this museum as not only does it inform you of the history of the state but also the city itself and how it was essentially built by slaves. It makes you notice the roads and infrastructure a lot more afterwards as it’s hard to put that aside and not imagine them working, at least for me. I tend to imagine people from different centuries walking around in their period attire anyway.
What I’d do with more time
- Visit a Plantation
Plantations are large farms or estates where crops are cultivated, like sugar and cotton. During the eighteenth and nineteenth century this land was worked on by slaves. Now they’re open to the public for various reasons and available for hire. Some people get married in them, like Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds near Charleston, which I find very very weird especially after visiting the Slave Mart and seeing with such explicit detail how horrific slavery was. I don’t understand why anyone would want to get married there. There was a plantation near Charleston but it was a fake one meaning that it was all staged so served the purpose of educating people, like a museum. I want to go to a real one to learn more about slavery but that one would suffice if I went again.
- Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon
It’s a historic building that was constructed in 1767 and since then has served many purposes. More interestingly for me was that during the American Revolutionary War it was used as a military prison by the British. Isaac Hayne, a prominent colonel in the US army during the war, was executed here. In 1913 the building was granted to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) who have had it ever since. They have lineage based membership for women who descend from those who fought or helped in the war (the organisation that Emily from Gilmore Girls was a part of and dedicated her life to). You can take a tour here and learn more about it. We passed it outside but it was too much of a time consuming activity to go in, if I’m ever there again I would definitely take a tour.
The final stop!! We finally arrived into Florida after the longest night driving and got home to my aunt’s place in Sunrise, Broward County which is about an hour from Miami. It was great to finally rest and recover from a week and a half of driving, walking around and it was finally time to enjoy some well needed family time. Best of all was having home cooked food again because as delicious as burgers and ribs are, it’s so tiring.
What we did:
- South Beach & Ocean Drive
We walked around the beach and took it all in. It was pretty hectic, particularly with the expensive cars constantly driving by. They drive them through there I guess to show them off and it works because everyone is constantly gawking. Walking down the strip was kind of funny because the restaurants hosts would always invite me in in English but my aunt and dad in Spanish. I guess I don’t pass for Hispanic sometimes. I didn’t go into the beach itself so next time I go I would definitely like to do that.
- Versace VillaIt’s located on South Beach too. It was Versace’s Miami mansion, where he was eventually murdered right on the front steps by gunshot. Wild. Now it’s a fancy restaurant and hotel.
- Wynwood Walls – Art District
I went here by night to look at the art. There were many murals painted around the area but there’s a specific gated place within the neighbourhood dedicated to it which stays open until around midnight. Some of the murals were really creative, my favourite one was made entirely of flowers. The neighbourhood was full of clubs and bars so the road in general was really loud with different types of music. Perhaps the best part was a car that was parked with massive speakers, it was playing music and people were dancing on the road.
- Went to a Marlins game
The Marlins are Miami’s baseball team so we went to watch a game. It was honestly so boring lol. American sports are not for me. But I’m really glad I went, it’s definitely something worth experiencing. My favourite thing about American sports, I noticed this too with football games, is the amount of audience participation, though this was stronger in the baseball one. The camera zooms into different people in the crowd and sometimes there’s filters on the camera that prompt people to do things. For instance, there were congas and they played Gloria Estefan’s song (Conga), when they zoomed in on people they had to pretend to play them. There was this adorably cute old man who went IN so much on the congas, the whole stadium cheered for him when he was done. This same old man was featured on Kiss Cam and he kissed his wife for so long and with so much passion even though they were legit 100.
- Freedom Tower
It was built in 1925 and is one of the oldest sky scrapers in SE USA. It’s called Freedom Tower because it was the immigration centre for Cubans in the 1960s, after the Castro revolution.
What I’d do with more time
- Go out out
21st birthday pls hurry up so I can legally go out. I want to experience Miami nightlife.
It was a great summer and I feel so lucky to have been able to see so many different cities and states. Eternally grateful to my parents for these opportunities and for passing on that love of travelling onto me.