World is going to end someday and I want to see most of it before we all go down.
  • Day6

    Nashville

    November 1, 2022 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    I slept like a baby and got up knowing that we’d have breakfast in the hotel. Which is always a great thing because you can always come back the room and brush your teeth and get ready without any pressure.
    The plan today was simple: walk to Downtown Nashville.
    It was a nice car break since we’ve been driving for 2 days.
    The hotel was in front of Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans (the team I hate the most with the Pittsburgh Steelers) and you have to cross the The John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge  get to this amazing city.

    First stop: Country Music Hall of Fame.

    Now, country music is a beautiful thing, it uses amazing instruments like the banjo and has over the top artists like Jerry Lee Lewis or Elvis. Now, these personalities with money really went all in, and you can see it when you’re standing in front of the clothes they used to wear on stage, or the crazy cars they bought.
    It’s something I just had to see for myself and I’m glad I went. So many great songs that I still haven’t heard, imagine that, there’s always something more to learn. This is what being alive is all about.

    The coolest part of the museum is the last part, where you enter a sort of temple, called a rotunda, where all the plaques of the inductees are. And although he resemblance of the plaques is a bit dodgy, the place is peaceful and has a magnificent vibe to it.

    Dani had a bit of a rash that was suddenly acting up, we didn’t know if it was a bed bug attack or some kind of allergy, but after the Hall of Fame we needed to do 2 things: eat and go to a Walgreens.

    As we were walking we got stopped by a woman that wanted to sell us a subscription to an NGO, and it turned out she was Spanish. She gave us suggestions on where to eat and where to listen to some music, so it was a very useful conversation.

    Nashville is all about spicy chicken, and there’s tons of options to check this meal off your bucket list. Our pick was Prince’s Hot Chicken located at the Fifth and Broadway mall that had amazing downtown views.

    Now, how to order spicy chicken? As a Mexican human, I’ll always believe that I can handle more spicy food than I can really handle, it’s just Mexican ego I guess. Dani made up her mind fast, NO SPICEY CHICKEN.
    I didn’t know what to get, because there were several spice “hotness” levels. Luckily for me, the cashier was from El Salvador, and I quickly used my Latin-American connection to ask her.. what do I get?
    Stay away from the last 2, you won’t be able to take them, they are not natural, she said.
    Glad I listened.
    I’ll never understand the pleasure of feeling like your tongue is going to fall off, it just ruins your meal, and I almost did but the level of spice I picked wasn’t that bad, although it wasn’t great either. Just enough for me.

    Something really cool about Nashville and the South in general is that you suddenly see plaques that contain info about different civil rights moment that happened right there. It turns out that the Walgreens where Dani bought itch cream was one of the first places in Nashville that got boycotted by black people because of segregation, and one of the first places to accept black people as well.

    After getting the cream Dani suggested we should chill in the hotel before heading back downtown to listen to some music and I agreed, I was kind of tired and wanted to take a nap. When you have a nice hotel room, you have to seize the opportunity, you never know when you’re gonna sleep on a comfortable bed again!

    When I woke up we decided to go back and listen hit some Honky Tonks!
    Nashville completely changes at night. All the neon lights are on and there’s amazing signs everywhere, I felt like a bug going towards the light, I was mesmerised.
    First stop: Tootsies Orchid Lounge.

    We ordered some drinks and listened to the band, which is what you’re supposed to do, the problem was that, drinks are expensive and you have to tip the band. So, each time you entered a bar you spent at least 20 bucks just to chill and listen to some music. It doesn’t sound as much but imagine if you switch bars every hour or so? Suddenly being patient sounds like a great plan, right?

    We were looking for a band that played the classics, some Dolly Parton or Johnny Cash, and the band at Tootsies wasn’t like that.
    So we decided to switch places.

    The cool thing is, that as you walk you listened to the bands inside the bars and if you like one, you just walk inside and get a beer.

    Suddenly, I spotted a band that had a violin and a classical bass on stage, and I told Dani, this is the place.

    We ordered another round of drinks and just chilled there until we had enough. You could say that we got what we wanted from this beautiful city. Happy and tired we walked back to the hotel, what else can you ask for?
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  • Day5

    Where the winds hit heavy on the border

    October 31, 2022 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    We left Gatlinburg after eating a stack of pancakes at the Pancake Pantry. Everybody was dressed up since it’s Halloween! I had like 30 cups of coffee and some classic pancakes while Dani had some blueberry pancakes that we couldn’t finish. There was a huge mothership of butter that the waitresses used to serve the customers tiny spoons of butter in an endless butter festival.

    Dani wanted to drive this time so when we returned to Great Smoky Mountains for a quick one hour spin with the hope of seeing some bears, that even though it didn’t yield the expected result, the views were breathtaking.

    It’s hard to say goodbye to these views, when you’re in front of them you get the feeling that you could stay in front of them forever, but traveling always reminds you that in order to see more you have to let go.
    I hate letting go.

    Next stop, Sevierville. Why? Dolly Parton statue.
    On our way we crossed Pigeon Forge, an amazing town full of, how to describe it? Everything and nothing all at once.
    There was a Titanic, a King Kong, a Mt Rushmore of actors and dozens of nightmarish attractions that you wouldn’t spend a buck entering them. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t be mesmerised by them!

    Sevierville was cute, there was Dolly’s statue in the middle of the town and after walking around for a few minutes we were headed to Knoxville.

    The Sunsphere was in one of my favourite episodes of the Simpsons, and I’ve probably seen and laughed a thousand times over the same jokers. It’s about a road trip that goes wrong, but, which road trip is perfect? You learn as you go.

    When we arrived in Knoxville it was impossible to park and I was starting to get hungry, so I took my iconic Simpsons picture and we hit the road again.

    We had lunch at a diner called Courtney’s diner in Harriman, Tennessee, a couple of burgers in a family run joint, what else can you ask for? Sadly we weren’t very hungry and had no room for dessert, too bad, the pies looked amazing.

    When we got to Nashville I smiled because the hotel is in front of the Titan’s stadium, that although I hate that NFL more than any other, it’s still cool.

    Since it’s Halloween, I googled the best neighbourhoods to trick or treat and we walked to the closest one to see some kids in action. It’s funny because we’ve never seen Halloween live because we didn’t grow up in the USA, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t seen a billion scenes on TV about this really cool children activity.

    It’s all true, the decorations, the excited kids, and people just being happy, making children smile by giving them candy. What can be more simple than that?

    Unfortunately it started raining, and after an hour of seeing cool costumes having a great time, we went to the hotel in an Uber.

    We chilled for a while and went for some Greek food, where an octopus had a great message waiting for me.

    Everything is gonna be fine, I just have to learn to roll with the punches.
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    Traveler

    wow 😍🍂

    11/1/22Reply
     
  • Day4

    Gatlinburg

    October 30, 2022 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    We arrived at Gatlinburg after the park and I was exhausted after driving all day. We drove down the main street to our hotel, left our bags, chilled for a while, and went to Calhoun’s for dinner. While walking around the town, we entered a Jesus store that sold all things related to Jesus and of course, republicans.

    Afterward, we had some chicken wings for dinner, split an order this time, to not make the same mistake as in Alabama, mission accomplished, stomachs aren’t bursting now.

    Since it was still early so we decided to play some mini-golf. It was Dani’s first time and you could easily tell hahaha
    The mini golf had some fun facts about the town, and in hole 9 I found out the origin of the town’s name.
    You can tell that Gatlinburg is going to vote Republican, I don’t know why I get that hunch.
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  • Day4

    Great Smoky Mountains

    October 30, 2022 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    The day we visited Alcatraz, Dani found a National Park Passport and we’ve been chasing passport stamps for National Parks ever since.
    We’d love to see them all, at least the official National Park list of 63 National Parks, it’s a huge task and we may never get there, but if we do, THERE WILL BE STAMPS TO PROVE IT.
    Great Smoky Mountain has a great name for a National Park and it did not disappoint.
    Besides, we are in the middle of fall, and the contrast between the reds and oranges of the leaves was a constant daydream. Even though it was a bit foggy, we managed to spot some Elk just chilling on the grass.
    Crazy curves, killer scenic views and just driving while talking with Dani, just following the only road, made it all so easy, you can’t go wrong in a national park, you don’t even need to hike!
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  • Day4

    Athens

    October 30, 2022 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    I hate seeing one city in a country or in case of the USA, in a state.
    Since we were gonna drive the entire day today, I figured might as well go to Athens.
    Why? It was close, and the University of Georgia, home of the bulldogs is there, so what more did I need to know before going?
    I found out that bulldog sculptures were scattered around town, so I promised Dani that after 3 bulldogs we'd go on our way.
    We found the first bulldog and I was immediately happy, bulldogs were my dad's favorite breed of dog, and loved them like life itself.
    While hunting for bulldogs we passed City Hall and some voters getting ready to vote.
    After a few steps we started noticing Mexican decorations, what is that? A fair? It was an event organized by the The Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition to help gather funds to help the immigrants that left everything for a better life.
    So, obviously there were Mexicans, selling food, you know where I'm getting at, right?
    Tacos.
    I had 2, asada and pastor, found 2 bulldogs and told Dani that I was getting 2 more. Delicious, and the salsa verde tasted just like home.
    No matter how far away you are, if you can manage to create the flavours of your land, you'll never feel alone.
    Great Smoky Mountains, here we come!
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  • Day4

    Hammerin' Hank

    October 30, 2022 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

    I love baseball. Yes, the ballplayers look fat for the ignorant, but once you play and understand the game, it's hard not to fall in love. You're always using your brain, it's way more than physical prowess.
    My father used to tell me all about past players, and one he really liked was Hank Aaron, the breaker of Ruth's record, the all time home run leader before Barry Bonds stole it away from him.
    My Dad loved the Braves and we used to bet and watch their amazing pitchers like Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz. He used to laugh when he saw Leo Mazzone rock his body the entire game.
    So, naturally I wanted to go to Turner Field, the home of the Atlanta Braves.
    But, since I don't follow baseball anymore, I didn't know that the Braves moved.
    Either way, old Turner Field was in the part of the city that hosted the 96 Olympics.
    So it was really cool to see the giant torch that I saw on tv almost 30 years ago.
    When I realized that the stadium wasn't the one I was looking for, I felt sad.
    But I did find this amazing graffiti of Hammerin Hank, I'll get to the stadium, Dad, I promise, and Dani as well so she's screwed now hahaha
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  • Day3

    Ribs, fried chicken and Montgomery

    October 29, 2022 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Ar the memorial I asked the guard at the metal detector for some food recommendations. When Dani is hungry you only have a few minutes before the bomb explodes.
    His first suggestion was an Italian restaurant: nope.
    Second suggestion? Mexican. Nope.
    I felt the need to interrupt.. how bout some local food?
    Oh, in that case, Southern Delight.
    Thank you, sir!
    I bet it's gonna be fried chicken, I told Dani and I wasn't wrong.
    In the middle of a parking lot mall this place stood like an oasis. The line was long but the vibe of this restaurant just made you smile.
    Like an old cafeteria you just moved along the line picking and choosing, first your main meal, then the 2 sides.
    Ribs, mashed potatoes with gravy and yams for me, fried chicken, mashed potatoes without gravy and yams for Dani.
    The plate was loaded and we didn't make it.
    We spent so much time in the Museum that we had to skip Birmingham but that didn't mean the Montgomery visit was over.
    We went to Hank Williams's grave to pay tribute to Luke, the creator of Cold, cold, heart. You could drive up to the grave and not leave your car, genius.
    Then I wanted to see the First Confederate White House, just to remind myself that crappy ideas with terrible leaders in charge can actually go a long way (job sequels).
    Montgomery is a city that has so many ghosts roaming around and open wounds in areas that used to be slave cells or slave auctions.
    But having some ribs while I heard everyone laughing and enjoying a nice meal rekindled the hope I felt earlier and reassured me once again that human beings are capable of loving, we just have to be careful and stay together.
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  • Day3

    The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to M

    October 29, 2022 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

    Ever since I saw that famous picture of the dirt jars I wanted to come to this place.
    Yesterday I felt like I was showered with a bucket of cold water after deep diving in the Civil Rights Movement and segregation. It was nothing compared to today.

    Today started in Africa, where the slaves were taken from their entire world and sold (if they survived a terrible boat journey) to the land of the free and the home of the brave.
    The first thing you see is the ocean, an angry ocean that makes you wonder if it was better to die at sea than to survive and experience everything I was about to read and find out about in this 4 hour visit that I'll remember forever.
    We all think we know about slavery, we "get it" but you have no clue, you just don't.
    So much loss, so much pain and so many things that haven't changed one bit.
    The pain is still there, the "white" feeling of I'm white and you aren't, I can't even begin to explain everything that you read about and experience in interactive videos.
    You see the jail cells, the shackles, the numbers, the stories, ads selling slaves, comments on each slave, and right in the middle is God without actually being there.

    Slaves built Broadway and Wallstreet, so the rich white men could later accept the Statue of Liberty, think about that for a sec.

    I feel everyone should live this experience and this should be a top 10 attraction of the United States. They should be proud and brag about this museum but ironically it's not as popular as it should be, again being overlooked by more important things, just like the blacks in America.

    After the Museum we went to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, where Dani and I basically spat to each other everything we felt and learned.

    It hit me personally because even though I have a Spanish passport that I got after being an illegal citizen for years, I know I'll never be seen as Spanish.

    Even though I speak and write English at a very high level, I have to convince Human Resources in every job interview I have that I can speak the language. Why? Because I'm Mexican, and Latin American humans are seen as mischievous sly foxes to the Spanish, always trying to do less. It's the truth. It's hard to prove your worth constantly, and most of all, it's unfair.

    Obviously I'm lucky and under any pretence am I trying to compare myself to any black person that has struggled or worse, died just trying to live and be happy just because they got in the way of ignorance.

    It just stings but places like these ones give you hope, ironically. Because at least it's here for all to see, and it's not being shut down or banned, it's there and it happened. And yes, the balance is still horribly tipped the wrong way but there's heroes calling it as it is and hopefully one day they'll be heard.
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  • Day3

    Coffee break

    October 29, 2022 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Went into town and stopped in this coffee shop called Uniq Coffee. Had an amazing cappuccino while sharing a blueberry muffin with Dani.
    After chilling for a bit we were ready to drive to Montgomery.

  • Day3

    Round mound of rebound

    October 29, 2022 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    We are on our way to the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama.
    We got up early and left the Atlanta Airbnb with the huge purple velvet pillows at 6 30 am.
    We hit the road, making great time when we realized that once you cross into the Alabama State line, time goes back an hour, so we had about 90 minutes to find something to do.
    You know... I said to Dani, there's a Charles Barkley statue I'm dying to see..
    You can't be serious she replied.
    We went to Auburn.
    Turns out it is a cute little university town and we got to see wild Tiger fans crowd the streets getting ready to see their college play against Arkansas (just checked and they lost 41-27).
    It's just like in the movies, we saw people playing Cornhole, 3 girls moving into some dorms, and a family with a BBQ getting ready for the big game.
    The university looked like a movie set with the beautiful autumn leaves matching the brick colored constructions.
    And right next to the stadium there he was, Sir Charles Barkley.
    I only got to see the last seasons of Barkley's career, when he was banged up and played for the Houston Rockets but I know he was amazing. He still is when he's on tv telling crazy stories and making fun of San Antonio women.
    I was so happy to see him and was more than ready to have some coffee while we took a break from all that driving.
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