The Peach City: Atlanta GEORGIA

I have never been to Altanta before and thought I ‘d book a ticket for my long weekend last November since flights are on sale. I heard bad things about it but I wanted to give this Peach City a chance.

MAP here

Accommodation:

If you are into the party life, I suggest you book a place in Midtown or Buckhead where all the night life happens. If you are a backpacker or art-lover like me, it is best to book a place in a good neighborhood in the east side. I stayed in Edgewood neighborhood and it was the best decision I made. It is 20min ride from the airport, short 10min walk to the metro that takes you to most places you can visit in Atlanta. Everything is mostly walkable or commute accessible to all the attractions in Atlanta. The neighborhood is quiet and safe and tucked away from the city life.

Getting around:

Before leaving for my trip I read a lot of reviews about getting lost driving in Atlanta and dealing with the terrible traffic. The funny thing mentioned so often is that there is a lot of “peach tree st” around. I did not encounter these problems as I was either walking or taking the metro. And I best advise you to do so.

As a solo female traveler, I took every advice seriously about getting around. I was told to avoid walking around alone at night. I made sure I was back at my place around 5-6pm because I was commuting.  There are times I just took an uber to be sure. I was also told by locals to avoid going to west side of Atlanta. Several locals have told me about this places called the “Bluff” which has a movie about it too. Downtown Atlanta is not a good place to walk around either during night time according to them.

Good and Bad Reviews on places I visited:

1. Little Five points

Weird as some may say but fascinating for art lovers. Little Five Points is a place full of street murals, sculptures, statements, interesting merchandise (Check out the shop called Junkman’s Daughter),and a feel of something different in a southern state. I really liked this place.

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2. Martin Luther King Museum

This is a free museum and I was able to spend an hour in this place. It gives us a glimpse of Martin Luther King Jr. His and his wife’s tomb are here in the middle of a reflecting pool. The museum is beside it. A 2-floor building filled with some information on King’s impact on America in an era of discrimination.

You can walk to MLK’s old home just a block away, as well as the church he attended. The entire neighborhood was preserved to look like how it was before.
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3. Ponce City Market and Krog Street Market

It was a 30min walk from MLK’s to here and it wasn’t bad on a great day. This historic brick and steel building was renovated to house restaurants and shops but still kept the charms of its past. Very stylish inside out. I saw a lot of young people hanging out here. I’ve heard they are developing this part of the city to attract younger generation to move in while creating more jobs. I won’t be surprised if the rent in this area would skyrocket soon. It is just a breathtaking part of town. A walk along the old beltline from Ponce City Market, I ended up in Krog Street Market. It is a more affordable place to grab some food compared to Ponce City Market. Try out their famous ice cream joint here and other appealing meals. It reminded me of a smaller Queen Street Market of Boston.

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4. Atlanta Beltline

I can’t stress enough that this is my favorite place in Atlanta. It was a few minutes walk from Ponce City market.

The old beltline has been transformed into an outdoorsy museum, a place I am sure I can walk around multiple times and not get bored. Aside from admiring art, many people make this as their biking route, some walk their dogs, some stroll out from the luxurious apartments along the beltline, some come to meet up with friends at a happy hour or restaurant within the beltline. Generally, I saw a young crowd. And it was totally safe to walk around even up until the evening.
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6. CNN center and Coca-cola Museum

I do not go to touristy places during my travel but decided to drop by and check the building out. I took a chance and just got the regular CNN pass and was disappointed with it. You practically tour outside the building but never actually get inside. They take a photo of you with a CNN news backdrop for $35 if you want to take it. Obviously I don’t think its worth it. I passed by the Coca Cola plant but did not enter. If you are a fan, you should purchase tickets beforehand as lines were steep when I was there. Personally, this is not my type to visit. It was too commercialized and not worth your bucks.

7. Folk Art Park

Walkable from the Coca Cola plant is a small art park. I was surprised that not much locals knew this when I was asking around after I found it in a website. It is a small art space in between a crossing.

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8. Dekalb Market 

This is far and out of the way. Plan to go here when you finished those places that are close to each other. This is an international fresh market. You will see a lot of flags hanging from the ceiling. Fresh produce from seafood, veggies, and my favorite was the chocolate store – fresh chocolate from everywhere. The food court and the bakery was a good place to get a takeaway at a budget price. That potato with some corn on the upper right was damn delicious. If you know the name of it please comment below so I could know 🙂
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9. Downtown Dekatur and Dekatur courthouse

I was told to visit this place but regretted going there. It is not bad, it is just far from the rest I wanted to see. You can practically walk around the town square for 10min and courthouse for the same amount. I walked out on the outskirts of Dekatur and there wasn’t anything special to see.
A trivia I need to mention is that I pronounced it as “De-kah-twr” but was corrected by a local, stating it should be said as “De-kay-tehr”.

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10. Oakland Cemetery

Aside from being the oldest municipal burial ground in Atlanta, it also grows oak and magnolia trees that look beautiful in autumn. It has this Victorian charm intact and preserved, from the tombstones and statues to the mausoleums. There is also another beautiful cemetery with historic significance but it is on the other side of town. It is called Westview Cemetery. I was supposed to check this out because of the great reviews but I ran out of time. Either way, Oakland was a good enough travel stop. Not that huge as Westview, but very interesting.
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Overall, I liked Atlanta. It has it’s own unique character. Georgia definitely wasn’t a boring State to visit ( and believe me I’ve been to several). I stayed here for 4days (3 nights) but I think you can backpack around in 2-3days and enjoy what Atlanta has to offer. Also, just a fair warning, before you fly to Atlanta, make sure your stomach is full , because they have limited restaurants and food joints in the airport. And to my dismay I tried several food stalls and was disappointed – with the food and the price. One highlight of Atlanta that I must mention is that their metro was always on time, provided a smooth ride, and cheap!  Kudos.

If you are a local of Atlanta or previously visited Atlanta and I missed to mention an awesome place, comment below and I might check it out on my next visit. 🙂

 

credit: 7-themes

NEW York : My Road trip to the Big Apple

New York City is known to be “The cultural and financial capital of the world”. I am glad to have the opportunity to visit it time and again. With its grungy and edgy streets, shiny skyscrapers and brick buildings, smooth street music and so many options for food trips, It is a bustling city with so much diversity.
Growing up I saw pieces of New York thru movies:  Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Ghostbusters, Sleepless in Seattle, to name a few. And sometimes I imagined it to be the real life Gotham City. Although NYC wasn’t at the top 10 of my bucket list, it sure was something I wanted to see.

#nyc #newyork #cityofdreams

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The first time I visited New York was a year ago for a long layover. But when I got to have an actual road trip to discover it, I was very much excited! Summertime I think was just the perfect time to explore it for the first time. For Day 1, we started off in Lower Manhattan’s South Street Seaport. It is where you ride off into a fairy to take a closer look at the Statue of Liberty. If you’re hungry, don’t skip the food stalls. Avoid the food trucks that sell all the same stuff. Walk further to check out foodies nearby across the street itself. There are varieties for you to choose from. I picked the filipino stall since hunger struck me really hard and I wanted something more familiar at the moment and decided I try the others next time. It turned out really good 🙂
Having a well filled stomach, we were ready to explore more of this side of New York. We were eyeing to see the famous Statue of Liberty. We were told that if you want to climb up inside the statue itself, tickets had to be booked months in advance. Although we did not go, there were other options for us. Some of our friends headed to take a free ride to Staten Island while we stayed behind to walk along the pier and head into Lower Manhattan later on. A big ship was parked nearby and also a view deck with grass for sunbathers was adjacent the Seaport and Skyscrapers side to side where people could have a relaxing soak in the sun. It is clean and a nice place for meetups too. In the view deck we got a nice picture of the Brooklyn Bridge.
After the obligatory and touristy snaps, we headed to into Lower Manhattan. We were surrounded by beautifully kept old brick buildings and skyscrapers side by side. Just a few blocks away (10min walk) from the pier, we were already in Broadway and Wall Street. Here we saw the New York Stock Exchange Building, the Trump building, the Trinity Church… A few paces down, we took a free tour of the Native American Museum.
Next stop is the 911 memorial. When we got there, we saw the new One Trade Center Building. Beside it is two Memorial Pools, the North pool and the South pool. This was where the Twin towers once stood. The square pool has carved names of the people who died. Within the premises of the Memorial, you should not miss the “Survivor Tree”. The only tree remaining post 9-11. This peach tree was nursed back to health and replanted. The memorial is free of charge to visit. But if you opt to enter the 911 Museum close to it, it costs $25.
To end the first day, we passed through Teardrop Park then towards Battery Park City strolling around and enjoying the breathtaking sunset.
Everything was perfect in Day 1. What we wanted to see was all in walking distance. For Day 2, we were headed to the “new chinatown” Flushing in Queens.
Everything about it made you feel you are home in Asia. From the buildings, to the scent of the street food, to the people walking around, to the shops selling beauty products and clothes in the mall. I also made a cute new furry friend along the way

New York has its own character, its own identity built from the rich cultures it holds. I love, love and love hearing New Yorkers speak. It’s unique. I love their towering skyscrapers, how food is so much everywhere.

Overall, 2 days wasn’t enough to explore New York. Definitely going to come back again soon!

Do you want to suggest any part of NYC that I should visit next time? Or have you visited as well? Do share 🙂

Pennsylvania: 4 favorite destinations

When someone says there’s nothing to see in Pennsylvania, thats definitely not true! Here are my 4 favorite destinations in Pennsylvania.

1. Downtown Harrisburg and its bridges

The first thing that caught my eye was the two massive pillars at the entrance to the capital. It was like entering a new portal. I was really surprised that not much people were around that sunday morning and I get to explore the city by foot without any crowd in sight.

The green-roofed Pennsylvania state capitol is eyecatching especially on a sunny day. Try walking around the grounds of the capitol and enjoy the quietness and architecture of the surroundings. Come to think of it, this is a really nice place for those who love sketching and those who want to do photoshoots.

You also might have noticed while entering the city, that there are around four parallel bridges entering downtown Harrisburg to cross the Susquehanna river. The reason for that , I dont really know. But it’s quite unique to what I have been seeing.

Walking along the bank of the river, you will notice art structures and cool painted trash bins placed along the paths. You will also pass by old townhouses and of course, the oldest building in Harrisburg, the Simon Cameron House or John Harris Mansion.

This somewhat sleepy city has its economic woes but you cannot deny the rich history that is still present until today.

 

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Harrisburg, PA

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2. Amish community in Intercourse- Lancaster , PA

Take a glimpse of Amish living in the 21st century. You will get to see the America’s oldest Amish settlement and the 2nd largest Amish community in the world! They still practice the “century-old” lifestyle until today. The simple lifestyle of riding a horse and buggy, living without electricity, practicing old agriculture techniques, dress up and speaking old german in what they term here as Pennsylvanian Dutch. There were available tour packages to get the full Amish visitor experience but we opted driving around and admiring the simple ways and lifesyle these people have. Take note that entering and stepping into their property is definitely not recommended, but driving through and passing by will be just fine. Also be sure to drive slowly because buggys ( Amish ‘cars’) are common in the road. There are numerous souvenir shops along the road and I definitely encourage you to visit them. Here they sell handmade products crafted by the Amish themselves. Most are kitchenwares, woodcarvings, knitted and sown items and all household items in general. Also, if you get the chance, try their Pennsylvania Dutch Smores. Yummy!

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3. Hershey, Pennsylvania. To all chocolate lovers out there! You shouldn’t miss this!!!! You can make your own chocolate at Hershey’s Chocolate World, then do Hershey Park and have fun with the craziest rollercoasters and water rides! It’s a really huge place and so much to do. Before coming here, you better be ready and energized. Chocolate + Rollercoaster will keep your adrenaline to its peak 🙂 There’s so much to do in these two places that sit just side by side to each other so plan your time wisely if you want to maximize your experiece.

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4.  “Philly” or Philadelphia is where the US Declaration of Independence was signed and where the liberty bell was hung. If you are a movie person, you might also have noticed some scenes where shooted in downtown Philly like that of Nicolas Cage’s and Diane Kruger’s “National Treasure”. Philly is also known for having UPenn or University of Pennsylvania, an ivy league (one of the top universities in the entire United States).

Another thing noteworthy about Philly is their impressive murals ang graffiti scattered around the city. There is a graffiti tour if you are into knowing more about the artisits if you prefer, or just walk or drive around the city and you won’t miss these. According to some, Philly has the most mural arts in the US.

Philly is a small city and can be tourned/ completed as a day trip .

Independence Hall- where the United States Declaration of Independece was signed

The Liberty Bell with its famous crack, was rung in July 1776 during the Declaration of Independence. It is now displayed in the Liberty Bell Center, Philadephia

An example of Philly murals.

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Another Philly mural while driving through the city

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