Nashville + Tupelo

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Good evening all! I am finally back to writing for this blog, after what seems like forever of being away. I have been so incredibly busy these last few months with moving house, settling in, hosting numerous dinner parties and getting in as much time with my friends and boyfriend as I could before leaving for the summer. But now, I am in Florida and you can expect a huge flood of posts this summer for sure, as I plan to keep very busy with things I'd love to share with all of you! Recently, I was lucky enough to get to visit two of the places I have been dying to visit for a very long time, those places being Nashville, Tennessee and Tupelo, Mississippi. If you've been following this blog for awhile, you may already know that I am a huge fan of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. Thus, when we passed through the southern United States on our drive to Florida, we just had to stop at the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville and Elvis Presley's Birthplace in Tupelo.

Our first stop of the two was the Johnny Cash Museum. Immediately, when we arrived in the city, I was head over heels in love with Nashville. It is a beautiful city and I wish I could have seen more of it, but sadly we were quickly passing through just to visit the museum and head straight onto Tupelo. Around mid-morning, we went from our hotel just outside the city in Goodlettsville to the museum. IMG_0756IMG_0779IMG_0788

I was particularly excited about the display they had on the film Walk The Line, which showed a couple of the costumes that Joaquin Pheonix and Reese Witherspoon wore as Johnny Cash and June Carter. Walk The Line is one of my all-time favourite films so I was in heaven seeing their costumes right before me.

 

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Another really cool artifact in the museum was this chair, which was featured in Johnny Cash's unbelievably moving music video for his cover of "Hurt". It was just so crazy to be up close to such important pieces of musical history.

After finishing up at the museum and buying a few cool things from the gift shop (a t-shirt, a pin, and a leash for my dog - yup, you read that right), we made the three-and-a-half hour drive to Tupelo, Mississippi. Finally, after what seemed like a hundred hours on the Natchez Trace Parkway (look it up, it's nuts), we arrived at Elvis Presley's Birthplace.

You always hear about how poor Elvis' family lived when he was growing up, before his big break at Sun Records. But until you stand in front of his house, you really don't understand how hard his life and the lives of his parents really must have been.

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The white, small house has only a plain porch to its exterior, with a swinging chair hanging from the front. In person, the house is even shorter in length than pictures make it out to be. IMG_0833IMG_0834

The house is made up of two rooms: the bedroom and the kitchen. The bedroom is home to an average-sized bed, a dresser, a fireplace, and some chairs. The guide informed us that it doubled as a bedroom and sitting area/living room, and that Elvis and his stillborn twin brother were born in that very room. IMG_0839IMG_0836

The second room, the kitchen, was just as small as the first. As the pictures show, it really doesn't fit more than kitchen appliances and a small dining table with four seats. And that is all. Just two rooms that this family of three lived in. It truly puts so much into perspective to see it up close.

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Another interesting site in the nearby area was the church that Elvis attended as a child. It wasn't originally located where it sits now - a few years ago, the whole building was actually transported from down the street to its current location, to be better accessible for guests visiting Elvis' birthplace. We went in just before closing and were treated to our very own showing of a film which gave a reenactment of a typical service that Elvis himself would have attended. It gave a really good idea to how the music he heard at church would later influence his own personal music style.

In a split second, I would go back to visit both Nashville and Tupelo. Southern USA is so beautiful and lush, it really is so heavenly, and the history of some of my favourite artists is so present there. I can't wait to go back someday.

NYC: On-foot sightseeing, The Met + Broadway Musical

Welcome to the very last post of my New York City series, I hope you've enjoyed your stay!! For days 1 through 3, follow the links here, here, and here.

The last day we spent in New York City happened to be our most eventful, in terms of how much we covered in just one day. We wanted to get everything on our to-do list accomplished before we left, so once we were out the door, there was no stopping! The first thing we did was head to Times Square, where we waited at the TKTS booth to buy tickets to see Chicago, my all-time favourite Broadway musical. While my parents waited in line, my boyfriend and I sat on a concrete bench a few feet away and took a bunch of pictures, including the landscape of Times Square below. We were so incredibly lucky, as we ended up getting four tickets discounted at 50%, in the ninth row from the stage for the show at 8pm that night!

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After we had our tickets, we immediately set off on a long journey to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. To put it into perspective, the TKTS booth sits at 47th street and the Metropolitan Museum of Art sits between 80th and 84th streets. We had a lot of walking ahead of us. Fortunately, what we walked through happened to be my favourite area of NYC: the Upper East Side. We walked along the sidewalk for awhile on Fifth Avenue, and just took in the architecture I love so much. It also happened to be a beautiful day outside, which made the experience that much more enjoyable.

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For awhile, we dipped into the edge of Central Park, and I got some photos that I have been repeatedly looking back at since arriving home. It was such an amazing day to take a walk in Manhattan, and I wish I could go back to it now that I'm stuck in the rain at home haha!

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Almost immediately after finding ourselves back on Fifth Avenue, we came across the most wonderful sight that I have ever laid my eyes upon: a gigantic Strand kiosk. This book-filled kiosk covered both sides of the sidewalk, taking up quite some space with two sheltered step-in areas and a long foldable table. It was filled with books - old copies, rare editions, classics, fiction, contemporary, everything you could think of - and bookish items like bookmarks and little knickknacks. I was in book heaven! I went on a mad hunt for Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale - instead of diving into the new series, I am opting to read the novel first like a good English major - but was disappointed to find that the new shipment that came in that day had already disappeared. Instead, I picked up The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, as well as a cute button for my denim jacket.

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Finally, a long while afterwards, we came across the Metropolitan Museum of Art, alternatively known as the Met. The Met is a massive museum, consisting of a bit of everything, but primarily historical artwork and artifacts. Coincidentally enough, we visited the Met the day after the Met Gala occurred this year. Due to this, there was still some remnants of the cover over the stairs left behind, which obstructed the photos of the steps that I had dreamed of taking. Nonetheless, the Met is a beauty, inside and out. The architecture of the building is beyond comparison. As you can tell from the photos below, I was a huge fan of the interior, haha.

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After taking our time to view as much as we could of the museum's collections (which was seriously a task, considering it is two floors and almost 1/4-mile long), we headed back out to the streets to make our way back to the hotel to freshen up for Chicago. The walk was arguably worse on the way back, considering we had already walked it once, we were walking further (our hotel was further South than Times Square), and we had just walked the entirety of the Met. However, we made it back in one piece and rushed to get ready to go back out.

We had dinner at Chick-Fil-A, partially because it was easy, quick, and located just a five minute walk from our hotel, but also because it is my favourite fast-food restaurant and I did some begging. After a rushed meal, we walked up to Broadway to the Ambassador Theatre and there we saw the spectactular show that is Chicago. I've seen it once before, however it was so long ago that I couldn't remember a specific moment of the show, but I can now say with full certainty that it remains my favourite musical. I have always loved the film adaptation, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, and although the Broadway original is far different from the movie, it is absolutely incredible. If you find yourself in New York City, searching for a well-done musical on Broadway to see, I highly recommend you see Chicago. And with a cost of $70-something for ninth row seats, it was completely worth it.

Unfortunately, that marks the end of our trip. The next morning, we got up early, headed down to our breakfast place one last time, and then embarked on a seven-hour drive back to Canada (commencing in New York City rush hour, yippee) where I stayed at my boyfriend's house, as I didn't have a home to return to in my hometown!

Have any of you visited New York City? What's your favourite sight to see or thing to do in the Big Apple? 

NYC: Travelling, Fifth Avenue + Times Square

Hello everyone, and welcome to the first of my New York City vacation posts! Be prepared for a veryyyy wordy post ahead.

My four-day vacation started on Friday (April 28th), although we didn't actually arrive in New York City until the 29th. On Friday evening, my parents, my boyfriend, and myself drove from my boyfriend's house to the Genesee Grande Hotel in Syracuse, New York. We decided to stay there overnight because we didn't want to do the 7-hour drive all in one go on Saturday, and then feel too tired to do anything that afternoon. The hotel was quite nice considering how inexpensive it was, and we really enjoyed our stay there for a rest before our long weekend. I didn't get any pictures of the hotel though because I was too tired and it simply slipped my mind.

In the morning, we left the hotel around 9am and headed a few blocks away to try out a breakfast diner called Modern Malt. Getting there from the hotel was fairly straightforward, our only confusion was that there was a Modern Malt bakery a few stores down from the actual restaurant, so we were sidetracked but the people working at the bakery were kind enough to point us in the right direction!

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The restaurant itself is quite new, established only a few years ago. The interior was very hip and colourful, with cute little details in the design (i.e. clipboards instead of receipt folders, glass jars holding gumballs and lollipops by the door). You could tell the atmosphere was very relaxed, as the waiters didn't seem to be prepared for the speedy service we were hoping for, but we were hustling to get on the road ASAP. Our waitress was very nice, and came around for a few coffee refills, which was nice. I ordered plain waffles (pictured below) which came with a blob of butter, a blob of whipped cream, and a sprinkle of icing sugar over top. They were so delicious! So fluffy, I was in heaven. My boyfriend had pancakes, my mum had eggs, and my dad had a breakfast poutine - and we were all pretty pleased with our meals. Once we were done, it was time to hit the road! FullSizeRender-2

After a four hour drive, we were finally in New York City! As we neared the city, the traffic became far denser and people became way more impatient haha. We were booked at the Executive Hotel Le Soleil NYC, which is located in the Fashion District. It's pretty close to Times Square and is an easy walk to most major attractions in the city, which is a major plus especially since our trip was so short. When we arrived, I was dying of heat, as I wore a uni tshirt and black leggings for the car ride and it was a beautiful 31 degrees Celsius in New York. Fortunately, after a little wait, we got up to our room and we were able to change before heading out to start exploring the city. Our room was pretty spacious, a good size for the four of us with a room for my parents and a room my boyfriend and I, separated by a bathroom and vanity area. I really liked the vanity, as it was brightly lit and had a huge mirror.

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Right after changing into more weather-appropriate attire, we all headed out of our hotel and down the street to Fifth Avenue. Our hotel was located on 36th street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenue, so it was a very short walk to Fifth Avenue. From there, we headed north, popping into stores like Sephora, Adidas, and Banana Republic. Along the way we saw some beautiful buildings, such as the New York Public Library, which I was very excited about (book nerd here). I bought a few things, which I'll make a post about later on when I've got everything gathered together.

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Also on Fifth Avenue, we stopped at Tiffany & Co. to recreate one of the most iconic scenes in cinema (and my personal favourite): Audrey Hepburn standing outside of Tiffany's with a coffee in one hand and a Danish in the other, clad in a black gown and massive sunglasses. I thought it would be fun to mimic her pose, and it totally was!

By the time we got through Fifth Avenue and hit the edge of Central Park, it was well past five o'clock and we were starved as we had only had coffee since breakfast at ten o'clock. So, we headed down Seventh Avenue, towards Times Square, and ended up at a diner we ate at back in 2010, called Lindy's. Seven years ago, we came here for dessert, as they boast their 'World Famous Cheesecake', but this time we decided to try the entrees as well. The menu consisted mostly of sandwiches, and as I'm not a huge sandwich fan, I opted for the appetizer-size chicken tenders and a side of onion rings. The onion rings weren't my favourite, but I did enjoy the chicken tenders. And, of course, we had to have the famous cheesecake. My boyfriend doesn't like cheesecake, so my parents and I shared a slice of plain cheesecake with strawberry toppings. It was SO good, and massive too.

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Afterwards, we headed down to Times Square for the first time of the trip. I always love visiting Times Square, it's so vibrant and exciting. Always something happening everywhere you turn. We climbed up the red stairs that cover the TKTS booth and I got some really good pictures, including the ones below of the full area, my boyfriend and I, and the New Years' Eve Ball with the 2017 sign.

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On our way out of Times Square, we passed by a pop-up stand for the Strand Bookstore - the full-size shop being on my to-do list, I insisted we stopped for a moment to browse the mini collection of books and bookish items they had on display. They had a pretty wide variety of novels, from contemporary novels to The Handmaid's Tale, which got me extremely excited for the actual shop! Also, we checked out the MASSIVE Disney Store in Times Square because, hello, it's Disney. I was not disappointed in the slightest.

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After a very long day, we headed back to our hotel to relax for a bit before going to bed and getting ready for the next day of NYC fun ahead of us!

If you're interested in more, follow this link to hear about Day 2 in NYC.