Snaps from A Road Trip: Nashville, Tennessee

Last July, we had a chance to visit the city of Nashville. Nashville, situated near Cumberland River, used to be called Fort Nashborough named after the Revolutionary War hero, Francis Nash. It was founded by an Englishman, James Robertson, who lead a group of pioneers settling in the area in 1779. The Mississippian used to to call the area their home, while other Native American tribes like the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Shawnee also lived and used to hunt there. Fort Nashborough was part of North Carolina but then became part of Tennessee and became its capital in 1843. We didn’t have any special reservation towards Nashville. What we know about it is when someone mentions Nashville, we’d think about country music. We were curious about Nashville and thought that it’d be a perfect place to visit during summer break. We didn’t go to a lot of places due to limited time but two Nashville famous streets: 12th Avenue South and Lower Broadway, but we had pleasant time and certainly in awe of Nashville. I can tell that Nashville loves boots, cowboy boots, that is. There were boot shops we visited on Lower Broadway because my younger daughter really wanted to have a pair. They were plenty of beautiful boots, but they cost a lot that we had to think and rethink about spending hundreds of dollars for them. We also came by a candy shop where they made fresh pralines and gave out samples. Yum! Nashville is all about live music and we certainly heard and saw a lot on Lower Broadway. In fact, we bumped into a street musician who made up lyrics as he sang when we passed by about “a pretty girl in a yellow dress with a nice hair”. His song made my daughter blushed because she was the girl in a yellow dress. It was surely a memorable visit in Nashville and we can’t wait to come back here again to explore more of Nashville and of course, Tennessee. Until then, Music City. 

 

The statue of Bill Monroe who established foundation to the birth of Bluegrass in December 1943.
So many beautiful boots to choose if you can afford them. The lowest price were around $200.
We bumped into this street musician who sang a country song and as we passed by him, he sang a made up lyric for my daughter.
Boots made out of snake skins and leather decorated with metal accessories.
Freshly made caramel apples.
Watching the candy shop worker making pralines and then giving out some samples.
One among the many wonderful murals found at 12South.
Mural inside a cafe in Nashville.
This vintage VW bus was a flower truck I saw at the 12South. It was parking in front of a clothing store that uses an old gas station as their shop.
This flower truck was charming and adorable.
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At the 9/11 Memorial

Some loved ones left flowers and some left miniature flags. People flock, read the names that were carved on the long dark bronze blocks and pay their respect. But no matter how many people visit and congregate around the twin giant pools that used to be where World Trade Center buildings or twin towers were, it always feel somber and subdued there. The first time I came to the site of Ground Zero was 6 years after the 9/11 tragedy happened. My parents were visiting from Indonesia and we took them there. There’s still nothing interesting to see but covered wire fences. There were a lot of works happening behind them. The sound from the heavy machineries, the banging of metals and the buzzing from the construction workers all mixed as proof that life still goes on. I felt humble being at the Ground Zero, because a couple years before 2001 I was there staring at the two towers with astonishment of the tallest buildings in the country. My husband and I passed by the area where World Trade Center was for several times when we headed towards Brooklyn. I would open the car window and look at WTC buildings enthusiastically while we passed the lower Manhattan. Who would’ve known that one day those magnificent buildings would be gone.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I woke up on our bed with our oldest daughter who was 2 years old and our baby girl who was 4 months old. They were still asleep soundly and peacefully without any care in the world. I turned on the TV and watched the morning show on NBC, the Today Show. It was sometime after 8AM suddenly Katie Couric, one of the presenters on the show, announced a distressing news: an airplane has crashed into one of the twin towers. I was stunned. But I thought maybe it was an accident until I saw from the live feed another plane flew directly towards the other tower. What has happened? Then, in minutes everything crumbled and fell. Katie Couric was heard crying on air and I had trouble believing what I had saw. My eyes welled up, tears ran down because I imagined the chaos that ensued. I held my daughters closer and I could feel something in the atmosphere was brewing, fear. 

It has been 18 years since the most despicable tragedy I’ve ever witnessed, happened. I can still feel the uneasy feeling when September 11th is approaching. The site where Ground Zero was, now a sprawling park with memorial for the fallen and a museum to commemorate the lost. In November 2017, I took a group of high school students from Indonesia and their teacher to the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. It was the first time I visited the place and I became rather emotional especially when I read the names of the people who perished during the tragedy. My fingers sometime ran through the carved letters on the bronze blocks while I listened to the sound of the man-made waterfall, said to be the greatest in United States. In April this year, I visited the plaza again and that time I was escorting an old friend and his colleagues who were curious about the 9/11 Memorial. They were astounded and again, I somehow lost with emotion when I read a name, a woman’s, with additional statement “and her unborn child”. 

(To all who perished and the first responders, may you rest in peace).

Travel Journal: Historic Old Salem, North Carolina

Old and historic places are my favorite kind of places to visit. It is one among many interesting places that I’d love to see up close. During our short visit in North Carolina in February , we stopped by a wonderful historic place called OLD SALEM. The historic town of Salem was established in 1766 by Moravians – one among the oldest Protestant denominations – who originated from the Czech Republic. Old Salem boasted a remarkable architecture and attention to details that are still exist today. Three-quarters of the buildings in the old town are the original constructions. Salem used to be the center of the administrative, professional, craft, trader and spiritual activities which in present day is immaculate and simply wonderful. Rows of old houses and shops line up the main street. Several houses are available to rent. Can you imagine living in an old and historic house like the one on the 1st photo? That house is called the Fourth House which is the oldest home that still stands in Salem. The German style house was built in 1768 using timber and bricks and has 3 rooms which is known as the “Flurküchenhaus” plan. The first tenants who lived in the Fourth House were a saddle maker and his wife who rented it from the church.

The other point of interest in Old Salem that we visited was the Winkler Bakery. It wasn’t hard to entice anyone to come to the shop where the aroma of fresh baked goods wafting in the air. Visitors were greeted by the pieces of sugar cake that were waiting on a table at the dining area. A lady who wore an 1800’s-styled clothing, served the cake while a man who also wore similar clothing style prepared another batch from the wood-fired oven that’s part of the bakery. The aroma was so heavenly! My kids and I couldn’t stop getting one more piece of the cake and there was no rule of how many you were allowed to get. So it’s all fair. There were several choices of breads and other baked goods sold at the bakery including the sugar cake. Although the flavor of the bread they sold wasn’t as good as the one they baked in the 200-year-old wooden-fired oven. The charred part of the top part of the bread was a distinct flavor and gave the uniqueness. It’s true, the modern oven can’t beat that of an antique one. 

We opted to merely walked about this old town and not going on specific tour visiting each of the main historical interest. The town is a live museum where to get into several buildings you need a ticket for it. But we didn’t buy any ticket due to the time constraint and the vast area of the town that we thought it would need an all day to spend. Visitors are free to roam around the peaceful neighborhood, though would be unable to go inside the ticketed buildings. My kids and I also went to the souvenir shops there that were among the small shops that lined up the main street. The weather wasn’t the prettiest and it’s still winter. It was pretty bleak that day. We thought of coming back here again maybe during summer or fall to be able to enjoy the garden and the outdoor activities set up there for the visitors. It must be lovely when the flowers are blooming and the gardens are thriving. There are lots of places that I would love to see in Old Salem. I hope one day I get to visit this fascinating place again for longer time.

D. Justisia

THE FOURTH HOUSE – built in 1768, the oldest building in Salem.
EDWARD BELO HOUSE – built in 1849, owned by a cabinetmaker, Edward Belo, in Greek Revival style. The building was Belo’s house, shop and place to do other businesses.
HISTORIC OLD SALEM – Main street
Statues of a lion and two dogs in front of Edward Belo’s house.
Enjoying some sugar cake at the C. WINKLER BAKERY, that was built in 1800 and altered in 1818.
The lady who served some sugar cakes to the visitors.
The dining area at C. Winkler Bakery.
Sugar cake from C. Winkler Bakery is made by following the original more than 200-year-old recipe. The burnt part on the cake was the best part as a result of having baked in a wood-fired oven.
The Doctor’s House – 1802, includes the doctor’s home, clinic and apothecary shop.
Miksch Garden and House – 1771
The Boys School
Market-Fire Engine House – 1803 on Salem Square.
Coffee Pot, made in 1858, becomes the icon of Historic Old Salem. It was made to promote the Mickey Brothers’ tinsmithing business.

Snaps from A Road Trip: Northampton

    I get to know Northampton, a small city in western Massachusetts, as my daughter started her college last year. She goes to University of Massachusetts (UMass) in Amherst, a neighboring city of Northampton and we always pass by Northampton before reaching Amherst by car or train. My first encounter of Noho, the city’s nickname, was an eye-opening. The city is so charming with rows of 19th century buildings along its main streets. The downtown area especially, oozes that charm. For someone who has never come here, let alone heard about Northampton, I was in awe and felt dumbfounded. Every time we come to Amherst either dropping-off or picking-up our daughter from her dorm , or me having a solo trip to attend UMass Symphony Orchestra concerts (our daughter plays violin with them), I’d make sure I’ll visit Northampton and strolling down its beautiful downtown area. My love for old buildings, history and architecture find its way in this city. Thomas Cole, my favorite landscape painter who established the Hudson River School, painted the Oxbow in 1836 depicting a romantic panorama of Connecticut River Valley after the thunderstorm as viewed from Mount Holyoke in Northampton. It showed how he loved Northampton and its environment. 

    The city was called “Norwottuck” or “Nonotuck” by the native inhabitants of the area which was the Pocumtuc. The name means “the midst of the river” and Northampton is situated by Connecticut River. Its splendid surrounding has attracted many, including the “Swedish Nightingale” – Jenny Lind, a famous opera singer, who thought Northampton as “Paradise of America”. That’s how this city’s other nickname is the Paradise City. Noho is known as the city with cultural, arts, educational and historical background where Christian revival, slave abolitionist, artists and people with eclectic lifestyle thrive. Clarke School for Hearings and Speech was established here in 1867 which was United State’s first oral school for the deaf. Alexander Graham Bell was one of their school leaders. Other educational establishment founded in Northampton is Smith College, a private liberal art college for women, founded in 1871. Their famous alumni are Julia Child, Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan – both were US first ladies, and also American poet and writer, Sylvia Plath.  

Browsing Along Grand Central Market

I live about 2 hours away from New York City. To reach this metropolis, I can take the train and that’s the transportation that I mostly take every time I visit New York. Most trains going to or passing New York will arrive at Grand Central Terminal. This magnificent train station was once called Grand Central Depot which opened in October 1871 and went through several changes as New York needed bigger place to accommodate all the trains that were coming and going, also the people. The present Grand Central opened on February 2nd 1913. For a building with more than 100 years old history, Grand Central still looks astonishing. It is one among so many icons that make New York City a marvel city worth to visit. When visiting Grand Central, try to spend some time at Grand Central Market. The market, like any market, tries to offer the New Yorkers and tourists with everyday needs, such as food be it cooked or raw, flowers, baked goods, fruits, vegetables, kitchenware and housewares, etc. One thing that makes Grand Central Market one of a kind is it is a fancy-kind, rather posh sort of market. But you don’t want to miss the experience to browse along the stalls at this small market. You’ll be amazed by the freshness of the seafood, the colors and smells of the world’s spices and also the aroma from many variety of teas; not to mention the artisan chocolates and the baked goods that make you drool. The stalls are lining up neatly and classy that match with the New York middle and upper class life style. Even when you only browsing, there is something, if not a lot of things, to see at the market. Maybe you might want to try the baked goods or bring back home a box of chocolate. Some things are quite affordable and don’t forget to get a souvenir. Come and see Grand Central Market when you decide to visit Grand Central Terminal, especially when you can only visit New York once in a lifetime.

#newyorkjournal

#onedayinnewyork

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Women’s March NYC, A Day to Remember

Saturday, January 21st, was a special day for my oldest daughter. On that day, she had an audition in New York City with a music college that she applied for. We, my self and her sister, accompanied her to NYC. We took a train from our town and departed about 8:30AM. When we got on the train, a lot of seats were already occupied. That Saturday also marked a very important day for a lot of people, most of all the women, who live in United States, because that’s the day the Women’s March(es) were held all over the country. Many women, young and old, from many different background and race got on our train to go to New York City to participate with the Women’s March NYC. Some women who boarded the train later a long the way to New York brought along signs and posters. Between them were also some men who were as enthusiast as the women. Our train car felt very energized by the present of these people who chatted and became acquaintances for they shared the same thoughts and opinions relating to the new president. The atmosphere was really invigorating.

We reached our destination, Grand Central Terminal, around 10:30AM. After we went to the restroom on the lowest floor at the station, we went up to the main floor which is where the main lobby is and were surprised to see so many people who would participate in the Women’s March NYC flocking there. Some were children, mostly girls, who were beaming proudly putting on a show of their posters and signs for anyone who wanted to read them. It was fascinating! Of all the times I’ve been to Grand Central, that was the first time that that I felt the place was full of energy. My daughters and I passed by several people who were getting ready for the march. A woman with pink hair sat near one of the pillars while holding on to a poster, while on the other side two young women busy preparing their posters, writing some words with capital letters. Some women wore pink knitted hats that shaped like kitty’s ears. The hats became the symbol of the Women’s March movement. We then continued our journey to the building on West 54th Street where my eldest would have her audition. While we were walking from Grand Central towards the audition studio, we passed by several streets that were being cordoned for the march. New York City was getting ready for one heck of a celebration.

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After the audition ended around 1:30PM, as I promised my daughters, we walked towards the lower 50’s street to see the march. But then a chance arose when we saw the street in front of us wasn’t closed and so we blended in with the crowd that already started the march. It seemed my daughters and I started around West 52nd Street and walked towards West 54th Street. People in the march were in a very jaunty mood. They yelled and shouted but not in an angry manner, even though they spoke of disappointment, fear and sadness about the country’s predicament. People were very engaged to one another, saying ‘hi’ and getting acquainted. It was beautiful to be in the crowd.

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When we reached the last post (around West 54th Street), the march organizers asked us to disperse and go on our way to the street they showed us to go. So along with some people who stopped marching, we walked to the end of the street and had to walk further because a lot of streets were closed. By the time we got into the 49th Street, we met more people who were still marching. To get to the other side, we had to blend in again with the crowd and made way to cross the street. It was more like a celebration happening rather than a demonstration. It’s a democracy celebration for sure! On and on even after several hours have passed, even after my my daughters and I had a late lunch, when we walked to Grand Central to go home, we still met more people who were still marching. It was 5PM when we stopped by the New York Public Library and saw people gathering on the sidewalk next the building, looking at the signs and posters that some people brought for the march that were laid down just like an art exhibition. We walked through another crowd of people and amazed by the amount of people who participated in the Women’s March NYC. It was surreal! We certainly had a wonderful time in New York that day and had an experience and memories that we can share and cherish for a long time.

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The Poetry of Women’s March NYC

The year of 2017 begins with a ‘bang’! The anticipation from the US election in November 2016 became reality on January 20th 2017. A new president was inaugurated. But wait… Listen to the voices of women who moved together to resist, revolt, fight and speak up for social injustice! My daughters and I happened to be in New York City on Saturday, January 21st, when the women all over the country marched together with one purpose to be heard by the new government. We managed to be in the procession many times, because of the length of the march. Hundreds of thousand came and we witnessed a history. In this blog journal I only post the pictures I thought worth to show. The pictures of words upon words and illustrations of protests, disappointment, anger, anguish and fear that were written or drawn on pieces of papers decorating the streets of Manhattan. They were the poetry of a country in distress. Another journal will follow about our experience participating in the Women’s March NYC.

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