How to Make the Most of Jackson, Mississippi in less than 8 hours

Less than a full day is crazy short in any city, but still doable. Get a taste of a city you have never been to and call it a short and sweet trip.

My 5 hours in Jackson kicked off like this:

First stop…

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Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

The Museum of Mississippi History.  Park outside of both museums and decide if you have time to see both this museum and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.  For lack of time and because we have previously visited the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, we chose to focus solely on the Museum of Mississippi History.  The artifacts found here go as far back as 1902 and cover the history from Native Americans, Black American, slavery, migration from around the world, the great Mississippi flood in 1927 right through to the current status of Mississippi.  Be curious and notice the innovation they have created to make this museum interactive and intuitive.

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Exhibit in the History Museum

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Old Capital Museum
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Mississippi Governor’s Mansion

Along Capital Street, you will pass by the beautiful Greek revival mansion.  Built in 1842, the architect, William Nichols was going fo plain republican simplicity.  Designated a National Historic Landmark this is the second oldest occupied gubernatorial residence in the USA. It is closed on the weekends, so we didn’t get a chance to tour the property.  If you arrive from Tues-Fri, between 9:30-11, you can tour for 30 minutes for Free.

As you drive around the city you will embark on The Mississippi Freedom Trail Markers.  Each site plays a pivotal role in the Civil Right Movement.  Grab a map or guide and plug in the addresses on your GPS.  We made a stop at Medgar Ever’s House.

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We noticed that Jackson seemed to be quite a depressed city.  We believe it is the city of soul, but it is very obvious that they are left behind in terms of care for the roads and infrastructure. It seems like a city lacking funds to take care of municipal requirements.  Most times, we weren’t sure if we were in a safe neighbourhood, but we took our chances and followed the GPS.

We went to a quaint part of town called The Fondren District.  This historic area is an eclectic mix of shops, cafes, galleries and charming homes.  You might want to stop here to eat or even just have coffee.

Every trip requires a comment about food.  A friend from Jackson, recommended a few places and we decided to go about 15 minutes outside of downtown and also quite a way from the Fondren District.  We wanted a place with the most highly favoured soulful experience, Bully’s Restaurant.  There is only one location for this specific restaurant and they have been serving soul food since 1982.  Driving up to this restaurant had us questioning if we were going the right way. It seemed like we were driving to a dead end.  Just as we thought the GPS was messed up, we pulled up to this little stand alone building with a very small parking lot.

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This dine-in soul food restaurant also completes take-out orders. In fact, we saw more locals coming in for take-out than dining in.  The longtime staff know their customers and greet everyone with the Southern hospitality we were looking for.  The menu includes everything we expected including chitterlings, oxtails, rice and gravy, turkey wings, neckbones, fried okra, mac and cheese, beef ribs, and a whole lot more.

We had the beef ribs, sweet potatoes, cabbage, and cornbread. The owners knew we were tourists, and went out of their way to greet us with joy and check on us more than once.  If you want a down to earth experience and nothing fancy, check out Bully’s.

There’s always more to do, but with so little time, that’s all we got to cover.

Have you been to Jackson?  What did you see and do?

 

 

A Piece of Arkansas in a Day

What comes to mind when you think of Arkansas?  From Little Rock to desegregation to Bill Clinton to the Arkansas Razorbacks, this state is known for its friendly people and Southern hospitality.  We experienced the love at every stop we made.  Our top 3 sites to see in a short and sweet timeframe are The Little Rock Central High School, River Market District, The Bill Clinton Museum and the Big Dam Bridge.

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Many years ago I heard Minnijean Brown speak during a Black History Month event in Vancouver, BC, which is where she currently resides.  Minnijean Brown is one of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African Americans who challenged racial segregation.  At the time I heard her speak, I didn’t imagine I would one day experience the city and see the high school with my own eyes.  You too, should make a stop at Little Rock Central High School and the museum to embark on a a piece of land with so much history.

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A visit to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum is a must.  The Clinton library is filled with archives, including the daily agenda for each day of Clinton’s time in office.  I enjoyed the short film, looking at all the memorabilia from his election campaign and even items from his childhood.  The museum also has a wide collection of exquisite art, classified as the White House Collection of American Crafts.  These pieces are the exact items that were used to decorate the White House in 1993.  A guided tour of the museum is available at 9:30am, 11:30 am, and 1:30pm.  We preferred the self guided tour and spent about 2 hours here.  Make sure you see the replica of the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room.  Cost to enter is $10 for Adults.

 

 

Before or after you finish the Clinton Museum, take a walk through the River District and check out the local restaurants and shops.  You can also take a walk along the many pathways in the area.  Arkansas is very green and has a diverse landscape with some of the nations largest parks.

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Big Dam Bridge – longest pedestrian bridge in North America

Make your way out to the longest pedestrian bridge in North America, the Big Dam Bridge.  This bridge is 4,226 feet in length and has never been used by trains or any vehicles.  The bridge isis reserved for pedestrians and cycling and is often used for cycling races.  The region expects to have healthier people and an improved economy.

Have you been to Little Rock?  What did you see and love about the city?

For more gems in Arkasas, check out this blog.

 

 

Three Sites for Everyone to Experience in Atlanta

No matter what your style or scene is, these top three highlights of Atlanta are sure to make for a good time for anyone.  There is a mix of history, broadcasting, good food, and a sensational museum to be enjoyed at all ages.

We spent 2 days in Atlanta and here is what we covered and highly recommend for you:

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  1. CNN Tour.  We paid $15 for an exclusive behind the scenes glimpse of what happens in the news room at this CNN Headquarters.  We were able to ask all the questions that we wanted.  I’m sure there is a lot of sensitive information that wasn’t shared, but the overview on production and what takes place during breaking news moments locally and globally was still interesting.  The whole experience was about 1 hour and we finished at the gift shop where it was possible to buy souvenirs, including a picture of yourself as a reporter (for a fee).  If you’re hungry, there is a food court in the atrium with typical fast food and some healthier options.

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2. Sweet Auburn Historic District.  The story of MLK is more than Black American history. His story is global and for all humankind.  MLK was born in Atlanta.  Along Auburn Avenue, you will embark on the home MLK was born in, the church his father pastored at, which later became the church he pastored at as well.  MLK is also buried here and there is a memorial site with a couple of museums all within the same two blocks.  Be sure to catch the two mini film documentaries in the museum, one which is the virtual tour of the interior of the home he grew up in and the other film is about MLK’s life.  You might think that you know all there is to know about him, but I’m sure you will discover something new here. Estimated time to spend here: Minimum 1 hour, but plan for 2.5 hours.

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3. Coca Cola Museum.  Besides the amusements parks I have been to as a child, I don’t think I have seen so many happy faces in one place at the same time.  Coca-Cola has always been sensational with their marketing.  They really are putting smiles on people’s faces.  Upon entry, we were given a small can of coke before we entered a room with a ton of artifacts, including the first fountain that was used to dispense the cola.  Our tour guide told stories, shared facts and figures and even hinted at giving us the recipe.  Throughout the entire experience we were teased with the notion of getting the recipe. At one point, I thought we were actually going to walk into a vault with a variety of concoctions.   I found this museum to be quite fun because the design continued to heighten our senses with the use of images, collectors items, movies, samples, and interactive displays.  Estimated time to spend here: 1.5-2 hours

If you have enough time, you can fit in a visit to the Aquarium.  I hear it is one of the best experiences of all aquarium visits in North America.  The next time, I visit this city, I’ll have to check it out.

Have you been to Atlanta? What would you say are the top 3 things to do?

Meow Wolf: A Playground For All Ages

Studies have shown that giving your brain new experiences can help produce natural brain nutrients and help prevent Alzheimers.  As youngins we were active and curious and awakening our senses.  As adults sometimes we have to try a little harder to be curious.

High on the list of cool activities in Santa Fe, we discovered Meow Wolf.  This place is an artist collective with art that is guaranteed to stimulate all of your senses.  Consider this museum a playground for all ages that allows you to touch everything.  Open the doors around you and see where they lead.  Question and test EVERYTHING.  If you want to take your time to understand this place, you will need to open the mailbox and read the letter before you enter the house.  There is a mystery for you to solve while you visit, but you will be just fine if you just decide to go through the place feeling, seeing, taking pictures and even walking into a refrigerator that leads to a secluded room.

I highly recommend this place!

Fee: $25

Additional Cost: $1 for 3D eyewear (very few exhibits actually require the eyewear)

Parking: FREE

 

Experience Civil Rights History with a Tour at the the Civil Rights Museum

In May 2016, I took a trip to Memphis and spend almost an entire day at the Civil Rights Museum.  I highly recommend that everyone who gets a chance to be in this city to take the time to tour this place.

There is a wealth of information on display and it is so engaging.  I felt myself stepping in time and trying to relate with those who participated in the civil right movement.  I even overheard a conversation next to me that I had to jump in.  A white woman with her college aged daughter was speaking of her memories of the time when her high school was implementing mixed schools.

We have come so far and we need to keep thinking forward.  To know the history and rise from it, is to respect and live a more promising future as long as it serves our nation for greater good.

Walking through the Civil Right Museum gave me a variety of emotions. Most of all, I felt proud of Martin Luther King Jr. He made this world a better place.img_20160508_132201

5 Reasons To Love Madrid

Madrid is magnificent.  I visited during this past Christmas break and absolutely loved the charm the city has to offer and I can see myself visiting again.  Madrid has something for everyone from art and culture to tapas to beautiful parks.  Depending how you choose to spend your time in the historical city, you will find yourself losing sense of the time and before you know it the day is gone.  Have no worries, things take on another fun vibe right through the night.  You can check out live music, flamenco shows, and eat until like 2 a.m. I tend to be one that turns in pretty early, so the latest I was out was about 12:30 a.m., but I heard that you can easily attend a flamenco show as late as 4 am within the local scene.

I want to give you my 5 top reasons to love Madrid and this is why I will find myself visiting again in the future.

  1. Madrid is a metropolitan city!  There is excitement the moment you enter the city and if you don’t speak Spanish, have no worries….most people speak English too.
  2. The architecture is gorgeous and no matter where you are, you find yourself surrounded by history.
  3. It is a walk-able city with and excellent metro system, which includes a route to and from the airport for 5 Euros.
  4. There is an incredible charm in this city, with its perfectly manicured parks.  I took a walk through the most popular, Buen Retiro.  This park, which belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, is also known as El Retiro Park and apparently a trip to Madrid is not complete without a visit here.
  5. Spanish fashion is hot!  I remember when I first visited Spain in 2007 and bought my favorite pair of jeans from Mango.  A few years later Mango started opening stores across North America. If you want to refresh your wardrobe this is the place to do it

This article is not complete without a mention of churros and chocolate. I loved the energy in this cute busy little cafe called Los Nuevos Alpes. It is across from the Mercado Market on Calle Mayor, 54, 28013 Madrid, Spain.

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El Retiro Park
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Christmas in Madrid
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The Royal Palace. If you are a member of EU, you can visit for free between 4-6PM.
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That’s my husband dipping the churros in the hot chocolate.

 

Greece be with You

Go and explore the ancient history in Athens.  Four days is enough to get a good taste of everything from culture to history to food and entertainment and you can do it all on foot if you’re staying in a central location.  There are about 4 main attractions that you must do. We bought a self guided tour package of 7 archaeological sites, which of course included the Acropolis and The Parthenon.

Let me give you a few tips for your visit.  The people are friendly and everyone will invite you to dine with them as you walk by their restaurant.  Even as you walk by stores, you will be invited in.  Sellers on the streets will ask you to buy their products too.  Everyone is either super friendly or hungry for your business. I say it’s a combination.

Wondering where to stay? Choose an area close to Monastiraki. We stayed in Psirri, which is a little quirky and right beside the popular and more trendy area Plaka.  I like Psirri because it was less touristy and I felt more like a local when I went into the little restaurants and bars.  One thing that was an eye-sore for me was all the vandalism or graffiti on the buildings.  There are also a ton of random cats that roam around. You can be at the nicest cafe eating on the patio and a cat rolls up to chill along side you.  That drove me crazy.  If you love cats, maybe this won’t bother you, but remember they are stray.

 

 

 

 

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