Check out Day 1 here! Our Weekend in Raleigh: Day 1
We got up bright and early on Saturday to start our packed itinerary. Pre-planned itineraries are GOLD. Search for them before you travel to gain some ideas about the stock things to do in a tourist spot. Of course, you can mix and match activities from different itineraries to really suit your tastes. Our first craving was for breakfast, which I swear I only eat when I’m traveling. Another excuse for me to experience a new place. We headed to Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant, in the Moore Square District and it was poppin’. Luckily, we were seated quickly and greeted with that southern hospitality. I had bacon, eggs, toast, and hashbrowns with some sweet tea. Any sweet tea from the South shits on McDonald’s sweet tea. Even Bojangles. I feel bad for people who call McD’s sweet tea “crack,” because of its addictive qualities… they have not lived. Ez had a spinach, mushrooms, and cheddar omelette with grits and toast. Yum. Big Ed’s is a cheap, tasty, cute, must-do breakfast joint in Raleigh.
City Market itself is super cute as well. It’s got quite a few boutique shops and restaurants, complete with cobblestone-paved streets. Oh, and Art Space! Art Space is essentially a building full of public studios and galleries with big windows. You can wander the halls and watch artists work their magic on a regular basis. This is such an innovative idea, but one that makes so much sense. Art is not just about the finished project, but about the art-making itself and all of the passion, dedication, and emotion that come with it. To be able to publicly share this gives nuances of meaning to the artists’ work and art itself. It really blurs the distinction between performance art and all other fine art genres. Even to peer into an artist’s studio when he or she is not there… it’s spooky! The presence of art is quite the transformer.
Our itinerary got a little turned around by the day’s festivities… I told you we always have good luck when traveling. We were distracted by none other than the Annual 3K Dog Walk! Moore Square was chock full of doggies! We walked through the park in search of the cutest ones… and definitely had to find a pomeranian. We had almost given up hope… but on our way out of the park, we saw a beautiful little bear just like Teddy! It has a Abe Lincoln beard and a cotton tail and was SO cute, begging for food and everything. The Bear is a hard one to match, though. We finally made it back to the car after creepily watching that little bear for a few minutes. The next stop was the Greater Raleigh Visitor’s Information Center… which had to be the most difficult this to find in this city. How does that even make sense? It was inside a Marriott across the street from the Raleigh Convention Center. After searching for the center for an hour, we headed for Mordecai Park to see some historic buildings and hop on The Raleigh Trolley.
Mordecai Park was pretty cool. The Mordecai House is the oldest house in Raleigh [or North Carolina?] on its original foundation–built in 1778. The Mordecai’s property actually extended hundreds of acres from the park. It crazy to think all of that land was once tended by slaves. Slave rhetoric at different historic sites is so interesting. The Mordecai Park pamphlet was not condoning slavery of course, but it was written in such a way as if African-American people benefitted from it because their culture developed in a unique way in the midst of the tight-knit bonds slavery forced them to forge. Okay, so this is true–cultural queues were taken from slavery and its corresponding relationships. But this pamphlet just shed light on it in such a weirdly optimistic manner and didn’t mention any other realities of slavery. What was I expecting, huh? Anyway, the kitchen Andrew Johnson was born in was also at the park. It was moved there from its original location on Fayetteville Street. Pretty coooool.
During the Raleigh Trolley tour, we saw many historic homes and buildings… homes of people you read about in history books, pretty crazy. There is just something so beautiful about old buildings, no matter the style. The trolley tour was a great taste of all the different districts at $10 a ticket for a 45-minute trip. I just kept thinking that most Californians don’t really have an appreciation for old buildings because all our stuff is relatively new and it’s not a question to knock it down if its not functional enough. Very different from a lot of major east coast cities where a significant percentage of buildings are landmarked or deemed historic sites and you can’t demolish them, renovate them, or change their facades. I love traveling for this reason–places are all so different from each other and that gives rise to different beliefs and lifestyles.
After the tour, we went back to the Museum of Natural Sciences to check out the dinosaurs because we hadn’t fully explored the night before. The crowds were crazy. And it started pouring so we killed some time in there looking at the bugs, dinosaur bones, and the like. We never actually made it to that new research wing they were celebrating…
When the rain had passed, we went into the North Carolina History Museum across the way. Ez had to check out all the war/weapons stuff, duh. The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame was also on our agenda… wanted to see what kind of Michael Jordan stuff they had. And guess what? NOTHING. How is that even possible? They had memorabilia for every sport and athlete that came out of NC and not a single thing for MJ. Needless to say, I was extremely confused.
We rested up for dinner and headed back to The Cupcake Shoppe–I needed more of those macarons! I asked for 6 and raved about how amazing they were… went on about being the best macarons… and somehow I ended up with 2 extra :) YES. Their specialty cupcake of the day was pistachio lime, which was so creatively delicious. Pistachio cake with lime icing and lime filling. Ez had to get another Cookie Monster because that was his fave. He swore these were the best cupcakes he’s ever had. And we’ve had A LOT of cupcakes (Sprinkles, Crumbs, Georgetown Cupcakes, etc).
Zaky’s Mediterranean was our dinner spot. Had some meat plates with rice, pita with hummus, and that crack sauce you find at the chicken&rice cart in NYC. It was close, anyway. Wonderful service and open til 3am on Fridays and Saturdays… probably for all the pub crawlers late-night drunchies. It seems that nightlife here is bustling, yet more laidback than other big cities.