Walking in Memphis with the King

I grew up on Elvis. My mom loved him and his music could often be heard playing around the house or in the car. Soon, I got to know all the lyrics and could sing along to his smooth, soulful voice.  Even though he died before I was born, like many others whose parents who grew up listening to and loving Elvis Presley, I always felt like he was a singer for my generation as well.

So this summer, on a road trip to Tennessee, I decided to stop by a couple of Elvis Presley’s famous spots.

dsc_0989Our first stop was Sun Studios, where Elvis was first recorded. The studio is found in an old industrial area that looks pretty run down, but in 1950, Sam Phillips started the studio here. At first, he was just a recorder. He had a portable set up and would travel around recording anyone and everyone, but the new blues style of music was his favourite.  He was doing all these recordings, but getting no credit, as the artists were taking their demos and getting signed by labels. This led to the decision to start Sun Studios. Elvis first came in to record a few songs for his mother at 18 years old. Sam didn’t like him, but the woman at the office, Marion Keisker, loved him. Over the year, he kept coming back to record songs and speak with Marion, and eventually sang something Sam liked. In 1953, he signed him. Over the next two years, Elvis recorded 5 hits before being sold to RCA. Sam needed money at the time for one of his many lawsuits to save the studio and knew Elvis would do well with RCA.  For 25 years, the studio sat empty. Then in 1984, they started recording there again at night. During the day you can take a tour, and at night everyone from U2 to Maroon 5 comes in to record. The recording studio is still exactly the same as it was when Elvis recorded there. It was also where Million Dollar Quartet was secretly recorded on December 4, 1956. Elvis liked to stop by and see how things were going when he could and one night he was there with some Sun Studio artists – Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and newcomer Jerry Lee Lewis. They all started jamming, and Sam secretly recorded this session, but legally couldn’t use it for anything as Elvis was under contract with RCA. So it remained a secret until the 1980s, after Sam sold the studio.

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Salem-Witchcraft Hysteria to Halloween Escape

If you’re a huge Halloween fan like myself, do yourself a favour and take a trip to Salem, Massachusetts during the month of October.  img_6969Salem may be most widely known as the site of the witchcraft trials of 1692, but this colourful coastal city has a lot more to offer: impressive historic architecture, maritime heritage and a rich history spanning nearly four centuries.img_6958

The history and stories surrounding the hysteria of the witchcraft trials is found everywhere here, from museums, to historical reenactments, to haunted walking tours.

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Summer of Dolly

I’m a huge Dolly Parton fan. I grew up listening to her records and Kenny and Dolly’s Once Upon a Christmas is still my favourite Christmas album. I started as a fan of her music, but as I learned more about her and read her books, I became an even bigger fan of her outlook on life and her ambition. She’s never been afraid to dream big and then go after those dreams with everything she has. This has always inspired me to go after my own big dreams!

So as a big fan, there are two things I’ve always wanted to do:

1) See her in concert

2) Go to Dollywood, her theme park

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This summer I got to check both items off my wish list!

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The Day the World Came to Town

We all remember where we were on September 11th, 2001 when reports came in of planes hitting the Twin Towers in New York City. I was sitting in English class, when my teacher wheeled a t.v. in. We all sat in shocked silence, watching the terror unfold and automatically thinking of those who were on the planes and those who were in the towers and surrounding area.

Immediately, United States airspace was closed and aircraft were ordered to land at the nearest airport. Thirty-eight planes were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland. Right away, the people of Gander started making preparations for the 6,595 passengers and crew that would be landing in their small town of 10,000 over the next couple of hours.

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The Day the World Came to Town – 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede, tells the stories of the “plane people” who found themselves in Gander and the friendly Newfoundlanders who welcomed them with open arms. From the moment the first plane landed, everyone in Gander and surrounding towns stopped what they were doing and did everything they could to help. People began setting up shelters, cooking and supplying meals and snacks, and chauffeuring the people from the planes to anywhere they wanted to go, or just giving them a tour of the town.

There was always someone available at each of the shelters twenty-four hours a day, just in case anyone needed something. They invited people into their homes to use phones, computers and showers and did whatever they could to help the passengers during their stay in Gander, which lasted almost a week.

During this time of devastation, people stripped their houses bare of sheets and towels, and offered the use of their vehicles. Pharmacists filled prescriptions from all over the world at no cost. Local businesses emptied their shelves of food, clothing, toys and toiletries. The Canadian Tire in town was given instructions by its head office to provide whatever was required at no expense.

It was a time of sharing and camaraderie between the locals and those who had been displaced there. Meals and stories were shared and some of the lucky passengers were made honorary Newfoundlanders after being “screeched in” at a local pub. (This involves drinking locally brewed liquor called Screech and kissing a codfish!)

9/11 was a day of terror and loss; but in Gander, Newfoundland, it was also a place of love, compassion and humanity

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Travel is the best education 

Growing up, I was always excited to go to Grandma’s house and see  photos and hear about her latest trip.  She saw the world and inspired me to do the same. A lifelong teacher,  she always told me that travel was the best education you could give yourself and encouraged me to go explore and learn about different cultures and appreciate the similarities and differences found along the way. Only while immersing yourself in someone else’s way of life do you realize how alike we truly are.  Thank you for instilling this love of travel and need to constantly be educating myself and Happy birthday!  I hope everyone up there enjoys your travel stories as much as I always did! Xo

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See the World

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In the Heights

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‘Lights up on Washington Heights,

Up at the break of day’

Since, like thousands of others,  we couldn’t get tickets to see “Hamilton” on a recent trip to NYC, we decided to take the A train to the site of “In the Heights,”  Lin Manuel Miranda’s other show, (which we had no problem finding, thanks to the lyrics).

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‘Well you must take the A Train                                                                                                       Even farther than Harlem
To northern Manhattan and maintain
Get off at 181st, and take the escalator
I hope you’re writing this
Down, I’m gonna test ya later’

Disclaimer: We didn’t fully follow these ‘directions.’ We actually got off at the Washington Heights stop at 168th and walked up to 181st, but we made it regardless.

Washington Heights, Manhattan’s highest ground, was named after George Washington, who led troops into an unsuccessful battle here against the British in 1776. Today, Washington Heights waves a flag of American diversity, with many of its inhabitants hailing from the Caribbean – especially the Dominican Republic.

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I travel because…

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This perfectly sums up why I travel and why I need to.

Why do you travel?

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Exploring the Vegas of Asia

A few years ago, my sister moved to Macau, a Special Administrative Region of China near Hong Kong, to teach. Knowing I now had a free place to stay, Macau quickly made its way to the top of my “Must Visit” travel list. I arrived not knowing a whole lot about the country besides that it’s full of casinos and was a Portuguese colony for years.

Wandering around, it was very interesting to see the meeting of Chinese and Portuguese cultures, languages and food, mixed in with big, elaborate casinos. Definitely an interesting place to visit.

Here, I highlight a few of the not- to-be-missed sites found in Macau.

 

 

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Springtime in Central Park

 

Nestled amongst the concrete and bright lights of Manhattan, Central Park is a wonderful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

This sprawling 843-acre masterpiece was designated New York City’s first scenic landmark in 1974 and has become the most famous and beloved urban park in the world.

Central Park has something for everyone. Grab a hotdog and sit by one of the ponds or rent a boat and row around the lake after lunch at the Boathouse. Do a scavenger hunt seeking out the park’s numerous statues. Grab some friends and play a game of baseball or volleyball. Pay tribute to John Lennon in Strawberry Fields, take a ride on the carousel and then head to Central Park Zoo. With all this and so much more, Central Park will keep bringing you back for more!

While I enjoy the park year round, it’s particularly nice on a sunny day in spring as everything is starting to bloom. On a recent trip to the city, I spent a day wandering though the park, stopping for a hotdog, before finding a spot in the sun to sit, read and people watch.

 

Good to know-

  • Central Park is free and open to the public from 6 am to 1 am every day.
  • The Dairy, a Victorian Gothic building houses the park’s Visitor Centre. Here, you can buy souvenirs, get maps and sign up for guided walks of the park.
  • Carousel Rides are $3 and can be purchased onsite.
  • There are numerous snack vendors and several restaurants located throughout the park.
  • For more info click here.
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