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Spring Break Day 7

Today was my last day here in Durham.  To celebrate, Daniel and I bought Jimmy John’s and Ox & Rabbit for lunch, and met his mom at her office.  We decided to eat in the gardens.  It was a good way to end my week.  Also, there was some delicious corned beef and cabbage for an Irish Shabbat dinner.  With the requisite beer (instead of wine), of course.

 

Find Your Cool

Tomorrow we head back north.  It’s been a great week.

Spring Break Day 2

It was a rainy day in Durham, so we didn’t get out and do much today.

After dinner at Daniel’s favorite Chinese restaurant, Shanghai, I started to watch The Kids Are All Right, and to be honest I can’t figure out why is was nominated for Best Picture, other than the fact that there were lesbians in it and the Academy is trying to be progressive.  Or something.  I stopped a little more than halfway through to go watch Bob’s Burger’s with Daniel.  (This week’s episode was hilarious, and if you have not seen it you can catch it on Hulu later this week.)

Since the weather was bad and it was a little bit chilly tonight, Daniel and I decided to start a Pixar marathon.  Naturally, we started with Toy Story.  It is truly amazing to see how technology has developed in the last 16 years.  They have come a long way, both with the animation and the stories.  Although all of their movies have been gigantic hits in the box office, I think that Wall-E, Up, and Toy Story 3 have set the bar to a new height that won’t easily be surpassed.  At this point, I have seen all of the Pixar movies except for Ratatouille.  Luckily, Daniel and his parents own all of the Pixar movies, so we will have something to watch each night this week (and every day that the weather is bad).

I don’t recall watching Toy Story in theaters.  And after I had watched it, I didn’t remember liking it very much.  I realized that my distaste for it probably had something to do with the character of Sid, a child who would rather blow up toys and decapitate them than actually play with them.  I can appreciate the Toy Story movies more now than I could when Toy Story and Toy Story 2 first came out.  Maybe that is because Toy Story 3 was so amazing and so poignant.  Or maybe it is just because now I have a deeper appreciation for Pixar and their computer animation than I did when I was 7 years old.  Back then, I don’t think I understood that it was a big deal for a movie to be completely computer animated.  Also, I don’t think I really connected with any of the characters from the first movie.  Every child has toys like those of Andy’s, but I guess I lacked the imagination to see them that way, to see them alive.  Now, it is less about trying to connect that to my life as a child and more just appreciating the art of those movies and the story itself.

On a small side note, I have never actually seen Toy Story 2 in its entirety.  Now I can appreciate the technology and how far it has come, and I’m enthusiastic to watch it later this week.

I love all of the old, faded signs around Durham.

This was taken yesterday, when it was still very sunny and very warm.  Tomorrow should be much better than today.

Spring Break Day 1

Of my list of Top 10 Favorite Things to Do in Durham, today I have taken a walk through Brightleaf, enjoyed the warm weather while sipping a Dr Pepper, saw the shops along Ninth Street, and eaten a sandwich from Jimmy John’s.  I also watched the Duke/UNC game, although I could not attend.  (I was also pretty disappointed that they lost in such a big way.)  So far, I’ve officially completed 3 and 1/2 of the items on the list.  That’s not too bad.

Overally, today was a great day.  I woke up and Daniel’s father had made some tasty breakfast.  I walked outside wearing just a sweatshirt and was more than comfortable.  Daniel and I decided to go for a walk, along with his littlest sister Nicole.  I’m thinking about interviewing her for this blog.  It would have to be a filmed interview, because she is so much better in person.

We just wandered around parts of downtown.  The Farmer’s Market here is already pretty lively; there was a bluegrass band playing when we got there, and lots of people milling around.

 

Farmer's Market Bluegrass Band

It’s obviously a city that caters to hipsters and white people.

A cool little bridge in Durham's Central Park

 

Durham is already blooming.

After our stroll, we went a few blocks up the street with Daniel’s mom for an Open House.  I’m completely smitten with all of the old houses on this street, including the one in which Daniel’s family currently resides.

Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy, but according to my weather widget it will still be a full 30 degrees (F) warmer here than in Rochester.  I’m looking forward to it.

Finally in Durham.

After nearly 10 hours of driving, I’ve made it to Durham, NC.  Driving is always pretty unpleasant, especially for such a long period of time.  Admittedly, at times, I suffer from road rage.  But I recognize the fact that I am not a good driver; I also recognize the fact that absolutely no one else is either.  There was even a point in southern Virginia where I was passing an 18-wheeler and a black SUV came speeding up behind me.  They started flashing their turning signal at me, I guess trying to tell me to move over (even though I was doing 80 mph normally, and passing the truck as quickly as I could).  Nevermind the fact that there was a giant truck next to me.  I just don’t understand people, or how they drive.

It was a long trip, and I’m pretty tired, but I’m glad to be here.  It’s at least 20 degrees (F) warmer here than in Rochester.  My mother let me drive her new Honda, which was a pleasant surprise.  The problem is that after 10 intimate hours with it, I don’t want to give it up at the end of the week and go back to my crappy Saturn.

Daniel’s mother prepared a wonderful Shabbat meal for us.  It was surf and turf, my favorite.  This was extra amazing because I have been craving steak for week or so now.  And I’ve already declared my love for seafood.  She prepared cod, which is normally a pretty plain fish.  But she made it absolutely delicious, and Daniel and his father grilled some awesome steaks.  To top it all off, his mother made twice-baked potatoes, my favorite kind of baked potato.  I texted Kelly, saying, “This will be the most delicious night of my life.”  That was mostly true.

So after a very long day in the car, I am exhausted and have not gotten a chance to explore Durham yet.  I have a week here, though, and I plan to take so many pictures around the city.  I can’t wait for tomorrow.

On the Duke University Campus

The above was probably taken during some spring break, I just have no idea which one.  They were probably taken the same day as the other pictures I have posted on 3/2 and 3/3.  The guy on the right is Erik, Daniel’s sister’s boyfriend.  He’s just…around.

Top 10 Favorite Things to Do in Durham, NC

As I began to anticipate spring break 2011, I thought to myself, “What are my favorite things to do in Durham?”  Whenever I travel to Durham, there are certain places I must go, certain things I must eat or drink, in order for it to feel like a successful trip.  It also feels vindicating to know that I’m not the only person that thinks it’s an amazing city to visit.  The New York Times recently named Durham one of the top 41 places to visit in 2011.  On a list containing mostly exotic places all around the world, Durham doesn’t really seem to fit in at number 35.  But they recognize that its strongest points lay with its restaurants, many of them set in former tobacco factories, giving them uniquely industrial, artsy, and urban vibes.  So, I will start at number 10 with a food that I don’t necessarily need, but will usually eat at some point during my stay in Durham.

10.  Have a Po’ Boy for lunch

Typically one thinks of po’ boys as more of a coastal food.  Wikipedia says they originated in Louisiana.  Like I mentioned, they are not really something I need in order for a trip to be declared a success, but I almost always eat one somewhere while in Durham.  And there are so many places to get a great Po’ Boy.  The last time I was in Durham (over the winter break from college), Daniel and I met his dad at Beyú Caffé for lunch.  They had the most amazing shrimp po’ boy I have ever had.  Daniel got the same thing, and I think he agreed with me.  Off of the top of my head, I can also think of Blu and Watts Grocery.  Daniel and I have met at both locales for lunch, and one of us always orders an oyster po’ boy.  Delicious.  This takes me to number 9.

9.  Eat at Blu Seafood and Bar

I love seafood.  The problem is that I only recently discovered just how much I love seafood.  (Living in rural upstate New York limits your options to Long John Silver’s or The Frozen Food Aisle at your local grocery store.)  I think a large part of that discovery came from Blu.  This is Daniel’s favorite restaurant in Durham, and for good reason.  It doesn’t matter what you decide to eat there, it is all delicious.  Their menu will vary, depending on the season.  It does tend to get a little pricey, which is why Daniel and I try to do lunch there, unless his parents treat us to dinner.  The consensus seems to be that the price is worth it for the food.

8.  Enjoy the Sarah P. Duke Gardens

This is a little bit high on this list only because visiting Duke Gardens is more of a seasonal activity.  Otherwise, it would certainly be in my Top 5.  Occupying 55 acres on Duke University’s West Campus, it features both plants native to the southeastern United States, and plants from all around the world, from Japan to India.  They also have a good variety of wildlife that seem to reside within the gardens.  Regardless of what is blooming, it’s always a pleasure to walk along the paths and see and hear the flora and fauna that make these gardens unique.

7.  See a show at DPAC

Morrissey and The Lion King broadway musical.  Although these are two very different things, we saw them both at the Durham Performing Arts Center.  I will let you guess which one made me cry.

6.  Attend a Duke Men’s Basketball game

This is certainly not something I can do every time I am in Durham, but when the opportunity arises in the future, I will always take it.  The first Duke game I’d ever attended was on Jan. 2 of this year, when they played Miami.  It was quite an experience.  Love them or hate them, they are a great team to watch.

5.  Take a walk through Brightleaf Square

Brightleaf Square occupies what once was a number of warehouses belonging to the American Tobacco Company family.  Now it has become a great place to shop or relax and enjoy a meal.  Brightleaf hosts a huge variety of restaurants, shops, and boutiques.  If you’re looking for a meal, but aren’t sure what you want, take a walk through Brightleaf; something is bound to tickle your fancy.

4.  Stroll through American Tobacco

Architecturally, the American Tobacco Historic District is one of the most interesting places to visit in Durham.  During the summer and fall, they also feature live outdoor music, in addition to other forms of live entertainment.  Daniel only took me through American Tobacco for the first time 2 months ago, but I am very anxious to get back and snap some pictures, because my descriptions just won’t do it justice.

3.  Enjoy the weather and sip a Dr Pepper

I am from upstate New York.  It is cold here.  So it doesn’t matter when I go to Durham, it will always be warmer than Rochester.  Durham is a very walkable city.  But even on the days where I just feel like lazing around Daniel’s house, I can always go sit on a porch or a bench in the nearby park, relax, and just enjoy the weather while sipping my favorite soda.  Also, his family always has Dr Pepper; his mother is completely addicted, so I can always look forward to a stocked fridge.

2.  See the shops on Ninth Street

Daniel grew up only a few blocks away from Ninth Street.  Ninth Street features various restaurants and shops.  I personally can vouch for Elmo’s Diner (because, even in Durham, sometimes you just want diner food) and Dain’s Place.  Dain’s Place is more of a pub or sports bar than anything else, but they have, as Daniel would say, “bangin'” tater tots.

1.  Get a sandwich at Jimmy John’s and pair it with a soda from Ox & Rabbit

The two things that I must absolutely do while in Durham are to walk to Ninth Street to get a sandwich from Jimmy John’s and a soda from Ox & Rabbit.  I.  love.  Jimmy John’s.  I can’t stress that enough.  Jimmy John’s shops are exceedingly rare in the North, so it is always a treat when I go to Durham.  And nothing goes better with Jimmy John’s than a soda or shake from Ox & Rabbit.  I don’t know how to describe Ox & Rabbit, other than a vintage-style soda fountain.  Personally, my favorite flavor is the Cherry Lime, but I’m partial to the Cherry Dr Pepper as well.  Just thinking about them is making my mouth water.  In just a few days, I can satisfy my craving.

 

Taken on the Duke University campus.

 

Daniel looks super ’80s, and I look super awkward.  I can’t wait to get back to Durham.

Note:  Some people might ask why I didn’t include attending a Durham Bulls game somewhere on this list.  The simple fact is that I have never been to a Bulls game.  Why?  Well, Daniel doesn’t care for baseball.  But, someday I will make him take me.  Perhaps that will be on a future “Top 10 List of Things I Still Need To Do While in Durham, NC”.

A great man once said

“It’s the freakin’ weekend baby, I’m about to have me some fun.”  That great man?  It was R. Kelly.

Ah, Thursday.  Thursdays are special for me this semester.  Why, you ask?  Because this semester “Thursday” actually means “Friday”.  And “Friday” means “extra day off”.  I finally did the smart thing this semester.  The thing most people start doing during their sophomore year at the University of Rochester.  I finally arranged my schedule so that I have no classes and no work on Fridays.  That’s a three-day weekend, every weekend.  It makes the four days during the week a little bit longer, but it’s entirely worth it when Sunday evening rolls around and I actually feel well-rested and ready to begin the week again.  I know I should not become accustomed to this, because when I start working at a real job this summer, three-day weekends will cease to exist.  However, until then, I will take advantage of it.

The only problem I have encountered with having this three-day weekend is that everybody else is still working on Fridays.  First, this makes them resent me.  Second, when Daniel and I go to the gym on Friday mornings, I can’t park my car in Library Lot because a permit is required during the week, until the evening hours.  So this forces me to park in Park Lot, which just makes the trip to the gym longer.  Normally, this would be a great way for me to do a little warm-up walk around campus before performing some heavy-duty cardio, but when it is in the negative digits because of the wind chill, it makes walking around in any gym clothes and sneakers really unpleasant.  Now that it has started warming up around here, I hope it will not be such an issue.

My random photo for today:

 

“Genuine Bull Durham Tobacco”

This photo was taken in January during my visit to Durham, NC.  I was visiting Daniel and his family during the New Year celebration.  I planned to take a series of photos around the city, but this ended up being the only shot of the city that I took during this particular trip.  Unfortunately, there seemed to be some glare happening at the time, so I need to re-take this.  However, I will be going back to Durham in just 2 and 1/2 weeks and can continue my quest then.  It should be very warm and very sunny, and so I am very excited.