Travels in North Carolina: Raleigh

Raleigh is the Capital of North Carolina, and one of the 10 biggest cities in the Southeast, but certainly doesn’t feel as such. Jesse and I decided to celebrate my birthday in the city, as it is about a hour and ten minutes from our current home of Southern Pines, North Carolina. We awoke early on Saturday morning to a rainstorm. It has rained a lot here, much more than we expected (and locals have confirmed there has been more rain this year compared to recent years). Luckily for us, we are well experienced living in rainy place.

We arrived at our apartment rental after picking up some tasty soul food from Jack’s Seafood and Soulfood. It had been years since we ate soul food, at a tasty place in Long Beach; but when we lived in St. Louis a friend of mine had recommended a great spot called Diner’s Delight, and we picked up food from there often. We ordered Smothered Pork Chops and Fried Catfish along with Greens, Mac and Cheese, and Cabbage. It was awesome (and yes we did order two orders of some of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever eaten).

After that we went exploring, trusty umbrella in hand. We stayed downtown near the Capitol, and had planned to get out of the rain and visit the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. It was a short walk, but it was downpouring, so we thought we would drive and park. Lo and behold, many other tourists visiting had the same idea, so parking was not available any closer than if we had just walked. However, on the way to the Museum, we drove past an Art Gallery, named the Gallery C. We like art, and it was only a five minute walk, so we decided to go there instead.

Jesse in Front of C Gallery (the next day)
Jesse in Front of C Gallery (the next day)

We went inside; the Gallery specializes in North Carolina Art, but also has sculptures and art from a variety of artists (and a fine map room too) on two floors, and the artist/gallery attendant took us all around, describing all the different art they had. We particularly liked the art in the “Folk Bathroom” which is a literal bathroom with the walls decorated with brightly colored art from Latin American artists.

We took note of the numerous Haitian artists, and as we explored the upstairs, I noticed on the bookshelf of the owner/curator there was a whole section devoted to Haitian artists. A few minutes later we had a chance to chat with the owner/curator, Charlene Newsom, and I asked her about the Haitian art, as I had not seen much in my life thus far. She told us a lot about it, and we went back down to the Folk Bathroom, and picked out two that we really liked and bought them!

“Fruits Juteux” by Audes Saul
“Tropical Bird” by Jean Laguerre

The Gallery also had some cool outdoor art we could appreciate when we walked by the next day (hence the sunniness).

They wrapped them up very well, and we took them back to the apartment before heading out into the rain again. Since there are many bars and restaurants in the downtown area, and since it was such a rainy day, we didn’t take too many pictures but we walked around a lot. We started tasting beers at the Raleigh Beer Garden, and proceeded to pop into the different spots to have a drink and snacks. We were back to the rental early, still under rainy skies, as we prepared for the next day, which was scheduled to be quite sunny.

As North Carolina is famous for its Barbecue, and we had not had any in our months of living in the state (the horror!) we made a beeline to Longleaf Swine, only a few blocks from our rental, as the sun shone brightly overhead, and cool breeze made the temperature perfect. We ordered Burnt Ends, Brisket, Roasted sweet potatoes and Esquites, and Fries, and ate it all. It was wonderful.

Super full, we began our walk around downtown. It was a quiet Sunday, and we explored the whole walkable downtown. including around the unassuming Capitol.

We passed the above art piece “Rusted Roots Bottle Tree” by Jeremy Stollings; I never knew the significance of Bottle Trees, and learned that there was a long history of them, dating back to Central Africa and a long held belief that evil spirits could be captured within the brightly colored bottles at night, and then the next morning the sun would destroy the evil spirits. In the US, “the influences of superstitious Europeans and enslaved Africans blended into a southern tradition of placing the bottles on a tree near a home’s entrance.” The more you know.

We stayed in the Historic Oakwood neighborhood (there are many Oak Trees in Raleigh, like how there are a lot of Pine Trees where live), so many things are named Oak-this and Oak-that. Oakwood is “a 19th-century gem, full of tree-lined streets, incredible architecture and homes with tons of character (credit to The homes are big and colorful and we spent our last evening in Raleigh walking around, gawking at all the beautiful homes. Here are a few favorites (Jesse is looking very skater-90s cool at the entrance to the home that housed our apartment rental):

We had a great time in Raleigh and will definitely be back, but for now, Ciao Raleigh!

Published by Phil Barrington

Currently living in Spain, Accountant by Day, Writer by Night. Lover of baseball, travel ,and spreadsheets. Check out my blog:

2 thoughts on “Travels in North Carolina: Raleigh

    1. Thanks! We went to the Biltmore many years ago, Asheville itself was an interesting town, and I can’t wait to go back!


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