Accordion country!

Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
1
63
84
Trip End Jul 06, 2011


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Where I stayed
Couchsurfed with Carrie Hill

Flag of United States  , Alabama
Friday, May 6, 2011

Day 123 May 6th continued - The bus to Birmingham only takes three hours and before I know it, I'm in the centre of town trying to locate Carrie's apartment. She lives in downtown, near the Amtrak station. I locate her apartment, but because she is a piano teacher during the day, I have a couple of hours to kill before I can meet her. So, down the road from her apartment is the Peanut Depot and sells small cheap bags of peanuts, like the ones you get at baseball games I put a small one in my bag and head for Railroad park. Railroad park is like it sounds. A large man created park near the railway lines and they had free wifi too! 

So I could catch up with some of my hosts and wait in the shade eating some nuts for lunch!! The park was  beautiful, had some refreshing green grass, seated areas for picnics and had a wonderful feel about the place. It did not seem like the Alabama I was expecting and I feel so ignorant for saying that! 

It was soon 4pm and I wandered back to Carrie's apartment and could hear piano music playing out of her window, so I waited downstairs till the lesson was finished. Once it was finished, she stuck her head out of the window and said hey. Her place is amazing, she recently moved in and flipped the place. It has a large dining room, lounge, kitchen area, a long hallway leading to her bedroom and a long very cool bathroom. Two floors up, there is a roof where one can eat breakfast, have a BBQ, looked like a perfect place to stay. She loves my tshirt. I'm wearing my 'I love big dumps' tshirt! She takes a picture and sends it to her brother. I explain the story as to why I bought it, mainly due to my brothers egging me one. Never has a tshirt in my life received so much attention! She tells everyone about the tshirt, man if only I could wear it for the rest of my trip!

The one sad element about her apartment was just a couple of weeks ago, she was sat in the stair well praying that a tornado did not come crashing into her building and destroying all the hard work she had put in. Also, it probably would have killed her too, she was receiving messages from loved ones saying how much they loved her. Not a pleasant experience!! 

We chat briefly but she has forgotten about another student who had a piano lesson. So, I get the privilege of sitting on the roof section of the condo and enjoy the views of downtown Birmingham. Only five minutes later Carrie is back up as the student felt unwell and had to go home. We again, sat and chatted and got to know each other. Carrie really is a wonderful person, full of spirit, soul and character. She is big into music, art and living life through those mediums. She tells me of one couchsurfing experience where she let a girl from Australia come stay in her old apartment, who had met a guy from Birmingham through a social music website. They both ended up staying with Carrie for a week, he moved to Australia and they got married. Sadly, he drowned while swimming in Australia and so this poor girl from Australia recently brought his body back to the USA and has been trying to get to know his family, but they are not interested in knowing her. They blame her, but their is no blame on anyone, it was just an accident. 

It wasn't long till her new 'friend' Lee came around. A nice guy, architect and they've just started recently dating. He brought some beers over to drink and the guy is so passionate about beer and computers, that once he starts, he can't stop, but it is great to see someone with so much passion for what he enjoys. I would like to think people see that in me when I discuss New York City or maybe the coffee with legs story!! Carrie also showed me a film she made after seeing 500 Days of Summer (we both like Regina Spektor) and while attending one of her art classes. She called the film 785 days of Oscar, and it was very moving. The theme of the film was dysfunction and in some way I knew exactly what she was talking about. Very brave to be able to show a stranger a film so personal like that, but I'm glad I did see it.

We're waiting on another of Carrie's friends then we are off out to dinner, Virginia from Argentina. When she does arrive, we drive out to a place called Rojo's. A great Mexican/USA food place. I got for a burger and Lee buys a pitcher of margarita for everyone, which is very tasty. Still, I'm receiving more and more comments on my tshirt, I guess in Latin America it just didn't make sense to anyone, but people from the USA are so vocal about something they like or something they want to know more about. 

Dinner was great, on the way home we stop off to buy some beer as Carrie has invited over a bunch of friends for a small get together at her place. I pick up some London Pride, it's been a while since I've had a good ale or bitter. 

Around eight more friends turned up at her apartment, I met a cool chef called Angela who seemed very interested in some of the food I have eaten as I have been travelling around the Americas. Some of the guys were watching youtube videos or guys who chased and recorded the recent tornado, I guess similar to Twister. 

The drinks continued and the party was relaxed and fun. The majority of people had gone so Carrie and Virginia offered to play some accordion music, ready for their little street gig tomorrow. They played for five minutes and then asked where the music was from. With the kind of memory I have, I knew it was from Amelie. They seemed surprised that I knew, but I certainly love that film and the music with it. During our third year of university, our lounge was decorated with one poster from each resident. My poster was a picture of Audrey Tautou from Amelie and her cheeky smile! 
 
Soon, I was laid out on a very comfy sofa and falling asleep after a great day in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Temp 30C
Miles Walked 0.3

Day 124 May 7th - I was up early, and Carrie and I had a long chat over coffee and then we had breakfast on the roof. Breakfast consisted of oatmeal with a banana. The view from the top was spectacular on a dazzling sparkling morning! 
 

Popped down to AmTrak station to check on my train and pick up my ticket. Today Carrie and her friend Virginia were going to play their accordions for the public, on the side of a sidewalk. Her friend Virginia came over and they started to practice, but only after they got dressed up for the occasion, so funny and they were asking me whether the outfits looked good. Of course, but my opinion isn't the best when it comes to fashion sense!  

I help them take a few pictures, but sadly my time was up and I helped them carry things down to the car and then I departed. I boarded the train for New Orleans and it was the slowest train I have been on. The journey was only seven hours,  but in Latin America, with a seven hour bus journey, at least the driver is putting his foot down. Our progress was so slow to New Orleans and I soon became very bored, till we were an hour outside and the track crossed a lake with people out fishing on a Saturday afternoon. An unbelievable view!
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