Every New Year's Eve, people around the world celebrate in different ways. In Times Square, NYC everyone's familiar with the giant ball drop. Well, here we drop something entirely different, a huge bronze acorn. The significance here is that Raleigh is the "City of Oaks" so the acorn is a fitting symbol. (If you think that's weird, in Mt. Olive, NC which is home to the Mt. Olive pickle factory, they drop a huge pickle)
It is said that you can rub the acorn for good luck on New Year's Eve. I'm not sure if this works year round but if you'd like to try it out, the acorn resides in Moore Square all year long until New Year's Eve when it is moved to the Fayetville St. Mall for the celebration.
Delicious Mediterranean Food
Jasmin was one of the first restaurants I tried when starting my graduate school here at NCSU. I wandered in on a Saturday afternoon to give it a try, as I love Mediterranean food. I ordered a gyro, hummus, and baklava, simple and easy.
The food was tremendous. The gyro meat was warm and well-spiced, and accompanied by fresh, crisp lettuce and juicy tomatoes, and a smooth yogurt sauce. The pita was excellent, warm without being overly dry (a complaint I have often with pita bread). The hummus was smooth, served with a drizzle of olive oil and olives, with slices of pita to boot. And the baklava was flaky and cinnamon-y.
The staff are always seem happy and greet you with gusto. It is an enjoyable place to sit and eat, either inside or (as the Hillsborough construction finally nears completion) on the sidewalk. I highly recommend it for a lunch campus-side. They also have 2 other locations spread through the Raleigh area.
The Angus Barn
The Angus Barn
Traditional American fair, seafood plus steaks.
It is claimed the only one 5-star restaurant in NC. However, other people say it was partly due to the food, popularity and partly, the politices.
There are restaurants in the area serving finer food - again, the taste is a very subjective thing. Just also like we are not beef eater, I cannot give you any idea on how good or bad their steaks are.
To many people, it could be pricy, however, the quantity is large, e.g., a $23 soft-shell crab entre will come with 3 large softshell crabs, while most other restaurant $17 for only one medium size crab.
We could never finish our entres, therefore the best strategy, and fortunately one can, is to order its 'apetizer' portion of entres, so you can have more varieties yet not stuffed.
The restaurant has two major dining halls, very large, thus the tables at the center of the hall could be noisy. Be sure to ask a table along the hall usually divided from the main hall, which is much quieter.
Although many business dinners are done here, the atmosphere is casual.
There are no sign or lables on the restroom to tell the lady's room from men's room. HOw can you tell? The hens and roosters on the door of course. Soft-shell crabs, small ribs, salmon, raw oyster.
The NC Symphony @ Meymandi concert hall
The NC Symphony is one of those cultural aspects of Raleigh that you sort of grow up with if you grow up in the area. We took field trips to see concerts in Elementary school and my parents have dragged us to several concerts and themselves bought season tickets the past few years.
The NC Symphony performs about 60 concerts a year around the Triangle area, the bulk of which are performed in the Meymandi concert hall in the BTI center for the performing arts in downtown Raleigh. There are some performed at the AJ Fletcher theater, the Carolina theater in Durham and Meredith College to name a few.
Definitely worth a visit as the concert hall is spectacular and the symphony itself is a joy to hear. I will actually have the chance to sing with the symphony in April as part of a 170 member choral ensemble. Should be cool.
Several visits to Raleigh - all work related!
It seems that this is one of the few airports which service North Carolina with direct flights from London. American Airlines makes the journey each way once a day - it takes in the region of 8 hours from point to point. Leaving London at 11.00 or leaving Raleigh-Durham at 18.10 daily.
The one thing to note here is that the Border Control point on entry is very thorough and it does seem to take a little longer than any other US entry airport I have been too. In the visits I have made to NC, the time to get through border controled ranged from 1 hour to 2 hours. I have to also say that it was the same officer on each visit.
Flying on business has meant that the trips I have made, have all been done in Business Class - so the experience has been quite good. The picture is taken from the Admirals Club lounge. In the lounge you are give two drinks vouchers, not a very good deal if I am honest.
"Artwork in the streets"
Unlike many cities I have visited, I did not see much public art in the streets. Although at Southpoint Mall, there is a wide range of different types of sculpture and associated water features.
The artwork in the streets is fun and colourful, lots of water is involved, and children enjoyed the whole, wet and exciting experience. I suspect that their is more to be seen, but with the style of town layout I am unsure that the more European town square layout is very obvious to those of us who are merely passing through the towns and cities as I did during these trips.
"Raleigh and shopping"
I have to admit that I did do a significant amount of shopping when I was in North Carolina. My favourite mall was Crabtree Valley, but I also visited "Streets at Southpoint and Main Street".
I undertook a wide range of retail therapy sessions and spent far to much money. However I did meet some interesting people in a range of stores and outlets -
In Macy's I was assisted by two staff in the menswear department in a search for a restauarnt to eat at, they knew where it was but could not describe it nor what it was called! It was on Glenwood, but I got no more than that level of deatil.
In Belk's, several staff were helpful; one was an older lady assistant who spoke about her grandparents coming from the UK many years ago and her liking of travel. A male assistant spoke at length about enjoying life but wanting to do more when he graduated from college.
Most memorably, were the several visits to Ticknors Mens Clothier. I met Jagger Ticknor and Blake Ticknor (yes from the Ticknor family) and their colleague Jeff Savelli - all excellent salesmen, freindly and entertaining. They certainly are good at their jobs and the store itself is excellent and does offer a tailors service too. Watch out for the water being poured over the trousers demonstration. Jeff became a little concerned when I commented he had ignored me earlier in the week. An out of town colleague and Jeff had met at the hotel we were staying (they visited the gym) and had not spoken. I forgave him, generous man that I am!