Sailing the Caribbean Sea

I have never tried to go on a cruise and since I am already living the American dream so, I have thought of venturing on a Caribbean cruise. The Caribbean is close to the state of Florida, a convenient location for out-of-state travel. It was in the month of November where most states in the northern part of the United States are getting colder each day, thus, I have decided to go somewhere south and sunny by choosing in sailing the Caribbean Sea thru Carnival Cruises.

The itinerary for the 7-day long Caribbean cruise goes like this:

Day 1: Sail Away

Day 2: Half Moon Cay, the Bahamas

Day 3: Nassau, the Bahamas

Day 4: Fun Day At Sea

Day 5: Amber Cove, Dominican Republic

Day 6: Grand Turks, Turks and Caicos Islands

Day 7: Farewell Day At Sea

For full story, check at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2018/01/12/sailing-the-caribbean-sea/

For my Sailing the Caribbean Sea vlog, just check this out.

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Florida, the Sunshine State

I’m back posting trips in the United States. I was out of the country for almost a month and when I got back here in the US, it was fall season but the temperature just kept on dropping. I was not ready yet of the cold weather matched with gloomy surrounding. I was feeling sad and lonely so, I have decided to take a trip to a place where I can see the sun rays. I went to Florida, the Sunshine State.

(check my full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/08/florida-the-sunshine-state/)

Florida is the southernmost state in the southeastern region of the United States. The state is bordered with bodies of water of Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, and the states of Alabama and Georgia. The state is the 22nd most expensive and the 3rd most populous in the US. Tallahassee is the state’s capital.

(check my full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/08/florida-the-sunshine-state/)

I stayed in South Beach, Miami for the main reason that is famous to a lot of tourists. It has the beaches, the fun, nightlife, the freshest seafoods, and the sunshine. I arrived in Miami International Airport at midnight and the drive from the airport to the hotel I booked was almost half an hour. When I got to the hotel, the front desk informed me that my reservation was cancelled since the system rolled over after midnight and that time was already 30 mins past midnight. I ended up having no hotel to stay for the night. I hopped to hotels lining the Collins Avenue but I never intended to check-in a hotel that costs more than $50 for a 10-hour stay. It took me some few calls and checking hotels until I found one hostel that wasn’t fully booked. It was an adventure strolling around the streets of Miami Beach early dawn but I felt safe coz there were crowds all over the area and partygoers. Finally, I got to rest on a comfy bed.

Early morning, I got out of bed. It was probably around 0700H and directly headed to the shore for a quick sunrise pictorial. The weather was fantastic. The breeze from the sea was perfectly cold, tolerable to wear a beach outfit, the sun glared that was good enough to get a tan, and the sands was acceptable with not so strong waves from the sea.

(check my full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/08/florida-the-sunshine-state/)

After my stroll, I went to stores and restaurants near the beach. I got to dine in one of the restaurants in Ocean Drive. It was an Italian restaurant in Ocean Drive and I ordered a grilled salmon since I’ve been craving for food that comes from the sea.

It so happened to that it was Veteran’s Day and they have a parade to thank the veterans for their service. I was already sitting in the restaurant that I don’t have to move an inch to see the parade.

(check my full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/08/florida-the-sunshine-state/)

When my tummy was full, I have decided to roam around the area. I passed through places such as the Lincoln Road Mall, World Erotic Art Museum, the Wolfsonian-Florida International University, and South Pointe Beach.

(check my full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/08/florida-the-sunshine-state/)

I got tired and went back to the beach and sat on the sand looking at people swimming, getting a tan, and doing their business. It was a nice view with the waves, the sun, feeling the sand, the sea breeze and I also met a friend from France.

(check my full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/08/florida-the-sunshine-state/)

When the sun set, I headed to a restaurant for dinner. I was in Madero and ordered their signature sausage and a dessert, gateau —-. Then, I walked back to my hostel and called it a day since I got a cruise to go the next day.

(check my full story at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/12/08/florida-the-sunshine-state/)

Florida is indeed the Sunshine state and sunshine for me brings happiness. The whole time I was in Miami Beach, I had fun and everything was just nice. It was an awesome trip I had over there and one of these days, I’ll be back in Florida to discover the other parts of the state.

Visa to the Republic of China (Taiwan)

Visa is a form of documentation issued by the nation’s government allowing the bearer to enter or leave that country.Photo Aug 09, 2 35 41 PM copy

Travel Authorization Certificate is issued to citizens of  India, the Philippines, VietNam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos to enter the country of Taiwan or Republic of China. Travel Authorization Certificate serves as visa to gain entry to the said country.

The residents of the Philippines have been given the freedom to apply for travel authorization certificate thru online or eVisa. It has been amended a lot of times. Before it used to be single entry visa but nationals of the countries mentioned on the certificate seen above can have multiple entry.

The basic requirements for a traveler to be eligible are:
1. the applicant’s passport must have at least 6 remaining months validity starting from the date of the arrival in Taiwan;
2. the applicant must possess an onward/return air ticket; and
3. the applicant has never been employed as a blue-collar worker in Taiwan.

Additional requirements are applicants must possess at least one of the following documents issued by Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, any of the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, or the United States such as valid resident or permanent resident card or status, valid entry visa, or resident card or visa that has expired less than 10 years prior to the arrival date in Taiwan, and the applicant possesses an entry visa or resident card issued by Taiwan at any point in the past 10 years and has no record of immigration irregularities or law violations in Taiwan.

The travel authorization certification is valid for 90 days making multiple entries allowed within those number of days. The holder of the certificate can stay in the country for 30 days starting from the arrival day. For online application of ROC travel authorization certificate, click this site here.

I got my travel authorization certificate in a jiffy. It took me about few minutes with my information at hand. I made sure to have my passport and permanent resident card ready. After I filled out the form and submitted it online, I automatically got the visa right at that moment. It was convenient and easy breezy. Now, it’s time for me to fly and discover Taiwan.

A Friend I Haven’t Seen For 11 Years

A friend I haven’t seen for 11 years has been living in Washington, Georgia for 5-6 years. We used to be co-workers in a bank way back 2006. We were cream of the crop and excelled in all that we do. We became friends, more like close friends and everything we did was history. We were Washington Mutual’s telephone banker. Washington Mutual was one of the best financial institutions back in the old days but was bought by J.P Morgan Chase Bank during the global crisis back in 2007. I quit my job before it was completely handed to JPMC and went to my chosen profession. I haven’t seen her after that until she left to Georgia with her husband and son. We just kept in touch through social networking sites such as Facebook.

I drove from South Carolina to Washington, Georgia which was about 2-3 hours from Aiken. I arrived in Washington, Georgia at about 1000H. When I got out of the car, we were just so happy to see each other again and nothing has changed. We were still like the immature telephone bankers even though it has been a decade. We talked and talked about the people we used to work with, reminisced the experiences we had, and even tried to call some of our other friends online. The first day was filled with excitement in getting to know what we have been doing in our lives. She and her family offered to be the host of my trip and I am so glad. They offered the guest room and I took a quick nap from the long drive while she was planning for the itinerary for the afternoon and the next day trip.

I was taking a nap when my phone beeped. I got a message asking if I am ready to go swimming. They have decided to go to Washington Swimming Pool since their son wants to dip in the pool. It was almost 95 degrees in Georgia that day so, it was a good idea to dive in.

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Washington Swimming Pool

But I am not used to going swimming under the heat of the sun and it was also at 1300H so, I just stayed under the patio umbrella. We only let their son enjoy the pool while we were just talking and looking at kids having fun. After an hour or two, we left coz her husband has to work. At 1730H, we have decided to go to the mall. The nearest mall is Augusta Mall which is almost an hour drive.

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Augusta Mall

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Inside Augusta Mall

We only did window shopping and bought some snack for her unico hijo. 2 hours later, they took me to Augusta Canal Historical Trail. The trail is near Marriott Hotel and is good location for exercising.

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Augusta Canal Historical Trail

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Marriott Hotel

Augusta Canal is a historic canal located in Georgia, is supplied by the Savannah River and passes through levels in suburban and urban Augusta before the water returns to the river at various locations. It was devised to harness the hydro power at the fall line of the Savannah river to drive mills, to provide transportation of goods, and supply water in the municipal. It is the only canal in the United States which still continues to be used for its original purposes of providing power, transport and municipal water.

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Augusta Canal Historical Trail

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Augusta Canal

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Augusta Canal Viewdeck

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Augusta Canal

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Otters in Augusta Canal

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Jessye Norman Amphitheatre in Augusta Canal

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View of Downtown Augusta Skyline from Augusta Canal Trail

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Augusta Canal Trail Fountain

We left the trail at 1730H and headed home and called it a day. I went to sleep early from getting exhausted driving. On my second day in Georgia, they decided to show me to one of the famous amusement parks in Georgia. We went to Stone Mountain Park which is near Atlanta.

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Stone Mountain Park

Stone Mountain is a quartz monzonite dome monadnock with carvings that depict three Confederate figures during the Civil War: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis. The theme park is located at 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd, Stone Mountain, GA 30083. It has a lot of activities and hosts festivals and events. To know more, just click here.

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Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis

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Stone Park Theme Park has attractions for all ages such as dinosaur explore, dinotorium, 4D Ice Age, Stone Mountain Museum, Summit SkyRide, Scenic Railroad, and many more.

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Dinosaur Explore

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Ankylosaurus or the Fused Lizard

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Parasaurolophus or the Similar Crested Lizard

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Dilophosaurus, the fast moving carnivore

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T-Rex

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The most famous dinosaur

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Dinotorium

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On our way to ride the train

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Great Locomotive Chase Adventure Golf

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Riding the train for the Scenic Railroad

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Live Show from the Scenic Railroad

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Stores at Stone Mountain Park

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Directions at Stone Mountain Park

We spent almost the whole day in Stone Mountain Park but we still missed the main attractions which were the Summit SkyRide, to get on top of the Stone Mountain and also the fireworks. The weather that day was not in our favor that the park has to cancel any attractions that has something to do with the sky. But I still had fun though. Then, we left Stone Mountain Park and discussed on where to dine for supper. We have decided to go something Asian, Korean to be precise, so, we went to Iron Factory in Athens, Georgia.

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Iron Factory

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Miso Soup

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Fresh Pork Belly or Samgyupsal

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Then, we went to explore Athens after eating.

My Georgia trip to meet my friend whom I haven’t seen for 11 years has been one of the highlights for this year. It was memorable and I can’t wait to do it again. We were planning of going on a trip somewhere and I hope it’ll come true. The whole experience was amazing even though it was just a quick visit for 2 days. Not to worry coz we have many more days to come and to have fun, for now, it’s not goodbye but see you next time.

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The Rivera Family and the Lone Traveler

Aiken and Hartwell Lake in South Carolina

I was still on my road trip down southeastern part of the United States when my attention got caught on this billboard on my way to Georgia. It showed a specific city few miles before crossing the Savannah River to the next state. I got curious so without a second thought, I turned on my right signal blinker and headed to the exit to the city. Then, I got to Aiken.

Aiken is the southwestern part of South Carolina. It is the city named after William Aiken who was the president of South Carolina railroad and it is the county seat of Aiken county. It is home to the University of South Carolina Aiken.

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William Aiken Statue

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Story of William Aiken Sr

Aiken is a historical destination in South Carolina. If you were wondering how did I get there, Well, I was driving on my way to visit my close friend and her family who I haven’t seen for 11 years. They are currently living in Washington, Georgia. They are one of the reasons why I had my 6 days road trip which started from Virginia to North Carolina to South Carolina and then Georgia. Anyway, back to how I got there. I was on the road and I saw this billboard. It was showing off how pretty the location was so, I was intrigued and went to the next exit to get to Aiken.

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Aiken Historical District

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Random Aiken Street Photo

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The City of Aiken

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Aiken Plaza

When I got there, it wasn’t what I expected. My expectation was just a town with old buildings. It was more than what I was picturing it out in my head. I was wandering around the town and I took some photos. The streets were cleaned and I didn’t even see trash. There were also old buildings that turned out to be bars, stores, hotels, and cafes. Anywhere in Aiken Historical District, a visitor’s map is visible and free for grabs. They also have activities such as Thursday Market in the Alley.

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Aiken Visitor Maps

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Hotel Aiken

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Stores

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Crofts Block

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Aiken Brewing Company Cafe

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Thursday Market in the Alley

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Rocking Chairs in the Alley

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The Alley

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Fascinating Wall

People in Aiken are health conscious. After I strolled around the Historical District, I visited their famous park, the Citizen’s Park. The park looked astounding once checked online in Google Maps. It has this amazing structure in aerial view but when I got there, it was inaccessible to the public. It was close. But I’ve seen Aiken locals doing their walk, jog and stroll to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A lifestyle that everyone should have for it is a promising way for the betterment of life. Then, I went back to my route heading to my friend’s home.

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Citizen’s Park

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Citizen’s Park Aerial View cr. google maps

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My next stopover in South Carolina was during my trip back home. I was using a different route back home so I can see different sceneries. I stumbled into this nice view while I was driving and I found out that it has a parking space. I stopped over and captured some photos in Hartwell Lake.

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Hartwell Lake

Hartwell Lake is a manmade reservoir bordering two states of Georgia and South Carolina on the Savannah, Tugaloo, and Seneca Rivers. It is one of the southeast’s largest and most popular recreation lakes. It is created by Hartwell Dam located on the Savannah River. In Lake Hartwell, there are a lot of recreational activities. Visitors can do camping, biking, fishing, boating, swimming, and water sports.sc23sc24sc22sc21

There are numerous places to visit in South Carolina but I went to destinations where I passed by during my road trip. But even though these areas were just stopovers, these attractions didn’t fail me to be amazed. Aiken and Hartwell Lake in South Carolina were indeed a good side trips to escape the hustle and bustle of big city.

Meeting Caroline in North Carolina

A friend I met in Toronto, Canada during my birthday trip last year just arrived in the Land of Stars and Stripes. Her name is Caroline and the way to say her name is Ca-ro-li-ne and not Ca-ro-line. She is from Brazil and it is her first time to set foot in the United States. Upon hearing her arrival, I decided to visit her since I got a 6-day off and planned road trip down Southeastern. It was a trip in meeting Caroline in North Carolina.

I got a side trip in Virginia specifically in Wytheville, Wythe county. After a quick visit in Virginia, I automatically headed to North Carolina. While I was driving, I got a little exhausted and I have decided to make a stopover in Winston-Salem for a change of scenery from just seeing mostly the roads and cars. When I got in Winston-Salem, it was decent with some skyscrapers. I took some random street pictures and I got to see the buildings. These were the photos I captured.

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Random Building

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Wells Fargo Building

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Winston Tower

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Winston-Salem Street

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Then, I searched the net and found this cool and flowery destination. It was a garden which is located still in Winston-Salem. It was Reynolda Gardens.

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Reynolda Gardens

Reynolda Gardens is botanical garden with 129 acres with 4 acres of formal gardens located off Reynolda Road which is adjacent to the Reynolda campus of Wake Forest University and the Reynolda House. The gardens are open daily with free admission. The gardens include woodlands, fields, wetlands, and a formal garden with greenhouse.

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Greenhouse Gardens

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The Greenhouse

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Inside the Greenhouse

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Venus Fly Trap

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Palm House and Growing Houses

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Reynolda Gardens was amazing. It has too many different kinds of flowers and plants which is a good place to spend the time from driving for about 2 to 3 hours from Virginia. But Winston-Salem was not my final destination. I went back to my car and have to drive to Chapel Hill. It was about an hour or so drive. I got to Chapel Hill at 1700H and met Caroline.

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Downtown Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill is a city in Durham and Orange counties and the home of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill along with UNC Health Care. Chapel Hill got its name from centuries ago. The location sits a top of a hill which was originally occupied by a small Anglican ‘chapel of ease’ known as New Hope Chapel thus, making it Chapel Hill.

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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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UNC at Chapel Hill Kenan Stadium

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Carolina Football Kenan Stadium

Chapel Hill is a pretty nice city. It was clean and multi diverse. By the looks of it when I was there, the city is pretty safe and marvelous with old architecture and buildings. It is also famous because of the presence of the biggest university in the state. Caroline got in Chapel Hill as a foreign student in University of North Carolina. She is currently studying and getting a degree in Mental Health. We’ve met in Toronto since we both stayed in the same hostel. We also have the same tour when we went to Niagara Falls. So, I was excited to meet here in the U.S. I treated her for dinner at Carolina Brewery.

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Carolina Brewery

Carolina Brewery is a beer brewery and restaurant/pub located in Chapel Hill. It has drawn international attention for its handcrafted beers, all brewed in-house. It was founded in 1995 and is the oldest brewery in Triangle area. The restaurant serves contemporary American cuisine and features a seasonal menu that changes 4 times in a year. We ordered Southwest chicken egg rolls which is chicken and pepperjack served with jalapeno ranch, and Chicken strips which is hard breaded chicken with honey mustard and ranch dips. Both were served as shareables. For the entrée, I chose fish and chips since I was craving for fish. It was beer battered cod served with garden slaw, house fried and tartar sauce.

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Carolina Brewery

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Southwest Chicken Egg Rolls and Chicken Strips

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Fish and Chips

The foods were well seasoned, sumptuous, and delicious. The server was really amazing. She was pretty, always wear a smile, warm and accommodating. She was also helpful since I was looking for a place to stay and gave an idea on where to search and what to wear. As a total verdict for my dining experience in Carolina Brewery, it was a 4/5. The ambience was good but the patio was a little congested and near to the street.

My whole trip in North Carolina was great. Meeting Caroline in North Carolina was the icing on the top. We haven’t seen each other for like 9 months and we never thought that we will meet again. All I can say is a road trip is always worth no matter how far it is as long as you know that in the destination, you got a friend to meet. Safe travels everyone! 😉

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The Lone Traveler and Caroline