06 May A Post-Peace Corps Road Trip
We put a lot of thought into what we wanted to do after we finished our Peace Corps service in Jamaica. The recurring themes were always: travel and see people (thanks for the “travel theme concept” from Life With A Mission). After spending two years on an island without a car, visiting our friends and family via road trip rose to the top of our list.
Below is a quick photo recap of the first half of our trip:
First Impressions: Flat and warm. A good climate to help us transition from Jamaica. Scenery was a little redundant for a long road trip. People are friendly, so our Jamaican-grown habit of greeting everyone did not phase the locals.
Historic Cocoa Village, FL
Last Tuesday, we flew from Montego Bay to Orlando so that we could visit our cousins and their new baby girl in Cocoa Beach. They showed us around the charming, Historic Cocoa Village and Riverfront Park.
Ossorio Bakery – Cocoa Village, FL
Ossorio is located in the heart of Cocoa Village and walking in, we immediately noticed the artful details from top to bottom. The Bakery & Cafe features a wood-fire oven which produces tasty sandwiches, flat bread pizza, and probably even some of the pastries. They also make their own ice-cream from scratch and roast their coffee on site.
The atmosphere was colorful and airy, a nice mix of whimsy and sophistication. If I lived nearby, I would bring my laptop and do work at this place all the time.
Cocoa Beach, FL
Cocoa Beach is, of course, known for its beach. Even in late April, after the Spring Break crowds have dissipated, the beach still seemed like a happening place. Umbrella and chair rentals were available and a selection of eateries, fishing, and entertainment could be found on the pier.
First Impressions: More scenic than Florida- green and hilly. Some of the neighborhoods around Atlanta are absolutely gorgeous with humungous, stately homes.
Buford Highway Farmer’s Market – Atlanta, GA
We made a quick overnight stop in Atlanta, staying with a connection we actually made while we were in Jamaica. We had heard about a gigantic, international market in the area and determined that we had to go see it. It did not disappoint.
Buford Farmer’s Market is like a super-sized grocery store with an aisle or two for almost every ethnic food category you can image. They even had many of the Jamaican products we were used to seeing!
First Impressions: Surprisingly green. Reminded us a lot of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, which we call home. People are easy to talk to and, of course, many folks in Nashville have some sort of connection to music.
Two of our best friends (who met at our wedding and later married each other!) moved across the country after we joined the Peace Corps. We could not pass up the opportunity to visit them at their new digs in Franklin, just outside of Nashville.
Downtown Franklin exudes both a trendy and historic character. The heritage buildings and boutique shops will charm your socks off. If Nashville is getting too crowded for you, there are plenty of cool places to hang out in Franklin.
The Factory at Franklin is a repurposed industrial building, now home to art galleries, creative boutiques, restaurants, and an event space. The parking lot doubles as a weekly venue for Franklin’s outstanding Farmer’s Market.
On Main Street, you’ll find a variety of boutiques and historic buildings to explore.
Gray’s on Main
Gray’s on Main is a favorite restaurant/bar/venue of our friends. The upstairs stage looks like one of the coolest places I can imagine to catch a live show.
Savory Spice Shop
The Savory Spice Shop lets you sample their salts and culinary powders and then brush the left-overs onto the floor. We were impressed by their Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt, truffle salt, and carmel powder (for popcorn).
Sweet CeCe’s Frozen Yogurt
I had been craving a build-your-own frozen yogurt throughout our two-year Peace Corps service, and this place really hit the spot. Sweet CeCe’s delighted the senses with bright and colorful decor, tasty yogurts, and a wide variety of toppings.
The Frothy Monkey
There are several Frothy Monkey locations around Nashville and all are a great place to get your brew, hang out with friends, or do some work. I would definitely frequent this place with my laptop.
Carnton Plantation is a short drive from downtown into the beautiful countryside. We didn’t actually do the tour there but we hear it’s good. This plantation served as a make-shift hospital for confederate troops during the Civil War, and thousands of soldiers who died in the nearby battle are buried in the family cemetery.
Arrington Vineyard “Music in the Vines”- Franklin, TN
There aren’t too many vineyards around Nashville, but even if there were, Arrington Vineyards would probably be our favorite because of their brilliant “Music in the Vines” concept.
Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from May through November, the winery is open for free tastings (warning: the wait to get in can be up to 2 hours!), live music, and picturesque picnics. There’s no entry fee, and you can bring in your own food and lawn games. We took advantage of the beautiful weather and feasted on bread and cheese, wine, and birthday cake with our friends (and their friends). It was truly a delightful afternoon and would make a great weekend tradition.
Have you been to Cocoa Beach, Atlanta, and Nashville? What are your favorite things to see and do?
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