NAGASAKI

I’ve had a little break from writing but I’m back to it this evening with a post about the amazing city of Nagasaki! Nagasaki was the second destination of our trip after Kyoto, and we reached this by using both the JR services and the Shinkansen, a journey of around 4/5 hours. As I’ve said in previous posts, I would highly recommend covering Japan by train, its such a brilliant experience and also allows you to see lots of cool scenery in a small amount of time. Nagasaki was a great destination to visit, and somewhere which I really didn’t know much about before I went. Of course, Nagasaki is most well known for the awful events of the atomic bomb, dropped in 1945, however this city is also a place of such beautiful landscape, rich with history which I wanted to share with you in this post.

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NAGASAKI PEACE PARK


The Nagasaki Peace Park commemorates the atomic bombing of the city on the 9th August, 1945 during WWII. This park is beautiful and peaceful, as well as devastating and emotional. The memorials, dedications and statues help us to understand the extent of the harm caused by this bomb, and the legacy of peace that is now in the centre of Nagasaki’s culture. Although very upsetting, this park is also the most beautiful place for a day out in Nagasaki, and is probably the number one must see of the city. It’s also wonderful to see the unity of people wanting peace and you can see this below with the colourful dedications to those who died, and a future of world peace.

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OURA CHURCH AND GLOVER GARDEN


The Oura Church is another historical destination, known as the Church of the 26 Japanese Martyrs. As one of the first western style buildings, this has been declared a national treasure and the oldest church in Nagasaki. Now, I am aware that visiting churches isn’t for everyone, but for a peaceful moment in your day and also an incredible view of the city, this is a lovely place to visit. Beside it is the Glover Garden with Glover Residence being the oldest Western style house surviving in Japan. It’s always good to find nature within a city, and this garden again is a peaceful retreat, and you can get the best view of Nagasaki harbour, as you’ll see in my pictures below. The walk up to the Glover garden and Oura church is also so cute and picturesque, it looks like something out of a Disney film! There’s so many little shops that you can explore here from souvenirs to cake.

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Look how cute this little toy shop was!


THE HARBOUR AND CITY CENTRE


Of course Nagaski’s beautiful harbour is unmissable and a great attraction especially if the sun is shining! The city centre also has lots to offer, and it’s easy to get around to main attractions by tram or by foot. Exploring by tram is a great way to get to places quickly whilst also having a great view of the city and immersing yourself in the culture. The locals we met were kind, welcoming and fun in Nagasaki, and made our stay even more pleasant. One of my favourite destinations within the city centre was actually Chinatown, and the former Chinese settlement. Seeing these historical buildings within a bustling city was so exciting and great to see.

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MOUNT INASA


We decided to visit Mount Inasa at night, something that I would highly recommend doing. Mount Inasa rises to a height of 1,093ft and can be reached by the Nagasaki Ropeway. Prices are affordable and well worth what you get included, for example the ropeway includes a tour guide giving lots of fun and useful information about the city below. This is such a fun evening activity, or something for the day if you would prefer, and the views you get are just incredible. It’s not often that you get the opportunity to see such a great city at night, and this is actually labelled Nagasaki’s ’10 Million Dollar Night View’, which is very true. It was such a pleasure to be able to see this beautiful valley city lit up at night.

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So overall an absolutely wonderful stay in Nagasaki! We managed to do this all in two days, so it’s easy to pack things in with the transport links of the city. We stayed in the wonderful and affordable S Peria Hotel, which had a great room and amenities that I was very impressed with. For lovers of history and culture, Nagasaki is the perfect city for you and here you are also given the opportunity to experience a vibrant environment and see great landscapes!


Keep on following the blog for two more posts on Japan on Hiroshima and Tokyo and then see where my next adventure takes me! You can keep up with me on email, or by following on WordPress, or let me know what you think in the comments or by emailing elena@elenaswanderland.com 


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DEEP SOUTH: 5 States in 14 Days

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It’s been a few years now since I’ve visited the USA, however it is here that I had one of my most memorable travels – a road trip of the Deep South. We were able to cover Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas and Tennessee in under two weeks (one of these states were slightly cheated as you’ll find out later in the post!) Road trips are an amazing way to cover a number of places in a short amount of time – because lets face it, travelling to the US from the UK is pricey, so you might as well use your time wisely! Obviously first you need a good driver who’s willing to cover long distances and is pretty good with direction. We also did a road trip in California, one state over two weeks, and so it really depends on where you’re going and how much you can cover in the time you have.

In this post I mainly focus on Tennessee, as that is where we spent most of our trip. All hotels, museums and other recommendations are linked so just look out for the blue words!

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TENNESSEE

We flew into Atlanta, Georgia, and drove straight to Chattanooga in Tennessee (just over a two-hour drive). Here we stayed at a brilliant hotel, Chattanooga Choo Choo, with rooms inside the famous Terminal Station and actual train carriages! From this area we did a six-hour round trip on the Tennessee Valley Railroad, with a two-hour stop off in Chickamauga, known for the ‘Battle of Chickamauga’ in the American Civil War. Both the hotel and the train ride are top recommendations from me, especially as you love quirky places to stay and great history! We also had a fantastic tour guide on the train which made all the difference and his knowledge seemed never-ending. There is also a great incline railway offering amazing views. A top food recommendation is Urban Stack in Chattanooga – I am yet to taste a burger better than the one I had here so definitely worth a visit.

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MEMPHIS

1.GRACELAND

Whilst focusing on Tennessee, we visited my favourite city of the trip – Memphis. There is SO much to see in Memphis that I think you could do it as one trip. First of all Graceland – probably the most famous of our visits. As the former home of Elvis Presley, this is such an exciting and beautiful day out. Not only is it decked out exactly how Elvis had it, but it is also packed full of original records, costumes and a beautiful burial garden. Whether you’re an Elvis fan or not, this is one of my top recommendations of the trip.

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2. CENTRAL MEMPHIS

Beale Street is of course another top destination in Downtown Memphis. Most well-known for its history, especially in Blues music, this is the main hub of the city where you can go to Blues clubs and restaurants for the best live music. Our personal favourite was BB King’s Blues Club: this is popular with tourists and in high demand, so make sure you book in advance! Another quirky destination is the Peabody Hotel – a ‘legendary 12-story hotel famed for its resident flock of ducks’. Yes that’s right, ducks. Every morning these ducks walk out of the lift and through the lobby to their fountain for the day, and when evening comes they perform again, this time heading up to their home on the top floor. This is both hilarious and unbelievably cute. You don’t need to book at the hotel, just head in and get a drink in their lobby bar. You can also go up to the roof and get an amazing view over Memphis. However, be aware that this can be super busy so just get there early for a good view of the famous ducks! And if it’s within your budget, I would definitely recommend staying here as it’s classic, beautiful and right in the centre of town.

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The Mississippi River runs through Memphis so be sure to get on one of the boat rides here. As I said earlier, we did kind of cheat one of the states on our trip, as we reached ARKANSAS by boat along the river! This was a great day out, with the best views from the rooftop seats of the boat.

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3. SUN STUDIOS AND STAX MUSEUM

Now onto some top recommendations for music fans: Sun Studios and Stax Studios. Both are in Memphis and can be done in one day. I’d definitely recommend doing both if you’re a fan of music, as you get to see where different artists and styles of music were recorded in history. Sun Studios is known for being the ‘birthplace of Rock N’ Roll and home to the ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Stax Museum is located in the former Stax Studios, home to American Soul music, with previous recording artists including Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding. There’s also footage of non-Stax artists including Aretha Franklin an Marvin Gaye. The staff here were also so helpful and friendly.

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4.NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM

Now onto my number one recommendation of the whole trip – the National Civil Rights Museum. I can easily say that this was the most incredible museum I’ve ever been to. It’s located within the Lorraine Motel, the place of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination. I don’t have many words to describe this place other than breathtaking, earth shattering and emotional. I don’t think you can fully understand the impact of this museum until you have been there and there is something about it that has never left my heart. If you are ever in Memphis, or anywhere near, please go here! You will learn so much and be so greatly impacted to continue the movement that these people began.

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NASHVILLE

1. GRAND OLE OPRY

After watching Nashville on TV and also being a country music fan this was a dream come true! The Grand Ole Opry is just such an amazing venue. On the tour you get to go backstage and see who stayed in the gorgeous dressing rooms, including Dolly Parton. Then of course you get to go on the famous stage and pretend you’re a country star yourself, something I enjoyed far too much. Again, this is a great place for those who love music and those who don’t!

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2. DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE 

Like Memphis, Downtown Nashville is the hub of the city with great live music, shops and bars – most of these can be found on Music Row, well-known for its great entertainment. You can also see the famous AT&T building from the city centre! Personal favourites were Betty Boots and Ernest Tubb Record shop.

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ALABAMA

We stayed in Montgomery, Alabama. This is one of the most famous cities for the Civil Rights Movement, with the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Martin Luther King Jr. preaching at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. For us this was a really important place to visit for these reasons, and the wealth of history and culture here is unbelievable. Our two top destinations here were the Civil Rights Memorial and the Rosa Parks Museum. At this museum you can see the exact location where Rosa Parks was arrested after refusing to give up her seat on the bus, and the museum itself is informative, moving and breathtaking – a must see!

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We also stopped in Birmingham, Alabama to see the memorial to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing – this is definitely worth stopping by if you decide to road trip.

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi was stopped by shortly on our road trip to see Elvis’ childhood home in Tupelo. This is worth stopping by even if it’s just to get a great picture by the memorial, as my parents show below!

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GEORGIA

ATLANTA

And finally lovely Georgia! Sadly we only had time to see Atlanta in Georgia as we returned to fly home. This is a great city that I would have loved to spend more time in, however we did go to one big attraction and that was the World of Coca-Cola. This is absolutely brilliant and I loved every part of it. On a guided museum tour you get to see the history of Coca-Cola in a fun interactive setting – this even includes tasting some of the crazy drinks flavours Coca-Cola produce for the world, some of which are not very appetising! This is a fun, easy and family friendly day out which was a highlight on our trip. It’s approximately two hours long so easy to fill a day before flying too. Such a fun museum and actually really interesting too.

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So that’s our trip! Our days were also filled with general city exploring and driving but these are the overall highlights! It’s such an incredible trip to do. I would recommend if taking children to wait till they’re in their teens so that they can fully appreciate the history and culture. But overall, if you’re fans of music and history this is most definitely the trip for you!! Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments, or by filling in a contact form below.

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