Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Round The World 2015

A hidden treasure

I woke at 6am and prepared for departure on my North Carolina side trip. I was ready within 30mins and travelled to the airport by Uber for the first time as a registered user. In line with previous UK experiences where Bruce had been the registered user, it worked very well. The Security line at Reagan National, on the other hand, was hideous. People were making panicky phone calls in case they ended up missing their flights. Having said that, the queue did actually move, and in my opinion the outcome was a lot better than the initial impression given.

As there did not appear to be a lounge in the section of the airport in which I found myself, I grabbed a sandwich and an apple juice for breakfast at one of the retail outlets. I was soon aboard a US Airways-liveried Airbus A320 for a pleasant, short flight to Charlotte, during which I consumed a packet of "Nonni's THINaddictives, powered by almonds" - good heavens! I managed a quick lounge visit at Charlotte, and then it was time to board an A319 bound for Raleigh-Durham.

Having booked a compact car as my 24-hour runabout, I ended up with a Ford Escape (i.e. a small SUV). I drove to downtown Raleigh without problems and parked in one of the many public garages. After lunch in a fairly nondescript café across the street, I walked up to the North Carolina Capitol. To be frank, I thought it was one of the less imposing state houses in the US, although still relatively fresh from a visit to Juneau, I was able to say categorically that it was a whole lot better than Alaska's. In NC's case, it would be unduly harsh to say that it had no presence at all, but at the same time I felt confident that it fell well short of what Americans call 'awesome'. I took some photos and had a walk around the small adjacent museum district before deciding to move on.

I hadn't planned my next step, so little did I know that I was about to strike gold. Having become aware during the trip of something called the North Carolina Museum of Art, I decided to see if I could manage a visit. I had no map, but knew that I had seen a sign for the museum on the way into town. I decided to keep my eyes peeled while leaving town. If I picked up on a sign, I'd follow it; if not, so be it.

Fortunately, my quest was successful. Although NCMA didn't look much from the outside, it was stunningly impressive where it really mattered, on the inside. The complex was divided into a home for the permanent collection, an external sculpture garden and a venue for temporary displays. I only had time for the main collection, which was absolutely first-rate, both in content and in the manner of presentation. Seriously, this place is worthy of a major national capital. (No disrespect to North Carolina - quite the opposite, actually!)

Bowled over by what I had just experienced, I set off in the car again and managed to find the Sheraton Chapel Hill before darkness fell, which was very much what I had been aiming to do. Well pleased with my choice of accommodation, I relaxed for a bit and later went to the hotel bar for a G&T and a nicely cooked, well presented and extraordinarily cheap burger. Simple pleasures have their place too!

Tuesday 17 Nov

Next Day

Previous Day