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Less Than 48 Hours in the Other Queen City

For my last weekend trip, I went to the Queen City.

Apparently, Charlotte is also called the Queen City.

I started this trip with my credit score taking a big hit, and it definitely altered the way I wanted this staycation to go. After April completely obliterated my finances, it felt necessary to just get out of town and take a breather from all the stress (yes, traveling requires money, but I watched my tiny budget like a hawk).

The inspiration for going to Charlotte, NC this past weekend were my tickets for a half•alive concert. Honestly, I didn’t have a single clue who the opening act was, so I stood and ate my popcorn. Like, I made no effort to even bend my knees. In between devouring popcorn while watching someone with yellow hair and missing the cool visual of half•alive’s opening, I met Sam, a new Snapchat contact who also drove the distance to watch the band. Since we were both there alone, we semi-hung out with each other for the concert. I focused on losing myself in the music while she focused on finding a hotel for the night.

Interacting with Sam made me realize I’m really good at meeting people at concerts, adding them on a social media platform, then barely speaking to them afterwards. In a non-weird way, I still think about the beautiful souls I met at the Dua Lipa concert.

Speaking of me talking to strangers, I started my Saturday at the pool, the “heated” pool my hotel promoted. Though, nothing about the water was warm. I stayed at the non-heated pool for almost two hours and talked with the coolest Black woman I’ve met in North Carolina (thus far). Our conversation literally started with discussing the false advertising of the Sonesta having a “heated” pool. I consistently think about how I didn’t get her name, but I could tell you other details about her, including how we both came from the same city for a brief weekend in Charlotte.

Around noon, I finally got out of the pool and decided to make the most of the approximate twenty-four hours I had left; I made sure not to set my alarm the night before so I could sleep in a little bit. For maximum comfort, I ditched the bra for the entire weekend, which was a fantastic decision.

I started my mini adventuring at Queen City Grounds. Parking near that area was incredibly tough, so I ended up accidently parking at a kid’s museum and paying $17 for an hour of parking (*cries*). The walk to the coffee shop was absolutely beautiful; it was the safest I felt walking downtown in a foreign city. Upon experiencing the backhanded weirdness of the barista, I ordered a bacon, egg & cheese, which was served on an everything bagel, and a strawberry banana smoothie.

From downtown, I went to IKEA. Going to IKEA on a Saturday is such a terrible idea. Now that I work at an interior design studio, IKEA doesn’t really impress me much. Of course, I still bought things; there were two large frames I needed for my bedroom.

Coming down from the minor disgust of IKEA, I took the obligatory travel trip to Target. After Target, I took a moment to relax on the hotel’s fabulous king bed and finished the necessary reading of my current book club book, Book Lovers by Emily Henry.

Before I could find myself falling asleep again, I went to Optimist Hall for dinner. Again, not the best idea for a Saturday, especially two hours before closing time. (Side note: not a fan of their parking lot). In the midst of my overwhelm and desire to look like a local, I ate Papi Queso for dinner. I ordered the Texas Cheesesteak with fries, maple mustard dip, and a grape Crush. The wonderful woman working order pick ups accidentally gave away my order, so I got an extra grape Crush.

To finish the night, I performed extensive self-care and caved into the looming mental nostalgia and decided to watch predictable Hallmark movies.

After forcing myself out of bed on Sunday, I went to Camp North End for lunch. It’s an incredibly cool place that totally matches my vibe and is designed in a way I want to eventually design. The restaurant that I wanted to try wasn’t open, so I decided to go to Bleu Barn and ordered the phenomenal Barn Burger.

Before leaving town, I got lost on the UNC Charlotte campus in hopes of finding their tranquil botanical garden (which I did). I make a point to find some form of nature wherever I travel.

All in all, this trip to the southern part of North Carolina came at the right time and gave me the rest I absolutely needed.

Fortunately, Charlotte isn’t crazy far from my stomping grounds, so I could easily come back for more rest and do all the things, maybe with some new friends next time.

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