For three weeks I’ve traveled through the southern states. I’ve biked along Bourbon Street in New Orleans, laughed until I cried in Nashville, admired the waterfalls of Tennessee, and found a new family in Atlanta. I’ve lived the high life on the beaches of Florida and fallen in love with Charleston, South Carolina.
Traveling on my own has been one of the most exciting experiences of my life. I’ve met the most amazing people and made friendships that I hope will last for a lifetime. I’ve enjoyed every second and today I feel stronger, more confident and happier in myself.
Before I left New York I felt afraid and a little bit uneasy. I was scared about messing things up or feeling lonely. But when I’m now sitting here at the airport in South Carolina, waiting to board my plane back to NYC, I’m certain that I will be making many more solo trips in the future.
I don’t know what life has in store for me after my year in the U.S., but today I feel ready to take on any adventures that life will throw at me!
Life in New Orleans was a big party and I started my trip by wandering the colourful streets of the beautiful city. New Orleans is one of the only cities in the U.S. where you are allowed to drink alcohol publicly. They’ve taken it so far, that you’ll actually be able to find drive through daiquiri stores in the city. And nothing is frowned upon on Bourbon Street, the main street of The French Quarter in New Orleans.
For two nights I took part in the madness. I let myself get eaten alive by Bourbon Street and I became a part of the carousel called The French Quarter. I kept the heat away with cheap sugar filled drinks, laughter and jazz. I screamed from the balconies and dressed myself in Mardi Gras beads. I became friends with every smile I met in the never ending haze.
It’s easy to understand why this city is so loved. But after a while I’m starting to feel a bitter taste in my mouth. Too many smiles are sad and empty. Too many laughters echo hollowly to the pace of the tired jazz.
The city is filled with homelessness and people that lost their way. The city is filled with substance abuse and dark life fates. At the same time, New Orleans has become the natural destination for partying tourists and bachelor parties.
Outside of New Orleans, you can find the most beautiful nature, and during my last Thursday in Louisiana, I went on a roundtrip through the swamps. At the same time we visited a wonderful mansion called The Oak Alley Plantation, and on this trip I met the kindest family from Long Island, New York. Thank you guys for taking such good care of me during our afternoon on the countryside!
— Linda Haglund (@LindHaglund) July 22, 2016
On my way through Tennessee, I stopped by the city of Lebanon to say hi to the Swedish interns Elin and Oskar who are doing an internship at Permobil. They invited me to lunch and told me about their wonderful experiences in the U.S. Thank you for having me!
— Linda Haglund (@LindHaglund) July 26, 2016
When I came to Atlanta, I decided to spend a night at a motel outside of the city. In the evening I explored my surroundings and happened upon a bar where a group of truckers were playing pool. Even though I felt a bit scared, I challenged the biggest trucker, Big Dave, to a game of pool. And while we were playing we somehow happened to become the best of friends. Big Dave smiled his giant toothless smile and cheered me on as I managed to put in one ball after another. In the end, I won the game, and Big Dave gave me a big hug as well as a new nickname.
”Every time you play pool after this, I want you to tell your opponent that your name is Knuckles”, said Big Dave with a laughter and added that I now was a part of his family.
If there is anything I truly learned from this trip, it’s that you should never judge a book by it’s cover.
— Linda Haglund (@LindHaglund) July 27, 2016
I drove through Cookeville, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Valdosta until I made it to Florida. When I came to Florida, I stayed with my Swedish friends Nils and Olle in the city of St Augustine and made sure to enjoy every second of this wonderful life.
Nils and Olle worked during the day and I spent my time by the pool. In the mornings I walked on the beach and one afternoon I watched a whole season of Masters of None. In the evenings we explored St Augustine and during the weekend we made a little roadtrip to Orlando, Florida.
St Augustine downtown is amazingly beautiful. And it was so much fun to just walk the tiny streets and explore the cute little shops. Every five minutes I reminded Nils and Olle about the fact that they are the luckiest people alive!
I spent my days wandering around the city centre, cycling in the parks, enjoying the beaches and watching the sea. Charleston has everything that you could possibly want from a city. And it also just happens that the kindest people in the world decided to live there. I would go back at any time!
During my trip, I listened to the song Follow The Sun by Xavier Rudd every day. The song became a symbol for my adventure through the South and every time I hear this song, I will think of the worry free days that I spent in the subtropical heat in Louisiana.
Below you can find the whole playlist from my trip. All of these songs came to me during different parts of my travels. For example the song Runaway by Kanye West, started playing in a Vietnamese restaurant in Charleston, when I was having one of the best dinners of the whole trip. Amazing times, my friends. Amazing times!