When You Visit Nashville, Visit The Percy Warner Park Steps

When You Visit Nashville, Make Sure To Stop At The Percy Warner Park Steps

Why this fragment of Percy Warner Park is one of the best places Nashville has to offer.

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At first glance, The Steps at Percy Warner seem like nothing special. They are made of stone so old that an alarming amount of grass grows in between the cracks in them.

The steep slope of The Steps makes even walking up them a strenuous activity. At night, the path leading into the dark, empty park looks downright ominous, like the exact place an ignorant teenager would venture into at the beginning of a horror movie. And yet, this small section of a park in Nashville, Tennessee is my absolute favorite place in the world.

My schedule is busy and overwhelming, but I try to make time to visit The Steps as often as possible. As I drive away from the rush of populated areas and onto the backroads, weathered with age and teeming with knowledge, I gradually separate myself from the chaos of everyday life. All that matters is what happens at that moment in time and in that haven.

Whatever problems I drive to The Steps with are abandoned in my car. From that point on it is just me and my thoughts. Everything is put into perspective there. My trivial problems are mere specks in comparison to the powerful idea that I have come so far in my life and lay on the grass at that moment healthy and happy.

All of the hunger, thirst, poverty, and evil in the world seems to fade away. It's as if there were an invisible dome surrounding The Steps, blocking out the bad things and letting in the good. When I finally manage to tear myself away from the safe haven, I feel renewed. I feel whole.

Sometimes I venture off into the park. If I am feeling adventurous, I pry myself away from basking in the sun and force myself to exercise. I pick a trail and start walking with no end goal in sight. I never rush to reach the end of the trail or follow the trail markers like an Eleventh Commandment.

Most of the time I get miserably, hopelessly lost and end up having to look up a map to escape the labyrinth of the woods. One time, my friends had to drive around and come pick me up because I was lost for so long in the middle of January that I was slightly in danger of losing my toes to frostbite. However, I wasn't worried, because a part of me knew the park would not hurt me and would never let me become truly, irreversibly lost.

The experience varies, but the destination remains the same. It always leads back to The Steps.

Undoubtedly, the people-watching is what makes The Steps so special. On almost every Saturday in the Fall or Spring, around 5:00 p.m., you will see high school kids taking pictures for either Homecoming or Prom. Other photo shoots dominate The Steps year-round. While a photographer clicks away, engaged couples stare into each other's' eyes lovingly, parents hold their babies' hands as they attempt to walk, and families large enough to make up a recreation basketball team cuddle close together.

Weddings have taken place at the top of the Steps. I'm sure that break-ups have too. Some lunatics even use the park for what it was meant for: hiking and exercising. Every once in a while, I stare in awe at a particularly motivated individual who sprints up and down The Steps by choice. Don't even get me started on the dogs. Man's best friend roams all around the area, approaching strangers with the kindness that humans should express toward one another every day.

I swear The Steps make me a philosopher. I should be presented with an honorary degree for the amount of Big Life Questions I have contemplated while laying on my back and staring up at the tree line. Why are we all here? What is the meaning of life? What am I going to eat for dinner tonight?

Along with those important questions I struggle to answer, I also like to consider the lives of those wandering around me. We were all brought together to the same time and place for different reasons. We all have different lives, different problems, and different loved ones, but an unspoken camaraderie resides between us. Looking around at the multitude of strangers gives me a deep-seated sense of comfort in their presence. We don't always acknowledge each other, but we don't need to. We have The Steps.

It's not lit by neon signs and teeming with live music like Broadway Street. It doesn't have the smell of gourmet foods floating in the air like 12 South. There aren't trendy boutiques stuffed with overpriced clothing like Hillsboro Village. Visit those places. They're great.

Then, once you're done with the obligatory tourist stops, drive twenty minutes outside of downtown into a more suburban area. If you want to understand the real Nashville, the one without cowboy hats and honky tonks on every corner, the one that makes me eager to come home over break and proud to tell people where I'm from, spend a day at The Steps. I promise you will not regret it.

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5 Must Dos in Yilan, Taiwan

A small, but beautiful country.
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When people speak of Taiwan, they often talk about its famous capital, Taipei. With Taipei 101, the third tallest building in the world, towering over the gorgeous skyline, this city sure is a hot spot for both locals and tourists. However, aside from its exciting city life, Taiwan has many hidden treasures. Yilan, a small county along the northeastern coast, is certainly one of them. Surrounded by beautiful mountains coupled with flowing waterways, Yilan is the place to go to escape our fast-paced lives and re-connect with nature. Having recently explored the lovely county, here are my suggestions on 5 must do's in Yilan!

1. Suao Cold Spring

If you ever find yourself in Taiwan, you don't need me to tell you that it is hot, hot, hot. But no need to fear, one of the world's two natural cold springs lies right in the heart of Yilan. With average temperatures below 22 degrees Celsius, people flock here to relax on a humid day and let the all natural cold spring water sooth their skin.

2. Jiaosi Hot Spring

After a trip to the cold spring during the viciously hot daytime, nothing is more relaxing than a trip to the hot spring during the chilled night time. Here, you can either choose to soak your body or get a "fish massage" in which little fish bite the dead skin off your feet. Both options are sure to leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed.

3. Seafood

Filled with rivers and surrounded by the open sea, Yilan has some of the freshest, tastiest seafood around town. People line up for hours outside of restaurants such as Wu's Harbour Contemporary Cuisine and Fu Mei Fresh Seafood, just to get a taste of the perfectly seasoned fish, shrimp, scallop, squid, octopus and even shark meat.

4. Meihua Lake

This is a fantastic place for children, elders, families, couples and everyone in between! With delicious local snacks and fun rental bikes, this is the perfect place for people of all ages to unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature. One can choose to ride a single, tandem, or family bike around the lake, surrounded by beautiful mountains.

5. Ludong Night Market

As one of the most famous night markets in Taiwan, Ludong Night Market is favored for various delicious and unique foods such as pan fried spring onion pancakes and red bean boba desserts. There are also many carnival games to be played, street performances to be enjoyed and shopping to be done. Ludong Night Market is so popular, if you ever visit, expect to find yourself packed between flocks of strangers also trying to make their way to the next exciting stand.

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11 K-Pop Artists Beyond BTS You Should Be Paying More Attention To

K-pop is more than just BTS and Blackpink.

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You can't glance at the charts for this year without seeing entries from BTS and Blackpink, but there are many K-Pop artists and groups that are just as talented and deserve the attention their peers are receiving.

1. Hyuna

You might recognize Hyuna as the girl from the “Gangnam Style" music video. However, Hyuna has had a lucrative career of her own and has been active since she was a teenager. Despite the fact she was just booted from her entertainment company, due to coming out with her relationship with fellow K-Pop star, E'dawn, Hyuna isn't slowing down any time soon and afternoon watching a few of her videos she will definitely be your new queen.

2. NCT

Having just debuted last year, NCT is made up of 18 members and are split into 3 different units. With so many members, NCT has already explored various different genres and styles of music and worked to use the individual talents of the members. NCT is worth a listen and I'll guarantee at least one song will have you dancing and feeling yourself.

3. Jay Park

Originally hailing from Seattle, Jay Park is a K-Pop idol with local connections! This makes him popular on both sides of the Pacific and his music is always pushing the envelope. Known for his R&B and hip hop sounds, he does incorporate aspects of many other genres in his music and is one of the leading soloists today.

4. Amber Liu

You may have seen Amber Liu in a number of Buzzfeed videos. Having been criticized for her masculine appearance, Amber continues to persevere and be herself. While her group f(x) hasn't been active for a while, both they and Amber have remained active with their fans and have dabbled in solo projects.

5. GOT7

GOT7 is another boy group in the vein of BTS. Debuting in 2015, the 7 member band has a large fan base both within South Korea and outside. Their songs vary in style and while they share many similarities with BTS, the band manages to separated themselves.

6. Monsta X

A more recently formed boy group, Monsta X is just beginning to see their popularity rise both overseas and in South Korea. With a sound that blends hip hop, electronic, and pop music, their songs are also fun and dance worthy. They are often known for their beautifully produced and aesthetic music videos.

7. Twice

As one of the highest grossing girl bands in South Korea, Twice has been taking the world by storm. The girl group is comprised of nine members and is known for their large fan base and catchy tunes.

8. Red Velvet

Red Velvet is a five-person girl group that deserves much more international attention than they currently receive. Known for their hits like "Russian Roulette" and "Ice Cream Cake". Their songs range from cutesy and bubbly to elegant and mature, making Red Velvet a diverse group that can take on any concept.

9. Sunmi

Sunmi, like Hyuna, has been active since she was a teenager. Other than being breathtakingly gorgeous and talented, Sunmi has a reputation for being one of the nicest idols in K-Pop. “Gashina" is also a total bop and female empowerment anthem that you'll have on repeat.

10. Seventeen

Once again, another boy group. Contrary to their name, the group has 13 members, and like NCT, is divided into units. Much like BTS, the members of Seventeen are deeply involved in the music making process including writing and production. This gives their music authenticity and shows the talent of each of the members.

11. Holland

Holland made news earlier this year for becoming the first openly gay K-pop star. Not only does this show great progression for LGBT rights in South Korea and Asia, but Holland's openness and acceptance of himself is honestly inspiring. And, to top it all off, his music is great and he's fiercely talented.

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