While nearly everyone else in my junior high school class chose the likes of Sweet Valley High series for our book review, I strayed away from mainstream and opted to read Nicholas Sparks’ “The Message in a Bottle”. I became his fan in a blink. Thirteen years after (and counting), I still gosh over his novels and I can no longer count the times I have cried while watching the movie adaptation of each.
And there is some truth in saying that I am slowly becoming a Nicholas Sparks’ stalker. July of this year, while strolling along King Street in downtown Charleston in South Carolina, I imagine Noah and Allie lie on the street and watch the traffic light change colors. Last month, we checked Boone Hall Plantation and while I was staring at the mansion, I thought how lucky Allie’s elite family was to have that as their summer home. And about two weekends ago, we did the A Walk to Remember tour in New Bern, North Carolina. We are no longer in movie locations but we were, as a matter of fact, in Nicholas’ own hometown! The thought made me really ecstatic.
The self-guided A Walk to Remember tour shows distinct landmarks taken from best selling novels of Nicholas Sparks. Brochures are available at North Carolina History Center and downloadables are available at New Bern’s website. While it was a memorable way to know New Bern, it was also a unique experience of intimately understanding the factors that shaped the characters, the setting and the story of each novel. As you enjoy the walk around downtown, you will begin to understand why Nicholas Sparks holds this town very close to his heart and why he calls New Bern his home sweet home.
“…it had served as the capital and been home to Tryon Palace, residence of the Colonial Governor.” - A Bend in the Road :
“…The only place I (Jan) could think of was the Tryon Palace.” - The Wedding
“… or stroll the grounds of Tryon Palace, the former home of the Colonial Governor.” – The Wedding
**First Public School
“…(Wilson) could walk through the first Catholic Church built in the state, or tour the first public school.” - The Wedding
** Masonic Theater
“Noah felt the same when we went to Gaston’s Drug Store, or the Masonic theater. Everywhere Noah looked, he saw Allie’s image, saw things that brought her back to life.” – The Notebook
**Centenary Methodist Church
“You told me that the two of you (Allie and Lon) left the inn and sat on the bench by the old Methodist Church…” – The Notebook
** The Chelsea, Caleb Bradham, and Pepsi-Cola
“The Chelsea,” I (Wilson) said. “Located in downtown New Bern across the street from my office, the restaurant is housed in the building where Caleb Bradham had his office and where he formulated a drink known as Pepsi-Cola.” – The Wedding
“She’d (Sarah) moved into a quaint apartment on Middle Street a few blocks away in the heart of downtown. The apartment was up the stairs and three doors away from the pharmacy where in 1898 Caleb Bradham had first marketed Brad’s Drink, which the world came to know as Pepsi-Cola.” – A Bend in the Road
**Pollock Street Deli
“Brenda picked up lunch from the Pollock Street Deli, which in Brenda’s opinion, made the best sandwiches in town.” – A Bend in the Road
**Chamber of Commerce
“…and we are members of both the Rotary club and then the Chamber of Commerce.” – The Wedding
** Harvey Mansion
“The Harvey Mansion was one of the best restaurants in town…” – The Notebook
I was hoping I would bump into him during our stay, but I guess I was not too lucky. Not yet. Not just yet.