Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Saying goodbye to Atlanta and coming home...

Well, it was time to head home and the prospect of a night flight was pretty daunting. Why? Because I can't sleep on planes and it means foregoing a night's sleep. I was flying on BA226 from Atlanta to London Heathrow and, well, it was horrible.

For a start, turbulence. I hate turbulence, but it never seems to bother ANYONE else on the plane. Other passengers happily carry on conversation, read newspapers, even queue for the toilets, while I grip hard on the seat in front of me and sweat profusely. Cloud normally brings turbulence and that's another reason why I don't like night flights: I can't see the clouds out there. I only choose a window seat because I like to see what's going on. And if there's turbulence, by looking out of the window (during the day) I can at least comfort myself with the knowledge that the plane is in an upright position.

The problem with a window seat, of course, is that your general freedom is curtailed. If you want to get up and stretch your legs, you tend not to, because you don't want to disturb your fellow passengers, who, invariably, are asleep. How can they sleep? So I sat there, feeling very uncomfortable throughout the journey.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, there were quite a few bumpy bits coming over and then, when we reached the airspace over Heathrow, we had to circle a dozen or so times before landing. I took the Express into Paddington, then the Bakerloo to Victoria and a train home, where, thankfully, a lift awaited me. I've had a nap and now I ought to be heading off to bed, but I've got to finish my blog coverage of the trip and this is it.

Here, then, is a collection of photos with brief explanations of what they are.

Inside Tap, a real ale bar on Peachtree and 14th, Atlanta.
The photo on the left was taken in Tap, a gastro pub in Atlanta on Peachtree and 14th. It was here that my pal Sean Seymour, his fiance Joan and myself met for a lunch time beer on the day I flew back to Atlanta. There's some good beers here, both local brews and foreign stuff – even Old Speckled Hen from the UK. Bombardier too and, of course, Guinness from Ireland. But the best beers were the locally brewed varieties from companies such as Sweetwater, to name but one. Very, very nice beers and I could have sat there all afternoon enjoying a few more.

Tap's blackboard menu.
In fact, the next photograph shows a blackboard of special beers, including Old Speckled Hen. There's also an extensive list of other beers, a kind of beer menu, and there's food available too.

What I loved about Atlanta was the climate: it was hot and according to most of the people I spoke to out there, the weather's always good. They tend not to get snow, but can get ice during the winter months (December through March) but by March the weather is normally good again.

A shot of Peachtree, opposite Tap.
The Marta – I wouldn't take it late at night.
The shot on the left is of a general street scene at Peachtree and 14th, just across the road from Tap. You can see the bright sunshine and can just imagine how most people have a bright outlook as a result. Is it no wonder that in places were there is very little sunlight - think northern Scandinavia and Alaska – there are drink-related social issues? In the UK this year, we've had very little in the way of summer and it's depressing. I was feeling decidedly upbeat in Atlanta, mainly because of the sunny weather. it makes you feel good.

More of a tea 'sack' than a tea 'bag'.
I've mentioned the Marta in a previous post and ok, it doesn't have a brilliant press and people I spoke to said if you ride it, just don't catch people's eye. Well, there are a few 'undesirables' riding the Marta but it's the cheapest way to get from one end of town to the other, especially the airport, so I took it from Lenox, using a Breeze card. I didn't encounter any problems.

Whenever I fly off anywhere I always get to the airport miles too early and spend my time shuffling around the terminal looking in shop windows, flicking through books and then having a coffee somewhere. I stopped at a place on Atlanta airport, beyond passport control, and ordered a grilled chicken roll and a cup of tea. What amazed my about the tea was the size of the teabag – not so much a tea 'bag', but more a tea 'sack'. Just look at the size of it (see pic).
This shot sums up Atlanta for me: sunshine and skyscrapers

Tap is located at the junction with Peachtree St and 14th.
And that just about rounds up my trip to Montreal and Atlanta. They were both great cities for different reasons and while I liked Montreal because you could literally walk for miles and ride for miles too, Atlanta had the weather and I've always loved the Americans. The best hotel of the trip was the Holiday Inn, Montreal, but the best service went to the Marriott where the front desk staff were simply excellent – friendly, helpful and prepared to go out on a limb for their guests. The Holiday Inn offered free wifi in the rooms, which was great. Having to trek down to the reception to use my laptop was a bit of a pain.

Postscript: One thing I NEVER saw in Montreal, by the way, was a Kona bicycle. Everything else: Trek, Specialized and so on, but no Kona bikes. Why? That's a question for the guys at Kona (it's a Canadian bike company).

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