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Showing posts from January, 2008

The unexpected way home and outside corridors

As far as we know, things like this happen to other stand-by passengers, but this is the first time it happened to us.

The funny thing was that, when checking in, we were told by the airline employees at Atlanta Airport that the flight was overbooked, but we'd probably make it. So we proceeded with the customs and immigration formalities and then lightheartedly talked about this and that while waiting for our names to be called to approach the counter at the gate. There were also other stand-by passengers. You can easily spot them, as they are the only ones who openly show uneasiness before the flight - but not because of the fear of flying.

They were called to approach the counter; we weren't. Actually, we were, but only to be told that there were no seats for us. However, we were advised to wait until the boarding was completed. And then, all of a sudden, when I was least expecting it, they informed us they had two seats. It was momentarily decided that Dominik and I were fl…

The Antebellum Trail

Antebellum means 'before the war' and in the US it refers to the period before the Civil War, especially in the Southern States.

The Antebellum trail begins in Athens and ends in Macon, but the cities of Atlanta and Augusta are also included, maybe even some other, as well. On the one hand, it represents the romantic old south, but on the other, the fact that it was the time and place of slavery and abuse of human rights should never be forgotten.

We visited Madison, a quaint little city. In Milledgville we went for a short tour of Lockerly Plantation, which isn't so grand as Belle Meade. In Macon we visited the Indian mounds at the Ocmulgee National Monument and in Eatonton we saw the Rock Eagle Effigy, which is supposed to have been built thousands years ago, but as usual, no one has the faintest idea why and by whom it was built.

Another interesting question that can be raised here is: What town did Sherman NOT burn? William Tecumseh Sherman was a Union general who burned …

Lookout Mountain and Chattanooga Choo Choo

All the way from Nashville to Chattanooga there are billboards announcing the thrills of Lookout Mountain. We arrived at about 4 p.m. and since it was too late to visit all the attractions, we opted for two out of four. The Incline Railway was the first. It is often called "America's most amazing mile" and with the 72.7% grade of the track near the top of the mountain, it certainly is the steepest passenger railway in the world. There are two cars, very similar to the Zagreb funicular, but with only one track so the cars pass each other in the middle. Amazingly enough, the drivers also switch at this point, but I still haven't figured out why. Maybe only one of the two likes the steepest part of the railway.

After the ride in this old-fashioned railway, we headed to Ruby Falls, America's deepest and highest underground waterfall. We were taken into the cave by an elevator, and then walked for about half an hour, admiring all those stalactites and stalagmites that …

Nashville

It took us a couple of hours to get from Memphis to Nashville. We had a travel coupon booklet with discounts for hotels, so Zoran picked a hotel near the Titans Stadium, not very far from Downtown Nashville. We arrived early in the evening and upon seeing how totally desolate this area was, we changed our minds. Finally we found a good, cheap room with breakfast at the Drury Hotel in the airport area, which was very close to downtown, and only 8 minutes to Opry Mills, a huge shopping mall, multiplex cinemas and restaurants, where we immediately headed. We wanted to buy swimsuits, since there was a nice indoor pool and a whirlpool at the Drury. But all we could find was one pair of swimsuits - they don't sell swimwear in winter.

Opry Mills is a new mall, opened only in 2000. Before that, for many years there stood a theme park, known as Opryland, a hotel, and Grand Ole Opry, that first started as a radio show back in 1925 and where country music artists have performed over the year…

Graceland and beyond

I admit, Graceland was the main reason for visiting Memphis.

I've heard of Memphis and its Beale Street many times before, but it didn't live up to my expectations. Maybe because it was a bleak, rainy day, and as there was a basketball match at the FedEx Forum, hoodied youngsters wanted to sell us tickets all along Beale Street. As to the Mississippi, yes, it is mighty, even mightier on such a gloomy day. There were no tours in January so we didn't have a chance to go for a ride. No Mark Twain experience, unfortunately. I shouldn't forget the Peabody Ducks, something I first heard of on the Fodor forums. Every day at 11 a.m. ducks march on the red carpet from the elevator to the marble fountain in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel. At 5 p.m. they retire to their quarters on the roof, called the Duck palace. They are led by a person named the Duckmaster. It has been a tradition since 1932.

Now back to Graceland. I expected a tacky, cheesy place, but it exceeded my expectati…

A banjo on my knees and a little more

Sweet home Alabama was awaiting us together with a new time zone, Central, which is an hour behind Eastern time. At the Welcome center we were given travel coupons by a nice eldery lady, who recommended several hotels in decent areas of Birmingham. Driving on the I 20, we didn't have a chance to see much of Alabama, and it was dark when we arrived in Birmingham so, except the touristy area around the hotel, we didn't see much there either. In the morning we passed the city and soon crossed the border to Mississippi.

The Welcome center has been the best so far, so my kids, because complimentary sodas (and coffee as well)are offered to needy travelers. A friendly elderly lady was glad to answer all my questions on Tupelo, the town where Elvis was born and where he lived for the first 13 years of his life.

So we went to see this incredibly tiny little house, where he lived with his doting parents.

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta reminds me of Baltimore, with a downtown full of skyrise buildings and the streets are rather dark, because of the lack of sun.

The World of Coca Cola was one of the must do things in Atlanta. It's a bit overpriced, but we enjoyed ourselves there, especially in the tasting room, where a hundred different drinks made by the company can be tasted. I tried about 20 of them and stopped before I'd feel sick. However, a very disappointing thing was to see the commercial "Give a little love" that ends with a chopper with the Yugoslav Army flag, the army that killed thousands of Croats and Bosnians. This part of the commercial was cut out in my country, and I just can't figure out how a company that promotes piece, equality, liberty etc. can be so blind and tolerate murders and vindicate the killers?????

Mixed reviews can be found on the Internet about the Underground Atlanta. We went to see it and were a tad disappointed. Although there were police officers arou…