viernes, 10 de agosto de 2012

Km 2181: Atlanta

Sitting in the Atlanta airport lounge, with my computer plugged in, connected to the free WiFi and watching the Olympic Games on a gigantic television screen, I can only come to the conclusion that airports must be the coolest places to hangout on earth when you don’t have money. You can use their restrooms, their couches, their television, their electricity and even their internet for as long as you want (within a reasonable and non-terrorist-like period of time, say 10 hours). No one will ask you any questions and no one will ask you to leave.

Julia and I spent the day in Atlanta. Although there are quite a few things to do in Atlanta if you have the time and the money, we were here for the day and we were on a budget. Despite that (and even though the day turned out to be pretty long), I think we had a good time and I’m glad we stopped here for the day.

We took an overnight bus from Memphis which arrived at 8:30 am and will only be leaving to New Orleans on a bus departing at midnight. So we landed in Atlanta quite early and had to figure out where we could leave our luggage. Couchsurfers had told me that Greyhound stations had lockers where you could leave your luggage for the day, but when we showed up at Garrett station, it turned out that the lockers had been replaced by a PacMan videogame. So, we dragged our bags back on the subway and headed to the airport, where we were told that for $7 we could leave our backpacks until 9pm. Afterwards, we headed back to Downtown Atlanta and got off the subway at 5 points, which could be described as the center of public transport center in Atlanta. After wandering around for five minutes, hanging out with gangsta rappers, looking at golden teeth stores and being offered weed, we got the impression that we were headed in the wrong direction. We finally found our way to the Visitor’s Center where we received many suggestions on what to do in Atlanta, say the Atlanta city pass which includes 6 amazing attractions for only (only!) $72. In all honesty, it’s probably worth it if you have the money and the time, but we had neither so we had to stick to free attractions and cutting out coupons from the tourist map.
We then headed towards the Underground, which could be described as some sort of underground Disney-like mall composed by a few shady stores, a food court and… wait for it… a Johnny Rockets. As part of our All American Experience, we decided to have brunch at Johnny Rockets, while playing songs on the jukebox and watching the waitresses deliver a great dancing performance to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”. Good stuff.
I hate the Johnny Rockets
Julia looking for songs on the jukebox
 We got our tourist groove on and walked our way to the CNN center, where we just looked at the building, snooped around the souvenir shops, enjoyed the A/C and tried to hijack their WiFi and took a couple of pictures. This was followed by a short visit to the Olympic Centennial Park, where we layed on the lawn for a few minutes. We headed to the Coca Cola Museum, where we sneaked in the souvenir shop, gawked at the high prices for Coca Cola underwear and then chilled out on their couches, while stealing their WiFi signal. I think I’ve drunk enough Coca Cola in my life to have earned this day of restroom and WiFi freeloading at their facilities. They owe it to me.
CNN building
Coca Cola souvenir shop

We wanted to see if we could do the same thing at the Georgia Aquarium, but they apparently are aware of the austro-mexican freeloaders and couldn’t get into their store or restrooms. We sulked around for a little while, until we found a coupon for a free visit for 2 to the viewing floor of the WestInn’s rotating restaurant. We went there, enjoyed the nice view and took a couple of pictures.

View from the rotating restaurant
As the afternoon was coming to an end, we walked around Peachtree street which was very pleasant as there were many nice stores and really cheap places to eat. We took a subway to Piedmont park, walked around that neighborhood which was also very nice and then went into the park and enjoyed the sun by a pond for a couple of hours (we actually passed out because we were so exhausted). When we woke up, we had another couple of hours to kill, so we went into a gay bar where Julia used her shining to make friends with the bartender. We had a beer, then we got a free drink and played a game that determined that Julia was a beautiful girl who picked the right number and I… well, I didn’t pick the right number. We had a another beer and then decided that it was probably too late to stay for the gay bingo or the drag show at 11. We headed to the subway and to the airport to pick up our stuff before the luggage place closed. And here we are, waiting for it to be closer to midnight so we can take the subway and take our bus to N’Orleans.
Pond at Piedmont park
All’s fine. At the end of the day, I’m actually quite happy that we came to Atlanta. Atlanta seems like a very nice city to live in and although it’s not very walkable, the public transport system seems quite decent. There’s beautiful buildings and really cool little neighborhoods. And in a politically incorrect comment for tonight, I think black people in Atlanta don’t seem to be as poor or as marginalized as in other cities we’ve visited (the last one being Memphis). At least, in the 12 hours spent in this city, it seems like there is less inequality between white and black people here, with better chances at education and employment (when compared to other places). But hey, I don't know what I'm talking about so I might be wrong...

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