Monday, 13 August 2012

In Atlanta...pronounced 'Atlanna'

On board the Delta flight from Montreal to 
Atlanta, 12 August 2012
I flew out of Montreal on a Delta flight. The flight time was just two hours and 49 minutes, which was great as, for some reason, I was expecting it to be much longer. On the flight I got chatting to a guy who runs a transport company out of Nashville, Tennessee, and he told me that if I was staying in Buckhead, which I was, that I could get the Marta.

The Marta is a train and yes, it goes straight to Buckhead, so I thanked him for the advice and off he went to catch a connecting flight to Nashville (it's about 45 minutes in the air from Atlanta).

Atlanta airport is huge and when we eventually stopped at a gate it all got a little confusing as the baggage reclaim was on the other side of the airport. Coming from Canada, I didn't have to go through passport control, which was good, but at the time (this was yesterday) I thought it a bit odd.
I'm sorry, Mr Marriott, people don't need so many pillows.

Anyway, I had to get a train to the baggage reclaim but when I got there, my bag was already on the carousel, which was cool. So, bags in hand, I jumped on to a shuttle bus that took me around the perimeter of the airport to the Marta and then out to Buckhead.

Then it all got a little worrying. There were some strange and some would say undesirable characters on the Marta (some guy with loads of tattoos who looked decidedly dodgy) and then, when I got off, more shady characters of the rapper variety hanging around on street corners asking for money. Mildly intimidating when you're carrying a heavy suit carrier and a laptop and have an English accent. I was forming a poor opinion of Atlanta and wondering whether I'd be holed up in my room for the rest of the trip.

The view from my Atlanta Marriott hotel – not as good as
the Holiday Inn, Midtown, Montreal.
The first thing I noticed about Atlanta was the heat. It's 100 degrees F here – that's hot – and it gets hotter apparently. But combine the heat with the rappers and it all gets a little oppressive, although I was told that it's a pretty safe city.

I went to Shula's, the hotel restaurant, and ordered tuna steaks and a glass of Sweetwater beer, a local brew (and very nice too) and then I sat outside, yes, you heard me, I sat outside, in the heat, and watched the closing ceremony of the Olympics. What the hell was Brian May doing entertaining Jessie J? Anyway, beer, food and back to the room for a well-earned sleep and then up at 7am to have breakfast and go off to meet the subject of my interview.

I was going to moan about the Marriott. I was going to mention that breakfast here is $17!!! And they expected a tip! This morning's breakfast was the first really healthy one, consisting of fresh fruit (strawberries, melon and pineapple, followed by yoghurt, a slice of Danish pastry and a cup of tea). But I was going to moan. I was going to moan about the number of pillows on the bed, the loud colour scheme (which is sported by Marriotts the world over) AND the fact that WiFi ain't free in the room (although it is in public areas like the bar where I write this now).

This view from the 20th floor of my interviewee's office was
pretty good, though!!!
The Holiday Inn in Montreal was better: Free WiFi, breakfast was free and so was the vibe. The Marriott is corporate and I don't like it. Also the service at the restaurant in the Marriott was poor: I and other guests were left standing around wondering what to do rather than being met by somebody who directed us to tables and so on. So I wasn't happy, but the reason I'm not going to moan about them is this: other than the service yesterday night in Shula's, the front desk has been really helpful and friendly – so all is forgiven.

This isn't the sort of place where you can go cycling and if I had a choice of here or Montreal I'd head back to Montreal. It's calmer, people are happier (or they seem to be) and there's no rat race to speak of. In addition, the scenery's better and there are no rappers standing around on street corners asking for money.

Yeah, all round, give me Montreal over Atlanta, but I'm here until 9pm tomorrow night before I fly home, so perhaps my view will change. I might need a swim in the open air pool tomorrow morning.

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