Atlanta, Totally Schwank
17th Sep 2008
arrivalsStart your zeitgeist tour at the village station: even the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has become an accidental study in globalization. That's cuz Georgia is a major staging hub for the U.S. Army, which lends a solemn air to the Terminal 2 Cinnabon outlets.
Here groups of hunky individuals patiently wait for flights to Baden-Baden, Stuttgart, and other German cities—waystations for Iraq. Desert fatigues blend into the commuter rush; imagine clusters of troops hanging at Starbucks and eating lemon muffins en route to war and slop.
Due to the frustrating design plan, international passengers are required to recheck their bags after collecting them at baggage claim, proceed through security, and collect them again at curb-side conveyors. This easily doubles the time it takes to get out of the airport. Just maintain calm while you wait for your bag to reappear, we doubt America’s finest have mistakenly confused your Bottega duffle for their own. Like many American cities, Atlanta is a driving city. You need a car; there is no alternative, so hoof it directly to the rental units.
diversionsBecause most of Atlanta was built in 1994, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that the area remains lush and green, with verdant forests and expansive ribbons of highway. While tooling around in the suburbs may be fun and looking at the old houses in Buckhead momentarily entertaining, most social life is in midtown, the cultural heart of Atlanta and home to Centennial Park and the CNN Center.
Should you get bored feeding the park’s rabid geese or knock off early from a hockey game at the centre, we suggest people watching and a margarita at nearby Shout on Peachtree Street. We looove the rooftop lounge here: cabanas with white flowy curtains, couches and sexy views of downtown, and in the lounge a DJ spins his thing. Shout offers South American and Asian tapas, rather contradictory but who cares when they're this good (it works at Asia de Cuba right!). Hot and new is Mi Barrio, a funky 50's styling Mexican restaurant that will blow your socks right outta Grant Park. It might be kind of a dive - pull up yer red chevy, diner feel but the margaritas will send you to heaven, you and all of your friends.
We haven’t been there but Après Diem’s delectable French menu is schwank to rival anything in New York or Miami! Montrachet tomato soup with goat cheese! I’ll have another! The atmosphere is relaxed and revelers can enjoy the outdoor terrace as well. Grooving to the sounds of UK DJs, this patioed gem is described as 'interestingly awesome'. So seize the day and then seize the night, this is the place to be. If you can’t get your Jambalaya or crayfish Gumbo at a secret shack off of Peachtree or in the back woods, try it here if its on the menu!
Also nearby is the Spotted Dog, a new British pub opened in an old firehouse that everyone’s been wanting to convert into a bar for years! It features an oak wood bar and an open floor plan upstairs that is good for events and fun for corporate functions. It’s a cool place to have a pint, and all the bankers nearby head in for happy hour on weeknights.
Atlantic Station is a brand new area and also features Atlanta’s hottest sushi bar, called Strip. (No comment) Strip draws a cool hip-hop crowd that is all about being seen. You’ll want to drop the sashimi onto the tongue and gargle with your martini to get noticed.
Since this is the food section, we might as well put this here. Now world famous and most definitely evil, the Krispy Kreme factory is a great stop for a snack. You can watch the conveyor belts fling twelve donuts at a time across to a shelf of google-eyed kids and the smell, the smell! Wow, I think you could probably bottle that delicious smell!
where to stay
The W at the Perimeter - very W. The Westin Peachtree - very Los Angeles. And Twelve at Atlantic Station - very Miami. There is a flavor for every mood and every taste. Or try Mr.Turner’s bungalow guest-house if you have the connection...
We love Smoothie King! It's adjacent to Centennial Park, and health-conscious locals know that Smoothie King is deadlocked in competition with Planet Smoothie, a crosstown rival. Choose your smoothie loyalties wisely because this is a town where people definitely judge you by your smoothie affiliation, a trend they seem to share with Sydney.
If you want gelato, it’s got to be Paolo’s at Virginia Highlands shopping center. It’s totally Amalfi, and Paolo is fresh off the plane from Italy.
belugas, boats & beats
The new Atlanta Aquarium, which opened last November, is the largest aquarium in the world. Tickets are so hard to obtain that you must make reservations like a Ramsay restaurant, which seems rare for an oversized fish tank. But hey, good fish is good fish! Here you will see beluga whales, dizzying varieties of rare tropical fish from all of our oceans, and large extremely unattractive man-eating sharks. Developed by the founder of Home Depot, “It’s more for the experience than education,” say locals, so you must go!
In the month of September, get a taste of Hong Kong at Atlanta’s very own dragon boat races, which feature hundreds of local company teams competing, Hong Kong style, at the spot where the rowing competition took place during the 1996 Olympics.
This city also has strong music cred: it is home of the Black Eyed Peas, Ludacris, and Outkast. Atlantans are big on Bobby Brown and Whitney drama: Catch them at Justin’s on Peachtree: just look for the crazy hair.
Fortunately there is one adventure that remains true to Atlanta’s southern soul. Pop down to your local corner liquor store and pick up a bottle of Atlanta’s signature drink: Hypnotiq. (In a city that has managed to co-opt the planet into a single metropolis, it’s nice to know there is one thing that is down home Atlanta.) This mix of vodka and cognac glows bright turquoise and remains a favoured hip-hop tipple. Pull it from the brown paper bag, pour it over ice, pretend it’s a mint julep and enjoy the afternoon on a hot humid day, watching everything go by. The feeling you get sums up the city of Atlanta—bright and modern, perfectly pitched, and totally ... schwank?