Hear about travel to Atlanta, Georgia as the Amateur Traveler talks to return guest Chris Willis about his hometown.
Chris has been on the show talking about distant and exotic places but this time we talk about the land of Margret Mitchell and Coca-Cola.
A lot of people just know Atlanta as an airport to pass through but Chris invites us to discover this city. “Atlanta has a very interesting history, that’s very bound up with the Civil War. It was destroyed in the Civil War, but there are still somethings, battlefields, and other things, left from the Civil War.”
“We have some great cultural attractions. We have a wonderful art museum, for example, the High Museum of Art. You can visit the Margret Mitchell House.” Margret Mitchell is famous for writing “Gone with the Wind”.
“One thing to start off with is the World of Coke. Coca-Cola has its worldwide headquarters right here in Atlanta and they have a wonderful museum that traces the history of the product and lets you sample different kinds of Coke beverages from around the world. That’s right in the same area of downtown where we have the Georgia Aquarium which is one of the biggest aquariums in the world. They have a huge huge saltwater tank with whale sharks and all kinds of other sea creatures.”
“The Atlanta zoo is well known for a couple of things. We have a really incredible gorilla exhibit. We have several families of Gorillas. We have had pandas for the last 10 years at least. We have a new reptile exhibit. The great thing about the Atlanta zoo is that it has wonderful things to see but it is a compact zoo. It’s in a park in the middle of downtown Atlanta.”
“If you like nature, just a short drive from the city we have the North Georgia Mountains with great hiking. The Appalachian Trail actually starts in the north part of Georgia. There’s wonderful driving and scenery and lakes up in the mountains.”
Chris describes some of his favorite neighborhoods and some of his favorite restaurants in the dynamic Atlanta restaurant scene.
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Visit Atlanta, Georgia
World of Coca-Cola
High Museum of Art
Margaret Mitchell House
Stone Mountain Theme Park
Peachtree Road Race
Atlanta Food & Wine Festival
Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest
Georgia Appalachian Trail Club
Atlanta Farmers Market
Buckhead Life Restaurant Group
Fadó Irish Pub
Georgia State Capitol
57th Fighter Group Restaurant
MLK National Historic Site
What have you learned from the Amateur Traveler over the last 10 years? Where have we taken you?
Chris Christensen: Amateur Traveler episode 472, today the Amateur Traveler talks about Stone Mountain, the Chattahoochee, Margaret Mitchell, and Coca-Cola, as we go to Atlanta, Georgia.
Chris Christensen: Welcome to the Amateur Traveler. I’m your host, Chris Christensen. We have a new sponsor that I’ll introduce in a bit. But first, let’s talk about Atlanta.
I’d like to welcome back to the show, Chris Willis, who’s coming to us from Atlanta, Georgia, and come to talk to us this time about Atlanta, Georgia. Chris, welcome back to the show.
Chris Willis: Thanks, Chris. It’s a real pleasure to be on the show again.
Chris Christensen: And I say welcome back, and if you haven’t recognized Chris’s voice or his name by now, Chris has done some of, in my mind, the best episodes of the Amateur Traveler, including going to Tonga and swimming with whales, and Ethiopian’s stone churches, and filming and photographing penguins in Antarctica, and wild horses in Mongolia. But today, we’re talking about a much more exotic destination. Atlanta.
Chris Willis: That’s right. It’s my hometown, and it has been since 1999.
Chris Christensen: You were saying, before we started recording, a lot of people just know Atlanta as an airport to pass through. Why should someone get out of the airport and go see Atlanta?
Chris Willis: Well, there’s just a lot of things to draw your attention in Atlanta, and it appeals to a wide variety of tastes. So Atlanta has a very interesting history, that’s very bound up with the Civil War, of course. It was destroyed in the Civil War but there are still some things, battlefields and other things, left from the Civil War. We have some great cultural attractions. We have a wonderful art museum, for example. We have things like the zoo and the aquarium, and we have a really, very nice restaurant scene in Atlanta. We have some great restaurants. So if you like food and wine, there’s a lot of things to really appeal to you here in the city. And then of course if you like nature, just within a short drive of the city, we have the North Georgia Mountains. We have great hiking. The Appalachian Trail actually starts in the northern part of Georgia in the mountains. There’s wonderful driving, and scenery, and lakes up in the mountains. And so there are those things. And then we’re a short drive from the coast, and things like Savannah and Hilton Head, South Carolina. But there’s a lot to offer no matter what your interests are.
Chris Christensen: Excellent. Where would you start a visitor to Atlanta?
Chris Willis: Well, I think I’d start in the city itself, and start with some of the things that we have that are just right in the middle of the city. So assuming you wanted to see some of the attractions of the city, one thing to start off with is The World of Coke. Coca-Cola, of course, has its worldwide headquarters right here in Atlanta. And they have a wonderful museum that traces the history of the product and lets you sample different kinds of Coke beverages from around the world. And that’s right in the same area of downtown that we have the Georgia Aquarium, which is one of the biggest aquariums in the world. They have a huge, huge salt water tank with whale sharks and all kinds of other sea creatures.
Chris Christensen: You moved right on from the world of Coke, you mentioned you can sample Coke from all around the world. I’ve talked to friends who have. The general opinion is not every Coke in every country in the world is drinkable, that there’s a variety of tastes out there.
Chris Willis: That’s true.
Chris Christensen: I also find it odd that in the city that is the home for Coke, Coke has become more of a generic. That if I order a Coke, they’ll say, “What kind?” And I might say orange.
Chris Willis: That’s true, and it’s true throughout the South. We use the word Coke to describe what someone would call soda somewhere else. And that’s just because we don’t allow Pepsi in the city, so everything is made by Coke. It’s just like we don’t allow airlines other than Delta either. So that’s sort of the thing in Atlanta.
Chris Christensen: Good to know. Good to know. You were at the aquarium before I so rudely cut you off.
Chris Willis: Sure. Well, I mean, there’s other things that are right in the city. So we have the aquarium and then we also have a really wonderful zoo in Atlanta. And the Atlanta Zoo is really famous for a couple of things. We have a really incredible gorilla exhibit. We have several families of gorillas that have been very successful over the years, and they’re in these wonderful, big, very natural looking habitats. The zoo typically has pandas. We have two panda cubs right now, and we have had pandas continuously for the last 10 years at least. And we just built a new reptile exhibit.
So we have a new reptile and amphibian exhibit that just opened within the past few weeks, and it’s a very exciting, very modern facility. The great thing about the Atlanta Zoo is it’s a great zoo and wonderful to see, but it’s a compact zoo. It’s in a park in the middle of downtown Atlanta. So it’s not huge and sprawling and difficult to walk around like some larger zoos are, you can get around it very easily and not tire yourself out. And so that’s a very nice thing to see.
Chris Christensen: And when you say the gorillas have been successful, I assume we’re not talking financially, that they’ve been successful in breeding in captivity. Is that . . .
Chris Willis: Yeah. Yeah, we have a constant stream of baby gorillas coming out of the various families that are there, and they’ve been very successful in breeding them in captivity for many, many years.
Chris Christensen: Okay, interesting.
Chris Willis: We have a great art museum in Atlanta. So the High Museum of Art is also right in the midtown area. You can go visit the Margaret Mitchell house. Margaret Mitchell of course is famous for having written Gone With the Wind, and her house is actually right across the street from my office in midtown Atlanta. So that’s something else that I think is really cool to see. Just slightly outside the city, we have Stone Mountain. It’s a big piece of granite, essentially, sticking out of the ground, and you can hike up and it’s about 500 feet of elevation gain to hike up it. It’s got lakes around it, so you can do canoeing, or paddle boarding, or riding your bike, or walking, or other things like that. It’s a very nice attraction that’s really close to the city, just a few minutes’ drive right outside the city.
Chris Christensen: Now, unless I’m very much mistaken, that was also part of the Civil War history, is the Battle of Stone Mountain, is part of the Battle of Atlanta.
Chris Willis: Correct. And there’s a big Civil War mural that’s carved into one side of it. And they have done laser light shows and things like that. And there are other battlefields around the city of Atlanta, too. So for example, we have another mountain close to the city called Kennesaw Mountain, and it’s a battlefield from the Civil War as well. And you can also hike up that, and they’ve got canons and other things on display at the top of it. So you get some good exercise and get outdoors, as well as have the opportunity to see a little bit of history. We have a very large park in the middle of Atlanta, Piedmont Park. It’s one of the largest city parks in the country; many, many acres, lots of lakes with lots of people walking around or sitting around on the grass, or playing with their dogs, or flying drones and frisbees around. And so Piedmont Park is right in the middle of the city, and it’s right next to our botanical gardens too, which are also excellent.
Chris Christensen: Now, you’ve got us outdoors there. What time of year am I going to be wanting to be outdoors in Atlanta?
Chris Willis: Yeah. It depends on how much you like being hot. So here’s the thing with Atlanta. To me, the most pleasant times of year to be outdoors would be the spring and the fall. So like, it’s May now. We’re doing this interview in May. And April and May are two of the best months in Atlanta, because it’s warm enough to be outside, but it’s not super hot and humid yet. When we get into the summer, it’ll be hot every day. And the humidity is very high, so it’s a little bit oppressive. It’s not quite like Houston or New Orleans, but it’s pretty hot to be outside. So to me, the best times of the year to be outside would be April and May, and then maybe September into the early part of October. Because it’s still pretty warm then and nice to be outside, but with a little bit less humidity.
Chris Christensen: And thinking of times to be in Atlanta, talked about seasons, but how about a particular day or a festival that’s a great time to be in Atlanta?
Chris Willis: Well, to me, one of the best events that we have in the city – and we have a lot of cool events – is the Peachtree Road Race. So they close off Peachtree Street, which is . . . There’s lots of streets named Peachtree in Atlanta, and that’s sort of a running joke about the city, but there’s a main Peachtree Street that runs through the center of the city. My office is on it. That’s where the Margaret Mitchell house is, among other things. And they close it down from Buckhead all the way down to midtown, and they have a 10K run on the street. And tens of thousands of people participate in this run. It’s on July 4 every year. And so it’s a huge spectacle with tens of thousands of people doing this run, and there’s vendors and everything set up all along the course. And to me, it’s one of the fun outdoor events that we have. We have a great food and wine festival that’s actually coming up very soon. It’s in late May or early June, as I recall. And there’s other things that occur too, but to me one of the signature events of the city has to be the Peachtree Road Race.
Chris Christensen: Okay.
Chris Willis: One of the other things that I wanted to mention is, and I talked about it a little bit before, some of the natural attractions that are in the north Georgia mountains. We have the base of the Appalachian chain, is in the northern part of Georgia. We have a very large national forest up there, and several large lakes that are popular for boating and skiing and swimming. And there’s lots of very quaint little towns up in the mountains. The mountains aren’t super high. The highest mountain in Georgia is about 3,500 feet, something like that. It’s in the very Northern part of the state, but it’s a beautiful scenic area to drive. If you have a Jeep, you can go off roading in the national forest. You can go hiking on the Appalachian Trail or the approach trails, up to the Appalachian Trail. And so for people who like outdoor hiking and things like that, there’s lakes and waterfalls and rivers and hiking up there, that are very attractive, I think.
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And if I want to connect with the locals, what’s the best place or activity for doing that while I’m in Atlanta?
Chris Willis: Well, there’s a couple of ideas. One thing would be to go to Piedmont Park on a weekend day, because everybody from the city will go and hang out in the park. There will be people with their kids playing, and people walking their dogs, people having picnics out in the park. It would be a very good way to see a slice of local life. Other things would be to go to some of the restaurants in town. And depending on the type of food you want and the type of crowd you want to be around, there’s something for everybody. We have some excellent restaurants and a very vibrant restaurant and nightclub scene throughout the city. So those would be good things, I think, to connect with the locals. We have a very large farmer’s market into Chap County, which is one of the counties in metro Atlanta. If you like that kind of a slice of life, you can go and hang around the bustling farmer’s market on a weekend day. Those are some ideas.
Chris Christensen: Okay. I don’t know if you happen to have read a guidebook on Atlanta recently. Do you know what the guide book would recommend or even the tourist board would recommend and you would recommend something else instead?
Chris Willis: Yeah, I haven’t read a guide book, having lived here myself for 17 years. It hasn’t occurred to me to do that. The kinds of things that I’ve been talking to you about on the show so far, are things that are very well known, I think. Another place that people like to go is Buckhead, which is a neighborhood in the northern part of the city of Atlanta. It’s very popular for having very nice restaurants, and nightclubs, and shopping. And they’ve done a lot of revitalization of that part of the city. I’ve lived there for most of the time that I lived in Atlanta. I just moved away from there about three weeks ago, and it’s a very vibrant wonderful place in the city to walk around and see restaurants and nightclubs that are very fun.
Chris Christensen: And are there some nightclubs or restaurants that you would recommend in particular in that area?
Chris Willis: Sure. Some of the best restaurants in Atlanta are actually right there in Buckhead. Although we have great restaurants throughout the city, depending on the type of food that you like. So we have a family in Buckhead, actually, that owns a group of restaurants called the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group. So they have, for example, a steakhouse that’s really good, called Chops. They have a Mediterranean seafood place called Kima. And they have several others as well. They have a diner, actually, called the Buckhead Diner, that’s an upscale, high end diner. And they’re all right concentrated in a nucleus right around Buckhead. And they’re some of the best restaurants in the city, and they’ve been very long-lived and very successful because they continue to be very appealing to people here in the city.
Chris Christensen: Excellent. And you mentioned nightclubs too.
Chris Willis: Yeah. So one of the really classic night spots of the Buckhead area is an Irish pub called Fado, F-A-D-O, and it’s been there forever. It’s actually survived the revitalization, because they tore down the building where it was and they had to move it somewhere else, but it still survived and it’s still very popular. And it’s one of the staple nightspots of that part of Atlanta. Another really favorite late night place is Cafe Ina Metso. It’s a place where you can have drinks as well as dessert, and they have food too. But it’s open really late at night and has an outdoor patio. There’s a couple of locations of it in the city. My favorite one is the one in midtown. It’s right at Eleven Street and Peachtree. And they have a wonderful outdoor seating area, and it’s open really late at night. And so that’s a great place to sit late at night, watch the crowds of Midtown hustle past as you’re sitting down and having a drink and maybe having some cheesecake or one of the other great desserts that they have. They’re really famous for their desserts.
Chris Christensen: Now, I have been to Atlanta but I’ve really only been there once outside the airport on a business trip. And I actually made a point to fly in early so that I could see downtown, and that happened to be the one day that a tornado touched down in downtown. And they encouraged people not to be there. So since I haven’t seen Atlanta, but I know what an American city looks like, what’s going to surprise me about Atlanta?
Chris Willis: Well, one of the things that I think is most surprising to people who live in other parts of the country and who are visiting Atlanta, is how green it is. We have trees everywhere in Atlanta. And until about three weeks ago, I lived in a high-rise condo in the city. And I was above the tree line, but you could look out the window in the summer and it was just a sea of green with occasional buildings popping up in between the trees. So it’s unlike a lot of other cities in that it’s very, very green. The city itself is pretty large. It’s spread out over a fairly large area because the city is big. And then we have a lot of suburban areas. A population of about six and a half million people now, so it’s a decent-sized city. And it’s got a lot of very distinctive different parts to it. We have the core area, sort of a corridor from downtown north. You have downtown, midtown, and then Buckhead. Those are some of the older areas of the city, and they have a lot of very cool stuff to them.
If you go out to the east, we have to Decatur. And that’s a city in DeKalb County but it’s pretty close. And Decatur has a wonderful downtown square that has restaurants and shops and art galleries all around it. It’s a wonderful place to hang out in the afternoon or the evening. And that’s also close to Emory University, which is one of the universities that we have in town. And Emory of course has a beautiful campus with a wonderful park on the campus called Low Water Park, as well. So the thing with the city is it’s not like a continuous big urban sprawl; it has little pockets of different personalities. Downtown and midtown have a lot of tall buildings, and it’s very urban feeling. But if you just go a few miles to the east and go to Decatur, you have no real tall buildings, and you have a very green, very suburban feel, even though you’re right very close to the center of the city.
Chris Christensen: Now, as I hear you talk about Atlanta, you don’t sound like someone who’s native to Atlanta. So what brought you to Atlanta?
Chris Willis: Really the job market. I’m actually originally from Alabama.
Chris Christensen: Oh, well, you don’t sound like you’re from Alabama either, so . . .
Chris Willis: Yeah. Well, but I am. I grew up in Alabama. I went to high school, college, and law school there. I started my career there. But I felt that the market for what I do, I’m a lawyer, was better in Atlanta than Birmingham. It’s a bigger, more vibrant economy with a more robust legal scene, and I thought I would have more opportunities here. And the city just suits me better. It’s a larger, more cosmopolitan city. And I’m just more comfortable in that environment. So I certainly haven’t looked back and haven’t wanted to move somewhere else.
Chris Christensen: And you’ve been there long enough to see the city change. What changes are you seeing recently?
Chris Willis: I spoke about the revitalization of Buckhead. The Buckhead has gotten to the point where it has its own skyline. It has its own tall buildings. And there have been so many large office buildings and large condo buildings built in Buckhead, it really does have its own skyline now. But I would have to say that probably the most noticeable thing about the city has been the really rapid growth of the suburbs in the northern part of the city. There have been many years, over the last 10 or 15 years, where the Northern suburban counties of Atlanta have been in the top five fastest growing counties in the United States. So you had a giant build up of the population in the northern part of the city, and with that comes some problems.
So people talk about the traffic in Atlanta being really bad. And the place where it’s really bad, for the most part, is in those northern suburbs, because the population of those areas has grown faster, really, than the roads can keep up with. So I try, actually, not to go there, because I live in the city and I like staying in the city. But that’s one of the things that’s really been a hallmark of the city. Another thing that I think has been a hallmark of the city, has been the growth of populations of people from other countries. We have whole sections of the city that are like little enclaves of various ethnic groups. So we have a whole corridor of the city where you have a lot of Southeast Asian people. And you can drive down the street and see signs for all of the businesses are written in Vietnamese, for example, or Chinese. And there’s an area of the city that’s very predominantly Hispanic, so you have all those Hispanic markets, supermarkets. We have a Hispanic shopping mall. And so the multicultural aspect of the city, I mentioned that it’s a very cosmopolitan city. That’s one of the things that I like most about it, is that we have this great representation of all kinds of different people from different ethnicities, speaking different languages. And that’s, to me, one of the things that really distinguishes it from a lot of other cities in the south.
Chris Christensen: We featured your photography more than once on Amateur Traveler. If you’re standing in the prettiest part of Atlanta, where are you standing? What are you looking at?
Chris Willis: To me, some of the iconic pictures of Atlanta would be of the downtown or Midtown skyline. Depending on what time of day you want to catch it from the West or the east where the sun is, you’re somewhere near the downtown area and taking pictures of some of the iconic buildings in the skyline. That to me is the representation of Atlanta, because that’s the heart of the city. Nowadays, as I said, Buckhead has its own skyline, so there are some great places to park yourself and take great pictures of the Buckhead skyline. But still, it doesn’t have quite the pedigree of downtown and Midtown. So I think that’s where I would be to photograph the city, honestly.
Chris Christensen: Okay. And you say iconic buildings. Does that include The State Capitol Building?
Chris Willis: Yeah. The Capitol is actually a very attractive Capitol, as state capitols go. And the thing that’s distinctive about it, is it’s a domed building, not unlike the U.S. Capitol, but instead of being white marble, like you would find in Washington, D.C., the dome is covered in gold. And it’s very bright, shiny gold. And it’s a really attractive state capitol, at least to my eye.
Chris Christensen: What’s the perfect Atlanta day?
Chris Willis: One of the things you can do is start off with breakfast or brunch at one of our great restaurants.
Chris Christensen: You got to give us a couple of suggestions there, or we’re going to end up at McDonald’s and nobody’s going to be happy.
Chris Willis: A couple of my favorite brunch spots. So there’s a place in Buckhead called Local Three, that has a really excellent brunch. The way they have it set up, is they actually set it up as a buffet in the kitchen. So you walk into the kitchen, and you can see everybody cooking the food. And you serve yourself from the buffet that’s actually in the kitchen, and then walk out into the dining room. And so that’s to me a really cool place. We have a very interesting restaurant called 57 Fighter Group, that is right on the runway of one of our general aviation airports, not Hartsfield but one of the smaller airports that has a lot of private aircraft at it. And 57 Fighter Group is done in a World War II theme, so it’s got a P51 Mustang sitting out in front of it. And it’s decorated like a French farmhouse for World War II. But the thing that makes it distinctive, is it has an outdoor patio that’s right on the runway of this general aviation airport. And they have an excellent brunch on Sunday. So you can have brunch and watch the airplanes take off and land, watch the private jets come and go, watch the student pilots practice their landings. If you like aviation, that’s a cool place to go.
Another pretty popular activity, getting back to the outdoors, is we have a river, actually, that runs through part of the city, called the Chattahoochee River. It’s not a super big or deep river, but it’s very popular for rafting and paddle boarding and tubing. So in the summer, when the weather’s nice, you’ll have people kayaking, or paddle boarding down the river. And that can be a very fun way to just serenely pass through some parts of the city and see it. It doesn’t go through downtown, but it does go through some very nice areas of the city. You might do something like that in the afternoon. And then in the evening, go to some of the acclaimed restaurants that we have. So for example, we have a restaurant called Restaurant Eugene, and it’s owned by a chef named Linton Hopkins, who’s a James Beard Award winning chef. It’s one of many great restaurants in the city.
We have lots of great restaurants, but restaurant Eugene is to me one of the best. And chef Hopkins is just a really innovative very, very interesting chef that puts his own spin on traditional Southern cuisine in a very interesting way. And say you might finish the evening out at a great restaurant like that and then maybe drinks afterwards. That to me would be a really perfect day.
Chris Christensen: Excellent. Any other side trips that you’d want to include? We talked about going up to the mountains.
Chris Willis: Well, sure. There are a variety of things around Atlanta. So for example, there’s a place called Barnsley Gardens, that’s the remnants of an old southern plantation. And you can go and see that, and see what the ruins of a plantation essentially look like. And it’s a very nice park and a great area to go. About an hour southwest of the city, there’s a place called Callaway Gardens, which again, is a very nice outdoor thing to do. And they’re famous because they have a huge butterfly room. So you can go into this room and there’s just…not room, it’s an outdoor room of sorts and it has tens of thousands of butterflies. And you walk through it and they’re landing all over you, and it’s a really cool thing to do. It’s just about an hour outside the city. A little further away, you have Savannah. It’s about a four hour drive away, but Savannah is a very unique town that has a lot of very southern charm.
You’ve got streets that are lined with trees that are so old that they cross over the top of the street, and their Spanish moss hanging down from them. And it’s also said to be one of the most haunted areas in the country, so people do ghost tours and things like that. But it’s right on the coast.
Chris Christensen: We actually do have a whole episode on Savannah, if anybody’s interested in hearing more about that.
Chris Willis: Yes. So that’s a popular place for people to go on a weekend trip from here in the city, because it’s a pretty close drive away.
Chris Christensen: Now, one place you didn’t mention, that caught my eye when I was just doing a little research for the show, was I didn’t realize there was a Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.
Chris Willis: There is. It’s in downtown, and as with lots of cities in the South, Atlanta has a lot of connections with the Civil Rights Movement. And so the monument observes some of those things, and there are some famous churches in Atlanta where Dr. King spoke, or had various events at times during the Civil Rights Movement. So if you’re interested in tracing some of that history, Atlanta still has a lot of things to offer in terms of letting you retrace some of the steps in the Civil Rights Movement.
Chris Christensen: Excellent. Last three questions, though: one thing that makes you laugh and say “Only in Atlanta, Georgia”?
Chris Willis: The airport is really the thing that makes me laugh about Atlanta, because so many people know the city just by going through the airport. And the airport’s like a small city in and of itself. It’s the busiest airport in the country.
Chris Christensen: That’s right. I had forgotten that.
Chris Willis: Just the things that happen in the airport and the things you see in the airport, and people making their way from one place to the other. And just using it as a way station and experiencing the various things that happen in the airport. That to me is an only in Atlanta thing. Because the airport really does make the city unique.
Chris Christensen: And the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen in the Atlanta airport?
Chris Willis: I don’t know if I’ve seen anything weird at the airport. If you ask me the weirdest thing I’ve seen in Atlanta, I have a great answer. But I don’t know about the airport.
Chris Christensen: Oh, well, let’s do the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen in Atlanta then.
Chris Willis: So the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in Atlanta, is a nightclub called The Claremont Lounge. So this is on Ponce de Leon. It’s a street in the downtown/midtown area of Atlanta. And it’s a strip club, but it’s a strip club with a very unique flare to it, in that the strippers who work there tend to be quite a bit older than you would expect to normally be in a strip club. And so it’s sort of got a cult following, and it’s right in an area of the city that’s a very alternative area of the city. So there’s a theater just down the road from the Claremont Lounge that still shows the Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday night at midnight. It’s that kind of a place. So to me, the weirdest thing I’ve seen in the city is the Claremont Lounge. And if you come here and you have a tolerance for that sort of thing, it’s definitely one of the slices of life here in the city.
Chris Christensen: Excellent. Finish this sentence: “You really know you’re in Atlanta when” what?
Chris Willis: Well, when you’ve got an incredible traffic jam, lots of humidity, and it’s very hot. There’s a large part of the year when it is like that, and the traffic can be very bad, particularly in those northern suburbs.
Chris Christensen: But I suspect that there’s some other moment of time that makes you still live in and love Atlanta, that might also clue us in that we’re in the city.
Chris Willis: To me, one of the most beautiful times of the year is the spring, when all the flowers and plants start to bloom and it starts to warm up. And of course, it warms up here faster than most of the rest of the country. And getting that early spring and you start to have your 75 degree days, the sun’s out, and the flowers are blooming. That is one of the times that it’s best to be in Atlanta.
Chris Christensen: And I assume that there is peach blossoms on Peach Street and on Peach street and on Peach Street.
Chris Willis: Yes, there are, and we have like 27 streets called Peachtree Street. That’s the thing. And there may actually be more than that. There’s actually a sign, there’s a billboard up in Atlanta that has the most interesting man in the world, and it says, “He knows which Peachtree Street you’re talking about.”
Chris Christensen: Excellent. And if you had to summarize Atlanta in just three words, what three words would you use?
Chris Willis: To me, Atlanta can be summarized by saying that it’s a cosmopolitan city, it’s a southern city, and it has a friendliness that goes along with that. And it’s a diverse city, because of the various nationalities and ethnic groups that we have represented. Those are some of the things that I like most about the city.
Chris Christensen: Excellent. And Chris, unlike so many of our guests, doesn’t have a travel blog, but he does have some wonderful travel photographs. And if you go back to some of the episodes that he’s done on . . . Let’s see, what haven’t we mentioned? Mountain gorillas and Vanuatu, volcanoes and things, you’ll find some interesting photos in there. Chris, thanks so much again for coming on the Amateur Traveler. Always a pleasure to have you.
Chris Willis: It’s my pleasure. I hope to make many return visits. I’m going to try to continue to travel places that will get you interested in having me on the show.
Chris Christensen: With next week’s 10 year anniversary of the Amateur Traveler, I’m interested to know where you have gone because of the Amateur Traveler, or what you have learned. And that would be a great thing to send either as feedback to host at amateurtraveler.com, or leave as a comment on this show at amateurtraveler.com. Don’t forget the new video course on beginning blogging with WordPress. If you can use a word processor, I think I can teach you to use WordPress. With that, we’re going to end this episode of the Amateur Traveler. I already told you where to send your feedback. You can follow me on Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, at @Chrisxx. Don’t forget our Facebook community. And as a gift for the 10 year anniversary, if you have not rated the show, this is a great time to go into iTunes or Stitcher or your favorite podcast player and give us a rating. And as always, thanks so much for listening.
Transcription sponsored by JayWay Travel, specialists in Central & Eastern Europe custom tours.