This was a notable trip for me, I’d never gone any farther south than Virginia, which is where I live now. Of course, VA itself is in the south, the capital of it too, at some point. But I live close enough to Washington, D.C. that I don’t consider myself living in the south. I haven’t particularly yearned for an opportunity to travel down south. This is mainly because I prefer, and I’m used to the more vibrant, busy, noisy (and quite frankly, straight-up crazy) life of new york. It reminds me of Lagos, Nigeria. The south, I’ve always imagined, is more calm, and the people are nice, charming and welcoming. Some like that, and of course, I do want people to be nice. I just also like to always get truth and honesty. So if I had to choose, I’d rather have brutal honesty than nice words with no root. All of that aside, I was still excited to go on this trip for various reasons. I was going to drive there; I would be visiting 2 southern cities/states within a few days, both for the first time. I would be seeing a friend I haven’t seen in literally over a decade who now lives in Charlotte, and another dear friend who lives in Atlanta. Very exciting times. On the driving front, I chose this painful option because it required the least amount of planning time and money to complete. I am a strong proponent of valuing time above a lot of things, but in this case, I erred on the side of devaluing my time because I wanted to do a very long drive as a first and new experience. I’m setting so many records already, why not a longest-drive record right? I could have planned better and gotten a more convenient travel situation; But this entire trip was a spontaneous decision that came together days before as I was transitioning between leaving Capital One to join Splunk (yay yay!) , more on that on a separate post.
Unsurprisingly, driving to Atlanta was a rigurous endeavor. I’ve never done such a long drive before, outside of another road trip I’d taken in 2018 from NYC to Niagara Falls. That was probably about 70% of the Atlanta trip (440 mi vs 640 mi).
I ended up completing the trip in about eleven hours. I stopped only one time, for gas and food. Definitely optimized my time. Considering how tiring and tasking that was though, I’m not certain if I’m impressed for completing such a feat, or disappointed for putting myself through it. I mean at one point I just felt like I was cannonballing⧉.
After arriving, I was a little early for check-in at my Airbnb so I got dinner with Mel at this Asian/Mexican fusion restaurant called Takorea. I got a chicken (“sticky chicky”) and a beef taco from there. Oh man were they good. Especially the marinated beef, it was, amazing. And the fries…too good to be true! From there, I went to my Airbnb so I can finally rest my body after the ill-advised driving marathon I’d just finished. It’s a very nice Airbnb. Definitely one of the nicest (if not the nicest) Airbnb I’ve been in. Particularly the building itself. Here’s a look outside from my room.
Although I technically spent 3-ish days in Atlanta, the core of everything I did was in a day, on my second day. Props to Mel for doing such a great job with the day’s plan. Our first stop was Palisades park. Well, I found out it was Palisades park. Mel was nice enough to keep things mysterious (and very much interesting for me). I’m a fan of hiking and since I hadn’t hiked a new trail in a long time. I was pretty excited. Of course, there’s also the fact that this is a completely new climate region so the environment is actually noticeably different. There were bamboo trees! I haven’t seen those since Nigeria. Then, there was the Chattahoochee river. We got a pretty good view of the river. I find it hard to narrate the experience, it being a hike. But the sounds (or lack of it) was just so serene. It really sums up my affinity for hiking. A chance to escape the endless noise of the time we live in. The calming sound of a flowing stream of water? Now, that’s therapy. It’s like having the Calm app, except its all around you, not on your phone (I should add, I think the phone is probably not the appropriate medium for such things but maybe I’ll save that for another time). It was a great experience. Now that I’ve failed to convey what the feeling of being in the calm of nature brings, maybe these pictures below will do a better job.
Our next location was Krog Street Market, it was great, but most of what I remember is devouring a bowl o actually really good Pho (Pho Nam).
It was conveniently located close to the Eastside of the Beltline. Oh, there was a really cool Koi mural on the wall on the way to the market! Atlanta has a lot of really cool murals (and/or graffiti). Along the Beltline we also saw some sculptures made from what appears to be parts of machines and other scrap metal. See for yourself below. Also, notable, was a random game house of sorts called Axis Replay (its basically a PC Bang) we found along the betline. It’s such a cool concept and I’m glad ideas like this are making their way stateside. Building more of a community around E-sports. At this point, there’s no arguing the validating of games as sports so, why not? I’ve seen a couple videos of Street Fighter tournaments on YouTube and the FGC (“fighting game community”) just seems like a good group to be a part of. This seems like a good way of broadening it to all gamers. #gamersunite! 🎮 (not a real hashtag)
Afterwards, we went to the Fourth Ward skate park, grabbed some chow at a bar, New Realm. This bar had way more space than
it deserves I’m used to seeing - they also had pretty good fries. From there, we went to Ponce City Market. Apparently, the largest red brick structure in all of the south east. It was an interesting market for sure. Also has some offices there. Notably, GA (General Assembly) is located there. I’m not quite certain how big they’ve gotten but GA was one of my go-to resources for learning development in my early days. Props to them.
Melissa had the great idea of going to a comedy club. We’re both fans of stand up comedy. I was excited. This was an open-mic night though. You never know what you’re gonna get with open mic. Now, obviously, I don’t have pictures of any of the comics on stage, because I’m not that guy. Also, because 1. The comedians were actually really funny! There were maybe 25 or so, I didn’t count but definitely up to 80% of the acts were solid. 2. I’ve had a gaffe at a previous stand up show where I tried to take a picture (of Jay Pharaoh), forgot that my phone’s flash was on, and got roasted. So I never take pictures at stand up shows anymore. I can’t fail if I never try, eh? eh? 🤓. I did take a (bad) picture of The Vortex Bar Grill - the Laughing Skull is right by (or inside) the restaurant.
After leaving the stand up show, we went to Sweet Hut bakery and then after that, headed to Octopus bar. The bar was … good. Not mind blowing (especially because it was late and somehow extremely hard to locate) The next and last day was an unfortunately very, very rainy day. Not a lot of exploring. Lunch was from Ponko Chicken. Their spicy chicken was amazing (as was the fries! seriously fries out here are 🔥). We got dinner from Yuzu Sushi. Also pretty good. No fries though so 5/7!
I drove up to Charlotte at night. Got to my friend’s place and slept like nobody’s business. He’s the old friend I mentioned. Well, he’s not old, we’re the same age, I just haven’t seen him since the olden days - when I was a kid, in Nigeria. He’s fairly reserved. I’m sure Charlotte has a lot of going for it but I didn’t see it all. Not this time. We did go to Samoha African cuisine. We got a good chance to relive some memories. Also, we went to the NorthLake Mall. I got one of those massages you get from the electric chair. It was a very interesting experience. Definitely wouldn’t do it again. It felt like I was sitting in a public space and getting tickled by a faceless robot. Yuck. Anyway. That was pretty much all of time in Charlotte. I spent less than 24 hours there so, yeah.
Shout out to Melissa, the best travel partner and guide you can ask for, sadly, you can’t book her.
Anyway, all in all. it was a great trip. Glad you made it this far!
Last updated: February 10, 2020