Atlanta! If you watched Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara escape the Burning City – you will appreciate the few historical sites and museums left in the city. The most notable being the preserved home of Martin Luther King. The civil war museum has a massive painting, with a rotating audience platform, depicting the Battle of Atlanta in the civil war. Come armed with some pre-reading and you will enjoy Atlanta all the more. Of its modern day attractions we are all familiar with CNN and it was fascinating to have a behind-the-scenes studio tour, to see the Worldwide News broadcast live.
I enjoyed the Georgia Aquarium, the world’s largest indoor aquarium which holds more than 30 million litres of water! Do you enjoy Coke? Then where better to taste more than 60 different varieties from around the world and learn the complete story of this famous brand. Well it was invented in Atlanta in 1886 – and there is no country in the world where you can’t buy a Coca Cola. If you prefer something more alcoholic – Sweetwater Brewery is a fun place where you can taste beers and have a tour, there is a lively local crowd and live music – but queues are long… so go early!
Leaving Atlanta, heading north on I75 is Chattanooga, Tennessee. All aboard! It’s the Chattanooga Choo Choo! But Chattanooga has many, many attractions – beautiful trains, waterfalls, museums, zoos and parks… stay awhile and enjoy the town’s music events and it’s a pleasant setting by the river. Continuing north, just a small detour is the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, the highest selling whiskey in the world, worth a taste, worth a tour!
And then it’s Nashville! The city of vibrant music and most famously – Country Music Rules! The Grand Ole Opry, is a number 1 “must do” – live country music artists and a theatre setting for the audience. Country music lovers will love the Music Hall of Fame and Museum too. How interesting to tour Studio B, where many legendary artists recorded. Dolly Parton, The Everly Brothers, Connie Francis the list goes on…. we sat at Elvis’ piano and listened to an exclusive recording of one of his famous songs “Can’t helping Falling In Love” – just wonderful! And in the evening we put on our boots and tried line dancing! Everyone is doing it at the Wildhorse Saloon! You can’t help but join in! The hats, the belts, the studs and the fringes. It’s Country at its best!
Turning west to Memphis! Wow, this is the birth place of the Blues and Beale Street is the place to be, lined with blues clubs and restaurants, the atmosphere is fabulous. Try out BB King Blues Club, and sample the delicious southern food while being entertained – live music and great artists – tribute bands, gospel and sexy saxophones – anything goes. The Rock and Soul Museum and Gracelands –former home of Elvis are here in Memphis, well worth some of your time – even if you’re not a fan, you will be captured by the story of this most famous American icon.
Travelling south now the scenery changes from mountains to swamp, as we approach New Orleans, my final music city. Did you know that the airport is called Louis Armstrong International? The city is well known both for its musical and cultural diversity, who doesn’t know something about New Orleans? I had a sumptuous breakfast at the original Café du Monde Coffee Shop, delicious dark roasted coffee and Beignets – square French-style doughnuts lavishly covered in powdered sugar – so good for you! The French influence is everywhere, food, architecture and its oldest neighbourhood, the French Quarter! Lively Bourbon Street is the party street of New Orleans. People come from all over the world to be part of the electric atmosphere and join in the fantastic nightlife. There are numerous jazz clubs, bars, and live artists and entertainment, it’s like Mardi Gras every night of the week!
From Georgia to Tennessee, from Tennessee to Louisiana… my feet tapped to the music and my taste buds tingled to the cuisine! Now I was heading to Florida – a beach climate and a chance to relax before returning to the UK and just my iPod of memories!