Work brings you a lot of experiences, some are good, some are bad, and some send you traveling to the other side of the world. My work sent me to the USA for the first time in my life , to Atlanta Georgia to be exact, and I was so excited to go . I jumped at the learning opportunity to be part of a symposium on networking and of course I welcomed the opportunity to travel.
After the long flight, where I spent most of my time reading, watching movies, and being anti-social towards the family sitting next to me and especially their crying baby, I navigated my way around the airport and I was eager to reach my hotel. You see, I made a big mistake that no one should ever make, I was too disgusted to use the bathroom on the plane. So, let’s just say I wanted to get to my room
As soon as I arrived, I unpacked, I showered, I changed, and I was ready to start exploring the city. I thought that doing so would be simple like it is in Amman. I was under the impression that you can stop a cab and tell the driver where you want to go, maybe fight a bit about the fare, and then have them drive you. Unfortunately, my first discovery was that stopping a cab is not that simple. First, it is so expensive to do that and second they are not readily available.
The symposium I am attending is at the Crowne Plaza Hotel near the airport and that is where I’m also staying. The hotel itself is beautiful. It is cozy, homey, and it doesn’t feel like those impersonal chain hotels. I really love it. It’s floors are covered with wall to wall carpeting and the halls leading to the meeting rooms are framed by big glass doors leading out to beautiful gardens. Its walls are covered with paintings set against a pellet of earth tones and the staff is so friendly. Really there is nothing not to like about this hotel, except maybe its location.
Still wanting to see the city, I asked what is the best way to get around. So, I was told that the best way to travel around Atlanta is by using the train or the “Marta”. Now, at this point, I was still conditioned by the stereotypes that come with using a train. In America . You can’t blame me though. Coming from Jordan, I often heard the horror stories about people getting murdered, mugged, or raped on trains. I instantly thought that this is one steriotype I don’t care to test for authenticity. So, I was disappointed because envisioned spending a week in a hotel far off from anything to see.
Too tired to think, I decided to walk around my hotel and see what was out there within my immediate surroundings. Not far form my hotel, I saw a McDonald’s but I didn’t go in. After all, I didn’t travel half way around the world to eat at McDonald’s . Right next to that I saw a Popeye’s which I also didn’t go into for the same reason. Then, my eye hit a sign that read “Mexican Restaurant” so I decided to try that.
True to its sign, the restaurant had bright colors. TV screens everywhere and a string with Mexican hats hanging above the bar area . However, it’s remoteness made me feel like I was in one of those distant diners people stop by when on a road trip. The menu had everything you can imagine served in a taco. They even served a smoked salmon taco. Not feeling that adventures, I ordered steak tacos, which tasted great. However, the coke and water they came with tasted funny so I left those unfinished. For the rest of that evening, I spent my time in the hotel lounge drinking coffee and watching the people pass me by. I realized that most people in the hotel are business professionals and I felt alone yet still obliged to enjoy my time.
So, on the next day and after fruitful, educational, and eye-opening discussions held at the symposium, I concluded the following; I’m not in the USA all the time and definitely I am not going to spend my time in the hotel. So, I decided to navigate the train system. I figured, how hard could it be?
I will tell you about that in my next post.