Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
Trip End Jul 06, 2011

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Where I stayed
Couchsurfed with Jason Long

Flag of United States  , Georgia
Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 121 May 4th - I wake early as I have a few Internet jobs to complete. Once these are done, I pack my stuff and throw out a few things. I'm flying with SpiritAIr, not only do they charge you to talk and smile, they also charge for carry on so I squeeze my small rucksack inside the big one. This meant throwing away a torn pair of trousers, the box for my camera and my rain coat with a hole in. Stuff I've been carrying around and not using! I also trim my face, with a haircut and looking a little more tidy, hopefully immigration in the USA will be painless. 

I have enough cash to not only get to the airport but once I've checked in, I have the exact change for an espresso. I decide on no food seeing as I'll get something on the plane or in Fort Lauderdale. 

Plane ride was fine, nothing out of the ordinary, sad to be leaving Latin America, but very excited for my 26 whirlwind days in the USA. 

I land in Fort Lauderdale, and have no trouble getting through immigration, I was trying to tell him what I was doing but I really don't think he was interested!! OK, now I have time to kill. I check my emails as the airport has free wifi! Why doesn't every airport have free wifi!!??? I then realise I have the wrong sim card in my phone and am unable to call Jason. I buy a $10 phone card and leave him a message. Jason is the guy I will be couchsurfing with! I tell him I will meet him at his work next day instead of trying to find his house and no doubt getting very lost. As I'm checking some emails near a recharge your cell phone area, some old guy from NYC talks to me, and I try explain couchsurfing to him for twenty minutes, but he still couldn't quite understand the concept. 

I grab a bite to eat, some clam chowder and fries and watch some of the LA Angels v Red Sox, it feels so good to be in the USA and watching some baseball again!

The flight to Atlanta is short and there are no problems. I get my bags, wander around the airport and find a place to sleep. The airport is open 24 hours and a lot of homeless people have caught onto the idea that if you bring a suitcase and look like you're waiting for a flight, then you can sleep there. 

Day 122 May 5th - I was to meet Jason at a coffee house near his place of work. It was maybe 40 minutes away on the Subway system in Atlanta (MATRA) so I jumped on a train at 6am and rode uptown. As you know, I love public transport, and felt at ease and very relaxed riding the MATRA and gazing out the window at Atlanta. I soon found my stop and soon found the coffee house did not open till 7am, and Atlanta was cold first thing. Or, I am not used to this climate anymore!! I went back to a subway tunnel to keep warm. Opening time soon came round and I grabbed some coffee and pretty soon Jason spotted the Ginger Gringo. 

Instantly, we discussed football. Jason plays for a Sunday team but also coaches an U'16 team. I have so much respect for him and his knowledge of the game is good. We order some breakfast and continue the conversation. He feels bad for not being able to show me around today as he has to work, but it wasn't a problem for me. 
He drops my large rucksack in his car and I head off back to downtown. I head for Coca-Cola world. Yes, I am being a tourist! I have some birthday money left so figure I will enjoy some tourist attractions!! The place doesn't open till 10am though, so I spend some time in the Olympic Park which is next door. Atlanta hosted the 1996 Olympics. I remember it well, the likes of Michael Johnson winning two golds, Carl Lewis yet another gold, Donovan Bailey winning the 100m, Roger Black getting a track silver in 400m and Redgrave winning another gold. There is an area where there are four pillars which list every medal winner from the games. It was interesting to read the names of the Nigerian team that won the football gold as well as the names of the Argentinians they beat! Feels likes yesterday!  

I walk through the park some more and find a bench to sit on but it's not long before I'm being approached from people asking for cash. So I walk away and go wait in line at the Coca-Cola World. This is where I see 4 school buses of children have turned up, oh nuts!

Coca-cola world was interesting, probably more fun if you are 11, but as you go in, you are given a group talk about some of the history of cola-cola, then you move to a theatre to watch some kids cartoon about working behind the scenes and then you are open to move around the place.  I particularly found the old advertising interesting and all the events over the years they have sponsored. Seeing the figure from Italia 90 makes the hairs on my neck stand up. Such an emotional memory, the song, the results, the heartache.............., but of course, sponsored by Coke! There was another theatre showing adverts from around the world, one I liked in particular finished with words of 'don't accept culture differences, celebrate them' that will probably be the only thing I will take from Coca-cola world experience. There was also a taste room room,  with 60 different coke brands from around the world to taste. Some from Latin America I recognised, some were disgusting and they even had New Coke to taste. Remember when that came out? They quietly discontinued it 6 months after launching it! On the way out you receive a complementary bottle of coke. 

OK, as I am couchsurfing, I need frequent access to the web to check on my next hosts and ensure I know where to meet or where to find them, so I find the library in downtown Atlanta has free wifi, sweet!

After, I grab a small slice of pizza, Jason has football practice later with his side that he coaches so dinner might be late! The guy in the pizza place is a Man City football fan, so again, we discuss football while the pizza slice is cooking! Friendly friendly people. 

I catch the MATRA train west to head to the area where Martin Luther King Jr was born, where he preached in a local church and ultimately buried. The area isn't the best, but I leave the train and find my way to the memorial museum. The museum is free and also provides a map of certain historic landmarks in the area. I start in the museum first and am just gob smacked from the TV footage and history that I see. I just can't believe what I am hearing, for example, young white people refusing to go to school if 'other' folk attend, or refusing to board a bus if 'they' board the bus! Awful! The KKK protesting at some rally, dressed in their KKK gear, being the racist people they are! Awful. Then you have Martin Luther King Jr and his peaceful non violent protests. He was frequently put in jail, sometimes for just attending a court hearing for a friend. I'm extremely moved from speeches that I hear from him, and I am moved by the ignorance that human beings portrayed only 50 years ago. Young black boys were fighting for democracy in Vietnam yet had not rights of their own back in THEIR own country! I could only read and listen to so much before tears were forming in my eyes.   

The irony also, that Martin Luther King Jr was shot, although throughout his life, his philosophy was always non violence. An amazing man. The day before he died, he bought his wife plastic flowers. He frequently bought her flowers, but on this day bought her ones that would last forever, almost knowing what his fate was to become. These flowers are in the museum and so was the cart that carried him during his funeral. I am not ashamed to say that the museum made me very emotional and I left to go visit where he was born.   

I walked a couple of blocks up the road and saw the house that he was born in. Nearby, is where his grave is and that of his wife also. I was unaware that Atlanta was the birthplace of MLK Jr, but I am so glad I went to see the town where he grew up and where he preached. As I said, a very humbling experience, just so sad that men that wanted change for good, JFK, MLK Jr and Bobby Kennedy were all killed, as I walk back to the MATRA train to head back into downtown, I contemplate what life would have been like if these men were still alive, or lived longer.   

I return to downtown and walk to a roof top bar that has a good view of downtown Atlanta. On the way, I look lost, so some homeless guy tries to help me, ends up pointing to a car park and says, yeah man, that's the bar over there and then asks for cash, I have none to give. As he walks away, I see the bar is the exact opposite direction of where he pointed, funny!! Sadly, the bar wasn't open till 4pm, so I went back to the library to try sort some things out. Once the bar was open, I had myself a Sangria and thoroughly enjoyed the roof top view. Might not be quite the sight of Caracas, but the ambiance on the roof was fun and I spent time thinking about the rest of my adventure through the USA.   

It was getting late and I had to meet Jason at 530pm so I hopped back on the MATRA. However, the train I walked on sat there for ten minutes. After ten minutes, I see a guy walking towards the end of the train, which is where I was standing. He was wearing a tshirt that said 'Explosive expert'! Now this isn't a random tshirt bought in a shop, this is his job. I see the eyes of some females widen and they look to their partner for comfort and guidance. I'm pleased to say no-one left the train, but I did think to myself 'is this a good place to stand if something goes off?". Crazy! But Obama was in NYC that day so I guess there was an alert status!

I find Jason at 530pm and we drive back to his place. Sadly, he hates his job, but soon, he will leave 'the cube' and set sail for travelling around Europe. I hope he makes it, I've promised to take him to his first ever Premiership game in London. The guy is good fun, he has a great sense of humour, is very intelligent and has great views on life. So glad I am couchsurfing with him. 

His place is awesome too! A nice area, safe and his apartment is very spacious and has excellent facilities. He gets ready to go out for football coaching. I was going to join him, but I was feeling tired after a poor night sleep at the airport, so was very happy to see a comfy couch and ended up watching 'The Teminal'. When I last saw it, I was very critical of the film, but after a second viewing, I'd give it another star, say 2 out of 5. 

Jason got back around 945pm and we could either go celebrate cinco de mayo, or go grab some ribs! Ribs it was. We went to some local place that he knew,no chain, just awesome awesome food. I grabbed half a rack, with rum bean and some chilli stew side. The food was delicious, so so good! If I keep up like this, I'll be back to balloon size in Canada. The place also had a band playing Jazz music, so that was very cool also.   

We stayed until closing, then hung back at his pad and were talking till 2 in the morning. I ended up sleeping on some pull out love seat thing, it was a great sleep and I had a great day. So far, couchsurfing is awesome!

Temp 25C
Miles walked 2.78

Day 123 May 6th - Jason and I leave for his work pretty early. We have a coffee in the coffee shop and say our goodbyes. I stayed there a little longer, trying to work out where to go to meet my next couchsurfer. 

I see some more of downtown Atlanta before I head to the greyhound bus depot and board my bus for Birmingham, Alabama. Of all the buses I used throughout my trip, greyhound is the worst!  
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Abi on

I had a poster of MLK on my wall at university - no cheeky smile, but a good man, inspirational. Makes you realise how awful things have been, and so recently too (and still are in places). I didn't know he was born in Atlanta. Saw the balcony in Memphis (if my memory serves me right?) where he ended life, but not where he started it. I was in Atlanta the summer of the Olympics. Now I feel old.

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