I’ve finally started my trip to Central America that I’ve been wanted to do for many years, but have only made it as far as Atlanta USA where I’m making a brief overnight stop.
I had to get up fairly early this morning for my flight to Atlanta. Even though I was at the Travelodge near Heathrow it took some time to get to Terminal 4 due to waiting for various bus and Tube connections at that time of the morning. Check-in went ok and I managed to have enough time to grab some food and brush up on my Spanish ready for just over 2 weeks in Central America.
The flight itself went well too – I had never flown Delta before but they seem to be a good airline despite what I read online. I was on the outside of a 2-4-2 configuration 767 so only had one person next to me and he only got up once so I could relax for the duration of the flight which took us up over Greenland then down over Toronto and Tennessee before making the approach to Atlanta.
Atlanta airport has an unusual setup compared to every other airport I have been through in the world. After passport control you collect your bags straight away, go through customs, then have to recheck your bags onto another system which will take them to the arrivals hall where you collect them again later on. Before the arrivals hall however you have to pass through security, use the full-body scanners and then catch a metro-style train to the arrivals hall where your bags will be waiting for you. Despite the confusion the process went smoothly, except for the extra questions the CBP official at passport control had for me after seeing my North Korean tourist visa in my passport. Out of all the pages he picked to open my passport at he had to pick that one, but it didn’t cause a problem.
I’m only in Atlanta for a short time – my flight arrived at 5pm and the connecting flight to Guatemala leaves at 9am tomorrow but it was enough time to catch the metro into the city, check into a hotel, grab some dinner in the city and then catch some sleep.
Despite the weird atmosphere of the city (LOTS of homeless people begging for money on dark street corners – even trying to get me to take money out of the ATM for them, kids pestering me to buy cigarettes for them every time I went past a store) Atlanta itself seemed nice – it had a lot of open space for a city and was clean. It also gave me a chance to sample the famed southern hospitality – as soon as I got off the Metro a city greeter came up to me and asked me if he could be of assistance before directing me to my hotel.
That southern hospitality was also evident when I grabbed a meal at Ted’s Montana Grill – a restaurant owned by Ted Turner just across from the CNN building. The restaurant was expensive but the food was really nice – I had bison nachos to start, bison potroast for the main course and then finished with apple crisp for dessert but I was unable to finish it. The waitresses thought the fact I was from the UK was amazing and kept talking to me asking where I was from and what I was doing. Maybe not many tourists go in there but I’d recommend it if it’s your sort of thing.
There’s not really much to report today as this is just a stopover but it was nice to visit a new part of the USA as I’ve never been to the southern states before except for the touristy areas of Florida. I’m off to bed now for what will probably be my last good nights sleep for a long time – I’m expecting lots of early starts and long travel days over the next few weeks during my time in Central America!