The "Whiz-ard" That Is Dr. Oz

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Savannah for the Type A Traveller

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I decided to remove the “for dummies” out of my entry…mostly because my Mama always told me that stupid is as stupid does.  Yes, my lamb chops, it’s time to move from HOTLANTA to Savannah, and what a move it was!  Savannah was everything that I hoped for…and more!  Haunted, fun, and oh so Southern, the home to Forrest Gump gave this Type A Traveller a real taste of the South.  Magical manors, haunted houses, beautiful squares, cute Southern accents…what’s not to love?

If you need more inspiration to pick up your satchel and head south of the Mason-Dixon line, here are my picks for the top things to do in the Forest City:

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Ellis Square – the Johnny Mathis Statue

  • Check out some, or if your Type A, all of the 22 Squares.  I think we covered 19 by foot, but we saw each of the 22 squares and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  They are especially beautiful at night when everything looks vaguely haunted.

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  • Speaking of night time, go for a Haunted Carriage ride – there is no better city to do it in.  You’ll learn about all of the ghosts and goblins haunting the city.  The clip-pity clop of the horses hooves takes you back in time, but the sounds of 18 wheelers will remind you pretty quickly that you are in 2016. My favourite – at one inn, a ghost is known to steal bras.   Ladies, make sure you only bring the ones with the wires half out to the 17 Hundred 90 Inn or ghost Anna may help herself to some of your finer delicates.

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  • Walk, walk, walk.  You’ll see more of the city, and it’s really one that you need to stroll through like a proper Southern lady.

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  • Visit Forsyth Park – it’s beautiful and has an amazing fountain.  It’s the perfect place for a photo op for you selfie-lovers.
  • Stroll around the City Market – it’s a cute little pedestrian mall with restaurants, shops and bars.  It’s nicer than River Street which felt a little touristy to me….although considering I am a tourist, I shouldn’t be so judgy-wudgy.

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  • Stay at a historic hotel – we stayed at the River Street Inn – you really felt like you were stepping into another time.  It smelled vaguely like horse poop in some of the halls (thanks to some renos), but the rooms were fresh as a daisy and very turn of the century.  The perimeter of the hotel has gas lanterns lending to the atmosphere.

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  • If you are a movie buff, this is the place for you.  Forrest Gump was shot here. The church in the photo above was used in the first shot of the movie when the feather floated down.  The Legend of Bagger Vance, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (duh), the atrocious Forces of Nature, the foul The Last Song, Cape Fear and Glory are just some of the good, bad and ugly flicks produced here.
  • Hungry?  Then head over to Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room.  Ya’ll will have to wait in line for some down home (well, not my home) Southern Cooking.  It’s served family style, so you’ll break bread with a bunch of strangers.  I was lucky enough to be sitting with native Southerners so they explained what everything was.  Even if your like me, and not a meat lover, you’ll have plenty of options!  Try the black eyed peas, okra and spinach – all excellent!  You’ll walk away chugged full AND it’s one of the most unique dining experiences you can imagine.

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  • Last, but not least, go to the very popular Leopold’s Ice Cream.  The ice cream is ok, but if you are a film buff, the memorabilia is pretty cool!  The parlour is now owned by film producer Stratton Leopold, producer of Mission Impossible 3, The Big Chill, The Sum of All Fears, and many more movies.  Apparently he still helps out when he is in town.

The only thing that I didn’t like about Savannah?  Just the lack of time.  We did all of this, and more in just a day and a half.  Do a circle on a Hop On Hop Off bus, we had an amazing driver, she was hilarious!  We got a real sense of the city and learned more about the history than we could have done on our own.  It was an hour of time well spent!  I can’t wait to go back but first, it’s on to Spain and Portugal!

 


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Atlanta for Dummies and Type As (Part 3)

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College Football Hall of Fame + Really Large Looking Teeth

Dear readers, I saved the best for last. These are your mainstay attractions, the things that all good tourists do while they are in The Big A.  I, of course, being a Type A Traveller decided to do them all in one day (and made my friend suffer right along with me). Don’t do this!  I repeat, learn from my mistakes and barking dogs (sore feet).  Pick two or three of these and do them well!  Or don’t listen to me and do them all in one day…if you dare (insert evil laugh here – MWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA)….

Stop #1 – The World of Coca Cola

Don’t choke on your Coke, but this place was amazing!  Maybe it’s my years in marketing, but I found the World of Coca Cola to be a world of fun!  You start your tour by selecting one of three soft drinks – Coke, Diet Coke or Coke Zero (I picked Zero).  Then, you walk into a room with some very excited guides who join you on the first part of the tour.  Their enthusiasm was contagious (unlike the bored guide at CNN).  They hyped up the crowd, and there really was one in a cool holding area (filled with memorabilia).  After finding out where everyone was from, they gave us an overview of the upcoming self-guided tour, and then we went to watch a 5 minute commercial – I mean movie – about Coca Cola.  So well done that I ended up with a lump in my throat, and no, it wasn’t just Aspartame.  You leave the theatre and if you have three hours, you can line up for a pic with the Polar Bears.  They were just mobbed so I settled for a photo op with the stuffed animals in the gift shop and recommend that you do to.  The only negative thing about this place was the need to charge you for photos at every turn.  You can then go see the safe where they have the secret formula for Coke (yeah right) and as you walk in, you can pose for another $20 photo!  I declined and just enjoyed the little show that they put on.  Next, you can tour the history of the soft drink.  Amazingly, I saw an old ad with a woman who looked just like my beloved grandmother (see above – the lady in the middle is her identical twin).

Keep trekking through, and you can see Modern Coke Art and even more memorabilia including the American Idol couch (another photo op that you can skip).  You can watch the bottling process before you go into the coolest part of the museum – the Taste It Beverage Lounge.  You can literally try Coke products from almost every continent, and that’s exactly how they’ve divided it!  Just don’t try Beverly from Italy.  My friend warned me and I didn’t listen – it was GROSS!!!  A lot of the drinks are very sweet, but if you like that sort of thing, go for it.  You can get a bonus glass bottle of Coke on your way into the gift shop.  I skipped it, we had a lot of walking ahead.  The gift shop was HUGE and the customer service was great.  They gave me 25% off my purchase because I had to wait so long for a price check (and I didn’t even complain).

Stop #2 – The College Football Hall of Fame

Honestly, I’m not a sports fan, but this was pretty fun!  It’s worth an hour of your time, which is how long we stayed.  You choose a team and all of the details are programmed into your handy dandy pass.  You can find your team’s helmet on the wall (photo above, for sure you can figure out which one it is).  I picked Hawaii for no particular reason other than the fact that I like it there.  Take a picture near the Step and Repeat and then your ready to kick a field goal (unless, like me, you are wearing sandals).  Then, throw the ball into a net thing-y!  It was fun – even for me.  After we left the field and headed into the museum, I can’t remember much.  The coolest thing was when you would step in front of exhibits and they would greet you by name.  Other than a “digital” face painting station, and seeing some awards (including the Rose Bowl and Heisman Trophy, it was a little lost on me.

Stop #3 – The Center for Civil and Human Rights

If I can sum this museum up in two words – AMAZINGLY POWERFUL is what comes to mind.  This isn’t a museum filled with artifacts.  It’s interactive and interesting exhibits including one that lets you experience what it was like to be a Civil Rights Activist as they tried to desegregate lunch counters in the 1960s.  See if you can last the full two minutes – and remember that the activists in the 1960s lasted for hours!   I won’t tell you more than that – you need to experience this place.

Stop #4 – The Georgia Aquarium 

 

Yes, we did the Georgia Aquarium too!  We have the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto which is just as good except that we don’t have penguins or Whale Sharks.  I found some of the aquariums a little blurry including the conveyer belt that takes you through the shark tunnel.  Don’t miss the room with the huge window into their dwelling – it’s incredible.  Have a seat and stay awhile, it’s a highlight.  The penguins were cute too, but they looked a little squished.  I skipped the dolphin show since I don’t agree with keeping sea mammals captive.  Outside of the sharks and the penguins, the sea otters were pretty fun to watch.  The sea lions also looked pretty squished, so if that kind of thing upsets you, skip that exhibit.  Skip the educational part at the end – it’s intended more for kids and seemed like a big time waster.  Don’t skip the Aquarium, but realize that it will be packed and it’s not a meditative experience.  I think I even saw a shark roll their eyes at seeing another tourist.

I think that outside of the State Capitol, Buckhead, The Carter Library and a couple of small things here and there, we literally did everything possible in HOTLANTA.  It’s worth a visit, but three days is plenty!  I wish it had been more of a traditional Southern experience, but stay tuned for more about that in my next entry!

 


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Atlanta for Dummies and Type As (Part 2)

So now that I told you where to stay and how to get around, I suppose it’s time to tell you what to do in Georgia’s Peach of a City and show you just how Type A I can be.  When I planned the trip, I actually themed the days.  Yes, call me crazy, but give me access to that little World Wide Web and a smattering of an idea, and I’m going to theme it.  For Atlanta, knowing what I knew about the City and the amount of time that I would be there, I chose 3 themes – food, history/current events and the typical sight-seer.  I’ve already covered our food walking tour, now, pull up a chair, and get comfy, because you are going to learn a little more about Atlanta’s History.

Atlanta for the History Buff

Atlanta for the history buff and media enthusiast starts in the Sweet Auburn Historic District where one of my heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  started out.  This was the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement and to me, at least, a must see if you are going to be in Atlanta and have any semblance of curiosity of the events of the 1960s.  Here are the must dos:

  • The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site (Visitor’s Centre).  Start your journey by slowly walking along the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.  Everyone from Desmond Tutu to Sammy Davis, Jr. to Magic Johnson has their footprints in the walkway.  Let’s just say my feet are half the size of Magic’s and leave it at that.  Stop and take in a statue of Ghandi who inspired MLK insist on non-violent protest as the way to desegregate.   Head indoors and watch a movie that brings context to everything that you are about to see. It’s a tough watch, but so important.  Then, check out the DREAM Gallery with basically King’s entire life laid out for you and the history of the Civil Rights Movement.  This is the best exhibit in  Sweet Auburn and includes the powerful “Freedom Road” statues where you feel like you can march along side of these heroes.
  • Next, head to the Ebenezer Baptist Church where MLK’s father preached, where he was baptized and was also the launching pad of his own career as a pastor.  He returned to this church many times throughout the Civil Rights Movement and his mother was actually shot and killed at the organ in the church.  A brief movie in the basement showcases the history of the church.
  • The next stop in the neighbourhood is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.  MLK and Coretta Scott King’s Tombs are in the front of the centre in a beautiful reflection pool.  Close by is an eternal flame.  As you walk through Freedom Hall (outdoors and beautiful) – take some time to stop and look at the photos.  The museum has rooms dedicated to King’s life plus a room dedicated to to Coretta Scott King, one to Rosa Parks and another to Ghandi.  Some of the artifacts are amazing including his suitcase, cologne and his own books that he carried with him for reference.  The foyer is filled with art and the Stone of Hope.  The book selection in the gift shop, sadly isn’t great.
  • Walk to Fire Station Number 6 to learn about desegregation in the Atlanta Fire Department.  There is an old fashioned fire engine that’s worth a look.  It’s well set up, but if you are running low on time, skip this building.
  • Last, but not least, walk up a row of shotgun houses to the birthplace of MLK.  We didn’t get tickets, but I didn’t think that I was missing anything by not going in.
  • Once we finished this area, we headed downtown to take a tour of CNN.  This was by far the least interesting thing that I did in Atlanta.  I recommend trying the VIP tour to actually get behind the scenes.  The best part for me was taking the world’s longest and tallest escalator into the CNN Centre.  Maybe it’s because I’ve worked in TV for so long, but seeing a newsroom just wasn’t exciting.  You only get to see it through glass.  They also take you fake control room with a fake weather demo.  Again, not well done and our tour guide was even less enthusiastic.

Things to keep in mind if you are in Atlanta:

  • The museums and attractions close early – many by 5pm and some even earlier.  Keep that in mind if you are going to be a Type A Traveller.
  • There is a lot of walking, especially if you get lost in Sweet Auburn – wear comfy shoes and stay hydrated.  If you need restrooms, go to the Visitor’s Centre.
  • Take the Trolley rather then the MARTA if you are going downtown after Sweet Auburn – it’s only $1 and not crowded at all.
  • Get an Atlanta City Pass.  It let’s you into CNN, the Georgia Aquarium, The World of Coca Cola, Zoo Atlanta or the National Civil Rights Museum, the NCAA Football Hall of Fame or the Fernback Museum of Natural History.  It saves you money and time – you can skip the line ups for many of the attractions so it’s worth having.  I picked up mine at CNN but pre-ordered it.  Look online you can often get a deal.


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Atlanta for Dummies and Type As (Part 1)

 

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Taken at CNN

No…I didn’t get to see Anderson Cooper – he works out of CNN’s New York studio, but I did get to do a lot of cool things.  And no, I’m not calling you dummies, I just couldn’t figure out something fun and clever to use as a title.  You may ask me why did my friend and I decide on Atlanta.  I say, why not Atlanta?  I know it’s not at the top of everyone’s travel list, but if you have 3 days, and want to visit a city that has a little something for everyone, Atlanta is a great destination.  It’s also one of the cleanest cities that I’ve ever visited.  My bucket list also includes visits to all 50 States (and all of the countries in Europe) so this helped me tick one off.

Where To Stay

I was lucky enough to experience two lovely hotels in mid-town Atlanta (my friend and I went to Savannah in between) – The Artmore Hotel and The Georgian Terrace.  Both were lovely. The  Artmore had a really cool courtyard pictured above and was a little more cool – it reminded me a bit of the Opus Hotel in Yaletown  (Vancouver, BC).  The Georgian Terrace is part of the historic hotels group.  Out of the two, it was my favourite.  The Artmore is a little more out of the way – my friend and I had to walk further to get to the plentiful restaurants that mid-town had to offer.  It also was just more impressive with a beautiful lobby, a historic bar frequented by locals and was right across from the Fox Theatre – a plus if you are doing the food walking tour.  Both are close to MARTA stations (Atlanta’s subway and public transit system).  I wasn’t disappointed with either hotel, but if you want to be more in the heart of things, go Georgian Terrace.

Getting Around:

Use the MARTA – it’s really easy and relatively cheap.  The one caveat, it’s not like many big city subway systems where the stop is right in the middle of things – you have to walk quite a ways to get to where you want to go.

The Weather:

I can only speak for early March, and it was perfect.  Warm enough that I didn’t need a jacket during the day, but not so hot that I felt sweaty and dehydrated.  It is very changeable and it can get cool from what I understand, so use your weather app and bring a few “just in case” clothes.

The People

The people are very nice, very polite, and the city was more refreshingly multi-cultural than I expected.  The one thing that I did notice was a reserve that I wasn’t expecting – it was really more like a big city versus the true southern experience that I was hoping for.

What to do:

Check back this week for everything that you need to do when you head to HOTLANTA!


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Happy Birthday AK

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If any of you are regular readers of my blog, then you know that I have “Frousins” who are my cousins but also among my closest of friends.  The term Frousin was coined by the brilliant and handsome AK.  It perfectly describes our relationship – we are related, there is no doubt about that if you saw our mothers when they are afraid of being late, but we also laugh together, travel together and just enjoy hanging out, much like a good friend.  I’ve stopped doing birthday blogs, mostly because, I felt like as nice as they were, if you didn’t know the people, it was a great big in-joke that you, my readers couldn’t be part of. I decided to make an exception for AK since it’s a special birthday and he is so special to me.  In honour of your big celebration and inspired by this photo, here are 40 things that I love about AK:

  1. You have a lovely sister (GK) who we are so happy to have in Toronto.  If you are our brother from another mother, she is our sister from another mister
  2. Your parents are fabulous!  And I love how they spoil you
  3. You introduced us to AB who not only has great taste in balloons, but is one of the nicest people that I’ve ever met
  4. You are named after my wonderful grandfather – that makes you the “King” in our family
  5. OK-OK, I know – it’s all about you!
  6. When I saw how your students reacted to you, and how much they loved you, it warmed my little heart.  You care about people and it’s such a rarity these days
  7. You also know how to say it like it is, and that always cracks me up
  8. Speaking of cracking up – the expression that you get when you are surprised by something always makes me laugh
  9. You play along with my annoying rating games and “would you rather” scenarios
  10. You know a good bottle of wine when you see it – hooray Oyster Bay
  11. You know how to shop and are a deal finder
  12. You are a snazzy dresser who know how to mix high and low
  13. You won best dressed teacher – and campaigned for it
  14. You take care of yourself (pedicures anyone?)
  15. You are smart!  Who else would know what and where Azerbaijan is!
  16. You do the same laugh until you cry thing that I do so I feel less alone in the world
  17. You are a bit klutzy which also helps me feel less alone in the world – because I’m a lot klutzy
  18. You are patient.  Who else could teach me to shoot a bow and arrow?
  19. You are logical – your best tip for teaching me how to shoot the bow and arrow?  “Um…you have to actually aim it at the target”.  I got so much better after that!
  20. You understand that camping now if staying at the Holiday Inn
  21. You love your sister’s bird and animals in general.  You’ve even started taking care of him!
  22. You discover new places and share them
  23. You are a great travel mate!
  24. Even more important, you like to travel – that can sometimes be two different things.  If you like to travel, it means that you have a curiosity about the world
  25. You were brave enough to move to a foreign country for school
  26. You own up to getting hangry
  27. It’s always so funny to see how calm Starbucks makes you
  28. You always try to do the right thing
  29. You like to do cheesy things and make them fun
  30. You also like to do very civilized things like go to a VIP Cinema
  31. You understand how fabulous the “Golden Girls” are
  32. You like a good concert – in fact, you have great taste in music
  33. You have no issue taking one for the team
  34. You like being treated in a first class manner but you do not have a first class attitude
  35. You get through what life throws at you with a sense of humour
  36. You don’t expect anything – in fact, you should ask for help more
  37. You know how to brighten someone’s day
  38. You let people have their moments and enjoy it when they do
  39. You are generous to a fault
  40. When people are going through a difficult time, you are there.  2015 wasn’t kind to my family.  You didn’t ask what you could do – you just showed up and I’ll never forget that!

Have a wonderful birthday and a happy, healthy year.  I can’t wait to celebrate with you!

 

 


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Atlanta – The Food Tour

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When I was trying to figure out what to do in Atlanta, my first thought for day one was a walking tour.  I love them – they help you get oriented to a city AND you don’t have to ride around in a bus or a land to sea boat where they make you quack like a duck.  While checking Trip Advisor, which I have to admit, I do have a little obsession with, I came across Peachtree Food Tours.  If you were an avid reader of my little site, you’d know that I just wrote about the owner/operator John Hannula.  For $100 (US), you got to get a little history of mid-town Atlanta and go to some fine eating establishments. SOLD!

Here was the great part, and why if you are going to be in Atlanta, I highly recommend Peachtree Food Tours – I received a comprehensive email from John with an overview of what to expect plus some recommendations of where to stay, play and eat while in his little peach of a city.  A few days before the trip, he called and followed up with me!  Talk about surprise and delight.  He was very accommodating about the fact that I don’t eat beef, pork or lamb and he pre-warned me that one of the stops included a hamburger.  Great customer service.

We met on Sunday morning at 11:45 at the beautiful Fox Theatre.  Here’s a quick snap shot (and some pics) of the five places that we visited:

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Cypress Pint and Plate

  1. Cypress Pint and Plate was the 2nd place winner for best hamburger at the 2013World Food Competition in Las Vegas.  That’s why I chose to have a chicken sandwich instead : 0 )  It’s served on a donut.  Not a Tim Hortons/Dunkin’ Donuts type of donut, more of a light Asian donut with a hint of sweetness.  This was amazing!  No, I didn’t eat the whole thing – I had 5 fries and half the sandwich – you have to pace yourself.

2. Princi Italia was a lovely little Italian Restaurant.  The three of us shared the fig and gorgonzola bruschetta that you see in this pic.  Gorgonzola is not my favourite cheese, but it totally worked with the figs!  We all shared the pasta – it was Fontina cheese and cream sauce – so yummy.  It was all very rich, so a taste was enough.  This was by far my favourite place, but sadly, we didn’t have time for a return visit.

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Einstein’s

3.  Don’t get this confused by Einstein’s Bagels – another Atlanta establishment – this was a proper restaurant with shrimp and cheddar cheese grits with green beans, a fried green tomato and buffalo mozzarella cheese.  Again, so good.  I had grits once before, and I wasn’t a fan.  These changed my mind.  My least favourite place, more because of the ambience than the food.

4.  Cafe Intermezzo was a beautiful taste of Paris in the heart of mid-town Atlanta.  They had two cases of cakes and pies and a dessert expert took you on a “tour” of their 40 different selections.  A cool experience. I had the Heath Bar Milkshake Cheesecake – yum – but incredibly rich.  They give you to go containers so no pressure to finish your dessert.  If you visit, I recommend sharing.  I had less than half of this at the cafe and was going into a food coma.

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Sweet Hut Bakery and Cafe

5. Our last stop was Sweet Hut Bakery and Cafe for “to go” treats for later.  My selection was a savoury green onion bun and a Nutella donut.  Honestly, I was relieved that these were to go – I couldn’t look at food at this point.  These were pretty good!  The savoury bun was a little meh, but you can never go wrong with Nutella.

The tour ended at 3:45 and we walked, a lot.  We got a great overview of Atlanta, a little history, a little humour, a lot of good food and a thank you note from John!  Totally unexpected and he sent us pictures that he took throughout the day.   Never been on a food tour?  Here are some of my tips after being on a grand total of one:

  • Wear comfortable shoes – you do a lot of walking
  • Dress for the weather – these aren’t indoor tours
  • Pace yourself.  I know, I know, it all tastes so good, but you have lots of places to visit.  I was semi-full after the first restaurant, and ready to burst after the last and that’s with “tasting” the food.  If you try to eat everything, you are going to suffer
  • Be open-minded – try everything.  They’ll try to accommodate your requests, but if it’s just because you think you won’t like it, your wasting your time on the tour
  • Ask questions – either about the city that you are in or for local recommendations.  You have an expert on your destination available to you for 4 hours – use that time wisely
  • Make sure you do this on your first or second day in the city that you are visiting if you can.  As mentioned, it helps you get a lay of the land and if you really love a place, you have time to go back and have a full meal there
  • It sounds costly, but for $100, you really don’t need to eat dinner or breakfast and your lunch is covered!

Enjoy!  Next time, I’ll tell you my favourite non-food related things to do in Atlanta.

 

 


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Peachtree Food Tours – A Must Do in Atlanta

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I just got back from HOT-Lanta and Savannah!  If you’ve read my blog before, you know travel is my thing.  My friend and I decided on very short notice, to use up some of our vacation time from last year to do a little something-something.  We have a habit of setting impossible sight seeing standards for ourselves, doing things that only the very dedicated (or crazy) tourists would do.  We decided on Atlanta and Savannah on a whim.  My job, which I took very “Type A” seriously, was to plan Atlanta for us.  Hi-ho, hi-ho, off to Trip Advisor I go, or went in this case…
I’m a big fan of walking tours, you get to see a lot that way, and it helps you orient yourself in a big city.  As I was looking, I noticed a walking tour that was all about food!  Even better, it had a perfect 5 out of 5 stars on Trip Advisor!  That’s the best that you can do on this finicky site!  I was hooked by what people were saying and thought it would be cool because I had never been on a food tour before.  My friend Amber was in, so the tour was booked for our first full day in this peach of a city.  It was even better than I expected.  I’ll write more about the tour itself in my next blog, but I was curious about how you get into this line of work, so John Hannula was kind enough to answer a few questions.
 How/why was Peachtree Food Tours born? In 2014, as a retired home-builder, I decided to spend quality time with my three boys who live around the world, a 2 – 3 week opportunity in each of my boy’s homes to visit…and hike…and just be Dad and Grandpa. That experience led to my idea of getting all three of the boys together in one location so off we went to hike Glacier National Park. Before leaving for Montana, my sweet Jeri reminded me that, although I was creating wonderful father/son/grandson memories, it was all costing money.  2015 would have to see me going back to work. Yikes!
During the 24 hour flight layover in Atlanta after the Glacier NP holiday, the oldest son who lives in the UK asked if lunch could include a big, juicy burger…so off we went to The World’s Best Burger, just 2 blocks away in my Midtown Atlanta neighborhood. After the incredible burger, he asked what were we going to do next.  “There’s this bourbon thing that you might get a kick out of” to which he broke out in a huge grin and replied, “Dad!  You should do a Food Tour!  It’s a no-brainer! You’ve already been on 15 or more Food Tours around the world and Midtown is restaurant heaven!”  And from that September conversation, my first Tours occurred two months later!  That has been followed by over 150 Tours sharing food, booze, and fun with 800+ guests!
 Why sign up for a Food Tour?  The real question is “What is a Food Tour?  Of those 800 guests at least 80% had never been on a food tour (!) with many of those having no idea what they were getting into!  (The short answer – A Food Tour is typically a walking, tasting adventure that has a bit of history woven into the outing but focuses on sampling food in a number of restaurants.)
 But…why do a Food Tour?  The best answer is two-fold.  One, you get a taste of that neighborhood’s (and even region’s) dining options that should include several  local specialties.  This is a fabulous way to “try out” some restaurants that you might not have considered in your travel plans…but now will definitely return to.  Secondly, you will be with a local for 3 – 4 hours and he/she is often a font of information as to other restaurants, shopping, great day trips, etc.   All you have to do is ask and soon you’ll feel much better about where your travel dollars can be spent best.
 Finally, if at all possible, ALWAYS take a Food Tour the first day in your visit!!  You have the opportunity to learn a ton about the city you’re in…and why learn all this with only one day left in your holiday??
 How do you find a Food Tour?  When traveling, I’m a huge fan of TripAdvisor.  Just google “TripAdvisor/Atlanta”  (or wherever!) and then type in “Food Tours”.  Large cities around the world will have several to choose from…so now what to do?  Read at least 5 – 10 reviews as a pattern will start to unfold of the “Why” the reviewer had a terrific time. While reading the reviews the tour guide’s name should show up in almost all of the writings…which is extremely important. Remember…you are about to spend 3 – 4 hours with this person which makes your guide a huge part of your day!!
Trust your Trip Advisor reviewers as they tend to be more objective, better traveled, and certainly thoughtful. If there isn’t a Food Tour that looks attractive, an excellent plan “B” is a Cooking Class, particularly when in Europe or Asia as you’ll start the Tour in a local market.  Imagine being in a Rome food market with a chef, everyone hollering in Italian, you having the time of your life!
Thank You John – I had an amazing time – it was a great introduction to food tours and Atlanta.  If you happen to be anywhere near Atlanta, check out John’s website http://peachtreefoodtours.com/about/ and book one.  Check back this week for more on Atlanta and my experience on the Peachtree Food Tour.
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