Atlanta Trip: Chili’s Burger at the Atlanta International Airport

The Atlanta Airport (or rightfully, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport) is, believe it or not, the world’s busiest airport in terms of passenger volume and landing and take-offs. I believe the reason it is the biggest is because of one big factor — Delta Air Lines. Without Delta, this airport will not be what it is today.

As famous and busy as it is, it is one of the unpretentious airport I had been to … well, Heathrow is worse I think. There is nothing to see and do although there are lots of shops and restaurants. But then after a few trips all the shops and restaurants practically sells the same stuff. I must however give credit to the airport … it is the simplest to navigate despite its size. There is absolutely no way one could get lost. In terms of efficiency, it is simply the best. I would describe this as function over form at its best.

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One thing I do notice is the presence of men in uniforms at the airport. I think these soldiers are either going to or returning from Iraq. They are always there with their grey-green uniforms. And the strange thing to me is that every now and then, the airport will break out in cheers and claps when some of these soldiers marches through. The Americans sure are appreciative of the sacrifices of their men in uniform despite most are opposed to the war in Iraq. I must admit I do gawk at their uniforms and gears … and do think … oh man … these men are the best trained in the world in warfare. They know how to kill despite their man in the street look.

See the lines from the Atrium at the ATL airport? Well, it could get that busy. That FIVE line winds its way across the Atrium and into one of the longest snaking queues I had ever seen. Here is a tip: there is a shorter and lesser know security checkpoint at the far end of the North Terminal. I normally take that because it takes only about 5 minutes to clear it.

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There are a total of SIX(!) concourses in ATL. The concourses are linked by high-speed train. When I have time to kill, I would normally walk to my gate through underground walkways. Of late, they have put in a lot of interesting African art sculptures. It is great to kill time.

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On the recent trip I had my dinner at Chili’s at the airport. It was a very busy restaurant, as in all restaurants in ATL. I had to wait in queue for about 10 minutes for a table which was quite OK. I had a magazine at hand and am not going anywhere for the next hour and a half anyway. (more…)

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Atlanta Trip: Cheesecake Factory – Revisited

I don’t know … there is something I really like about the Cheesecake Factory. It’s not the cheesecake. It’s something else. I like their huge portions — which is particularly important because I eat very little for lunch while traveling. By dinner time, I am simply famished. And it is by design. I so look forward to dinner after a long day at work.

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I like their lavish decor … the high ceilings, marbled floors and the huge (fake I think) columns. It’s just simply classy.

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Since Georgia is also known as the Peach State, I ordered the Georgia Peach for my drink. It’s vodka mixed with peach liqueur and peaches swirled with raspberries. I notice I am beginning to take a liking to these types of fruity drinks.

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Atlanta Trip: Breakfast at the Marriott’s

I almost always stay in the same hotel when I travel to Atlanta. It’s at a Marriott hotel and is located just across from our office block in Atlanta. I like that hotel. It’s clean, comfortable, have free high-speed internet and almost everything you will ever need while on business trips. Almost all their guests are business travelers.

Breakfast for me is almost always at the Courtyard Cafe. I wished I had the chance to go further out for breakfasts but it’s hard for me because of the 3-hr time zone difference between Atlanta and Vancouver. Breakfast in Atlanta’s 8AM is 5AM in Vancouver!

The buffet breakfast in Marriott’s is the same everyday. It costs about ten bucks.

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I always start off with coffee with cream and sugar. I like their coffee.

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What I like best about having breakfast here is that the people knows me already after two years of frequent stays here. Recently, they even remember that I wanted two sunny side up eggs before I asked them for it. Only scrambled eggs are on the buffet table but you can order eggs done other ways from the kitchen.

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Altanta Trip: PF Chang

I sort of gate crashed into a team dinner when I was in Atlanta. I had no qualms doing that since I had never been to PF Chang before … and more importantly, someone else is picking up the tabs for this dinner.

PF Chang’s China Bistro is another American chain restaurant. The one we went to was just walking distance from our office. It’s in the newly renovated Cumberland Mall. Despite it’s name it’s more aptly described as an American Chinese bistro … i.e. it tried to look Chinese but it’s really catered for the American tastes. He he he … you know what the initials P.F. stands for? It’s named after the founder of the chain … Paul Fleming! Enough said! 🙂

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Although this PF Chang is called a China Bistro, it’s more like a more upscale restaurant. The service was prompt and pretty good. I actually have a bit of a culture shock here … seeing how pretentious this place is trying to be chinese. Starting the many lanterns on the ceiling and the candles in the table. Why … if I am not mistaken, you never have a candle on the chinese table because you only light candles in a funeral for the dead! 🙂

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Started with a drink and chose something unique from the drinks menu. It’s called the Asian Persuasion which is basically vodka shaken with fresh brewed organic green tea. Yucks! It was an awful combination — at least to me anyway.

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Well, I was seated at the far side of where the ordering action was and did not managed to get a say on what to order. I thought I better keep quiet since I am a gate crasher this time. But … those guys, all southerners (no Asians) were having problems ordering because I think they eat Chinese only perhaps once every decade or so. (more…)

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Atlanta Trip Report: Mary Mac’s Tea Room

This is it … my final post on this series of my trip to Atlanta.

Right after the visit to the World of Coca-Cola, it was time for lunch. Rob and I wanted to try something different this time — we wanted to try “Southern Cooking”. We walked around the Atlanta Underground but could not find a place we liked. So, we walked over to the Visitor Centre asking for recommendations. Without hesitation, the gentleman at the visitor centre recommended Mary Mac’s. Never heard of it and it involved a drive from where we are now. We were rather hesitant to go but then faced with the lack of choices around, we went anyway. It was a great recommendation.

Mary Mac’s Tea Room is a well-known and historic restaurant in Atlanta. Located at the corner of Ponce de Leon Ave and Myrtle St, Mary Mac’s had been operating since 1945. The food here has stayed the same since day one.

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The Tea Room wall is lined with framed autographed photos of some famous customers — including presidents of the US. It was interesting looking at them. The decor was really old fashioned and homely.

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The wait was short although there were many people coming for lunch. We were seated and in front of us is the menu, and order form and pencils. We are supposed to pencil in our orders and pass it on the waitress.

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For drinks, I ordered something I had never tried before — buttermilk. Yucks! It was sour and tastes horrible. Price: $1.75.

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Atlanta Trip Report: The World of Coca-Cola

Rob and I had at least three hours to kill before heading to the airport. Rather than hanging around the office, we decided that we should just go to downtown Atlanta to do some sightseeing and lunch. It was a toss up between CNN, the Georgia Aquarium or the World of Coca-Cola. For me, I was sure where I would want to go … the World of Coca-Cola.

Atlanta is the headquarters of The Coca-Cola Company. Did you know that Coca-Cola and Coke is the most recognizable brand in the world. Go to anywhere in the world and you will find that people will know what a Coke is.

The World of Coca-Cola is located in downtown Atlanta and just next to the Atlanta Underground. This place exhibits the history of Coca-Cola. I understand that this place will be moved to a new location sometime in 2007 next to the Georgia Aquarium. The entrance sports a huge rotating Coke logo.

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There was not many people when we got there. Entrance is $9 — expensive. I had expected that they at best charge a token entrance fee.

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The displays were displayed in a chronological order starting from the year when Coca-Cola first started operating in 1886. The Coca-Cola name is made up from the two basic ingredients: a stimulant of Coca Leaves and caffeine from Kola Nuts.

In those days, Coca-Cola was served from Soda Fountain like those below.

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Coca-Cola bottles underwent many generation of changes over the years …

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Atlanta Trip Report: Maggiano’s Little Italy

One last dinner before I get to go home. It has been a long week and personally, I am all tired and weary. This time, Mark and Mark joined us at the newly opened Maggiano’s Little Italy in the Cumberland Mall.

Maggiano’s Little Italy is a casual dining restaurant chain specializing in Italian food. This restaurant chain is operated by the same company which operates the Chilli’s, On the Border and Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

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It was a busy night at Maggiano’s that day. Rob volunteered to go early and make reservation while I pop over to the nearby Circuit City to grab NHL07 game for Arkensen (it’s cheaper by $10 here in the US). Despite making a reservation early, we still had to wait for quite a bit.

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These American chain restaurants are really something. We don’t have many close to these types of restaurants in Canada. The decor, the experience, the menu, the staff … they were so well designed to entice people to these places.

Once seated, the bread came quite fast. So tell me, do you prefer your bread with butter or olive oil? I have not really gotten used to having bread with olive oil (and balsamic vinegar, is that what the black blob is?). Not that I don’t touch it or that it tastes awful but I’ll take butter anytime over this.

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Atlanta Trip Report: Waffle House

I got tired of the buffet breakfast in my hotel. I asked the Atlanta project team for breakfast recommendations — preferably a place where Atlantans have their breakfast. Susan D recommended that we must try the Waffle House. I recall seeing their huge bright yellow signboard from my hotel.

Waffle House started their first restaurant 50 years ago in Atlanta, GA. Today they have grown to 1500 restaurants in 25 states. Too bad they have not have a presence yet in WA or OR, otherwise I would bring the family to try this. Anyway, they open 24 hrs a day and 365 days the whole year — yes, even on Christmas Day.

Frankly, Rob, Chix and Vince does not really care where they go for their breakfast. It was I who tried so hard to convince them to take that short drive to the Waffle House 1 block away. Anyway, driving into the carpark, we were rather hesitant going in because, hmmm … some of the customers look like roughnecks. Instead of turning around, we decided to just go in — I was glad we did.

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The thing that really drew my attention was the many different type of sauces on each table.

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