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Welcome to Atlanta – A guide to what Newcastle United fans can enjoy on their visit for the Chelsea match

7 months ago
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Following my guide to Philadelphia (read here), the Editor asked if I could write something for anyone traveling to Atlanta to see Magpies pre-season match against Chelsea on July 26.

Since I’m not a native, I asked a good friend to put together a list at my request, but first, a crash course on the history of Atlanta.

The original nondescript name was Terminus, as in the last stop on the 137-mile rail line, opened in 1836. In 1845, the name was briefly changed to Marthasville, in honor of the Georgia Governor’s daughter, and officially became Atlanta in 1847. Since its founding, Atlanta has been the hub of economic activity in the American South. In 1864, during America’s civil war, Atlanta was burned to the ground by the US Government’s General Sherman. To this day, that fire still elicits an emotional response from many longtime Georgia natives.

Since then, Atlanta has risen from its ashes to become the symbol of the New South: a unique blend of southern charm and cosmopolitan flair – southern hub of commerce, culture, and sports. It’s the world headquarters of the Coca-Cola Company and CNN, and was the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., making it a pivotal city in the American Civil Rights Movement. Atlanta is also a burgeoning centre for film and TV production, earning it the nickname “the Hollywood of the South.”

However, I like to refer it to as “Hot-lanta” because the average July temperature is 31 degrees and with the humidity, it feels even hotter. Keep this in mind when you go to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium to watch our Toon.

When you are not at the match, my friend provided the following recommendations and commentary:

1. Georgia Aquarium contains more than 70 amazing habitats, with thousands of marine animals such as whale sharks, manta rays, beluga whales, and more. There are animal encounter programs, where you can get up close and personal with dolphins, penguins, and sea lions. Take on a shark cage dive, or scuba dive in the Ocean Voyager exhibit. Catch a show at the 4D theater, check out the virtual reality simulator, and even have an overnight sleepover.

2. Atlanta Botanical Garden located in Midtown, there are 30 acres of stunning gardens and year-round exhibits. The current exhibit is entitled Imaginary Worlds, showcasing a 25-foot tall Earth Goddess Sculpture formed from plants and having a waterfall cascading from her hand, and an Orchid Garden, this is a “world of magic and serenity.”

3. World of Coca-Cola is an immersive and interactive place where you can explore all that is Coca-Cola. Meet the Coca-Cola Polar Bear, see the vault where the secret formula is held, taste over 100 versions of Coke products from around the world and throughout history.

4. Fox Theatre has a long history tied to the city. Built in 1928 as a home for the Atlanta Shriners organisation by William Fox (a movie mogul of the time), this elaborate building has been restored to the original gilded look of the 20s. Catch a Broadway show, a concert, or take the History Tour of the Fabulous Fox.

5. Centennial Olympic Park was built for the 1996 Olympic Games and is a public park that offers greenspace, weekly concerts, a massive Ferris wheel, street vendors, and a memorial to the victims of the 1996 Olympic bombing.

6. Zoo Atlanta is one of the best zoological institutions in the States, and houses more that 1000 animals from around the world. Located in Grant Park, zoo features include giant pandas, one of North America’s largest zoological populations of great apes, and a global centre of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, featuring more than 70 species in a 111,000 square-foot complex.

7. Atlanta History Centre was founded on the big ideas and relentless fascination of 14 Atlantans who were emphatic about our city’s historical relevance in society. In 1926, these founding members (considered Atlanta’s Biggest Fans) introduced the Atlanta Historical Society into the world with one mission: to help preserve Atlanta’s history. Decades of collecting, researching, publishing and celebrating the early stories of Atlanta are brought to life in the Atlanta History Center.

8. The Battery Atlanta is a mixed-use campus featuring high-end shops, top dining locations, boutique hotels and is home to the Atlanta Braves. Enjoy an Escape Room experience, attend a concert or sign up to run the bases. The Battery has something for everyone.

9. Ponce City Market (pictured at the top of this article) located in the old Sears building (once the largest all brick building in the world) has two floors and an outbuilding of shops and food. Located just east of Midtown and on the Beltline (a rails-to-trails development and a destination on its own), the complex includes a rooftop restaurant complete with rooftop games (for adults) that overlooks the Atlanta Skyline.

Walking along the beltline trail, you can end up at another food destination at the Krog Street Market. Housed in the remodeled 1889 Atlanta Stove Works building complex in Inman Park, Krog features multiple restaurants, an open market and shops, you will find award winning BBQ, sushi, fried chicken, and everything in between.

Other Options

Six Flags over Georgia, Piedmont Park, Downtown Atlanta Tours (Walking and Bus Tours), Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, High Museum of Art, Center for Puppetry Arts.

There is always a movie being filmed somewhere in Atlanta. With many major studios in the Atlanta area (Tyler Perry Studios, Blackhall, Trilith – formerly Pinewood Studios, newcomers Electric Owl and Great Point Studios), and with 242 films produced in Georgia in 2020 (during the pandemic!) there is always some action going on.

Best to search Twitter for the sightings of filming locations and what star is where, as these are “secret” locations. If you prefer tours, there are The Walking Dead tours to Stranger Things location tours.

My friend claims to have run into Jack White and Samuel L Jackson. Personally, I have never seen a celebrity anywhere so when they are all replaced by AI generated personalities, I won’t feel like I have lost anything. Think about it. Sport could be the last bastion of human driven culture and entertainment. On second thought, maybe it’s better not to think about it, and to just enjoy your trip to the States.

For those of you traveling to the States for the first time, I hope you find that Americans are much more diverse than the European stereotype. That said, you will also enjoy a heavy dose of stereotypical New Yorkers, Southerners, and Philly Guys that, at a minimum, will make for excellent people watching.

My advice is to strike up conversations and decide for yourself what you think of Americans. Keep in mind, if you are a Geordie, you will be royalty to any American wearing a Newcastle jersey.

HTL

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