Monday, February 03, 2014

50 States: Alabama

When reviewing Pennsylvania as part of my tour of the 50 states, I compared the central part of the state to Alabama. Perhaps unfairly. To Alabama. But first let's go over the similarities. Both states worship football and have built huge stadia to house their teams. Here is the one in Tuscaloosa but I bet its counterpart in Auburn is just as massive.


 Inexplicably, Alabama also has a replica Liberty Bell in front of it's capitol building.


The capitol is also across the street from the Confederate White House from when Montgomery was the capitol of the breakaway states.

This is only one of many places where you can still see a Confederate flag fly. Heck, even the official state flag bears a certain uncanny resemblance.


In Alabama, we visited three cities, Mobile, Montgomery, and Birmingham. Mobile has a certain Gothic charm mixed with a modern vigor having an old fort right in downtown.


Our bed and breakfast was a charming antebellum mansion and our innkeeper regaled us with the tale of all the Confederate era letters and records she found in boxes in the attic when she bought the house. Said breakfast of pecan French toast is perhaps one of the best B&B meals I have ever had and my photo of it got featured in a Yahoo slide show.


The elegance of that meal was in contrast to the homespun grub of the barbecue shack we found in a convenience store parking lot just outside of  Montgomery. BBQ doesn't get any more authentic than that.


In Montgomery, they had Old Alabama Town which is a collection of 19th century buildings such as drug stores and schools and houses restored to show how life was lived in the early days.



However, modern Montgomery wasn't quite as happening as it seems to think it is. It was clear that the city had tried really hard to create a Downtown Drinking District complete with a steamboat along the waterfront but it just didn't seem to be happening.


Where we ended up for dinner was further up the river at a marina/seafood restaurant that had a delightful mix of all strata. There were people there for fancy Easter Saturday dinners in seersucker and cotton and other groups in jeans and grubby tee shirts. What united them was that the food was excellent.


We flew in and out of Birmingham which has plants for Hyundai and Mercedes in the general area which kept with its heritage as the industrial center of the Old South. One hill overlooking the city has an enormous cast iron statue of Vulcan sans pants striking his anvil, so to speak.


Birmingham also had a quaint artsy district with perplexing galleries and cutting edge restaurants. So while there is a lot of rural flavor in Alabama, there is also a lot of history and culture to take in as well.

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