I had been to Birmingham in the 1980s on business and concluded there was no reason to go back, but in the early 2000s I read that the historic, downtown area of Birmingham had been refurbished and was quite nice, with busy upscale bars and restaurants and rehabilitated historic buildings. So I decided to stop there for the night.
I drove to the downtown area and walked around, quickly becoming disappointed and disenchanted. It was a Thursday evening around 7 p.m. Virtually nobody was on the streets. I did see what looked like an upscale bar called Steel and went in. There was a live play in progress, although I couldn’t really get the gist of it because I had come in the middle of it, and I was having trouble understanding the heavy southern accents of the actors. They and the few customers did seem to be having fun, while I sipped my martini.
When the play was over, a band played blues that I enjoyed. I got hungry, and this bar did not serve food.
A block or two further along I came to the Roguet Tavern, where I had a beer and a Caesar salad.
I walked around some more and concluded that Steel was probably the liveliest place in town. I found a wine bar, but there was a sign on the front door that said the dress code was “dressy.” I didn’t qualify. I was astonished to see a wine bar with a dress code, but this was the South — still a little more old fashioned than the West and the Northeast of the country.
When I left Birmingham and headed for Savannah, a seven hour drive, this baby boomer/senior was getting a little road weary and anxious to get to my final destination, my friend Walt’s home in St. Marys, Georgia.
About halfway between Birmingham and Atlanta I passed the famed Talladega Raceway, next to Daytona, the most famous NASCAR venue. Although it is literally in the middle of nowhere, except for the small town of Talladega, it is only about an hour and a half drive from both Birmingham and Atlanta, a short drive for real Nascar fans.
I had been to Savannah once before, not long ago, and the highlight to me is walking around the old neighborhoods of majestic antebellum homes that have been preserved beautifully. Even the more modest homes of the era are an architectural delight.
After a long walk through the neighborhoods I dined at one of the finer restaurants on my last evening of the trip, Noble Fare, where I enjoyed a fine glass of riesling and diver scallops with spinach and a pecan sauce.
The next day the hour and a half drive from Savannah to St. Marys was dull and uneventful. I was ready to settle in at my friend’s home and get off the road for a change.
In my final post I will discuss my reflections on the trip, some trivial knowledge I gained about the United States of America of 2012 and some not so trivial opinions I have come away with.