Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Atlanta Food Truck Scene

Turn on any food and/or travel related channel on the television, and I am sure you will see at least 30 minutes devoted to food trucks. No longer do these trucks pull into parking lots to serve the working masses boring hamburgers and sandwiches. Food trucks have gone 21 Century with gourmet fare and tweets to disclose their whereabouts.

Okay - so I've watched a minute or two of food related TV. It has made me wish for the day I could eat from a food truck.

Seriously. I want to.

Have you seen the one that used to be a school bus? It offers in door (or in seat) dining.

Or how about the one with Pierogies? Pizza? Lobster rolls? Chicken and waffles?

If you can think of it, cook it and get yourself a stylish set of wheels then chances are you will have a successful food truck!

Unless you live in Atlanta. Unfortunately the food truck scene has been slow to roll in the ATL.

There are food trucks to be had in Atlanta. Really neat ones that are ready to serve. The problem here is that the city is hindering the hipness with too many restrictive ordinances. The Atlanta Street Food Coalition was formed and progress has been made.

Finally after a long wait we get food trucks.

The Food Truck Park has opened. It is a daily spread of at least 15 trucks and a farmer's market on the weekends. Lovely. I saw a food truck trailer park in Austin last year. Never did I dream that Atlanta would follow.

Piedmont Park  hosted a Food Truck Festival with the top ten food trucks of Atlanta.

There was the British cuisine truck with fish & chips and bangers & mash.

The Fry Guy - serving Belgian style fries. Nice hot fries with all kinds of dipping sauce.

The Pup Truck with all kinds of hot dogs:

There was even Puerto Rican fare - beans, rice and meat.

There were also cupcake vendors, local beer and The King of Pops was on hand.  I love the King of Pops. Not really a food truck more of a food cart they are a welcome relief in the hot and humid Atlanta summer. The Lime Watermelon is my favorite.

I would say the Food Truck Festival was a hit considering I had to stand in any line for up to 30 minutes. Not so great when you are in middle of summer in Hotlanta.

And there has been more good news for the food truck scene. According to the local paper many of Atlanta's food truck have been filmed for various food TV shows. Hurrah! 

One of the best things about Atlanta is the food scene. There are always new and interesting restaurants in every corner of this city. I am so glad to see that the food trucks can finally be a part of that!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What's Your Travel Perspective?

I overheard a travel conversation last night while out to dinner. Trust me the participants were talking loud enough that you could not consider this as eavesdropping- it’s as if the table across from us wanted the entire restaurant to hear their conversation about their upcoming travels.

“Hello! Good to see you!”

“How are you? Where is your next big trip?”

I love conversations like that, and I was curious! Where was the next big trip? I shoot my husband a look. Did he hear them (how could he not?).  He did and we both leaned a little towards the table across the aisle so we could hear more.

“Istanbul,” cried one of the people at the table.

My husband and I looked at each other again. Fantastic! Istanbul! The very first place we traveled together. I could see my husband wanting to join in the conversation. He loves to talk Istanbul.

The table continued their conversation, “The travel agent said Istanbul is in Europe! Europe? My ass!” one of the diners scoffed.

Whoa, really?

You just booked a tour to Istanbul and you don’t know where it is located? And you don’t believe what your travel advisor is telling you? I am afraid this person has set themselves up for a terrible trip.

Half the fun of travel is the research. The more you know the better your trip will be. Don’t expect your travel destination to be exactly like your home town – just with an Eiffel Tower around the corner.

I don’t expect anyone to know everything about anything, but I am sure this gentleman had a smart phone. Would it kill him to go to Google and type Istanbul, Turkey?

When I do that very thing the first item that pops up is this:

Istanbul (Turkish: ─░stanbul) is the largest city in Turkey, forming the country's economic, cultural, and historical heart. With a population of 13.5 million, the city is at the center of the second-largest metropolitan area in Europe and among the world's largest cities by population within city limits.

Straddling the Bosphorus—one of the world's busiest waterways—in northwestern Turkey, between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, Istanbul is a transcontinental city, with one third of its population living in Asia and its commercial and historical center in Europe.

Hmm, then there is this little blurb:

Seven million foreign visitors arrived in Istanbul in 2010, when it was named a European Capital of Culture, making it the world's tenth-most popular tourist destination.

Thank you Wikipedia!

Istanbul has special meaning to me because Turkey was the very first foreign country I ever visited. I promise you in 1999 when I started planning my trip to Turkey and Greece I didn’t know anything about Turkey. Not a damn thing. But guess what I did – I looked it up (even before Wikipedia existed), and I learned as much as I could about the place I was about to spend a fortnight touring.

If you are going to boast and/or complain about your travels then you might want to get your facts straight! Travel (for me at least) requires a lot of work and a lot passion. You just can’t show up and say here’s my money impress me.

I once heard a lady at Heathrow airport yell at British Customs agent about VAT taxes. She was in the process of trying to get some money back and she wasn’t getting enough refunded in her opinion. It was no fault of the agent as he was just doing his job so she yelled, “Does all this money you are stealing from me go to your monument fund? God knows you have plenty in this stupid country!” Nice. Keep it classy.

If this delightful woman had done her research she would have know how the VAT refund process worked and she would have saved everyone some time and some embarrassment. There is a section in every guide book I own about London that explains the VAT process. There is even a little information packet with general information that shop keepers give you along with your receipt after making a purchase.

Travel isn’t about how much you spend, how you spend it or how much you think you got ripped off in taxes. It’s not about the abundance of monuments it what those monuments are about.

Travel is about experiences, knowledge and general common sense.

We as travelers are armed more now than ever with information. I say read, research then relax.

Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything. Whether in Turkey or having dinner in your hometown.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 4th - Independence or Dependence Day?

July 4th the designated day we as a nation celebrate our Independence from Mother England. The day is typically filled with backyard grilling, parades, lots of beer and some type of fireworks display.

As our lovely nation celebrates its hard won independence I will on a smaller level also be celebrating my DEPENDENCE on Mother England.

Now don't get me wrong. I love the US and am very grateful to live here, but I also like to think of myself as a citizen of the world. For me there is nothing better than exploring new countries learning new cultures and opening my mind to new ways and ideals practiced in other countries.

The first country to open my mind to a different way of life was England.

I was just a a little one when England really came across my radar. They had a Queen? Who has a Queen? I though that belonged in a storybook? You mean it's real?

Then there were the accents. Why did they have one and where could I get it?

Here's proof that I was obsessed with everything English at a young age.

If only I still had that Union Jack purse!!

I can’t help but notice how many things in our society that are distinctly British, and I clamor for them all.
Here are a few examples:
Jane Austen books and the Jane Austen Society - I am proud to say that I have read all her books and at one time I was a member of a Jane Austen Society.
Any of the following actors:
Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Daniel Craig, Ewan McGregor (technically Scottish but still part of the UK). Who did I miss? Who is your favorite British hottie?
Princess Diana, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, HM the Queen, and maybe Sarah, Duchess of York (although technically she isn't royalty anymore). Who is your favorite royal?

British Television:
I mean really there are far too many to list - Downton Abby, Sherlock, The Office, As Time Goes By - and all the numerous programs that are British and remade into American formats (The Weakest Link, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol etc.) Do you have a favorite British TV show?
British Food & Drink:
How often do we say we want some fish & chips, or a pint, or say the words high tea with our worst attempt at an English accent? Then there are the ones that are just fun to say: Toad in the Hole, Spotted Dick and Treacle Tart.

So while I am celebrating America's Independence from England by taking a day off from work I may well just have a pint or two. Then I will watch some Sherlock, Downton Abbey or take in some Wimbledon whilst hoping to catch a glimpse of Duchess Kate in the Royal Box before heading out to catch some fireworks!

Happy July 4th I hope to bump into you out in the world someday!