This past weekend I had a business meeting to attend out-of-town. People routinely say to me, "as a professor you must travel to some really interesting places". Hell yes, I do! I go to the Atlanta Airport Hilton at least three times a year and this time you are all going with me. Oh, the glamour! The trip began at beautiful Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. Don't ask my what makes it international - probably the once-a-day Air Canada flight. Ever since I managed to luck my way into Gold Medallion status on Delta for this year I've booked every flight I can on them. Sure, I rarely get any sort of upgrade but for one moment in time I get to pretend like I'm not just a guy who is getting better treatment for opening a credit card.
|The delightful Delta bird taking me to Atlanta|
|It's seat 25c with artistic blurring b/c I suck at photos|
After deplaning - great word, that - I had a fierce internal debate about whether to grab a bite in the airport. It would have been far more interesting to have a fierce external debate in the middle of the B terminal but I'd had my fill of the TSA already. I knew that there was a delicious barbecue meal waiting me that evening and so I decided to pass on scrounging for food in the airport.
One brief shuttle ride later and I arrived at my home-away-from-home, the Atlanta Airport Hilton. The clerk who checked me in noted that I had stayed here five times but, despite that, she still insisted on being thorough and telling me things I already knew. I was going to stop her but she just seemed so happy to tell me about where the shuttle picked up for my return to the airport. Hilton Gold status got me an upgrade to a room with executive lounge privileges.
As you can see from the photos, the room was quite nice though it was basically the same as any other non-upgraded King room in the hotel. It did come with access to the executive lounge on the 17th floor, which for me means unlimited Diet Cokes. That alone probably saved me more than the free wireless.
|Do I really need to caption this?|
|Excellent view of the airport from the hotel|
After unpacking and catching up on work e-mails, I desperately needed food. So like a good Floridian I went to dinner at 4 PM. I headed to Barbecue Kitchen of College Park, my one go-to, never-miss restaurant in this area. I got the barbecue pork with fried okra, a delicious mashed potato casserole, the mixed basket of biscuits/cornbread and cherry cobbler. Damn good cherry cobbler. Everything was as delicious as usual except, disappointingly, for the pork. It had a nice smoky flavor but was otherwise bland. The powerful and tangy barbecue sauce did its part to redeem things but I was kicking myself for not getting the brisket. After all, if the best you can say about the meat portion of your dinner is "the sauce redeemed it" then something has gone wrong.
|Mmm, cherry cobbler|
|Executive Lounge spread. Minimal at this time of day.|
|Comfortable seating area|
|Later that day I saw a giant vulture walking on the ledge - scary!|
My other contribution, and this one shocked me, was to suggest the Barbecue Kitchen for lunch. Somehow, despite a combined 30+ Atlanta Airport Hilton stays between them, none of my lunchmates had ever been. This time the meal turned out spectacular. I had the brisket and it was hands-down the best brisket of my life. I say that even knowing that my grandmother might be reading this and it would break her heart. Grandma, your brisket is a strong second! No pictures on the meal because it was so damn good that I couldn't stop eating for long enough to get the camera out. Apologies.
That night I made a bit of a dinner out of the Executive Lounge. At five or so they put out some cheeses, a few vegetables, and exactly one hot item. Tonight's was potstickers which one person delightfully referred to as "these weird tacos". Yup, it happened.
After one more uneventful night at the Hilton, I had a decision to make. For lunch I could either go to one of the three (3!) Waffle Houses within half a mile or I could go to the airport and sample their wares. I ended up going to Popeye's Chicken in the C-terminal. It was not worth the extra train ride as the biscuits were cold. What the hell, Popeye's? I then traveled back to the A-terminal so that I could purchase a soda from the Burger King Coca-Cola Freestyle machine. For those who have never seen one, it's a fountain machine with over 100 flavors of Coke products. Sadly my day was completely ruined - not even kidding - because this one had Dr. Pepper/Diet Dr. Pepper instead of Pibb Extra/Pibb Zero. About the only place in the damn world I can get me some Pibb Zero is from a Coke Freestyle machine and they increasingly stock Dr. Pepper instead.
I spent about ten minutes in the Delta lounge in the A-terminal where I stuffed myself silly with Biscoff-and-nutella sandwiches. I hate nutella. The stuff makes me completely and totally nauseated except when I eat a bit of it on Biscoff cookies. Then it's the foodstuff of the gods. Go figure. The flight back home was brief and relatively uneventful. For maybe the third time ever my upgrade cleared thanks to having few business travelers on a Sunday afternoon. After a brief delay waiting for our spot in line we were airborne for the 70-minute flight home. I did not avail myself of the free booze option in first class, but I did have two Frescas and quite a few of the new-to-Delta Toblerone miniature bars. A perfect ending to a working weekend.
|Awwww yeah, living life in first class. Look at that leg room!|