Thursday, May 21, 2009

Travelogue: Atlanta

One of the perks of my job, as the loyal Light Greenies (all 10 of you!) know, is that I get to travel - A LOT. This week, my travel took me to Atlanta, where I was looking for greenie goodness.

Unfortch, as Trent at Pink is the New Blog would say, not a lot of green was to be seen. Well ... correction: green trees were to be seen all over the city; green bucks were to be seen in the neighborhood of Buckhead, where I was ensconced in a luxury hotel. Apparently, this neighborhood can be described, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Where old money lives, new money parties."

So green was all over the place, but GREEN-with-a-capital-G? I'm not so sure. Here, in a nutshell, are a few highlights of my journey:

I stayed at the Intercontinental Buckhead. The advantage of working for the government is that sometimes you get to stay at crazy-nice places because the government gets a standard rate for whichever down-filled pillows it decides to lay its head upon. The Intercontinental was BY FAR the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in. I mean, I had a bathtub and a shower and they were in two separate rooms. The place even had turn-down service, which has pretty much disappeared for those of us who aren't Donald Trump.
However, in terms of greenness, the Intercontinental was eh. Of course, they had the standard cards in the bathroom telling you that if you hung up your towel they wouldn't wash it, to conserve water, detergent, and energy. However, there was no recycling in the rooms or hallways, which is becoming almost standard in hotels these days. And while I don't think eco-warriors need to go veg, the restaurant -- Au Pied de Cochon (roughly translated, by someone who took high school French long ago, as "by the foot of the pig") -- featured a lot of veal, along with actual pigs' feet, which, I have to say, was a turn-off. I understand that meat is "in" right now, and I myself am not a vegetarian. I simply don't eat mammals, though I really don't have anything against eating Bessie and Wilbur. Nevertheless, I never ate at Au Pied de Cochon due to the prevalence of baby cow on the menu.
The bar, however, was quite nice, and they served a free snack plate which included beet chips. Yum.

All in all, the Intercontinental Buckhead was lovely, but if I had to pay $360 a night to stay there, I'm not sure I would feel so sanguine.

Luckily, I had a friend in Atlanta who took me to Ecco. This was exactly the type of modern yet cozy place I love. I had the organic chicken thighs with salsa verde (having spent way too many years working with 7-year-olds, I giggle a little when I say thighs). No side dish was included, but the waiter suggested spinach with pine nuts and tomato. Now, any kid who thinks spinach is "gross" or "yucky" has never had the spinach at Ecco, because that was the highlight of a meal that also included roasted chicken thighs (giggle, giggle). Not everything on the menu was green or organic, but I like a restaurant that gives you a choice. Our waiter was chill and let us chat and chew, without any pressure to be up and out. Thanks, Roo, for taking me to Ecco. Roo also claims that Ecco is Bill Murray's favorite stop in Atlanta, which makes it uber-cool.

I flew in and out of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Apparently, ATL is the busiest airport in the world. I'm always on the lookout for recycling bins at airports -- they make sense, since so many travelers are carrying water bottles and/or newspapers. However, ATL had no reycling bins that I could see. In fact, they had scary garbage cans which groaned mechanically every time trash went in -- I think they were compactors. It's hard for me to believe that the reduction in trash size off-sets the energy consumption needed to smash and bash after EVERY SINGLE piece of trash is discarded.

My plane was grounded due to an oil leak, but the folks at AirTran quickly found us another bird. I had planned to nap on the way home, but all of the on-and-off the planes resulted in me being wired. Instead of sleeping, I read an article in The New Yorker entitled "The Sixth Extinction", which sort of terrified me. The article chronicled various mass extinctions throughout history, and then described the extinction which is going on right now. I won't go into all the details, but this extinction involves bats, frogs, fungus and humanity's urge to expand into new territories. Basically, we're the asteroid that's going to hit the earth and blot out the sun. It's the sort of thing that conservatives will pooh-pooh, either as God's will, or not important.

Lest you think that my travelogue makes me a Negative Nelly, I have to say that Atlanta welcomed me and charmed me, and it's only through my green goggles that the city seems to be struggling to catch up to the greening of the American culture. I hope that it's only a matter of time before Atlanta is lean, mean and green.


Darci said...

Oh, how I love reading your blog!

Catfish said...

I'm glad.