12 October, 2009
Travelogue–Athens, GA, and the Georgia GuidestonesPosted in : Bars and Tasting Rooms, Bars in Athens - GA, Travel, Travel Guide for Athens - GA on by : The Gourmez
The husband and I went to Athens, GA in mid-August with our friends Laura and Jordan. Athens is the home of the University of Georgia’s main campus and Laura went to grad school there. She recommended it as a cute, somewhat quirky, and nightlife-abundant town, perfect for a weekend away from home. I completely agree.
On the drive down (it’s six hours from Durham), we made plans to stop in Charlotte, NC, to check out their IKEA store as it’s conveniently right off I-85. This was my first ever IKEA trip and, well, it did not live up to the hype for me. Caveat #1: I’m not a big shopper. Walking through stores bores me after about 20 minutes. Caveat #2: We were not in need of any home goods, making Caveat #1 that much more significant. Caveat #3: We didn’t go to the first floor, where all the fun kitchen toys play. But honestly, you guys, it’s a nice store, with nice stuff but I don’t see how it’s worth driving large distances to get to. You can get cheap yet nice furniture elsewhere, I swear. And also, the cafeteria sucked. =P
After the IKEA sojourn, we headed back on the road. Around Gaffney, SC, you will find yourself staring at a water tower in the shape of a giant peach.
While I always enjoy roadside attractions, I’m still wondering if Gaffney is trying to steal Georgia’s thunder. I thought Georgia had the rights to any and all peach-themed oddities.
In Athens, we stayed at the Georgia Gameday Center, which despite the fact that I am not a sports fan, was a really nice option for lodging in the downtown area. If you are a sports fan, you simply must rent one of these condos if you come for a game, as the whole establishment is covered in Georgia Bulldog gear, from the marked-yards rug to the framed pictures of mascots come and gone. Staying on a high floor also gives a nice view of UGA. The condos had a plush leather sectional, separate bedrooms with comfortable beds, and a lovely kitchen space.
Dinner that night was at Transmetropolitan, a very popular order-at-the-counter spot with pizza, sandwiches, and pasta. By very popular, I mean that the service was really slow, presumably because of the endless line of co-eds placing their orders. Food was good, though, and Jordan was so inspired by the turkey and artichoke sandwich that he spent the rest of the weekend drawing up plans for his own restaurant, to be named . . . wait for it . . .Turkey Sandwich.
We went to all of Laura’s favorite nightlife spots on Friday night, starting at The Go Bar. I loved the atmosphere, which can only be described as blue, but as there was some truly horrendous karaoke taking place and it was early, we moved on. The Winery was next, which has a really great space, with a large, open main room, a huge bar, and more intimate couch areas in the back. Notable were the throne room, a single half-circle booth at the top of a flight of stairs, and the very affordable champagne cocktails.
We then sidled over to a lively bar next door, the Buddha Bar. It had a lot of sake-centric drinks and beer bombs, which is a great idea. We ended up with this addition to our glassware.
This vessel is the bearer of Buddha Brew, a concoction that I imagine changes with whatever bartender happens to mix it up. We shared, it conquered. The night was done.
The next day, Laura and Jordan set out for a microcar museum in a nearby town and Ben and I did some downtown Athens exploration. We ate breakfast at Five Star Day, your typical in and out breakfast spot with little fanfare but reasonable food. Then we set out for the Church-Waddel-Brumby house, Athens’s oldest building (1820ish) and the home of their welcome center. I picked up a handy dandy walking map of the Athens music scene and we continued on our way. Why is there a music scene map? Athens just so happens to be the birthplace of bands such as REM, the B-52s, and Pylon. The walk points out various former and present hotspots for music acts, as well as slips in some unrelated history facts here and there. For example, one was the double-barreled cannon, a failed invention from the Civil War.
Athens has great architecture inspired by the classical city from which they took their name. The town hall was exceptionally pretty on a clear day.
Ben and I then parted ways, he to a haircut and shopping, me to continue the walking tour. I walked down the former landing strip (now Washington Street) of Georgia’s first successful aviator; saw the Morton Theater, a former vaudeville spot; and took pictures outside of the 40 Watt Club, one of the gems of Athens’s music scene. A few blocks up and around the corner, the Georgia Theater, another staple of the music scene, was trying to recover from a recent fire.
Here’s hoping they’ll l be able to change their marquee soon. Ben and I then met up again, bought me some new tennis shoes (you must go to Junkman’s Daughter’s Brother!), and walked around UGA. Of note was the Tree that Owns Itself, a little west of campus, that, well, owns itself.
The stadium and student center were also scenic. I did, of course, walk through the Arch, which meant I’d never graduate, were I a freshmen just starting at the school.
I must say, Athens, is a great town for walking around and taking in ambience. There were lots of collegiates, of course, but the stores were not strictly preppy. It was also fun coming up on a painted Bulldog at nearly every corner. I don’t think I can pick a favorite, but in keeping with the classical theme, Caesar Dawgustus will make an appearance here. There’s plenty more dogs in the photos.
We met up with Laura and Jordan for dinner at Clocked, a hamburger joint with a classic sci-fi persona. Very creative sandwiches are on the menu as are an old-school soda selection and affordable prices. Even better is that you can get a single patty burger that isn’t overwhelmingly huge. My waistline likes small portion sizes.
For dessert, we went to Last Resort and met up with one of Laura’s grad school friends. This place is worth going to for the dessert wine and liquor options alone. There were several options each for brandy, cognac, port, madeira, sherry-I could go on. It’s pricy but that’s to be expected.
We went back to Go Bar afterward and it was much more fun this evening, with an 80’s dance party inside and a build-your-own taco bar outside. Definitely a great patio for a warm evening out.
On Sunday, we ate at Grit, which is right next door to the Go Bar, with another of Laura’s friends. It’s a vegetarian restaurant that is quite popular and, like Transmetropolitan and Clocked, also quite slow. My cherry and almond pancakes were very good.
We then parted ways with our friends and started the drive back home. I demanded that we take a small detour to Elbert County, GA, to see the Georgia Guidestones.
This oft-graffitied attraction is referred to by some as the American Stonehenge and was built in 1980. A man with the pseudonym of R.C. Christian paid for its construction. There are several inscriptions all over the monument in the most-used modern languages. They give the rules that those who funded it believed a rational, just society should follow. Living in harmony with the environment and maintaining a legally just system are big themes.
There are also several holes and slots that match up with the noonday sun, the annual migration of the sun, and the celestial poles.
I thought it looked pretty awesome, even though I’m saddened that the time capsule buried at the site had no date for when it was to be brought up again. A shame! We could have had great relics of a crazy person’s mind, if only they finished the sentence on the engraving!
Thanks, Athens and the Georgia Guidestones, for a weekend well-spent! And now, Athens, GA, is officially the furthest I’ve been into the South.
For more pictures, head to our photo website. Click the thumbnails at the bottom of the page to see the pictures.