For the third time this year I found myself in the Atlanta airport. Which was fine because being there usually means an adventure is unfolding. When you live in a small southern town like Montgomery, it’s common to fly through Atlanta before going anywhere else. So much so I’m sure that when I die, my soul will pass through Hartsfield-Jackson before going on its way. The flight between Montgomery and Atlanta is absurdly quick — only about 45 minutes. By the time the person who dropped you off is home, your taxiing into the gate. But suddenly you’re an hour in the future so isn’t that nice?
I haven’t seen enough airports to tell you if ATL is objectively elegant, but I’ve always liked it. It’s spread out over several terminals that are separate long buildings that are joined by the underground “Plane Train” (who doesn’t love a good rhyme?). Basically it’s easy to navigate and the separate terminals allows for a maximum plane capacity– an efficient design that I admire.
I enjoyed a disgusting breakfast from Subway because who says 8 AM is too early for a turkey sandwich with possibly expired American cheese. De-lish!
With CNN playing away in the background, I boarded my next flight. (I’m not proud to tell you it took me a looong time to realize they exclusively play CNN in the Delta terminals because they’re both Atlanta-based companies. Same for the Coke products on their planes.)
Have I even mentioned where I was going yet? I don’t think I did. But I’ll give you a hint that I’m in an “empire state of mind…” and they’ll “remember me to Herald Square…”
New York. I’m going to New York.
So we landed in LaGuardia after a delightfully uneventful flight. I got into a cab and went to my hotel: The Library.
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the Travel Channel, back when it was more than an alternative to the Food Network. And there was one host whose job I wanted more than anyone else’s: Samantha Brown, a perky 30-something blonde woman who always looked dressed by The Gap. She had a show called “Great Hotels,” and I wanted to be her. Years ago she visited The Library Hotel where the floors and rooms are based on the Dewey Decimal system. It’s beautiful and bookish and I got to stay there my first night in Manhattan.
I got there before my room was ready, so I stowed my bags and went upstairs to their lounge with tea, coffee, and books. I sat and enjoyed the quiet of the room for a while and then started getting a little bored. So I put on some non blister-inducing shoes, grabbed my smaller purse that doesn’t weigh a ton and went to the New York Public Library which, wouldn’t you know it, was across the street.
I got inside, passed the tourists, and got a library card, like a good little English major. Despite getting ninety minutes of sleep the night before, I was suddenly wide awake (a new library card will do that to ya). So I thought, “You know what would be fun? A brisk stroll thirty blocks downtown.” So I set off to The Stand bookstore.
The Strand is fabulous (please hire me!). I think I went through every shelf a least three times and obviously bought several titles (it would have been rude not to) as well as a tote bag to tell locals even faster, “Hi, I’m a tourist.” But by the the fourth round on the basement floor, jet lag caught up with me hard. So I staggered zombie-like into the street, hailed a cab to the warm bed waiting for me.
Which it was. I stayed in room 904, putting me on the ninth floor (history and geography) in the fourth room– Asian history so the bookshelves were full of books on (you guessed it) Asian history. I took a few minutes to explore the volumes and them promptly passed out on the bed for a solid nap, having left CNN and the Plane Train behind hours ago.