Another great stop on the tour. I’d never been here – never been in the Southern States. And all the stories were true as to belles, beer and hospitality.
Athens is best known as college town, and the one thing anyone knows about it, including myself before I came, was that REM hail from here. So it’s a music place as well as… well, college means students which, let’s face it, means drinking. So many bars, so little time! Good bars too, funky, wild, mellow. And since I am on the ‘Books and Brews’ tour, the key ingredient – beer! – was available in great variety.
My favourite local brewery was Terrapin – named, I discovered when I toured the place – by the Deadhead brewer from his top album, Terrapin Station. They host gatherings every Friday and Saturday. You pay 10 bucks, get 8 very generous quarter pours of all their offerings, from German Alt Ale, through mango infused IPA to my favourite, their Rye Pale Ale. It’s a packed grassy area, with kids, dogs, games of bean sack and disc golf. Terrific music plays, good snacks can be had. All so mellow. Just as well I went there the day after my reading.
That was in the Flickr Bar, a fun establishment that hosts music, comedy… and me. It wasn’t a huge turnout, about ten folk. But several I had met on my wanders about town that day, who all said they’d come, including the guide to an old manison I’d explored, Shanon, and her husband Andy, super friendly, smart and talented both, who I went afterwards with to eat some great pulled pork, then later onto a great bar, The Globe, where they had on draft, strangely, one of my favourite beers in the world: Fuller’s ESB from London, UK.
The reading went well, I always enjoy talking about my boy Jack Absolute. Sold a few copies too, always nice.
I had an extra day here so explored. Swam 60 lengths at the University pool, wandered the amazing State Botanical Gardens. Ate soul food chicken in town. But the culinary highlight were the smoked ribs at Doggone Café, a hole in the wall a little away from the centre. Not fancy at all, except in the food – wondrous, lean, tender, smoky spiced pork. Reaffirmed as the main course of my death row meal. Yumm!
And as for the Belles? Sigh! So many charming young ladies with big smiles. Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, most everyone is kinda sporty, wears lycra and boots. Here they are mainly in floaty dresses. Old school and quite delightful – merely to observe, of course.
I shall try to return to the South. Too much fun, such great folk.