Sweet Home Alabama? TBD.
I went native for my last Natchez meal and had Catfish with coleslaw and cheesy hash browns at a C&W joint. The music was hopping and I will crave those spuds in the future.
A quick 300 miles and I’m in Birmingham, Alabama – former steel town and home of UAB (University of Alabama, Birmingham).
I parked in front of the Hilton and checked in with Hotels.com. That’s another ten bookings so a freebie room tomorrow. I’m all about saving money.
The hotel is close by The Five Corners, originally a hub for the city’s tram system, now a hot spot for restaurants and bars.
Craving coffee and pie I found Domestique coffee (with a little difficulty) off 20th Street and the smart and charming Evelyn behind the counter.
Evelyn was a font of local recommendations for the eclectic and she made an excellent Americano. Evelyn is in her third year studying Neuroscience.
Evelyn warned me that Birmingham is “a car city” – all points of interest are spread around.
For Dinner last night I hit paydirt with Chez Fonfon, a classic French Bistro, and Mike Costa the bartender.
Mike , a huge music fan, had among many things worked as local liaison for Paul McGuinness when U2 played Birngham.
Mike gave me a solid list of new old listening for my road trip.
His colleague Pat Nolan is Pet Shop Boys / New Order fan. That probably makes two in Alabama today if you include me. We will both see the double bill in 2022 my West End Girlfriends!.
Chez Fonfon is a winner, literally. I haven’t had Chicken Liver Mousse that good since before The Plague! The lemon tartlet was the most delicious ever; Chez has a James Beard Award winning pastry chef!
The Merengue was so good I dropped my iPhone on it and required serious club soda surgery to clean the camera. Expect yellow tinted selfies from now on.
As I travelled back to my hotel I happened on a Misfits cover band hanging outside the Black Market Bar & Grill. I was not properly dressed for a Halloween party at the towns long standing Punk Club but I paid my $12 and joined the tattooed and studded and attempted to blend.
First act up : I watched a chubby ginger bearded dude staple a variety of paper products to his head and torso. Act two: chubby ginger bearded dude lifting weights with nipple chains. Act three: band aids.
Ginger, a volunteer act, made extra cash by stapling customer gratuities to himself. I tipped him four quarters. Not everyone thinks I’m funny it seems.
A night out at a hopping Birmingham Punk Club Halloween Party, a Goth Art Sale, a Misfit Cover Band, a self mutilating ginge, all made for an excellent start to my stay in Alabama.
It was a quiet night in Birmingham. Crimson Tide was playing in nearby Tuscaloosa. The stadium alone takes 100k citizens, not including tailgaters. Still – The Five Points was hopping. The crew here do not strike me as football fans.
I got to Barber Motorcycle Museum an hour too early. It seems they open at noon Sundays. I found shopping outlets 2 miles away – score!
The Barber Motorcycle Museum houses the world’s biggest private motorcycle collection in the immaculate multilevel 250k square foot space.
You definitely get the kid in the candy store feel here. Just not candy you could ever afford.
There is a full competitive racetrack attached to the Museum. There were motorbike races going on today. Excellent viewing access is available when you exit at the back of the museum and there are beautiful grounds to wander around.
Mercedes, with their gigantic local SUV manufacturing plant, uses the track to test drive.
Sorry Elvis – this is the museum I will revisit. Screw Graceland.
159 steps later … I’m back in Birmingham at the top of Vulcan. The worlds largest cast iron statue overlooks Alabama’s largest city from its highest point. And Vulcan has the ultimate buns of steel. There is an elevator option available.
Punk Halloween Parties; French Bistros; Friendly Local Bookstores and Motorcycle Museums were oddly my Sweet Home Alabama.