Have you ever wondered though what carnival is like in other cities?
The Collabo Blogspot, is pleased to post a review of Atlanta Carnival from our International Correspondent Amanda Toney aka XoXo Mandy with pictures from photographer Nickai.
Check out Part One of the Review!
Bright and Early I arrived at Boston Logan Airport for my 5:40am flight Atlanta bound on Thursday May 23. I was quite excited to leave out of Boston particularly because I heard how much rain was about to fall. When I reached the ticket agent, the line was around the corner and down the hall. Something told me to check-in on my computer before I left. Note to Self, in order to save time, hassle and peace of mind CHECK IN ahead of time. Nevertheless I got through the line and went through the TSA line with swift ease, because I made sure I had a pair of comfy sandals and no jewelry on. I do recommend arriving 90 min early (domestic) because you will need all the time you can.
As soon as I touched my foot on the ramp coming off the plane, I felt the heat beaming in my face. Atlanta was more like hot lanta. This airport was huge and I had no idea how much walking and dragging my suitcase along a long never-ending corridor. Of course I had to pick up my luggage, and while I tried to figure out where exactly it was to pick up my luggage, a helpful airport employee pointed towards a little express train that she recommended I hopped on. I asked her, “is it that far, or can I walk?” and with no hesitation and her thick southern accent she said, “Mam it’s like running a marathon, it’s pretty far.” So with that said I hopped on that train and rode to concourse D, where I picked up my luggage.
After I grabbed my luggage, which notably was there before I arrived (YAY), I went in search of a shuttle to my hotel. The hotel I stayed at for the most part was The Marriott Courtyard Atlanta, in Norcross Atlanta. When I asked the different shuttle drivers for a ride to the hotel, they all noted, “That’s quite far”. One shuttle driver offered to drive me for $70.00. I was kind of blown back by this because two minutes later another shuttle driver told me $35.00. I am sure you know which shuttle I chose to ride on.
The drive wasn’t so bad, however the traffic in Atlanta is HORRIBLE. There was stop and go traffic, I asked the driver if this was normal, and he said this is everyday traffic in the city. That alone made me roll my eyes at the thought of how bad it will be the days to come throughout the holiday weekend.
The hotel I stayed at was quite pleasant. It was in a quite area, very suburban, and there were a lot of food and chain restaurants that decorated the streets along the way. When I went to check in the woman that greeted me was very friendly. She saw I had more than a few suitcases and asked if I needed help lugging my belongings to my room, she said there were no elevators in the building and it was stairs, stairs and more stairs. I wasn’t a fan of the no elevators, but I kept a smile on my face because her hospitality was so charming.
After settling into the hotel. I was starving. I was recommended to try the Cracker Barrel. I am not a fan of southern food, but if you heard my belly, you would have eaten any and anywhere too. The line for Cracker Barrel was beyond ridiculous; I couldn’t believe so many people lined up for this food. I got to try honey butter biscuits and fried okra for the first time.
So if you’re into southern food, fried food, and deep fried pies, Atlanta is the place for you. I myself am not big on southern cuisine but I am always willing to try new foods. Some of the places I visited where due to location. I’m sure there were several places to eat n dine but my taste buds were pretty picky so I didn’t bask in the southern cuisine as much as I would have loved, but needless to say I did enjoy where I did eat.
Cracker Barrel- This restaurant is a chain restaurant with country style cuisine. The honey butter biscuits and the grilled lemon fish were amazing. The fried okra and hush puppies were new to my taste buds, not quite sure if I liked that
Footsteps- This was a little Jamaican Bar and Grill kind of place that had that cool island vibe. I felt like I was in Portland, Jamaica all over again. This restaurant was located at the underground mall in downtown Atlanta, and the staff was quite welcoming and friendly. I didn’t get the chance to eat here it was just a place to set up and meet with the Mas Band Bacchanalist. I did have pina coloda, which packed a heavy punch to it. Nice place to visit if you’re ever visiting the largely insane Underground mall.
Wet Willies- Now if you want to talk about ultimate chill spot, where the ladies come in abundance and fellas come looking dressed up; check out Atlanta’s own Wet Willies in Piedmont Rd NE Atlanta. They had a live DJ named Mystery who moved from Tampa to Atlanta, and he brought the right vibes to set the mood. Fellas just note NO hats and no flip-flops, the security is quite uptight and you will not be able to enter with either on.
Pappadeux- Well let me tell you about this experience. This was one for the records. The wait was hour, but very well worth it. There was live jazz band that played all the classic hits. As I waited with anticipation and hunger, I was distracted by the sweet jazz music. Definitely a great way to pass the time. This is a seafood restaurant, so it’s a little pricier, but the portions are very large, I was full and felt like I had a full meal leftover that I brought back to my hotel with me.
Mangos: Mandy's Favorite
*Mangos Caribbean Restaurant- Now This restaurant exceeded all expectations. The first night I stepped foot in here, it was after I went to Flag Fete Thursday night. They had a little lime (After Party). When I walked in the music was pumping the vibes was “Bess” and apparently the food must have been real good because the line was out the door. I contemplated on getting something to eat but I was wearing white that night and I was afraid the way I was going to tear up that curry, it would have been all over my dress.
Next Day I had a booked photo shoot, there was a fete my friends wanted to go to and the flyer said, you could purchase tickets at Mangos Caribbean Restaurant. So to kill to birds with one stone, grabbed some tickets for Jouvert at The Atrium Night Club and got some food. The waitress and staff were beyond friendly. They were beautiful as well. I got curry chicken rice and peas, plantains, and a side salad. This was a huge portion. When I received the bill, I was shocked all this food that I just had and my bottled water cost me only $8.35. I was expecting to spend at least $20.00. That alone had me doing the happy dance! The food was perfect, the staff was amazing, and the restaurant it self has plenty vibes.
I returned to this restaurant three more times after that. ; Twice in one day as well. The music and the ambiance were definitely on point! The restaurant is adorned with beautiful island pictures, and promoters will appreciate this place, because there is a table you can place your business cards and flyers to promote your next event. Also I noticed several flat screen TVs that had pictures of the flyers for upcoming events flashing through the TV screen. I will recommend this place to anyone. This is definitely a place to come back and visit.
About The Writer:
Amanda Toney, who goes by XoXo Mandy, currently lives in Boston Massachusetts. She graduated from college with her Bachelors Degree in Business Management and Masters in Business Management. From birth she was initiated into the life of Carnival. Some will say she is the epitome of a Carnival Baby. Although she works hard in her corporate world, she loves to venture off with new opportunities to travel and visit and experience the carnivals of the world. She has been to several carnival but Amanda happily admits, "there is NO PLACE ON THIS EARTH LIKE TRINIDAD CARNIVAL." She is a Trini Native and a soca junkie. She is very well connected and has a lot of first hand experience in the "carnival experience." Amanda also helps out with D'Horizon MAS Camp in Boston. Carnivals Amanda has attended and played MAS throughout the years Trinidad, Point Fortin Borough Day, Boston, Cambridge, New York, New Jersey, Miami, Atlanta, Atlantic City, Philly, DC, and Toronto Caribana. In the Near Future I would love to attend Jamaica Bachannal, Barbados Crop Over London Carnival and Brazil Carnival. In the States I would like to venture off to Hollywood Carnival and Houston CarnivalIf Amanda could make this her long life career, she'd be a great carnival expert. "Live your life like you playing mas, by Kes feat. David Rudder, is how is I love to describe my love for life and carnival, peace love and unity. Hope you enjoy embarking on my adventures of carnival through my eyes. Hope you fall in love with carnival and all it has to offer. Enjoy, and Come Play Ah Mas !
For More about Mandy check out:
Amanda Toney on Facebook
Amanda Toney on Facebook
Photographer Nickai ( https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Nickai-Photography-Inc/148701911809314 ) though schooled in Photography pre-digital era, started shooting professionally for the internationally noted Poisondart Sound and within a matter of a few years becoming a regular on the Florida Caribbean Entertainment circuit. Never seen without his camera too far out of reach the passion is apparent in the fact that everything is a target for his eye! Presently pursuing a curiosity for cinematography and filmmaking while working as House Photographer for www.cineenigma.com ( Cine Enigma Studios ) and honing his fine art photography skills through various projects of his own, be sure to pay attention to his name scrolling on credits for camera work on short films, music videos, documentaries and all of the sort. Culturally inspired works celebratory of nature; it’s beauty beholden by a keenly trained lens aspire to bring you around one way or another for a closer look at a recognizable and admirable style for his trade and craft.