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Old 12.07.2011, 13:10
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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I don't think it's ever OK to leave nothing, unless there is visible saliva on your food or something. The waitstaff is really only compensated through tips, as they actually receive as little as $US2 per hour in salary. I say 20% for the standard, 15% for substandard. The thing is, even if the food is late or comes out at different times, that's usually on the kitchen rather than the waitstaff.
Sure it is OK. In extreme cases of poor service (not poor food, that's not the server's fault!), a zero tip is acceptable. The wait staff know that they're making up the difference between their salary and minimum wage with their tips, so if they decide to be surly, ignore you, chat with their friends, throw the food on the table, etc. instead of doing their job properly, they know they'll sacrifice some in tips.
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Old 12.07.2011, 13:11
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

I'll start with my qualifications for speaking on this subject.
1) I was born in rural N.W. Georgia, where I lived until I moved to attend the University of Georgia, also located in a small town
2) I lived in Atlanta, GA for 10 years
3) I have traveled extensively in the south and have relatives throughout and am aware that there exists a large degree of diversity within this cultural complex
4)I have a masters degree in history from Georgia State University

I'm going to talk about this in terms of historical developments.
At the time of the civil war, the north was predominantly industrial, but also had small-scale farming. The production of cash crops such as cotton was not possible there due to climate, and as such, it focused on other sectors of economic development.

The south, on the other hand, was dominated by large-scale plantation economies, though subsistence farming (small-scale) was also practiced by many who were not engaged in the plantation, slave-labor economy. The labor force for the plantation-economy system was mostly black slaves. By this time, most of these slaves had been there for generations.

After the war, the north continued to develop its industries while the south struggled to redefine itself economically since slave-labor economies were no longer tenable. To a large extent, it practiced small scale subsistence farming until the turn of the 20th century, with the notable exception of tobacco farming in the Carolinas and some cotton farming in the deep south, which was more profitable. During this time, the south was very, very poor and levels of education were low.

In this century, the south has rebranded itself as the new center of service economies by offering "hospitable" labor laws to employers as well as tax breaks (Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston etc). As such, the "sun belt" economies experienced an unprecedented level of growth during the 20th century, largely eliminating these economic and educational disparities, but the stereotypes remain.

While it is true that there are some poor areas in the south, where the citizens certainly seem "provincial" to more cosmopolitan types, the same is also true in the North. Most notably, anti-federalist, militia organizations originate in places like rural Michigan etc. While race discussions continue to plague the entire political fabric of the US, not just in the South, this city-mouse, country-mouse discussion does not originate there. Monster truck rallies are just as popular in the North as in the South.

Stereotypes that Northerners have about Southerners: ignorant, lazy, inbred, pick up trucks, dogs, religious, conservative, crazy accents, trashy etc.
Stereotypes that Southerners have about Northerners: rude, fast, sharp dealing, gross food (casseroles, unsweet tea), dishonorable, uncivilized, immoral, liberal, crazy accents, trashy etc.

I don't know this for a fact, but Southerners may be less likely to end up abroad. So, perhaps you hear one side of the story. From a southerner's point of view, they could be just as likely to warn you from going to large American (Northern) cities because of all of the crime and filth (this, however is not my recommendation--experience everything!).

Anyway, back to your question. Should you visit the south? Yes. Absolutely. It is culturally a very rich and productive place (mint juleps, Johny Cash, jazz, blues, William Faulkner, Nascar, hip hop) with a stunning array of natural beauty--from the Appalachian mountains to coastal islands. You don't have to avoid the rural areas either--you're much more likely to find barbecue and old people sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch with pitchers of sweet tea ready to explain to you the history of the south. The south is known for its openness and above all, hospitality.

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Maybe the Americans on this forum can help me with this one.

Planning my next USA trip I have been bouncing various ideas off Americans at work to see what they think of my suggestions and maybe harvest some ideas and possibilities.

If I mention the South, and especially places like Alabama, the reaction is definitely a no no. Also, in a broader sense, when mentioning maybe some American I met with some strange or backward attitude, Americans will invariably say, "he must have been from the South" or "that's typical for the South".

On the whole, the South is presumed to be backward, primitive, rusitical. Is that so?

And more importantly, why?

I have discussed this and some have suggested, maybe it is an indirect and veiled form of (maybe subconscious) racism. The South has lots of African Americans and calling the South rustical, backward and stupid is an indirect way of saying the same about Blacks themselves. But this argument doesn't make sense to me. Cities like Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC also have lots of Black citizens but people don't called those cities rustical, backwards or primitive. Or at least I have never heard it.

Or is it maybe because people there are, um, how shall I put it, a bit rustcal? But then so is much of the Mid-West or even upstate New York, upstate Illinois etc. Yet these places don't have the same associatons as the South.

Or is it because they lost the Civil War? But isn't that a long time ago? And does it still matter?

Can anybody throw any more light on this?

Last edited by tearley; 12.07.2011 at 16:04.
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  #43  
Old 12.07.2011, 13:12
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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Yes, but again, that was mostly in the south, along the Ohio River.
Yeah, in other words the populated bits.
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  #44  
Old 12.07.2011, 13:18
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I don't think it's ever OK to leave nothing, unless there is visible saliva on your food or something. The waitstaff is really only compensated through tips, as they actually receive as little as $US2 per hour in salary. I say 20% for the standard, 15% for substandard. The thing is, even if the food is late or comes out at different times, that's usually on the kitchen rather than the waitstaff.
That will depend on the restaurant. It is not uncommon for tips to be split amongs the staff working that shift.

And I never leave a tip in a tip jar like is so popular at Starbucks. They make full wage.

Refering to southern Ohio:
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Yeah, in other words the populated bits.

Nah. Cincinnati is the largest city in Southern Ohio, and it is very conservative (a lot of old German settlers there). The rest of southern Ohio is considered to be a part of Appalachia.

Last edited by MusicChick; 12.07.2011 at 13:55. Reason: Merging consecutive posts.
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  #45  
Old 12.07.2011, 13:23
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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Yeah, in other words the unpopulated bits.
Fixed that for you
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Old 12.07.2011, 13:35
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

If you do go - you'll come back with a new found respect for Country music - I'm stuck on Nelson, Jennings, Highwaymen - and some alternative Cracker at the moment.

Nashville - Honky Tonk Row - and the Eskimo Brothers* - brilliant night


*And yes I know what the urban slang means!
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Old 12.07.2011, 13:38
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

Actually I would suggest visiting the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma. Birmingham and Montgomery also have parks and museums concerning the civil rights movement that are worth visiting.

And of course...southern cooking. I´m not a fan myself but oh my can those folks cook!
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Old 12.07.2011, 13:39
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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I am by all technical aspects a southerner, and I have never lived in a Yankee state, unless you count Miami, which is actually North Havana.

Southerners tend to more traditional and conservative. They tend to have less education. Higher rates of teenage pregnancy, obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. They tend to be poorer, more blue collar. Most people don't go to the South for well-paying jobs. They will go for low-skilled manufacturing jobs. They tend to be non-unionized. I never even saw a real, live Union until I moved to Kentucky.

Fox News is a large contributor to attitudes regarding politics and social issues. This is because Fox News is carried on "basic" cable packages at a lower cost to the consumer, where as rivals CNN and MSNBC tend to be on more expensive packages. There still tends to be a LOT of racism in the South. They love their guns and their religion. Also because they tend to be less educated, they are more close minded towards differences like gays, Islam, race, non-English speakers, etc.

There are of course, urban islands of sanity, like Atlanta, Savannah, Birmingham, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, etc.

Odds are most American expats you meet are from the coasts. The coasts attract more liberal attitudes, more socialist attitudes, higher paying industry and jobs that demand an educational background and a more complex skill set. This could be reflective of the types of responses you've received when telling people of your plan to visit The South.

And we simply divide this up by referring to "Red" states and "Blue" states, because these attitudes are easily reflected in our politics. "Red" equals conservative (and tends to be rural western and southern states) and "Blue" equals liberal (Coastal and upper Midwestern states).

Then there are anomolies... states like Florida... where "immigrants" from the North in places like Orlando, Miami, Tampa, etc, have liberalized the demographics, but the Old South is still very much alive in places like Pensacola, Tallahasee and Jacksonville.

There are other anomolies, and I could go on for days describing all of them. But the take home message is that the South is looked down upon by the North, and the North is looked down upon by the South. The attitudes towards each other and the cultural differences still alive today can be traced all the way back to the Civil War.
KeinFranzösisch
I don't think that some of your assessments here are accurate:
1. Southerners are less educated.
The city in America which has the highest percentage of college graduates?....Atlanta. 51 percent (It is also the country's most conservative city.)
If you check out the most recent census data by state, you'll see that that most states, both in the north and south, have numbers somewhere around 20 percent for people who have attained a bachelor's degree.
http://www.census.gov/compendia/stat...es/11s0229.pdf
2. Racism in the South
Yes, the racism in the south tends to be more overt, and certainly more discussed for historical reasons. But racism is a problem in the entire country, c.f. Baltimore, Detroit, Cincinnati.
3. The south is more blue-collar.
You'd have to have industry in order to support blue-collar jobs. If you check the numbers, the south employs a higher percentage of folks in non-manufacturing jobs. You're dead right about the lack of unions. Abuses in the textile industry in particular were notorious (Norma Rae)--but those industries are quickly disappearing. This could be true if you compare urban north to the rural south. But if you compare this to the urban south, everyone is working in finance, banking, consulting, real estate etc. This is not a north-south divide, this is a rural-urban divide.
4. Haters of Different People
When I lived in Atlanta, I lived in the country's largest gay community outside of San Francisco. I could hear the call to prayer from the mosque near my office. That's the urban south. There are hate crimes in rural areas throughout the country...this is hardly restricted to the south.
5. Guns
Lots of people in the U.S. have guns. There is a NATIONAL gun culture. C.f. Michigan militias, and Colorado high school shootings
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Old 12.07.2011, 13:41
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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The thing is, even if the food is late or comes out at different times, that's usually on the kitchen rather than the waitstaff.
Don't they share the tips with the kitchen staff anyway?
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Old 12.07.2011, 13:42
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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Even Virginia is hot and muggy in Summer. A reason why the earliy settlers died of malaria. Personally I hate living in closed areas with air con, Summer is for being outside, windows wide opened. So do my good friends from Williamsburg- who escape from mozzies and humidity every Summer to Colorado, and have done so for 40+ years.
An interesting fact is that the vast majority of swamp land regions of the south, (Louisiana, Alabama, Florida) were virtually uninhabitable due to the Malaria, around 1900 Malaria was the biggest killer in the USA until the wide spread use of DDT at around 1920 which completely eradicated malaria in the southern states.

This fact must have had major social ramifications no body from the North would have moved to the south for fear of malaria, leading the southerners to become isolated, and if you want to know what isolation does to you... look at the Alaskans...
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Old 12.07.2011, 13:43
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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Or is it maybe because people there are, um, how shall I put it, a bit rustcal? But then so is much of the Mid-West or even upstate New York, upstate Illinois etc. Yet these places don't have the same associatons as the South.
Do you mean downstate IL? If so, I can assure you as a girl from Chicago that most people who live north of 55 would absolutely classify downstaters in the same category as southerners. And most downstaters would classify themselves that way as well.
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Old 12.07.2011, 13:50
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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Sure it is OK. In extreme cases of poor service (not poor food, that's not the server's fault!), a zero tip is acceptable. The wait staff know that they're making up the difference between their salary and minimum wage with their tips, so if they decide to be surly, ignore you, chat with their friends, throw the food on the table, etc. instead of doing their job properly, they know they'll sacrifice some in tips.
In the case that the service is really poor, I leave about a .25 cent
tip to make sure that they know I didn't forget.
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Old 12.07.2011, 13:53
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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Maybe this map is a little outdated? (I can't wait to visit with my Conestoga wagon.)
Yes, that's why I supplied the link which explains what the map is about.

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Don't they share the tips with the kitchen staff anyway?
General kitchen staff, not really, no. "Bus boys" in many places yes, maybe dishwasher also but the cooking staff gets paid normal wages.
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Old 12.07.2011, 14:00
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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KeinFranzösisch
I don't think that some of your assessments here are accurate:
1. Southerners are less educated.
The city in America which has the highest percentage of college graduates?....Atlanta. 51 percent (It is also the country's most conservative city.)
If you check out the most recent census states, you'll see that that most states, both in the north and south, have numbers somewhere around 20 percent for people who have attained a bachelor's degree.
http://www.census.gov/compendia/stat...es/11s0229.pdf
2. Racism in the South
Yes, the racism in the south tend to be more overt, and certainly more discussed for historical reasons. But racism is a problem in the entire country, c.f. Baltimore, Detroit, Cincinnati.
3. The south is more blue-collar.
You'd have to have industry in order to support blue-collar jobs. If you check the numbers, the south employs a higher percentage of folks in non-manufacturing jobs. You're dead right about the lack of unions. Abuses in the textile industry in particular were notorious (Norma Rae)--but those industries are quickly disappearing. This could be true if you compare urban north to the rural south. But if you compare this to the urban south, everyone is working in finance, banking, consulting, real estate etc. This is not a north-south divide, this is a rural-urban divide.
4. Haters of Different People
When I lived in Atlanta, I lived in the country's largest gay community outside of San Francisco. I could hear the call to prayer from the mosque near my office. That's the urban south. There are hate crimes in rural areas throughout the country...this is hardly restricted to the south.
5. Guns
Lots of people in the U.S. have guns. There is a NATIONAL gun culture. C.f. Michigan militias, and Colorado high school shootings
I think you'd have to agree that Atlanta is an anomaly for the south.

My father was from the coal mining towns in rural southern West Virginia, my mother was from Gomer Pyle country (literally, Mount Pilot was the next town over; the North Carolina/Tennessee border). Both moved to Cleveland Ohio, where they met. We'd visit relatives in both areas when I was young. There were people who wouldn't talk to me when they heard my very northern accent (but when they found out I was so-and-so's relative, all was fine). There was one religion in these rural areas - protestant Christianity, even catholics were looked upon with suspicion.

My father chose to retire in a small town on the South Carolina/Georgia border. A region where people proudly celebrate the confederate flag, have gun racks in their trucks, make pilgrimages to Abbeville and hold confederate flag rallies. And a place of stunning natural beauty, as is most of the south that I know.

When my father was moving there, he brought up a neighbor to help him move everything from the family home in Ohio down to his new home. At the time, I owned a BMW 318, and when I came to the house to help him, the neighbor stood and stared at my car, slack-jawed. In the most drawl-filled drawl possible he exclaimed he'd "never seen one of them before!". (turns out he meant a BMW in general, not that model)

Unfortunately, as with many cultures and societies, people sometimes live sheltered lives and don't know much beyond 100 miles from home. Many have never seen a mosque, don't know much about Islam and get their news from Fox. Very different from the cosmopolitan Atlanta.

All of that being said, I will say that once you break through the barriers, there's nothing quite like southern hospitality.
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Old 12.07.2011, 14:01
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

I know this is slightly OT but here is a suggestion for a trip down south:
Land in Atlanta: Visit Stone Mountain Park, CNN guided tour, Coca Cola Museum
Drive to Memphis: Visit the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg, TN
once in Memphis: Visit the freedom rights Museum (formerly knows as the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated), visit the recording studio (in the same neighborhood), visit Graceland, eat some ribs at BB King's restaurant, walk down Beale Street and listen to some live music
Head to Nashville: visit the Belle Meade Plantation (www.bellemeadeplantation.com), walk around downtown and head to Coyote Ugly
Drive back to Atlanta: stop by in Chattanooga, there is this Pizza place downtown (can't miss it), where you'll get some very delicious Pizza.
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Old 12.07.2011, 14:05
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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I know this is slightly OT but here is a suggestion for a trip down south:
Land in Atlanta: Visit Stone Mountain Park, CNN guided tour, Coca Cola Museum
Drive to Memphis: Visit the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg, TN
once in Memphis: Visit the freedom rights Museum (formerly knows as the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated), visit the recording studio (in the same neighborhood), visit Graceland, eat some ribs at BB King's restaurant, walk down Beale Street and listen to some live music
Head to Nashville: visit the Belle Meade Plantation (www.bellemeadeplantation.com), walk around downtown and head to Coyote Ugly
Drive back to Atlanta: stop by in Chattanooga, there is this Pizza place downtown (can't miss it), where you'll get some very delicious Pizza.
And if possible, drive the Blue Ridge Parkway (but not at night, never at night, tall mountains and windy roads in the fog is disaster) and stop at places like Pigeon Forge, Blowing Rock, Gatlinburg (ok, that one is overly touristy, but I have a soft spot for it).
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Old 12.07.2011, 14:13
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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I know this is slightly OT but here is a suggestion for a trip down south:
Land in Atlanta: Visit Stone Mountain Park Enjoyable short hike. We did up and down in 40mins, CNN guided tour, Coca Cola Museum Perhaps - but it isn't as good as it good have been IMHO. Great chance to taste 100 CC brands though
Drive to Memphis: Visit the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg, TN
once in Memphis: Visit the freedom rights Museum (formerly knows as the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated), visit the recording studio (in the same neighborhood), visit Graceland, eat some ribs at BB King's restaurant, walk down Beale Street and listen to some live music
Head to Nashville: visit the Belle Meade Plantation (www.bellemeadeplantation.com), walk around downtown and head to Coyote Ugly Honky tonk row is a must - Willie Nelson museum for the story behind it - and Dukes of Hazzard museum next to it
Drive back to Atlanta: stop by in Chattanooga, "Deliverance country" at Tallulah falls is worth the trip there is this Pizza place downtown (can't miss it), where you'll get some very delicious Pizza.
Our other highlights:
Staying on a plantation outside of Charleston
Cycling up the Charleston Bridge - then running up it in the early afternoon sun
Cycling tour around Savannah
Salt Water Taffy in Savannah
Tybee Island lighthouse (and the defence museum)
Modern art in museum in Savannah - great LSD exhibition when we were there
All your shopping needs in Atlanta - Lennox Square
Little 5-points in Atlanta - for coffee (Aurora) and beer/barfood (Porters)
Asheville - for the Biltmore, superb food - and a town of 3 brewerys
Rooftop cocktail at Sazerac in Asheville
Tupelo Honey Cafe in Asheville for the best southern biscuits
Meat and 3 in Nashville at Rotiers
The Tennesse history wall in Nashville
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Old 12.07.2011, 14:19
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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Don't they share the tips with the kitchen staff anyway?
Some places do and some places do not. At nice restaurants they frequently do, but usually only with the expediters, line cooks, and front of house staff.
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Old 12.07.2011, 14:26
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

One further issue with the south is that the accent tends to confuse non native English speakers. I have friends here who speak English fairly well, we had a guy from NC and you would have thought he was from Mars the way people looked at him. I had to translate from "southern" to my "midwestern" English, then my Swiss friends would speak directly to this guy from NC in English, it was really funny.
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Old 12.07.2011, 14:28
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Re: Question for Americans: What is it with the South?

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Our other highlights:
Staying on a plantation outside of Charleston
Cycling up the Charleston Bridge - then running up it in the early afternoon sun
Cycling tour around Savannah
Salt Water Taffy in Savannah
Tybee Island lighthouse (and the defence museum)
Modern art in museum in Savannah - great LSD exhibition when we were there
All your shopping needs in Atlanta - Lennox Square
Little 5-points in Atlanta - for coffee (Aurora) and beer/barfood (Porters)
Asheville - for the Biltmore, superb food - and a town of 3 brewerys
Rooftop cocktail at Sazerac in Asheville
Tupelo Honey Cafe in Asheville for the best southern biscuits
Meat and 3 in Nashville at Rotiers
The Tennesse history wall in Nashville
Let's not forget New Orleans. If you keep going south from Memphis then you can go through Clarksdale, MS and see the "alleged" crossroads where Robert Johnson sold his soul (also where Sam Cooke, Son House, John Lee Hooker, Ike Turner, and Muddy Waters were born); then drive through the Delta down to Vicksburg and check out the town; then hook over into Louisiana and go down to New Orleans where you can go see the Rebirth Brass Band ever Tuesday night at the Maple Leaf, wander around the French Quarter, eat like a king at Jacque Imo's, Drago's, and Casamento's; from there I'd head west on I-10 through the swamps before cutting a little north and hitting Austin, where you can hang out around South Congress for coffeee and people watching, see a show at the Continental Club, swim at Barton Springs, and get some breakfast tacos at the Tamale House on Airport (guess where I spent almost 10 years??).

Now that's a hell of a lot of driving, sure, but with a lot of great sights on the way.
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