Today was another of those days spent pottering around because of needing to change accommodation. I didn’t have much choice with this one though. When I tried to book at the hostel in Chattanooga weeks ago, Friday and Saturday nights were already full. Therefore all I could do was make a reservation for tonight and stay in a hotel for the previous two nights.
While at a bus stop, someone did a u-turn, pulled up alongside me and offered me a lift. This also happened earlier this week in Asheville. On both occasions the person offering the lift looked perfectly respectable and seemingly didn’t fit any sort of serial killer profile. While their intentions were based on kindness, since being a youngster I’ve always been taught not to accept lifts from strangers as one day you’ll end up in someone’s basement or underneath a patio.
Upon checking in at the hostel I discovered the reason why the place was fully booked for the past two days. There was a wedding held in the venue attached to the hostel. Yes it really is that nice of a place. I’ve stayed in some great hostels so far but this one raises the bar. Aside from a couple of wedding stragglers and someone passing through en route to St Louis, nobody else was staying here which meant that I had the room to myself, a right bonus!
Thankfully it has started to rain a bit which has brought the temperature down from 99F to 94F and a bit more pleasant to walk around. Up until a couple of years ago I’d never heard of Chattanooga. At the pub quiz I sometimes frequent there was a question about which Tennessee city was the subject of a Glenn Miller song. I think we put either Nashville or Memphis the first couple of times before finally cottoning onto the fact that the answer was referring to The Chattanooga Choo Choo. Strangely enough the main claim to fame of Chattanooga does not even exist any more. There hasn’t been a passenger train service since the 1970s. The grand looking station is still there today and has been converted into the Choo Choo Hotel.
The area around the river in Chattanooga is nice enough to walk around for a couple of hours and the iconic Walnut Street Bridge is the world’s longest pedestrian bridge. I didn’t fancy waking across it though as there was lighting about and standing on a metal bridge is quite possibly the worst place to be in such circumstances. Instead I headed indoors to watch the final of the Copa America, Argentina v Chile. A few weeks ago I’d had a bet on Argentina to win this tournament as a double with Brazil to win the Olympic mens football, at odds of 9/2. Argentina had breezed into the final including comfortably beating Chile in the group phase. Chile were reduced to ten men in the first half and the result seemed inevitable. Argentina couldn’t get going and just before halftime it was ten men apiece. The game itself was a stinker with Chile winning on penalties after a 0-0 draw. Lionel Messi had a shocking night. He was booked for diving, missed a penalty and lost his fourth major international final. Soon after, Messi his international retirement. I’d normally be a bit miffed about losing a tenner but the way the finances had gone during the past few days this bet seemed fairly irrelevant. The one saving grace was the bar I watched the game in. It had 50 different draft beers and about 500 brands of bottled choices. Although the game was boring I didn’t actually count the bottles, just approximated based on 50 shelves and about 10 different bottles per shelf. Some of the beer geography was a bit dodgy though. Newcastle Brown Ale was in the Scotland section of the fridge and cans of Carlsberg (yes they really sold possibly the worst beer in the world) were classed as German. I just stuck to the bog standard pints of PBR. During the game two young ladies came in wearing Belgium attire. I’m sure you don’t get many Belgium fans around these parts so I inquired about their story. They were out celebrating Belgium’s easing into the quarter finals earlier on in the afternoon. They were a indeed a couple, with one being from Tennessee and the other originating from somewhere near Bruges. Who says the South of the United States isn’t becoming more cosmopolitan?