Sweet Home Alabama. The Heart of Dixie. Whatever you call it, this state nestled deep in the American South is often overlooked as a destination for overseas tourists. It doesn’t have a Nashville or a New Orleans shouting loudly, but for buffs of American history its not advisable to miss Alabama on a tour of the States.
We left New Orleans with our trip drawing to a close, and only one stop remaining before ruefully returning home on this leg of our American odyssey. We headed back east, with the seven hour drive to Atlanta too much to bear, we decided a stop in Andalusia, a pretty, rural and out-of-the-way part of Alabama, was the order of the day. Our journey there took us along the Gluf Coast of both Mississippi and Alabama, past Biloxi and Mobile, before heading inland and northwards. The drive through Alabama was surprising, the interstate was lined with enormous car manufacturing plants that we hadn’t expected to see in this part of the country. All of Honda, Toyota and Hyndai have big factories in these parts, where Detroit was once the home of automotive manufacturing in the States, now Alabama leads the way along with its neighbour to the North, Tennessee.
Andalusia, and our stop for the night Sweet Gum Bottom Bed & Breakfast, is pretty far off the beaten track. In fact, the road Sweet Gum was on, didn’t show up on our sat nav so we were lucky to get there at all! The B&B is one of those country places where you’re invited to find your own way in while the owners were at church. The grounds were beautiful and the room was big and comfortable. Little critters, which we later deduced were chipmunks, played in the gardens and we hat an in-room hot-tub. Oh yes. Once we’d settled in we headed out to find some dinner…with not much luck. In the end we settled on a Dairy Queen dinner, which was disgracefully delicious.
After a very good night’s sleep in Andalusia and a breakfast of truly epic proportions (which included sweet chewy maple-fried bread and a moment’s grace before the meal – something we’d never experience back home) we were bound for a final injection of American history before boarding the plane. We toyed with stopping in Selma or Birmingham, such famous and important staging posts in the Civil Rights movement but in the end we opted for Rosa Parks’ home town of Montgomery. In 1955 on a Montgomery city bus Mrs. Parks famously refused to give up her seat for a white man because, in her words, she was tired of giving in. How could we come to this part of the world and not visit the Rosa Parks Museum? Its only a small museum based on a part of the Troy University campus, but it chronicles the Civil Rights movement extremely well. It is at times very emotional and always informative, if you happen to find yourself in Montgomery you should stop by. And its less than ten bucks.
Our time in Alabama was pretty brief, and we probably didn’t see the most spectacular parts of it, but for reasons of recent history alone, it has to go down as one of the most important States in the Union.
Rate the State:
Good for: History of the Civil Rights movement, small towns
Bad for: Lovers of cosmopolitan big-smoke cities, international cuisine