Difference between revisions of "Alabama"
Revision as of 19:49, 3 June 2009
Alabama can be characterized as having 4 regions:
Alabama, and the South in general has a reputation for "southern hospitality". The people of this state are generally genial and helpful and often go out of their way to help a stranger. While racial divisions still exist in the state they are much more muted than popular belief and stereotypes hold. In fact, many leaps and bounds have been made within Alabama, in terms of race relations, since the 1950s and 60s. The attitudes and problems of the Old South are mostly held today only by the old and the uneducated.
Known primarily for its status as the original capitol of the Confederacy (in Montgomery} and the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, Alabama can be a study in contrasts.
The sport of American football is taken extremely seriously in Alabama. In addition to significant regional devotion to high-school football teams the entire state, in terms of college football, is divided into two factions: Auburn University fans and University of Alabama fans. The rivalry is so bitter, in fact, that it took an act by the Alabama State Legislature in the late 1940s to force the two colleges to play one another (the two had stopped playing each other in the first years of the 20th century over an officiating dispute). Even then the two schools would not agree to play at opposing sites so the State of Alabama used taxpayer funds to build Legion Field in Birmingham as a neutral site. It wasn't until 1989 that the Crimson Tide finally visited Auburn and 2000 that the Tigers visited Alabama. This can also be a point of concern for tourists as the rivalry is so serious that if you do not know about it then it is better to not say anything at all. Many friendships and marriages fall apart due to this rivalry and this is not an exaggeration of the truth. One could say that Auburn and Alabama fans are only rivaled in their fanaticism by those fans of European football (soccer).
Many (though certainly not all) Alabamians speak with thick local accents so non-native English speakers may have difficulty understanding them. Within the two major urban areas of Huntsville and Birmingham one will find that most accents are of a neutral variety (meaning most have no accent at all) while in the other two major urban areas of Mobile and Montgomery local accents are still widely prevalent. Visitors to North Alabama (Birmingham and north) will experience accents that are more "country" in nature (Senator Richard Shelby is one example) while visitors to South Alabama (south of Birmingham) will experience accents that are more closely reminiscent of those from the 1939 film Gone With the Wind and the 1994 film Forrest Gump, which takes place in Southern Alabama. Former governor Fob James is a textbook example of a southern Alabama accent.
Alabama is accessible by five interstate highways: I-10 crosses the state from east to west near Mobile in the south; I-20 enters Alabama from the east, traverses Birmingham, and joins I-59 as it traverses Tuscaloosa and exits the state in a southwesterly direction; I-59 enters northeastern Alabama, continues southwest through Birmingham, and exits the state toward the southwest; I-22 enters Alabama from the northwest and ends in Birmingham; I-65 enters Alabama from the north, traverses Birmingham, and ends in Mobile; I-85 enters the state in the east and ends in Montgomery.
There is one daily Amtrak service through the state: trains 19 (southbound) and 20 (northbound) run from New Orleans to Washington, D.C. and New York City. The trains stop in Alabama at Anniston, Birmingham and Tuscaloosa. Coach and sleeper service is available, with checked baggage, a restaurant car, a café and a lounge. See Amtrak  for more information.
The biggest airport is in Birminghham, and from there or large airports in neighboring states you can get flights to Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery. There are non-stop flights to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport from the following cities (some cities may be seasonal or only offer service certain days of the week): Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, St Louis and Tampa .
Car is no doubt the best method, and the most scenic. Interstates converge on Montgomery, Birmingham, and Mobile, and make quick transportation between those cities and ones in other states. They also connect to Anniston, Tuscaloosa, & Huntsville. Elsewhere though, travel can be slower in more rural areas
Home to the Talledega Super Speedway located in Talledega, AL.
Home to what is considered one of the top rivalries in sports, the state of Alabama revolves around college football. Each weekend of the fall, hundreds of thousands of fans around the state pack stadiums to cheer for their respective teams.
Alabama has some decent hiking options. One of the best areas is the Sipsey Wilderness. Other areas include the trails and scenic overlooks in Mount Cheaha State Park.
Mobile Alabama has some of the best fried seafood east of the Mississippi River. SDont forget to try local oyster bars and the shrimp is superb. Ask locals for recommendations that are off the beaten path and area favorites. Alabama barbque is outstanding and comes in many forms, but pork is always most poular. World famous DREAMLAND was once only located in Tuscaloosa and was (and still is) often an important feature of any sports event televised from there. Ribs Ribs Ribs, served with white bread (A rib sandwich = 3 ribs and 3 slices of bread!) Dreamland now has locations in most major cities in ALabama, and their once famous "no slaw, no potato salad, don't ask" sign has been changed to offer these and other side orders as well. There are several other award winning barbque "joints" in Alabama, and their claim to fame is mostly the "pulled pork", but they will offer ribs, too. Birmingham has numerous well known restaurants with famous chefs. Highlands Bar and Grill wa recently nominated for a James Beard Foundation award as nest restaurant in the United States, and its owner, Frank Stitt has been nominated as best chef in the US as well! Ask locals about best "meat and 3" places for "soul food", and Don't forget the Fried Green Tomatoes at the Irondale Cafe, near where Fannie Flagg grew up and based her famous book/movie on!