ATHENS, GA

Athens Georgia will always be my favorite city. Growing up in Danielsville Ga, around twenty-five minutes outside of downtown, I grew to love the city at a young age. While living in Georgia, I didn’t get the chance to visit many big cities other than Atlanta, so Athens felt huge to me. Although the city is fairly small, I always felt as if I discovered new places every time I went downtown. My favorite places to visit were the  Grit, a delicious vegetarian restaurant, Yoforia, a frozen yogurt shop, the memorial park zoo, more specifically the  bear at the zoo named Yonah, Daily Groceries Co-op, which had Glee gum, my favorite treat, and my all time favorite place to go, was Homeplace Gifts, which had a whole wall of my favorite toys, Playmobile. Athens is home to the University Of Georgia, and the football team is the center of attention during the season. Every Saturday that the bulldogs are in town, the majority of the city comes together to watch the games. The home of the bulldogs, Sanford stadium ( pictures below ) is a beautiful 92,746 seat stadium in the center of town, and is full nearly every game. During my recent visit, my friend and I found a gate into the stadium wide, open, and wandered inside. We were amazed by the view of thousands of empty seats, and it was incredible to see the stadium not filled with thousands of fans dressed in red, white, and black. Later during the trip my friends and I attended Athfest, Athens annual music festival. We spent the day enjoying the various bands, delicious food, and taking lots of photos. Athens has a fantastic music scene, and many of my friends are in local bands. The two big venues, the Georgia Theater and 40 Watt Club, are constantly putting on incredible shows, ranging from big popular bands, to local bands made up of teenagers. There are also many music studios, where even the smallest of bands can record professional albums. Another high point in Athens culture is the food. The combination of mouth watering Mexican food and delicious southern soul food is to die for. Athens is an incredible city, and one of the hidden treasures of the US. 

 

The bands featured in the photos below are the Varsity band, Elf Power, and Wonderland Rangers. 

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CLEVELAND

If you look at articles and charts, such as “10 Worst Cities in America”, Cleveland is almost always featured. "Miserable” and “dreary” are often used to describe the city, and it is labeled one of the most dangerous cities as well. Before boarding my flight from Boston to Cleveland, I wondered if I would hate the city and if it was really as bad as people said. As soon we arrived in the city my question was answered. It's not. My grandmother and I decided to use Lyft too get from the airport to our hotel, something neither of us had done before. We were about thirty minutes late for our Lyft driver, and were almost certain that she would have left by then. Instead, when we arrived at our pickup spot, there she was, smiling and waving at us. She talked to us about the Cleveland Cavaliers, the reason we came to Cleveland, and dropped us off at our hotel. The next day we were ready to see the city. The first thing I noticed after stepping outside was how happy everyone was. It certainly did not feel dreary or depressing. We headed to the local coffee shop, “Pour Cleveland”. It was a beautiful spot with incredible pour over coffee, and everyone inside was happy. Again, not dreary or depressing. After coffee, we went for a walk through Playhouse Square. There were many families going to and from the theatre productions, and dressed up characters interacting with the children. It certainly did not feel dangerous. While walking, we passed some homeless folks who smiled at us and gave up a cheerful “Go Cavs!”. It was the feeling of a city that has nowhere to go but up, and a city that is becoming something special. That night was the Cavaliers game. In the hours leading up to the game the city truly sprang to life. There was a buzz in the air, children and adults alike filled the streets, hundreds of LeBron James jerseys were lit up by the dying sun. The game was incredible, thousands of fans wearing wine and gold colors filled the stadium with cheers. The game ended in miraculous fashion as Cleveland's hero LeBron James won the game with an impossible buzzer-beater. After the game the entire city filled the streets, celebrating together. It was the perfect weekend. I am sure Cleveland still has work to do, and that every little neighborhood is not as happy as downtown - but from what I experienced, Cleveland is a city that has nowhere to go but up. I would say that it even  has the potential to be one of the  "10 Greatest Cities in America."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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