Montgomery Stories and Tips

The practicalities

It only seems relevant to begin everything with the practicalities. Granted, one comes to travel, to search, but what is important too is a place to sleep and food to eat and, of course, knowing that one is safe and well-taken-care-of.
For the traveller who wants it, we have the all the plastic money can buy. We have hotel chains, restaurant chains, four-lane highways. Montgomery sports a population of about a quarter million, so we have all the amenities that today's culture affords. We have two big malls, plenty of big grocery stores, and a main 'bypass' that encircles the whole city and is named after what part of the city one is in, e.g. Southern Boulevard or NorthEast Boulevard. If one really wants to do Montgomery justice though, they will avoid all of that. There a few very nice locally owned hotels, primarily the Madison Hotel downtown. There are a number of small local markets with delis, a few blocks with quaint shops scattered throughout town, and of course downtown where all the old establishment is. And if someone comes to Montgomery, they certainly come for history, for the Old South, for yesterday.

Of course, a car is absolutely necessary in Montgomery. The best little areas are often dispersed in such a way that there are not-so-good neighborhoods between them and beyond that a long, long walk. I don't mean a long walk for a housewife or a desk-jockey; I do mean a long walk. Montgomery summers average about 90 to 95 degrees during the day with 85 percent humidity and walking five miles through concrete is not fun and is not a vacation. Montgomery winters get around 50 degrees during the day but with the same humidity, so it is very uncomfortable still. Please do not think I am being silly.

Several years ago, the city decided that the public transportation buses were not profitable enough so they only run from 7-9 a.m. and 4-6p.m. Likewise there is no type of subway or elevated train system. To be fair to them, the cabbies around Montgomery are some of the finest people you will meet, but it still behooves a tourist or visitor to rent a car.

Montgomery is a very unorganized city. Zoning has been done very haphazardly and different areas can be confusing. Locals use many residential, two-lane, 25 mph streets as thoroughfares because they are the only realistic option. But for someone who does not know the neighborhoods, they can be difficult.

Some formerly-residential areas have been converted into business districts, too, so what may look like a nieghborhood may not be. But like I say, there are two interstates that run through the city and one four-lane that encircles the city and if they are used as a basis, getting lost is pretty difficult.

On the downside, there is only one bed-and-breakfast that I know of and I hear it is not very good at all. It is in the garden district on Hull Street if I remember right, but I have not heard any good things about it. As a matter of fact, it is less than a mile from where I live and I have never paid it any attention.

The best advice about travelling around Montgomery is: if it looks quaint and personal, it probably is; if it looks glossy and processed, it probably is; if it looks run-down and bombed out, it probably is.

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