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One of the highlights of visiting another culture is the experience surrounding gatherings, food, and conversation. Even in the US, there are so many differences in cities, states, and regions. Well, in my humble opinion, Atlanta has stepped up its game by building a separate international terminal. The place is ridiculously beautiful, and compares nicely to some other major cities’ international airports.

However, I have a bone to pick with the concessions offerings, one of my all-time favorite restaurants that has previously shunned Georgia. While offered in half of the states in the US, this little brother or sister of PF Chang’s has a single venue in Georgia. Conveniently tucked INSIDE the terminal, Pei Wei does not even recognize the location on their website. I would have gone on international flights just to sample the loveliness that is Pei Wei. Of course, Michael and I had lunch on the way to the airport, so I wasn’t even remotely hungry, and, to be honest, the menu is a shrunken, waif-like version of the regular super-duper menu available at full venues. If I could have, I would have eaten a whole other lunch just to enjoy their food, but I think that putting me on a plane is volatile enough without the addition of two lunches under my belt, as it were. Oh, Pei Wei, how could you treat me like this? Perhaps you could send me a gift card to PF Chang’s in the meantime?

Second, my luggage arrived. Of course, I had to go pick it up, because it had to go through customs as an international piece of luggage from outside of the EU. However, the 45Euros that I spent on taxi fare was probably less than what I would have paid to replace my clothes while I am here in Spain. Plus, since the airport here is medium-sized, the customs process was simply running my bag through a scanner. That’s it. Thirty seconds, tops. The rest of the time was paperwork, speaking to a very nice lady through a glass barrier, and sharing my passport with anyone within an arm’s reach.

Additionally, one of my taxi drivers, Miguel, and I had a fantastic conversation about Valencia, Spain, the US, and economy politics as we zipped along to the airport. Even better, he understood that it takes me forever to pull words out of my brain to come trundling out of my mouth, conjugated and gender-ized. Thanks, Miguel, for your enthusiastic approach to helping me speak Spanish!

The pictures below are little tidbits of the new Atlanta International Terminal, and exactly what I wanted. In Spain, many corner restaurants have a “daily plate” or what we used to call a “blue plate special.” Very different from the American “meat-and-three”-vegetables commonly featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, these daily specials are awesome and frequently changed with the addition of a few standards. The price is low, the venue is colorful, and the waitress (today, at least) did not flinch at my dumb looks as I was desperately translating her question in my head so I could barf out an answer. Thankfully, that didn’t happen with my food: paella verduras, or paella with vegetables.

Oh, one more note: I was sitting outside on a street corner for lunch. I took a picture looking down the street. Valencia is serious about its greenery on the streets, and you can see what I captured: The beautiful Valencia oranges.

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Right there! On the left! Pei Wei! Oh, wait… I’m not hungry. 🙁

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If you look reallyclosely, you’ll see that the time for departure reads: Paris / Now 7:15P. Thankfully, that was the only delay. And Pei Wei was mocking me the entire time.

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