In 2017 we traveled twice to the United States: we did the California Zephyr - a train that connects Chicago to Emeryville (San Francisco) - and we fell in love with the idea of traveling through the country's rail lines - and watched a game of the NFL team I support (New England Patriots).
By 2018, we had hoped to do a mix of the two: watch a game of Sarah's team (Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin) and cross the country again from Chicago, but this time heading south, to New Orleans, with Amtrak's City of New Orleans.
We had the trip planned - including a stop in Memphis to visit the balcony of the hotel where Martin Luther King was shot, on the 50th anniversary of his death, - we created budgets and everything was set except for one detail: the NFL calendar. Green Bay is a cold place and we did not want to delay the trip. Everything went wrong: the Packers were going to start the season with two consecutive games at home and the price of the tickets represented an effort that was not worth it... for now.
We started searching for a backup plan. There were many options in sight, with multiple combinations between cities, but the choice became clearer by the day: we kept New Orleans from our original idea and decided to include Atlanta, that is "nearby." We resisted giving up on Memphis, but when we realized that the most economical way to do it was to get to the United States via Miami, we knew we would have to postpone it for another time.
The new travel plan began to draw itself. Our first temptation was to go see the prices, schedules, and duration of the trips of Megabus' buses (which have been so useful to us in the past), but there were no direct connections to Miami and we preferred the plane to not waste unnecessary time.
We had five flights in total: Lisbon-Miami, Miami-New Orleans, New Orleans-Atlanta, Atlanta-Miami, and Miami-Lisbon. On our first flight, to Miami, given the unpredictable waiting times for security, we opted for a longer stopover that would allow us to make a quick trip to the city in the afternoon.
After that, we would have four days in New Orleans, three days in Atlanta and two days in Miami Beach, just to rest (we always have a tendency to walk instead of riding public transportation and we ended up with more than 55 miles in our legs) before returning to Portugal.
We automatically decided that we were going to see an NFL game in New Orleans and that we were going to visit the latest MLB stadium in Atlanta. We kept the door open for the possibility to see a baseball game in Miami (the poor quality of the teams was not a great visiting card) and we began setting priorities in each city: to visit an old plantation and the fantastic museum of the World War II in New Orleans, the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., the Centennial Olympic Park, and a «museum circuit», that included the College Football Hall of Fame, World of Coca-Cola and the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.
The heat was the only real problem. Unbearable in New Orleans, especially due to the humidity, and difficult to endure in Atlanta, it made us think that perhaps it had been better to postpone the trip for another month or two. It continued to be worthwhile but made it more difficult to visit each corner of each city as we like: step by step.
Flights (per person)
Lisboa - Miami, roundtrip: 540 euros (TAP)
Miami - Nova Orleães: 77.66 euros (American Airlines)
Nova Orleães - Atlanta: 53.68 euros (Delta)
Atlanta - Miami: 91.05 euros (Delta)
Accomodation (per night, for two people)
Nova Orleães: 95 euros
Atlanta: 93 euros
Miami Beach: 118 euros