Tuesday, May 20, 2014


On our trip to the South this past January, we spent a day in Mobile, the third largest city in Alabama. Mobile fit right in to my overarching impression of Alabama: quiet and slow. As a Californian, I kept looking around and wondering Where are all the people? Why is it so quiet? We were there on a Friday, a day that should be bustling with end-of-the-week, start-of-the-weekend activity, but it felt like a comparative ghost-town.

We parked right by what I thought at the time was the Masonic Lodge . . .
. . . because of the sphinx statues flanking the front door.
However, I've tried to find information about the building online and have been unsuccessful, so I'm not sure WHAT the building actually is.

We didn't ever get to downtown Mobile, but the skyline is dominated by the city's tallest building, which is also the tallest building in the state, the RSA (Retirement Systems of Alabama) Battle House Tower. Completed in September 2006, it is 745 feet tall.
Mobile is an arsty little town, with plenty of fun public art to enjoy, including this warrior outside the Centre for the Living Arts Museum just a block from the Cathedral-Basilica.

We also noticed several murals during our lazy perambulation::

 . . . creative shop windows:
 . . . and New Orleans-style wrought iron ornamentation:
Many cities around the world have adopted a "mascot" that local merchants and artists decorate and install around town. In Monroeville it is mailboxes. In Mobile, it's oyster shells. Here is the inside and outside of one shell:

And the inside of another:

Mobilians even have an artsy way of dealing with panhandlers:
We serendipitously stumbled on some great "edible art":
. . . after which we took a stroll through the park and noticed a squirrel or two, and then suddenly there were hundreds.  It was like a rodent version of Hitchcock's The Birds:
Everywhere we looked there were squirrels:
Cute, but when they come in groups of two or three dozen, they are a bit creepy:
Before we left town, we needed to get some food.  I was intrigued by Mama's, a Southern soul food restaurant:
But looking for something healthier than fried chicken and grits, we ended up getting take-out from The Mediterranean Sandwich Company
We had a pretty good dinner that included a roasted vegetables and cheese pita:
 . . . a goat and boursin cheese salad:
 . . . spinach tomato orzo pasta salad:
. . . and bacon carbonara orzo pasta salad:
Our time in Mobile was short, but I think we did catch the flavor of this sleepy little town, 
. . . and we had other places to go and other things to see.


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  2. I LOVE the panhandler sign--more communities should adopt that philosophy. Not so crazy about the oyster shells. I think I prefer Billings' wild horses and bighorn sheep.

  3. They have those panhandler "parking meters" in Montreal as well, which we also thought was very clever. I do feel sleepy after armchair-strolling with you around Mobile. Sleepy, very sleepy!

    Clamshells? Why clamshells? Did you ever find any explanation?

  4. It has a New Orleans flavor to it, even the architecture has similarities.