Do you remember going to Gatlinburg, when you were a kid?
You could hardly comprehend its amazingness – airbrush t-shirt shops, some sort of ninja sword and blow gun emporium, ghostly shows and illusions, people performing dinner shows nightly, a candy store on every corner… Remember?
My perspective has changed, however, since becoming a little older and a little wiser.
Now I offer you a short guide to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which I have dubbed the Gift Shop to the Smokies.
1. Bring your American Flag clothes.
If you want to fit in to the daily carnival of the main strip, you must bring many types of clothing emblazoned with the American Flag. My recent favourite article of patriotic attire was a pair of ill-fitting jeans with a screen printed American flag that wrapped around the wearer and disappeared into various nooks and crannies.
2. Be Prepared for Awkward Shop moments.
Nothing could be better than to enter an establishment with intent to look around and find that the “shop” is the size of a closet. To your horror, you are the only one in the store besides the hopeful merchant behind the counter who is lovingly nursing a Mountain Dew and some food in a styrofoam container. Be ready for small talk as you try to figure a way out without causing the shop keeper to commit suicide after you left without purchasing any of their wares.
3. If you have an extra stomach, bring it.
There 5 billion places to eat in Gatlinburg, but out of that staggering number, only 2 or 3 are worth your time. So, bring an extra stomach to replace your stomach when it becomes inflated with a painful and nauseating vapour caused by the lure of an Elwood Smooch all-you-can-eat dinner buffet (voted best comedy show).
4. Ready your sweet tooth.
Not only are there many dining establishments, but there is almost literally an ice cream or candy store on every corner. From deep fried Oreos to pancake roll-ups, you can find it all. Soon, someone will go ahead and open a store and call it Diabetic Explosion.
5. Be ready to spend some cash
Gatlinburg is expensive. You may actually purchase a Final Fantasy replica sword. You might get an airbrushed t-shirt that tells the world where you were in 2011. You may actually get an Olde Tyme photo made of you and your friends in a bath tub wielding bottles of Jack Daniels and guns. Merchants will get you by only accepting cash and having a convenient ATM machine in there store that charges a $100 convenience fee.
Gatlinburg is not how I remember, but this guide should get you started.
What other tips do you have for future visitors?