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The Cardiac Hill Roadshow: Traveling To Georgia Tech

The "Cardiac Hill Roadshow" is our continuing series that covers the ins and outs of traveling to watch your Pitt Panthers on the road this season. We will touch on everything from how to get there, where to stay, where to eat, what to see and do on and around campus, and even some sights you might run into along the way. Today we will look at the trip to Atlanta, Georgia and the Georgia Institute of Technology...commonly known as Georgia Tech.

The Travel

Starting point: University of Pittsburgh
Ending point: Georgia Institute of Technology
Time: 10 hours, 14 minutes
Distance: 684 miles, or the number yards Pitt is likely to give up

Places to see along the way:
Metalmorphosis, Charlotte, North Carolina
The Peachoid, Geffney, South Carolina
The World of Coca-Cola, Atlanta, Georgia
The Miss Klingon Empire Beauty Pageant, Atlanta, Georgia
The Big Chicken, Marietta, Georgia

For further information about traveling to Annapolis, we've solicited the help of some locals. Here is some advice that Joseph (of From The Rumble Seat blog) had to offer.

Where To Stay

Do your best to stay in Midtown, although Buckhead is a great alternative if not. For those unaware, Georgia Tech is located in Midtown, just north of the Georgia Dome, CNN Center, Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, etc. Buckhead is the proverbial "uptown", maybe 5 miles north of Tech, and one of the nicer parts of town. Lots to do in both areas. The biggest issue with Buckhead will be the commute down on game day, more specifically having to pay for & deal with parking. It can be a bit expensive, but I'd highly recommend the Georgia Tech hotel in Tech Square. It's a half-mile walk to the stadium, maybe, but all of that goes through tailgate central for Tech fans.

Where To Eat

Oh, where to even begin? It all will depend on what you're in the mood for. The best burger in the city, by my standards, will be at The Vortex, which has a location about a mile from campus, as well as one 4-5 miles from campus. It's a quirky place and not at all "family-friendly" (you have to be 18 to get in because they allow smoking inside), but it's a lot of fun and some really great food. Another couple of my favorites near campus would be Marlow's Tavern and Tin Lizzy's Cantina. Marlow's is your typical "American Tavern" cuisine, while Tin Lizzy's is, in my opinion, some of the best Mexican food around. Both have great bars as well and I would recommend either for catching up on other games and pregaming for our 7pm start.

However, disclaimer here -- whatever you do, DO NOT EAT AT THE VARSITY. For some reason, that place is as famous as any other place in Atlanta, even though the food is awful. What I tell people is to swing by, grab a hat, take a picture, scream "WHAT'LL YA HAVE" at somebody, and then bail. Seriously, if you want to experience some of Atlanta's decent cuisine, DO NOT GO THERE.

What To Do On & Around Campus

There are some basic touristy-type things you can do in the city (the aforementioned CNN Center, World of Coke, Aquarium, etc), but that would be most of it. However, Pitt fans in particular are in for a treat this weekend. If you get in on Friday, you're in luck. This is our Homecoming week, where we break out all of our age-old traditions that go back as far as the 1920s and 1930s. Friday at 4pm, right in front of the stadium (on the north side) will be the Mini 500, where you get to see college kids ride these little tricycles around a parking deck in a race. You should know that this is not some sort of joke -- it's taken fairly seriously around here. As in, 15 laps, teams of 4, and a requirement of 3 "tire changes". No, I'm not kidding. Saturday morning at 6am will be the "Freshman Cake Race", which dates back to 1911. This is a quarter-mile run, where the top 3 finishers each get a cake, and the top finishers (in men & womens' divisions) get a kiss from Mrs. and Mr. Georgia Tech, respectively, at halftime of the football game. If you can make it out, it's a blast -- it goes through the Greek sector, so most of us are out tailgating that race just for the sake of doing so. Around 8am will be the "Ramblin' Wreck Parade", which dates back to the early 1930s. It started as students building weird contraptions and racing them to Athens, but after two years it was deemed "too dangerous" (pfft) and turned into a simple parade. To this day, fraternities, sororities, and other campus organizations will build "contraptions", floats, and will even enter classic cars.

Gameday Traditions To Take Part In

For the typical gameday, there's nothing huge outside of the irresponsible consumption of alcohol beforehand. (Luckily this game will be at night, so the halftime hangover won't be nearly as rough.) The team will walk through "Yellow Jacket Alley" (Fowler Street, near the Catholic Center) about 2 hours before game time. The band makes its way around campus playing for different tailgates before doing a big concert in three consecutive locations on their way to the stadium. Unfortunately though, none of that is particularly exciting to the visiting team, I'd imagine. The best in-game tradition that you'll enjoy is our band playing the "Budweiser Song" at the end of the third quarter. It stems from an old Budweiser commercial, that we modified to suit our own needs. The corresponding dance is basically the entire crowd bobbing up and down (opposite the person next to them), and it creates a really cool and hilarious visual. Very unique, and something we have a lot of fun with. I wish I could find a video, but they're all of terrible quality. The other main one comes after the game is over and both teams have left the field. The last song the band plays at any sporting event is "The Horse", and a lot of students stick around to dance to it -- even after a loss. Stay and watch, but be careful -- there's a drum solo in the middle where the goal is to run as far from your original location as possible, and you WILL get trampled if you're in the way. (Video)

Other "Good To Know" Information

We're a highly tradition-rich school (it kinda comes along with being a place with almost 130 years of being full of quirky engineering-types), and those all come out on Homecoming. We get a lot of crap for not being able to fill our stands, but that all goes away when the alumni come back for the one weekend of the season. We're a really cordial and friendly fanbase until we start losing, so be mentally prepared for that. The cops are really awesome and friendly people -- if you're not being a jerk about things or generally being a menace to society, they won't give you any problems. Parking near the stadium will be tough, so do your best to have it scouted out ahead of time. Finally, don't call us "Georgia Tech University" -- it's "Georgia Tech" or "The Georgia Institute of Technology". (Fun fact: We're one of four FBS schools without the word 'college' or 'university' in our official school name -- the other 3 being the service academies.)

"We get a lot of crap for not being able to fill our stands, but that all goes away when the alumni come back for the one weekend of the season." Just replace "alumni" with "Notre Dame fans" and Georgia Tech is basically the Pitt of the South. In all honesty, this road trip is one that intrigues a fan of a college with an urban campus, I'd be curious to see another such campus.

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