Chattanooga is a cool city. Too bad we can never go back.
The city was allegedly the dirtiest in America in the seventies, but it cleaned up nicely. There is a new waterfront complete with two wading fountains, pedestrian bridge, art district peppered with outdoor sculptures. They also have mountain park overlooking the city and many other attractions, which we didn't have time to sample, like underground waterfalls in a cavern, inclined railway and mountain bike path.
Lonely Planet guidebook presents it as an outdoor heaven but to me it looks more like an urban paradise. We have lunch in a microbrewery tasting three different kinds of beer. You can see the vats they were brewed in. Apparently it is urban local as opposed to rural local, which in Alabama meant beer from Atlanta, Georgia. After a short walk among renovated buildings, gazing at the sculptures, we stop at a coffee house that serves pastries which would hold their own in Vienna. By that time we are so impressed with the city that we check out the open house and contemplate real estate prices (half of what one pays in Boston in a comparable location).
But we cannot buy anything. We cannot even go back: we are fugitives here. All because of a simple misunderstanding of parking arrangements. We parked in front of the Chattanooga Visitor Center and tried to pay in one of this confusing enter the place number and swipe you card machines, when a parking attendant told us we didn't need to. We had our doubts, but assumed we parked in the space already paid for by someone else. He claimed he was just saving us some money. And who would want to discuss with a big guy carrying some electronic gizmo. After returning to the car we found a bill with $10 penalty on top of the maximum fee. Looks like the local parking company found a way of boosting their revenue. Or one parking attendant decided to make his job more rewarding.