[q]• Is the city as hideous as I remember it, or are there actually attractive parts? I know Sherman burned it in 1865—but it looks like it was entirely rebuilt in 1978! [/q]
Yes, it is still hideous. Actually, rebuilding started in 1978, and they haven’t finished yet.
[q]• Public transport (from the suburbs to the city, and within the city)—does this exist? Or does one need a car? I’m used to the NY area, where you’d have to be insane to own a car. [/q]
Public transportation is a major joke. Unless you are going to a ball game, or into the city for an event, don’t bother with MARTA. You will definately need a car
[q]• Is it possible to live in a nice part of the city, or must one live in the 'burbs? [/q]
There are a few enlightened areas. Little Five Forks is renovating nicely, Buckhead is good if you a yuppie with lots of disposable income and like bars and crowds of people. Otherwise, stick to the burbs. Gwinnett County is okay but is rapidly changing. Marietta is still all right, I suppose.
[q]How cosmopolitan a city is it? I know there are “arts,” but how are the libraries, shops, etc.? [/q]
We are fairly enlightened. You should find plenty of stuff to do.
[q]• How long will it take and how much will it cost for me to fly to Phila. (to see family) and NY (to see friends)? [/q]
Hartsfield Airport is an international one. Not a great one as airports go, but an international one nonetheless. Prices are not really any different. Should take you about 2-2-1/2 hrs to get to NY. However, wear your walking shoes to the airport.
[q]My sister says they really resent us damn Yankees—s’trewth? [/q]
Most of us are resigned to the fact that you are going to keep coming regardless. True Southern ladies and gentlemen will welcome you cordially and will be quite hospitable. Of course, we do talk about you amongst ourselves. I have lived here all my life (so far), and native Georgians are becoming a rarity. Just don’t start off on the wrong foot by saying things like “NY is so much better, I miss NY, we did it this way in NY” and you will be just fine.
Expect things to run at a slightly slower pace than you are used to. Understand that every street in downtown is called “Peachtree”. In the winter, do not mock our driving skills just because you have driven in the snow before. It doesn’t snow here, it ices. Power lines go down, roads are hazardous, schools close. Expect to have trouble breathing in the summer. Very high temps and very high humidity. It’s like trying to breathe under water. Expect your ice tea to be sweetened automatically. Coca Cola is the state beverage.