Traveler gives city thumbs up

Published 2:08 pm Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Last month, my wife and I had the chance to host a world traveler.

Our good friend, Zhandos, travelled all the way to Sweet Home Alabama from Russia where he works in the accounting department for Chevron.

He was taking a couple of weeks of vacation and travelling around the United States visiting friends and seeing the sights. He made stops in New York City, Portland, Seattle and Butte, Mont., before ending up in the Camellia City.

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Knowing that he had already spent nearly two weeks as a tourist in some of our country’s most interesting places, the big question became what on earth do we do while he’s in town?

We racked our brains and decided to give Zhandos an experience that he couldn’t get anywhere else on his trip.

We took him out to a family friend’s land for a little target practice. We lined up cans and knocked them down with a .22. Zhandos had taken a military class during his school days in Kazakhstan, but had never really fired a gun.

Turns out he’s a really good shot.

Before that we toured downtown, and pointed out the historic Ritz Theatre, the old train depot that houses the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Butler County Courthouse. We drove up and down the streets and pointed out a number of our town’s historic homes, and we visited the Camellia City Mall, and by mall I mean Walmart, where Zhandos made a number of impulse buys including beef jerky and double-stuffed Oreos — American classics.

Then we ate lunch at Cambrian Ridge where Zhandos sampled the barbeque and chili-cheese fries, which were a first for him. He gave both a thumbs up.

When it was all said and done, Zhandos said his Greenville stop was one of his favorite stops during his stay in the States. He said he liked the slower pace, the good southern food and the friendly people he met while in the Camellia City.

Seeing Greenville through Zhandos’ eyes made me realize just how good we really have it.

We may not be New York or Seattle. We may not have a fine art museum, a pro baseball team, a zoo or some of the other big tourist attractions larger cities can offer, but we have plenty to be proud of right here in Greenville.

After all, a world traveler gave the Camellia City his seal of approval.