We’re currently site-seeing in Atlanta, which in itself is a new experience. We’ve driven and flown through this city many times, but never stopped to do the tourist things. In fact I usually go out of my way to avoid Atlanta. That could be because I’ve missed umpteen connecting flights and spent way too much time stressed in the airport which seems to pride itself on hiring the rudest people in the world. Or it could be because of that time we spent several hours sitting on the tarmac watching out the plane window while Bubba-Joe tried to duct-tape the wing back on the plane. Or maybe its the maze of interstates filled with Nascar-driving wannabe’s weaving in and out of 8 lanes of traffic. Anyway, Atlanta has never been high on my radar when I’ve thought of “great vacation destinations”. This time though we were looking for a long weekend type of place, not too cold, and within a 1/2 day’s drive, and it seemed a good choice.
When we got into town last night, we by-passed all the fancy downtown options and headed to our favorite restaurant where we all ate enough to experience what our daughter Jenny calls a “food baby.”
We then found our way to a local mall, waddled in, and had yet another new experience: a pleasant shopping experience with a 14 year old girl. Anna found the perfect dress for an upcoming dance, the 2nd one she tried on. Totally appropriate, cut neither too high nor too low, and for less than $30. After an obligatory bookstore trip, we returned to our hotel to prepare for the busy day of site-seeing ahead.
To start the day, I of course performed the ceremonial fanny-pack preparations. As much as everyone likes to make fun of my fanny pack, I can’t help but notice they sure like to use it to help hold all their stuff.
We made it to 3 downtown destinations today: CNN, the Georgia Aquarium, and the Coca Cola Museum, all tickets and tours covered by our handy-dandy City Pass ticket booklet, which I highly recommend. Needless to say, between all 3 destinations I learned enough new things to keep me educated for quite some time.
Jim and I both decided the CNN tour was our favorite. We just did the basic tour, but I now have a goal to return sometime for the more in-depth, VIP version. One of the more interesting experiences was that the bulk of our tour group consisted of foreign military members from countries such as Lebanon, Serbia and Georgia. As our tour guide was explaining the process of getting the news on air, one asked how they got news “approved for national security purposes”. When our guide answered that they don’t, he was obviously puzzled and asked the question again a couple different ways as the guide explained that we have “free press” and they don’t get anything approved by the government before airing it, although they do of course have teams of lawyers and a “standards department” to review things in-house. I don’t think the soldier ever really believed him.
Anna’s favorite part of the day was the Coke museum, where they have a huge room full of soda machines where you can have your fill of tasting coke products from all over the world. While it probably wasn’t the favorite drink (tasted a little like toothpaste) she was thrilled to find a Coke product from her all-time favorite country, which is only her favorite country because it has the funniest name.
Although the Aquarium was nice, it didn’t win anyone’s votes for “most favorite of all-time.” In fact the 3-D movie was about the lamest rip-off of finding Nemo we could have imagined. However, the Aquarium did have the overall coolest experience, thanks to the behind-the-scenes tour included with our CityPass. They have several whale sharks on exhibit, and our tour took us from this vantage point, in the general public viewing area:
Up to this one, where we were at the top of the huge pool:
We also learned things like this 20+ foot long shark only has a tiny little throat. So you could theoretically swim along with him and he wouldn’t eat you, because he only eats tiny little krill. And he really doesn’t eat much of it either. While you might expect it to cost a fortune to feed the whale sharks in this exhibit (there are 3 or 4), each eats only a small container full of krill twice a day……less than most of us. If we ate krill, that is. Apparently their metabolism is so low they just don’t need much food to survive.