My summer is coming to a close and the school year is inching closer each day. Yes, it's bittersweet to see my most excellent summer fly by way too quickly, however, I do think that I'm beginning to get that itch to be with my students again. I'm nervous about getting my thesis done this semester, so I don't think I'll be too disappointed if the fall sails by so I no longer have to worry about it. More than anything, I'm excited about being done with graduate school and the prospect of having free time to myself to be productive in ways that I wish to be productive. I have BIG plans, people... big plans!!! So, come Monday, I'll be back in my classroom getting ready for my crazy kids and this years Art Class.
So, since the school year is so near and we had so much fun on the last trip we took to Atlanta, Joey and I decided to go back for round 2 this year and relive some of the awesome attractions that the city has to offer and take the time to visit some new ones that we weren't able to visit last year. It is a perfect city for a weekend getaway; one in which Joey and I highly recommend! So, here we go Hotlanta:
Joey and I first started off the trip by renting a car from Budget Rentals. They were definitely the best deal we could find, but the service there proved to be slow. However, for the money, it was worth it. We were hooked up with an awesome Toyota Prius and I've been dreaming of the day in which we can buy one or something similar to it. It was indeed an awesome ride! For the entire trip, to and from, we spent $46 on gas... $46!!!
So, we set off on our little road trip. We arrived at the Days Inn Atlanta Downtown around 2:00. This is the hotel we stayed at last time. It's totally affordable (a little over $60/day) and it's within walking distance to the Aquarium, the Coca-Cola factory, CNN World Headquarters, Centennial Park, and more... plus some excellent restaurants!
We first headed over to Atlantic Station to check out the Bodies exhibit that was touring with the Dialogue in the Dark exhibition. Both exhibits were absolutely FANTASTIC, and, if given the opportunity, everyone should definitely experience these two.
Once you've gotten past the initial nervousness about approaching cadavers, you begin to reach the realization of just how truly amazing the body is and how it's made to operate. The overwhelming since of respect for the body and the artful approach to revealing the bodies being displayed is unbelievable. After the experience you walk away with such a revelation of the miracle of the body and all of its intricacies that you feel as though you've been given a gift.
Dialogue in the Dark is yet another gift. One that opens our eyes to a world in which we cannot see, because we have sight. As a seeing person lead by a blind guide in complete darkness with only a walking stick and conversation, your lost in a world that you're unable to maneuver. Once you begin to depend upon the senses that you are left with (hearing, smelling, taste), you begin to become more aware of how powerful and useful those senses are and can be. The experience is enlightening, and though I was relieved to step back into light again, I walked away with a deeper understanding of what it would be like in a seeing world for a blind individual, but also with a deeper respect for my senses that often get neglected due to my dependency on the visual world.
After the exhibits, we ate at one of the many delicious restaurants in Atlantic Station, the Cheesecake Bistro. Hey, it's not exactly an authentic local place, but it was indeed convenient and tasty!
The next day, we kicked off the morning by walking over to the Georgia Aquarium and experiencing yet another world... the world beneath the surface of the water. This was the only time on the trip that I was able to use my camera because I had accidentally grabbed my smallest memory card and just couldn't quit taking pictures in this amazing attraction. Last year when we went, we saw the Aquarium around 6:00 PM on a Saturday where there were cash bars at every entrance of each exhibit. Perfect for adults just wanting to enjoy themselves and perfect for a fabulous date! This year, we went around 9:00 AM on a Monday, so the atmosphere was a little bit different to say the least. Let me just say this... if you're not into kids... DON'T GO AT THIS TIME! However, if you are into kids, or have one or a few of your own, then it's a perfect time as they are prepared for this and have tours prepared for the younger audiences.
The jellyfish are probably one of my favorite parts of the Aquarium. I can't get enough of them!
I found Dory in this room...
and Nemo in the next!
In this exhibit you can actually touch and feel sea anemones, sea urchins, and star fish. Awesome!
Has anybody else seen the "little" monsters in Cloverfield?
The Beluga Whales.
This guy reminded me of Darla.
Joey decided to keep his eyes closed through the underwater tunnel.
Can you believe it! There were fish there!
Another favorite... the giant aquarium that holds the Whale sharks, sting rays, man-o-rays, various types of sharks, and many, many other species of sea creatures.
The Whale Sharks are awesome. There mouths are only big enough to eat plankton, so they're gentle by nature. They are HUGE, too!
This is apparently what the Amazon river looks like.
And this is the bubble I would live in if I lived in the Amazon River.
Walking underneath the swamps of the South.
Another touch and feel exhibit where visitors are able to touch sharks and sting rays native to the gulf coast.
I liked this little blowfish guy a lot.
And last, but not least, the play-time extravaganza for the young at heart. Complete with a light-house that you turn to work yourself, a shrimp boat with live shrimp in the back, slides, tubes to crawl in, and a giant blue whale to slide down. I didn't partake in the sliding down of the whales gullet this year due to the amount of children who probably deserved to slide down more than I did.
Despite the massive amounts of energetic little ones and the lack of alcohol that was reminiscent of our last visit, we had a great second trip to the Aquarium. From there, we went back to our hotel for a bit to relax our feet and get an idea of where to head next, and then we hopped in the car to explore the city.
We drove around midtown, where we stopped to browse a bookstore called Outwrite Books, which, upon entering, we realized was a primarily Gay and Lesbian bookstore. So, even though we weren't the normal customers that the shop usually saw, we both agreed that it was a fun bookstore which was definitely not boring and had a lot to offer. If I were a resident of midtown Atlanta, I would probably visit often. I was very impressed with Atlanta's Gay population which seemed to be very much a functioning part of the city's population instead of being hidden or separate from it. From my experience, it seems as though Memphis has a very difficult time moving pasts its prejudices (racial prejudices should not be overlooked here) therefore creating a more difficult environment for anything or anyone that may be different from what society finds comfortable. So, Atlanta, I was extremely happy to see such graceful and beautiful diversity!
I went on a rant there, sorry.
After the bookstore, we walked across the street to The Flying Biscuit for lunch which was not only delicious, but had several vegetarian/vegan options along with several healthy options for meat-eaters as well! Yeay! I highly recommend that if your swinging through to go visit this fun little spot.
We ended our day by heading back to Atlantic Station to do some frivolous shopping. They don't have an H&M in Memphis, so I kind of demanded that we go so I could be a total girl for a bit and Joey was awesome and totally put up with a crazy crowd for me :). Love him! Then, we headed over to the mecca of all stores... IKEA!!! I could fantasy shop in this store, warehouse, disneyland, whatever you want to call it, for days! Fortunately for Joey, we only stayed for an hour or two. We did get some great additions to our home for a very pretty price though!
That sums up the trip. We woke up on Tuesday and my stomach was not feeling its best at all, so we left early to get back to our responsibilities in Memphis. It was a great couple of days, though. If your thinking about visiting, let me know cause we're big fans of the ATL and as you can see by this epic post, enjoy it immensely!
Where are your favorite places to get away for the weekend? Joey and I have a jar with little folded notes with weekend places written on them that we like to pull out at random. We're always searching for places to add. So, throw us some ideas!
Goodbye for now and love to all!