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Trip Report Mom and Daughter Long Weekend in Atlanta

DD (10) and I enjoyed our mid-winter long weekend to Disney so much last year that we decided to go somewhere again this year. Atlanta offered mild weather, plus the Georgia Aquarium, CNN Studios, and the World of Coca Cola--and so off we went for the President’s Day weekend. We, along with thousands of CHEERSPORT cheerleaders! Seems it was one of their national competition weekends. Plus, there was also an alumni conference or gathering or something, because our hotel was overflowing with stylish women sporting spirtwear, with their dutiful husbands juggling shopping bags and trailing behind. Between the glittery-eyed girls (and a few glittery-eyed moms) and the stylish alumnae, DD and I felt a little out of place with jeans on and cameras slung around our necks. But it all made for great people watching.

No troubles getting to Atlanta from DCA, but one of the two MARTA lines that go to and from the airport (and through the downtown) was closed for maintenance that weekend. So...the major downtown train line was a little crowded all weekend. After checking in at the Georgian Terrace we hurried to CNN in the hopes of getting one of the last tours of the day, but alas, hopes were foiled. Regrouping, we grabbed a small snack and found a corner of an otherwise occupied table to stand at to take in the spectacle of the CNN Food Court filled with cheerleaders before heading back to the hotel. No fewer than 14 of your favorite fast food spots all in one place! And with seating for only about 200 people!

Leaving the CNN Center, we were too tired and damp (rain was forecast for the whole weekend) to wander down the street from our hotel to Gladys Knights Chicken and Waffle House for dinner, so back at the hotel we indulged in one of our favorite sports, room service. Our room at the Georgian Terrace was clean but small, and afforded us a lovely view. No complaints.

First up the next day was the Georgia Aquarium. Simply amazing. We touched Bonnethead sharks, manta rays, and jumbo brown shrimp, and had our fingers hugged by sea urchin. I want a sea urchin tank at home. The Beluga whales are so graceful to watch; of course, we don’t have space for a Beluga tank at home, so we had to make do with a stuffed friend. We took in the Dolphin Tales show; it’s a little campy but the dolphins make it worthwhile. The highlight of the aquarium, though, was the Ocean Voyager gallery—that’s the one with the half dome tunnel that you can walk through and be surrounded by ginormous sea creatures like the 24 foot whale sharks and manta rays, plus a whole bunch of really, really big fish. After the tunnel is the back of the tank with a viewing pane the size of an IMAX screen. I could have stayed there the entire day and watched the fish. It was feeding time for the whale sharks while we were there; I know they’re filter-feeding plankton eaters, but you still couldn’t have paid me to be the staff member sitting in the little raft above the tank tossing thawed plankton into their mouths!

The World of Coca-Cola was just plain fun. We even had our photo taken with the Coca-Cola bear! The history of Coca-Cola was pretty interesting and the role of Coke in pop culture was neat, but the Tasting Room is where the action is. 60+ flavors later, we were both pretty sugared up and thankful that we had eaten lunch beforehand! (Advice: do at least try the Beverly soda). There’s also a station where you get to make our own flavored Coke. And if you still haven’t had enough Coke, you’re welcome to take a small bottle with you as you leave the tasting room.
No Sanjay Gupta or Wolf Blitzer sightings on the Sunday afternoon CNN Tour, sadly. I loved Mary Tyler Moore as a young girl, so it was still pretty neat to learn about the operations of the newsroom.

Our final day in Atlanta dawned sunny and pleasant, and we were torn between the Atlanta History Center and Zoo Atlanta. In the end the animals won. The zoo is much smaller than ours in DC, but the exhibits are well-designed and the whole park makes for a pleasant half-day’s activity. In particular, it was fun to feed the parakeets, and to see all of the active kangaroos in the Outback exhibits.

Culinarily the trip had some ups and downs. We slam-clicked on the first night after being out in the wet and cold with a room service cheese plate that was so large we ended up putting half of it on ice for breakfast the next morning. Sunday’s lunch was standard aquarium fare of fried chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese. On Sunday evening we walked from the hotel to Gladys Knight and Ron Winan’s Chicken and Waffle House. The wait for a table was an hour and 45 minutes, but carry-out was only 20. Except that our order was never taken. Each time I asked, I was told, “the server will be out shortly,” but she never was, and the manager only had excuses whenever I queried. After 30 minutes of being ignored, we left and settled on burgers at a draft house near the hotel. On our final morning we ate at the hotel restaurant, which was very reasonably priced (for hotel food), and quite good. Our departing lunch was enjoyed at Mary Mac’s Tea Room. Two orders of fried chicken, with pickled beets and green tomatoes (for me), applesauce and fried corn (for DD), and a shared peach cobbler. Mmm. The MARTA to the airport was quick and efficient, and a short 90 minutes later we were home.

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