31 May, 2008
27 May, 2008
I think whale sharks are an example of something that just has to be seen in person. Hopefully this video I took helps a bit. (don't bother with the audio...it's just kids screaming)
26 May, 2008
However, I do want to make it clear that I really like Atlanta. I'd live there. I didn't feel unsafe at any point. There were interesting sculptures on nearly every street corner. The buildings were high, but not so high that you get dizzy looking up at them like in New York. And there was lots of green space. The above picture was taken from between the aquarium and the Coke building. Face the opposite direction, and you'd see Centennial Olympic Park, with its Olympic Ring fountain and lots more lawn to enjoy.
I appreciate that Atlanta has a really good mass transit system. There's buses and trains to take you anywhere you need to go. It seems cars are a much bigger luxury there, and that people who bother with cars really only have nice ones. Scott saw his first non-Bond-movie Aston Martin, and we saw more Mercedes, BMWs and Bentleys per capita than anywhere else I've ever been. I don't even think I saw a single Hyundai!
Since we didn't really do anything or go anywhere that wasn't at least a little touristy, I can't say for sure that the people were friendly as a whole. But the people in the service industry certainly were.
The food, I must admit, was pretty disappointing. Perhaps we planned poorly. The first night, we found ourselves at a total tourist trap (one that apparently I had visited in my childhood and promptly forgot): Pitty Pat's Porch. The food was o-o-overpriced, the service was slo-o-ow, and we were underwhelmed by the food. Actually, I took a risk and had some curried pork dish that was really good. Scott got fried chicken and ribs and didn't really care for either. The most amusing portion of the meal was the "sideboard" of vegetables that came with it. Salad bar? We wished! There were 6 bowls up there: one with a green salad, one with some sort of cucumber salad, one with pickled rinds of some sort, and three with mystery mayonnaise-based salads. No labels - just guessing. It was like Fear Factor Atlanta!
Other dud meals were experienced at the Golden Budda (for lunch - barely edible), the food court at the aquarium (though it's possible we just made bad choices there), and the Landmark Diner (which wasn't really a dud... just a diner).
Our "big dinner" was at a seafood restaurant remarkably near CNN that shall remain nameless. The service there was really good. And I made a bad choice and ordered salmon for dinner. Just because a fish I don't usually like is stuffed with crab, shrimp and brie, that doesn't mean I'm going to like it! The reason for not disclosing the name? Well, after an iced tea refill, I took a drink and sucked up what I assumed was a lemon seed. I spit it into my hand and dropped it on my bread plate and heard a plink that didn't sound at all like a lemon seed. Turns out there was a small glass chip in there!
As soon as we told the server, he left and returned with the manager less than a minute later. They whisked my glass away and he kept asking me if I was ok. I'm sure he was trying to decide whether I looked litigious. I told him I was fine, just really freaked out. They replaced my tea, he told me he'd take care of my dinner, and Scott and I went back to eating. Scott kept shooting me nervous looks like he expected me to have perforated something and drop dead any second. Frankly, I would have known if there was anything else solid in my tea. I'm sure of it. It turns out the manager comped our entire dinner, so we gave the server the $20 that Scott happened to have in his wallet and we left.
The free dinner wasn't actually our best dinner. Our best dinner was at Max Lager's, a grill/brewery that Scott picked off the AAA website. When we got there, we were seated in a section without a server. Oops! We were exhausted from the long walk, and barely noticed that we hadn't been helped. They ended up throwing in free dessert to make up for it. We both got the ahi tuna with "spicy vegetables" for dinner. The vegetables? OMG... they were spicy! And the tuna... was perfect! Of course, the deep-fried cheesecake for dessert was the most divine thing I've ever eaten! It's more like a deep-fried crepe with cheesecake filling... soooo tasty!
Scott told me that I wouldn't be able to get un-sweet tea in Atlanta. He was partly wrong. I always got it, but it was an adventure. Pitty Pat's brought me un-sweet for my first glass, and then all of my refills were sweet. At the brewery, I ordered un-sweet, and the waitress apologized when she brought it out to me - "the sweet tea hasn't been brewed yet." The seafood place got the drink right... but were apparently trying to weed out the un-sweet drinkers of the world! And as you can imagine, we didn't see Pepsi in any dining establishment!
One other thing I wanted to mention: the broken windows! Atlanta got hit by a pretty bad tornado last month, and all of the skyscrapers seemed to have a lot of damage. It took me a while to realize that's what I was looking at. Boards, tape, and plastic could be seen on almost every building. Our second night, wicked storms passed to the north of the city, and the local weather man was pooing a brick. I understand that!
Scott and I both enjoyed Atlanta. I bet we'll go back there some day. And if we win the lottery, I promised him we'd get a cheap condo downtown and annual passes to the aquarium.
24 May, 2008
I wonder if people who remember 1968 are more likely to go along with him. Opinions?
Chapter One: Travel
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
We flew Spirit Air to Atlanta, thanks to their notoriously cheap fares: sure you have to pay for snacks, drinks, and checked baggage, but you're not going to find a cheaper flight!
I was starting to freak out because I hadn't been able to print my boarding passes online the night before or the morning of our flight. When we got to the airport, I tried again at an automated kiosk and still couldn't print them. Thankfully, the lady at the desk had no trouble. I thanked her and we headed toward security. As we walked away, I laughed because the agent had circled information on my boarding pass and not on Scott's. Ha! I'm special!
"Special" is apparently a synonym for "selectee." As we got through security, I got taken to a special line (they let Scott come with me) where my bags were x-rayed, opened and swabbed for mystery chemicals. I meanwhile was walked through the metal detector and then frisked. I couldn't believe that some strange woman was squeezing my armpits (no, not boobs... though I may have just blocked that part from my memory) and patting me down. It was mercifully quick, and I was reunited with my stuff and had my shoes on before Scott did! He missed the whole episode.
Then I spent the next two hours sitting at the gate being pissed off and traumatized. As much as I'd like to believe that it was the suitcases, I know that my "random" selection was made before we even got to the airport. That's why I couldn't print my stuff from home. My immediate reaction was something along the lines of, "the TSA reads my blog...and isn't a fan!" And when two TSA agents showed up at the gate (the woman already wearing her rubber gloves), I nearly threw up. I was so thankful to get out of Orlando.
Aside from a pilot who was sort of a dick, a little lap-sitter who kicked my seat the whole time, and a sweaty man in the seat next to me who asked to borrow my cell phone, the flight was quick and easy and we made it to Atlanta only 1/2 hour late. In Atlanta, we managed to navigate through the airport to the train station, buy our round trip tickets from a machine that gave change in $1 coins, and get on the train with almost no difficulty. We got off the train at the correct stop and made it to the hotel with a 5 minute walk.
The area in a one-block radius of the station was very ghetto, but I never really felt unsafe. And for the remainder of our vacation, we walked everywhere. I love that about cities.
We took the same route back - walked to the train station, train to the airport, etc.
Atlanta airport security seems to be more efficient than Orlando. I was surprised, since I never really thought of Atlanta as more than a hub. We made it through security with no special surprises, but I did make an observation: it's probably best to not wear your bedazzled shirt to the airport. Those little baubles are going to set off the metal detector, leaving your husband to deal with your four children and all of the bags by himself. And he's not going to have the common sense to get out of everyone else's way. And people may or may not feel bad when they accidentally bonk one of your children with their carry-on bag, bouncing their head into the plexi-glass wall behind them.
...not that I know any of that from personal experience!
Our flight home was an exercise in tolerance. There was a group of five drunk loud lesbians who thought the rest of the plane was amused by their shouts to each other. Really, most of us wanted to strangle them. I know it wasn't just me and Scott - there were other people talking about them at baggage claim.
Oh yeah - baggage claim! Because the flight was full, the airline asked people to voluntarily gate check their wheeled suitcases. Well I didn't want to pay to check the bag, but was perfectly happy to not have to deal with the overhead bins, so I passed my bag over to them. The highlight of our travel day was seeing our suitcase come onto the carousel, Scott go to grab it, and me yelling, "YARGH! Tis my luggage!"
No one was amused but me... but I laughed all the way to the car!
23 May, 2008
Can't a girl catch a break?!?!?
I got a jury summons today.
For Monday June 2.
For a three week civil trial.
And judging by the name of the case, I'm guessing it's medical malpractice.
I called The Boss and asked him to write me a letter begging for me to be excused. He said he'd talk to his boss, but was pretty sure he couldn't. His suggestion? "Punk up" my hair and dress radical.
It's not like I'm against jury duty. After all, I sat through a trial back in 2003. The problem? Let's see...
- The courthouse is basically in the opposite end of the county from my home - probably a 90 minute drive.
- Report time is 7:45 am.
- If chosen for the trial, I'm likely going to need to work on Saturday & Sunday because there's just no one else to fill in for 21 straight days.
- If chosen for the trial, Scott and I will be home together literally for 4 hours per day. And we'll be asleep. He gets home from work around 2, and I'd be leaving at 6. That is SO uncool!
- Let's not even discuss the gas my car will need to get me that far.
Oh yeah, and someone from The Restaurant recently was on the jury for a MURDER trial that only lasted 5 days. Some girls have all the luck!
I have a pretty general sense of foreboding about this time. Last time I got a summons I didn't even have to report. What are the odds my luck will hold?
22 May, 2008
21 May, 2008
20 May, 2008
Today Mommy and Daddy are at the Georgia Aquarium. I hope they bring me back a tasty fish!
Sadly, at 40 feet long, I doubt they'll be able to bring me a whale shark... especially since Spirit charges so much for checked baggage!