13 Weeks of Wandering: Atlanta

Bangkok | Cambodia | Vietnam | Laos
New York >> Miami | Portland >> Vancouver


Where To? Atlanta, Georgia
How long? 4 days
Mode of Transport? Bus


13WoW – Atlanta

I stared at my screen for a while unsure how to begin writing about this adventure, because this adventure began with an ending. You may already have read August’s challenge; Saying “Yes” to new opportunities, but for those who haven’t I will start from the beginning… of the end…

The bus took me from Charlotte on a scenic route crossing enormous lakes on route, the view a blur of birch then pine trees, until we eventually arrived in the city of Atlanta.

A gut feeling told me before finding out, but as I settled in to my spacious hotel suite, I was soon to face one of the most difficult challenges I’d faced since beginning my travels. In all challenges, there is often an opportunity hidden within. So as July came to an end, so did my 9 month relationship, which kind of messed with the travel plans, but lead to my first adventure in Georgia. Again, if you read August’s challenge, you’ll have already heard me say it; It’s never easy dealing with breakups because your heart just wants to say “no” to everything. To waking up, to getting dressed, to stepping out of the door! Eek, humans!

Thankfully, immediately across the road was a Chinese takeaway, and a corner shop where I looked into grabbing some Ben and Jerry’s but ended up with a mango sorbet somehow. I binged watched American TV and ate until I couldn’t eat anymore. Yeah so the food may have had some added saltiness, but suddenly all these movies were just so meaningful!

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Enjoying the Accountant Movie for the second time
It took a lot of getting my shit together, but I had to convince myself to go out and explore (like, I didn’t pay all this money to sit in a hotel room watching chick flicks and shovelling mango sorbet down my throat).

Surprisingly, this bump in the road lead me to my first Adventure. Processing my sudden life change by crying into sorbet and binging on movies all night, I woke up the next morning seeking the comfort of the place I have always received peace from; Church. And it just so happened that around 15 minutes away was a church I had been familiar with as a youth – The Vineyard.

So after crying some more at the front desk staff and a police officer who listened intently (come to think of it, why were the police there?!), I jumped in an uber to go to church!

A kind woman  offered greetings and handed me a welcome pack, it had snacks, books and music (which I later gave to a begging child). They invited me to lunch with them after the service, and that’s where I met a bright, smart 9 year old with the most beautiful smile, Eden.

Eden (2)

She was over the moon to hear that I was from England and even more excited when she found out about my travelling adventures. “I wish I had your life” she said, longingly. I swallowed back tears, she had no idea how much that meant!

Her lovely parents, Phil & Daesy had been in the worship band. Daesy was from the Philippines and so we had a lot to talk about with my recent travels to Asia. It wasn’t long until Phil turned to me and said “Mary, Daesy and I have been talking and we would love to offer you a place to stay.” I was so overwhelmed by their kindness!

breakfast by Phil & Daesy

Before I knew it, I was part of their family as we shared meals, watched Dr. Who and they even gave me lifts to places. It was exactly what I needed when feeling so low and I am ever thankful that we met. We stay in touch even now!
This also lead to a new connection as it turned out Paul & Daesy had family in Portland which happened to be on my travel route. But you can read about that later!

 

Atlanta

So here’s a few of the places I visited in this stunning city.

Olympic Park

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This thriving park is the heart of the city with a vibrant and fun air, you would never have known it used to be a run-down multi-block district. Fountains spraying up from the floor, the laughs of little children echoed as they played in the water. A little further on, a group of young people were making their  own music video – I smiled to myself. On the green, many college football players were sporting their gear and chatting happily with family and friends. One sculpture was a large fan with Olympians running through, another was the famous Olympic circles over a platform that one girl was trying to get the perfect insta-selfie from. The Park hosts music festivals, concerts, fundraisers, free community events and private events. But surrounding the park are popular attractions such as the Georgia Aquarium, Center for Civil and Human Rights, College Football Hall of Fame, World of Coca-Cola, as well as hotels, nightlife and restaurants.

Atlanta City Pass
If you are planning to take advantage of the city attractions, it’s worth it to take advantage of the city pass. You get admission to five of the most popular attractions for $62.75. Discounts are sometimes available on their website.

The City Pass Includes the following.

 
1. Georgia Aquarium
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This aquarium used to be the largest in the world until 2012, incredibly, it holds more than a hundred thousand animals within over 10 million gallons of water. I was able to view an incredible dolphin show, watch the most incredible beluga whales peacefully swim with smaller fish taking shelter beneath it’s large body, and walk beneath a glass arch surrounded by colourful fishes.
If it happens to be your birthday when you visit the Aquarium, then you will qualify for FREE admission! Just make sure you have valid ID or a copy of your birth certificate for proof and you will have free all access admission!

2. World of Coca-Cola
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“I paid Coca-Cola world to brainwash me with advertisements and feed me diabetes…” were my regretful thoughts summarising my tour of the attraction. On entry I was handed a mini vanilla coke as I queued to get in. We were then all lead into a room as we waited for the previous group to finish a screening, this room was probably the most interesting of all as it had all of the original Coca-Cola memorabilia. It reminded me of Christmas.
We were then ushered into a room to watch a 3-D “film” a.k.a advert about Coca-Cola with plenty of not-so-subtle messages about how Coca-Cola is the best thing since sliced bread – and why wouldn’t that be the case? It’s Coca-Cola world!
After being thoroughly brainwashed, we were all lead into the “world” where you could enter the “secret vault” where the secret recipe of Coca-Cola is supposedly held or you can go to the next floor and try unlimited sugary drinks until your tastebuds can’t take it anymore. A child’s heaven.
To exit, you go through the Coca-Cola shop for your greatly desired souvenirs.  Still, it was something to do, your kids will certainly love it!

3. CNN Studio Tours


The world headquarters of CNN, this commercial office offers an inside peek into the behind-the-scenes of CNN’s newsrooms. For many of the people within the building, this was their everyday place of work but for a few of us, this was a chance to understand the world of news anchors!
Something you couldn’t miss as you entered the ground floor is the 196 foot long escalator leading into a large globe of the world that takes visitors to the CNN tour. It is listed as the longest freestanding escalator in the world in the Guiness Book of World Records.
Equally as noteworthy are the restaurants and cafes available to business employees and visitors alike. Most importantly (especially to the people of Georgia) is the popular fast food chain, Chick-fil-A. If you know, you know.

 
4. Zoo Atlanta (Or Center for Civil and Human Rights)
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So I opted for the Zoo, but in hindsight that probably wasn’t a place for a single person. Families and couples everywhere, I contemplated borrowing a child to not look weird by myself. But that’s also weird.
Home to the rare Giant Panda, there are many beautiful animals to see. Elephants are my favourite animal and I was happy to get up close to some of these beautiful creatures.
You will also be pleased to know that the zoo is directly involved in field conservation programs for wildlife around the world.

 
5. Fernbank Museum of Natural History Or College Football Hall of Fame
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Sadly, I didn’t make it to either of these but the website assures me that Fernbank Museum of Natural History is a world of adventure filled with dinosaurs, live animals, cultural artefacts and hands-on science explorations.
I also have it on good authority that College Football Hall of Fame (supported by Chick-fil-A) is a hall of fame and museum devoted to college football.
But maybe you can let me know if you go?
That’s all I managed to see before I head to Georgia Airport… to pick up a car! Keep reading to hear about out all the drama when I got there. Next stop; Charleston!

 

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