Over President's Day weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Atlanta for the first time. It was a whirlwind of a trip, but I had a wonderful time.
3:00AM Wake up (If you consider squinting through your eyelashes being awake).
4:30AM Arrive at Philadelphia Airport.
6:00AM Flight Takes Off. (This was my first time flying in years, so I was a little nervous about this but it ended up being totally fine. I'll admit though, take off and landing aren't my favorite).
8:15AM Arrive in Atlanta. It's raining, but that's OK!
9:30AM Check In to Hotel. Realized that I didn't have an umbrella and also I was starving.
10:00AM Stopped into Rite Aid for some snacks (... Chips Ahoy...) and an umbrella which I couldn't get to stay open so I embarrassingly had to go back into the store and ask the clerk to help. She opened it with a speed and efficiency which I can only hope to acquire one day.
10:30AM After stuffing my face with half a bag of Chips Ahoy, I went to the hotel lobby to catch my Uber. En route to the Atlanta History Center.
Atlanta History Center
My first stop wound up being my favorite. If you don't already know, I'm a history buff and so I was much more interested in seeing some of the local history than some of the other popular tourist attractions. I started outside because there was a lull in the rain at the Swan House. I'd researched the Swan House prior to visiting and was so excited to see it in person. This beautiful 1930's mansion once belonged to the Inman family of Atlanta and the museum has created an interactive experience with interpreters walking around as servants (and the architect!) to help you understand the lifestyles of the folks who once roamed the halls. The Swan House is also known for it's role in the Hunger Games film (which I'm guilty of not seeing - need to now!)... I captured a shot of the lawn for those who might want to see it because I believe there's a scene in the movie where this is really highlighted (in images above). Also in this building is the lower level Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life exhibit which houses Philip Shutze's extraordinary collection of porcelain and other international treasures (there was apparently some tie here between the architect's collection and the DuPont family... need to look into that more). I really wanted to grab a bite to eat at the Swan Coach House next door, but I was dressed down quite a bit and basically looked like a zombie so I skipped it.
After the Swan House, I strolled over to the Smith Family Farm. Coming from the 'burbs of Philly, I'm no stranger to farm life and I thought it was so interesting to see this situated in the center of a bustling city (I took a picture of the one portion of the property with the skyscraper in the background to show you what I mean... so close!). The Smith Family Farm was relocated to the museum, so it wasn't always here, but they did a wonderful job of outlining what it would have looked like and how it would have functioned in the 1800s. On-site were a dairy, blacksmith shop, smokehouse, slave cabin, chicken coop and barn as well as gardens.
Once inside, I perused the exhibits focused on the Civil War and highlights throughout Atlanta's history. I must say that it was really fascinating to see the Civil War through the South's eyes because I've really only seen it from the perspective of this region. As for the exhibit about Atlanta itself and it's stories it was great to see the exhibits about sports, monumental and pivotal moments in history, barber shops, diners and cinema. If you're in the area, I highly recommend you stop in.
Margaret Mitchell House
I need to preface this with one embarrassing fact: I haven't read Gone With The Wind nor have I seen the whole movie. This is one of my top priorities in coming weeks as I completely fell in love with it all as soon as I stepped inside the historic house museum.
This was around 3:30PM and as I approached the desk to let them know I had a ticket (if you go to the ATL History Center you get a ticket for this as well!) they let me know I could hop onto the tour that had just walked out of the room. So I did!
The tour guide was wonderful, and his passion for the history and his ability to engage the group was really fun. Even though I didn't have as much of a background as most of the other folks on the tour, I was able to appreciate where I was and the significance of a location so inspirational. I loved learning about Margaret Mitchell and her upbringing as well as her start in writing, having the opportunity to touch the original brick walls that she called home and to stroll through her "Dump" which is what she called her apartment. On the second floor, I learned more about the film and the transition of book to movie, the impact that it had on Margaret's life as well as the actors that were a part of it and also important to note... the city of Atlanta. This city takes so much pride in this work of literature, and it's really fun to witness in person.
At this point, I was exhausted so I decided to head back to the hotel. I had a lively conversation about craft beer with my Uber driver and tried to answer his questions about why Philly is so passionate about sports. I still don't think he understands.
I wish I could say I went somewhere exciting for dinner, but I was so tired that it ended up being a pizza delivered to the hotel.
9:45PM Hotel Issue. Call Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center for a last-minute reservation. They were wonderful and I highly recommend you stay with them if you visit! Not only did they not judge me for dragging my body in there after being awake for almost 20 hours after a day of traveling and sightseeing but they were so accommodating.
The sun was shining and I'd gotten at least eight hours of sleep... it was going to be a good day. After ordering a delicious room service breakfast of blueberry pancakes (with warm maple syrup, yum!), sausage and a goblet of cranberry juice I was ready to start the day.
The King Center
Since it was still warming up outside, the first stop was the King Center. If there's one thing that this thing showed me, it was a closer look at what segregation looked like. Being here was a bittersweet experience because there were points where my heart broke and other times where I felt inspired and impressed by the tenacity of the folks who stood up against a cruel world.
To stand in front of Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church that Dr. King and his family were so tied to and the crypt of Dr. and Mrs. King was something that left me feeling a bit shaken, but it was also serene in a way. If you've seen these sites, perhaps you know the feeling yourself.
By this point, it was starting to get a bit warmer and so I knew I wanted to do something outdoors to take advantage of the beautiful weather.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
I'm so used to Longwood Gardens that I wasn't quite sure what to expect on my trip to the gardens in Atlanta, but it was beautiful. It was pretty crowded (I guess we all had the same idea when the sun came out), but there was plenty to see without lines or bumping into anyone. After a tasty Chicken Salad Sandwich in the on-site cafe and after strolling some of the grounds I decided to sit on a bench by the fountain to enjoy the sunshine.
Before leaving, I walked down a path to see the beautiful goddess feature. Though it wasn't in bloom and the water wasn't running at the time, you can still see how gorgeous this was and what an impact it must have when it's not the off-season!
7:15PM Airport Dinner at a cheesesteak spot. They put a sandwich pickle on it (Are pickles a Southern thing? They were on everything here). A for effort Atlanta Airport.
9:40 PM Flight Home