And lo, the third day came and the sun rose and the city spread out before us. But that didn’t matter. We had aquarium tickets! Georgia Aquarium is a very big deal in the Atlanta area, even if it is supported by *coughcough*HomeDepot *coughcough*. I really wanted to go to see the whale sharks. That’s right whale sharks! And a dolphin show! But alas, it was the beluga whales that stole my heart. Such glorious, graceful creatures. We were some of the first people through the doors that morning, and for the first little while had the place seemingly to ourselves. Thus, my first glimpse of the belugas, I was alone in the filtered blue light of the aquarium. A beluga swam from the depths of its tank, and brushed against the glass. For long moments, I was alone, watching these creatures and getting lost in that surreal world. It was a moment I’ll never forget.
Georgia Aquarium is a “hands on” place, where they allow you to touch not only the regular horseshoe crabs (it was mating season, no thank you!) and stingrays (always a joy to touch one of those), but sea anemones and urchins, too. But if the beluga whales stole my heart, Ton fell for the penguins and sea otters. They even had an acrylic tube you could crawl through and enter the world of the penguin. It’s meant for children, but that didn’t stop Ton.
We did attend the dolphin theater show as well, but didn’t take a single photo of it. But it was a lot of fun—as was the 4-D theater. Nothing like getting misted with water and shocked in your seat!!
But the most lovely part of any aquarium experience is simply sitting near the large viewing tanks and watching the world swim by.
But one can stand only so much water, especially one who is deathly frightened of swimming (well more frightened of drowning if truth be told), before you have to escape back to dry land and sunlight. Next door to the Georgia Aquarium is the Coca-Cola Experience. Let me preface this by saying that I am not opposed to Coke, I prefer it to Pepsi! But the idea of paying to be inundated by advertising did NOT appeal to me. Ton, however, wanted to go. Being Dutch, the branding of Coke meant very little to him, the direct emotional marketing appeal of Coke being a bonding experience was not something he had ever picked up on. In other words, he WANTED TO GO. So, we went. We had to wait for a tour to start, so we stood in the lobby and admired the art work-- Coke bottles that had been carved by artists from around the world.
I always feel like somebody's watching me!!!
And I have to say, despite my doubts, I had a BLAST. The tour started with a guide telling you a short history of Coke, and a museum of Coke advertising products over the years.
(See that little cheerleader lady?? Remember her. She will visit us later.)
After that we were shown into a theater where we watched a hilarious animated cartoon—featuring all sorts of odd creatures—including furballs with red lips (one of whom was terribly sad because he had fallen in love with a dandelion who had blown away) and the bottle-shaped cheerleader lady. After the film, you’re left to explore the rest of the “experience” on your own. The various rooms radiate off a center hub, and you can do them in any order, culminating in a Coca-Cola tasting room with drink fountains with products from all over the world.
It was in this center hub that a strange things happened. I turned into a big kid and had the best time!!! They had the Coca-Cola polar bear there and you could get your photo made with him, but I wasn’t interested. Instead, they had the furballs with the big red lips!! And I could kiss them ! And play with them!!!
In the middle of my furry-lipped lovefest, who should appear but the bottle lady! I squealed with delight, but Ton started freaking out. He dared me to go up to her and get a photo made. OF course!! I loved it!!
Ton, however, started laughing. And freaking out. He could NOT get control of himself. It was the funniest thing I have ever seen. The figure approached him, he tried to get away. The more he resisted, the harder he laughed, almost incomprehensibly muttering, “It’s too surreal!” (Rather like my reaction when I see clowns, I suppose. But it's a lot funnier when it happens to other people!!!!)
See? He was almost crying!! It’s still hysterical to me. But maybe you had to be there.
After a visit to their 4-D theater, and tasting so many types of Coca-Cola products that we were slightly nauseated, we left downtown Atlanta behind. With our freshly bottled Coca-Cola, and happy memories.
That evening, we decided to eat at yet another diner, this one featured on Guy Fieri’s show, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.
Marietta Diner was good, solid, diner food. I opted for the cheeseburger (I’ve had better) and onion rings (REALLY good) while Ton sampled their Greek menu with a gyro platter. But the main claim to fame for this diner is their desserts. When you walk through the door you’re greeted with a glass showcase FILLED with a myriad of cakes, cheesecakes, and pastries. This is what I was saving my calories for—the waitress recommended the house specialty, and I accepted.
Baklava cheesecake. Two layers of gorgeous baklava, with cheesecake sandwiched in the middle. It is served with a honey syrup that is divine. The portion was huge!! And yes, I ate every. Single. Bite.
After gorging on cheesecake, we went into downtown Marietta. What a lovely little town! They were having a concert/charity dinner on the town square—a vibrant lively little town square.
We walked around, enjoyed the music and the small-town feel. A lovely ending for our third day.
More photos are available on my Flickr account.