So all week long my husband kept telling me he had a super secret treat for me this weekend, but he wouldn't tell me what it was. Wouldn't even give me a clue. Just kept taunting me with it. And of course, I can't just leave things alone, so I tried to figure it out. I had a hundred ideas of what it could be, but I never came up with what it actually turned out to be.
Saturday was a gorgeous brilliant, clear day, and got up into the 50's. We took the train into Atlanta, where we stopped at the CNN center for coffee. While there, we got a bonus as the connecting Philips Arena was opened up for an Atlanta Thrashers game (hockey)- so we were able to sneak over to get the elusive pennies in the machine there. With Starbucks in hand, we headed over to Centennial Park.
Centennial Park is of course the past host of the 1996 Olympics. As you can see, it was such a beautiful day, there were plenty of people strolling, playing, and relaxing at this 21 acre park right in the middle of downtown. The last time I was here, it was at Christmas a few years ago, and during the evening the entire park is decorated with lights and Christmas trees. I don't know which sight is more lovely, nighttime holiday lights or a bright sunny afternoon.
The park also happens to be centrally located around several tourist hot spots, including the World of Coca Cola, and the Georgia Aquarium. We've been to both, but it's been several years, long before we actually moved here. So, that was my exciting surprise. James had two tickets in hand for the aquarium. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know how much I love aquariums and post lots of pictures, and I have plenty of photos for this visit too. But, for those of you who don't know, the Georgia Aquarium happens to be THE WORLD'S LARGEST!!!
It was extremely crowded. It could just be the locals enjoying such a perfect day out and about downtown. Or it could be that the NASCAR race is here this weekend (go Tony!), and these were visitors. But, it is still wonderful for the local economy to see SO many people out discovering the joys of the aquarium. Not to mention for us, the three penny machines scattered throughout the building. We were able to see the latest additions to the aquarium, the lionfish (top), the amazing and enormous whale sharks (above), and of course the return of the aquarium's beloved beluga whales (below). The whales temporarily went to an aquarium in San Antonio, then Maris (in photo) was brought back just last week along with a new whale named Beethoven.
Of course there are plenty of non-fish cuties to look at, including the penguins, gators, snakes, turtles, poison dart frogs, and otters. A dolphin exhibit is currently under construction at the aquarium and will be open later this year. Sadly the sea lions are no longer there, and I remember them from our last visit, but their old home is being renovated for the dolphins. We caught the otters at nap time apparently. They reminded us of the fuzzy piles of sleeping kitties we have at our house.
Although many of the fish are in smaller exhibits so you can get right up close to them, there are several enormous displays as well. The one below looks like a gigantic movie screen, but it's not, it's a six million gallon saltwater tank.
There were also plenty of overhead tanks as well. Pretty cool as you don't always get to see this "side" of the fish.
The Georgia Aquarium has every aspect of marine life, from local and global rivers to the tropics to the deep cold oceans.
I wasn't able to get as many sharp images with my camera as I normally do at aquariums. The glass here was quite a bit thicker than what I've ever seen before. Plus, with it being so crowded, sometimes it took a patient wait of several minutes before I could get up to any of the displays. And then of course I had a line of eager visitors waiting for me to move out of the way.
After the aquarium, James and I walked around downtown for awhile. It was actually very quiet out on the streets as we made our way up to a different train station. But so pretty out that we weren't ready to go home yet. We stopped and had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe (bottom), one of our customers. Although we don't actually "live" in Atlanta (we are the next county down), when we were asked where we were from, I said "here" because I know we looked like tourists with our souvenir bag from the aquarium, and my camera out taking pictures of buildings!
When we got home later in the afternoon, it was still so warm out, I let the kitties have some time out on the back deck. Spider stayed out until the sun started going down. They love it out there, and the birds where busy at all the feeders and the sun was shining on the cats. After all, even the kitties deserve a special treat every now and then!