Following a terrific Fourth and a nice night’s sleep, we arose and bravely ventured out into the vast city of Atlanta. We’d discussed a few of our options in terms of how we’d spend our time, and we all seemed to agree that our most unique experience – and by that I mean something we hadn’t seen elsewhere – would most likely come from the CNN Center
. Off we go.
Right off the bat, we walked into the food court in the main concourse. Joey bought us tickets for the CNN Studio Tour, which would be starting about twenty minutes – giving me ample time to grab a bite, since Sarah and Joey had enjoyed breakfast without me (I’m usually not a morning eater). My eyes focused on a somewhat simple-looking spot, Gorin’s, where I decided on a delicious grilled Reuben.
But before I could finish my purchase, Joey came up behind me and noted that they serve beer on tap at this particular food stop. We ordered two Sierra Nevadas
, and the fellow behind the counter asked us, “32-ounce okay?”
Joey smiled and replied, more as a joke than anything else, “Well, unless you’ve got something bigger.”
So we each ended up with our own 44-ounce beer, and very little time to gulp it down. Sarah assisted us both to a small degree, but Joey and I were both left with about three bottles worth of beer apiece. We slammed them down, emptied out whatever we could from our bladders in the bathroom, and embarked on what was sure to be an entertaining tour of the original 24-hour news network.
The tour was a lot of fun, and not just because of the beer. As a broadcasting major in college, having studied and practiced in television and radio studios, I take a strong interest in television and its production, especially on such a level as CNN. The tour gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the goings-on inside this massive facility, including a view of the newsroom from behind the anchor as she spoke to the camera. For this reason, we weren’t allowed to shoot any pictures during the tour – a disappointment, but understandable, as it would look pretty unprofessional if flash bulbs were going off on TV behind the anchor’s head. But photos aside, it was an awesome experience, one that lasted just over an hour – giving me just seconds to sprint to the nearest urinal. I made it, but barely.
Leaving the CNN Center, we were around a busy area with plenty of sites to see. We began our walk toward the Georgia Aquarium, which we’d heard was the largest in the country. But before we got to the door, I spotted the admission fee – $27 per adult – which was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard. Joey was pretty annoyed at my (and Sarah’s) unwillingness to throw the money down, which is understandable to a certain degree; he’s a sucker for the biggest of anything, whether it’s an aquarium, a boat, an airplane or whatever you can think of. If it’s big, Joey’s in. But you’ve lost your mind if you think I’m walking into an aquarium overrun with screaming children and paying $27 for the experience. I’d rather die, and decrease the surplus population.
So instead, we walked through Centennial Olympic Park
, a space developed for the 1996 Summer Olympics. Occasionally this serves as a location for public events, but nothing was going on for this particular day, so we moved on quickly.
We came next to Auburn Ave., home of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site
. This is the neighborhood where King grew up, and the site incorporates the Ebenezer Baptist Church
, where both King and his father served as pastors. The area was alive with tourists, many of whom came to pay respects to King for his service as one of the leaders of the civil rights movement. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, were both buried on site.
Our last photo op came at Millennium Gate
in Midtown Atlanta. This iconic arch seems very similar to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, only much smaller, much younger and having nothing to do with Napoleon Bonaparte. Regardless, it gave us some great camera fodder for a spell while the rain threatened overhead.
We joined Joey’s family for dinner, meeting at Annie’s Thai Castle
for our first full meal of Thai cuisine since the trip began. When I think of Thai, I think spicy, and this was no exception; the lemony soup that started our meal featured this strong, zesty flavor, which was brought forth by anise, a plant native to southwest Asia with quite a bite to it.
As for our entrees, I indulged in some kind of delicious combination of beef, greens and sweet sauce that left my cheeks sweating and my stomach bulging. Hats off to Denise, Mike and the gang for picking out such a fantastic meal – and of course, for buying it for us.
We parted ways with the fam and went looking for a drink, and on the advice of one Coleen Zoller
, who spent time living and teaching in Atlanta, found our way to the Righteous Room
on Ponce de Leon Avenue.
At first glance, the bar seemed to be a rather nondescript establishment, with a simple layout and a laidback clientele. But as soon as we ordered our drinks, we found our way near the back to an incredibly comfortable couch-type seating area next to the jukebox, wondering why nobody else had taken that spot until now.
The jukebox – I’d read some reviews online of the Righteous Room, and everyone seemed to have good things to say about the jukebox. I fed my curiosity and gave it a whirl, only to discover one of the most phenomenal selections of music I’ve ever found in such a contraption. Usually, you’ll either get a jukebox with a bunch of garbage music, like Billy Ray Cyrus or something – or a digital music machine that can order whatever song you want for a dollar or so. But today, I was able to play Radiohead, Jimmy Cliff and Bad Company all for the same dollar, without having to wade through an ocean of rap or easy listening. Hats off to you, Mr. Jukebox.
One bar was enough – we headed back to the Kline residence for the night, gearing up for the next day’s drive across Alabama. More on that very soon.