Thursday, 8 October 2015

Overnighter to Atlanta

For as long as we have lived here, the boys have wanted to go to Atlanta to do the Georgia Aquarium.  A couple of weekends ago, they got their wish.  Paul had a track day at Road Atlanta on the Sunday, and it made more sense for him and his friend to go down the night before.  They booked a hotel between Atlanta and Road Atlanta, and Paul had the great idea we could all go to the track day, and see the sights of Atlanta.  It has been on our to do list for a while, and as our months are quickly whittling down we thought, Why not?

We drove down early on saturday morning.  Because of the track day, we went in 2 cars.  I took Isaac and Seb, Paul took the other one.  We stopped at the hotel and all jumped into my car.  We were staying at the Springhill Suites near the Mall of Georgia.  One of the perks of being a Marriot club member is one free night in a hotel room a year.  This was our night.

The Mall of Georgia looks awesome for shopping.  If we had more time and no kids, I am sure we would have spent a pretty penny.  Instead, we went for some lunch in Longhorn Steak house.  It was their typical fare, though the service was good.  Shame about the kids that couldn't behave themselves, yes my kids!

We drove into downtown Atlanta after lunch.  The weather was absolutely atrocious.  It rained all day . Because it was mid afternoon when we arrived at the aquarium, there was a very small queue to get in.  This is the largest aquarium in America. The price certainly matches up to it, ouch!  We headed inside to a central lobby area.  The place was packed.  There was 30 minutes till the next dolphin show started, but they had closed the area as it was full already! So we went for a little explore.  There are 4 areas off the main lobby.  We headed to the Ocean Voyager area first.  This was awesome, absolutely huge!

In the GIGANTIC tank they have 4 whale sharks, giant manta rays, and loads if other rays, and lots of other creatures.  The kids loved it! 

It was so cool getting up close and personal to the creatures.  We spent an awful lot of time just watching, before heading back to the lobby.  

From there, we went on the Tropical Quest section, where we saw lots of tropical fish (unsurprisingly).  We kinda flew round this section! 

Next up we headed to the River Scout Adventure.  This was cool.  The boys liked seeing the albino alligator.  When they could get to the front of the tanks that is.  What is it with older adults hogging up the front all the time?  

Then it was on to Coldwater Quest.  This was one of my favorites.  They have 3 or 4 sea otters, who were lovely, so playful.  The boys made it to the front of the tank (Seb is nimble and small, the 2 elephants just follow him when he gets there).  They had great fun watching them swim around.

The beluga whales were majestic.  One kept coming up and rubbing his tummy on the glass, making it ripple.  

The upstairs of the aquarium gives you an insight into how it all works.  A behind the scenes look. It was very cool. Below is the tank the whale sharks are in.  The photo does not give it perspective.  This thing was HUGE! and deep too (probably not big enough for the sea creatures, but thats a thought I am not prepared to have yet....)

We decided to give the dolphin show a miss.  We didn't fancy waiting around for 45 minutes, we had other places to go! Besides, we are off to the beach soon, so hopefully we will see some there.....
From the Georgia Aquarium we headed the short walk, in the rain, to the World of Coca Cola.  This was another one on the boys bucket list.  We paid our entrance fee and went into the attraction.  You are given a short talk on the history of Coca Cola before being taken into a movie theatre to watch one of their adverts. 

It was the one with Imagine Dragons 'i'm on top of the world' song, with lots of happy people in it.  Thank goodness Isaac made us sit at the back, as a few happy tears were shed.....  After we headed into the place.  It was ok.  To be honest, not much to do.  We had a look at some of the history of the merchandising and art work, before heading to the Tasting centre.  The boys went nuts.  They tried drinks from all over the world, and absolutely loved it! I however was a little displeased.  Other than the free style machines, all the drinks were full sugar.  This did not help my blood sugar levels! 

We collected our free bottle of coca cola and headed out through the gift shop.  Possibly one of the most awesome gift shops ever.  Everything Coca Cola branded you can imagine.  So cool, yet so corporate.  Really shows you how a company has taken over the world.....

From here we traipsed back to the car and headed the short drive to the Legoland Discovery Centre. This is well hidden on the top floor of a mall.  It took us a while to figure this out, particularly as there is construction work in the area at the moment.  As we were quite late in the day, there were no queues to enter.

Our kids absolutely love the Mini-lands at the various Lego parks.  They could spend all day looking at the finer details.  

Once through Mini Land, you enter the main play area.  All the boys wanted to do was the Lego Racers area.  This is where you make a car out of various Lego and Technic bits, and send it down a ramp.  They loved it.  Sebastian was very taken....

Granted, he just looked for cars lying around that were already made. He has recently started playing with Lego at home, and trying to build his own, so this is progress! Isaac choose to go in the soft play area, Oliver joined him, but didn't stay long.  We then headed into the 4-D cinema 

This was our boys first experience of this type of cinema, and they loved it! It was a Clutch Powers feature, and was very amusing.  We had already been here for about 2 hours, so decided to go and do the laser quest ride.  This was a lot of fun.  And again, because it was so late in the day, there was no queue.  By now, Paul and I had had enough!!!! We headed out through the gift shop.  Legoland Discovery Centre in Atlanta, is certainly not huge, but as a stop gap to the 'real' Legoland, it is worth a visit.  I would certainly recommend going later in the day. They are open till 9pm on the weekend (but check this out before your visit).

We drove back towards the hotel after this.  We stopped for a faster food dinner.  Once back at the hotel, we put Seb to bed, though with the noise the other 2 were making while building their Lego sets, it took him a while to fall asleep.  Same with Isaac once we put him to bed.  Oliver slept on the sofa bed, think that is going to be his bed in hotels from now on, sorry Oliver! 

Paul had to be out the door at 6.45 the next morning to head to the track.  Because of this, neither of us slept great.  I took the boys down for breakfast, they were pretty well behaved, and only had about 2 breakfasts each! We then headed back to the room, to kill some time before checking out.  

Road Atlanta was only about a 30 minute drive from the hotel.  Luckily for us all, it had stopped raining.  I found it eventually and headed in.  Because of Petite Le Mans taking place the weekend after, it was busy.  There were RV's parked up ready to get in and set up for the week.  We found were Paul was situated, and parked up.  He was already on the track at this time, so we headed to the stands.  3 boys on these kind of bleachers is a heart attack (for me) and an injury (for them) waiting to happen. 

Paul finished up his run, and came and hung out with us.  We did not stay long.  They really enjoyed driving 'Goldie' around the track. We were fortunate in the people organizing the track day arranged a parade lap at lunch time.  This was where we could go in track in any vehicle, with any passengers, for no fee.  Paul asked if I wanted to drive, I said no.  

The second we started going around the track, I regretted it!!! We were supposed to go at 35mph, but most were going about 50.  It was so awesome!!!! The kids loved it.... We did 2 laps before we had to come off.  It was great fun.

The boys and I headed home shortly after, absolutely exhausted!  We had a great time in and around Atlanta.  

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