Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ideas for summer vacation: "Georgia on my mind" and things to do in Atlanta! A staycation in Atlanta Part 1!

In my article " Ideas for Summer vacation: Thailand's on my mind" I mentioned that some people's vacations could simply consist of visiting a nearby city" or having a staycation trying something new in your town.

If you are from Atlanta or from it's surrounding I hope this article will give you a new perspective into Hotlanta! (smiles)! If you have never been to Atlanta and are somewhat curious about its history and identity I hope that this article will trigger a deeper interest.
There are fun things to do in Atlanta like
Visiting the GA Aquarium it's easy to spend a whole day in there.
Spending time at Centennial Park
Visiting the Botanical Garden
Visiting the CNN center which is one of my favorite after the GA Aquarium.
Enjoying Piedmont park especially when there's a concert or event.
Educating yourself at the Martin Luther King Center if you are interested in the Civil Right Movement or The Jimmy Carter center is you are interested about Human rights.
Visiting the High Museum during one of their fascinating exhibition, attending a Live Jazz event on Fridays...
Well I could go on and on about fun things to do in Atlanta as I have explored all the above plus some; but today I wanted to talk about a simple and enriching excursion I recently had in Atlanta.

I believe that walking is a great form of exercise and learning is good for our mental health so one morning I indulged into a little excursion downtown Atlanta.

I moved to the Atlanta GAArea 10 years ago before relocating to a nearby city in TN. I never took the time to enjoy a simple, peaceful and relaxing walk downtown. So about a month ago I had a very very short vacation/staycation and stayed just one night at the Hilton Downtown Atlanta with my husband. Walking around Downtown Atlanta was honestly one of the highlight of our vacation/staycation. I was certainly rediscovering the city. I never took time to walk downtown and take pictures. I knew downtown only by car and only knew it during busy hours.

It was on a Sunday morning, it was quiet and very different from the hustle and bustle that one is used to in such a metropolitan. It was such a relaxing time and since I took a bunch of pictures I am sharing some for your enjoyment and adding some interesting facts along the way.

Sleeping arrangements are important for a pleasant vacation no matter how short the vacation. Downtown Atlanta has many nice hotels and something for any budget. Just to name a few there is the Sheraton, The Marriott, the Westin, and the Hilton where I stayed at. (check the many pictures below)

Inside the Hilton hotel downtown Atlanta, Georgia.
We just checked in,

 I am checking the second most important room in any place, the bathroom that is, bathroom comfort is crucial for any quality vacation...

In the meantime hubby is taking in the view...
Hilton Hotel downtown Atlanta GA.
Being up so high, the 17th floor, the view of the pool down there makes me think of a weird scene from CSI Miami or CSI NY...or was it a scene in the first Lethal Weapon (1987) starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover? I don't know but I am not sure that I like being so high....
Hilton Hotel Downtown Atlanta GA night view from the 17th floor.

But...there are some advantages to being on a high floor, advantages like being on a very quiet floor and having such as a panoramic view of the city by night or by day.....
Atlanta GA view from the Hilton's hotel from the 17th floor.

Atlanta GA view from the Hilton hotel downtown Atlanta view from the 17th floor.

Hilton Hotel Downtown Atlanta GA view from the 17th floor.

If you are afraid of height just don't look down....I have to tell you I am not a fan of glass elevators.

Hilton Hotel  Downtown Atlanta GA inside view from the 17th floor.

Hilton Hotel Downtown Atlanta GA view from the 17th floor.

Getting a quick peak at what's going on outside the hotel...

Okay, we are on the main floor, so glad to be out of the glass elevator, I will not take it again. I am doing a little exploring indoor, there's a Gift Shop with some very cuuute things passed the Coffee shop! Here are some pictures inside the Hilton
Hilton Hotel Downtown Atlanta GA main floor.

Hilton Hotel Downtown Atlanta Georgia.

Hilton Hotel Downtown Atlanta Georgia.

Hilton Hotel Downtown Atlanta Georgia.

Time for a walk Really a beautiful day to go on a walk...

Exploring the architecture of a city is certainly a fun thing to do either on a vacation in a new city or just playing tourist in your town. Talking of tourist...what are these buildings below? Can any of you tell me?
Downtown Atlanta Georgia.
I was clearly intrigued by this building in particular can any of you tell me that is? I have heard years ago of a rotating restaurant but not certain if that's it?

Downtown Atlanta Georgia.

Downtown Atlanta Georgia.

Some hotels downtown Atlanta Georgia
The Westin Hotel!
The Marriott Hotel Atlanta GA
The Ritz Carlton Hotel Downtown Atlanta GA
We (hubby and I) passed by the Sheraton Hotel before we saw an old church that grabbed my attention.
Sheraton Downtown Atlanta Georgia.

I love history,old buildings, and educational vacations...

History of the First Congregational Church
First Congregational Church Atlanta GA
This is probably the one building that I photographed the most, I am sparing you all the many pictures I took but I have to share with you some of its history that I researched well after my peaceful walk.When I returned from Atlanta I was determined to learn more about this old church and I must tell you, I learned so much as I not only researched the history of the building but the lives of some of the people who attended there as well.
First Congregational Church Atlanta, Georgia.

So let me share a little history lesson...hope you don't mind...if you do just skip to the rest of the stuffs but for you all who love history, Black history, and/or African-American studies here's a treat...

The First Congregational Church in Atlanta was built in 1867 (as a picture I took above shows). Some interesting facts I retained form my researches are found in more details in the link I provide below.
The church was the Second oldest congregational church in the United States.
It was built to educate newly freed slaves after the Civil war.
The congregation was interracial.
The first service was May 26 1867 conducted by Reverend Erastus M. Cravath who later became president of Fisk University in Nashville Tennessee.  I could not find any picture of him but this one. He is the man in the center.   This picture belongs to the HBCU library Alliance and is part of the digital collection celebrating the founding of Fisk.
In 1894 the Church elected its first Black pastor Dr. Henry Hugh Proctor.
The church had some very remarkable members three of them were
John Wesley Dobbs  a political leader.
Mattiwilda Dobbs an opera singer and 
Grace Towns Hamilton the first Black Woman to serve in Georgia House of Representatives.
Each of these people has a fascinating biography and in spite of my temptation to share what I learned about each one of them it would be beyond the scope of this article to share more details.But for more on the church please read the following pages

I know it sounded like we just had a small Black history lesson here but what good is an excursion through  Atlanta without learning a few things? We all know about Martin Luther King but we rarely talk about those people I just mentioned above. When I was taking pictures of the Church, I knew there was a lot to be known about this old building so obviously I had to please my inquisitive side. I hope the facts I shared above would simply inspire you to do some research of your own, this could be a great theme for any parent interested in teaching their children some historical facts about Atlanta GA that most people might not know about. I had visited the M.L.King Center and most things related to King in Atlanta when I first moved there 10 years ago but I never heard a thing about the 1st Congregational church and its famous attendants.

First Congregational church Atlanta GA
  There is something powerful about connecting with history, especially when you least expect it! I wish the building could talk...If that building could talk I would have be seated there for hours just listening....

First Congregational Church Courtland Street Atlanta GA.
Just a block away is...

As we walked around (my hubby and I ) there are few old buildings but nothing like that church. There are still plenty of pleasant things to check, definitely more modern, like the sculpture below:

A sculpture at the United Way building
United Way Building Downtown Atlanta Georgia.
Or the shining light award
Shining Light Award by the Magnolia Bistro Atlanta on Edgewood Ave.
1988 Shining Light Award to Mrs. Leonard 'Be' Haas
Photo by Goodhealthdiva

This shining light award is located by the Magnolia Bistro courtyard on 100 Edgewood Avenue, on the bottom floor of the United Way Building. Upon returning from my trip I did some research about the Magnolia Bistro just to see if it would be worth planning lunch there someday.The reviews on http://www.yelp.com/ were not as pleasant as the cute setting I saw this quiet Sunday morning.

Magnolia Bistro on Edgewood Ave. Atlanta GA picture by Goodhealthdiva
A special note about the Shining Light award. I was very curious about what it was all about and it's worth sharing. ( Ha ha ha another small history lesson...)
 The Sharing Light award is a gas lamp and plaque that's awarded each year to a 'Georgian who has been an inspiration to the lives of others through service to humanity ' (Atlanta gas Light Company). The award has been established since 1963 and is placed at a location chosen by the honoree. The recipient of the 1988 Award ( that I pictured above), Mrs. Leonard ' Be' Haas was a volunteer, fund raiser and community leader.

Okay...moving on with our little excursion downtown Atlanta.
The buildings below certainly got my attention from a distance. Don't they look grand?

Hurt Plaza Atlanta Georgia

The Hurt Building Atlanta Georgia.Designed in 1913 by Joel Hurt.
It certainly looks grand and rich up close with tall Acanthus columns, gorgeous balusters, dental molding and plenty of fascinating details to please all those who love architecture and appreciate old world beauty.  The building...yes (sigh)...another short history lesson...the building was designed in 1913 by architect Joel Hurt and is one of Atlanta earliest skyscrapers. The building host the Venetian Room at the Hurt Plaza, the Venetian Room is a private event space and is greatly recommended for a memorable wedding at an historic venue.
So if you are looking for a wedding venue in the heart of downtown Atlanta with a flair of history there you have it...but I don't know the price tag for rentals...

Hurt Plaza Downtown Atlanta Georgia.

Well, all that walking has led us to what turned out to be my very favorite spot....here we are...the beautiful park nested in the city, Woodruff Park, right across the Hurt Plaza!

I liked the park so much that I honestly forgot about everything else and simply enjoyed...so many things made me smile there! I will return for a part two of my vacation/staycation in Atlanta GA. For now just enjoy all these pictures and the historical and cultural facts I just shared with you. I will see you in a few days with more pictures of Woodruff Park, and certainly a few historical facts...

Hope you enjoyed your tour of downtown Atlanta so far. Thanks for reading and please share share share because some of the facts above are worth sharing since this article is not just about pretty pictures of a metropolitan, it's also about knowing a little more this summer...after all learning something new, fresh and changing our perspectives on a few things is what make vacations so refreshing...well... that's my humble opinion!

Are you in or from the Atlanta area? How well do you really know the city? Any fresh ideas come to mind for you to rediscover it? Are you inspired to re-discover the city/state where you are currently living?