Friday, 13 December 2013

Day 43 - A Hawk in the Park

While David went to meetings this morning I walked the few blocks from the hotel to Piedmont Park which is in the heart of the Midtown district of Atlanta.  

It was very quiet and peaceful there this morning and one of the first sights when I arrived there was this very handsome bird...

He was sitting quite low on a branch, surveying the ground beneath.  He was not perturbed at all by my arrival, eventually moving to a slightly higher branch.

Having looked up the bird books and consulted the web, he seems to be a Cooper's or Broad-winged hawk.  He was quite large - standing at least 18" in height.

Having looked at the Piedmont Park website there are some 178 birds who are seen there through the year - from hawks to humming birds!

Walking around the lake there were great views of the Midtown skyscrapers across the water.

Before leaving the park I returned to see if the hawk was still there - he was - looking rather incongruous with the tall buildings behind him:

On my way back to the hotel I passed the house lived in by Margaret Mitchell, author of 'Gone with the Wind', which is now a museum dedicated to her life and writing.

We came home to Reston this evening where it was a good 10 degrees C cooler than Atlanta, snow and ice still on the ground and more forecast for tomorrow morning.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Day 42 - Atlanta

In Atlanta the start of the day was bright and sunny.  The view from our window shows a variety of Midtown buildings from one storey to many more.  Opposite the hotel and looking a little incongruous between the high-rise blocks is the Academy of Medicine dating back to the nineteenth century.

Using the very quiet Marta metro system, I set off for the Downtown area.

Arriving in Downtown one of the first buildings I saw was the Hard Rock Cafe..

The Peachtree Centre was decorated for Christmas:

Adjacent to the centre was a vertigo-inducing high level bridge between two very tall buildings.

At the bottom of Peachtree Street - which runs through the centre of Atlanta - is the Carnegie Monument which celebrates the value of learning and commemorates the University institutions of the state of Georgia.

I headed for the Centennial park created for the 1996 Olympics:

In warmer weather there are fountains which spout  from the five rings but due to unusual frost in Georgia they were switched off today.

Overlooking the park is the Skywheel which provides great views of the city:


From the Skywheel I walked through the Olympic park to Pemberton Gardens which is the location for the Georgia Aquarium - the largest in the world - and the World of Coca Cola which commemorates the invention of Coca Cola in Atlanta by John Pemberton in 1886.

The park was decorated for the season:

The World of Coca Cola was full of historic memorabilia and included the opportunity to taste more than a hundred different Coca Cola variants and other drinks made for the Asian, European, North and South American, Indian and African markets and to purchase from a remarkable collection of Coca Cola related items in the shop.

My particular favourite (I didn't actually try them all) was a fiery and very fizzy ginger drink called 'Stoney' Tangawizi which is made for the African market.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Day 41 - Dulles to Atlanta

David has two days work in Atlanta so at lunchtime today we headed off to Washington Dulles airport which is approx 15 minutes from Reston.  The airport is quite striking in appearance - it is where the film Die Hard 2 was made.

Inside it was  fully decorated for Christmas....

We took the underground train to the gate.

It has been a beautiful sunny day and the skies were clear as we descended into Atlanta.

Arriving at our hotel in Midtown, there  is an impressive view from our room of other hotels and buildings in the business district.

In the hotel lobby, as well as a tank of tropical fish, there are some more seasonal decorations.

This is a 'gingerbread house' model of the hotel with Shreddies for windows and a fence made of Hershey's kisses and an M&M's patio area.  It stands about two foot high!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Day 40 - 'There's a Bluebird on my shoulder...'

Well, not actually on my shoulder but certainly on the feeder..  This is the first time that we have seen the male Eastern Bluebird, who is very colourful.  We have seen his mate, as above on the suet block, a couple of times.

The second phase of 'winter storm Dina' brought a steady snowfall this morning, which left us with a blanket of four or so inches of snow by lunchtime and sent the birds and squirrels into a feeding frenzy..

When the sun came out for a short while this afternoon, the landscape was very beautiful in the light and with the blue sky.

Soon the sun melted the ice and snow on the trees so that it was cascading to the ground, making a noise like heavy rain.

Meanwhile the squirrels kept on eating.  One was so engrossed in the sunflower seeds (put out for the birds) that he didn't seem to notice that he was sitting in the water dish..

We are travelling to Atlanta tomorrow afternoon where it should be a little warmer than here - everything has frozen solid tonight under clear skies.