Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Baseball Hat Vacation 2013

We just returned from a very nice vacation. The primary reason for it was to get hat #19 for Dave's
collection. So I'll start with the game even though that was smack in the middle of the trip.

We saw the Phillies and the Braves for opening day 2013. In case you don't know, Dave wants a hat from every major league team but has to see the team plan in their own stadium in order to get the hat. We both like to travel and watch baseball games so it's always an enjoyable adventure. We don't specifically choose game where the team whose hat he wants is playing the Phillies. This was only the third time. We saw the Phils and the Marlins last year and a couple years ago we saw the Phils and the Nationals.

We decided after this game that we will not seek out game where the "hat" team is playing the Phillies. It's too depressing to sit in the stands and listen to everyone cheer against your team. At the Phils-Nats game most of the fans WERE Phillies fans. It was the last game of the season and the Nationals weren't really in it. At the Marlins game there were hardly any fans at all for either team and those who were present were kind of ambivalent about baseball in general. The Marlins organization had cheerleaders too. I've already had my rant about that though.

The Braves fans were not rude or obnoxious. Not at all. Dave wore a Phillies hat for the game and his Chooch shirt. Many of the Braves fans told him he was on the 'wrong' side but they were quite gentle and kind about it. Dave commented that this must be what is meant by "Southern Hospitatality". We agreed that a Braves fan at a Citizens Bank Park would not recieve similar treatment. Still, during the game - which appeared to be a sell out - it was difficult to see and hear everyone rooting against our beloved Phillies. It wasn't just because the Phils lost 7-5. Heck we ARE Phillies fans we are used to losing over the years.

So about the rest of the vacation -

We took the train from Philadelphia to Atlanta. Leaving Philadelphia on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. and arriving in Atlanta around 8:15 a.m. on Monday - only 15 minutes late. Of all the possible modes of travel (train, plane or car) the train was by far the most economical. We didn't need a car while we were there and sleeping on the train saved hotel costs. Flying was too expensive with a trip planned to British Columbia later this year. The train only took a few hours more than driving would and with less stress.

The MARTA system was very easy to navigate - so we did not need a car -although not all that easy to find the stations. We got turned around a couple of times and even when you get to the station it's not obvious that's where you are. I think they could do a better job of signage. The system was convenient to travel though and got us where we needed to be for two days.

Upon arrival we found our hotel (although took the scenic route to do it) and were able to check in even though we were way early. We dumped our bag and went in search of breakfast. The Landmark Diner served up a great breakfast (you really can't go wrong with diner food) and we ended up there for dinner before leaving on Tuesday as well.

After breakfast (back to Monday) we walked over to Centennial Park. Atlanta is the venue of the NCAA final four which takes place this coming weekend (April 6-8). There are plans to have concerts in the park each night and preparations were goin on in earnest. It was difficult to get a photo of the park without the port-a-pots in the way. There were flags on every light pole talking up the final four. I had to work hard though to find one that did not have Duke in the photo.

Next stop the CNN building for the tour. Again we were bombarded with NCAA stuff. It was kind of fun. We took the tour which was pretty interesting.

We still had time before we needed to work our way to the stadium so we found out which bus to take and headed to the Jimmy Carter Center. Spring had definitey sprung here. The grounds were beautiful. A very helpful native on the bus ride there told us that in a few weeks it would be gorgeous. Given my allergies I was glad we were early. :) The center here was a self guided tour. It was set up very well. I learned a lot. I am not a political person by any means but I am impressed with what Carter has done and is still doing. I may have to do some more reading on him. Anyway, I recomend this visit if you find yourself in Atlanta.

After that it was off to the game which I already told you about. I will add about the shuttle though. It runs from Five Points Station to the stadium and back 90 min before, during and up to one hour after the last out. All in all a good system although the ride back was little hairy with fans under the influence of a Braves win, alcohol and other susbstanaces which shall remain nameless but definitely were not odorless.

On Tuesday morning we had breakfast at our hotel. We stayed at the Hampton Inn which had a marker indicating it was on the National Register of Historic places. Dave asked the clerk and among other things the building was an FBI field office back in the day. Today we headed to the Midtown section of Atlanta to visit the Margaret Mitchell house. We took the tour and watched the movie about the making of the movie. All very interesting. The neighborhoods that make up the "Midtown" section were really nice. I enjoyed walking here the best. We spent some time in Peidmont Park. It's a lot like Fairmount Park in Philadelphia only condensed. There is lots of area to picnic, playing fields, a jogging track, a pond. Tuesday was another sunny day and the park was a good place to be. I took this photo from a bench swing. One of many that surround the pond.

We wandered the neighborhood making our way back to the train station and returned to downtown Atlanta and headed to the Capitol building. Capitol buildings are pretty much the same everywhere. Lots of marble, big ornate old fashioned looking rooms for the senate and house and of course a rotunda. Still we enjoyed the museum on the 4th floor which had a lot of interseing tidbits about Atlana history and culture.

One of the neat things about taking the train is meeting different people. The timing of this trip made getting to know folks more difficult than our last trip. Still just before getting off the train in Atlanta we had conversation with the father and boy sitting across the aisle and one row in front of us. Somehow they got wind that we were going to the Phillies game and asked about it. Anyway it turns out the man Paul and his son Asher were on a book signing tour. They had hiked the length of the Appalachain Trail when Asher was 8. He looked to about 11 or 12 now. I wish the conversation had started much earlier. It would have been neat to hear about that.

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