The View From The Top

Okay, I had you going with that last post, right? I don’t post for a month, and you figure you’ve got at least another few weeks before I’m back at it. However, with all that travel, I might as well post at least some images. So, this is from the trip to Atlanta, where I got to stay in the Westin Peachtree which (I learned from a voiceover in the elevator) is the tallest hotel in the western hemisphere. When I checked in they asked if I wanted a floor closer to the ground or higher up, so I said higher up (I never seem to get that option). At this point, I had no idea how tall the hotel was, having only been focused on finding the hotel itself, rather than how many stories it had (I hadn’t looked up on entering it). They gave me a room on the 39th floor, which isn’t bad. The elevators I entered only went up to 45, so I assumed that was as tall as it went. The entire building is a cylinder, so each room is wedge like, with floor to ceiling windows curving around the outside (pretty cool, actually). Even at the 39th floor, it seemed like there weren’t many other tall buildings around, so I snapped some photos with the camera phone:


So that was fun. Of course, my second night there, I got to have dinner at the Sundial restaurant, which happens to take up the top 4 (72 through 75) floors of the building (and, yes, it rotates) — at which point, I discovered my “high” room, wasn’t really that high up the building. Turns out folks who room on floors 46 through 70 get their own separate elevators. And, of course, the Sundial restaurant gets its own damn elevator, which happens to be glass and on the outside. Lots of fun, though some people who I shared the elevator with were apparently afraid of heights. Either way, it was sunset, so I snapped a couple shots out the window from the 72nd floor:


Not much else to report from Atlanta. I did have one fun experience, though. I normally am better at preparing before going on a trip to a city I’m mostly unfamiliar with. However, this time, I didn’t even bother to figure out how to get from the airport to the hotel, figuring I’d just grab a cab and “how bad could it be.” Well, it would have cost $30, which isn’t too bad, but the insane line waiting for cabs had me thinking twice. I saw various airport shuttles and wondered if the Westin had one. Someone at the taxi stand told me they did, but gave me directions I think were more designed to get rid of me than help me reach my destination. I found a courtesy phone and called a different Westin (the Peachtree wasn’t listed — which I knew was a bad sign). The woman their told me that there was another shuttle called the Linq (or Link, I forget) that would take me to the hotel.

I headed back outside and found the shuttle… which had a line nearly as long as the taxi line. And there was one shuttle at the front and it looked like a minivan. The wait was going to be ridiculous. I asked the woman in front of me if this was the right line, and she said “well, this is where the reservation said to go” and pulled out a printout reservation. Reservation? Oops. So I wander off and see another long line, and ask the guy at the end if it’s to buy tickets on the shuttle. He thinks so, but notes there are no signs and there doesn’t appear to actually be anyone at the front of the line serving people. Oh yeah, the cost for the shuttle: $20. We stand in line for about five minutes with nothing happening, and the guy says that he’s been to Atlanta before, and he remembers that there was a train, so he’s just going to take that. He seems like a nice enough guy, so I tell him I’m following him.

We wander over to the MARTA, which is the subway there, and discover that, unlike just about every other subway station I’ve been to in the country, people are *damn friendly*. The woman at the ticketbooth knows exactly where I need to go to get to my hotel. Total price: $1.75. Then, again, as I actually used the ticket to enter the station, there’s another MARTA employee waiting at the gates, asking where my destination is, and again telling me the best way to get there. Very easy. Got to chat with the guy I followed and he’s an interesting guy. He’s an IT manager for the United Nations and had worked there for over 20 years. Had some fascinating stories.

Anyway, after all that, it should come as no surprise that I just took the MARTA back to the airport at the end of my trip as well. I wanted to get to the airport by 9am, so I left the hotel at 8am, figuring that there would be some rush hour traffic on the subway in the middle of downtown. Apparently, folks in Atlanta aren’t big fans of their public transportation system. As I rode the huge (probably 5 or 6 stories in one go) escalator down, I realized I was the *only* person on the entire escalator. At 8:15am (I was a little late) at what appeared to be the middle of downtown. Oh well. Made the trip even easier.

Also, when you get to the airport, if you’re flying Delta (I was), you can actually check-in, getting your boarding pass, and check your luggage from inside the MARTA station, avoiding all the main terminal lines. All in all, quite nice. So, if you’re flying to Atlanta and your hotel is somewhere downtown, skip the cabs and the shuttle and just take the MARTA.

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