US state GE­OR­GIA has some sur­real beauty to mes­merise its vis­i­tors, says DEEPIKA CHALKE

Citadel colum­nist DEEPIKA CHALKE tra­verses the pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tions of GE­OR­GIA, USA, where scores of tourists flock to the state for wit­ness­ing its sur­real beauty.

Citadel - - CONTENTS -

In t he sum­mer of 2017, my mother and I ex­plored some of the most fa­mous land­marks in the US state of Ge­or­gia- the Ge­or­gia Aquar­ium, which is one of the world’s largest aquar­i­ums; the CNN head­quar­ters; and the most haunted city in United States: the city of Sa­van­nah. Ge­or­gia, a state with fairy tale like forests, roller­coaster like roads, mind bog­gling hills, and tow­er­ing moun­tains, is a beau­ti­ful state in south­east United States. Known as the Peach State, be­cause of its abil­ity to pro­duce good qual­ity peaches, the cap­i­tal city of Ge­or­gia is At­lanta. A ma­jor cen­tre for IT, health­care, art and me­dia, TV and film pro­duc­tion, At­lanta is known for host­ing the 1996 Olympics, for its top-notch Univer­sity, Ge­or­gia Tech, for be­ing the city where Coca-Cola was in­vented by a US phar­ma­cist and was sold in a phar­macy, and for hav­ing the busiest air­port in the world - Harts­field–Jack­son At­lanta In­ter­na­tional Air­port. At­lanta’s flour­ish­ing econ­omy is home to head­quar­ters of For­tune 100 com­pa­nies like Home De­pot, Delta Air Lines, the Coca-Cola Com­pany and AT&T Mo­bil­ity, to name a few. Some of the most fa­mous hor­ror themed TV shows like The Walk­ing Dead, Vam­pire Di­aries and Teen Wolf have been shot in At­lanta, along with the hor­ror-com­edy movie: Zom­bieland. The clas­sic novel Gone with the Wind was writ­ten by an At­lanta na­tive, Mar­garet Mitchell. At­lanta also has one of the most bril­liant Hal­loween themed half-marathons, which I

ran one chilly Novem­ber morn­ing in 2016, dressed as a char­ac­ter from the an­i­mated movie, The In­cred­i­bles.

AT­LANTA

Ge­or­gia Aquar­ium: One sunny morn­ing, af­ter a short drive and scram­bling to find a park­ing spot in Down­town At­lanta, my mother and I were at an iconic at­trac­tion, The Ge­or­gia Aquar­ium. Home to thou­sands of species that swim in 10 mil­lion US gal­lons of ma­rine and salt wa­ter, and the largest aquar­ium in the world un­til 2012, the Ge­or­gia Aquar­ium makes you feel like you are in a sub­ma­rine, deep in an ocean. One of the first things that daz­zled our senses was a sea lion show. In an au­di­to­rium, we sat on front row seats; bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to watch the sea li­ons do their thing. Soon, three in­struc­tors came onto the stage and with them were gi­gan­tic sea li­ons that per­formed un­be­liev­able ac­ro­bat­ics and in­ter­est­ing howl­ing sounds. Just as I was be­gin­ning to won­der if th­ese an­i­mals were be­ing harmed for train­ing pur­poses, the in­struc­tors men­tioned that th­ese an­i­mals had been res­cued from near death sit­u­a­tions and were be­ing fed and cared for in this aquar­ium. As the sea li­ons lunged into the wa­ter, they splashed us all with waves and de­lighted us with their bril­liant per­for­mance and en­ergy. My mother and I spent the next sev­eral hours walk­ing the maze-like ter­rain of the aquar­ium and mar­vel­ling at its strange in­hab­i­tants with a child-like en­thu­si­asm

and a deep sense of won­der and awe. There were such mind­bog­gling, fas­ci­nat­ing, bizarre crea­tures that I felt like I was on an alien planet: mush­room shaped crea­tures, alien oc­to­pus like crea­tures, crea­tures that looked like a lit-up moon; there were crea­tures steeped in rare bright colours, crea­tures with weird shapes, and crea­tures that I wouldn’t have re­alised were liv­ing things had they not been in an aquar­ium. My favourite thing was a gi­gan­tic tank with a mind bog­gling ma­rine ecosys­tem: whale sharks, bel­uga whales, manta rays and scores of other species, large and small, swam around; I sat in front of the tank, sink­ing deep in ut­ter fas­ci­na­tion, con­tem­plat­ing the cre­ative power of nature, the mys­tery of life, and the many pro­found won­ders of the Uni­verse; the aquar­ium put me in a trance like mode, open­ing my con­scious­ness to the in­cred­i­ble beauty and magic of the Uni­verse. Mainly built from a do­na­tion of $250 mil­lion from a busi­ness­man called Bernard Mar­cus over a pe­riod of 27 months, the Aquar­ium is an ex­pen­sive ex­cur­sion, but it’s worth a visit to dive deep into the won­drous won­ders of the Uni­verse. CNN Cen­ter: Si­t­u­ated in down­town At­lanta is the world head­quar­ters of CNN, where a plethora of cut­ting edge news­rooms and stu­dios are lo­cated. As soon as

you en­ter, you no­tice a gi­gan­tic globe, an un­usu­ally long es­ca­la­tor, a mind­bog­gling ar­ray of flags from around the world, CNN lo­gos, the US flag, a vast num­ber of win­dows that make you cu­ri­ous about what top notch news record­ing or edit­ing might be un­fold­ing in there, restau­rants, cafes, sou­venir shops, and the large num­ber of tourists. The only way to ex­plore this place is through a 50-minute paid guided tour. As part of this tour, we took the world’s long­est free-stand­ing es­ca­la­tor; vis­ited a cou­ple of stu­dios and news­rooms; learnt about an­chors us­ing teleprompters and green screens to de­liver news and glimpsed from afar the con­trol room where edit­ing, pro­cess­ing and dis­cus­sions about the footage oc­cur. It was fas­ci­nat­ing, ob­serv­ing ev­ery­thing from a dis­tance, and it made me won­der how ex­cit­ing and cre­ative and ful­fill­ing and po­ten­tially stress­ful a ca­reer in news broad­cast­ing might be. CNN, the first all-news 24 hours ca­ble tele­vi­sion chan­nel, was founded in 1980 by Ted Turner, and it went on to set in­dus­try stan­dards for news cov­er­age by cov­er­ing im­por­tant events like the 1986 Space Shut­tle Chal­lenger dis­as­ter and 1991 Per­sian Gulf War among its early his­tory. While most of the broad­cast­ing is done from sta­tions in New York, LA, Wash­ing­ton DC, At­lanta is mainly used for week­end pro­gram­ming.

SA­VAN­NAH

In Ge­or­gia is one of the most unique, pe­cu­liar and charm­ing cities: the city of Sa­van­nah; a city known as the most haunted city in United States and a city where quaint boule­vards, Span­ish moss sprin­kled gi­ant oak trees, beau­ti­ful man­sions with old-fash­ioned ar­chi­tec­ture, cob­ble­stoned squares, and his­toric parks whis­per won­drous things to your soul. One sunny morn­ing, my mother, a fam­ily friend and I set off for Sa­van­nah and af­ter driv­ing for four hours from At­lanta to Sa­van­nah, we checked into our ho­tel; a bril­liant brick build­ing with tiny rooms in the heart of Sa­van­nah’s his­toric district. Af­ter speak­ing with the ho­tel concierge, we de­cided to

take the hop-on-hop-off trol­ley tour that would take us to the main tourist des­ti­na­tions. Starved, we walked for ten min­utes and stopped at one of the most fa­mous restau­rants in Sa­van­nah: The Pi­rate’s House. The Pi­rate’s House: An old build­ing that seems to be made of bricks and wooden planks, t he Pi­rate’s House cuts an oth­er­worldly pic­ture. The main build­ing is 250 years old, and t he at­tached smaller struc­ture is con­sid­ered as the old­est build­ing in Ge­or­gia. The ho­tel used to be a no­to­ri­ous den for pi­rates, crim­i­nals and crooks, back in the day, and drunken rev­elry of­ten led to fights, may­hem and mur­der. There are sto­ries that peo­ple would get drunk, pass out and wake up on a ship, miles away from the shore, re­al­is­ing they have been kid­napped to work on the ship. Le­gend says that an un­der­ground tun­nel con­nected the base­ment of the Pi­rate’s House to River Street, and it is through this tun­nel that men were smug­gled onto ships for forced labour. There are also tales of ghosts haunt­ing the Pi­rate’s House and though the tun­nels have long been sealed and no­body now knows where they ex­isted, there are sto­ries that shad­ows and ap­pari­tions had been seen in the tun­nel. As we sat and en­joyed a lunch buf­fet and a de­li­cious peach cob­bler, in the hus­tle and bus­tle of a packed restau­rant, we did not sense any spooky phenom­ena. The restau­rant is fa­mous for its seafood, which my mother and the fam­ily friend en­joyed quite a bit. For my part, be­ing a veg­e­tar­ian, I munched on some beans and rice and have no com­plains. Post l unch, we boarded a bright or­ange trol­ley bus from Pi­rate’s House, and off we went to ex­plore the city of Sa­van­nah. The bus passed through the crowded, maze-like his­toric district of Sa­van­nah, and for our first stop, we got down at Forsyth Park. Forsyth Park: One of the most fa­mous tourist des­ti­na­tions in Sa­van­nah, Forsyth park is like walk­ing into a scene from a long-lost era; moss laden an­cient oak trees come across as wise, an­cient crea­tures from an alien planet that have strange, won­drous pow­ers that ben­e­fit the soul. There’s some­thing very sur­real about the trees and as I passed

by, their gi­gan­tic di­men­sions and ele­gant form put me un­der a spell. In the dis­tance, all around the park, stood man­sions with stun­ning ar­chi­tec­ture that re­minded me of Vic­to­rian, Ro­man, Greek, Gothic eras. As I walked through the oak lined boule­vard, awestruck, I soon came across the famed foun­tain that’s rep­re­sented on most pic­tures of Forsyth Park. In­spired by Parisian ar­chi­tec­ture, the foun­tain was built in 1858 as a thing of beauty and it truly stands as an epic mon­u­ment, daz­zling in white, spew­ing wa­ter, with the statue of a robed woman sur­rounded by stat­ues of a strange crea­ture that ap­pears as half man and half fish, con­sid­ered i n Greek mythol­ogy as mes­sen­ger of the sea. The oak tree path­way lead­ing up to the foun­tain is quite an epic, pic­ture-per­fect kind of scene. Dusk is the best time to visit. His­toric District: Ex­hausted from an hour of walk­ing, we got back to the bus stop and hopped on the bus, and re­turned to our ho­tel. Af­ter re­lax­ing for an hour or two, off we went to sim­ply stroll through t he his­toric district of Sa­van­nah. The His­toric

District is home to 22 squares where oak trees and eigh­teenth and nine­teenth cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture comes alive with a vengeance, and you feel like you have been trans­ported back in his­tory by a time ma­chine. The squares are packed with tourists and lo­cals; peo­ple lounge about on benches, painters paint, booklovers read and mu­si­cians play mu­sic. Soon, we made our way to the iconic River Street: a cob­ble­stoned walk­way along­side the Sa­van­nah River. River Street: A fas­ci­nat­ing street, packed to the brim with shops, cafes, restau­rants, tourists and lo­cals, River Street will charm your senses. As soon as we ar­rived at River Street, it be­gan to pour, and we took cover in one of the sou­venir shops. Af­ter wait­ing for a few min­utes, when we came out, we were treated to a sur­real scene; a beau­ti­ful rain­bow sparkled across the sky. I stood in awe, gap­ing and tak­ing pic­tures. Soon, the sun be­gan to set and the cloudy sky turned into an or­ange pink ocean, and the moon, the rain­bow, the clouds and the stars put on a beau­ti­ful ce­les­tial show. As we gazed at this won­drous scene, a bunch of tourists asked us: why were we look­ing at the sky, and they were amazed when we pointed out the epic scene to them. As it got dark, we walked on for a bit and the place looked like a car­ni­val. We took an es­ca­la­tor that brought us from River Street to the His­toric District and as we walked on, we sat at a bench on the side of the road and ob­served the scenery; old his­toric build­ings and oak trees loomed large, cars zoomed by and peo­ple walked on, the moon shined brightly and a sur­real oth­er­world­li­ness pre­vailed in the air. Soon, we made our way to our ho­tel and crashed for the night. Chippewa Square: The next morn­ing, we were back on the trol­ley, and we ended up at Chippewa Square; a beau­ti­ful square with larger than life oak trees, mind­bog­gling man­sions and old-fash­ioned street lamps. A bench at the park en­trance is where Tom Hanks sits and nar­rates his life story in the movie, For­rest Gump. As we walked on, we stum­bled upon the fa­mous Six Pence Pub, a Bri­tish style restau­rant, with side­walk seat­ing and de­li­cious grub and beer menu. Out­side Six Pence is a bright red phone booth, which I found amus­ing and in­ter­est­ing. One of the scenes from the Ju­lia Roberts movie, Some­thing to Talk About, was shot at Six Pence Pub. Cathe­dral of St. John the Bap­tist: One of the most fa­mous tourist des­ti­na­tions, the Cathe­dral is breath­tak­ing with stained glass paint­ings on the in­side and a Gothic, Ro­man ar­chi­tec­ture style with bold shades of gold and white on the out­side. As soon as we en­tered the cathe­dral, it closed be­cause of a rain­storm warn­ing, and no sooner had we stepped out than it be­gan to rain in­sanely. We caught a bus, wherein we were stranded for a bit due to zero vis­i­bil­ity be­cause of the rain, and were com­pletely as­tounded as the lady driv­ing the bus nav­i­gated the streets for a bit in zero vis­i­bil­ity and a few min­utes later, when we reached our ho­tel, we left Sa­van­nah. Sa­van­nah feels like a place from Anne Rice’s nov­els where vam­pires and were­wolves and strange crea­tures would loom in the shad­ows at dark. There are many ghost tours avail­able, along with tours of the most fa­mous ceme­tery, the Bon­aven­ture Ceme­tery. The His­toric District is haunt­ingly beau­ti­ful, and you can pretty much ex­plore the en­tire His­toric District on your feet and get lost in the sur­real beauty of this place.

Starfish at Ge­or­gia Aquar­ium

Sea Lions at Ge­or­gia Aquar­ium

His­toric Dis­trict Square

Forsyth Park Fountain

Sa­van­nah His­toric Dis­trict

In­side CNN Head­quar­ters

In­side CNN Cen­tre

In­side CNN Cen­tre

Ge­or­gia Aquar­ium

Ge­or­gia Aquar­ium

Sa­van­nah Man­sion

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