I was in Atlanta on work for a few days and the Marriott Marquis hotel was the center of a lot of the events I was involved with. I had not been to this hotel before and I had no idea what it looked like. Externally, it looks a little different but not particularly interesting. However, the interior is a very different story. For a while when I was first in there, I didn’t realize just how dramatic it is. Then I looked up!
The atrium runs the height of the hotel and the floors gradually taper in towards the top. The curved patterns of the floors look like the ribs of an animal. From the ground looking up, it is amazing. There is an area in the lobby with a small roof so you can be under there and have no idea. Then you step out and have a “wow” moment. From the top floors, looking down is just as incredible. If, like me, you are not partial to heights, it is rather scary. I did have to look though.
Monterey Bay is an area that we have visited many times but we have always made it a day trip. With the area shortly to be a lot less accessible to us, we decided to have a weekend down there so we could relax and enjoy the area without having to think about getting in the car for a drive back. Nancy looked at various places to stay and she picked the Seven Gables Inn. Located in Pacific Grove, it sits right on the shore road. We have driven and walked by many times but this time we stayed.
The hotel has a great location. They have a lounge area with views over the bay that you can relax in with wine and cheese in the evenings. Meanwhile, the breakfast room has a panoramic view out over the water. Sitting eating your breakfast while looking out at the bay is very tranquil. The original building is a Victorian structure while additions have been made to expand things over the years. It proved to be a great base for our weekend away.
Roche Harbor used to be a lime production site. A couple of the old lime kilns are still in place although no longer operational. However, now the focus has been on transforming it in to a tourist and residential destination. There is a hotel, shops and restaurants. Plots of land are being developed into residences and there is a large marina. The place is picturesque enough but it is a bit isolated from the rest of the island. It had a bit of a feel of the sort of town in which everything is controlled by one company and the rules must be followed. Maybe I am being unfair but that is how it seemed to me. We walked around a bit to see what was on offer but we were soon on our way again.
When railways were first being developed, the companies that built them were very competitive in creating terminal stations that would impress. Sadly, over the years many of them were knocked down and redeveloped. Thankfully, not all of them were destroyed and now the approach is to take the existing infrastructure and use it as the basis for a modern facility.
St Pancras in London is a great example. I used to use it in the late 90s and early part of the 21st century when it was the terminal for Midland Mainline. At that time, it was not a terribly busy station. It had the original hotel fronting the station and the roof structure over the platforms. It had an air of faded glory at that point.
Then the big changes came. Pancras was chosen to be the terminus for the extension of the channel tunnel rail link. A major rebuild was started that involved the new high speed lines coming in, the addition of the international facilities, opening up the lower level of the station, rebuilding the Thameslink station and generally turning the place into something far more impressive. Most of this took place after we had left London so, when we were back, I was interested to see how things had changed. Also, Nancy had never been to Pancras before so I thought she would like the architecture.
The hotel fronting Euston Road is still as it always appeared. It is a fantastic gothic structure and something that is probably worth exploring if you have the chance. Inside, the roof has been beautifully cleaned up. The clocks are also really cool. There are statues around the concourse too including one of the poet John Betjemen who was instrumental in a campaign to save the station.
The lower level redevelopment is very impressive. This area used to be a storage location but now there is retail and dining on a far larger scale which should suit the significant increase in customers with the Eurostar business as well as the new commuter services that make use of the high speed link. Of course, there are also the customers for services on the Midland routes. The changes are impressive and are connected with e overall redevelopment of the Kings Cross area of which more will come.
My mum’s birthday included a party on Spitbank Fort. This is one of Palmerston’s follies built out in the Solent not far from Portsmouth. The place has been restored in a great way and retains a lot of the character you would expect of a Victorian fort out on the water but with modern comforts as befits a hotel. I will spare you the family photos but here are a few shots to show you just what it is like out there. The service is great so, if you feel like spoiling yourself, check them out.
Every once in a while, I think about something that I was working on before I started blogging and wonder whether it would make a good post or not. Where we live in Chicago, we are very close to the Trump International Hotel and Tower. When we first moved here, it was the Chicago Sun-Times building. They demolished that and built the tower on the same site.
During the construction, I took a lot of pictures, first of the demolition and then the new construction. Building the tower would have made a good blog on its own if I had been blogging then. However, can’t turn back time! One thing I tried to do was take pictures from the same position on a regular basis to maybe make a time lapse. These pictures have languished for a long time. However, since Photoshop is now a lot more useful for making video, I brought all of the files in as layers to make a video. Since the position moved each time I took a picture despite my best efforts, Photoshop allowed me to align the layers and get tings (almost) back in register. Then some transitions and some music and we have a video. Hope you like it.
I wrote previously of a lift that took place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago. Erickson undertook this lift with the massively powerful S-64. However, they did not manage to finish off all aspects of the lift and a follow up job was required. Since the largest items had already been dealt with and the remaining items were either light enough for a smaller helicopter or could be broken down into parts that were light enough, the remainder was contracted to Midwest Helicopter with an S-58T.
I was planning to join them on the roof but it turned out that the team contracting the lift had already got one of their guys on a neighboring roof taking some shots and I could join him. This roof was higher and up sun from the majority of the action so a great spot. I gratefully accepted their offer. (I should note that I also tried something new this time. However, it didn’t work out as planned. I should write about it here but I think I will get it working properly before I tell the full story. Everyone prefers a happy ending and I am no exception.)
The lift went well and I got a lot of shots (and some video of which more another day). The same problem as the previous lift affected things with the wind meaning the helicopter was tail on to me most of the time. However, this time it was more than compensated for by the scenic background and chance for some nice wider shots. I was happy with the outcome.
Continuing the theme of my Mum’s visit, the two of us took a stroll through the city the other day. It is always fun to exploit the visit of someone to do some touristy wandering that you would otherwise never do. It also makes you explore some things that you haven’t seen before.
We included the Cultural Center on our route but I was surprised yet again by this place. Having only recently discovered it courtesy of friends visiting in the past (see this posting), during this visit I found another room that I hadn’t been to before. It was an empty room but quite ornate. It was very dark so getting a good shot was tricky. I tried a bit of HDR which was okay but I will have to go back again at some point to try again I think.
Another stop was at the Palmer House Hotel. Now a Hilton, my Dad stayed there recently when he was visiting and told me about the grandiose lobby it has. I had never been in before – why visit hotels when you live in the city – and it was impressive so we stopped in to take a look. How many other things from the city have I missed?