Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dialogue in the Dark

Dialogue in the Dark was highly recommended to me, but I left feeling that it was not all it was hiped to be. First, our group initially had 9 people in it (in the outside holding area) but then, a another person (a teenager) slipped in as the 10th. At the first number count (done about half way thru), our guide (all the guides are blind as well) said, "oh, I was told I only had 8". No big deal now, but read further.

With 10 people, you start the walking tour at the same time as another group of 10 does, so when you are trying to hear your guide, sometimes, you can't because the other guide is louder (as in our case). It is critical to actually HEAR your guide because you are walking in total darkness and have to walk towards their voice. Many times, we had to ask our guide to speak up so that we could get directional bearings. After walking thru what was supposed to be the park, a grocery store and then the loud street, we "boarded a boat for a boat ride". Since this is supposed to be an exhibition where your other senses come alive, I expected to smell a harbor and have the wind blowing as you would in a boat ride. Well, our boat experience was dissappointing as we heard the boat motor but after about 2-3 minutes, we were told to disembark - trip over - no wind, no smells, nothing but sitting and listening to the boat motor and our guide try to sing a song. She did joke about how calm the waters were so maybe we were supposed to feel more and it was broken. Finally, we were led to a "cafe" where we got to purchase softdrinks and then were led to a booth type seat. It was here that our guide decided to do another count and we only had 8 people! We were missing one of the guy's wife and the lone teenager who joined our group at the end. After listening to our guide yell the missing wife's name for several minutes and asking all of the other group leaders in the 'cafe" if they had her, she finally showed up (she had gotten turned around and had been with another group). We never did find the teenager. (Hint, go with someone who can keep up with your wherabouts!)

This walking tour would be more beneficial if you didn't have 10 people doing it together because the entire time, we were huddled together, hitting each other's ankles with the guide sticks and hanging on to each other as you inch forward (never did take a full walking step) so you don't get the full experience of actually being blind in a seeing world alone. The concept is good and I guess this is the only way to do it in mass quantities. Also, we bought tickets online (combo tix for the Bodies Exhibit too) and went on an early Sunday morning. When we got there, it was not crowded at all. Maybe the personnel gets more particular as the day goes on, but my tickets were never scanned (so I could have bought one and made 2 copies of it); they just grabbed the papers and tore off the bottom which was for the Bodies exhibition and gave that back to me after writing 2x on the scrap paper. It seemed a bit haphazard and sloppy. When we left, the lobby was very crowded and the line otuside for tickets was long.

FInally, if you have never been to Atlanta Station and dealt with the huge underground parking area, good luck. It is awfully confusing. No where on the website does it give you any advice, but you should park near Elevator 5 (you may drive around awhile looking for the number 5 as the signage down there is horrible) and go up the #5 escalator (or elevator) two floors. Leaving the exhibition, after you go down the escalator two floors, there is a machine to pay for your parking ticket on your immediate left. There are no cashiers at the exits so you have to have prepaid tickets to leave the parking deck...and good luck finding the actual exits...just drive around until you are lucky to see an exit sign.

All in all, I am glad I did it, but it was a lot of money to spend for an hour.

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