Snowmageddon/Snowapocalypse/SnowOutAtlanta/SnowJam2014

Whatever you want to call it, this thing was bad. So, for the first time in 3 years it snowed in Atlanta on Tuesday, and guess what, oh yes, I got stuck in it! It’s resulted in a very interesting 24 hours, that, of course, I have to tell you guys about! Before we start, I’d like to point out that Tuesday officially marked one year since we stepped off the plane and arrived in Atlanta (read more about that here!) and this is gift it gave me to celebrate…

Atlanta doesn’t do snow. There, I’ve said it! It’s in the south, snow doesn’t hit the south apart from once every 3 years or so when there’s a freak winter storm like the one this week, and, despite the warnings, the city simple cannot deal with it. It doesn’t have the infrastructure to deal with it, I think the whole of the city has around 30 to 40 snow ploughs, bearing in mind this place is massive with about 6 million people living in it that really isn’t enough. But, seen as though they very rarely have this weather I can kind of understand why!

The snow was forecast to hit on Tuesday afternoon, on Tuesdays I volunteer at the German Cultural Center in Midtown, did I just say I wasn’t going to go in because of the snow, erm no. I’m European, we’re used to the snow and when I left the house there was nothing, nichts, nada! So off I trotted, with my big winter jacket on and Ugg boots (something that was going to come in very handy just a few hours later!). My thought was there’s 2 inches forecast, I’m used to driving in the snow, how bad can it be?  Figuring I would leave early and yeah, it might take me hours to get home but I’d make it! How wrong was I?!

The snow started falling around 12pm, we cancelled language classes and decided to head for home…just like the rest of Atlanta! I went into the car park and there was a HUGE queue just to get out of the garage. The first 40 minutes of my journey was spent there…maybe that should have told me something like DON’T DO IT but I ignored that and carried on. Once out of the parking garage I crawled along the road, decided to take a new route and then hit another main road where I crawled again. Basically  my main view for the afternoon was this:

Snow 1

Talk about a traffic jam…

I spent the next 6 hours looking at this, slowly moving along Piedmont Road and finally making it to the junction with Roswell Road (sorry guys, this may make no sense to you but if any Atlantans are reading this they’ll know what I mean!) where there was chaos! Absolute chaos! People were blocking the intersection which meant when lights were green others couldn’t move! There was a LOT of frustration and anger going around with horns being constantly beeped! They seriously shouldn’t have done that though, it didn’t get them anywhere and just gave me a headache!! Anyway, I digress!

So I carried on crawling, moving an inch or so every 2 hours. It was total gridlock and I was going nowhere. I’d travelled about 5 miles and according to my wonderful sat nav app (that, for the whole of the journey told me I’d be home in an hour, then 40 minutes…I think that was wrong!) I still had another 14 miles to go. I checked the clock, by now it was 6:30pm. I’d been calling the German who was also on his way home from work, he left at 3 and made it home at 5:30pm. He was safe. Phew. He gets all the luck! Whenever there’s bad weather his plane is on time, he makes it home. I do not – I once got stuck in Germany with Ma Cook for an extra 2 days.

I was moving nowhere, but I kept telling the German that I was determined to get home!! The gridlock had to end and clear at some point – I could do it. But a state of emergency had been declared in Atlanta. Things were bad. By this point I had fallen out with Atlanta and the Polar Vortex could kiss my butt! After another phone call to the German I kind of realised there was no way I was getting home that night. There was some crying by me (I literally just wanted to get home!) but we came up with a plan, I would try to get closer to the Marta station at Buckhead, take the train to North Springs where the German would try to pick me up! Yes! But, once the German attempted to get out of the end of the road he soon called and said it wasn’t happening. The roads were icy and he was going nowhere. So, Plan C came into force.

Just a week ago, my friend Meredith and her boyfriend Omar moved into a condo in Buckhead…and that was where I was headed! So, after dumping my car in a CVS car park and walking about 2 miles I was finally in a safe place, having an unscheduled sleepover at their house, along with a couple of other stranded drivers! I seriously cannot thank them enough!! They saved my bacon and rescued me from a night in the car!!

But, my adventure didn’t end there! Oh no, no! This is me we’re talking about, things are never simple! Overnight temperatures dropped to below freezing and things literally iced over. The roads were a sheet of ice, highways were still car parks with people who had stayed in them overnight, conditions were terrible. I seriously did not fancy taking a trip out on the roads in my car so I came up with a new plan, walk to the Marta station, take the train and then walk home. Sounds simple right? Except for the fact that the Marta station was 2 miles from Meredith’s place and our apartment is 5 miles from the last Marta station on the track. I figured it was the safest way to get home, I’d work out getting my car when the roads were safer!

Talk about icy...

Talk about icy…

So, off I went. I fell over before even leaving Meredith’s car park – this was going to be an exciting walk! But, after about an hour I made it to the Marta station! Result! Luckily, the train came within 10 minutes, soon I was on my way and even closer to home! Things were looking up! By this point I’d already persuaded the German to walk half way to meet me in the middle, he also wanted to go for a walk and check out the roads, so we were both en-route! I trekked through the snow, trying to dodge the icy patches and walking in the fresh snow so that I stayed on 2 feet! Then, after just over an hour I spotted him – my lovely German was heading towards me! It was the best sight ever!!

Yaaaay! The German!!

Yaaaay! The German!!

After being reunited we carried on with our trek and, 25 hours after leaving Midtown I walked through the door and into the apartment! Finally I had made it home!!! After 25 hours, an abandoned car, an unscheduled overnight stay with Meredith (thanks again lady!!), a trip on the train and 10 miles of walking I was home!!!

But the sights I saw on my way home were just unbelievable! First of all, I’ve never seen so many people walking the streets of Atlanta – this city is not a foot friendly zone so to see people actually out and about was fab! Even though half of them were probably like me and still trying to make their way home! I saw school buses still trying to get children home – some of them were forced to sleep at schoool overnight! Then there was the abandoned cars – they were everywhere! And I mean on every single road, parked in every single direction with some even left right in the middle of the road! Big cars, small cars, trucks, massive lorries, all of them abandoned! The street we live off was terrible – so many cars were abandoned near the bridge that the road was actually blocked. And not forgetting the state of the roads – I have never seen roads so thick with pure ice! People were literally sliding all over them including the ones that did brave it out in their cars!

All this for 2 inches of snow. Yep, you read right there, 2 inches of snow. People were stranded in their cars all night, there was a state of emergency declared, children had to sleep in schools, workers slept at their offices, hotels were fully booked, TV stations had continuous coverage of the developments or lack of if you were sitting in a car, all because of 2 inches of snow. Seems incredible for such a small amount of the white stuff but I can assure you there is only 2 inches on the floor out there!

So here’s what I’ve learnt from those 24 hours:

1. If snow is forecast in Atlanta, don’t leave the house.

2 Atlanta cannot deal with snow. Period. This city is not built for severe weather and with the amount of cars on the road (apparently 1 million people were trying to get out of the city at the same time yesterday – me being one of them!) total gridlock is expected! The public transportation system isn’t good enough and the city simply does not have the infrastructure to deal with it.

3. Don’t leave the house if there’s snow on the cards.

4. Atlantans do not know how to drive in snow. I saw so many people driving way too fast for the conditions, overtaking each other on the very icy roads and skidding everywhere. The German said he slowed down on the highway near the exit with plenty of space in front of him for braking distance but the car behind him overtook him and moved in front of him!!

5. Did I mention not to leave the house?!

Ah well, it’s just another experience in the American adventure! It would be boring without them! The walking has probably done wonders for my wedding diet! All I need to do now is figure out when I’m going to rescue Mindy, my car! (Please tell me I’m not the only one who gives their car a name?)

Happy One year in Atlanta!

Wow. It’s a year to the day since we stepped foot on American soil and started our new life in Atlanta and what a year it has been! This time last year I was sitting on the plane after saying a very tearful goodbye to Ma and Pa Cook and wondering what lay ahead (and more importantly if they’d actually let me into the country – remember the Big V?) and now I’m a married lady about to embark upon her second year as an expat! Wowzers!

Officially an expat with that stamp!

Officially an expat with that stamp!

I’m not going to lie, packing up our lives and starting a new one in a different country was blummin daunting (well, maybe not so much for the German – he’d done it before!) watching everything go into boxes, knowing the next time I saw it would be in America!! America!! I still can’t quite get my head around the fact that I live here! I really should work on that – I’m technically not a ‘new’ expat anymore! I haven’t ‘just’ moved here, I’m not ‘fresh off the plane’ anymore!

So what has the past 12 months been like? 3 words will cover that – THE BEST EVER!! Yep, it’s been a year of adventure, new experiences and adjustment, excitement, exploring and change and a lot of fun times along the way! So much has happened! There’s no way I’m going to fit it all into this post!

So, after weeks of trawling furniture shops we made a home that happily welcomed a lot of visitors, we made some amazing new friends – something that will only continue the longer we stay here, we survived the pollen attack and the big scary bugs, survived our first Hotlanta summer by the pool, we got engaged (definitely didn’t see that one coming!) and then went to the beach and got married within 3 weeks! (You can read more about that here!) If you’d have asked me this time last year if I would be married within 12 months (well actually it was 5!) I would have laughed in your face and the words ‘I won’t even be engaged’ would probably have come out of my mouth! The German definitely shocked me there!

And then there was the exploring! Being an expat means there’s a whole new world at your fingertips – a never-ending list of places to explore and, me being me, I obviously want to explore all of them!! In 12 months we scouted out some fab places in Georgia (Helen, Stone Mountain, Downtown Atlanta, Blue Ridge, Lake Lanier to name just a few!), immersed ourselves into American life (heading to a Braves game, a Hawks game, some Final Four Madness and Independence Day) and took a road trip to Florida (where we checked out Miami, Clearwater, the Florida Keys and the Everglades).

There’s the food, oh the beautiful food! We’ve definitely attempted to try every little bit on offer (our waistlines can vouch for that!) and done our bit to make sure these expats experience as much American food as possible! There’s the ribs, the burgers, the mac and cheese, the fried chicken, the biscuits and gravy, the sandwiches the size of a house, the tacos, the pizza, the queso, the list is endless!! We’ve been to so many new places in the last 12 months and we still haven’t made a dint in the amount of places we want to try! I’m already excited for the next 12 months of food  based goodness! I think I might have to increase my trips to the gym though!

We’ve had to make some adjustments though to make sure expat life runs smoothly! The first day I was left on my own I was faced with a tornado warning – something I’m definitely not used to at home! I took it all in my stride though, well technically I ignored it! probably not the best way to deal with it but hey it worked for me! Then there’s adjustments like making time at the weekend to FaceTime family back home because the time difference means we can’t do it during the week because of work (well I can, the Geman can’t!) that means before we go anywhere on a Sunday we call Ma and Pa Richter back in Germany. You also make more of a conscious effort to keep in touch with people back home – they’re you’re lifeline when you’re feeling a little low and the fact that it’s so easy to communicate with them now (FaceTime, Skype, iMessage, WhatsApp, e-mail, text message) makes you feel a lot closer to home. I really don’t think I would have settled in as quickly as I did if I didn’t have those tools at my fingertips!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all been plain sailing and a barrell of laughs everyday. We’re not on holiday, the German trots off to work everyday, I attempt to find work and write this beauty and, some days, just like everyone else, we have days when things aren’t all happy and jolly! Then there’s the lack of family and friends around you. Some days you’re fine, others you suddenly get a pang of homesickness and you just wish you could pop round to see your mum or your best friend and have a gossip over a cup of coffee. (You can read more about that here.) There’s the bits I’ve mentioned before about wedding dress shopping without my best friends and missing my best friends little girl growing up but that’s what you sign up to when moving to another country and you just have find ways to deal with it like sending a text or sorting a FaceTime call.

That said though we’ve literally lived the dream for the last 12 months and embracing expat life as much as possible – you have to when you’re given the opportunity! And the next 12 months are looking just as exciting – the Hotel Richter is re-opening!! Our first guests are already booked in with more already planning their visits throughout the year! We have a looooooong list of places we still want to explore (stay tuned on that one – I’m planning to write a bucket list VERY soon!) and of course, not forgetting the fact we’re getting married again!! Jeez, it’s gonna be another busy but bloody amazing year!!

Blog Dreams.

I want my blog to grow. There, I’ve said it – I want my blog to be bigger and better than it is at the moment. It’s all out in the open now and not rattling around in my little expat head! And what’s brought all this on I hear you ask? Well this:

Blog Dreams 1

Yep, something that is usually alien to me is having a big effect – numbers. I want the little numbers on this chart to be higher, and to keep getting higher as more and more people find and read my blog, the thing I put a lot of effort into and love writing. And why do I suddenly crave for more readers? Well, it’s not a sudden change of heart, believe me!

Ever since I started writing this blog, I’ve loved seeing the numbers when I check out how many views I’ve had, and the higher they are, the bigger the smile on my face! The thing is, I read other blogs that aren’t much older than my little piece of the internet and they’re a LOT more popular than mine. Every post is commented on, link ups are extremely popular and there’s a whole lot of love flying around those blog posts! I want that too.

I want to get those readers to check out  my musings – I’m not saying they are the best musings on the internet but they must have something about them that’s attractive to the people who are already taking an interest in them! I want them to share the love with me and my little piece of web land. I just need to work out how!

Now, I know the readers are just going to click on my blog uninvited – I need to entice them there. And that, my lovely readers, is my new mission! I need to network (the word that  usually fills me with dread – I’m not the best at the old networking lark!) with my fellow bloggers and learn the tricks of the trade! I want to get my little bloggety blog on the map and I want to see those numbers grow. I’m gonna put myself out there and try as hard as I can to get those readers to sit up and take notice of this blogging lady and her adventures as an expat, muddling her way through life in a new country.

Exactly how I’m going to do that I’m not so sure but what I do know is that I’m going to give it a blummin good go! I might need a little help though, so if anyone has any tips to help me along the way – I’m all ears!

Today’s Ramblings #12

Time for another Rambling post from your friendly little British expat in Atlanta! So first up, I know what’s on all of your lips…how is the wedding diet going? Right? Well, even if it wasn’t you’re getting a little update! So after eating VERY healthily for a week (except for the Mexican on Friday night – everyone has to have a cheat day!) and hitting the gym like there’s no tomorrow (my poor jet lagged body wondered what the hell was happening!) I lost a grand total of 3 lbs! I’m happy with that – if I lose that every week I’ll be set for the big day! The German did well too – I think he doubled my weight loss and dropped 6 lbs! Good work bolo! The scales, this week, were our friend! Lets see what happens next week…

On Saturday night the German and I went to the movies! (Yes, I did just say movies and not cinema – I’ve gone all American on your asses!) Since we moved to America we’ve only been to the flicks once – we’re really bad at seeing films! But we’re making it a priority to go more often this year and more so after going to the cinema at Phipps Plaza in Buckhead. Three words – BEST CINEMA EVER and here’s why:

WOW!

WOW!

These were, by far, the best cinema seats I have ever had the pleasure of sitting in! We’re talking full on recliners with leg raisers – you could practically lie down in those beasts! We were tipped off about this treat of a cinema by some friends but this was more than we were expecting!! We’re talking so comfy you could fall to sleep on them – the German predicted this of me but I proved him wrong despite my track record of sleeping through entire films! I think the fact that we saw Anchorman 2 helped with this – Ron Burgandy is a legend! I think it’s safe to say we won’t be going to any other cinema apart from the one at Phipps in the future!!

However, the curse of the American car park struck when we headed home! Seriously – those places are so confusing! For a start they are HUGE, like bigger than any other car park I’ve ever been in! I would sometimes get confused in multi-storey car parks back in the UK but now I realise they are a breeze compared to these American beasts! So, we walked out of the doors and into the car park and headed in the direction of where we thought we’d parked the car. We walked, and walked, and still didn’t find it! The place looked the same in every direction, every corner we walked round I was positive the car was there but every time we were disappointed! Then the German remembered he’d done this:

Clever Boy!

Clever Boy!

I knew I married him for a reason!! Yep, the clever German took a picture of the column we’d parked next to, anticipating our problem before it even happened! Soon we were heading in the right direction and a couple of minutes later, after the words ‘we’re getting close’ from the German we turned a corner and the car was patiently waiting for us! YAY! However, I’m sure this won’t be the last time we have a ‘we can’t find the car’ moment!

And I need to show you a few pics from the walk I took on Monday. The past few days had been beautiful (well actually the past week) bright blue skies and sunshine, and I was itching to get outside and take a walk. It had been a little bit chilly but on Monday, despite a frosty start that saw me de-icing the car (I thought I’d left those days behind when I left England!) the temperatures warmed up and it was beautiful – we’re talking 16 degrees celsius, or around 60 degrees fahrenheit! OK so it’s not get the shorts out and celebrate summer temperatures but it was pretty warm in the sunshine! So off I went for a stroll along the Chattahoochee River:

Every time I walk along this route I’m still amazed by the beauty! I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the fact that bright, sunny days without a cloud in the sky are pretty much the norm around here – I’m always expecting them to disappear after a couple of days so I try to fit in as much as I can outside! The German laughs at this but, after being brought up in rainy England where you’re only guaranteed a few days of sunshine every year you’re trained to make the most of it! Monday was Martin Luther King Day and schools were closed for the bank holiday. It seemed loads of families had the same idea as me – to get out in the sunshine! The playground areas were full of children playing on the swings – it was lovely to see them out and about with their parents having family time, riding their bikes, taking a walk and getting some fresh air! I walked along, thinking about just how lucky I am to be here, in this country being able to explore new things every single day! (BIG thanks to the German for that!) If you’re handed a once in a lifetime opportunity you have to grab it with as much enthusiasm as possible and truly make the most of it. I don’t think I’ll ever take the beautiful sunny days here in Georgia for granted – ever.

Exploring: Blue Ridge, GA

Hey Peeps! Today I’m trying something different – I’m linking up with Bonnie Rose who blogs over at A Compass Rose for Travel Tuesday! Basically it’s all about writing a post that involves some sort of travel, it could be somewhere you’ve been or want to go, travel tips or travel dreams! Make sure you head on over and check out Bonnie’s blog too – believe me, it’s a good read!Bonnie’s an expat like me but she’s in the UK! On her blog she talks about life, fashion, travel and loads of other stuff so make sure you take a look! Share the blog love people!

So, as I mentioned in my post about our cabin fun, we wanted to explore a little town called Blue Ridge. It was the closest to our little cabin in the mountains and we were eager to see what it was like! So we headed down the track and into the town.

Blue Ridge 1It was definitely a cute little town! I don’t really know what I was expecting but this came pretty much close to the image in my head! It was literally one street (well 2 if you count the other side of it!) with a railway line running through the middle! See, I told you it was a cute little town! Now when I’m talking a railway line (or railroad if you’re American!) I’m not talking one with huge industrial trains going along it, this was for tourists – a scenic line that runs once a day! We skipped that though and decided to explore the town instead!

Blue Ridge 2After finding a parking space (that was pretty tough – there aren’t many in such a little town!) we headed off for a stroll in the sunshine! It was pretty damn gorgeous out there and we were ready to soak it all up! We started off down the street and wandered in and out of the little shops. There was all sorts on offer – we went into a cute antiques shop and spotted lots of lovely little treasures we wanted to bring home! We gazed lovingly into the sweet shops selling home-made fudge – I really wanted to stock up but the German refused, saying we had enough treats back at the cabin! The boy had a point! I dragged the German into some little boutiques (he’s a typical boy who hates shopping!) he took me into a shop that sold walking and outdoor equipment (that type of shopping he’s alright with!) we looked in a gallery, checked out some vintage cameras in another antiques shop, spotted a German beer garden (yep, those Germans really do get everywhere, even in one of the smallest towns in Georgia!) and checked out some local artists in a store dedicated to them! We strolled along the railway line and took in the quaint little buildings – I think they’re typical of a rural Georgian town – small, cosy and looked like they should be on a movie set! They had cute porches, beautiful balconies and were mostly made of wood – perfect if you ask me!

But strolling through the town, as small as it was, gave us an appetite so we stopped off for a beer and a snack in Harvest on Main – one of the few restaurants on the little street. There had to be a food reference in the post – you know me and the German! It was busy (Pa Cook taught me this was always a good sign!) but luckily we got one of the last tables outside on the balcony! Yay! After checking out the menu and deciding we only wanted a little snack (we had a BBQ to eat once we got back to that cabin!) we both chose the beer cheese soup:

Blue Ridge 3

And man oh man was it delicious! I mean, beer and cheese is the perfect combination right? (Well, cheese and wine goes well together too!) For the German it was perfect – he’s a HUGE beer fan and a massive cheese monster! What more could you ask for? It was creamy, cheesy and just right for that snack to keep us going until later! However, when the waitress mentioned the deserts to the German cake man he just couldn’t resist this:

Blue Ridge 4

Bread and butter pudding and it was lick your lips and the plate tasty!! Despite telling the German I was full and didn’t want any I soon tucked into it with him and fought for the final piece!! Definitely one for you to try if you’re ever in the area!!

After filling our bellies with delicious food and quenching our thirst with beer we took another look at the quaint little town and headed into the general store – this place had everything!

Blue Ridge 5

Check out all those goodies! Plus I love the fact the sweets are displayed in a boat!! It was everything your typical general store should be – it had food, drinks like root beer, sweets of every kind, old-fashioned and new, toys, souvenirs – everything!! Definitely worth a browse!

After checking out as many stores as possible, we got back in the car and went back to our secluded little cabin for our final night – another BBQ, some relaxing in the hot tub and more rivalry over some board games, obviously accompanied by wine and beer!

But, before you go check out the other blogs in the link-up (including of course our host Bonnie Rose!) here are a few more pictures of beautiful Blue Ridge.

What do you reckon? If I were you I would definitely put it on the list if you’re ever in the area!

Exploring: Bear spotting in the woods.

Well, that’s what the German wanted to do when we went to stay in a cabin in the mountains, I, on the other hand, was looking for something a bit more relaxing and I wasn’t disappointed! This little trip took place a few months ago now (we’re talking October!) but I haven’t got around to filling you guys in on it…until now!

I hadn’t really thought about staying in a cabin until a friend mentioned it to me, then I was on a mission to get the German there! After looking at several different websites I realised that this would be, as with many things over here in the States, just like in the movies!! And when we arrived at our cabin in Blue Ridge, after driving up some very bumpy, windy, narrow dirt tracks of roads (we were properly in the mountains!) it was everything I thought it would be – this was going to be our home for the next 2 days:

Wowzers!

Wowzers!

This thing had everything! I think I actually ran into the cabin saying ‘It’s just like in the films!!’ It seems that is a common statement to come out of my mouth at the moment!

So we’re talking enough beds to sleep about 6 people, a huge kitchen, living room with an open fire and cosy places to sit – basically a home from home in a cosy cabin with a mountain theme! Perfect! The German felt a little bit like he was back in Germany with the wood walls! Check it out peeps:

It was so cute! The kitchen looked a little bit like a farmhouse kitchen (I actually wanted to take the table home with me…I’m desperate for a farmhouse table!!) the bedroom was open plan (maybe not so good if there’s more than 2 of you staying!) and the living room was cosy! Oh and imagine the German’s delight when he spotted that open fire – we all know how much he loves to make a fire! (More about that here!) Oh yes, he was itching to get those logs burning!

But there was more to explore before that was allowed…first off the outside of the cabin that I’d go so excited about when we pulled up! Lets start with these:

Cabin 8

Rocking chairs!!! Ever since moving to the south and spotting these beasts on the beautiful southern porches we have been wanting to get in on the action! Sadly, the fact that we live in an apartment (I’m already dreaming of that southern house with a big porch!) means we haven’t got any 😦 But this was our chance to feel like old people (back home in the UK rocking chairs are usually delegated to old people or new mums trying to get their babies to sleep!) and rock away! I figured there’s no way you can sit on one without rocking…

Then there was the fire pit:

Cabin 9

Everything was in place for some singing around the camp fire! And the German technically had a second place to start a fire…however we figured one was enough and our neighbours wouldn’t want to hear our beautiful singing voices so we left the fire pit alone! It would be fab if there was a big group of you though!

Oh and not forgetting this:

Cabin 11

A hot tub!! Every cabin should have one!! It’s the perfect way to relax after a hard day exploring the woods – especially when you have a glass of wine in hand!

So what did we get up to in this cabin of ours? Well, we took LOADS of supplies! I’m talking the normal stuff like bagels, meat and salad, mixed in with lots of snacks like pretzels, chips (crisps if you’re British!) chocolate, Haribo (the sweets that dreams are made of!) and of course beer and wine! We were set for some serious cabin time! The German started off with this fire:

Cabin 12

What is it with men, fire and meat? Obviously I was not allowed anywhere near this…the man was in charge of the BBQ! I’ll let him off though – he did a good job with the burgers! We sipped on wine and beer and the German successfully make the cabin look and feel even cosier (if that’s a word!) with this:

Cabin 13

Yes, with a huge smile on his face he made a fire! Sadly though I don’t think the chimney was very clean – it stunk the whole cabin out!! Ah well – it looked pretty and allowed us to do this:

Cabin 14

You can’t be in a cabin, with a fire and not toast some marshmallows! Man they were good! Oh and we took each other on in the battle of the board games – Richter Vs. Richter! (We sound really rock and roll, right?) Now I need to point out here that the German hates to lose – I mean HATES it! He gets miserable and sulks for a while before even contemplating playing again! I lie, sometimes he’s so annoyed he suggests a rematch almost instantly! First up was Jenga – we all love to build those blocks right? I think it was probably an even win and lose on this one! Then came the big one – Monopoly! This is where the rivalry started! And by the look on this face can you guess who won?

L is for...

L is for…

Woooooo! I was indeed victorious and kicked Mr Richter’s butt!! He was absolutely broke and definitely not a happy chappy! Although if I win it’s all about luck and which places you land on, but of course when the German wins it’s all about skill and tactics…yeah right!! But after plying him with another beer and some Haribo he soon perked up and got over it!

We also went for walks in the mountains to check out the fall foliage and explored the nearby town of Blue Ridge – that’s getting a blog post of its own so stay tuned for that one!

Sadly, after 2 fab, chilled out nights it was time to wave goodbye to our temporary home and head back to reality in Atlanta…sad faces all around. However, we will definitely be heading back to those woods! Maybe next time with some friends and even more supplies!!

Oh and I know what you’re all thinking – did we spot any bears? Well, despite the German keeping watch at all times (it seemed like that – often I’d catch him looking out into the trees in hope!) there wasn’t a bear in sight. Cue the sad German…

Expat Troubles: Jet lag!

It’s been a week since I stepped foot back in American and I’m still struggling to re-adjust to the time zone! A week!! 7 whole days and I still can’t seem to make my body get used to living on Eastern Time! I must be getting old! I thought I might have cracked it by now – what with it supposedly taking a day per hour difference to adjust but, 7 days on (I had a 5 hour difference!) and I’m still struggling! Bleugh! Usually I can handle it pretty well but this time it seems to have seriously kicked my ass!

Jetlag 1

Here’s how I usually attempt to get rid of the beautiful thing that is jet lag – we all love it, right? So, when we get to America it’s usually about 2pm, but in my head it’s 7pm. The aim of the game now is to try to stay awake for as long as possible, and for someone who can fall asleep mid-sentence (seriously, ask my friends!) this can be tough! But, last week we had a few tricks up our sleeves!

After accumulating a LOT of stuff back in England and Germany (and having to buy a new suitcase to bring it all back in!) we had a lot to unpack making that the first job on the list! Next up was the Christmas tree! Yep, our tree was still standing proudly in the corner of the living room and looking very green! Surprisingly, there wasn’t thousands of needles on the floor and there was still some water in the tree holder! Result! We spent a good couple of hours taking off the decorations and hauling the tree out of the apartment – the German did this part but I had to follow him with a dustpan and brush to sweep up the thousands of needles that now decided to fall off! After getting the house back to normal and taking a shower, we headed out to Taco Mac for some food. By this point it was about 7pm and I wasn’t feeling tired!! Result! So we stuffed our faces with the delight that is queso (seriously, you NEED to try this cheese based goodness if you ever step foot in this country – well it’s actually Mexican…) and wings washed down with a beer and then we hit the tiredness wall! Woah.We hit that wall bad! We got home and collapsed in bed at about 10pm – we did well!

Next day we woke up at 8am! Result! I thought we’d cracked it! And in one night! We got up, went to the farmers market and ran some errands. But, when it came to chilling out on the sofa, I was dropping off to sleep at around 8pm. Nooooooooo!! The next day we woke up at 5:30am and neither me nor the German could get back to sleep! Booooooo! This trend seemed to stick (with me at least!) for the next few days, I feel asleep like an old lady on the sofa and laid awake in the morning waiting for the alarm to go off!

Now, as I type this I feel like I’m going to drop off…7 days later!!!! When will this jet lag hell end? After going to the gym (see, it does have some benefits!) I’ve struggled to focus on anything, I’ve attempted to do things but found myself attracted to making friends with the sofa instead! I’m surprised I’ve managed to write this! All I want to do is sleep! But I MUST STAY AWAKE!

So here’s hoping I kick this jet lag beast in the butt and soon!! Come on fellow expats – how do you manage to beat it? Anyone got any hints and tips for me?