Exploring: 5 Must See Places in Atlanta!

After living in Atlanta for over a year now and having a million Hotel Richter guests (OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating a tad there!) I think I’ve become a pretty good ambassador for the city when it comes to being a tour guide! Yep, I’ve visited many places 3 or 4 times and know them inside out and back to front! Maybe I should apply for a job in this field? (I actually did that at CNN…it would appear they didn’t want me. ūüė¶ )

So, I thought I’d put together a list of my 5 must see places in Atlanta, then, if you’re ever in da hood for a couple of days and have a limited amount of time, you know exactly which places to head to! I know, I’m just so nice to you guys!!

So here goes:

1. Stone Mountain
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The clue is in the name on this one – it’s literally a mountain made of stone! It’s situated just outside of Atlanta (like with most places in this lovely city you’ll need a car to get there!) but is definitely worth the trip! The mountain itself has the carvings of Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davies and Robert E. Lee depicted on it and is more than 5 miles in circumference – yep this thing is huge! Now, you can either walk up and down the mountain (if you ask me that’s a little bit mad, especially when you see people RUNNING up and down it…RUNNING???? Madness!!) or you can get a cable car – that’s more like it! I’ve been here 3 times now and each time I’ve got the cable car up and walked down – once in 90 degree heat which wasn’t very pretty! But, if you’re a little unsteady on your feet I wouldn’t recommend this and would go back down in the cable car – there are some hairy moments walking down where things get pretty steep! The view at the top is amazing though – you can literally see all of Atlanta and beyond on a good day, checking out Downtown, Midtown and Buckhead’s skyscrapers! To be honest it’s pretty pointless going up there when it’s cloudy – that’s why Ma Cook hasn’t been yet – the weather wasn’t playing ball everytime we planned to go with her! Once you’ve checked out the mountain there’s loads of other things you can do at the bottom – take a walk around it, play crazy golf (I’d like to point out I beat the German and my brother at this!) climb an obstable course, check out the plantation, watch the glass blowers and of course there’s food! We checked out the Campfire Grill – the Po Boy was good!

2. Zoo Atlanta

TOO CUTE!!

TOO CUTE!!

You definitely cannot visit Atlanta without taking a trip to the Zoo! This place is amazing and at the moment has lots of little baby animals to check out – there’s nothing cuter than a baby animal right? This is just outside the city but you can take the Marta and a bus to get there if you don’t have a car – phew! I wouldn’t want you to be missing out on that one! I’ve been here twice, once in summer and just recently in the winter. The last time we went we were given half price admission because some of the animals were staying inside because it was so cold. Now, I’m no expert on zoos but I think this one is pretty awesome! For a start they have pandas!!! And not just one panda either – 4 of them along with 2 of the cutest panda cubs you will ever see! Then, of course there are monkeys, gorillas, orangutans (including babies!), rhinos (there’s a baby rhino too!), zebras, elephants, giraffes – you name it, they have it! Oh and we can’t forget the giant tortoises who put on a pretty good show when I visited with my brother and sister-in-law! More about that in a future post! If you want some food after the zoo, just around the corner you can head to Six Feet Under for some amazing fried fish or Tin Lizzys where we had some very tasty nachos covered in queso!! Yum!

3. Piedmont Park
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Piedmont Park is kind of like Atlanta’s version of Central Park only on a much smaller scale! It’s located in Midtown, right next to the skyscrapers and is a big piece of tranquility close to the city! There’s a lake to take a walk around, loads of space for picnics including BBQ grills for you to use, a swimming pool (I think you have to pay to enter this but still, it’s a swimming pool!) sports pitches (we’re talking baseball and possibly football of the American variety!) oh and not forgetting the doggy park! Yep, there’s an area just for dogs where they can be off their lead and make friends with other doggies! If you ask me, this is my idea of hell (being scared of dogs and all!) but it’s heaven for the pooches!! During the summer months plenty of different festivals take place in the park including the Dogwood Festival, Music Midtown and this year Party in the Park, so there’s always something going on! It’s a fab place to chill out in if you’re a little bit fed up of the hustle and bustle of the city! Oh, and if you need some food, Willy’s Mexicana grill is just outside the park – definitely worth a trip for a burrito!!

4. Georgia AquariumMust See 3
When this place opened it was the largest aquarium in the world! I think it’s been oven taken now but believe me it is pretty huge! Located in Downtown Atlanta, it houses more than 100,000 animals, representing 500 species in 10 million US gallons of water! Wowzers! So I’ve been here twice (that’s a surprisingly small number for Tour Guide Richter here!) and each time was just as exciting as the last! They have everything here…dolphins, beluga whales, penguins (they were sooooo cute!), otters, every kind of fish you can imagine, sharks, stingrays, crabs, eels, you name it, they have it! They even have an exhibit tunnel where you feel like you are actually in the water, looking up at all the creatures! Here they have 4 manta rays and believe me, those things are huge!!! There’s also a Nemo flounder fish and of course a Dory from Disney’s Finding Nemo! I LOVE that film!! I could spend hours checking out the little fishies – it’s fab for adults as well as children! Oh and if you’re a little bit peckish, just outside there’s a restaurant called Legal Seafoods – it feels kind of wrong eating fish when you’ve been checking them out at the aquarium, but this place is worth the visit!!

5. World of Coca-Cola
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And a trip to Atlanta wouldn’t be complete without a visit to World of Coca-Cola! This iconic brand was created in Atlanta so it obviously has a huge influence over the city! The company’s headquarters are here and all around the city there are bottling plants and sales centers including one at the end of my street, meaning I am constantly spotting red Coca-Cola trucks! Amazing! Back to the museum! It’s located just opposite of the aquarium so you can technically visit both these places on the same day. I’ve been here 3 times, yep, you read that right, 3 times! I could probably do the tour myself! You can check out the history of Coke, search for the secret formula, see how the brand grew into such an iconic symbol and check out loads of different Coke memorabilia, from Olympic torches and badges to old adverts, Coke trucks and Coke machines! Oh, and we can’t forget the fact that you can try every single drink Coca-Cola makes and sells around the world!!!! Yep, I think it’s around 65 different flavours! The German heads straight for the Mezzo Mix (a mixture of Coke and Fanta that’s sold in Germany) but after a while you kind of get a little bloated (or hyper if you’re my brother who still gets a little bit too excited when he has E numbers!) but it’s loads of fun trying the different flavours! Don’t forget to pick up your free bottle of Coke on the way out too! We can’t forget to give you a food option – Ted’s Montanna Grill is nearby – they do fab bison burgers!!

So there you have it – my 5 must see places in Atlanta! There are many, many, many more places to see but I figured these were the most iconic! Maybe I’ll do another list in the future…

Have you been to any of these places? What did you think? Where would you recommend?

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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!!

The Richter Hotel…

Has been open for business again this weekend when it welcomed my Aunty, Uncle and Cousin! And here they are…

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On one of the longest escalators (sorry elevator as it’s called over here!!) in the world as we headed onto the Marta to do some exploring!! Now they were only here for a flying visit on their way to Florida so we had to pack A LOT into the 2 full days!!

Day 1 therefore, included a trip to Downtown Atlanta where we visited the Centennial Olympic Park, the CNN Center (where we munched the BIGGEST burritos you’ve ever seen!!) and the World of Coca-Cola! This was now my third visit and my second in less than a month! Good job I invested in that annual pass when me and the German first visited back in February!! We had to queue for an hour to get in (ridiculous I know but it was probably the shortest queue of the day!) and ventured around finding out about Mr Pemberton and how he created (and was robbed by selling the secret formula!) the global brand that is Coke but my cousin was less than impressed when the secret formula was locked in a safe where he couldn’t see it!

The bit he was looking forward to the most (along with my Uncle and the German who was dying for some Mezzo Mix) was the tasting room at the end! Yep more than 60 flavours of coke were waiting for us to dig into! We lost each other as we ventured through Europe, North America, South America, Asia and the rest of the world tucking into some exotic flavours! One of my faves was the Melon Frosty (sadly I can’t remember the country it’s sold in!) along with a pineapple Fanta that you can get in Greece! Eventually we bumped into each other again (the German has successfully found his Mezzo Mix and set up camp there for a good 20 minutes whilst he guzzled a few cups full!) with my cousin declaring that he’d drunk his own body weight in coke! Well done!!

So off we trotted, bloated and full of the fizzy stuff, back to the Marta and into Roswell for some dinner before heading off to bed for another packed day of exploring! Day 2 started with a trip to Stone Mountain! Again it was my third visit but I was ok with that! So we headed on up the mountain in the cable car with my Aunty firmly in the middle away from the edges looking straight ahead so that she didn’t look down! She’s not the biggest fan of cable cars! Now the first time I went to Stone Mountain it was jeans weather, perfectly acceptable for trekking down a huge mountain! The second time it was slightly warmer and shorts weather but still acceptable for walking down a mountain! This time I realised the heat was here…I had shorts on and a vest but man was it HOT!!! Here we all are before we started the big trek…

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We didn’t look as bright eyes and bushy-tailed by the time we got to the bottom – we were hot, red in the face and very sweaty, well at least I was! Not the best look to be sporting but hey I had no other option!! So once we’d been mountain trekkers we grabbed some food at the Man v Food haunt that is The Vortex (that warrants a post of its own hence why I’m not going into much detail!!) then headed to Turner Field to take my cousin to his first ever baseball game!! Exciting times!!!

We got there slightly early and had a mooch around the stadium where the German and I made a new friend…

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Yep the Atlanta Braves Mascot, Homer! The German was pestering me to have a picture with him so I told him I would if he joined in…he had no option!! After that we grabbed some beers (vital when watching the ball game!) and headed to our seats! The first pitch took place and we settled down in the sweltering heat! Man it was hot and humid!! Whilst the game was taking place I was explaining the rules to my Aunty and the Braves started notching up the runs! Yay!! Then my cousin went to get a beer and disaster struck – well for him not the Braves! They scored a home run!! Woooooo! Sadly my cousin missed his first ever home run because he was in the beer queue!!! Epic fail!! He now knows not to head to the bar when the Braves are batting!!! Sadly that was the one and only home run of the game but the Braves did beat the St Louis Cardinals 5-2! Wooooo! It was the last of 3 games against the Cardinals and the Braves won them alll!!! Amazing!!

Sadly the following day my Aunty, Uncle and Cousin were checking out of the Richter Hotel and heading to Florida for 2 weeks – maybe not sadly for them, they were heading to the beach!!! And one of the best beaches in Florida – St Pete’s! So I dropped them off at the airport, shed a little tear and waved goodbye until the end of the year…sad times. But I loved having them here and I’m sure they’ll visit again soon – well maybe next year on their way to Florida again!!

Oh and one more HUGE thing…Happy Yorkshire Day!!! Yep it’s the day we celebrate the county where I am from in England!! We get our Yorkshire flags out, flat caps and ferrets (maybe not the ferrets and flat caps, we don’t all own was as is the stereotype!!) and celebrate what’s known as God’s own county! It’s a beautiful place with lots of green fields and the nicest people in England! I wouldn’t change where I am from for the world! And you’ll be pleased to hear we have a little tribute to Yorkshire here at the Richter house and it’s there all year round…

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Ignore the bike handle but yep we have a Yorkshire flag flying (in the spare closet because there isn’t really anywhere else to put it!) all year round!! So Happy Yorkshire Day and all together now – Yorkshire…Yorkshire…Yorkshire!!

Final Four Madness!

It’s been a massive weekend in Atlanta – the Final Four came to town! Now my American friends will know exactly what I’m talking about but this might take some explaining to my English/German/and other nationality buddies so here goes…

So this is all about the NCAA or as it’s more affectionately known College Basketball. Yep not the NBA or a league below it or something, this is college (or university as we like to call it in the UK) students who have battled it out with the hundreds of other colleges across the country to make it into the Final Four teams.

Now back in the UK when I was at university in Cardiff I went to a Swansea University v Cardiff University rugby match. We left Cardiff on a bus to Swansea and started drinking before the bus had even left the city. The stadium wasn’t even full (and nowhere near the size of the stadium here!) and to be honest the drinking sort of took over the watching of the actual game! (I think it was my most drunk experience during my three years at university!) What I’m getting at here is that in the UK university sport is only watched by the students at university at that time who are more interested in the drinking aspect than the actual sport.

Over here though it’s a different matter altogether and it’s one that is unbelievable to a little Brit like me! So like the title suggests there’s 4 college basketball teams battling for the winners crown – this year it’s Michigan, Louisville, Syracuse and Wichita State. This means thousands, and I mean thousands, of basketball fans have descended on the city to see which college is victorious.

Now this doesn’t just mean a few basketball games watched by a handful of people – nope – these games took place here…

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The Georgia Dome which has a capacity of more than 71 thousand! Yep 71 thousand college basketball fans packed into that stadium for each match!! That is something UK universities can only dream of!! It also meant vendors lined the streets of Downtown Atlanta selling t-shirts, caps and other merchandise for each of the college teams with fans lining the streets in their respective colours, donning face paint and fake tattoos of their College mascot – I couldn’t quite get my head around the sheer size of the event for a sport that’s played between college teams! The only thing I can compare it to is a cup final back in England down at Wembley – something that happens once a year between some of the UK’s top teams! It was just amazing!!

So as well as the three basketball games – one of which is still to be played tonight and in case you’re wondering the final will see Michigan take on Louisville – this made me kind of sad – I was rooting for Wichita State just because I liked the name!! There was loads of other events all taking place across the weekend – including 3 massive concerts in the Centennial Olympic Park – one of which we headed down to.

On Saturday the sun was a shining (as it does most days here in Atlanta – in fact I’m currently writing this whilst sitting on my balcony in my shorts and a vest – and this is only spring!! Sorry British friends!!) so along with my bro and sister-in-law we (myself and the German of course!) headed down to the park. It was packed but everyone was happy and there was a fab atmosphere! So throughout the day there were different acts taking to the stage including Ludacris, Flo Rida and headliners Muse!! Yep our fellow countrymen were coming to town and we were going to see them…and wait for it…it was all for FREE! Yep free entry for a free gig that was only in town because of college basketball!! Once again this sport amazed me – I’ll say it again it would never happen for university sport in the UK! (I know I’m sounding like a broken record!)

So we got there just before Ludacris was about to take to the stage and it took us AGES to get a beer…bad times. Yep that was the first thing we did once we entered the park – priorities and all that! It would appear Ludacris was the most popular act of the day though and the crowd calmed down and broke up once he’d left the stage! Next up was Flo Rida followed by a break in proceedings for the basketball game – that didn’t bother us though – we had beer and of course there were snacks (when does a blog post not feature food?!) we tried corn dogs and funnel cake (which resulted in me getting sugar all over my trousers!!) and soaked up the sun before the big act…

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Now before Muse came on we shimmied on down closer to the front of the stage – we wanted a good view!! Myself and the German have seen them before at Leeds Festival but it was my brother’s first time and he was one excited man…

Yep an idiot who'd had a few beers by this point...

Yep an idiot who’d had a few beers by this point…

The fellow countrymen took to the stage and they did not disappoint!! We had an amazing time and once again I’ll tell you it was all for free because of college basketball!! Have you realised yet that I can’t believe all this is because of college basketball – not the National Basketball League but students at college! Unbelievable! Oh here’s a pic of Muse in full swing…

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And the gigs didn’t end there – yesterday Sting took to the stage – yep Sting!! Again it was all for free! We didn’t go though because we had a date at Turner Field – I’ll tell you about that one later!

So all in all it was a fab day and something I’m glad we took part in! This Final Four event won’t come back to Atlanta for a fair few years so we were lucky to be a part of it! And the size and scale of it for college basketball just blew me away! Amazing!!

Exploring: The Georgia Aquarium, GA

Yep just like that famous song that Sebastian sings in The Little Mermaid – that I had to teach the German because he’s never seen the film or heard the song – we went for a trip under the sea!

So after working the visitors hard at the weekend and making them unpack all our stuff (click here to find out more!) we thought we’d let them finally discover what Atlanta has to offer so on Easter Monday we jumped on the Marta and took them for their first glimpse of Downtown Atlanta.

After walking through the Centennial Olympic Park we had lunch at Legal Seafoods before ironically heading to the Georgia Aquarium – yep we technically ate the little fishes before going to check them out – kind of evil I know! Now both myself and the German haven’t been here so it was a new experience for all of us. So we got our tickets and had the obligatory tourist picture taken (which the German refused to smile in!) and headed inside.

Now here’s the history lesson that usually comes with a blog post that involves some exploring! So the Georgia Aquarium is the biggest aquarium in the world – yep you heard right in the world – and I was one excited lady to go and check out all the little and big creatures!! So there’s around 120,000 animals to look at made up from 500 different species all housed in 8.5 million gallons and marine and fresh water…yep there was a LOT for us to see and a lot of stats there for you! So we headed inside and saw these little beauts…

Welcome along!

So the aquarium is split into different sections, unsurprisingly we decided to start at one end and make our way to the other, that way we wouldn’t miss anything! So the first things we saw were some stingrays which you could touch if you really wanted to but as those of you who know me will guess that’s something I didn’t do!

I wasn’t getting any closer!

We trotted along and spotted lots of pretty fish, ugly fish and scary fish including piranha which the German wanted to see attacking and eating each other or other fish but sadly for him this didn’t happen! Phew!! We went into the tropical area and tried to spot Nemo but he was hiding away and we didn’t see him. Sad times. We did however predict the new sequel to Finding Nemo and solved it by Finding Dory…

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We saw jellyfish, electric eels, crabs, sea otters – that can I say were very cute indeed – but not as cute as these little things…

Too cute!

Yep despite not being a big animal lover I actually wanted to take one of these babies home! They’re gorgeous!! It was also feeding time in the penguin enclosure but some were picky little eaters and only wanted certain fish!! It seems animals also have picky eating habits just like some of us humans!

Now sadly we couldn’t see a dolphin show because they were fully booked but we did come across these beauts that the German decided were his favourite species in the aquarium…the Beluga whales…

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He spent quite awhile watching them – they were memorizing, they stuck their heads out of the water and then gracefully swam around their tank, coming up close to the window and then moving away! They were fascinating! We also spotted this shall we say not so beautiful creature…

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Who the German also found in the gift shop…

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We went through a massive tunnel with a moving walkway (yep they’re always pretty damn cool!) to check out the aquarium’s biggest tank which housed, amongst other little and slightly bigger fishes these beasts…just a few mahoosive sharks!!

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So after venturing through all the different areas and checking out the frogs at the end – some of them took some spotting – they’re good at hiding – we’d made it around the aquarium! It took us a good few hours but was definitely worth the visit! Our favourites were the Beluga whales, the penguins and the sea otters I think! The boys seemed to like the whales and the girls the penguins and sea otters – all very stereotypical! I would definitely recommend a trip here if you’re ever in the area! It was fab for four fully grown adults so I’m sure it’s even more exciting for children! I say fully grown adults but I’ll leave you with this little beaut that might suggest something different for at least 2 of them…

I think we blend in quite well...

I think we blend in quite well…

A Mountain made of Stone…

Now this I know isn’t uncommon at all – in fact all mountains are made of stone, that is a no brainer! However this one is called…wait for it…it’s a good one…yep you guessed it…Stone Mountain! Yep it was a warm, kind of sunny spring day here in Atlanta so me and the German decided to go and be tourists and check it out!

Now I didn’t really do my research before we went (I think the German did – that’s his thing, I just go along for the ride and the fun stuff!) so I literally thought it was a mountain with some famous faces in it – we’ll come to that in a bit! So I was kind of shocked/surprised when we got there and it was like a mini theme park! Yep think Alton Towers but on a much smaller scale! When I say much smaller scale I mean much smaller but still it wasn’t what I was expecting! So we parked up and headed off to buy some tickets!

We decided to become Mountain Members – anticipating the many other visits we’ll probably have over the next year with friends and family coming to visit! This means we can have an unlimited amount of trips during the next year and check out the rides/games/3D movies etc as many times as we like! Result!

Now here’s the history lesson…Stone Mountain looks a little bit like this…

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Yep like I said a massive mountain made of stone with some famous faces in it! Now this is the picture on all the adverts for Stone Mountain…so you can’t tell there’s other stuff to go with it! Aaannyway back to the mountain! So the famous faces are Stonewall Jackson (aptly named there!!) Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davies – three Confederate leaders of the Civil War. In 1916 the United Daughters of the Confederate was given 12 years to complete a civil war memorial in the stone but sadly they didn’t manage it and it was officially completed in 1972 after the initial carver bailed out (then went on to begin Mount Rushmore – bit cheeky if you ask me!) a second sculptor gave up in 1928 and work stopped for 30 years before starting again in 1964 and being completed by Roy Faulkner in 1972. Right history lesson over – back to the fun stuff!

So we got our Mountain Member cards, stocked up on some food (another theme I see entering this blog, our love for stuffing our faces and filling our bellies!) and headed up the mountain! Now it’s 825 feet from the ground to the top of the mountain, you can either take the trail and walk up or take a cable car…guess which option we went for…yep you guessed it the cable car!! Lazy bums! In our defence our Mountain Membership means we can go on it as many times as we like and it was kind of warm…and we got to see views like this on the way up…(I also feel like I’m trying to justify why we used it when it’s really because we are in fact lazy bums!!)

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Yep it was a loooong way up but worth it when you got to the top and could see the whole of Atlanta…

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Those tiny, tiny skyscrapers in the background are actually the huge ones in Downtown Atlanta! It was an amazing sight and worth the trip up just for that! Once you get to the top you can learn how the mountain came to be (I think we’ve had enough history lessons for one blog!) see some amazing sights like the one above, sit on the mountain and chill out, grab some snacks (popcorn was on offer and despite my recent new addiction to it thanks to the basketball I declined – shocking I know!!) and if you really wanted you could have a picnic! Definitely worth a trip up there!

Now we were lazy getting to the top and we could have been just as lazy to get back down and go back in the cable car but we decided to walk (that one shocked you didn’t it!) – walking downhill is much easier than walking uphill – plus I had flip-flops on – not the best shoe selection for some hiking (I refer back to the lack of research!) So we started on down the mountain and it wasn’t too bad, not too steep and easy to walk down, then we got to a VERY steep part with a handrail that was much-needed and eventually made it down to the bottom! There were some scary moments when I could have done with a hand from the German but he just carried on and turned around to see where I was when it was too late! Typical!

After our mountain descent we took one of the trails back to the main park – now the mountain is more than 5 miles wide and there is a little touristy train you can take all the way around it but we weren’t going that far so took the trail into the woods and out the other side – it was definitely a pretty walk and I’m sure in summer it’s even prettier…

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So we made it back to the park and decided to explore some of the other stuff you can get up to! There’s a climbing area that looked kind of cool – if you’ve ever been to Go Ape it was kind of like that – swinging from tree to tree and climbing up nets etc. Now the German really wanted to go on it and I was up for it too BUT when we got to the start my lack of research came into play again – you could only go on it in fully covered shoes. Damn you flip-flops. The German was not impressed. Next time for that one…

Instead we did a bit of this…

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Good old-fashioned crazy golf! And can I say it wasn’t just the usual, kind of boring, easy course…oh no no! There were some fancy pants holes let me tell you! And I think I’ve inherited my Dad’s fancy pants golfing skills too – I did pretty well! Yeah, yeah, yeah I know it’s only crazy golf but hey let me have some credit – I never play the sport!

So aside from the crazy golf and many different trails you can take around the mountain (oh yeah I forgot to mention some people were running up and down that beast…running!! Nutters!!) there’s also a 3D movie theatre, a duck boat that takes you into the river, various different shops and restaurants and in the summer there’s a laser light show in the evening that is supposed to be pretty good – we’ll definitely be heading back to sample that beast! And of course before we left we stocked up on some Taffy for the journey home…always thinking of our stomachs! Definitely a good trip out and somewhere we’ll be going back to – even if it’s just to let the German go on the climbing course!!

Oh and sorry for the delay in writing this one…I blame Mother Cook back in England who sent this little bounty over to the states…

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What? A girl needs her fix of Closer, Mini Eggs and Percy Pigs!! And I’ll admit it – there was another bag of Percy Pigs but that beast got cracked into as soon as the package was opened and soon disappeared! Ma Cook is a legend!!!

Oh and there are developments on the table building front too – they’re nearly done!! I’ll save that story though for another blog – I think you’ve had enough for today plus I need to give you a tease to keep reading!!

Back to school…

Quick blog for you lovely people because I fear more AWOL activity this weekend…and yes once again it involves furniture – this time building it in our new apartment!! YAY!! We get the keys today – YAY again!! Expect a blog about the trials and tribulations at a later date – I’m sure there will be LOADS to tell you about!

Anyway, back to today. So you’d think being a (temporary) lady of leisure/housewife would mean doing whatever you want, when you want yes? Not if you’re the German’s hausfrau! (That’s German for housewife – just in case you didn’t know!) So the German likes to give me things to do and leave me with tasks so that I don’t get bored. Very thoughtful of him I know – I think he also likes to do it so I won’t go out and spend all his money in the mahoosive malls!!

So I’ve been left tasks like start a blog (actually this was my idea but he pestered me everyday until I actually did it!) the usual like cleaning (that’s a given!) look for places to eat/explore/live/furniture etc and last but by no means least this…

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Yes the German wanted me to take German lessons!! And he thought it was very clever that he’d found a class that takes place whilst he joins other fellow Germans to watch the Bundesliga on a Saturday morning! Now the lessons I have nothing against – I want to improve my German so that I can have a proper conversation with Mutter und Vater Richter – pigeon German just doesn’t cut it with the parents of your other half!!

However I was worried. Worried I would be the douggie of the class who just sat there with a blank face and mouth wide open not having a clue what to say. I have to say I do have an A-Level in German and studied it at school for 7 years…but I didn’t use it until I met the German 10 years later – safe to say I’m a little rusty! I can understand a lot but when it comes to speaking I can only hold simple conversations or smile, nod and say Ja! That is a common expression/saying when speaking to Mutter und Vater Richter!!

So yesterday was the first class (it appears the ones that take place on a Saturday morning aren’t the best ones for me!) – I got in my car and headed on down to the Goethe-Zentrum – a German Cultural Centre in Midtown Atlanta (yes the satnav was out and in use in the car!!) pretty nervous and worried about how thick I was going to look…I was also early which meant I was sitting in the room with nothing to think about other than how pants I was going to be – yes I still can’t use my phone over here – thanks for that Orange!!

Half 12 came around, the teacher and 2 other students turned up and my lesson was on. Now like I say I can understand a lot of German, usually most conversations, not always every word but I sort of get the gist of what they’re saying so it started well. It was once they turned to me and asked me a question that I probably went all red and blotchy (this happens when I’m nervous!!!) and stumbled over the words but I did it! Thankfully the first few questions were the simple ones – where are you from, how long have you been here, why are you here, what do you do – you get the idea! I was doing well!! YAY!!

I also felt like I was back at school – writing down new vocab and their meanings. I was having flashbacks to GCSE and A-Level German back in good old St Wilfrid’s in Featherstone! We carried on – I got to talk about Toby’s cakes (and had the teacher saying that Trader Joe’s should never have ditched their bread rolls – I revert back to the post where I said bread rolls were a staple diet in any German’s life!!) what I think of America so far and if I’m missing anything back home. I was doing a-OK! Woooo! I felt I was at the same level as the others (maybe one was a little bit better than me) but I definitely didn’t feel like the worst in the class – result!!

So the class ended and then the unthinkable happened – I got homework!! It really is like being back at school! So for next week I have to write about my first impressions of America and how it differs from back home. Definitely like being back at school – I thought I’d ditched the pens, papers, German dictionary and homework a long time ago! But as the German says it will keep me busy!!

I did tell him though how an hour and a half a week won’t make me fluent and we should speak more German at home…I have a real life German, this I should take advantage of!! I should point out that we have tried this before – we planned to have German days so I would speak to the German in, shock horror German but despite it being his first language he would reply in English!! That is not how it is supposed to work! He reckons he won’t do that this time but we shall see!!

Right time to get something done before getting those all important keys later – YAY!!!! But before I go I need to tell you about where we went on Tuesday night! So when I arrived in Atlanta the German had a surprise waiting for me in the apartment (I need to point out that he’d been here for nearly 3 weeks before coming back to pick me up!!)…

Amazing!

Amazing!

Yep the boy is definitely a keeper! There were flowers, 1.5 litre’s of Rose, a 1kg bag of peanut butter M&Ms, and tickets to see the Atlanta Hawks (Basketball) Gaslight Anthem and…wait for it…Bon Jovi!!! The boy knows me too well!!

So Tuesday night was Bon Jovi night – amazing times! Now I have seen the Bon and his bandmates before on 3 occasions, all of which were with the bestie Miss C so this was going to be a little different with the boy – I was prepared for his lack of dancing, singing and generally looking like a tit with a (plastic) glass of beer in hand that me and the bestie usually do! It was at the Philips Arena which can I say is just plain mahoosive – here’s some photo evidence…

See...mahooosive!

See…mahooosive!

And it was one night of just the Bon, no dodgy support acts just Bon Jovi!! And they were, as usual, blummin good! I came away from it with a scratchy throat from screaming and singing! Yep..told you…tit. I did however really miss the bestie and our Bon party – the boy actually left me standing up on my own – making me look even more tit-like but I didn’t care!! Bon rocked it!! He was however looking kind of old now – he’s 50 – but we won’t tell the bestie this – she would actually kill me!! And this time I’ll leave you with this…

The Bon, in a sparkly shirt!

The Bon, in a sparkly shirt!