Exploring: Rosemary Beach, FL

Rosemary Beach

A few weeks ago, the German and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary (even though we’ve legally been married for 2 years!) and decided to head back to Florida where married life for us technically began, although Ma Cook refused to believe it until she saw me walk down the aisle a year later in Germany!

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Wow, what a year!

I’m back! How was your holiday season guys? Mine was jam packed, hence the absence from this little blogging space of mine! It involved trips to England and Germany and lots of catch ups with family and friends. Despite all my good intentions to give you some updates I just couldn’t find the time. I also wanted to post this earlier this week but, thanks to some sort of deadly virus from England (we’re talking a beautiful 3 week long cough and cold) I just didn’t feel up to it.

But I’m back now and taking a look back at one of the most amazing years ever! 2014 was very, very good to me indeed! I thought I’d pop together a few highlights for you to peruse over and for me to reminisce about.

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Exploring: St Pete Beach, FL

Is exactly what the German and I had a couple of weeks ago before I headed back to the UK for a couple of weeks and it was bliss!

My aunty and uncle were flying out to Florida and staying in an apartment there so they suggested that we jumped in our car and drove down to stay with them for the weekend as they wouldn’t be able to make it to Atlanta this year. Do you really think we were going to say no? Erm…I don’t think so!

So, we did exactly that:

Road Trip!

Road Trip!

Early on Friday morning, we hopped in the car and started the 7 hour drive to St. Pete Beach on the gulf coast of Florida. Now, back in the day when we lived in the UK, driving 7 hours for a weekend away would have been deemed ridiculous but in America-land this is normal.

At just after 7am we were on the road, and, after a quick stop for some brunch, by 4pm we had arrived here:

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Beautiful, right? You can’t go wrong with white sand, clear water and blue skies! We are so lucky to have this, in American terms, on our doorstep. Spending a weekend in Florida is something I could only dream of a few years ago, I could only dream of flying to America on holiday, and now, here I am, having a weekend break in the Sunshine State. One very lucky lady indeed.

Back to the story, we jumped out of the carsaid a big fat excited hello to my aunty and uncle who we hadn’t seen since the wedding and literally within minutes we were changed and by the pool – you get pretty hot and sweaty in the German’s car and we were in serious need of a cool down! After a few hours chilling out and catching up, we went back to the apartment, got changed and went out for dinner where we stuffed ourselves with some amazing seafood (when at the beach!) before having a stroll to a local home-made ice cream parlour – just delicious!

The following morning we got up, had breakfast and drove to Fort Desoto in search of some dolphins and, after never seeing a dolphin in real life before, the German and I ticked something else off our bucket list and spotted some! Just amazing!

St Pete 1

The Dolphin Hunters / Spotted One! / Happy Dolphin Spotters

Sadly, we didn’t spot a manatee – hopefully next time!

The rest of the weekend was pretty much spent relaxing on the beach, perfect right? We spent Saturday on Fort Desoto beach and Sunday at St Pete Beach just across the road from the apartment. The German and I went for a walk along the beach and spotted some baby birds and turtle nests, we drank a couple of beers, caught some sunshine and had a few dips in the sea – amazing.

St Pete 2

Fort Desoto Beach / Beach Fun / St Pete Beach

Then there was the food. We were on the gulf coast where there is some amazing seafood so, obviously, that was just about all we ate, well, apart from the very tasty Italian we had in St Petersburg! We tucked into snapper, tuna, salmon and grouper and everything was just delicious!

St Pete 3
But sadly, Monday morning came around and we had to say our goodbyes once again (the part I hate the most about being an expat) and head back to the ATL. Sad, sad, sad times. Driving 7 hours for a weekend at the beach was definitely worth it though. We got to spend some time with my aunty and uncle, even if it is just for a couple of days, when you live so far away just a couple of days makes all the difference. Thanks for a great weekend Team Lodge! We had an amazing time!

Before I go though, I can’t forget to show you the stunning sunset we managed to catch a glimpse of in St Petersburg:

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And that is just one of the many reasons why I will be heading to Florida once again very soon!

Life is Good. {July in Review}

Life is Good...

So I seem to have taken a little, unplanned blogging holiday this past week or so, but, never fear people, because that is now over and I am back! Once again it’s been another hectic month in the life of this expat (there’s a surprise!) so, in an effort to remember everything I did in July, I thought I’d link up with Belinda again over at Found Love, Now What and tell you the reasons why July was just so good!

Life Is Good… {July in Review}

We took on the Peachtree Road Race and won! It was our first ever 10k, it was hot and humid and it was tough but we did it!

Then we spent the rest of 4th July on a houseboat on Lake Lanier with our friends and their parents – pure bliss!

July Review 1

The Peachtree Gang / We did it! / Chilling on the boat

Our niece came to stay from Germany and we went shopping, had burgers and of course we took them to our favourite BBQ joint – when in America and all that!

We also headed to Turner Field and introduced them to the delights of baseball at a Braves game.

Then came the semi-final of the World Cup when Germany took on Brazil. I was extremely nervous, if this all went wrong instead of just 1 sad and miserable German I would have 3 to contend with…but thankfully those German’s did us very proud indeed and goal after goal went into the back of the net – final score Germany 7, Brazil 1 and Rachel had 3 very, very, very happy and ecstatic Germans on her hands…few!

July Review 2

BBQ / 3 Very Happy Germans / Indoor Picnic

I’m trying to get more of my writing out there and published, hopefully picking up more work along the way. This month saw my first article for the Internations Expat Magazine published. It’s entitled ‘A Lifetime of Firsts’ and you can check it out by clicking here. I’m hoping to write a few more for them in the future so I’ll keep you posted on that one. Woooo!

We attempted to meet up with one of our British friends at Stone Mountain to watch a laser show but, it would appear 2 Brits together means a lot of rain! The past couple of time’s I’ve seen her it’s rained, this time we didn’t even make it out of the house and had to have our picnic inside!

I had a lovely dinner with my friend in Roswell, followed by a couple of relaxing drinks on the lawn of one of my favourite bars. I also managed to spectacularly flick a shrimp tail so high that it hit my shoulder, and my arm twice before landing in my lap. It could never be repeated!

Then came the pinnacle of the month for the German – the World Cup Final. We watched it at the German Cultural Center where I volunteer and, thankfully, Germany only went and won it!! You can imagine how happy my German was…and how pleased I was! He was so confident before the game that if they lost, that fall down to earth and disappointment would have been ten times worse!

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Cheering His Team On / 4 Stars / Very Happy German

We went to The Vortex for a burger afterwards…pure heaven. One day I will write a blog post on that place!

I picked up some more paid work this month – yay! My temporary lady of leisure status is slowly fading but the German is a very happy man.

We went to our first Alive After 5 event in Roswell and stumbled across Santa Claus…in July!

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Saaantaaaaa! (Said like Buddy the Elf)

The German and I attempted to make home-made pizza. It worked but needed some improvements – he’s working on them whilst I’m away, I’ll keep you updated.

A rainy Sunday saw us head to our local bowling alley for our first game of ten-pin bowling in America. Afterwards we headed to a Mexican restaurant where the local Mexican’s go – it was delicious!

We spent a weekend visiting my aunt and uncle at St. Pete Beach in Florida – a blog post will be heading your way on that one very soon indeed.

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St. Pete Beach / Bye-bye Atlanta / NYC from 35,000 ft.

And the month ended with me jumping on a plane back to England for a couple of very special reasons indeed – all will be revealed next month!

Life is Good. {May in Review}

Today marks the return to reality for myself and the German after the whirlwind month that was May. The German is back at work, I’m making friends with my desk again, I went for a run this morning (and nearly died after so long away from exercise) and weddings are well and truly behind us…sob, sob.

So, I thought I would link up with the lovely Belinda over at Found Love, Now What and give you a little review of the good (and god damn amazing!) things that happened in May, ranging from the little things that make us happy to huge, life changing events, I think you can guess what that one was!

May Review 1
Catching some last-minute sun by the pool for that all important wedding tan.

Some Braves baseball action. Baseball is now my favourite American sport.

Dinner with friends (including the famous queso!) before we left for our wedding.

Having all our friends and family descend on a little sleepy town in Germany.

Eating German stodge (or trying to avoid it for the wedding dress) with the German and his friends.

One word: Maiwoche!

May Review (2)
May’s life changing event full of love and laughter: getting married again!

Still the only picture we have so far...

Still the only picture we have so far…

The new addition to the Richter household: a much longed for hutch! Believe me, I have Pinterested the hell out of hutch pictures!

Fun with friends at Brew at the Zoo.

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A cheese board on the beautiful wedding present Pa Cook (or Mr. Mike as we now like to call him) made us for the big day.

A mini-moon in Destin, the place we secretly said ‘I do’ a year ago!

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And ending with my first ever American bachelorette party for this beautiful lady at Montaluce Winery in Dahlonega. So excited to see her marry her lovely man Carson this weekend!

May Review 5I think we can safely say May was an amazing month in the Richter household. We were surrounded by love from all angles, and, for the first time in a very long time, we were able to have all the people we love the most in one room to celebrate our love. Jeez, there is a whole lot of love in there! I wouldn’t change it for the world!

 

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!!

Well hello there 2014!

OK, so I’m a day late with this one but HAPPY NEW YEAR peeps! How was your New Years Eve? Did you wave goodbye to 2013 and say hello to 2014 in style? We welcomed in the year with some of these…

Hello 2014 1

So what have you been up to the past couple of weeks? At the moment I’m in England – yay! But this follows that trip to Germany where we went to the Christmas market, caught up with friends and family and did some all important wedding planning! Eeeek! It’s not too far away now!

But before we launch ourselves into 2014 I thought I’d take a look back at what 2013 had to offer, and man was it a HUGE year for me and the German! Where do I start?! Well let’s start with January and the first major change to our lives when we got those visas, packed up our little flat and headed 4 thousand miles across the pond to Atlanta! I’m not going to lie – its been an amazing first year as expats – exploring our new city, meeting new friends and having so many exciting experiences it’s unbelievable, from our first baseball game to a trip to the aquarium and the most amazing ribs ever! And we still have so much more to explore – that makes for some great blog posts next year!

Then, a few months into our new life, and completely out of the blue, the German did something mahoosive – he popped the question!! Yep, he didn’t get down on one knee and didn’t have a little speech prepared (but that’s a-ok for me because I didn’t expect that from him anyway – he’s not that type!) and literally said I’ve got a question to ask you – ‘Will you marry me?’ I know he’s a cutie! I then replied with the best line ever – ‘Are you being serious?’ Yep, ever the subtle, gracious and clever person that I am! Anyway, he was and of course I said yes! I mean, who wouldn’t want to be Mrs Richter? It all happened in front of the water fountain in the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta – perfect!! You can read more about that big moment here. And here’s a little pic from just after I said ‘yes!’

Happy, happy, happy!!

Happy, happy, happy!!

Next on the agenda was a roadtrip to Florida with our friends from Germany! We covered a fair few places including Clearwater, the Everglades, Miami and the Florida Keys! We saw gators, amazing beaches, the art deco of Miami and the scenic road down through the keys! We also played a came called corn hole that Jannis was determined to win, sadly for him though he didn’t! He has one at home now though so I’m sure he’s been practising ready to take us on again!! It was fab! Here’s the road trip crew:

Hello 2014 4

Then, just 3 weeks after the question was popped we did something nobody expected – well they did one day but maybe just not yet! Yep, we jumped in the car (after some previous behind the scenes preparations!) headed to Destin, said ‘I do’ and became Mr & Mrs Richter!! It was amazing, just me, the German, a registrar called Patty and a photographer called Larry on a pure white beach with bright blue sky, clear sea and of course the sunshine!! It was perfect! Although I am pretty glad we’re doing it all again this year in Germany – I couldn’t imagine having that as my only wedding – I need my pops to walk my down the aisle, best friends to be bridesmaids and have all my friends and family around me! Bring on May! You can read more about our first big day here. And here’s another picture – this time of the day I lost my name on the beach!

The new Mr & Mrs Richter!

The new Mr & Mrs Richter!

All that happened in the first 5 months of the year! Phew!! The rest of the year was taken up with trips back to the UK and Germany for family events and another trip to the US Embassy to get my Mrs Richter visa! A constant stream of guests to the Hotel Richter including my mum, brother and sister-in-law, our friends from Germany and my aunty, uncle and cousin, days soaking up the sun by the pool, job searching and lots more exploring including a trip to a cabin in the woods that I STILL need to blog about! I will get round to it I promise!

All in all 2013 was a pretty amazing year for the Richters! I started it as a Cook, living in England with no thoughts of becoming Mrs Richter (well I did think about it but really didn’t think it was going to happen just yet!) and ended it as Mrs Richter who’s lived in America for a year! That year passed really quickly by the way! It definitely doesn’t seem that long at all! Time definitely does fly when you’re having fun!! I am one extremely lucky lady – no doubt about that! I’ve bagged myself the best husband in the world, I live in America (thanks to said husband and his cakes!) and I’m having an amazing time making new friends and exploring our new home! Don’t get me wrong, I miss my friends and family back home – it’s hard being away from your parents and best friends (especially when they’ve just had a baby!!) but there’s no way you can pass up the chance to live in America!! FaceTime and Skype get you through the tough times and it’s even more special when you come home and get those all important cuddles!!

Now though, we’re saying a big, fat hello to 2014 and all it has in store for us! I’m sure it’s going to be another amazing one – for a start I get to marry that lovely husband of mine again! Yep, once again we’ll be saying ‘I do’ in May but this time in front of all our friends and family! (Lucky lady I know!) I personally cannot wait – I just wish it would organise itself!! Running off to Florida was so much easier!

So, my lovely little blog friends, here’s to an exciting 2014, full of more adventures and exploring, visitors to the Hotel Richter (it will be re-opening again soon!) and of course that all important wedding!! Three words people – bring it on!!