Goodbyes are just the worst.

Goodbyes

Airports to me signify two things – happiness and sadness. When I’m at an airport I’m usually either jumping on a plane home to see friends and family, which of course makes me super excited. Picking somebody up who has flown in to visit, again, super exciting. Or there’s the departures area which usually involves a heck of a lot of tears and sadness as goodbyes are said.

This past couple of weeks has seen me experience both those airport feelings. Just over a week ago my best friend Clare came to stay for a week with her little girl, also known as Lily, my goddaughter. As you can imagine my level of excitement for this trip was off the scale! It was her first trip out here since we moved as last year she was either preggers or had a new baby – not the best way to travel trans-atlantic! The poor German had to deal with a countdown for weeks, which then turned into days which eventually turned into hours. He was off work so came with me to the airport where I couldn’t keep still in excitement, waiting for those two beautiful ladies to walk through the doors and when they did I sprinted towards them, started crying and gave them a big hug! Happy days and happy tears – I love the arrivals lobby!

Once we’d stopped crying (Clare and I, not the German or Lily!), Lily had realized what was going on (she’s 14 months old and had just got off the longest flight of her life!) and the German had organized his new hareem of girls, we quickly headed home to start one of the best weeks in America so far! We hit up the playground on numerous occasions which Lily loved, went shopping which Lily pretty much hated and were ladies what lunched.

Goodbyes 1

We went to a cabin in the mountains for the weekend with the German, did some bear spotting but failed, relaxed in a hot tub, explored Blue Ridge and Ellijay and tucked into smores. We went to an apple festival and attempted to go apple picking but the weather soon put paid to that, stupid rain.

Goodbyes 2

We went to the zoo and checked out the animals. Fearless Lily went straight into the petting area and made friends with some goats – Aunty Rachel unsurprisingly stayed well clear of that endeavor! It would appear Lily is a massive animal lover, just like her mum! I also taught Lily what a gorilla does to add to her repertoire of animal noises – good work Aunty Rachel!

Goodbyes 3

We took Lily to her first pumpkin patch where some of the orange wonders were nearly as big as her! She wasn’t too down with sitting amongst the pumpkins and staying still for a picture but we managed to capture some whilst she was on the move! We picked out a beauty that I’ve since made into some tasty soup and Lily came away with a mini pumpkin of her own, which is also in the soup pot as she couldn’t really take it back on the plane.

Goodbyes 4

We had massive best friend catch ups, drank some wine and gossiped just like the old days. It’s probably the most time we’ve spent together non-stop since we last went on holiday together at the tender age of 18 and it was bloody brilliant. But, last Thursday, all good things had to come to an end and we had to go to the place I dread the most – airport departures.

Saying goodbye to loved ones is the WORST thing about living in America. I literally hate it. The thought of heading to the airport fills me with sadness, especially when you realize it will be a long time until you see these people again. As the day wears on I can feel the sadness at the thought of heading to the airport starting. The car journey is usually pretty quiet and once we get to check-in I’m usually silent. Then comes the actual moment when it’s time to head to security and you have to say goodbye.

I try to be strong but sometimes it just doesn’t work, like when Clare left the other day. I knew the tears would be flowing, they nearly were when I thought about it in the afternoon when we were at the playground. As soon as the hugging started the tears were flowing, like full on flowing, from both of us. We must have looked pretty bad because one woman actually asked us if we were ok! I

hate having to say goodbye and knowing that we won’t be able to have a coffee together or explore a playground until at least Christmas. I hate not seeing them both for months, by the time I see Lily again she’ll probably be so much bigger and chatting away. I feel like I miss out on so many things and this does make me sad. I called the German whilst I was driving home and had tears streaming down my cheeks, so much so they were practically dripping off the bottom of my chin, oh what a pretty picture I paint for you guys! When the German walked in the house I burst into tears, so upset at the thought of not seeing Clare and Lily for over 2 months.

But, that’s the price you pay for being an expat. I knew this would happen when I agreed to come and live out here. It’s just something you have to deal with. Yes, I miss all my friends and family lots but, being here with the German is what I chose to do. Things do go on without me back home, but thanks to the joys of social media, FaceTime and WhatsApp I’m kept in the loop, and when I do see people again, it’s like we’ve never been apart.

It’s just those blummin goodbyes that I hate.

Life is Good. {September’s Happy Moments}

Life is Good...

So, it seems I’ve taken another unscheduled blogging vacation (holiday for you Brits back home – I’m hanging my head in shame for using that word!) after a busy couple of weeks in the Richter House! The Richter Hotel has been fully booked and with visitors galore I’ve been here, there and everywhere entertaining to the max whilst also fitting in some work! Phew!

I’m back now and celebrating what has bee a fab September by picking out some of it’s best moments that have made life so good this month. I can’t believe it’s October already – where is this year going? It will be Christmas and we’ll be jumping on that plane back to England before we know it! Once again, I’m linking up with the lovely Belinda over at Found Love, Now What so make sure you head over to her fab blog and show her a little love!

{September’s Happy Moments}

The yearly visit of Mama C!
That’s right people, Mama C flew in for her annual visit this month without Papa C (he won’t fly because he has a bad neck 😦 ) for 2 weeks of Mama C/daughter/son-in-law time in the ATL. Thankfully, she didn’t bring the rain with her this year and managed 2 weeks of sunshine, although our planned trip to the beach turned into a couple of days in Nashville because the weather was not looking too bright and sunny down in Destin! It was lovely to have her around though. She came with an empty suitcase and went back with a full to bursting one thanks to a lot of shopping, (the German wasn’t too happy with the high number of shopping bags that came through the door in my hands!), we introduced her to the best BBQ in town, the best burger in town, stuffed our faces with donuts, finally made it up Stone Mountain with her, went to the Atlanta Botanical Garden and Zoo Atlanta, sampled some wine in Dahlonega, celebrated Oktoberfest in Atlanta, went to a Braves game and generally had some mother/daughter time that you can’t really have over FaceTime. She’s probably crying now reading this – sorry mum!

Stone Mountain / Wine Tasting in Dahlonega / Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Stone Mountain / Wine Tasting in Dahlonega / Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Some exploring with Mama C – Nashville, TN
During Mama C’s stay we were supposed to head to Florida for a few days at the beach whilst the German worked hard and earned the money but, Mama C’s history with the weather and her love of bringing the rain over from England meant the forecast was not looking good and there is nothing worse than being at the beach when it’s raining! So, we quickly changed our plans at the last-minute and instead headed up the Nashville for a couple of nights. It’s less than a 4 hour drive from Atlanta so we hopped in the car and went to Tennessee. We indulged in some country music, checking out the Hall of Fame, sipped some beers to live music in some of the many bars, checked out the Parthenon (slightly random having something Greek in the middle of Tennessee) and strolled around the city, taking in the atmosphere and soaking it all up. I’m already planning a return with the German before the end of the year. We stopped off at Ana Ruby Falls on the way home – Mama C liked that one too!

September is Good 2

Bright lights of Nashville / Exploring the Parthenon / Gold records at the Country Music Hall of Fame

Don’t worry – more detailed Nashville blogging is in the pipeline!

Sven came to stay
Jeez, the Hotel Richter was busy this month! Just a day after a tearful goodbye to Mama C (don’t worry Minimum, it will be Christmas before we know it!) I was back at the airport to pick up our friend Sven from Germany. He’s a childhood friend of the German, they both grew up in little Mettingen and Sven thought he would stop by to say hello on his way to the west coast of America. We managed to pack a lot into the weekend including a Bundesliga Breakfast (the boys, not me), a visit to Monday Night Brewing, dinner and drinks in Roswell, a tour of Turner Field and we ate our way through a mountain of wings! I’d say that’s a weekend well spent! Sven is now living it up at the Grand Canyon before heading to Las Vegas and San Francisco – not a bad trip at all!

September is Good 3

Some corn hole action at Monday Night Brewing / In the dug out at Turner Field

We explored a little more of Atlanta
On Labor Day we checked out the Atlanta BeltLine. It’s kind of like the High Line in New York City – an old train line that’s slowly being turned into a park walkway, eventually it will stretch around the city but for now there’s just a small section open. Artwork is dotted along the pathway and it’s a popular place for cyclists so make sure you stick to your own side! We did however, forget to take into account the boiling hot sun in the middle of the day – an epic European expat fail. To say we were hot and sweaty was a massive understatement! What a beautiful picture I paint for you…! We also finally made it to the High Museum of Art after a failed attempt last year when we tried to go on a Monday only to get there and realize that’s the day it closes. Doh. We checked out the permanent exhibits and looked at the special Dream Cars exhibit (which the German loved) before hanging out in a hammock and taking a stroll around Piedmont Park.

September is Good 4

Strolling along the Atlanta BeltLine / Hanging out in a hammock at the High Museum of Art

Some of September’s small happy moments
We tucked into our first real American milkshakes, obviously with a burger! I had nutella with burnt marshmallows and the German downed a strawberry shortcake, I think it’s safe to say we’ll be having more milkshakes in the future.

The space near our front door was given a facelift with the addition of a pretty plant and a small herb garden. I wonder if I’ll be able to keep them alive…here’s hoping!

I celebrated the start of fall with a pumpkin spice coffee and a slice of peanut butter and pumpkin loaf. Remember my post about how America loves the pumpkin last year – that love has returned, full throttle!

We took a lovely evening stroll along the Chattahoochee. The weather is cooling down now, making it the perfect time to get outside! It also means the jeans have made their way out of the closet again…sad times. Until next spring shorts!

A front door facelift / Pumpkin coffee and peanut butter and pumpkin loaf / A stroll along the Chattahoochee

A front door facelift / Pumpkin coffee and peanut butter and pumpkin loaf / A stroll along the Chattahoochee

September rocked and October is looking pretty amazing too – my oldest and best friend in the whole wide world is coming to visit next week with my goddaughter and I cannot wait to see them walk through those airport doors – there will definitely be tears, from both sides!

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. 😦 )

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
Must See 1
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
Must see 2
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
Must See 4
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?

Exploring: Baby Pandas at Atlanta Zoo.

How was your Valentine’s weekend people? My treat (aside from queso and wings at Taco Mac – the German knows how to treat a lady!) was a trip to Zoo Atlanta!!!!

Pandas 1
Now, I’ve already been to the zoo with my brother and sister-in-law but that was before these little creatures were allowed out for the world to see:

TOO CUTE!!

TOO CUTE!!

Yep the baby panda cubs! Aren’t they just the cutest things ever!! They’re also known as Mei Hunn and Mei Huan and are the latest cubs born to Lun Lun. The cubs were born on July, 15, 2013 – they were the first giant pandas to be born in the US in 2013 and the first twin cubs to be born in the US since 1987!Wow!

Right, that’s enough of the boring stuff – time for those all important cutest pictures ever!! We were lucky – these guys were very active when we were there and getting into all sorts of cute trouble! They loved playing with the Valentine’s garland the zoo keepers had made for them and of course, like all siblings, liked to bully each other and push each other about!

Seriously, how cute are they? I could have literally watched them for hours! In fact, I think we spent at least an hour with them! I failed to tell you that pandas are the German’s favourite animals. He LOVES them! I think it’s because he is a little bit like them, likes to just hang around and chill, be a lazy bum and eat! Well he doesn’t tuck into bamboo, that’s for sure, but the boy does like his food! So you can imagine how excited he was heading to the pandas – he made us go straight there, skipping all the other animals along the way! They could wait until later – the pandas were the most important!

The little panda cubs were hanging out with their mum who picked one of them off the climbing frame and tried to stop her getting back up! Cheeky! But she made it and they all hung out together for a while before momma panda bear went to get some food:

I seriously wanted to take these little babies home (and that’s coming from the girl who doesn’t like animals) because they were just so cute! There little bums, the way the moved around and hung out on the climbing frame, stretching and nearly falling off! Did I mention that they’re cute? However, the German said that one day they would get too big so taking them home probably wasn’t a good idea. Spoil sport.

I did, however, take a little video for your perusal too as one of the little panda cubs attempted to get back on the climbing frame – check this out for a cuteness overload:

Fancy some more random panda facts? Well, word on the street (well from the zoo people!) is that pandas can poop up to 100 times in 24 hours creating up to 45 pounds of poop a day! Now that is a whole lotta poop! Sorry for the poop content but I think that had to be shared! You can go and wow your work colleagues and friends with a random panda fact! You can thank me later!

Now, where were we before the  poop diversion…oh yeah, just next to the baby pandas was another giant panda who was also very active – I think it was Yang Yang – the father of the cubs and partner of Lun Lun. Running around with his bamboo, climbing on his frame, falling off his rope, ripping apart his garland – he definitely knew how to entertain!

Here’s a clip of the big guy in action:

But, after a hard day entertaining the crowds and looking after your baby panda cubs, there’s only one thing for it…a good stick of bamboo:

Of course, these weren’t the only animals we saw during out trip to the zoo but I think the pandas needed a post of their own – don’t ya think? Don’t worry though – the other animals will get some blog time – just in another post! Stay tuned for that one guys!

Serioulsy though…you can’t deny that there isn’t a whole lot of cuteness in this post and this could actually be the cutest blog post you’ve ever read in your life, ever?!

78950-traveltueslinkup_zpsd47191b028129g