Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chinatown mall and Halloween drive-by

After work and school today we went to Chinatown Mall for an authentic Szechuan dinner. I had read about a restaurant there online - on Yelp, I think - and we have been meaning to go for a while. It seems it's out in an almost industrial area, and for a while when we were driving there I was starting to doubt Siri really knew the way, but suddenly, there it was. Some Chinese shops, import/export firms, and a food court, full of people and really great looking food. We ate at Chong Qing Hot Pot and the food was absolutely amazing! Even the sweet and sour chicken that the boys ordered was better than anywhere I've ever had it. My husband and I had fish stew, a hot pot and some Kun Pao chicken, all very spicy and oh so tasty. Yum!

After dinner we drove through a *very* Halloween decorated neighborhood (there is a video of this here from 2010), boys shrieking from joy at all the spooky displays. The full experience, for sure.

When we got home, we got to watch the Red Sox win the world series. A good day!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Our first Davidson-Arabia Nature Reserve hike

Because of a currently heavier work load (it’s that time of the year) we have reduced the amount of time we spend hiking every week – taking an entire day each weekend on top of an hour or two a couple of times during the week is just not possible at the moment, due to manuscript- and other

deadlines, activities and field trips, etc. We have not ceased entirely though; on Sunday we drove down to the Davidson-Arabia Nature Reserve, where we hiked around for a couple of hours.

The weather was perfect! Clear blue sky, a couple of beautiful white clouds, a big sun, around 71 or so degrees (between 20-22 Celsius) and a fresh crisp air. Because the map was a little off, we ended up hiking on a bike path for a while, which wasn’t exactly the nature experience we had had in mind, but once we hit the forest and the open rock area, we had a good time. We only really explored a fragment of the area, which means we will go back again soon – not only was it a fun hike, but it’s less than 30 min. drive from our house and not difficult to find.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Visiting the World of Coca Cola and Legoland Discovery Center in Atlanta

We usually throw big birthday parties for our boys, but since we barely know anyone here in Atlanta, we offered our oldest son some sightseeing choices for his 12th birthday instead: he chose the World of Coca Cola and Legoland Discovery Center. Imagine that.

The World of Coca Cola is in downtown Atlanta, about 20 min. from our house, and although there’s always traffic, we’ve never really had any problems driving there. Saturday however was really busy. We learned later that it was probably because of the Gay Pride festival, although when we arrived at the World of Coca Cola, which is right next to the Aquarium, it seemed like this was the destination for most people. It was packed!

I visited Atlanta as a student in 1995 and it seems like the World of Coca Cola hasn’t changed much since then. It wouldn’t be so bad if the entrance fee wasn’t lower, but as it is now, this experience is just overpriced. My husband kept saying he felt like he was participating in a giant commercial/advertising campaign. The 4D cinema is OK and the boys really enjoyed the soda fountains of course, where you can taste over 60 kinds of Coca Cola products as much as you want. We all left feeling a little ill.

We bought our tickets to Legoland Discovery Center online, where you get a much better deal than if you buy your tickets on site ($11 vs. $19 for an adult). The Center, which is in Buckhead, also about 20 min. from our house, was nicer than I had expected, with two rides, a 4D cinema, and plenty of LEGO building centers, as well as a jungle jim. Abraham enjoyed the Duplo building station, which had plates where you could simulate an earthquake, rattling down the huge LEGO building you had just constructed. It was a little more crowded than we had expected (we didn’t know that some of the schools were on break this week). It wasn’t too bad though. Although we will not go back again, I don’t feel like it was a waste of our money. Like my husband put it on our way home, “I’m glad we went and that the boys had fun, and I’m glad that’s over!”

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Settled in to our boring, exciting new life

A bit over a month into our life here in Georgia, and we’ve figured out quite a few things. You might take these every day phenomena for granted, but figuring out where to get things, setting up a bank account, getting insurance and paying bills can seem quite daunting if you’re not sure how it works. We’ve mastered all these things before, of course - just not here. Now we are all set, though – I think. We have paid a round of electricity, gas, internet bills and rent. We’ve even managed to become members of Atlanta Zoo and Costco (although we have only managed to visit the zoo, so far), AND we’ve opened a Netflix account. We’ve made a friend of two (although it’s very hard here – more on that later), and the boys are making friends in the homeschooling coop that we joined. I no longer have to use my GPS to get to the grocery store or to pick up my husband (although we still use it extensively as a backup and for adventures), and we’re happily exploring our neighborhood in the early evenings during bike rides or jogging rounds.

“How boring,” you think, but this is all (or at least mostly) new to us, and still quite exciting. We still feel like strangers, and the whole situation – the fact that we are now living in the US (even though it’s only temporarily) – still seems almost too good to be true; like a dream or a mistake that is about to be discovered (the fact that I have to renew my US visitor VISA soon, doesn’t help either). I still have to get my GA driver’s license and our GA license plate, but this will have to wait until the government shutdown is over (a bizarre issue in itself).