Saturday, July 28, 2007

Atlanta Road Trip 2007

Finally we decided to take a vacation! It's been so long, since Christmas I think. Plamen had a high school friend in Atlanta, GA and she had invited us to visit a few weeks before that. Being good at last minute plans, we managed to organize this trip a week before my birthday (which is today). The plan was to go to Charlotte, NC, then Atlanta then see how to break up the long drive home by stopping some other place.

Charlotte, NC
We left around 10am on Thursday and headed for our first destination - Charlotte, NC. We arrived around 4:30, so there was enough time to go to Freedom Park for a walk before our friend Niya came back from work. Finally met her husband Jim, but he couldn't be with us for dinner. We also got to meet Deyana and Israel - turned out that Deyana is a friend of our friend Elitsa, who used to live in Washington DC. The world is so very small...

The next morning we had a long leisurely breakfast at Caribou Coffee and then prepared for the days' adventure: White Water Rafting at the US National Whitewater Center. After brief but very useful instruction on safety and what to do if (WHEN) we fall in the water, we were grouped with 3 more girls to share a raft. All of us beginners, no experience whatsoever. The guide told us our rowing was hopeless :) After a few practice minutes he actually let us on the rapids! The first rapid was successful, and so was the second one for everyone else in the raft but me. The water hit the front of the raft and it went up vertically, so my feet came loose from under the seat and I slid backwards from the raft into the twirling water. Mind you, I didn't stop hold the paddle while I was trying to go to one side near the slanted wall. In order to keep my head above the water, I had to do exactly the opposite as instructed. A rescue guy came over and threw a rope. He said, "Lean back and climb up". I was so shaken I couldn't lift myself to climb out for the first few tries.

At that point I was thinking that my rafting was over, but luckily the others waited for me. We did one more round on the "easy" side and then 4 on the hard class III & IVs. At the end everyone had managed to fall at least once, Plamen and I topped the score with 2 times each. That's because we were in the back. The instructor claimed that Plamen tackled him off the raft - so he had to buy beer for the rest of the instructors. One girl lost her shoes and was pretty sad but another raft found them.
We did a bonus round on the easy side, trying to "surf" in the rapid but we missed our chance cause we're slow rowers.

We were happy campers after that. Stopped to buy chocolate and headed to...

Atlanta, GA
We arrived late at Daniela's place and went out to scout restaurants in Virginia Heights. It's the area for college students and was crowded and noisy and we really liked it. The food choices are definitely different than in DC.

The next day started with coffee and bagels, then we headed for the CNN center. Parking was impossible, but Daniela had a friend that let us in the Omni Hotel Valet parking. The tour of the CNN center was not very interesting due to our guide. We were rushed through and didn't learn as much as I wanted to. In the little time before the tour we walked through Centennial Park and to the Georgia Aquarium but the line there was impossible. On top of that, it was hot (for DC standards) and the area in front of the Aquarium smelled strongly like paint. Afterwards we strolled to Underground Atlanta,had some smoothies and took pictures. Then decided that was enough sightseeing in a day and headed back to Daniela's place for a nice dinner and a movie (Notes on a Scandal, I highly recommend it).

Next "morning" we woke up 2 minutes before noon... ugh, my meet up with my imaginary designer friends was for 11am. I felt very bad, but they understood (read, were late themselves) and waited for us. Thanks to the GPS we got at Apres Diem without any difficulty. There we met Patti and Karma from the HOW forum (aka THE forum). We had a nice chat about everything from Harry Potter, twins, artwork, toilets, travel to Celiac disease and of course the HOW Conference (not in that order). Can you still call it "brunch" if it's 4pm?

Then Daniela came along and we went to Atlantic Station - more picture, more ice cream, more Bulgarians. After we had enough, we went to Eclipse di Luna for dinner and pitchers of delicious sangria. The tapas there were nice, especially the crab meat stuffed mushrooms and the Spanish potatoes with lots of Paprika.

Monday morning we had to leave and head back home. 9 to 5 driving took us to...

Richmond, VA
where we met with Lisa (Halftone Dot from HOW forum) and her boyfriend for dinner at an Irish Pub. I had a lovely time talking to them and hearing about the Treasure Hunts their company organizes. It was a nice break from the road. We then walked the neighborhood a bit and it was my turn to drive HOME.