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North America, Reviews

Checking out the Big Zombie Tour with Atlanta Movie Tours, Part 2

November 18, 2014 • By

Last week, I shared my experience with the first part of the Big Zombie Tour in Atlanta.  Today, I want to discuss the second part that covered location shots in the small towns of Senoia, Grantville, Newnan and Haralson, Georgia.  Senoia is roughly 50 miles away from the main tour offices in Atlanta, so you would have to either drive there on your own or use their shuttle service.

The cost of the shuttle is $30.00 RT pp and is well worth it if you are directionally-challenged as I am wont to be.  On the drive there, we decided to eat our packed lunch and were treated to episodes of The Walking Dead on the tv monitors that were installed throughout the cabin.

Once we reached the city of  Senoia, it was obvious that the main street was the setting for the fictionalized town of Woodbury:

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The driver instructed us to go to the Woodbury Shoppe (where the Walking Dead store is housed) on the corner so that we could check in for the second half of the tour.  This store was a Walking Dead fan’s dream.  There was nothing that they did not sell that would not make a true fan’s eyes glaze over.  But fan though I may be, I couldn’t bring myself to splurge on the $270.00 katana sword!

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Consumer Advice, North America, Reviews

Checking out the Big Zombie Tour with Atlanta Movie Tours, Part 1

November 6, 2014 • By

For as long as I can remember, I have always been a fan of the macabre.  Horror movies have always been my favorite genre.  I love the idea of being frightened out of my wits and I suspect I’m not alone in that feeling.  I’m not saying that I haven’t looked away or closed my eyes when the sacrificial lamb met their doom, I have some standards.

But, I still love the suspense, the obligatory run from the villain by the world’s clumsiest victim who can’t help falling down numerous times, then the final showdown where the evildoer meets their inevitable doom.  The formula is predictable but satisfies the essence of a good storyline.

That’s probably why I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead.  I haven’t missed an episode since it debuted in October 2010 on AMC.  It follows the lives of a group of people who’ve banded together to form a protective community in order to survive what is essentially the Zombie Apocalypse.  For me, the show is a perfect blend of unspeakable horror and one’s attempt to hold onto some semblance of humanity while trying to survive it.

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Photo courtesy: amctv.com

Fortunately for me, the show films in the state that I live in.  While I haven’t had the chance to meet any of its stars, I have found pretty much the next best thing:  Atlanta Movie Tours!  Located in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood of Atlanta, this company offers a 3 hour guided tour to scene locations depicted in various episodes of The Walking Dead.  The Big Zombie tour is actually divided into two separate tours.  The first tour covers all of the notable scenes that were featured in and around the Atlanta area.  The second focuses on the more rural areas of Georgia – the cities of Senoia (aka Woodbury), Haralson, Grantville and Newnan.

The tour guides are very likable actors who have all played walkers on the mega-hit which happened to score 17.3 million viewers during its 5th season premiere on October 12, 2014.  These ratings are unheard of for most network television shows, much less a ‘lowly’ cable series, so you can imagine that its popularity will continue to increase.  In fact, a companion series is scheduled to air by 2016 with one of the writers from the Sons of Anarchy acting as the show runner.

The first Big Zombie tour started with a short walk down the street.  There we stood in front of the Norfolk Southern Railway Building which was the scene where the gang had to leave a repugnant Merle Dixon handcuffed to a pipe on the rooftop in Season one.  Our guide, Patrick, mentioned that when nearby residents heard the staged ‘gunshots’, cops and a swat team were quickly dispatched.  Needless to say, no one was arrested.

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Europe, Reviews, Travel Advice

The 8 things that surprised me during my trip to Rome, Italy

June 25, 2013 • By

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Rome, Italy was my second sojourn into Europe. Having visited Paris the year prior, I thought myself very fortunate to be going back so quickly. I had been intrigued with Rome for awhile, mostly through the lens of a movie camera.

There were so many great films like “Three Coins in the fountain” and “Roman Holiday” that set the tone for my romanticized (pun intended) and lofty expectations.

As wonderful as the city is, when I finally got the chance to visit this beautiful country, some things were were not as I expected.  Not everything one envisions matches the fantasy, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t have a fantastic time anyway.READ MORE


North America, Reviews, Travel Advice

A Review of Gatlinburg Falls Resort in Tennessee

April 1, 2013 • By

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I have always believed that you can find little hidden treasures close to home. I think Gatlinburg Falls Resort is one such treasure. It is located approximately six miles from the little town of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee with only the Smoky Mountains National Park separating the two. We decided to take a long weekend break to visit Gatlinburg which is a little over a four hour drive from Atlanta.

I hate to admit that I got lost the first time trying to find the resort. Once you pass the Park, you will come upon the first traffic light in Gatlinburg. It is literally marked with the number “1”. You will need to turn left at that light. We had gotten to stoplight number 10 when we finally decided to call the resort for directions. Luckily, the lights are in close proximity, otherwise I would have been upset.

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This is the entrance to the Conference Center which can be used for free. A public swimming pool is on site for guest use as well.

Once you make the left turn, keep driving up a steep hill until you get to the stop sign. Bear right at the stop sign and keep going until you see the resort on your left. I wish that they would install a sign indicating that you should turn left to get to them. However, there is a lot of sign porn going on, so you may miss it anyway.

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The Welcome Center is where you come to check in. You will be given codes that will allow you to open your cabin’s front door via keyless entry.

We realized that we were early….very early. We left Atlanta around 5 am, so it was now 10ish. The front desk clerk was a little terse with us. He didn’t ask if he could help us. He said something like, “What can I do for you?” without looking at us. I told him that we had reservations for the Rainbow’s End cabin. He quickly offered that they only guarantee that rooms are ready by 4 pm and he didn’t think it was cleaned yet.

That wasn’t a problem for us. We knew we were super early, but we were a little tired and had crossed our fingers for an early check in. I sent an email three days prior to let them know that we would probably be arriving by noon, but I guess they couldn’t accommodate us. The fact that they weren’t ready for us was quite alright. I was a little put off by the disengaged attitude of the clerk who after checking his phone (their internet was down) verified that the room wasn’t ready.

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Taking a breather in the Welcome Center before having to hit the road again. Our room wasn’t quite ready yet.

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Europe, Reviews

The Top Five Things to Do in Amsterdam in 24 Hours

December 20, 2012 • By

I have to admit, before my visit in November, my impression of Amsterdam was that it was a party town, a place to score mary jane and watch lots of live porn. Mind you, this was coming from a very uninformed point of view. The Amsterdam that I actually witnessed is the polar opposite. In fact, it struck me as being very family friendly, cultural, progressive, stylish and a historical bulwark of days gone by.

We’d decided that we wanted to take a day-trip while we were in Paris. My motto is if I am going to cross an ocean, I’m going to make it worth my while. So, what better way to maximize our experience than to visit a city that I had long wondered about after seeing so many beautiful pictures posted on various social media by my travel blogger friends. Maybe I should give the city a try despite the questionable reputation that preceded it?READ MORE


Europe, Reviews

A Review of two sisters, The Hotel Taylor and Hotel L’Annexe in Paris, France

December 10, 2012 • By

 

There is nothing more comforting when you visit a city far away from home than knowing that your newer and more temporary digs offers you that same warmth and familiarity. I felt that way as soon as I found my way to the second and third hotels that we would be staying at in Paris, France. I wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary; a clean room with a comfortable bed were the limits to what I had hoped for.

Hotel Taylor would be the first of the twin or sister hotels that we would have the pleasure of staying during our last two days in Paris. The second was right next door, the Hotel L’Annexe. While they were both owned by the same couple, that is where the physical similarities ended. Both hotels were immaculate and traditional, very much what you would expect from a European boutique hotel. They are modern in the sense that all conveniences were provided like television, a buffet breakfast (at an additional cost of 15 euros) and updated bathrooms. Plush and comfortable mattresses were juxtaposed with traditional, period furniture, which seemed to give guests the best of both worlds.READ MORE


Europe, Reviews, Travel Advice

A Review of the Hotel Paradis in Paris, France

December 1, 2012 • By

There’s one truth about large cities. There are lots of hotels. Lots. There will never be a shortage of them but there always seem to be a shortage of recommendations of which may be the best ones to stay at. I had the chance to stay at a hotel in Paris called Hotel Paradis. Paradise. That’s a lot to live up to and I was anxious to see how close the experience would come to it.

After a little confusion about my reservation, I was given a card key and directed to the very bijou elevator that would take me up to my room on the sixth floor. The room was the the hotel’s suite….it was larger than I thought it would be with plenty of room to mill about without feeling constrained. You immediately walked into a foyer which is always a great transition into the rest of the suite. The bathroom was just to the right of the sitting room. It was nice to see that the toilet was separated from the rest of the bathroom; an asset in certain situations. The bath was obviously a renovation and a very well done one at that. The furnishings were meager, but functional and the predominate color was a wine/mauve and silver medallion combo that seemed to suggest that couples were in mind when they decided on the decor for this suite.READ MORE


Reviews

Introducing Cloud Nine Living

October 25, 2012 • By

There’s no shortage of ‘Experience’ options from Cloud Nine.

 

 

I’m not going to lie.  I love gadgets, trinkets and thingamabobs as much as the next person.  However, there comes a time when you figure out that you have more than enough ‘things’ and that you’ve reached a saturation point.  Never does this become more clear than when you are trying to find the perfect gift for someone who seems to have it all.  Or perhaps they do not.  Maybe you just want to show that you care by gifting a loved one, friend, co-worker with something that they can treasure longer than the warranty of the latest version of the hottest electronic gadget that can do everything but tie your shoelaces.

“Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.” – George Carlin

Enter Cloud 9 Living.  Its concept is not new, but it certain does get your attention.  Cloud 9 Living is the US leader in experience gifts, offering more than 1,700 unique experiential gifts for men, women & couples in 43 regions. They take pride in delivering exceptional customer service to ensure every gift recipient enjoys a memorable experience.  I loved the idea of gifting someone with an experience, something that they could always carry with them as a pleasant memory.

Cloud 9 Living offers some really exciting choices like race car driving, hot air ballooning, learning how to become a fighter pilot in one day, one on one golf lessons with a pro.  The offerings from the gamut from being pampered to being physically challenged with a wide variety of sports-related activities.  The great thing is that the activities are set up in such a way that I am not limited to my particular geographical region, I can send one of my southern friends to helicopter ski in Telluride, CO.  You can also select experiences based on who your recipient is, what the occasion is and/or what type of experience you think that they may enjoy.READ MORE


Reviews

NetZero stages a comeback with its new 4G Mobile Broadband Hotspot device

October 15, 2012 • By

One of the most frustrating things about traveling is the inevitable search for wi-fi hotspots.  Of course, if you are lucky enough to be staying in accommodations where wi-fi is available you are lucky indeed.  Unless…… you have to pay a tidy per diem for the pleasure.  Think about it.  Between paying to logon at the airport, hotel or wherever you have to access the internet, you can end up paying a pretty penny at the end of the day.

Oftentimes, to avoid the highway robbery of hotels that still charge for this service, I will leave the comfort of my room to hunt down a cafe to secure free wi-fi service.  As a travel blogger, it would be nice to set up shop in your hotel to post articles and interact on social media without being bothered to track down service.

In this day of multiple electronics that require wi-fi, such as laptops, kindles, cellphones, tablets and ipads, it just makes sense to have one device to service them all.  Enter the age of mobile broadband!  I was asked to test drive a new mi-fi unit being offered by NetZero.  After I rubbed my eyes thinking that I was being punked, I was quite surprised because I wasn’t aware that they were still in business.  In the early days of public utilized internet, NetZero offered dial up service alongside such companies as AOL, Compuserve, Juno and Earthlink.  As it turns out, they still offer dial up along with DSL service.  But, I won’t judge.  Obviously some people still use dial up, otherwise, it wouldn’t exist.READ MORE


North America, Reviews, Trip Reports

Discovering the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park with Wildlife Expeditions of Teton Science Schools

June 25, 2012 • By

Last summer, I spent an entire day exploring two of our best known National Parks.  They’re the ones that everyone learns about in school but nothing prepares you for what you actually witness up close and personal.  We were fortunate to be the guest of the Teton Science Schools which has two campuses in the Grand Teton National Park and in the city of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  The school’s mission is to educate about natural resource sustainability and conservation and they offer six innovative programs to do that:

  1. Educational Programs are offered year round to students and youths to learn “geology, ecology, weather or plant and animal adaptation” .
  2. Graduate School “develops leaders in place-based teaching, field ecology and experiential education”.
  3. Teacher Learning Center “combine nature-based and outdoor education with innovative leadership strategies of educational reform.”  Science teachers throughout the country come to hone their skills by studying this delicate eco-system.
  4. Journeys School is a pre-k to 12th grade program that “consists of four critical pillars that act together to empower students to change the world”.
  5. Conservation Research Center “was formed in response to the growing need in Jackson Hole and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for responsible conservation and land stewardship”.
  6. Wildlife Expeditions ” has a well-earned reputation of locating all kinds of wildlife in the Greater Yellowstone Geo-ecosystem and providing fascinating educational experiences in a fun and relaxed environment”.

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