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North America

Travel Photo Tuesday

May 10, 2016 • By



Travel Photo Tuesday is Back!

Today’s photo is one that I took in downtown Atlanta during  DragonCon in 2015.  This annual event takes place over the Labor Day weekend.  You will geek out at the various cosplays exhibited by some rather uninhibited folk – young and old – who spend months designing and executing their elaborate costumes.READ MORE

Consumer Advice, North America, Reviews

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

November 6, 2014 • By

Photo courtesy:

My Experience On The Big Zombie Tour

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.

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.



Introducing Cloud 9 Living

October 25, 2012 • By
Cloud 9

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


A Review of the Atlanta Travel & Adventure Show

December 11, 2011 • By

When you have decided that travel is an integral part of your life, it’s the natural order of things to do all that you can to learn your craft from people who know a whole lot more than you do.  So, when I’d heard that a new travel show was coming to Atlanta, I had to check it out.

This type of show is primarily aimed at travel agents who want to learn more about different destinations that they may consider promoting for their clients’ future travel plans. However, as a travel blogger, I felt it was necessary to stay on top of what’s shiny and new in the world of travel and pay them a visit as well.  Rest assured that these shows are open to the public at large so there is a lot of great information here for people who are planning class reunions, family vacations or honeymoons to peruse.

The Atlanta Travel & Adventure Show was exhibiting at the Cobb Galleria on October 22 & 23 for the first time, so my daughter and I made sure that we would be in attendance.  The parking was free and the entry fee was $15.00 at the door, but we scored a pre-show discount online of $8.00.


Inspiration, Interviews

The Inspired Traveler # 15 – Jay Jackson

June 3, 2011 • By

Today, we continue our series where we sit down to interview fellow Travel Bloggers and get them to give up some of their best travel tips for you, dear reader. Next up, we get to discuss the wonders of travel with Jay Jackson whose tagline is one of my favorite quotes “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain. Jay is on a mission to see as much of this old planet that he can and he shares his exploits in his popular travel blog Jay Travel.

1)   What is it about traveling that makes you smile?

Learning new things, meeting new people and crossing something off of my Bucket List.

2)    What is your favorite place in the world?

Not sure I have a favorite place, the experiences I’ve enjoyed the most have been the most diverse.  The one that comes to mind was my trip to South Africa.  The big city-concrete jungle feel of Johannesburg felt drastically different than the safari environment of Kruger National Park which also felt a world apart from Cape Town’s laid back nature and extremely beautiful vistas.

3)   What place would have to pay you to come back and even then you’d have to think about it?

None really, every experience is valuable and gives you something – no trip is completely awful.  That said, my least enjoyable trip was to Rome, Italy.  Overall, I was fairly underwhelmed by the city due to the general filth and the so-so attractions.READ MORE

City Views, North America, Travel Advice

Travel Photo Thursday – SunTrust Plaza

March 17, 2011 • By

SunTrust Plaza

This week’s photo is an ode to how we take the things in our own backyard for granted.  I see this sculpture every day as I leave work.  I’ve always admired it but never thought to capture its beauty with my camera lens until last week.  It is an adaptation of the “Ballet Olympia”  Sculpture,  which features a pair of nude ribbon dancers.

Originally created by Paul Manship in the early 1900s, the architect (and my boss) John C. Portman adapted it to be displayed as a landmark for one of his design masterpieces, SunTrust Plaza in downtown Atlanta.

During his stellar career, Mr. Portman has designed such geographically notable hotels  like the  Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel, Hyatt Regency Atlanta, the NYC Marriott Marquis,  the Westin Bonaventure in LA, the Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta as well as the Marina Square in Singapore, the Shanghai Centre, and the Embarcadero Center in SFO, among others.

I guess the reason for this pic is two-fold.  Always remember to check out what your own city has to offer and the second was to acknowledge my realization of just how instrumental my boss has been to the world of travel.

City Views, North America, Travel Advice

Travel Photo Thursday | My Rose Garden

January 27, 2011 • By
Rose Garden

Falstaff Rose

Rose Garden

Salsa rose

Rose Garden

Simply Marvelous rose

Rose Garden

Iceberg rose

Rose Garden

New Dawn rose

Rose Garden

Tuscan Sun rose

Rose Garden

Christopher Marlowe rose

This time around, I chose something a little closer to home and to my heart.  My rose garden….well, some of it….I have 32 roses in my one acre yard and I may be forced to add to my collection if I can find the time.    These pics are the first year’s blooms, after that I was hooked.  I just gave them a nice pruning  last week and will feed them alfalfa pellets right before the next rain.  I suppose in some small way, there is an international connection to this week’s photo because my dream is to have an English Cottage garden.

It’s nice to know that I will have this to look forward to after the cold chills of winter subsides.  I can just imagine sitting on my front porch, drinking sweet tea and inhaling the sweet bouquet emanating from the rose garden.  The  morning dew will be just evaporating and the sun will still be kind.  But don’t worry.  I’ve placed another rocking chair right next to me.  Have a seat!

North America, Travel Advice, Trip Reports

5 Unique And Fun Things To Do That Will Keep Georgia On Your Mind

January 9, 2011 • By

There is something special about my hometown, Atlanta, GA.  People tend to be friendly, helpful and believe in taking time to smell the roses.  That means, we find really cool things to do to keep us busy:

1)  Take a day trip to Helen, Georgia

Things To Do

Lederhosen lives! Celebrating Octoberfest 2009 in Helen, Georgia!   Photo credit:

Things To Do

Enjoying a carriage ride in the town square. Photo credit:

Located just a mere 90 minutes north of Atlanta in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Helen is a Bavarian treat for young and old alike.  If you want to be whisked back to simpler times and experience what life must have been like in early 1800’s Germany, this re-creation of an Alpine village is the place to be.  Helen is in close proximity to the Chattahoochee River and the Appalachian Trail which lends itself to various outdoor activities that you can enjoy while you are there like: horseback riding, rafting, mountain biking and viewing one of the 30 waterfalls in the area.  I will be visiting Helen in March, so I will have a full report for you then.

2)  Experience the Sundial Revolving Restaurant

Things To Do

Situated at the summit of the Westin Peachtree Hotel, the Sundial gives you a 360 degree view of the Atlanta skyline!

Things To Do

It takes about an hour for the circular dining room to complete a revolution.

This is absolutely the best salad that I have ever had…to this day!

This meal did all Southern cooks proud….delicious!

Looking out at the breath-taking view from our dining table at the Sundial

We got to enjoy a stellar lunch at the Sundial last summer.  I enjoyed a scrumptious peach pecan crusted summer salad with baby greens, gorgonzola cheese, pecans and freshly cubed peaches and port wine vinaigrette.  The main dish was the Blue cornmeal crusted trout with tasso cheese grits cake, sauteed garlic spinach and corn cream.  The food was excellent and mid-priced, the view was fantastic and we never got dizzy as the restaurant revolved.  Amazingly, only two short years ago, the hotel was significantly damaged by a tornado, but the Sundial managed to escape unscathed.

3)  Dahlonega  Wineries

One of metro Atlanta’s best kept secrets is the picturesque city of Dahlonega, GA.  Most people don’t know this, but the first major gold rush in the US took place here in 1828  long before the (18)49’ers struck gold in California.  In fact, the Georgia State Capitol Dome is covered with gold mined from the city.  Dahlonega is also the gateway to the Appalachian Trail where you can literally hike from Georgia to Maine.  It is also the heart of Georgia’s wine country.   Here you can find five outstanding wineries:

BlackStock Vineyards

Montaluce Vineyards and Estates

Frogtown Cellars

Three Sisters Vineyards & Winery

Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery

4) Stay a spell at The Martyn House in Ellijay, GA

Ever heard of the term, “Glamping”?   It simply means Glamourous Camping which takes the tried and true ways of camping to another level.  Here you get to stay in real beds, while camped out in vibrantly colored hand-painted luxury tents imported from India.   The main house on the property is a century old farmhouse located on 30 acres.  The property is very green as they use Eco-friendly toilets and showers.   So, if you are looking for that happy medium, give these folks a call.  You can enjoy all of the comforts of home and still be able to say that you slept in a tent with a straight face.

5)  Tour the CNN Center in downtown, Atlanta

Queuing for the tour after paying the entry fee

Yes, the anchors will continue reporting as if you weren’t there staring at ’em

The tour guide doing what he does best

Ever wanted to experience the inner workings of the world’s first 24 hour cable news network?   Are you are certified news junkie?  Well, you should make it your business to join this lively and informative peek into one of our major news bureaus.  Your tour guide will lead you through the control room to the anchor desk.  Not much is off limits, so you really get a bird’s eye view into what it takes to disseminate news 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  “Visitors are assigned specific tour times. You can avoid disappointment during busy times by making advance reservations: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET, (404) 827.2300.”

Now it’s your turn.  Imagine a friend is coming to visit your hometown.  What special place would you want them to see above all else and why?

Reviews, Travel Advice

In Search Of The Perfect Massage

January 1, 2011 • By

This is the third in a series of infrequent articles that feature spa deals for the budget traveler.

I consider myself to be a fairly practical person.  I’m not (usually) wasteful and I pride myself on making cogent financial decisions.  So, I was a little bit surprised when I found myself clicking the buy button on one of my favorite discount sites, Living Social.  There was a great deal for a ninety minute massage at a local spa with three additional services to choose from for a grand total of $49.00!  In my neck of the woods, this price was crazy since one hour massages usually are priced in the $100.00+ range and the three add-on services could easily quadruple that price.  Obviously, offering such a fantastic discount was their way of introducing people to the spa.  I wasn’t familiar with them, but I figured with such a small investment , it would be worth investigating.


WellSpa Suites (Office: (770) 948-8000 351 Thornton Road, Suite 106 Lithia Springs, GA 30122) is located in a quiet, unassuming office park adjacent to I-20 and located west of Atlanta.  I will admit to some reticence as I drove up.  Luckily those feelings begin to wane as soon as I stepped inside.  I was warmly greeted and was escorted into ‘the quiet room’ since I was a little early for my appointment.  Along the way, there were individual suites on either side that were workstations where one could get a massage, mani-pedi, colonic and reflexology sessions.


The quiet room was serene with very soft sepia colored lighting. You could hear the gentle flow of the water fountain in the corner of the room. A small self-service bar with hot tea and condiments was in the adjoining room.