Travel Journal 2016: CNN Headquarters & Tasting Cheesecake

The final installment of my Atlanta series! During the last several days in the city, my family was able to explore more of the area, and one of the places we decided to go to was tour Georgia Tech, one of the top engineering schools within the country, because my brother and I were both interested in the fields of engineering as majors. 

The campus was absolutely gorgeous, although the experienced was slightly dampened because one, our parking ticket expired which caused us to cut the tour short. Secondly, I was the only girl on the tour who was old enough to start touring colleges, and three, when we introduced ourselves and I said what state I was from, people just viewed me as this exotic, out-of-this-world person who wasn't used to the heat. Just because I come from a state that tends to have lots of snow does not equivocate the absence of high temperatures. It would be a nice college to go to, although I did have a slight problem with the fact that there was no Creative Writing involved as a major or minor, and that's something is pretty much essential to my existence. Writing is my life. There are very little writing camps in my state (one of them is extremely expensive) but I want to trained within the art of it.

While my parents were asking what building we would like to visit next, I suggested to visit the CNN Headquarters, as they were based within the city and they offered hourly tours. Visiting the main building for CNN was a huge deal for me-- their news show for students, which was posted online, was a huge part of my middle school life, and there was not one week when it wasn't broadcast onto the SmartBoard each class had.

Our tour was super informative, giving insight to why stations end up doing certain things they did, even though walking up eight to nine flights of stairs was tiring! There's a reason why some stations do not allow their newscasters to wear blue or green. Ever wondered why, while doing the weather, they always do a sweeping motion? There's a reason for that, too. The tour guide even allowed us to peek within the central hub of the entire station, watching people look and write reports on the latest news that would suddenly pop up.

Several blocks away from the CNN Headquarters was Centennial Olympic Park, one of the main areas of interest during the 1996 Olympic Games. So much of the area was influenced by the Olympics; one of the tour guides during the Georgia Tech tour said, "And here, we have our swimming pools. Other colleges may say that they have Olympic-sized pools, but here, we have THE Olympic pool." You have no idea the immense amount of giddiness that rushed over me. Watching the Summer Olympic Games is on my bucket list, and to this that I would be standing in a place where many world-class athletes once gathered is completely unbelievable!

On our last day of visiting the city, we decided to go to a local mall and explore, since a lot of the shops that were offered within the state of Georgia were not available in my state. In the food court, my family had a game plan: the four of us would each choose a food chain they've never heard of before, buy some of their food, and then share it with the rest of my family. My parents both got Asian food from two different chains. My brother got Chick-Fil-A, while I went to this Italian based food chain.

One shop that we discovered in the mall that was available in our state was Teavana, a nationwide tea store. They had the right amount of platters in there, and my family gushed over the tea samples and the extensive amount of knowledge the clerk had about each kind. If it weren't for the store, I wouldn't have found a tea that helps with falling asleep, a huge problem I have due to my active imagination (and possibly insomnia).

Oh yes, did I mention that my mom allowed for my brother and I to actually choose a slice from The Cheesecake Factory, another place that is not available in my state? I decided to get Mango Key Lime, which has the strangest flavor ever, although this is not highlighted in the bad sense.

Of course, it was time to say goodbye. It was hard for me to leave the dogs, since I got used to their morning whining, my version of NPR, and the comfy bedroom I slept in. I found out that with less items in the room to stress me out, the easier it was to fall asleep. I can't wait to visit the city again!
Since then, life has gotten back to normal. I ended up attending a church camp, doing more crowd waves and being introduced into an idea of a spiritual hug (which wasn't that spiritual, it consisting of a group of confused people asking, "So where's the spiritual part in this?") and attending my library shifts and engineering camps, where another girl and I won the ultimate prize in the male-dominated camp. 
A couple of announcements, before I leave: I am accepting blog designs (ask me about them via the contact form right now). I am also going to be slightly absent due to Camp NaNoWriMo-- who else is embarking on that one month journey-- and another creative collaborative project. If any of you are interested in joining in with several other bloggers and myself, just comment below and I'll talk to you more about that.

Travel Journal: The Brick & Foliage Aesthetic

Now, for my second installment featuring Atlanta, also known as The Big Peach! My Atlanta trip is one of my favorite travel spots, for sure.

The first observation I had of Atlanta was the amount of foliage that grew in the area. While I had previously stated in several blog posts that my town had nature infused within the city grounds, Atlanta made my town look as if only we had only planted one tree on the main street. The trees were not of pine, but they were thick and gorgeous.

The architecture of the city radiated pure vibrancy. Skyscrapers daunted over the busy interstate highways, each with its own unique design, and many of the smaller buildings were mainly founded on brick. Even my relative's house was a big old brick house, with a large backyard that fireflies and copperhead snakes occupied. If I had to give Atlanta an aesthetic, it would simply be bushes and bricks.

One of the non-tourist things that I was able to experience was living in a house with three dogs. While residing in the Philippines, there were dogs, but they did not step foot into the house. This was different, as they would run around, begging for food whenever hearing the sounds of clanging utensils at dinner. One of them, on the first day, started barking at me at the staircase because apparently, that was her way of saying, "Carry me down the stairs, human!" In the morning, I'd wake up to the sounds of their whimpers and door scratches, indicating their increasing agitation at any sound elicited. My family thinks that the experience helped change my mind about owning a dog when I'm older, but I still want to raise one, when I have the ability of caring for my own dog.

 Okay, Mack is actually really sweet. He doesn't bother anyone, even if there's food.

On our first day there, my family ventured out to Stone Mountain, where a carving of the Confederate soldiers sat in place. There was a train ride that encircled the entire mountain, as well as a small museum filled with the city's Civil War history and mini golf (which I wasn't able to take part in). It's interesting discovering all of this history within the crevices of the mountain. At the remaining hours of our time at the location, my mom decided to get us funnel cakes due to something that had been said two years ago, a bit of a family inside joke.

Then, we ended up visiting the Georgia Aquarium. I've only been to a couple of aquariums because they often aren't close-- the closest one in my state being several hours away from where I live. In terms of the gallons of water used, not only is the Georgia Aquarium the biggest one in the nation-- it's the biggest one in the world! It was really cool to see all of the wildlife, especially through a narrow tube pathway that's surrounded by water. One of the downsides is that all of the shows banned any sort of photography of the sort, but it was all right, as there were equally as many places to take photos. We also had a lot of downtime, so I texted a friend of mine, who reported that at home, there was a thunderstorm! This made me a bit shocked, because I wanted to experience a thunderstorm.

Another place my family traveled out to was Historic Banning Mills, a resort about forty-five minutes outside of the city, because there was a zipline there. We explored the entire lodge area and killed about two hours of our time playing fooseball in the recreational area, where I accidentally was crowned champion because I beat all of my family members, even though I usually end up losing to friends because I get super cocky and competitive, such as screaming, "Oh snap, you're going DOWN! Like DOWNTOWN! Watch me veer right, veer left-- oh my shish kebabs, HOW DID YOU SCORE?"

Finally, the time for zip lining came. As we were strapping up our gear, gray clouds began to flutter in. The wind speed rose up a bit, and some of the largest rain drops came crashing down on us. This ended up lowering the temperature by a lot. The bus ride to reach the practice zip line was quiet. Thunder rolled in the distance, and after twenty minutes of waiting, our guides said that it was dangerous to continue on further, so we had to stop. It was quite saddening. Remember how I mentioned I wanted to experience a thunderstorm? Well, sometimes you get more than you bargained for.

Tell me, out of all of the places in Atlanta mentioned so far, which is your favorite? Also, who else is doing Camp NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments! 

Travel Journal 2016: Flowers, Soda & (Actually) Finding Dory

This photo, which looks very Tumblr-like, was taken by my brother. Photo credits to him.

About several weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to go on a two-week trip to visit relatives of mine who reside in Atlanta, Georgia! I never had a complete taste of the southern urban experience, even though I had visited Orlando two times, as I had mainly ventured in the theme parks of the city. The trip was such a unique and eccletic experience that I'm extremely excited to share with you all!

The first place that I ended up visiting was a place that I had previously traveled to less than two years before: Walt Disney World. It was something that wasn't originally intended to be posted until a week before returning home, when I realized that it was important, making up about fifty percent of the trip. Now, unlike my previous Disney travel experience, only one post will be dedicated to this.
Many things changed since I was previously here!

One of the differences that my family had while traveling to this part of the country was that rather than traveling directly by plane, we ended up driving for six hours straight. Both times, going to and from, my car traveling experience was the same: I would sleep the first two hours of the journey, then awaken and watch the landscape for an additional two hours, then finally listening to my Spotify playlists for the remaining hours.

Unlike in December, my family was able to arrive in time for the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. All over Epcot, there would be tons of character-themed topiaries, flower beds of nearly every kind of flower one can think of, and vendors selling food just for the occasion. It was actually quite beautiful!

A new stop that we visited was known as Flavors Around the World. In this soda shop, we were able to try different soda samples from different countries around the world, all for free! It was one of the coolest things ever! My favorite drink is Bibo, from South Africa. The flavor is so delectable! The Beverly was the most interesting, alongside Inca Kola-- the former one mentioned is VERY bitter while the other one tasted like pink bubble gum!

A new theme park that my family was fortunate enough to visit was SeaWorld. It was not a place I expected going, but I did have fun going on several rides, such as the Manatee, where a person ends up sitting on a seat which will move so that way you appear to be lying face down. Then, the entire rollercoaster ends up doing several full circles. The good part was that our feet was placed to a point where it would not dangle from the air. The bad part was that the amount of G-forces exerted on the ride were insane.

 Hey look! I found Dory!

One thing which I have to mention is about this one ride involving these penguins. The ride ended up experiencing technical problems, so the employees brought groups in at a time to see their penguin exhibit. Nearly half of the people left immediately because they were not used to the "extreme" amount of cold, while my brother, dad, and I looked at them and thought, "Phfsht, where we live, we go outside and shorts in this temperature," which is the truth.

The theme park which surprised everyone who was on the trip was Hollywood Studios, because the last time we were there in 2014, we weren't all that impressed. However, a lot of the events were much more enjoyable, including the night show known as Fantasmic.

You have no idea how awkward it was eating Olaf cupcakes while your entire family decides to take out their phones and film you.

Sometimes, I still heavily miss the trip-- my brother and I would spend our mornings watching a channel purely dedicated to Mickey Mouse cartoons in our hotel room, even though we, as teenagers, were both too "old" to watch them.

The last thing that I will have to share with you all: as of now, I am speaking for the entire blogging community when I say that we are praying for you, Orlando. What happened several days ago is a horrible massive event, and the things that were involved are things that people need to be aware of and take action. I haven't felt this shaken up about something this horrific since another event occurred in late 2012. If you're religious, please pray for them, and if you're not, keep them in your thoughts. At times like these, we all have to stand together.