With Atlanta only two hours away from Birmingham, I grew up going there for lacrosse tournaments, Falcons' games, the Coca-Cola Museum, and, of course, Six Flags Over Georgia. I had no idea our weekend in 'Hotlanta' would be John's first, but I am glad that it was such a great experience.
We arrived to our Airbnb around 7:30 PM on Friday night. Our early evening arrival gave us just enough time to shower and meet my friends for dinner in Midtown at Pasta Da Pulcinella. After splitting a bottle of wine and indulging on the wonderfully fresh and homemade ravioli, we took our waiter's suggestion and headed downtown to check out the Atlanta nightlife.
A strip of bars overflowing with people was our first impression of downtown. After giving up on the line at Joystick, we walked across the street to the Georgia Beer Garden where there was no crowd or cover. The four of us grabbed a round of local beers and enjoyed each other's company while we drank and started looking around for a more lively scene.
Our friend Katie had recently moved to Atlanta and suggested we Uber to the Buckhead bar Big Sky. We wandered around the crowded, two-story bar until we found a table on the outside patio. We laughed and danced the night away until our friend Megan got annoyed with awkward attempts at conversation by the Buckhead boys.
We got a bit of a late start on Saturday, but that didn't stop us from having a jam-packed day. A solid brunch and a couple of breakfast cocktails prepared us for walking The Beltline to Piedmont Park. After we finished our biscuits and cocktails, we went outside to hit the trail.
Our stroll started at The Krog Street Market, but we were still too full to indulge in all of the wonderful food stands. Instead, we shopped around the clothing and knickknack vendors. With a lot more places to see, we didn't hang around for too long.
We leisurely walked along The Beltline stopping to take pictures of the artwork along the way. The walk was lined with sculptures, interactive pieces, and lots of graffiti. After writing messages in the chalk on one exhibit, we walked in to Ponce City Market to cool off and see what it had to offer.
We ended up enjoing a cocktail at The Mercury while we planned out the rest of our afternoon. The rooftop came highly recommended by a bartender for its carnival games and bar, but once we found out it was $10 to get up there, we chose to continue on The Beltline.
We ended our walk at Piedmont Park where we walked past napping patrons, watched dogs play in their very own designated parks, and marveled at a man guiding a large airplane through the sky. After all of our walking, we had built up quite an appetite, so Megan suggested we do the most touristy thing in Atlanta and go get burgers at The Varsity.
We inhaled our delicious burgers and chili dogs while wearing our Varsity paper hats like all of the kids in the place. Once the only thing left on the table was leftover ketchup, we ditched our hats and hopped in an Uber. We took it to the suburb of Marietta to watch an Atlanta Braves baseball game.
It's pretty cool that we were able to see a Braves game at Suntrust Park during its inaugural season. Zeta Tau Alpha was hosting a philanthropy to raise money for breast cancer research, so we were given adorable, pink tomahawks to chop with during the game. The new stadium is a marvel of sports stadiums. There are gourmet food vendors and world-class merchandisers around every turn. Although our general admission tickets didn't technically provide seats, we met our friends in the upper level and took an open seat to watch the game.
The game's lack of excitement left plenty of time for our big group of friends to catch up and have some laughs, until we wandered down to the lower levels to catch a better view. The Braves were down by a few runs going into the sixth inning, but after one homerun and an awesome double RBI, the Braves took the lead! The lights in the stadium dimmed, as the fans broke out their cell phones for a 'lights out' chop.
Before the end of the game, the announcer stated that there was a post-game concert on the field, Entrance to the field had to be purchased, but everyone in our group was given free wristbands due to low attendance. Fitz and The Tantrums play a rocking set, but we hadn't gotten our full feel for dancing, so we walked out of the stadium and into the bars.
A few more of our friends were already at PBR Atlanta, so we headed over there to meet up with them. This massive bar had music for everyone's liking. It ranged from country to 90's punk to throwback rap. We sang along to just about all of it. Everyone else started to crash once the bands stopped, but I wasn't ready for bed just yet.
I drug John and Megan to a late night spot called R. Thomas. Our waiter at Pasta Da Pulcinella had recommended it the night before. He described it as, "a psychedelic restaurant with breakfast food and great quinoa bowls." He also said that he had seen rappers like Ludacris and Lil Yachty there. Although we didn't see anyone famous, we did enjoy the interesting decor with our late night food.
We eventually made it back to our Airbnb and got a couple of hours of sleep before waking up for the main event of our weekend - The PGA Tour Championship. This was mine and John's first PGA event, so we were glad to have Megan, a regular PGA volunteer, there to show us the ropes.
The first tee off was around 11:30 AM. Before the first pairing, we walked around the grounds, played some games, and grabbed 'breakfast' at a BBQ stand. We got to the first hole right after the first group had teed off, but we were just in time to see Ricky Fowler tee up in his typical bright orange attire.
After we watched a few more golfers tee off, we claimed a spot on the 7th green so that we could watch each pair come through. Sitting at 7 allowed us to watch everyone play through, and left us just enough time to get to the 18th hole to claim a spot near the green.
Getting to see players like Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar, Justin Thomas, and Sergio Garcia was an unbelievable experience. Even though Xander Schauffele won this PGA event, Justin Thomas earned enough points to claim the coveted FedEx Cup. It was an awesome ending to a great weekend, and we we're glad to have been there to see it.
I'm not sure how any other weekend in Atlanta might top this one, but we will be back soon to see what other adventures await us in this hot, southern city.
New York City is a city that I have barely explored even thought it is my birthplace. The concrete jungle is always calling my name. This trip was my first without family and my first trip back in several years. I went to go visit my sorority “little”, Laine. She recently moved to NYC for a job. We both had Labor Day off, so I flew up and got to spend four days with her.
I left for the Atlanta airport around 2 AM Friday morning to make my 6 AM flight. I made it to my gate as boarding started. After a 2-hour flight, I made it to Newark Liberty International Airport and started trying to figure out the AirTran and the New York City subway. It took me a little while to figure out how to get to Laine's apartment from Penn Station, but I eventually made it.
I took an office day from work on Friday, so I got straight to work when I got there. I was able to do all I needed to before 1 o’clock. This turned out to be the perfect time to meet my cousin on Stone Street for an al fresco lunch.
Stone Street is lined with restaurants and bars. All of the establishments have outdoor dining tables scattered along the cobblestone street. Of all the options available, we chose the Stone Street Tavern after being told they had "the best burger on the block”.
We enjoyed the beautiful, early September weather with our juicy burgers and great conversation. After we finished our food and our round of mid-afternoon cocktails, we decided to head uptown and look for another bar to visit.
The next bar was The Standard Biergarten, where Laine met my cousin and I. We drank our German styled beers with grins our faces while watching an intense games of ping pong. Once we finished the fairly large brews, we took The High Line to The Chelsea Market.
My cousin decided she was ready to go home, so Laine and I wandered through the market stands looking at jewelry, purses, fresh meat, and cheeses. We decided to get a plate of hummus and pita from one of the food vendors, Dizengoff.
After our delightful spread, we refrained from getting a second order so that we could eat in Little Italy later that night. We continued walking through the flea sections and looked at all the artists' works. Once we saw everything, we walked back to our subway stop and went back to Laine’s apartment to freshen up for dinner.
We walked a few blocks from her apartment to the entrance of Little Italy. We couldn’t decide where to eat, so we picked the first place without a long line. It probably wasn’t the best Italian food on that street, but it served Laine’s dietary restrictions. After we had our fill of pasta, we decided to call it a night and head back to her house to watch a movie.
The next morning, we got up really early to start our day. We began by running to H&M. I was not prepared for the chilly fall weather and needed to buy a sweater. After that, we realized her subway stop was not being serviced that day, so we took the scenic way and walked all the way to the Brooklyn bridge.
Along the way, we realized that we needed some breakfast, so we stopped at City Acres Market and got vegan, artisan doughnuts. As if those weren’t sugary enough, we stopped at Terri’s for vegan milkshakes to drink during the remainder of our walk to the Brooklyn Bridge.
We weren’t alone on this cloudy Saturday afternoon. There were tons of fellow walkers and several aggressive bikers. We strolled down the walkway turning around often to admire the views of the city, as we headed into Brooklyn. We wandered around the riverfront area of Brooklyn for a little bit before realizing we had worked up a bit of an appetite. We headed toward the subway to go to China Town.
We stumbled upon a fantastic Chinese restaurant on Canal Street. Shanghai Café provided us with a great, authentic meal and some of the most plump vegetable steamed dumplings. China Town was on our way back to Laine's apartment, but we decided to indulge in a little more retail therapy before returning.
We went shopping at Zara and H&M, but we were still so full from our lunch that we bought a few sweaters and went back to Laine’s to chill and get ready for the night.
Sadly, the weather became a big factor in our night's plans. The temperature dropped to about 50 degrees and the rain started to pour. We scratched our plans to go to the bar and decided to wait out the rain at Tacombi. After a few margaritas and fresh tacos, we headed back to Laine’s and called it a night.
The rain kept falling into Sunday morning, but Laine’s friend stopped by, and we all agreed to go grab a bite to eat. We braved the rain and found a quality brunch spot at Grey Dog Café. With coffee in hand, we hopped on the subway and headed toward Williamsburg to explore for the day.
As we wandered through Brooklyn for the second day in a row, I couldn’t get over the amazing view of the skyscrapers that make up Manhattan. We strolled in and out of stores and markets taking pictures at every cool graffiti spot we passed.
We ended our walk at an adorable city on the East River and managed to get a few pictures right before the rain came. We made one last stop to grab some ice cream at Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream. The other girls were able to get vegan ice cream, and I got mint chip in a waffle cone.
The rain never ended that night so we ordered some delivery Indian food from Kabab Bites. We enjoyed it on Laine’s couch while watching a Harry Potter marathon. We started to get cabin fever and braved the rain to get cupcakes and ice cream from Little Cupcake Bakery.
The rain finally broke and lead to a beautiful Labor Day, so we decided to spend the day in Central Park. Before getting to the park, we took the subway from Laine's apartment to Columbus Circle and immediately went looking for a brunch spot. Route 66 was a traditional brunch spot with a great street side patio.
Route 66 provided a great energy boost and allowed us to walk through Central Park for hours. Once our feet got tired, we took a nice little sun nap in the middle of the park. When we woke up, one of Laine’s friend had called and said she wanted to hang out, so we headed back to the apartment.
Earlier in the weekend, I had told Laine I wanted to go to Washington Circle and see the arch. It was less than a mile away, so we put on sneakers and enjoyed the sunshine on our walk to the park. We arrived to a large crowd but a stunning view no matter where we stood. Growing up, I was a big fan of the TV show Gossip Girl, so I was excited to see that the structure Blair and Chuck got married at was in that park. We had worked up a bit of an appetite by this time, so we headed to Snowdays Shaved Cream Co. to cool down a bit.
After our third ice cream stop of the trip, we decided to call it a day. We had walked over 30 miles in the four days and were quite exhausted. We had time for one last meal together, so Laine and I searched for street tacos to take to her apartment.
We found just what we were looking for at The Corner: Las Esquina. We enjoyed the street tacos from the comfort of Laine’s couch, thought about how to get me a job there, and recapped a great weekend in NYC.