Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Being a tourist in Atlanta

So, I got back from Mexico City on Thursday night, and gave myself Friday to eat as I pleased before getting back on track.  And I didn't go nuts, either! I went to the gym on Friday, ate healthy throughout the day, but then for dinner enjoyed a number of different delicious dishes trying out a new restaurant in Atlanta - South City Kitchen - with my friend Teenie, who also arrived in Atlanta on Friday night!

Teenie is the first of my friends to come and visit me in Atlanta and it was so nice to have her here! You guys know about Teenie... she is one from my group of girl friends I've had since kindergarten and I've visited her in Chicago, she was a bridesmaid with me in August as well, last year she was part of the surprised we pulled on KO when she came to visit in Albany!  She got in late on Thursday and we were both wiped from traveling, so chatted a bit then went to bed and both worked remotely on Friday from my apartment.  I took a break midday to try a new class at the gym called Omnia.  It was a circuit class using this big weird piece of equipment that looked something like this.

Okay, well it looked exactly like that, because I stole that picture off the internet.  It was a fun way to do a circuit class and the girl who led the class was the personal trainer that I had my free sessions with when I first started the gym.  I really had liked her so it was a fun way to try a new class!

Friday night, as I mentioned, Teenie and I tried out South City Kitchen.  It came highly recommended as great for southern food and I have tried eating at one of the other restaurants owned by the same company, Lure, which was delicious.  South City Kitchen didn't disappoint either!

We started each with a cocktail, which I like to do once in a while, but am usually a beer or wine girl.   It was fun to sip on while we waited for our table, but then I switched to wine.  When we did sit down we started our meal with fresh corn bread and biscuits and the biscuits were insanely good!

 We also chose to split a salad as an appetizer and some fried green tomatoes.  I love friends who like to share things and try lots of different dishes, so we chose two appetizers knowing that we were going to share the shrimp and grits for a main meal with a side of brussels sprouts.  When you are eating southern food, you've got to have the grits!

The waiter we had was great, super personable and very nice, and I loved that South City Kitchen split the plates for us since they knew that we were sharing.  Both the salad and the shrimp and grits they brought out on separate half sizes for Teenie and I since we mentioned we were sharing everything.  Restaurants that go out of their way like that win me over!

We had definitely had enough to eat by the end of the meal, but knowing that it was my last evening before going back to counting points, I opted to try an item off the dessert menu and went with the chocolate cake with toasted marshmallow topping.  It was really yummy and a perfect way to end our evening at SCK!

On Saturday, I started counting points again and got in some exercise going for a 3 mile run.  I had originally signed us up for a 5K in the morning but we were both so tired and opted to just do our own run later on.  I, however, get bad anxiety over not doing something that I signed up for or said I was going to do, so I ended up being up early anyways.  It was okay though, because I need to be better about going with the flow somethings.  And it was the first lazy morning I had in Atlanta since the new year, so it was much needed!

The main focal point of the day for us was visiting the World of Coke in Atlanta.  Coca-Cola is originally from Atlanta and there is a big museum/tour all about Coke that you can do.  It was pretty entertaining and interesting to see - and as a marketing/communications professional, it was incredible to see what Coca-Cola has done with their brand.  There is a whole museum all about a product/brand that people pay to go into, and then when they end are filed into a gift shop with every Coke product imaginable and Coca-Cola's logo all over every type of product.  That people then buy, and wear around, further promoting the brand, and also making even bigger brand supporters out of the people who go to the World of Coke.  It is truly amazing to me!  Here are a few pictures of the highlights of the museum, including us in our 3D glasses from the "4D" movie experience that included chairs that move around, get you wet, and poke you in the back.

One of the coolest parts of the World of Coke was the exhibit on the Olympics - which is in place because Coke is a huge sponsor of the Olympics.  Additionally, the 1996 Olympics were held in Atlanta -- which are my FAVORITE Olympics of all time.  I used to watch the recap VHS that I made my parents get me for my birthday, over and over.  I loved the women's gymnastics team and the drama with Kerri Strug on the vault.  I still get chills thinking about those Olympics and when I was a kid I just loved that.  As you know, I am still an Olympics nut, so being able to hold one of the Olympic torches (from the London 2012 games) and see the rest of the paraphernalia as pretty cool!

Right before leaving the World of Coke you head into one of the rooms I had heard about most from people talking about this attraction in Atlanta - the Coke tasting room.  In the room you can try more than 100 different kinds of sodas and Coke products from all over the world.  They have stations designated for each continent and you can try all the local different varieties and flavors of drinks from the different regions.  It was fun to go around and try sips of all the different sodas - some have very unique tastes!

It was a really fun experience and definitely something cool to take out-of-towners to see when they visit Atlanta!  However, after trying all those sodas my stomach was definitely feeling the need for food, so we head from downtown Atlanta to a new-to-me neighborhood, Little Five Points, where we grabbed lunch at the Wrecking Bar Brewpub, and then walked around and explored for a bit.  The Brewpub was really cute, with a great atmosphere, little mini glasses of beer if you wanted, and a great menu.

Our late lunch was planned out well, knowing that we were going to check out another new thing in Atlanta for dinner - the Atlanta Underground Market.  The AUM is something I learned about from a friend, where once a month, they have a number of different food vendors, chefs, restaurants, etc. that gather and serve and sell small tasting plates.  The plates are all between $1-$5 and there is drinks, a DJ, other vendors, etc.  You have to be on their mailing list to find out the location, and they e-mail everyone the day before to let them know where the AUM will take place!  This months theme was "Surf and Turf" so all the dishes that the different vendors served had that sort of spin.

I know that plate of food I have looks disgusting, but it was really delicious!  It was cooked beef in a truffle cheese sauce and they were serving it on a bun as sort of a sloppy Joe, but I just asked for it without the bun to save some extra calories. It was still really good!  Teenie tried some jerk chicken that was yummy and we were both tempted to try so much more as well!  After the food market, we stayed out a bit longer trying some different bars/music venues before retiring for the evening.   It was an awesome Saturday trying so many new things in Atlanta and having one of my best friends to be able to do it with!

Sunday I got up early and did my long run with the running group I am a part of.  We did 9 miles and it was a hilly run that I felt proud to have finished.

After the run, I came back home, cleaned up, and Teen and I headed out for brunch and a walk!  I took her to walk around Krog Street Market, because I had really like it there and it is a cool place to then be able to jump on the Beltline for a walk.  And then we chose to have a sit down brunch at another nearby place called Ladybird.

I share this picture because it is what I looked at for a really long time.  Despite being able to be seated right away and having our orders taken, it took, no lie, about an hour and a half before our food came!  After having done the long run, and just not liking having to wait for food in general, I was grumpy and cranky by the time my meal actually arrived.

However, once it did, it was delicious!  I tried a dish that had farro, tomatos, kale, cheese, and eggs on it and it was really, really yummy.  Courtney tried a number of the sides off the menu and those were all delicious as well.  I stole a bite or two of her grits!

After brunch we spent the afternoon walking up and down the Beltline in Atlanta, which is a bike/running path that the city has been putting in place after tearing up old rail road tracks.  We followed it down to Piedmont Park where we then hung out in the grass for a bit enjoying the warm sunshine and 65 degree day!  I could get used to this Southern winter thing :)

We cooked dinner at home, which I have now been eating all the leftovers for lunches this week and had a low key evening watching the Grammy's before crashing on Sunday night.  It was so much fun to have Teenie in town and to explore Atlanta with.

This week has started off with a bang as there are actually a number of friends/coworkers in town this week, so a lot more activity and excitement than a normal week!  I mean, I have been traveling the past 3 weeks in a row, so I guess the past weeks haven't been THAT slow, but it's already been a busy week!  I got up early on Monday morning to drive Courtney to the airport and then went to the gym to do some weights.  I have been slacking on my weight training the past week as the travel and visitors has started to catch up with me.  I made up the training I usually do on the weekend on Monday and am trying to shift everything back a day as well.

Side note: isn't it crazy how in two different pictures I can look two completely different sizes?  I feel like I look kinda small in the first picture and a lot larger in the second picture.  Anyone else see that or just me?  Just me?  Eh, who knows...

Monday evening was yoga and dinner with coworkers, which was a nice reminder of how important yoga can be in the rest of my workout mix.  For a while I was going regularly and I really want to try and get back into that!  Tonight, I also tried to return to a workout that I haven't been to in a while with my travel, and joined one of the local running groups for their Tuesday night sprints as part of my weekly speed work.

I'm proud of myself for getting back on track after faulting a bit last week with the Mexico trip and eating of all the corn tortillas in Mexico City.  I've also been feeling really lousy with a cold since about Saturday, really bad on Monday and Tuesday, so it has been even harder to work out than usual.  The plus side of that is that being stuffed up and having a sore throat also means that I am less tempted to eat lots of junk food because it hurts to swallow and I can't really taste it.

So, small wins, right?

I am dreading my tempo run in the morning, and am avoiding finishing writing this blog because that means it is time for bed and that means it is closer to when I have to do that run.  However, I guess I will just go for it.  Goodnight people, hope you're having a good week!

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