Atlanta Day 5: Fern Bank Museum of Natural History

Since we still have some time to kill before Ben’s meeting, we utilized one of the ticket in the Atlanta city pass to pass time. We went to the nearby Fern Bank Museum of Natural History.

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Apparently, Atlanta used to be a land of dinosaurs.

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The Great Hall exhibits the Giants of Mesozoic. One of the dinosaur is so big that our camera cannot capture the whole view.

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The view of the head of the dinosaur from the third floor. (more…)

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Atlanta: Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen in Marietta

I got to the hotel in the nick of time when Ryan and Mick was just about to head off to dinner. Good thing I managed to bump into them in the lobby of the hotel or else it would be a lonely dinner. I hate having a dinner in a nice place on my own.

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We got a cab and had a 10 minutes ride to who knows where. I can never get used to the neighborhood names in Atlanta. What I do have is the address of the place we went to 2830 Windy Hill Rd, Marietta.

We went to a place Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen which came highly recommended by the gals in our Atlanta office. From the outside it sure looked like a great choice.

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From the inside, it too looked very much like a businessy kind of place. There were mostly people in working attire and I did not see any families in there. There were a few couples having a romantic dinner (I know because they were holding hands over and under the table).

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I had the “Southern Table Wine”. It is a very southern thing, I understand. And the only good way to have this is SWEETENED. I am a creature of habit … on flights, I have Bloody Mary Mix … in Atlanta, I almost always have Iced Tea … SWEETENED.

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The people in the Atlanta office recommended we try the Crispy Fried ALLIGATOR! It came with crispy potato sticks and Creole Dipping Sauce. Know what it tastes like? Well, to me, it looks like fried chicken, tastes like fried chicken and if no one told me, I would have thought it was fried chicken. (more…)

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Flying United Airlines from Vancouver to Altanta (via Chicago)

Here I go again. The bad news is I am embarking on a new Travel series. The good news is this will be the last travel series for this year.

A couple of months ago, I was requested to attend a 2 hour meeting. For just a 2 hour meeting, I assumed that this will be done through voice or video conferencing. But to my surprise, I was requested I attend the meeting in person. Oh well, I am OK if the boss deems it important that I spend two days traveling just for a 2 hour meeting.

I put in my travel request to Atlanta and was routed through Chicago. Seeing I had never been to the third largest city in the US before, I made a quick change of itinerary to include a few days stop in Chicago.

So … this is the series on my trip to Atlanta (again) and the Windy City, Chicago.

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As usual, the flight to Atlanta means a very early start. I normally opt for the first flight of the day which is about 6AM. I like early morning flight because by the time I land in Atlanta, it will just be 5PM’ish and that leaves me a lot of time to settle down and prep for the next day.

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This time, I flew with United Airlines. I vividly remember flying United Airlines the only one time before. You see, a few days before I started work in my company, I had a phone call asking me not to report to work in the Vancouver office but instead get in the flight to Atlanta on the first day of work. It was one of the most stressful thing I had ever been put into … I was supposed to meet my project team in Atlanta. I hardly know the company, the processes, the people, the products, the airline industry … zilch. And they expect me to say something smart to the team?!?!?

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Bad thing about United Airlines … the legroom is non-existent. Some of you know I am not a tall guy and my knees are touching the back of the front seat (OK, OK, I am short but I have you know that many great people are not tall … like Napolean and Hitler for instance). To think that someone of an average height finding this a squeeze too.

It is impossible to use the notebook to do work and type on the seats. So, I ended up flipping the notebook screen all the way up and do reading instead … and watching a movie which I brought along.

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Good thing about United Airlines … they provide free headsets. Some other airlines charges $5 for the crummy plasticky ones which you end up throwing away after the flight. These are free and so I cannot complain.

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My trusted travel companion is the noise-canceling headset I bring it along in all my travels. I simply love this. The noise-canceling feature while not the best does its job in drowning out the engine roar. I am not sure how this works but it works.

I like also the fact that it is very comfortable and fits my head well. Moreover, it folds neatly into a lump and comes with a felt pouch. If you travel a lot, you should get one of these things.

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Cookies are free but I got the United Airlines Snack box. They have a variety of to choose from, four I think. I opted for the one called the SmartPack. The last time I travelled United I had the MiniMeal which I blogged about here .. almost three years ago.

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I must declare that United Airlines Snack Boxes are simply the best I had ever had. It is laden with goodies packing in the box you will never believe. And all this for only $5.

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The cover of the box doubles up as a receipt … a simple and neat idea. This helps me claim travel expenses easier … having paper receipts attracts no question from accounting.

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ve this drink on my flight. The beauty with United Airlines is that they drop a couple of wedges of lemon into it too. What a nice touch. Other than the size of the seat, I like United Airlines.

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I took an awfully long time to finish off the snack box as I documented every item in the box. There were about seven different items in the box alone. I used to be self-conscious taking pictures of the food but not anymore. Some people might think I am a country bumpkin taking the first flight in his life but … he he he … I don’t care! Generally, people do not care what I do and pretend not to notice.

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I had a 1 hour stop in Chicago. I could see the Chicago downtown very clearly from the plane. The Sears Tower and the Hancock Tower was clearly imposing with its black exterior and sheer height. In just a couple of days, I will be heading that way.

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The leg from Chicago to Atlanta was shorter and they only serve snacks for flights lesser than three hours. I had coffee and it was pretty good.

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Ginger Ale is another of my favourite inflight drink. I love the refreshing smooth color of the Ginger Ale … certainly looks more refreshing than Coke.

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I landed at the Atlanta airport at about five in the evening. This is just in time for me to get to the hotel and have a nice dinner somewhere nearby (the hotel is 30-40 minutes from the airport). I had been in the airport many times and I know this airport as well as I know YVR! Ask me about any food outlet here, I could probably tell you which terminal it is on … almost.

OK, this post is too long. So, if you want to see what is in the SmartPack snack box from United Airlines, click on “read more” below.

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Atlanta Trip: Montana Grill

Atlanta is home to a lot of world famous brands, some of which includes CNN, Coca-Cola and Home Depot. Of that that’s one name that is associated with CNN, Ted Turner. Ted Turner is the founder of CNN. Among other things he is famous for once being married to Jane Fonda and the largest landowner in the US. You know what he uses all that land he has for? It’s to rear bison. He owns over 40,000 heads of bison — which makes him undoubtedly the owner of the largest bison herd in the world.

In the attempt to popularize bison meat, he opened about 50 restaurants called the Montana Grill which specialize in bison meat. We went to one at the Cumberland Mall.

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The restaurant has this timeless look with mahogany paneling, and pendant lighting. There is also a very large bison head hanging up in the wall.

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The table looked kind of busy but upon closer inspection, it’s just the normal sauces they have.

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I started off getting a margarita called the Montana Margarita. I guess that would be a great choice because (1) it’s called Montana after the name of the restaurant and (2) it’s pricier than the other margaritas they server. The $8 margarita is described as 1800 Reposado tequila, Grand Marnier and freshly squeezed sour mix. Sure was a good choice.

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Atlanta Trip: The Border Mexican Restaurant

A colleague of mine at the Atlanta office offered to show me some of the nicer places to eat. Anytime anyone offers to take a drive away from the office area for food, I immediately will jump into the offer. After all, at the rate I am visiting Atlanta, I think I would have tried every place that is within walking distance within the next two trips.

We went to a Mexican restaurant called The Border. It was only until I was home and started blogging about this that I realized, hey … I had been here before. I was here the last time for lunch. Here is the blog entry. That was about lunch … this one is for dinner.

What drink would you order in a Mexican restaurant? For me, I only know of Margaritas and got myself a mango version. Hmmm … not bad. Would have preferred it a bit more fruitier.

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OK, don’t roll over your eyes. I am a newbie when it comes to Mexican food. I am still in a very early stages of discovery. So, the food below may be very basic to you … but not to me! 🙂

We also had nachos but ordered something new that I never knew existed. The dip is made of cheese! I can’t remember what type of cheese but I think it is something like goat or something. It was awesome but as I had that, I just keep thinking how much cholesterol there are in this.

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The best part of the meal is this soup. Again, I forgot what it is called but I vividly recalled that it had big chunks of avocado. Next time I am in a Mexican restaurant, I’ll look for this. Wait … I see it now. I actually took pictures of their menu and I guess this one is called … well … Chicken Soup!

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Atlanta Trip: Snack Box from Northwest Airline

I flew Northwest Airlines for the first time. I can’t say that I like it. Not only do they not have inflight movies, why, they don’t even have earphone jacks on their seat for music. That was a bummer. If I had known that, I would have charged up my notebook a bit more and keep myself entertained with the movies I brought along.

Like most other airlines, they have snack boxes for sale. It’s $5 each cash … and USD too.

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Although the box looked bit, there is nothing much in it. There’s Oreos, Trail Mix, Wheat Crackers and Beef Sausages. Compared to United’s snack boxes (click here and here to see United’s) which costs the same, this is rather disappointing.

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About the only thing I enjoyed is the O’Brien’s Beef Summer Sausage … it’s all beef, no fillers.

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Atlanta Trip: Flying Tips

Hey, I thought I share some travel tips I have. Just so to keep the integrity of this blog, I am throwing some, well, eating related stuff too … how does that sound?

I’ll start with some pre-flight planning. Traveling on long haul flights is very uncomfortable unless you are in business or first class. I normally travel on economy and my flights to Atlanta takes at least 5 hours if I have a direct flight.

So, to me, getting a good seat is a big deal. My preference is always windows, followed by aisle seats. I don’t mind the middle seat but I NEED at least an armrest. I make it a point to logon to the airline’s site and then select my seat. You can change your seat even though you have been assigned a seat already on your e-ticket.

What then is a great seat? There’s a good website called seatguru (http://seatguru.com) where they have almost all the seating configurations of every airlines’ aircraft. The beauty of this site is that it tells you the good and bad of each seat so, you know what to avoid and why. Check it out … you will like it.

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To me (and per seatguru too), the best seats are the ones by the emergency exits. Some airlines does not allow you to select those seats through the website but there is a trick … you can call them to put you on that seat. The reason is because they wanted to make sure that you are able to assist in emergency evacuation if required … basically you need to understand English!! The other advantage for this seat if, of course, when it comes to evacuation, you’re the first one off.

See the picture below. The best seat is in this row and the row behind this. I like this row because I have an extra tray space. I normally take out both my camera and notebook and magazine on flight. With drinks and snacks too, you can imagine how cluttered my tray normally is. The seats too have more legroom. It is because they need wider space to help evacuation. Legroom is not a big factor for me really because, well, I don’t have long legs.

BTW, avoid seats that cannot recline … for example, the seat just in front of emergency exits cannot recline and so does that last row of each section.

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Airlines do not provide any headphones for inflight movies. They charge up to $5 for a crummy pair of earphones. I bring my own noise-cancellation headphones. This one is neat … it folds up nicely for travel but the best thing is the noise cancellation feature. Even when I am not using it to listen, I could use it to dampen the ambient noise from the plane’s engines.

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