Atlanta and Surroundings

Friday, July 25, 2008

Karate... with or wihout black belt?

Martial arts great for building aerobic strength and also teaching kids discipline. I personally took karate lessons when I was a teen and it was good fun. My son also wanted to try it out so I had him join Karate Kids. This is how it goes...

Karate Kids is actually Taekwondo and not Karate. Taekwondo is a show sport and in my personal opinion many of the moves are more about appearance than practical. They wave the registration fee, which every dojo does. You pay for the outfit ($50 if I recall). Then the fun begins. Its only about $120 per month to join. They mention the Black Belt program, but it's not pushed heavily. During the white belt phase the Black Belt program iniates are picked out. In the Black Belt program kids (even as young as 5) are given sword and other weapons. The gear costs an additional $500 and the monthly fee jumps to above $150. Which is fine if you want your son to play with swords. After the first belt test the pressure to move to the"program" starts to build up and majority of the marketing is focused on the kids. Those that are not in the program feel like outsiders.

Later I was told that you cannot continue to black belt without joining the program. When I made it an issue, then suddenly there is a way. Now the teachers themselves are good and if you feel that your kids are fine learning weapons at 5-8 then I am sure that you will get your moneys worth. If you want your kids to learn practical self defence without weapons at a price range that you are personally comfortable with then I suggest going for an actual karate studio.

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Frogtown Wines

This is one of the more memorable vineyard experiences in Georgia. The wine has improved over the years and in my humble opinion the wines are fairly good. The cost/quality ratio isn't quite there, but this is a small vineyard and its local. The farm is not far from Dahlonega and the main house serves also as a restaurant. Drive up for lunch and tasting on a sunny day watching over the orchards. This is a place where the sole will truly rest.

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Fishing on the Chattahoochee

If you take exit 7a on the GA-400 and then circle back towards the river down Old Alabama you will find parking under the GA-400. If you wade up river a bit you will find some great rapids for fly fishing. Just remember to get your fishing license. The Chattahoochee has cleaned up, but I would still highly encourage a catch and release strategy. The flowing water creates a cool breeze, which can be nice on a hot Atlanta day. Kayaking is also a great pass time on the river and there are multiple places to rent a kayak.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Cooler - the Atlanta winter wonderland

We have now had three days of snow in Atlanta and below freezing point temperatures. Why did we not have this during Christmas? Go figure... Anyway, if you are fascinated with the cold, snow and ice, then I recommend visiting the Cooler in Alpharetta. They have multiple indoor skating rings with public skating. You can rent all the gear and just go on ice to try it out. You can also enroll for the training programs. Even for the guys I recommend starting with figure skating practice. In my opinion hockey training doesn't emphasize skating enough to begin with. Hockey is a lot more fun if you know how to skate. Do something different and take your kids to the Cooler!

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Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium is the #1 attraction in Atlanta and rightfully so. It is the largest indoor aquarium in the world with whale sharks and beluga whales, just to name list a few of the star performers. I personally enjoy the sea otters the most. As the aquarium is totally packed on weekends and full on week days as well I highly recommend going early in the day and having a clear plan on how you are going to go through the exhibits. The new World of Coca-Cola is right next door and you can get a dual pass for both attractions. At the World of Coca Cola You need to see the polar bear and visit the 4-D cinema... otherwise there isn't that much to see. There is a food court at the CNN center, if you do not want to pay an arm and a leg for your lunch.

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Stuff to do with Kids

My kids are in Europe visiting relatives, but they will be back in a weeks time. I have not seen them for a month so I am planning fun stuff that we can do together and wanted to share.

I read a book on activities for kids in Atlanta and they seriously suggested going to the mall. Going to an air conditioned movie theathre is a great idea, but in moderation and there are many other great things to do.

The Aquarium, the Zoo and the childrens museum are a good start. If do not have annual passes and want do stuff on a lower budget, then I recommend The Chattahoochie Nature Center. Chattahoochee Nature Center is the oldest and largest private non-profit natural science learning center in the Southeast. This environmental sanctuary encompasses 30 species of native wildlife and 127 acres of native plants and gardens. The Center grows more than 50% of the rare and endangered plant species found in Georgia, in their gardens. Some gardens reflect Georgia's Living Wetlands, depicting 5 different wetland habitats that are threatened throughout the State of Georgia. A Butterfly Garden, Bog Garden with carnivorous plants, river boardwalk, and woodland trails add to the experience.

Also there are tons of bicycling routes in Roswell that I highly recommend. I've noted that kids remember and enjoy those activities where there is alot of parent interaction more than those that cost an enterance fee.

It is also great to get out of town and go hicking in the mountains. Its cooler and you can pack a picnick to go.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Inexpensive Golf

Blue Heron Golf Club
460 Morgan Falls Rd Atlanta, GA 30350
(770) 390-0424

The Blue Heron is an inexpensive executive course. The carts are fairly new and the course is picturesque, if you don't mind the power lines. The greens are usually in bellow average condition, but what do expect for $20???

If you live in north Atlanta and fancy a bit of golf Blue Heron is worth taking a look at.

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Sushi Roswell

There is a small sushi buffet place just of 285 going north on Roswell road. Lunch is $10 and you can eat as much as you like. The sushi bar is pretty good and they even serve hibachi. I would not go for the cooked prawns or the egg salad, but for $10 its a great lunch place.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

North Atlanta Malls

Going to a mall is an alternative pass time. In North Atlanta you have:
- Phipps
- Lenox
- Perimeter
- Galleria
- North Point
- Discovery Mills
- Mall of Georgia

Discovery Mills and Mall of Georgia are the biggest, but I personally prefer Perimeter or North Point. At both locations it is not just the mall, but all the strip malls and restaurants in the general area. North Point probably has the best restaurant scene in its vicinity and a few movie theatres to choose from. Perimeter I believe has the best assortment of shops, but very little recreational ammeneties.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bahama Breeze

Do you like the Caribean? Go to Bahama Breeze, order a mohito and close your eyes. Just don't order any food. It will take ages and it will suck. Other than that the out door venue is great and live music in the evening will truly take you to another place.


Friday, June 06, 2008

Dream Land BBQ

"Ain't nothing like 'em nowhere". Dream Land is an A-class take-a-way BBQ joint. The food is well prepared and the portions are big. The packaging is excellent if you are planning a picknick. However, it is not the same restaurant dining experience as at Swallow in the Hollow or Smoke Jack.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Smoke Jack

Atlanta knows BBQ! ANother fine example of superior southern cusine. Smoke Jack is a touch more refined than Swallow in the Hollow, but comparable in the most important way... the food. The restaurant has a Texan lone star motif and offers Kansas City and Memphis style sauces. If you do decide to go I highly recommend the fired pickles!

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