A Friend I Haven’t Seen For 11 Years

A friend I haven’t seen for 11 years has been living in Washington, Georgia for 5-6 years. We used to be co-workers in a bank way back 2006. We were cream of the crop and excelled in all that we do. We became friends, more like close friends and everything we did was history. We were Washington Mutual’s telephone banker. Washington Mutual was one of the best financial institutions back in the old days but was bought by J.P Morgan Chase Bank during the global crisis back in 2007. I quit my job before it was completely handed to JPMC and went to my chosen profession. I haven’t seen her after that until she left to Georgia with her husband and son. We just kept in touch through social networking sites such as Facebook.

I drove from South Carolina to Washington, Georgia which was about 2-3 hours from Aiken. I arrived in Washington, Georgia at about 1000H. When I got out of the car, we were just so happy to see each other again and nothing has changed. We were still like the immature telephone bankers even though it has been a decade. We talked and talked about the people we used to work with, reminisced the experiences we had, and even tried to call some of our other friends online. The first day was filled with excitement in getting to know what we have been doing in our lives. She and her family offered to be the host of my trip and I am so glad. They offered the guest room and I took a quick nap from the long drive while she was planning for the itinerary for the afternoon and the next day trip.

I was taking a nap when my phone beeped. I got a message asking if I am ready to go swimming. They have decided to go to Washington Swimming Pool since their son wants to dip in the pool. It was almost 95 degrees in Georgia that day so, it was a good idea to dive in.

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Washington Swimming Pool

But I am not used to going swimming under the heat of the sun and it was also at 1300H so, I just stayed under the patio umbrella. We only let their son enjoy the pool while we were just talking and looking at kids having fun. After an hour or two, we left coz her husband has to work. At 1730H, we have decided to go to the mall. The nearest mall is Augusta Mall which is almost an hour drive.

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Augusta Mall

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Inside Augusta Mall

We only did window shopping and bought some snack for her unico hijo. 2 hours later, they took me to Augusta Canal Historical Trail. The trail is near Marriott Hotel and is good location for exercising.

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Augusta Canal Historical Trail

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Marriott Hotel

Augusta Canal is a historic canal located in Georgia, is supplied by the Savannah River and passes through levels in suburban and urban Augusta before the water returns to the river at various locations. It was devised to harness the hydro power at the fall line of the Savannah river to drive mills, to provide transportation of goods, and supply water in the municipal. It is the only canal in the United States which still continues to be used for its original purposes of providing power, transport and municipal water.

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Augusta Canal Historical Trail

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Augusta Canal

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Augusta Canal Viewdeck

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Augusta Canal

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Otters in Augusta Canal

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Jessye Norman Amphitheatre in Augusta Canal

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View of Downtown Augusta Skyline from Augusta Canal Trail

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Augusta Canal Trail Fountain

We left the trail at 1730H and headed home and called it a day. I went to sleep early from getting exhausted driving. On my second day in Georgia, they decided to show me to one of the famous amusement parks in Georgia. We went to Stone Mountain Park which is near Atlanta.

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Stone Mountain Park

Stone Mountain is a quartz monzonite dome monadnock with carvings that depict three Confederate figures during the Civil War: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis. The theme park is located at 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd, Stone Mountain, GA 30083. It has a lot of activities and hosts festivals and events. To know more, just click here.

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Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis

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Stone Park Theme Park has attractions for all ages such as dinosaur explore, dinotorium, 4D Ice Age, Stone Mountain Museum, Summit SkyRide, Scenic Railroad, and many more.

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Dinosaur Explore

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Ankylosaurus or the Fused Lizard

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Parasaurolophus or the Similar Crested Lizard

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Dilophosaurus, the fast moving carnivore

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T-Rex

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The most famous dinosaur

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Dinotorium

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On our way to ride the train

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Great Locomotive Chase Adventure Golf

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Riding the train for the Scenic Railroad

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Live Show from the Scenic Railroad

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Stores at Stone Mountain Park

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Directions at Stone Mountain Park

We spent almost the whole day in Stone Mountain Park but we still missed the main attractions which were the Summit SkyRide, to get on top of the Stone Mountain and also the fireworks. The weather that day was not in our favor that the park has to cancel any attractions that has something to do with the sky. But I still had fun though. Then, we left Stone Mountain Park and discussed on where to dine for supper. We have decided to go something Asian, Korean to be precise, so, we went to Iron Factory in Athens, Georgia.

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Iron Factory

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Miso Soup

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Fresh Pork Belly or Samgyupsal

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Then, we went to explore Athens after eating.

My Georgia trip to meet my friend whom I haven’t seen for 11 years has been one of the highlights for this year. It was memorable and I can’t wait to do it again. We were planning of going on a trip somewhere and I hope it’ll come true. The whole experience was amazing even though it was just a quick visit for 2 days. Not to worry coz we have many more days to come and to have fun, for now, it’s not goodbye but see you next time.

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The Rivera Family and the Lone Traveler

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IATA Code: ATL – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

International Air Transport Association (IATALocation Identifier uses a 3-letter code to identify locations of airports throughout the world.800px-Flag_of_the_United_States.svg

ATL or known as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is a major airport hub in a capital city of the state of Georgia, Atlanta. It was only a stopover in ATL that I got to see the airport from my flight in Cancún back to Cleveland. Of course, whenever I travel in a new location, I made sure to see and roam around the site for me to explore and say something good about it.

My flight from Cancún via Delta airlines deplaned in gate F. Upon getting out of the plane, every travelers went to the immigration area to officially enter the country. Those who only have connecting flights can proceed directly to their respected gates. But since my next flight was just domestic, so I have to go through immigration process. I was nervous that time if I can go back inside my new home country since there were a lot of issues about travelers not able to get in the United States due to staying in the country illegally added with the ban that the president has signed to the 7 Arab countries. Anyway, the process of getting back to the United States was hi-tech. We were ushered by immigration officers and airport personnel to the kiosks for entry receipt. Since I am a legal permanent resident, I went to the kiosk which was a machine that scanned my green card, took a picture of me and  verified important information. After all those information, the machine generated a receipt that I have to present to the immigration officer. It took about 5 minutes while waiting on queue and it was my turn to approach the IO. He took my receipt, my green card, and my passport. He asked me how many days I stayed in Mexico and if I brought with me some things that were not approved to bring inside the US such as meat, plants and etc.  Once done with the questioning, I got in the other side of the desk and finally I can breath and say, I’m back home.

I passed through baggage claim which was really spacious. In baggage claim area, it also has restrooms and a long hallway to walk to your next boarding gates or even to the exit.

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Baggage Claim Area

Upon getting out of the baggage claim area, I was welcomed with this sign. I was overwhelmed, it felt like it was my first time to set foot in the United States. Without even second thoughts, I snapped a picture of it.

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ATL – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Travelers were then ushered by airport personnel for security check. The airport personnel were really friendly and accommodating and even made jokes with me. It was like a welcome gesture that I never had when I entered the US few years back. The security check took only about a minute. I’m already a pro on what to remove and where to place your things since I used to travel a lot.

After security check, I got to the concourse F area. I was amazed how ginormous the airport was. It has 7 concourses from A, B, C, D, E, F, and T. The reason they have trains to every concourses for passengers to catch their flights.

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Concourse F

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Airport Train

The train ride in the airport is smooth itself. It has a wide space for travelers and the interval is frequent like less than 5 minutes. On the train, you can even look on the railway if you happen to occupy the first coach.

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First Coach of the Airport Train

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Inside the Airport train

Accessibility to other boarding gates is as easy as counting. Escalators, directions, signs, and TV monitors were everywhere to help and guide guests to where they are going and where they need to be. It helped to prevent missed flight.

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The Train Gate

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Escalators going to other concourses

I was in Delta Airlines concourse and restaurants, stores and cafes were also in every corner of the terminal. Any passenger waiting for their flights won’t go hungry, bored, and misinformed. The airport also offered free access to the internet via wi-fi and if batteries of the phone is running out, don’t have to worry since there are a lot of charging stations.

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Delta Airlines in ATL

As an airport review for ATL, it is one of the better airports I have gone to. It was neat, tidy, passenger-friendly, spacious and well-equipped for travelers who need a place to wait and stay while plane and flights are on queue. For more details, you can check their site by clicking here.

Visa to Republic of Armenia

Just right after I posted my article on my Escape from the City’s Hustle and Bustle last Friday, I received a great news. As I mentioned, I was waiting for something big to happen and this is what I am talking about. I’ve applied for this Armenian visa and I got it.

Visa is a form of documentation issued by the nation’s government allowing the bearer to enter or leave that country.

Republic of Armenia if you all know was once part of the USSR/ Union Soviet of Socialist Republic which is now Russian Federation. If you still don’t know where this country is, then a map would suffice and end your confusion. Here is Republic of Armenia:

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cr: google maps

It is located in the Caucasus region along with Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation. It has been part of what-so-called Eurasia since it lies between Europe and Asia.

Applying for a visa to Republic of Armenia is easy. You can even do it online by visiting their site, click here. You just need to make sure that you have a credit card to pay for the visa. The passport that you are currently holding must be eligible for the electronic visa application since there are few nationals of other countries wherein the embassy needs more requirements. Those citizens of countries such as Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Syria, Viet Nam, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Pakistan, Nepal and all African countries except South Africa need to have an invitation to get an entry visa and thus need to apply in the consulates or embassies abroad before traveling. The rest who were not mentioned can get their visa online or on arrival at borders/ airports.

There are a lot of options for your e-Visa type and you can choose that during your application process and it will also indicate how much the visa fee will cost you. I tried applying for a tourist visa and it is valid for 21 days length of stay in the country. Within just 2 business days, I already got my e-Visa and printed it out. Now, I can go to Armenia and see the beauty of a very rich historic country. I can finally see the view of Mount Ararat where Noah’s ark rest after the Biblical flood and a lot of UNESCO world heritage sites.

Well, let me tell you how it started. It happened when one day, I was sitting on our living room while thinking what to do. Then suddenly a travel bug bit me so, I went to scan and surf the net on where my Philippine passport can go without too much restrictions and requirements from embassies. That time, I really wanted to go to another country where it has rich culture and has a lot of heritage sites and those were the reasons I found Republic of Armenia since it topped on the list, it fit on my checklist and it ranked third on the countries I would love to visit.

My 2015 Countries That I Would Love to Visit List

My 2015 Countries That I Would Love to Visit List

It was fast and easy for Filipino citizens to grab an Armenian visa. But even though I am eligible to go to Armenia, it still ain’t easy to get there. Since I have the visa, I was looking for a plane ticket going there but the destination is not that famous and only few airline carriers has flights heading there. Zvartnots International Airport (EVN) has limited flights to and from other countries. It is either I need to go to Tbilisi, Georgia and cross countries or I can fly direct to Yerevan but it will cost me more. Thus, I decided to set it aside for now because I also have to follow what I have in my planner and cancelling those month of May itineraries is out of the question. So, I pushed through my backpacking trip.