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If coming home from Italy the day before Christmas wasn’t stressful enough, the week after New Year’s I drove up to Atlanta for a history conference (the AHA). Despite the fact that I have family just outside of the city, I had never spent much time in the metro Atlanta area. So, in between conference sessions, I wanted to explore the city.

I have to say that at first I was extremely disappointed in downtown Atlanta. I really had no idea what to expect, and the area around the hotel was like a ghost town. Thank goodness for all of my friends on Instagram. I put the call out for Atlanta recommendations and was inundated with tons of suggestions. It transformed my trip!

My first day I spent the afternoon break strolling Piedmont Park, which has a beautiful lake and view of the city. It was so nice to get some fresh air and exercise after sitting and listening to papers all morning. That evening I wanted to check out The Varsity that everyone raved about, but I had a cocktail reception and never made it (next time).

I started my second day with a trip to Sublime Doughnuts, which, as you may have guessed, was sublime! I tried the strawberries and cream, salt and vinegar, devil’s food, and Reese’s. All were delicious, but I think the strawberries and cream and the salt and vinegar were my favorites. My next break was lunch and it was suggested I check out the Krog Street Market (basically I ate my way through Atlanta). Not only was the food there delicious (and diverse) the venue is a very cool repurposed 1920s warehouse.

Since my Saturday schedule was light, I attended one panel and then decided to do something a little crazy. Confession time – I have a secret Vampire Diaries obsession (no judgement, we all have our vices). While in Atlanta, I learned that the town where the series is filmed was just a 20 minute drive from where I was staying, in the little historic town of Covington, GA. I was close and curious so I decided to visit. Turns out the town has been used in dozens of movies and TV series, like the Dukes of Hazard. It was a cute little town and I am glad I went (no they weren’t filming at the time).

The best part of the trip, however, was picking up Ophelia. Being away from her for a year was so hard. She has been glued to my side and nothing but cuddles since I got home. Sunday we packed up and headed home. And just a day later the semester began. Needless to say I have yet to catch up on life or unpack, which is stressing me out. Stupidly in the midst of all of this I started a time-consuming DIY project. Not sure why I do this to myself. Hopefully I can get caught up on everything this weekend.

Life definitely feels like it is back to reality.