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May 7, 2017

Last week, I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for my work’s annual training conference. Since I work for a CPA firm, we are required to fulfill continuing professional education (CPE) requirements. I appreciate the amount of intense coordination it took to make all of this happen! It was a nice alternative to client work even though my days would end between 8PM-10PM. Everything took place in the Marriott hotel so it was a nice “commute” between my room on the 6th floor and the conference areas in the lobby. I flew out on Sunday afternoon and returned home on Friday evening. My flight back to LA was supposed to depart at 7:40PM but was delayed to 9:40PM.


This was the first time I didn’t have trouble adjusting to the +3hr time difference. Every night, there would be hundreds of people hanging out in the lobby. I networked with several partners and managers throughout the week to get my name out there. I found a manager who specialized in SAP and I expressed interest in sharing my knowledge on a particular ERP software. I also met several coworkers from different offices, including those who work in Paris, London, and Brazil.

Downtown Atlanta reminded me of Downtown Los Angeles. The weather there fluctuates between warm humid and rain. There were even tornadoes one night!

The Workshops

I attended about a dozen workshops and sat through countless keynote speakers. I tried my best to pay attention in all of them but it gets pretty overwhelming. Thankfully, there are some interesting workshops I’ve sat through:

  • Database Security: This class provided useful supplemental information on how we evaluate database security.
  • Incident Response: I’ve been working on a research project for IR for several months. It was great to see a lecture on why organizations need it.
  • Risk Assessment: I remember doing this for the first time a few months ago and was completely lost (even though I had guidance from a senior staff). I finally learned the proper methodology of performing one!
  • Routing and Networking: I was proud of the network designing activity. We had to designate internal IPs throughout 10 offices and needed a mechanism where a person can identify what office and network an IP belongs to.

The hotel provided special catering services for all of the meals. The food was pretty mediocre even though they changed the menu every day. The staff were extremely helpful and on top of their game for the most part. I wasn’t too happy with the meals and things got worse on Thursday morning when I saw a cockroach run across my table in the dining area. That was the last straw and I decided to eat out for the rest of the trip. Even though cockroaches are common pests, I don’t want to see them anywhere near my food.

  • Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q: Several coworkers and I went to this bbq restaurant on Sunday evening. I ordered The BC Plate and chose chopped beef brisket, ribs, and wings. Even though I’m trying to stay away from land meat, this exception was worth it!
  • Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken: I ordered two pieces of white chicken with fried okra on the side for dinner. I’d rate this place higher than Popeye’s and KFC!
  • Pacific Rim Bistro: This restaurant was right next door to the hotel so I satisfied my craving for sushi. I ordered a salmon avocado roll and amaebi. Part of me was skeptical about eating sushi in Atlanta but I definitely felt better eating here than at the hotel.
  • Yami Yami Japanese Restaurant: I’m not sure why I picked this place for a quick lunch but I had a decent experience. The food is self-serve and I picked out some recently pressed sushi pieces. Don’t expect much out of this fast-food shop.
World of Coca-Cola

My coworkers and I spent our Monday morning touring the World of Coca-Cola before the conference started. I don’t drink soda unless it’s in cocktails but I still wanted to have a legit tourist experience. For $18, you gain some interesting insight on what Coca-Cola is all about. I never knew how big of a deal their secret formula actually is. Their 4D experience was pretty annoying when the chair sharply poked your back to simulate a mosquito biting you.

The tasting room had Coca-Cola sodas from around the world. I liked Thailand’s Fanta Apple Kiwi and Melon Frosty drinks the most. Italy’s Beverly was my least favorite because it was really bitter (even though it’s supposed to be a non-alcoholic apéritif (appetite-stimulator)).

World of Coca-Cola
World of Coca-Cola
World of Coca-Cola
World of Coca-Cola

Georgia Aquarium

After the conference ended, I had six hours of free time before heading off to the airport. My coworkers and I went to the Georgia Aquarium, which is the largest aquarium in the United States. We bought a “behind the scenes” pass and the tour guide gave us a lot of information on how the aquarium operates. I enjoyed looking at the animals here and they sure were active!

Georgia Aquarium
Georgia Aquarium
Georgia Aquarium
Georgia Aquarium
Georgia Aquarium

21 Responses

  1. Eena ☆ May 7, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Welcome back to the crazy world of Los Angeles, Nancy! Glad to hear your trip to Atlanta went smooth and despite being there for work, you were able to explore a bit. I didn’t know these field of work required continuing education hours (or CPEs) – we do need hours too in nursing but it’s due when your license is up.

    Oh wow. I used to be a soda drinker but quit after noticing that soda made my stomach hurt. Sooo what is their secret! Haha. That’s pretty cool to know that different places have unique flavors of their soda.

    And ahh, aquariums are the best! Those photos came out so good, Nancy, especially the penguins’ behinds :p

    Oh! How often does your job send you out, if you don’t mind me asking, that is.

    • Nancy ☆ May 7, 2017 at 2:45 pm

      This makes me want to go on a quest to find Thailand’s Fanta flavors in LA. Maybe some Thai supermarkets would help (probably need to go find one XD).

      I prefer not to travel so my work sends me out once in a while (currently at less than 20%). It depends on the employee and their preference. I know some people who travel every week while others never travel. 🙂 Feel free to ask any other questions!

  2. Heide ☆ May 7, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    I’m always so amazed at how big the US is that there would be time differences between states.

    I wish Aquariums here in the Philippines would have that many rare marine life. Maybe there are but with the ones I’ve been to didn’t have that much like in Georgia.

  3. Chynna ☆ May 7, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    The networking aspect of your trips sounds so good! I’m glad you got the opportunity – maybe it will lead to other ones, who knows? Either way, you’re rocking it girl! So proud of you for getting out there.

    Glad to here the workshops were interesting, as well.

    Also, cockroaches? Noooooope. It would be a wrap for me and I would ask to move hotels. Like you say the are a common pest (well not here, but I guess in other parts of the world, lol) but STILL. Eew.

    All the food places you went to sound delish!

    I would actually love to visit the World of Coca-Cola. I never even knew this existed! ALSO I’M SCREAM CRYING WITH HAPPINESS AT THE OTTERS. ARE THEY KISSING? OMG, MY HEART 😭 I absolutely love aquariums – I actually have a 2 for 1 voucher that I can use at an aquarium over here, so now you’ve inspired me to use it ASAP.

    • Nancy ☆ May 10, 2017 at 4:23 pm

      Someone told me: “We’re in the south, cockroaches are so common here.”

      I was like “?????”. This doesn’t give an expensive hotel a free pass to have roaches run around @___@”.

      You would LOVE a lot of the drinks at the World of Coca-Cola! Yes! Go to the aquarium and share your experience :D!

  4. Tara ☆ May 8, 2017 at 4:33 am

    I think it’s good your work requires you to continue your professional education. Learning should never stop, in my opinion, so kudos to them and you 🙂 The commute you have is very nice LOL

    Yay for adjusting to the time difference and meeting new people and networking with them. And whoah, I didn’t know your workplace has branches all over the world. They should send you to one of those overseas branch offices one day 😀

    Arghhh I remember doing the training for risk assessment, and it gave me a headache. Good you learnt it better this time! Your other workshop sounds right up your alley!

    Sucks about the mediocre food, and seriously a cockroach? I would have done the same by choosing to eat out. Accccck! I am shuddering just from imagining that cockroach on the dining table.

    The Coke museum sounds like something I would do. I love trying sodas from different countries, so I’d have love that tasting room! 😀 Aquarium are not my thing, but it’s good you took the opportunity to seeing the largest one in the US!

  5. Nina ☆ May 8, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Love these photos ! Thanks for sharing !
    Have a great day !

  6. Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's ☆ May 8, 2017 at 9:25 am

    A training conference sounds like a good way to break from the regular routine but still be productive and also have fun! // I never knew there were so many flavours of soda haha, but then I again I really shouldn’t be surprised 😛 // One of my friends has been wanting to go to the aquarium for the LONGEST time. // New restaurants and new food are some of my favourite reasons for traveling ^-^ -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  7. Gillan ☆ May 8, 2017 at 9:53 am

    It’s so cool of your company to fly you out to Atlanta so you can learn all these things! I personally love attending workshops because there’s so many new things to learn (and they take time off actual work 😂).
    I don’t drink soda anymore but Coca-Cola is such an iconic brand and company. Their commercials are always amazing. Back when I still drank soda, I preferred them over any other ones, except maybe for rootbeer 😂
    Wow at the Georgia Aquarium! Sea creatures are such gorgeous animals. I feel bad about caged creatures but I guess they help us learn something about them.

  8. Alyse ☆ May 8, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    What is it about catered food? It’s always exciting to have free food, but most of the time, it’s just MEH. The fried chicken, though, sounds delicious! IMHO, the secret ingredient in Coca-Cola is the HFCS.

    I like your pictures of the aquarium! SHARKS

  9. Linda ☆ May 8, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    It’s so exciting to see follow along your adventures!

    I learned a lot about Coca-Cola and their Life product—it’s so cool that you get to try out the different flavors!

  10. LL ☆ May 9, 2017 at 10:06 am

    I spent a little time in Atlanta for an interview and I maybe fell in love a bit. I had a huge itinerary of places I wanted to go, things I wanted to see, but ended up napping at the airport because I was so jetlagged. The Coca-Cola museum, CNN, and the aquarium were all at the top of my list, but it just didn’t work out! I really wanted to see the whale sharks, though.

    Instead, I walked around for hours around Decatur and imagined myself living in Atlanta. One day, maybe.

  11. Teesh ☆ May 10, 2017 at 2:34 am

    I haven’t had any soda in my system since the year started. I would probably not visit the Coca Cola place unless I wanted to start binge drinking it again. 😉 Days of workshops do get a little overwhelming, at least in my case. And unless I’m seriously interested in a topic, I find it harder to retain it due to the information overload. It’s great that you enjoyed them! And that sucks for the hotel catering. Would it be possible to report them for their unsanitary ways? I would definitely eat out too if I see any sort of crawlies near food that I was supposed to eat!

  12. Cristina ☆ May 10, 2017 at 8:13 am

    You went to some interesting workshops. I believe you when you say it was a little bit overwhelming. It happens to me too when I go to conferences and I have to spend a lot of time there and pay attention. It’s too much sometimes. But they’re worth it because you learn a lot of useful things.

    Here, in Romania, Marriott is a luxury hotel and very very expensive, so I think that there are the same, so the fact that you had cockroaches near your food it a very bad thing, because they should be really careful with their clients, especially if they charge a lot of money.

    I heard a lot of things about Coca-Cola’s formula, and I learned that it was a major secret and brand tried very hard to find it out. Good for them for keeping it that way, but I hope they don’t use any substance that kills us XD. Anyway, I would love to try the drink from different countries. Every time I travel abroad and I try Coca Cola I find a very different taste from the one in Romania. It’s so weird. I believe that is because of the water used or something like this. I guess they adapt the formula to certain criteria in different countries. I find it very interesting.

  13. Kim ☆ May 12, 2017 at 9:23 am

    Whoa, what an amazing experience! As someone who studied Marketing, I think learning about Coca Cola would be sooo cool. Ah I didn’t realize that Georgia had the largest aquarium! Definitely want to visit now. I love aquatic animals!

    Simply Lovebirds

  14. Amy ☆ May 13, 2017 at 6:33 am

    Sounds like you had an interesting experience in Atlanta, Nancy! Some of the workshops sound really good, can’t believe you went to so many though! I bet that was tiring!

    OMG as if a cockroach was near the food. I definitely wouldn’t continue eating there if that happened. That’s disgusting! Glad you managed to find some decent alternatives! Gus’s chicken sounds great!

    The World of Coca-Cola looks so cool. I never knew such a thing existed! I’d love to try all the different drinks. I love Coca-Cola!

    Aww, those penguins are so cute! I love aquariums.

    Hope you enjoyed your trip!

  15. Jane ☆ May 14, 2017 at 2:47 am

    I went to those two places when I was in Atlanta for a short time a few years ago! I went nuts in the tasting room at Coca Cola, I loved it haha.

  16. Pauline ☆ May 14, 2017 at 3:40 am

    I’m going to keep saying this but your work is goals. I love how you have the opportunity to travel to different places in the US. This annual training conference sounds great! It sounds like you got a lot of the conference, the workshops sound really interesting. I’ve been talking to a CompSci student recently about Cybersecurity and it’s super interesting – you rock Nancy! 😀

    I’m sorry to hear that you saw a cockroach near your food. That really sucks, that’s enough to put me off eating at the hotel definitely. I hope you had better food after this 🙁

    I’m glad you got to make use of your time by visiting the aquarium. It looks pretty cute! I always love visiting aquarium! 🙂

  17. Georgie ☆ May 14, 2017 at 5:57 am

    You must have been exhausted after sitting through all those workshops and keynotes! I photographed a conference last week and the content was difficult for me to understand because it was not in my expertise – but it was still quite draining! And that’s exactly like sitting through the talks and workshops yourself too. 😦

    Love the shot of you with the Coca Cola can. I think The World of Coca Cola looks really interesting, I mean I don’t even drink that much soda, but learning about the history of such a common product is bound to be interesting. I think we have that green life version in Australia, or at least we did for some time. I also remember cherry Coca Cola being popular a while back but people thought it was gross. I loved it hahaha.

    That’s really awful about the cockroach you spotted – that would have been the last straw for me especially if I experienced that at a hotel. Hotel food typically isn’t very good unless it’s an upmarket place! 😦 I hope you left them a negative review. They really should have been more up to standard. It definitely wouldn’t have been as bad if they only had mediocre food and no cockroach.

    Haha I found it a little funny that you mentioned not to expect much from the takeaway sushi place. In my opinion, most of them are pretty shit. LOL.

    You got some really nice photos in the aquarium! Especially the two otters (?) kissing! Aw. Love the little clownfish too but I feel they deserve a far better & more decorated reef aquarium. 😉

    Hope the tornadoes didn’t get too close, it’s great that you got to spend a little time in Atlanta! 🙂

  18. Cat ☆ May 14, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    That’s great that your work sends you to training conferences 🙂 It’s always good to keep learning and being able to network there is a plus! That does sound overwhelming to sit through so many things, but I’m glad a few workshops stood out to you.

    We have a Gus’s Fried Chicken here! A lot of people think it’s one of the best fried chickens in the city, but I haven’t tried it yet. Until you mentioned it here, I had no idea it was a national chain, haha.

    I’m also glad that you had a bit of time to do some sightseeing. The World of Coca-Cola sounds like a fun place to see. I wish some drinks in other countries would make their way here. I think I’d enjoy an Apple Kiwi Fanta. I didn’t realize the Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the US!

    Looks like you had a good trip!

  19. Thao ☆ May 19, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    Ah I’m glad you started eating out after seeing that cockroach! I’ve seen Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken near me in Austin, but I’ve never given it a thought. Maybe I’ll give it a try when I’m feeling lazy and just want a fast meal.

    Wow, I didn’t realized the Georgia aquarium is the largest in the US. That’s awesome. Definitely loving the penguin pics. :3

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