Athens: Not just for the Greeks

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Not many people outside of Georgia or die hard college football fans know that there is an Athens that resides outside of Greece. Welcome to Athens, Georgia where the University of Georgia is the center of the social world and bulldogs are treated like royalty . . . I’m not kidding. English bulldogs are the pride and symbol for the beloved university and even have their own mausoleum for past UGA mascots (we spent an 45 minutes walking around Sanford Stadium trying to find it, only to learn it was inside).

Photo by popofatticus on Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by popofatticus on Flickr Creative Commons

While the main attraction is the campus and it’s sporting events, the seniors are graduating and school is starting to end so now is the time to head downtown to experience what Athens has to offer.

One place to start would be a uniquely owned tree. Shown on “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” show once upon a time, it is known as “The Tree that Owns Itself”. It has been marked off eight feet off each side and has been given custody of the land that it resides on. While the original tree was blown down over 70 years ago and no deed has been found to support the claim, the Athens community has went out of its way to make sure their treasured tree remains intact.

Photo by Jmehre on Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Jmehre on Flickr Creative Commons

If historical artifacts peak your interest, perhaps a double barrel cannon is what interests you. Outside of city hall stands this unique piece of battle artillery with two cannons built into one. It was designed so that soldiers could fire one side before the other, or both simultaneously. While the gun was unsuccessful in it’s mission to provide a useful weapon in battle (multiple failures during testing) and was used more as a warning to intruders than anything, the thrill of seeing something that you can’t find anywhere else is hard to beat.

Photo by Jimmy Emerson, DMV from Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Jimmy Emerson, DMV from Flickr Creative Commons

Whether Athens, Georgia is where you come for legendary Southern style college football, historical failure or self-owning plants, Athens can make any visit a Dixieland Delight.

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Disney World: Where It All Started With A Mouse

Photo by Scott Smith on Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Smith on Flickr Creative Commons

When Walt Disney created the animated short Steamboat Willie in 1928, I bet he never could have dreamed that it would be the start of a magical monopoly and the creation of theme parks around the globe. The boat driving rodent who would later become Mickey Mouse catapulted the animated movie into the limelight, and it has been there ever since.

The first of many Disney theme parks (all of which Walt Disney never saw completed due to his death by lung cancer in 1966) was the Magic Kingdom which opened up 5 years later. Viewed by most as the best park in forms of rides, characters and straight up, well Magic, this kingdom hosts the iconic Cinderella’s castle (along with newly added Belle’s castle), classic rides such as the 3 mountains (Splash, Space, & Big Thunder), Dumbo, and It’s A Small World, along with daily street parades and character driven shows. The park is centered around Cinderella’s castle and the various lands that surround it offer a taste of any young kid’s dream. Main Street USA takes you back in time to the 1950s where both sides are lined with antique shops and eateries reminiscent of a simpler time in U.S. history. Fantasyland guides you through the worlds of your favorite animated characters and is where a majority of the most famous rides reside. Tomorrowland steps into the future as any kid who wanted to be an astronaut can live out their dream alongside Buzz Lightyear and Stitch the Alien. Frontierland brings out the western cowboy in all of us, and Adventureland lets you set sail with the likes of pirates or go exploring on Tom Sawyer’s famous island. Magic Kingdom is the ultimate symbol of what Disney Magic is all about.

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Want to travel without the hassle of leaving the comfort of your own country? Look no further than Epcot. Thrill seekers looking for roller coasters will be severely disappointed, but what it lacks in big rides, it more than makes up for with the World Showcase which takes the best features (and food) from countries such as Morocco, Japan, Norway, and even Canada, and displays them all in their glory in a way that only Disney can create. If you have young kids that are not into trying new foods, no need to worry as an American Adventure with all it’s patriotic and homegrown traditions sits right in the heart of the showcase.

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While Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are included in the collection, they are both suited for an extremely specific audience. If nature or movies are not something you enjoy thoroughly, I would not recommend wasting your time at these two parks since they have little else to offer, mainly Hollywood Studios.

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Disney World is one-of-a-kind place that appeals to all ages, races and interests. Even if you are having a difficult time back home for whatever reason, the amazing cast members, staff and environment that the parks has to offer, erases it all as long as you stay.