Monday, April 30, 2018

A Quick Weekend Getaway to Atlanta

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of driving Mom and two of her cousins to Atlanta. The purpose of the trip was to visit another cousin who lived near the city. However, since none of us had visited Atlanta before, we took the opportunity to spend one day exploring the city. One day is not nearly enough time to experience the ATL in full, but I think we did a good job with the time we had. Keep reading to see what we did during our quick weekend getaway to Atlanta.

We piled into Mom’s SUV and left from Greensboro, NC on Thursday morning. The weather was perfect for driving, sunny but not hot. We arrived in the Atlanta area just before rush hour. We stayed at the Comfort Suites Northlake in Tucker, GA, a suburb of Atlanta. I am a fan of Comfort Suites. Their rooms seem a little larger and more comfortable to me than other hotels. Plus, they serve a decent free breakfast in the morning. There was a small issue with the deadbolt not working in our room. The front desk staff was apologetic and quickly moved us to another room.

After a short rest, it was time to drive into the city for dinner. We chose The Old Lady Gang for our first dinner in Atlanta. If you watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta then you know this restaurant. It is owned by one of the show’s stars, Kandi Burruss, and her husband.

The restaurant was jam packed when we arrived at 7:30 pm. I had made a reservation before leaving home and was glad I did. We probably would have had a long wait without the reservation.

The dining experience at the OLG surpassed my expectations. The staff was attentive and personable. The food was excellent. I had Kandi’s Macallan Glazed Blackened Salmon with red mashed potatoes and green beans. It was so good I had to talk myself out of licking the plate. The association with RHOA helped its popularity, but OLG would have been a hit without the reality TV connection.

The highlight of OLG was meeting Kandi’s aunt and the inspiration behind the restaurant, Ms. Nora. Her appearance at our table was unexpected, fortuitous and made dinner extraordinary. Ms. Nora is a beautiful person with a generous spirit. She stayed at our table for a few minutes, chatting and taking pictures with all of us. The OLG was the right place to kick off our Atlanta weekend getaway.

After getting a good night’s sleep, we were up and out early Friday morning. Our first stop was the World of Coca-Cola museum in downtown Atlanta.

I love Diet Coke and Coke Zero. If I were stranded on a desert island, I would want a few cases with me. For that reason, I was excited to tour the museum.

The tour starts with an introduction to Coke and its inventor, pharmacist, John Pemberton. After the introduction, we were led into a theater to view a short film on the “joy” of Coca-Cola. After the film, we explored the remaining exhibits on our own. The best feature of the World of Coca-Cola is the interactive exhibits. There is plenty to see, read, touch and create while in the museum.The biggest drawback is that, at times, it felt like a long advertisement for Coke products. Overall, there was a good balance between history, science, and marketing.

The highlight of the tour, for me, was the tasting room where Coca-Cola products from all over the world are sampled. The variety of products and flavors that have been invented to please the taste buds of people around the world is fascinating. I sampled sodas from Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and North America. I liked the Delaware Punch from Honduras. The Bonbon Anglais from Madagascar had a strong vanilla flavor. I do not remember seeing Fanta Exotic in Uganda when I visited a few years ago, but it was delicious. The only soda that I did not like was Beverly from Italy. It tasted like cheap cough syrup to me. Oddly, the World of Coca-Cola website says it is one of the most popular flavors. If you try it one day, tell me what you think.

With a belly full of bubbles, we said goodbye to the museum. It was time to put something more substantial in our stomachs. We decided to head to the popular hot dog and hamburger spot, The Varsity, for lunch. Since the weather was gorgeous, we walked the ¾ of a mile to the restaurant. The short stroll took us through the campus of Georgia Tech. Unfortunately, we arrived at The Varsity at the height of the lunch rush. We had a long wait before making it to the counter to place our orders. I made it up to myself by ordering an extra dessert pie along with my hot dog and fries.

After lunch, we visited The Center for Civil and Human Rights. The museum’s exhibits explore the American Civil Rights Movements and its connection to the Global Human Rights Movement. The main exhibit on the 2nd floor does a deep dive into the creative and often violent fight to desegregate the South in the 1950s and 60s. The museum designed a visitor experience that goes beyond facts and dates and recreates the emotions of those years. I don’t think it is possible to leave the exhibit without feeling the anger, sadness, and resolve of those involved in the struggle.

We left the museum shortly before it closed at 5pm. We had one more stop before heading back to the hotel. Of course, it was for dinner. We headed to the venerable Mary Mac’s Tea Room.

We could not leave Atlanta without one traditional Southern, home-cooked meal, and Mary Mac’s had what we needed. We gorged ourselves on fried chicken, roasted turkey, meatloaf, collard greens, fried green tomatoes, macaroni & cheese, cornbread, and more. Oh, what a feast! I wish I had taken more pictures of the meal, but I was too busy eating. I know why Mary Mac’s has been officially named, “Atlanta’s Dining Room.” The food and hospitable service made it feel like I was eating at grandma’s house. It was the perfect end to our day exploring Atlanta.

I enjoyed my time in Atlanta more than I thought. Good food, pleasant travel companions, and excellent sightseeing made this a weekend getaway to remember.

1 comment:

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