Atlanta, 2012

I had a couple of vacation days left to burn and couldn't fly internationally while getting my visa for India sorted out, so I decided to visit Jay in Atlanta again. I though I'd grabbed a park and surf deal at a downtown hotel to avoid dealing with the $32 valet parking option, but a mix up on the web site left me with the prepaid option without parking. This wasn't too too bad, but I doubt I'll book a downtown hotel again, the one further out with free parking worked well enough. This time we did a bit more downtown, but there was still a lot of driving, and by the time I got home, I was almost to the point of hugging my bike. :)

Friday December 14, 2012

I ended up on Delta again since they're a safe bet for direct flights to Atlanta. An 11am departure time worked well to take the T (bus + subway + subway + shuttle bus) to Logan, riding on the coat tails of rush hour schedules without the crowds. It was pretty cold in Boston and was going to be warmer and rainy in Atlanta, so I wore my pea coat and brought my rain jacket with layers. I took advantage of free gate check again since the flight was full, and disappeared into my book for the three hour flight (just long enough to make me antsy), I think only getting up once to stretch my legs/hit up the bathroom. Jay was waiting for me as I got out of the secure area, and my suitcase came through fairly quickly (I think I arrived in terminal B, so only a couple of stops on the plane train this time).

I was a bit hungry due to not being able to manage lunch around a noon spanning flight, so we tried to hit up Holeman & Finch Public House finally, but it and a lot of places around were closed at 4pm or so - they take a break between lunch service and dinner. :/ We went back to the parrot and toucan enabled R. Thomas where I had a yummy quinoa bowl and a big smoothie, but unfortunately, one or both of them combined to upset my stomach a bit. Jay mentioned that there was a dish there that he avoids, so it might be time to swear off that eatery. :/

I got checked in at the Hyatt while Jay tried to find a spot to leave his car. Unfortunately the university garage was closed for the holiday break but he found a surface lot that wasn't charging too much and didn't seem to sketchy. The room was in the International Tower at the Hyatt Regency - the hotel I stayed in during a Dragon-Con, but without having to go up the slow glass lobby elevators. Granted, they'd revamped and redone some parts and the tower elevators at least were nice and fast. The room set up was kind of neat, with a wall between the entry/wardrobe/mini-fridge/bathroom area and the bed/office/seating area, but the view was just across to another building and down to the street (fourth floor I think).

We decided to give Holman and Finch another try for dinner and ended up spending a long time there. We hadn't made a reservation, but put our name in when we arrived, being told that we might get a table in an hour or so. That turned into two hours or so. The bar area was small and crowded, but we lucked into getting a seat at a wall counter when another group moved around a bit (one member of the group complained loud enough for us to hear that he didn't get to sit, but we'd asked if we could have the chairs, so oh well! :) ). I had a Fernet drink in a rocks glass to try and settle my stomach from the late lunch (the Veiled Insult), and then we ordered a 5 item cheese plate to tide us over until we could move to a table. We took our time with it, and I had a sherry drink in a coupe glass as well (Breaking Bread I think), so I was well lubricated by the time a table came free. It turned out that there was a group of 15 or so people taking up most of the restaurant space, and that they were offering burgers by pre-order only (I think only 24 or 25 were made), so we picked the worst night to hit up this venue. By the time we were seated, I wasn't really hungry and only ordered the charred chili bok choy, which ended up being so spicy that I couldn't finish it. I'd like to go back for lunch to get a better sense of the food, or for cocktails when the bar isn't quite so crowded (which may be never!). It had the feel of Craigie on Main in Boston in terms of menu, though a bit more lively in atmosphere.

Saturday December 15, 2012

For brunch, Jay took me to Cafe Jonah and the Magical Attic. We sat in armchairs to eat with a small table between us, it was homey and casual. I think I had the quiche, and some tea. Sitting by the counter (on the other side of a wall with a pass through) gave me a lot of sympathy for the workers as they dealt with all sorts of food allergy and preference questions.

From there, we drove north-ish to Amicolala Falls. It was just off the route we'd taken in the summer. I was a bit worried about my knees and the climb from the base to the top of the falls, mostly because there were steps rather than a trail and the surface was less forgiving. We ended up parking at the top and walking down slowly, and then I was fine climbing up. We sat on a swing by the flat part of the water for a while as well. The falls were really pretty, cascading down rock faces and gurgling down a stream bed. The leaves had mostly fallen, but at the top we had a nice view out across the mountains. It was lovely and I wish I'd felt more up to doing the whole hike and spending more time there.

Back to downtown Atlanta, and hungry for supper, we went to a pedestrian area and found seats at Mac McGee's Irish pub. They had a whole binder of brown liquor, I ended up ordering a 2 bourbon and 1 Scotch flight. I had a Scotch I'd already had (Abelour) though in a different mix/batch. I think I tried a Four Roses bourbon that I've seen in Boston, and am blanking on the last one. The duck confit salad was delicious and I shared some of Jay's poutine (passable ;) ). I also had a 1792 Manhattan as we were lingering over the last of our meals. I can see myself going back there. :)

Sunday December 16, 2012

We did brunch at La Mongerie. They were having problems with a supplier so the menu was a bit limited, but I enjoyed my chicken and waffles (first time having it, not sure the two things go well together, but I'm prejudiced against deep fried anything). I tried to stock up on tea but recall that the tea pot was a bit small.

From there, we decided to hit up the High Museum of Art, since I'd kept seeing the posters as we drove around town, and it was going to be closed the next day. It was raining fairly hard all day, so this was a prefect choice with the bright prints and light filled galleries. I have to figure out how to stand/walk/contemplate art so that my back stops hurting after an hour or so, I'm just not used to standing for so long.

Next up was a snack since breakfast had worn off, and we stopped at a Kroger and I grabbed some decent supermarket sushi and an apple. Blood sugar restored, we dropped by Jay's place to pick up some targets and ear protection and then headed to Quickshot Shooting Range (and Gallery) (there were some neat photographs on display, but we didn't take a lot of time to view them). Jay rented a ... semi automatic? pistol and bought ammo and we were assigned a lane. It was the one on the far end, next to the wall, which was reassuring to me, but the incredibly loud bangs from the other shooters in the range had me jumping every. single. time. I think there was a shot gun and a .45 hand gun, and the concrete walls made for some impressive echoes. I was bummed that my thumbs were my weak spot this time (last time we went shooting, the revolver I tried tweaked out my elbow) - switching to drop handle bars on my bike has me riding every day with more pressure on the joint of my thumb, especially when braking. I shot a couple of magazines, even tried left handed (didn't do much worse!), but didn't want to risk the pain getting worse. I was also having a hard time adjusting to the fact that lining up the sight on where I wanted the bullet to go wasn't making the bullet go there (I was always hitting down and to the left) - I have a huge appreciation now for how hard it is for law/military personnel to hit small targets. I bowed out and managed the zombie/alien/robot targets for Jay to practice. :) The staff let me hold another pistol as we were leaving, it felt better in my hand with a smaller grip, so I might try that next time (relying on Jay to remember what it was :) ).

The rain was still bucketing down, so we decided to go for proximity in our dinner plans and got gussied up to head across the street from the hotel. White Oak Kitchen and Cocktails reminded me a bit of Eastern Standard, but it was almost dead that night (one guy at the bar, two maybe staff setting up at a table behind us). We sat at the extended bar section and had fun with a mildly snarky waitress who had an Oatmeal tattoo. :) Their Manish Boy cocktail (gin, st. germaine, cider, lime, cucumber) was delicious, though Jay was in raptures over the fresh berries in his Blue Sky (gin, basil and cracked pepper syrup, blueberries, ginger beer). I had a Murmur after dinner the blackberry sage infused tea looks familiar. Then I went with bartender's choice for my last one and got a Thorn and Rose. We ate off the bar menu since the dinner one was a bit pricey after a weekend of indulgence. I had the tuna burger and it was pretty good though nothing beats the one at Citizen. :) Okay, I'll stop comparing Atlanta to Boston, I've had ages to scope out good food and cocktails near my home/work and Jay just started noticing craft cocktail bars after I kept talking about the Boston ones. The drinks at White Oak were top notch, I'll definitely go back there again for those, and might budget for a dinner there as well.

Monday December 17, 2012

Yay, I got to go back to Radial Cafe for breakfast again! Unfortunately, I didn't order well and felt that my egg and sun dried tomato dish was a bit oily, I was given the wrong tea bag and we were generally neglected by our server. I still like the place and will go back again, but will be more careful of what I order.

I had a later evening flight, so there was lots of time to do stuff on my last day in Atlanta. First up was the Fernbank Museum of Natural History where they had a cool Genghis Khan exhibit. I learned a lot and we were able to slip between groups of school kids to read the signs in mostly peace. We also looked at the shells exhibit (bad acoustics had a child's playful but piercing screaming echo around the room, so I didn't browse as long as I would have liked), the dinosaurs and the Georgia exhibit.

Then some down time as we hit up a book store and then a cafe that also sold tea for some quiet reading time. That got us out of the dreaded afternoon no food available hours and we were able to get supper at Dark Horse Tavern right as they opened. In fact our waitress was still getting ready in the bathroom when we arrived, and there was some confusion over our orders. They were offering half price tapas but we had to send the bill back to get the discount. The food was great, I had papparadelle and salmon, bbq chicken and risotto, gulf shrimp and the best brownie in the world. :)

Then it was time to head to the airport to try and avoid rush hour traffic and get me to my flight on time. Turns out that traffic wasn't an issue and I was able to check in quickly and the security line was short, but I did use up some of my extra time getting to my departure gate since it was in terminal E I think (annoying linear system). It was a bumpy flight, I think they barely turned off the seat belt signs, and we were a bit late leaving as the cabin crew was delayed on their inbound flight. I didn't check my bag, and there was thankfully and empty line for taxis at Logan so I was home quickly once we landed.

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