Tuesday, April 01, 2008

An Unplanned Trip - Atlanta

Thank you, C.!

There is one common feeling that unites all my trips, no matter how long, or where the destination, or whether I travel by land or air. And that is the feeling of unbounded gratefulness. To God, nature, and Life: that I have a body that allows me (still) to pick up and go; that there is a certain amount of safety I feel when I launch off my front porch; that I have the means to do it; that there are friends out there who either do it with me, or host my crazy outings.

Sometimes I’d pick up and go with a definite plan in mind, an itinerary and a defined timetable. And other times, when the town I live in becomes claustrophobic, I just play it by ear. Like this past weekend when all I wanted is to visit my friend in Atlanta. He’s funny and he can pack hours of entertaining just by being locked up in a room with him and listening to his fibs. That’s all I wanted: I wanted the road trip, to put some distance between daily routine and myself and to listen to my friend C. crack me up.

And, as it happens, on adventures like these, I got so much more.

I got to finally drive myself, all alone to a big city and actually not get terribly lost. One road fear down, 1000 to go! Hey, it’s the first step that counts!

I got to experience one of the quirkiest, and equally delicious restaurants I have ever been to: R. Thomas and Son. Funny name aside and all (kind of like a law office, but not ...), the place is unique: wind chimes and parrots and beads hanging from the purple ceiling, the place which is tucked under a tent, it reminded me of Key West, or some place in the Caribbean, but also of Amsterdam, for it’s eclectic-ness . They’re open 24/7 and they have breakfast round the clock.

I was not surprised that C. knew about the best place in town that has “breakfast 24/7”: we always used to go to Cracker Barrel in Greensboro, and he always used to order breakfast, no matter the time. I am glad some things don’t change so much over the years.

R. Thomas also had caged birds outside, that said “Bye” when you left, and “Hello” when you were heading in …

The food was all organic, and it tasted fresh, delicious and extremely non-greasy and non-stuffy, much, much unlike a MacBiscuit, or whatever they call those nowadays…

In this little quirky joint, I also discovered blue corn and how much I love it indeed and how that now opens the door for new culinary adventures, as I will learn everything about it: where you find it, how you cook it, how you season it, what you serve with it, you name it. It was the most basic dish you have ever seen or tasted: nothing like corn, nor beans, but somewhere in the middle. It was earthy, and simple and delicious! One hour of breakfast, one forgetful waiter later, I got more than a mouthful – as you can tell.

Also with no plans, we got to see the Georgia Aquarium, as the skies look cold and menacing, and drippy. It prides itself as “the largest aquarium in the world”, and I’d have to say: I was expecting “the” largest to be much larger than that. I guess in the number of kids and toddlers it can accommodate in 2 hours, yeah, it beats anything I have ever seen!

I had never seen Beluga whales nor whale sharks before, so there was another first. I also didn’t know about the electric eels. I’ll have to admit: I thought that’s a horrible name of a band in the 80’s, but they’re actual creatures!

We then walked to the CNN center not for the tour, which both of us have done before, and found it sort of dull (well, we both work for media people, so I guess we’re tougher to impress!). We went to CNN for snacks. I needed my ice cream and nuts fix for the year and C. wanted some donuts. About 3 disgustingly delicious ones!

I also found out about the Georgians’ sense of humor: their PortaJons are called either “Happy Can” or “Pit Stop”. I thought “Happy Can” was quite funny!

We also had a couple of large gatherings with friends; most notably one in a Mexican restaurant where you can watch tortillas being made fresh from dough, and where they recycle beer bottles by building chandeliers out of them. All I can say is: Paige Davis, eat your heart out!

But just the road tripping was welcome: to weave in and out 3-4-5 lanes amongst crazy centipede-like tractor trailers, which are completely unaware of their weight and size and speed on I-85 at speeds I am scared to tackle; just taking the Atlanta skyline in and architecture – would have been enough!

Historic houses, reminiscent of Scarlett O’Hara’s days right next to high rises or California-like modern homes, the woods of magnolia trees and dogwoods at every street corner – would have been plenty, just to rinse my retina of routine images I have been looking at here, at home, since my last trip!

Those and just to re-discover a very dear friend, the way I remembered him was priceless. We talked about our lives, relationships, loves and lost hopes and some newly gained ones, future plans and future dreams. We realized that years and physical distances matter not when the heart holds a stronger bond. Being an immigrant, I knew that – but it was nice to be reminded.

C’s stories, laughter and silliness – would have been divine! And his wisdom, too!

But it was so much more. As usual, a trip never disappoints. And again: I am rested and recharged, but most than anything: I am grateful. And looking forward, very much, to the next one.

For pictures, click here.

PS: The fact that I didn't go on and on about what the weather was like (awful, to sum it up!) should tell you that the trip was a hit!

1 comment:

Kehaar said...

Glad you could make it down! Come back any time! I promise I won't make you hang out with my friends the entire trip next time!