>Aaaah, relaxing. Such a nice weekend, and, of course, we made an early start of it on Friday morning.
I discovered a few months ago that Idina Menzel [Rent…Wicked….Glee] would be appearing at Atlanta Symphony Hall, and naturally I raced to the computer and ordered tickets. They were magnetized to the refrigerator for weeks until the day finally came.
We had planned a short, but sweet getaway, and left mid-morning on Friday for the three-plus hour drive; it’s practically a straight shot from Smallville to Atlanta so there were no wrong turns or missed exits, and no threats of kicking someone out of the car.
I’d never been to Atlantabefore, except many, many, stops at the airport while flying east to west and back again through the years, so I was looking for ward to it. And Carlos hasn’t been back in many years, so it was nice to share it together.
The ride was the ride. As rides go. Big rigs with big tires, and road construction. A lot of our road trip view was the east end of a west bound rig, but it was pretty, and the leaves were changing, and i was serenading Carlos with Idine tunes, so it was nice.
We stayed at the Artmore Hotel, in Midtown, which is a small boutique hotel. Very nicely refurbished and chic. The obligatory bar in the lobby, and a beautiful courtyard with fireplace and water feature. It reminded us both of some of the smaller hotels on South Beach.And speaking of smaller.
I had heard that the rooms were small, especially the bathrooms, because this is an old hotel, but the room was not small at all, and really, very pretty. Rosy, romantic, you know. Now, the bathroom, well, yes, it was a postage stamp, but I am not a bathroom kind of gay, so it was Get-In-Do-Your-Business-And-Get-Out.
We walked to a nearby Mexican restaurant for a late lunch. Rosa Mexicana was very good; some of the best, spiciest salsa I’ve ever had. Tortilla soup and ahi tune ceviche was absolutely fantastic.
They have a wall of water cascading down one side of the restaurant, with little tiny white men diving down, like the cliffs at Acapulco. Plus, a truly great, lime-y, strong, [did I mention strong?] margarita to start things off.
After lunch we strolled around, peering in shops and people watching, until it was time to head back and change for the show. I knew the hotel was close to Symphony Hall, but when we asked at the desk about driving, or taking a cab, she said it was just around the corner, so we walked it.
It was a gorgeous night, cool, not cold, and we took our time walking. Symphony Hall, and the surrounding museum complex, is a gleaming white building with all sorts of venues for plays and concerts, and art. We went in and ordered a drink and milled around, doing more people watching and checking out a photographic exhibition in the lobby. It was interesting, the kinds of people waiting to see Idina Menzel. Young and old, all colors, gay and straight; quite the diverse crowd.
Finally, it was time to go in, and we made our way down to our orchestra seats. Very nice seats, though I could have sat closer, or as Carlos says, “Close enough so she can sweat on you.” And, yes, that would have been okay.
While we waited, and listened to the symphony tune up, I noticed two screens on either side of the stage showing upcoming performances. There was Christmas Messiah’s and some Danish opera singer and a few plays and Patti LuPone and……
Cut to me, at home, Sunday night, online, ordering tickets to see La LuPone!
Anyway, the show begins, the orchestra starts, and Idina Menzel comes skipping, yes, skipping, onstage in her bare feet. The concert was just fabulous. The voice is gorgeous, and her stage presence was phenomenal. She was so funny, telling stories between songs, and working the crowd, especially the latecomers. No divaliciousness, just good fun.
At one point, Carlos leans over to me, and, because he’s such a classical music queen and loves a good symphony, says that the orchestra is fabulous. At the same time, Idina Menzel turns to the orchestra and once again says how much she enjoys them, before adding, “But enough about you, back to me!”
There was one spot in the show, where she’s singing “For Good”, from Wicked, without the orchestra and without the microphone. Just her voice and the hall. Suddenly, we heard a booming voice from somewhere up there–not god, but someone in the balcony–shouting, “Mic!” People snickered nervously, but Idina kept singing. A few seconds later, he shouted something again, and then Idina started giggling mid-song; she laughed and asked that he not be thrown out, that he was all right, and then she finished the song.
Later, during the encore, she dedicated to both her mother, and the man in the balcony. It was “Tomorrow”from Annie.
Such a beautiful show. So much fun. So many great tunes.
This one, from Rent, “No Day But Today”, was probably my favorite because it was so sweet and melancholy, and sung for Jonathan Larson, the composer and writer of Rent, who died of an aortic dissection before the show officially opened.
After the show, we walked back to the hotel for a late diner and drinks. We sat in the Studio Bar and just relaxed and chatted. It was such a nice end to a wonderful day.
The next day we spent around Piedmont Park, enjoying the sun, and the views. People jogging, walking strollers, hot guys playing Frisbee Football.
We ate breakfast at a funky little place called The Flying Biscuit, and then strolled through the neighborhood of old houses and new condos.
We came upon Outwrite, a gay bookstore–how long has it been since I was in a gay bookstore? No such thing in Smallville–and went inside. There are few things I love more than books, and bookstores, so I was in heaven, and $170 later we were outta there. But you can never have enough books, or birthday cards, or small pieces of jewelry.
There was a Farmer’s Market in the park, and we met a former lawyer turned T-shirt designer, who sells her own designs undere the CoutuRecycling label. All sorts of shirts with a recycling theme; recycling everything from laughter, to water to boyfriends. She has a website, HERE, so give her a look, and maybe pick a little something up.
Now, as we are apt to do, Carlos and I, we talked of living in Atlanta. After years of Miami and Ft Lauderdale, it was nice to be in a more urban environment, and we love the idea of theater and museums and that rush of traffic and people and life that doesn’t exist in Smallville. Now, the good thing is that we are not far from Atlanta, so we can make it down much more often and explore more often, until, maybe, a move occurs, if it occurs.
One of the great stops on our mini-trip was actually on the way home. A year or so ago, we discovered a Cuban restaurant in Aiken, South Carolina–of all places–and when we were getting ready to leave Atlanta, I suggested maybe we drive into Aiken on the way home and have a good Cuban meal.
And we did. The Cafe Rio Blanco is still there, and still serving one of the meanest Frita Burgers you’ll ever taste–ground beef, ground pork, ground chorizo–on a homemade bun with shoestring potatoes, followed by a Cortadito–sweetened espresso–after.
The whole weekend.