We were feeling a need to celebrate life and all the great things we have been blessed with so we decided to take a weekend for us.
Of course we started at my two favorite sites, Upromise.com and then on to priceline.com. Upromise will give you money back for a college education of anybody of your choosing when you shop with any of their many partners of which priceline happens to be one.
We ended up getting a good deal to stay at the Sheraton in downtown Atlanta. I have a habit of reading the reviews of hotels after we book there to see what the critics are saying. This one got bashed on many levels but I only agreed with two of them. First it seemed like everyone was upset with the parking particularly the price ($18 a day to self park). I have no problem with the price, try staying at any downtown hotel in any major metropolitan area, you have to pay. It was a long hike from the parking garage to the hotel and you were doing down the on ramp where more guests are pulling in. Secondly, it seemed like everyone complained about the size of the bathrooms. They are small but my goal is to spend as little time in the loo as possible, so no big deal.
The Sheraton had a lovely indoor/outdoor pool with a retractable roof. Unfortunately we didn't get to use it as we had other plans. The room was nice, they had nice bar, Fandangle's, that had a translucent bar top ($8 a mixed drink makes it a little pricey). We also enjoyed a nice breakfast buffet Saturday morning. Once again a little pricey at $16.50 a pop but very good.
We arrived around 8:30 Friday night and decided to grab a bite to eat at a local pub. We were going to grab a cab because my GPS said it was a half mile and it was Downtown Atlanta after dark.When we told the bell hop were we were going he looked at as funny and told us it was only a block away, so we hiked. So we arrived for dinner at Gibney's. We must have been looking good as we both got carded (either that or they card everybody). It was a nice place with a good selection of both draft and bottled beer. I think the one we enjoyed the most was Shock Top (Even though I later found out it was a Budweiser product). Nothing against Budweiser I just like my micro brews to not be made by a huge corporation, it takes some of the specialness out. We ordered nachos as an appetizer and it was the only complaint of the evening. Great jalapenos but no beans and almost no cheese. I ordered the Sheperd's Pie and Laila had the fish and chips. They were both excellent. The boths all had their own TV and they had the MLB package so we watched the Astros finally break their losing streak against the Tampa Bay (not the Devil any longer) Rays.
Our big plan for the weekend was to go to Zoo Atlanta and see the gorillas. I am a big zoo fan, but I was a little shocked to pay $17.99 a head for admission. National Zoo in DC, fantastic and free. St. Louis Zoo, fantastic and free. Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, KS, pretty darn good and free. If I remember correctly even the Houston Zoo was relatively inexpensive in comparison.
That being said it was completely worth it. We walked around and saw some other animals but we were there to see the gorillas. My most valuable piece of advice is to plan your time so you are there at least 45 minutes before feeding time (we made it there an hour before). When we got there, there was not a beast in site but they knew what time it was and starting coming down the hill to wait for supper. We stood there for almost 2 hours taking pictures and video.
We headed back to hotel for a nap and then supper. Once again we decided to hoof it and headed up the hill to see what we could find. We stumble upon Ray's in the City. It was wonderful! When you sit in main dining room you can see all the people on the street walking by. and sometimes looking in, it ironically reminded me of feeding time at the zoo. It is a little thought provoking though when you are raising your wine glass for a toast and you see the homeless walking by. We started out by ordering a bottle of wine. My only complaint, is that we ordered crab cakes (plural) for an appetizer and it was a crab cake (singular). We also had a bowl of gumbo. It was spicy and didn't have as much meat as what I put in my gumbo but delicious nonetheless. For the main course I had the shrimp crawfish etouffee and Laila had the seafood platter. Both were wonderful and the atmosphere was terrific.
We headed back toward Gibney's for a night cap when a (I'm assuming) homeless gentleman starting walking with us and offering suggestions on where we should go and offered to shine my shoes (I was wearing hush puppies). So then I waited for the sales pitch. He just wanted $3.99. When I asked what for he told me it was for a vegetable plate. Since he had been very polite, sober and relatively decent smelling for Atlanta in the summer, I slid him a couple of bucks. He told me I would be blessed twice over, so I got that going for me.