Did I mention that I’ve lost three hours here? So when I woke up for the last time at 7:30 a.m. it was really 4:30 a.m.?
Still lying in bed at 8:20 I realized that I was about to miss breakfast so I threw on my jeans and went down. Guess who was there…my new friends. We compare notes and decided to think about travelling together to some shopping. After some time together, I had to admit that our interests were different. They were looking for malls and serious shopping. I was looking for T. J. Maxx just to check it out.
So I bought a train day pass (works for buses, too) and headed off for the hinterland
armed with my list of restaurants from “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” show and some hints on finding T.J.’s. I love the train.
Many of the tracks are above grounds so its a cool way to sightsee. And I love to watch the people.
I wore my feet out in uncomfortable shoes searching for T.J.’s. Bought some comfy ones at Nordstroms and started hoofing it again. But, I had run out of time to find the Hankook Taqueria, a famous spot for Bibimbop, or the double cheeseburger at Holman & Finch Public House.
As I was eating my salad on the patio at Niko’s in the Buckhead area, I saw a bus going by and realized I could use my Marta* pass to take the bus back to my hotel. It would be the ultimate view of Peachtree Street for miles and miles.
Dang, I found out that it would take too long, so jumped the train and went back to get ready for my first Oprah thang. And that’s my uneventful day in a nutshell. Long train rides, two T.J.Maxx sitings with no success in locating them on the ground.
And then the fun began.
My three buddies stood me up for our trip to the Peter Walsh Cocktail Reception so I struck out on my own. Another train ride, discovery of a free shuttle, and the beginning of Oprah Networking Among Strangers Evening.
Standing in the line for the shuttle, I was eyeing all of the women. “Are they Oprah Groupies?” Hmmm. A couple of them were so OBVIOUSLY dressed for an Oprah event that it was a slamdunk. Others, it was iffy. All was revealed once we were on the bus, though. One person mentioned Ikea (site for the reception) and the rest of us cocked our ears and pounced. At least five of us left the bus bonded and now travelling in a herd.
We joined hundreds of others in line just in time for the uproar as Peter Walsh came around the corner. Any friend of Oprah’s is a friend of ours, after all. He went to the end of the line and was propelled forward, group by group, as he posed for photos and then was released to the next people in line. Maybe it was just designed as entertainment for the growing queue of people dressed in everything from ragged blue jeans to 5″ stilettos.
By the time my little cohort was released to go up the escalator, the presentation had begun, the lines for drinks and hors d’oeuvre were snaking for miles, and it was hard to hear the speaking over the dull roar of conversation. I managed to snag a glass of wine, a smoked salmon tidbit, and a crab cake from a passing tray. I was separated from my new friends and could see no reason to stay.
Still, it was another great day for making friends: Mona and her mother, Amanta, from Virginia; Gloria, from Florida, who just wanted to get in the photo; Jimar, a student at Georgia State, at the shuttle stop; Cindy and Judy from Canton, GA for dinner at Daddy Dz Barbecue (another TBTIEA stop); and Kelly and Jackie from Boston and Florida, who have offered me a cab ride in the morning.
I gave my train pass to a kid in valet parking and here I am…7:15 west coast time, wondering if I can get to sleep in time to wake up in time to get in line in time to not be in the back row.
TRAVEL NOTES: Atlanta has a great transportation system, MARTA, which has some intricacies that I discovered too late for my early adventure today. At all of the train stops that have a shopping mall nearby, there are free shuttles that pick up passengers from the train and deliver then to various stores. Around and round they go, carrying workers, shoppers and commuters. It’s totally cool.