Saturday, June 01, 2013

Chattanooga Hasn't Seen the Last of Me

Over Memorial Day weekend I flew down to Chattanooga, TN to attend my best friend from college's wedding.  I flew in on Friday going Boston to Charlotte, Charlotte to Chattanooga.  I don't fly a lot due to 5 years of unemployment and that time I woke up after a long flight and had a stroke.  So,  there was a lot of anxiety at first.  There was internet research on how to pack and what's allowed/not allowed on flights now.  I find study mode really helps anxiety.

Flying out of Boston was pretty good.  I was zone 1 and had a window seat.  I was also seated next to a man who has a fear of flying so he drinks heavily to make it through a flight.  He wasn't loud or gross, just really chatty and reeked of alcohol.  He also paid $7 for a Bud Light.  Hey, I had compression socks on, took a double dose of aspirin and had downed a liter of water to fight my DVT fear.  Diffferent strokes for different folks.

Charlotte airport is huge and awesome!  I love that they have white rocking chairs in public seating areas.  Also, they have device charging stations in atriums.  The automatic walkways were fun too.  I only had 45 minutes between flights so I had to haul ass.  The plane to Chattanooga was one of those tiny 13 row 4 seats across (2 on either side of the aisle) kinds.  I had to walk out on the tarmac to board.  New and a little alarming!  It was a short yet scenic flight, only an hour and flying over the Smoky Mountains.

Chattanooga airport is teeny tiny.  One store and no restaurant.  I grabbed a taxi and headed to my hotel.  The taxi driver was really nice and we had a nice chat/tour on the ride over.  One of my favorite moments was when she pointed out one of the oldest houses around dating from all the way back to 1800.  Oooh!  Such history, while I live in Quincy surrounded by houses from the 1600's.  Ha!

La Quinta is a nice hotel with comfortable beds, a really good breakfast, but in a really shitty part of Chattanooga.  I would say it's a good place to stay if you rent a car because only robbery or murder is within walking distance.  That night, my bride to be friend took me out here.  It is a really cute place tucked away across the Tennessee River.  This is how they do a caesar salad:

That is a cone of toasted cheese.  I also discovered a yummy Cabernet Sauvignon from Hendry Ranch. Very plummy and smooth.  We had a great time chatting and eating delicious food.  I had lamb, she had trout.  I get snobby about my seafood in landlocked states.  Then we shared an amaretto soufflé.  The drive back to the hotel was basically food coma mumblings.

The next morning I made friends at breakfast with two gentlemen from Fort Worth, TX.  Oh yeah, La Quinta has a waffle making iron for their breakfast.  Fab!  There was an open house at my friend and fiancé's home where I got to meet a bunch of really great people, friends and family of the happy couple.  Their place is absolutely gorgeous with a lot of land, very quiet, and gorgeous architecture I think after that open house, half of us were seriously considering relocating.  That night we had a four course meal here.  Lots of deliciousness, free flowing wine, and great people.  They serve an amazing cold strawberry soup that everyone was raving about.  Afterwards, we went out for drinks here.  I had a mojito and a patron Margarita both were delicious and decently priced.  I hopped a cab and went back to the hotel.  Oh yeah, service to downtown is only $3!  Take that Boston.  Service to the airport is at least $30 though.

As I went through these gastronomical tours, I was making a mental list of places I need to see when I come back.  Such as Lookout Mountain, the aquarium, and Tennessee River tour.  Sunday morning, bride to be, myself, and another friend had brunch here.  I had the Grand Marnier soaked French toast and vats of coffee.  Also, we had mentioned to our server that we were having a pre-wedding brunch so we got a complimentary 5 layer chocolate cake.  I'm pretty sure I killed my liver and pancreas after this trip!

The wedding was here.  It was non-traditional which had an interesting effect on guests.  Some people are so used to The Way a Wedding Should Be, anything off-book freaks them out.  I was the unofficial maid of honor, unofficial since they did not have a wedding party.  I helped the bride get ready and handed out programs.  The unofficial best man was the usher.  Here's the cool thing they did - instead of a guest book, they had a cookbook and had guests sign over their favorite recipe. They also had a string trio.  The wedding was amazing and moving.  The reception was the best I've ever seen.  The bride and groom picked out the DJ's playlist so it was a perfect combo of classic 80's and 90's music.  I danced for 3 hours with barely a break.  I'd try to sit down, then I'd hear the opening of the next song, and it was my jam so I had to dance!  Also, there was a conga line to Dance Like an Egyptian.  I danced in strappy wedges to House of Pain (now I have feet of pain).  There was an open bar.  I had totally forgotten about Whiskey Sours until a wedding guest reminded me!  Mmmm...

The upshot is that Chattanooga is an awesome place with a vibrant, funky downtown.  Lots of activities to do around the city and is maneuverable with or without a car.  I met a bunch of great people and my friend married her best friend.  Seriously, they unshriveled my cynical heart.  It was also sunny and in the 80's all weekend.  Kids, seniors, and adult will enjoy it there!

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