The boys ate nonstop snacks, and we held out as long as we could so that we could head to Fox Bros BBQ immediately after leaving the zoo at around 2:30. We arrived to discover (not shocked) that we would have to park wayyyy down in the neighborhood and walk to the restaurant. We had visited here before when Bradley's brother and his wife lived in ATL, so we knew it was delicious and so worth it.
I stayed in the car to quickly nurse Henry, while Bradley and Bennett walked ahead to get a table. Well...they tried to. An hour and a half wait (at 2:45pm??) was not going to cut it for us, which was sad.
We ended up desperately searching Google Maps for anything close by, and we settled for a Mexican Grill chain that was essentially the same thing as Moe's but under a different name. (Side note: we hate Moe's. Chipotle forever. Anyway.) It was ok, because any sustenance would have done the trick at this point. I just felt disappointed that things were not shaping up "as planned." Bradley's favorite food is BBQ, so of course I wanted that to be a part of his celebratory weekend. And I hate eating at chain restaurants period, but especially when we're on a trip and could savor something local and special. Bummer.
We headed to the hotel to check in, since we figured now we would need a little time to get ready for dinner/decide where we wanted to go. We were staying at the Omni Hotel, which is attached to The CNN Center and essentially adjacent to the Georgia Dome and Phillips Arena. My husband had stayed here before on numerous occasions with a previous job in football. Bonus: it's within walking distance of the aquarium (and lots to eat) so we felt confident in our selection.
As we neared the hotel, there were literally mobs of people in the streets surrounding the park and the hotel. It was super nerve wracking to be driving in the crazy traffic and then navigating wayward pedestrians. We were puzzled as to what could be going on, and then when valet took about 30 minutes, we were really beginning to wonder.
We grabbed our information from the front desk, and headed to the room. A bell hop had our bags on a cart, and we figured he'd be right behind us. -----45 minutes and a phone call downstairs later, he arrived with our bags. It was now getting too late to get all dressed up to go to dinner anywhere fancy, so we reluctantly decided to walk down to The CNN Center and find something in the food court. My mama gut was telling me that this wasn't a stellar idea, but I thought that was just the fact that I didn't want Chick-Fil-A for the 5th time this week.
When we got down there, it was SO crowded and there were people cutting up and acting foolishly. (We found out later that this past weekend was Atlanta's wildest concert of the year featuring extremely well known headline rappers, and the party was cranking up right about the time we were in the middle of everything. But as tourists, how were we to know?)
When someone came out of nowhere and slammed a fifth of vodka on the Chick-Fil-A counter, demanding a "LARGE LEMONADE," and someone stepped on my toddler's foot, making him burst into tears, we knew it was time to take the kids upstairs to eat our food on the go.
I walked across the food court with Bennett to grab something from another restaurant, and was headed back to where Bradley and Henry were waiting on us. I guess a fight was breaking out or something, because people started screaming and running, and we very narrowly missed getting actually trampled in the process. We were shuffling to the outskirts and got bumped a little, but it could have easily been much more dramatic.
Cops came out of nowhere, and I have no idea what happened next because I (in true dramatic mom fashion) got super upset and started crying. When you and your child narrowly miss being stampeded over by a large unruly crowd, you just feel shocked and emotional.
It wasn't an overreaction, though, because we really could have been injured in that scuffle. My husband is always one to downplay a situation or let me know when I'm being over the top, but he affirmed that this was unacceptable and upsetting.
As we passed the hotel lobby check-in area with armfuls of Chick-Fil-A bags and a panicking mama with a tear streaked face, of course someone on hotel staff approached us. They already knew that things were getting out of hand in the hotel, and it was written all over their faces before they even articulated it to us. But because we no longer felt comfortable staying there, she politely assured us that it was no problem and that we wouldn't be charged for our awful experience.
To shorten what could turn into a really long story, valet took FOREVER to find our car and get it to us because they were dealing with some crazy situations as well. The bright side is that we were offered to come back as a complimentary stay, which we will probably do and will likely enjoy since this hotel is usually pretty nice when music festivals aren't taking place and mass inappropriate behavior is not abounding. (I promise I'll post about what I'm now referring to as the "Redemption Trip.") haha.
We got on the phone with the Ritz Carlton just down the street, thinking it would be a better bet since it wasn't attached to the concert venue itself.
NOPE. As we pulled in, valet was at a standstill, and we saw more tomfoolery going on in the street entrance of the lobby. I immediately called the front desk and asked them to cancel our reservation, and to please transfer us to the Buckhead location of the Ritz. My brain was fried, I was so tired, and SO DONE. I didn't mind driving 17 minutes down the road to be out of this situation and in a quiet, quality place with my kids (it was already 8:00 and I hadn't eaten my dinner yet because what southern girl can even think about eating anything when she's all in a tizzy? Especially a disgusting wrap from a food court.)
We made it fun by making it a bonding experience. After all, it wouldn't be one of OUR trips without having a huge hitch in the plans. ;) (LEST you forget about example A: our trip to the River House previously documented on this blog.)