Oh my goodness – this post has been ready since the middle of June, so the tardiness is my fault. Apologies to Babs!! Anyway, it’s still always fun to hear about peoples conference experiences, so enjoy!
Do you want to hang out with hundreds of fellow romance fans for up to 6 days and geek out over books? Do you want the opportunity to meet hundreds of romance authors all in one place? Check out RT! (Maybe–see notes below.)
If you’re not familiar, RT Booklovers Convention or RT is hosted by RT Book Reviews each year. It’s a traveling convention and occurs during a April-May timeframe. Reader events run Tuesday through Sunday. The focus is romance novels but you’ll see non-romance authors there from mystery, suspense/thriller, etc. RT17 was my fifth RT and was in Atlanta May 2-7. I attended RT in:
2013 in Kansas City
2014 in New Orleans (my fave so far)
2015 in Dallas
2016 in Las Vegas
Agenda. RT can be as busy and crowd filled as you want. I am pretty selective in the events I attend. Some readers go for the reader parties with all the goody bags and free books and have complex scheduling strategies. I know others spend a lot of time socializing in the hotel bar with friends they only see at RT. I’m somewhere in the middle now. A few reader events, some panels, maybe one evening party. I leave plenty of time for food, relaxing/hanging out, and a little sightseeing. Use the RT app or the paper agenda if you’re like me and need to HAVE A PLAN. I like variety in my panels and reader events and try to hit different sub genres. Continue reading →
While I was in Atlanta, I obviously scheduled a few excursions outside of the hotel, because it’s what I like to do as I go stir crazy. (And to be honest, people hate-y, although this time wasn’t bad more for the reason I felt like I didn’t see anyone at all.) Anyway, while just chatting on twitter, someone (sorry! I can’t remember who!) told myself and Isobel that we had to go to High Museum of Art Atlanta (HIGH) because Girl with a Pearl Earring was there as part of a special collection (Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis). Well, I love the Dutch Masters. I’ve had the opportunity to see a special collection of Rembrandt’s works and it was amazing, so I knew I had to go.
I already had a busy schedule, but I started asking people how they felt about high art. I finally found a victimfriend, and Beth said she was excited to go. Whee! I contacted HIGH about my visit, and it was arranged so they provided me with tickets! Which was awesome! In fact, fortuitously two! (Thank you, HIGH Museum of Art!)
First off, it’s really easy to get there. We took a cab there, but MARTA back. There are a lot of great restaurants nearby as well, so you can get lunch, dinner, or brunch at any point surrounding your visit. Beth and I had a tiny bit of a walk around to find the entrance of the museum, but once in, it was easy to get to “the good stuff.” The exhibit was on the second floor, and the elevators were right there. We took the audio tour, which was nice. It wasn’t like other audio tours I’ve ever listened to. There were a number of people speaking, and although they each gave their credentials, I don’t remember who they were. (Oops.) Beyond giving some information about the work, oftentimes the speaker also did a sort of casual “art crit,” remarking on parts that they liked, which people may not have noticed. It was a fun personal touch that I’m sure encouraged people to look at the paintings more carefully.
It was a lovely collection, and there were a number of works that I’d never seen before, which was awesome. I don’t know if it was possible, but I wish the lighting had been slightly different, because there was often a reflection or glare on the protective glass which made the paintings difficult to observe. Otherwise, I feel lucky to have had a chance to visit HIGH because the exhibit was only in San Francisco, Atlanta, and will be heading to New York. There were a few Rembrandts I got to “revisit,” as well as works from Frans Hals, Jacob van Ruisdael and Adriaen van Ostade. (Beth and I also felt the Rachel Ruysch was a favorite.)
Of course the culmination of the tour was Girl with a Pearl Earring, which got its own room complete with foot barrier, and dim lighting. I stood there for quite some time, and had a moment. <3
It was very clever for the exhibit to open into a small gift shop that had books, cards, the usual museum store items, and even a chocolate bar with Girl with a Pearl Earring printed on the wrapper. There were even magnetic Girl with a Pearl Earring finger puppets. (In fact I’m now wondering if I can find a book of the collection “out in the wild,” as I didn’t buy one there…)
Then, we went downstairs, and found what felt almost like a gallery, with all (I believe) the pieces created by local artists, which opened into a room of African Art. It was a fun display that I think children would like. They had two or three ceremonial masks mounted on a wall, with two screens showing video of the actual ceremonies. Certain this wasn’t all to be see, Beth and I and asked about the HIGH’s general collection, and what the “must see” works were. (I’m not sure if we were asking volunteers or staff.) We did this because we had lunch plans, and Beth had previously informed me she was forced to endure countless hours at museums, so we weren’t going to spend all day there, but didn’t want to miss anything.
You have to go through something of a walkway, and then into what I’d personally call the “main building” of the museum. We were actually a little surprised by how “small” the museum is. I suppose I’m spoiled when it comes to museums, but for Atlanta being such a large city, Beth and I were a bit perplexed. Nevertheless, there’s an interesting mix of modern art, American Art, and European art from various periods. (In fact I realized you can browse the museum collection online! Super cool!)
We found two Monets, one from his Houses of Parliament series, and one landscape. I hadn’t seen either before, so that was nice. (The Monet had been our goal, because the girl told us there was “a Monet” so it was a bit of a scavenger hunt.) After walking through a few floors (it’s a really cool open layout with a winding ramp between floors), we were hungry and decided to leave. I do want to note the American Art (I did a project on it in school so it’s got a special place in my heart), as well as a Degas I don’t remember seeing in any art book. Another find! There were some gorgeous displays of crystalware on the walk up, and some whimsical British china with a lot of cute motifs. Lots of “the four seasons” and items shaped like fish, frogs, and the like.
I like that the museum has the “open layout” but with the ramps, there are some nooks that can house the smaller collections with a particular theme in its own space. It’s really nice because the open layout gives you a general idea of the collections so you can have a specific target if you’re “on a mission” like we were.
The grounds for the HIGH museum are very nice, and the architecture is gorgeous. I can totally see a number of wonderful events being held there. If I visit Atlanta again I’d like to see how the collection is developed. Also, on Thursdays they have “Thirsty Thursdays.” Who wouldn’t like half price tickets and drinks available for purchase? If you’re in the area, I definitely recommend seeing if there’s a special exhibit that catches your interest. Or, if you’re looking for something to do on Thursday evening. [Oh, and if you’re wondering why this is so text heavy, you need a special permit to take pictures in the museum, and I didn’t think to apply for one previously, so sorry – none from me this time!]
On twitter, when just … chattering generally like I do, someone suggested I go to World of Coke. (Or Coke World, or whatever.) Formally, I believe it is “World of Coca-Cola.”) I don’t normally drink soda pop (covering all my bases there as you see ;)) – but if or when I do, Coke is often my choice. It’s just good and pairs well with so many flavors. Cuba Libre. Coke with lime. Coke with vanilla. Coke with lemon. Coke float!
Anyway, I pounced. I looked into it. I contacted Coke to ask about tours, and after I talked to a few people, it was all set. They “sent” me tickets. I was going to Coke World. (Which is what I want to call it because it’s easiest to say and type.) And I was bringing a friend(s).
It was really close to our hotel, so we walked. (I had planned on going with Jax, and that morning Sandi texted me to see where I was and I told her she should come with us.) As soon as you walk in, there’s coke promotional items and advertisements. I wish we had known a bit more, because the “holding room” is pretty cool, but they were all “the film is starting soon!” And I was picturing small museum room, so I lined right up. Like a good lemming. Had I known it was a theater I would have wandered more and taken pictures, waiting for a crowd to go through so I could take pictures in an empty room. (Although it’s good we didn’t, because Sandi was on a restricted schedule.)
Anyway you watch this little film which is animated, and cute, and catchy, and was in my head still a few days. Although some of the things are freaky.
And OMFG I FOUND IT ONLINE. En.Joy. (You’ll see what I thought was freaky.)
I loved the Happification and the Happiness Factory.
After that, it’s an open tour and you can wander around. There’s the requisite “museum type” section, kinda like what you see at a Smithsonian, and I enjoyed that. Tons of Coke machines etc are lit though, so it was difficult to take pictures of items etc without glare and back lighting affecting the pictures. Oh well. These are a few of my favorites.
One of my MOST FAVORITE THINGS of the tour was right after the “theater” actually, and it was THE COKE POLAR BEAR. It was SO AWESOME. Animatronic and that sounds … not wonderful, judging by the expressions of people when I tried to tell them about it, but you had to be there. Seriously, World of Coca-Cola, whoever was in that costume when I was there, you are not paying him/her enough. That person was a great sport, and totally animated. Willing to sit or stand depending on the people – hug and be hugged (I totally hugged the bear). It has to pose for pictures, waves, can obviously see out because it blinks, smiles, moves well, and when Jax, Sandi, and I were standing on a landing and it was alone (idiots – people not wanting to be with the bear?!) and it was smiling and waving at us AND I LOVED IT.
No joke – if it had come back to the hotel with us everyone would have lost their shit. In a good way. (I so wished that could happen.) [I also have more bear expressions etc but things aren’t playing nice and I’ve wasted too much time so maybe if I can figure it out later…]
Also cool was as the Olympics were in Atlanta in 1996, and hello Coke like is Atlanta, a “of the Nations” thing was many? All? Participating countries sent a “Nationally designed” Coke Bottle. Very cool. Those were throughout the open spaces.
And of course, there’s a “factory section” (that I personally just strolled through as it’s not something I’m really interested in/most factory set ups are the same) – and theeeennnnn you go into the tasting room. Sandi had to leave, but Jax and I tasted every single flavor. The standouts (in a bad way) were the vegetable one from Japan, and the ever infamous Beverly, a discontinued aperitif from Italy. I was warned, so when I took a sip, it was bitter but not so bad, but oh man the finish. It is vile.
I actually loved the fancy coke machines near the end – the raspberry vanilla coke. (I’d love cherry vanilla … but I think strawberry coke would not be a good thing.) It was just too much syrup though, and for a few hours after I felt a bit… ill. Despite only having maybe a sip of each kind. (61? Flavors?) It’s a lot of sugary sweet to take in with carbonation. It was a mad house. A ton of little kids running around, splashing… I wished there was a small foot fountain at the end, actually XD because things got a little sticky. You know that … shoes sticking to the floor? That. And kids splashing. I was glad I wore a skirt.
I was also sad that some of the flavors I tasted there aren’t available in the states.
Then, when you leave the tasting area, you get a 8 oz glass commemorative bottle to take home, along with a plastic bag to carry it in, and it opens into (of course!) the gift shop! I wouldn’t recommend buying their “mystery bag” actually. I think I went for the $2 or $3 one? (Mostly I wanted the World of Coca Cola bag, being an idiot forgetting I was already buying something so I’d have one anyway… but that one zip-locked…) Ahem. Anyway, it was just a cheap ginormous coke pen. Meh.The clerk was all “it’s really good” when I was waffling. Ah well. It’s what she’s paid to do.)
So anyway, it’s actually a pretty short, small tour, but I think worth checking out. If you have time and like wandering you can carefully observe each bottle, and pick when crowds are slightly thinner to go elbow your way into the tasting stations. I don’t know that I’d go back, but I am glad that I went at all. So for a one time visit? Yeah – you should go.
Have any of you gone before? Are you a “coke person?” >.> Does anyone here prefer Pepsi?
ETA: Oh oh oh oh oh!!! One thing I SO WISH Coke World had was a motion ride 😀 You know, like in Vegas? I just feel like there’s a missed opportunity here.