After years of travel, you might think I would have a better method for planning my adventures. But old habits die hard, so when I arrived in Georgia and my aunt and uncle asked me what I was going to do during my two week stay, all I could say was, “I have no idea.”
I have a strange travel tradition. You see, I spend my first day anywhere getting over the jet lag by diving head first into Google. I was knee deep in search results when I came across a posting about the upcoming party at Ponce City Market. Travel brings out my spontaneous side, so after reading the short paragraph about all the food, drinks, and music that would be there, I decided to buy a ticket and see what it was all about.
Where all the cool kids are
My (minimal) research revealed that Ponce City Market was an indoor market with boutique shops and fancy restaurants, similar to Chelsea Market in New York City. Since Chelsea Market is one of my favorite places in the city, I had my hopes up.
The next day I was cured of my jet lag and ready to explore. I figured this would be a classy city-party, so I got all dolled up in my classiest city attire. I curled my hair, pulled on a backless dress, and painted my lips red. I was ready to party my heart out.
I got there 30 minutes after the doors opened. Fashionably late be damned, I was going to get my money’s worth. And boy did I get my money’s worth. The minute I arrived, two things were abundantly clear.
The first was that I was in fact at a classy city-party. Groups of young urbanites crowded the door and party goers filed in by the hundreds.
The second was that the dress code for classy city-parties in Atlanta is very different than the dress code for such parties in NYC. I could count the number of women in dresses. While I was a bit over dressed, I forgot all about it when I saw the spread waiting for me.
Salmon, gelato, and whiskey… Oh my!
Turned out this wasn’t just an ordinary party. This was the grand opening of Ponce City Market, a once abandoned warehouse now turned into a center for luxury shopping and fine dining. Each restaurant that would be opening their doors inside the market had a tasting booth set up with samples of some of their best dishes.
I threw my usual dietary restrictions out the window and began to eat my heart out. I snacked on sweet and spicy snack mix, homemade potato chips topped with chipotle mayo and smoked salmon, maple gelato with blackbery preserves, grilled octopus, tumeric rice stuffed grape leaves, and more. It was foodie heaven.
Lucky for me, the treats didn’t end there. A couple of the restaurants were handing out samples of their best drinks as well. I tried my first ever Old Fashioned and taste-tested Georgia peach tea vodka. I even got a non-alcoholic shot of ginger, spinach, and mango juice from the juice bar.
While the classy ladies and gentleman moaned about being too full, I quickly made my way around for seconds (because I have no shame, a tight budget, and an obsession with food) before the food portion of the night ended.
I could have danced all night
When the food portion of the night did eventually come to an end, the 3-hour concert began. The concert opened with David Ryan Harris. He lost his voice earlier that day, so his performance was… unique. But he managed to keep us entertained and his guitar skills were incredible enough to carry him through.
Next on stage was the city mayor and local councilman. They gave the required speeches and said the necessary thank yous before beginning the countdown. At 0 they pulled a lever that lit the Ponce City Market for the first time. Ponce City Market was officially open for business.
Shawn Mullins came on stage next. I had no idea who he was, but I loved his voice. I was rocking out to every song. I couldn’t figure out why, but his voice sounded somewhat familiar. Then he started to sing Rockaby and I almost jumped out of my chair. Wait! I wanted to yell, I know this song!! I rocked back and forth and wished I had a lighter as the crowd swayed, regardless of the rain pouring down on us.
Eventually the rain stopped and the Indigo Girls came on stage. The crowd got rowdy and actually rose to their feet. The Indigo Girls were clearly the main pull (and the only artist I was previously familiar with).
They killed it. I loved it. Then it ended and I didn’t want to go home.
A night to remember
I was apprehensive about going to this event alone. I was quite obviously the only person there flying solo, and if I had even an ounce less self confidence than I do, I don’t know if I would have enjoyed it. Thankfully I have a healthy serving of self confidence and I absolutely loved the Party at Ponce.
In fact, this event reminded me of one of the reasons I enjoy solo traveling. When you travel alone, you become more approachable. If I had been there with my family or a friend, I am sure we would have had a blast. But I never would have heard the man in line with me’s entire back story.
I probably would not have spent fifteen minutes joking with the person giving out the sweet and spicy salt mix. I definitely would not have learned all about Monroe, his son, Andrew, and their honey business, Blue Haven Bee Company. I gave them travel advice and got excited with them for their upcoming trip to California.
I would have passed all of these people by if I hadn’t been there alone.
There are plenty of benefits to traveling with people you know and planning your trips ahead of time. But sometimes I find being solo and spontaneous is exactly what it takes to have an adventure of a lifetime.