For many weeks, Doug and I talked about what to do for my birthday. Not because my birthday is particularly special, but it happened to fall on a Sunday this year (and curses! Due to this year as a leap year, no Saturday birthday for me until 2017) and we wanted an excuse to get out of town. We talked about Memphis for awhile, a five-hour-away destination that could involve Graceland, blues, and barbeque, but I couldn't find any good hotel deals for Memphis and we kept hemming and hawing on plans. Suddenly it was Friday night of my birthday weekend and we had no plans to leave town.
On a whim, I looked at what was playing at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center and saw they had their last weekend of Neil Simon's classic comedy, The Odd Couple. I then checked Hotwire.com for a possible hotel deal in Tulsa and they had a 3.5 star hotel for $55 (Hotwire doesn't tell you the name of the hotel until after you book), so after a brief chat, we booked both. Turns out the hotel was right next door to the performing arts center and right down the block from a fabulous beer hall we've been to a few times, so plans quickly fell into place.
We left around 1pm on Saturday after leaving enough food and water for the cat to survive for 24 hours. This is a topic for another post, but our cat is kind of a nightmare; she's into everything, very whiny and wants to play all the time, so we were afraid of leaving her alone for a full day. It was our first overnight trip without her since the wedding.
The drive to Tulsa is about two hours long, and a good chunk of it is a tollway in Oklahoma which I now love because we have the Pike-Pass, which is the same as an IPass or a SunPass or an E-ZPass or whatever your state calls the transponder that allows you to use open road tolling. It makes me so happy to go through the open road side of the toll plaza, and Doug laughs at my glee.
We got a little lost in downtown Tulsa due to construction, but we eventually found our way to the hotel and snagged some free street parking. Less than half an hour later, we'd checked into the hotel and made our way down to the pool for some afternoon sunning. I neglected to take a picture of this, but the pool had a weird feature I've never seen before: half of the pool was inside, and half outside, with just a plastic flap over the top of the water. So you could swim under water between the inside and outside segments.
After pool time we headed out to an Italian restaurant called Villa Ravenna. It had all five-star reviews on Yelp, so we thought we'd give it a try, and we figured it would be easy to get a table at 5:30pm. Nope. We walked in and the owner, an adorable middle aged man with an Italian accent, told us that they were completely booked with reservations (despite the fact that there were 4 open tables). However, he offered to let us sit at one of the outside tables, and as it was 80 degrees and sunny, we happily agreed.
Dinner was delicious; I had a lobster ravioli and Doug had some kind of veal cordon bleu. We followed that with cheesecake for me and tiramisu for him...yum.
Now, dinner went faster than expected, so I figured we had about half an hour of free time to play with. Of course my first thought was...shopping! I used my dangerous smart phone and found a TJ Maxx a few miles away. We went there, I made a mad dash through the store and found a few things to buy, and we made it back downtown with plenty of time before the curtain raised.
I have always loved Neil Simon. I went through a Neil Simon phase in high school where I bought some anthologies, read everything, and then tried to write in the style of Neil Simon (it didn't go well). So when given the chance to see The Odd Couple, a play I've read but never seen performed, I jumped at the chance. Too bad that one of the two leads was just terrible. TERRIBLE! The fellow who played Oscar (the sloppy one) was great; but the fellow who played Felix (the organized, up-tight one) was awful. He did the blocking and said the lines, but there was no sense of character, no sense of urgency, no empathy. He brought the whole production down. On the up side, he vaguely reminded me of a blond (bad) David Schwimmer and I decided that David Schwimmer could make an excellent Felix Unger.
After the play we walked the three blocks to our favorite (read: the only one we've been to) Tulsa bar, Fassler Hall. I believe I have blogged about it before, but as a reminder it's a German beer hall type place with big long wooden tables and lots of German beer on tap. Oh, and they make some of the best bratwurst/sausage I've ever had. Also delicious duck-fat fries. In any case, we had some beers, bitched about the play, shared a delicious cheese-filled brat, and generally had a merry time.
Part 2 coming next time!