Tuesday, March 8, 2022

[ATLANTA] A Tribute to My Soda Addiction

“PEPSI!!!” shouted the kid as he raised his hand enthusiastically beaming with confidence as if waiting for his prize. We don’t think he was trolling because he immediately followed it up with a literal facepalm moment. Context? World of Coca-Cola tour, the guide asking a trivia question as to which drink was introduced by the company after Coke in 1955. The answer was Fanta in case you were wondering. The guy who got it right won a Coca-Cola lanyard. The kid? Well, at least you made us all laugh.

Georgia was not really on the itinerary for this six-month nomadic WFH trip. It just so happened that the website of the Consulate of the Bahamas here says that their visa application requirements are fewer than what is being asked in the eVisa application and that they could expedite it in just two business days if you pay $200 overall. Imagine the smirk on my face when I finally arrived at the consulate only to be told that they don’t process visas anymore and that everything is online now. Why not update your website, then, a-holes?

And so I ended up in Atlanta with five days to spare because I was expecting to wait for that long for the visa processing. Oh well, time for some R&R, then. I didn’t expect a lot from Atlanta. I knew the city existed and serves as some sort of transport hub here in the South, but I didn’t believe that the city would be this nice. In my book, it is up there with Boston, not necessarily on my Top 3 ‘Merican cities list, but one which I would seriously consider for relocation purposes. Residence, not tourism. I always make a distinction between the two.

Wikitravel will actually give you a plethora of tourist recommendations for downtown Atlanta alone, but there were only a few points of interest to me and they all happen to be clustered in the Peachtree area. The World of Coca Cola, the Georgia Aquarium as well as the Centennial Olympic Park are all situated right next to one another. Since I expected the two to eat up much of my time, I originally planned to visit them in different days. In the end, one late morning visit sufficed for all three.

Atlanta has a reliable metro system and the stops you are looking for if you want to go downtown are Peachtree and Civic Center. Once you get out of those stations, you will be surrounded by skyscrapers all around. Downtown Atlanta is a treasure trove of public art pieces in the form of sculptures and monuments. Tourist guides are plenty along the streets to guide you as to where you have to go. As for me, I headed west to the World of Coca Cola and began there.

Along with the Georgia Aquarium and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the World of Coca Cola is linked to those two by a huge plaza called Pemberton Place. It’s a nice open area with a stunningly urban background of skyscrapers here and there. Across the street is the Centennial Olympic Park. Back to Coke, the admission fee for adults is around $20. Once you get your ticket, you will enter two ante-chambers: the first one for the trivia game; the second one with displays of Coca Cola memorabilia from all over the world.

This is followed by a short film in a small theater which highlights Coca-Cola’s branding strategy, that of moments and family. Suffice it to say that their marketing team is well aware of what they are doing because to everyone who drinks Coke, it’s not just a beverage. It’s a way of life! Once done here, you will end up in a big lounge and from there, you can do your own tour. I guess this is what I enjoyed the most, and unexpectedly, for this trip.

There’s a 3D theater upstairs which presents a 15-minute 3D film (3D glasses provided) about Coke’s secret ingredient. There is also a hall where you can smell various ingredients used for the company’s beverages. Next to it are some smaller halls about how bottling and brand promotion works. The last hall before the souvenir shop is full of fountain dispensers featuring the company’s drinks around the world, some of them unique in a particular country. There are infinite plastic cups there for your perusal. I have to say, this is the first museum I’ve been to where my sense of smell and taste also enjoyed the experience!

[ATLANTA] A Tribute to My Soda Addiction

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