Ran to Olympic Park and back to the hotel. We’re in the US, on a road trip, and trying to run every morning, to counter the vast quantities of food we’re eating. Atlanta is very hilly!
Decided to visit World of Coca Cola. Read the reviews. Decided to not visit World of Coca Cola. I wasn’t sure the descriptions of: ‘Basically just one long advert for Coca Cola’ sounded like a morning well spent. Decided instead to try and find the Martin Luther King Memorial on Auburn Avenue.
Auburn Avenue, or Sweet Auburn as it became known, was an area in Atlanta where black people were free to own businesses, use transport, and live normal lives, even before desegregation. We began to wander along the avenue, looking at the historical buildings. Gradually realised that other people in the street were looking at us. We seemed to be the only tourists there, and lots of the people were homeless or had mental issues. Felt uncomfortable. Ahead was a large flyover, and the pathway underneath was dim and full of shadows. We decided that we didn’t really want to continue walking along this road. Went back to hotel.
Decided to visit World of Coca Cola. At least we wouldn’t be mugged.
We were greeted by a large statue of Dr. John Pemberton, who invented Coca Cola way back in 1886. We then paid our $17 each, and went through security. Security more interested in the drinks in our bags than whether we had weapons (though we didn’t have weapons, if you’re wondering). They do not allow any Pepsi products into the building. Our water was, apparently, part of the Pepsi empire, so we had the labels removed.
Directed to a waiting area, and offered complimentary drinks (various flavours of coca cola) but no seat. It’s off-season, and very few people were there, so we did not have to wait as long as some of the people who wrote angry reviews on Google. There was a timer, with big red numbers, and a guide appeared and excitedly counted down the numbers to when the doors would open. She tried, but I’m not sure her heart was in it.
Went into next room. Still no seats. Our guide told us his name was ‘Divine’. He told us his family history, and where he lives. He then asked us, individually, where we lived. I realised that this was another ‘holding room’ and we were waiting for the tour ahead of us to move. To be fair, there was lots of interesting stuff on the walls—mainly old adverts for Coca Cola, but I quite like looking at them, they’re very cheerful. So was our guide, who reminded me of a dodgy TV evangelist. While we waited (though we weren’t ‘waiting’ we were in the first room) we were given a brief history lesson. Coke was invented in 1886. I’m SURE he said that it was first invented as a cough medicine. Husband says I imagined this. Pemberton was a pharmacist though, and his other inventions were medicinal.
If you know your Coca Cola adverts, you will know that a large polar bear features in many. He was introduced when the company were trying to rebrand the drink as suitable for cold weather (previously it was sold as a refreshing drink for summertime).
While Divine spouted facts, television screens scrolled through adverts from around the world.
After ten minutes, we were allowed to enter the little theatre, and another sing-song evangelist voice introduced a film. We sat (at last!) and stared up at the big screen. The big screen was VERY big. Like one of those massive televisions that people have in a tiny sitting room. Actually, more like a massive telly in a cupboard.
The film showed emotional scenes of families around the world. It was like watching one of those Christmas adverts that make you cry. It ended with everyone drinking coke (no great surprise there). I like Christmas adverts, there are worse things to watch.
We were then led into a corridor, and told we could visit the different rooms. The staff were all very intense and bubbly and over-enthusiastic. I imagine they are all force-fed copious amounts of Coca Cola every morning when they arrive at work. No one remembered to mention that Coca Cola is so named because it contains extract from the coca plant (where cocaine comes from) and the Kola fruit (which was used in a Spanish drink before the invention of Coke). Coca Cola apparently denies that it still uses extracts from the coca plant, but there is a company, which imports vast quantities of the plant each year, and if you look closely, the company is owned by a subsidiary of Coca Cola. Or so I have been led to believe. But sshhh, don’t tell anyone. . .
One room had signs that lit and faded when you read them—all very Harry Potter. We decided to visit the Headache Room (actually, I believe it was called The Vault of Information but my name is more accurate). Lots of flashing lights, images shine into our eyes, snippets of films jumping on the walls. Managed to not have an epileptic fit, and walked to next room.
The last room was the Tasting Room. Here, we could take one of the plastic cups, and help ourselves to a variety of drinks from around the world (all made by Coca Cola, of course). There were seats, and I was ready for some caffeine, so this was my favourite room. There were lots of hyperactive children helping themselves to sugar and caffeine.
The only exit was through the shop—full of Coca Cola merchandise. How do you manage to tempt people to pay inflated prices for goods that will advertise your brand for you? I wish I knew. Coca Cola have some deeply impressive marketing techniques.
We left, full of caffeine, with slight headaches. The World of Coca Cola would not be my first choice of things to do in Atlanta, but it wasn’t terrible. We did, however, decide that we would have one more attempt to visit the Martin Luther King Memorial. I’ll tell you about it in my next blog.
I hope you have some pleasing drinks today. Thank you for reading.
Love, Anne x
Thank you for reading. If you enjoy my travel blogs, you will love my travel book: The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary. Available from an Amazon near you.