Monday, May 21, 2012

Atlanta Road Trip Part 3

Saturday Afternoon

So, after a glorious 5 hours at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center, we grabbed lunch and went home to let Scout out and relax for a bit. We then headed out for a walk to our second site of the day (we did two things per day - Day 1 was CNN and the aquarium and Day 2 was the MLK Center and The World of Coca Cola).

Yep, that's right. We visited The World of Coca-Cola. Now, I should say that we are BIG water drinkers -- we are not big soda drinkers at all (though Thing 2 does love a good soda now and then), but Coca-Cola is an American iconic symbol and The World of Coca-Cola is one of the "must see places" in Atlanta, so we were excited to check it out. And it was not disappointing!

Stomachache-inducing, but not disappointing.

The lobby bombards greets you with screens full of various Coke images while you wait for your turn to enter the first part of the tour.

After learning all kinds of interesting trivia and history about Coca-Cola and its marketing, we saw a commercial movie and then we were free to explore the 9 or so additional rooms and exhibits and experiences there.

We checked out their newest exhibit -- The Vault -- which actually houses the EXTREMELY secret Coca-Cola recipe. We learned a lot about how heavily guarded it is and how top secret it is. I mean, we already knew that it was, but honestly, we had no idea. Wow. The history of where the recipe has been, who actually knows it, and how it is kept secret is really fascinating.

We got to get a picture with the Polar Bear - he is SUPER cute.

We got to see a 4D movie about Coca-Cola - that was fun.

The craziest part of the whole experience was the tasting room. 60 different kinds of Coke from all over the world divided up by continent, an endless supply of cups, and a VERY sticky floor. OMG, it was sensory overload. I sipped a bunch of them, but knew better than to give myself a stomachache from it. None of us felt sick from it, but we were ready for something green, crunchy, and healthy by the time we were done.


Hysterical! I wish I'd had the video camera going when Thing 2 came up to me at the "Make Your Own Soda" station and said (in a hyper-sugared-up and caffeinated state), "It'sGood!YouWannaTrySome?"

Here is evidence of the aftermath - we all hammed it up a bit for the photos. We didn't drink ourselves sick, but, holy moly, that really was a lot of soda.

The "Make Your Own Soda" Station

This part of another exhibit was great -- remember New Coke? It was not well received. It lasted 79 days before Coke figured out the error of its ways and went back to the original recipe, keeping in mind the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."


We got to sit on the ACTUAL couch that was used in some of the Idol seasons.
Once you've explored all the different rooms and exhibits (and there are many), you get a souvenir bottle of Coke and you conveniently exit through the gift shop.

Outside The World of Coca-Cola
We worked off a lot of the sugar by walking around Centennial Park again (everything is right around it). The kids ran around and Thing 1 did some cartwheels. It was good to be outside again. The weather was beautiful. We walked back to the condo, got our van, and drove over to Gladys Knight's Chicken and Waffles for dinner.

This place was a total experience -- the wait, the crowd, the food (all reasonably priced!), the ambiance, the menu choices . . . we LOVED it.

We had heard good things about it and when we drove past it on our way back from the MLK center around lunchtime, there was a huge line - we pulled over and asked a police officer if the line was for Gladys Knight's and he laughed and said, "Oh yes!" I asked if it's always like that and he said, "Yes, Ma'am! You gotta get here when it opens! It's always busy. All the way until they close at 4am."

Yes, you read that correctly. 4am.

So, we went downtown and waited in line outside for over an hour. Was it worth it? Oh yes! (Oh, and by the way, we were the obvious tourists. They dress to the nines in Atlanta!)

It was a true Southern meal. We got a bunch of things and all shared (we became experts at ordering smart and not having crazy leftovers on the road). We got the Southern Sampler: 2 spring rolls (one with collards and one with chicken -- both good!), 5 drummettes, and 5 fried green tomatoes; a catfish basket (excellent!); smothered chicken and rice with squash casserole and collards and cornbread muffins (the best we've ever had); The Midnight Train (chicken and waffles - divine!); sweet potato casserole; and peach cobbler (because you've just got to get peaches in Georgia). It was a DELICIOUS feast and it didn't feel all oily or heavy. Just GOOD.

It was pretty late by the time we got home, so we went right to sleep! A fantastic full day in Atlanta from start to finish.


Mark had his test on Sunday afternoon, so we all slept in and then he studied for a bit. While he went to take the test, the kids and I kicked back, ate leftovers (we had some on purpose just for this reason), and watched some Big Bang and Modern Family episodes.

Mark before the big test! And such a cool condo . . .
He got back feeling good about his work on the test and we took Scout for a walk to, yep, you guessed it, Centennial Park. Again! We figured she'd been such a good sport for us the whole time in Atlanta, that Sunday was her day to be with us for most of the day.

Shakes at Googie's at Centennial Park (check out the mist fans back there)
It was hot, but so fun to be outside.
Scout enjoyed being outside - look how CNN is RIGHT THERE.
They had the run of the place.
Thing 1 cooled off in the Olympic Rings Fountains - how cool is that?!

One of the coolest parts of Centennial Park is the music shows at the fountains (that are in the shape of the Olympic Rings). I'm glad we got to see one of the shows -- I really enjoyed it. I love being in a crowd of children that keep "oohing" and "ahhing" over all the wonders they see. It's fun to hear them get so excited. That sound of an audience of children getting excited (like the start of, say, a Sesame Street Live performance) always makes me weepy.

Here are two very short videos -- the first one is Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke" (SO fun!) and the second one is "Circle of Life." Enjoy!

After a LOVELY afternoon at the park, we went back to the condo for a bit, and then used (we did this A LOT on our trip and we didn't have a lousy meal EVER) to find a good place to eat, since we were encountering that "everything is closed" problem again. We found a WINNER in a place called "Ted's (as in Ted Turner, who, by the way, pretty much owns Atlanta) Montana Grill" - it was so good I cried. I'm not even kidding. And I'm not even embarrassed to say so.

We all ate bison burgers (and they were phenomenal!) and salads and split a delicious strawberry shortcake for dessert. And it was all delicious!

Look how happy we are. I love food.
After that very yummy meal, we went back to the condo to pack, watch some Big Bang, and sleep. Another great day in Atlanta. We really enjoyed staying right in the city and taking it all in. We got to experience A LOT in our few days there. We loved it!


Jimmy said...

Laughing that the food was so good you cried. That's awesome.

Robynne said...

What a cool trip! I want to go on a family vacation there now also!! :)

Dr. Mark said...

Oh, it is ALL about the food. Why travel if you can't eat something awesome?

Great recap, as always!

Emily Foley said...

I looove Coke. That looks like my kind of place to visit.

I'm dying to know what made you cry? Just how good it was, or that it was nostalgic? so funny.

Utah has an olympic fountain like that that my kids love to run and play in. I always get teary when "God Bless America" comes on and the fountains go waaaay up high.

Boquinha said...

I could travel JUST to eat other foods.

Emily, I cried because it tasted THAT good. Seriously.

Dave Johnson said...

I would have come on this trip just for the food all sounds so good, and makes me miss "home" (only just a little though...).

Also, anything set to Sir Duke is sure to be filled with awesome.

I love having a "go to" place on a trip like Centennial Park, where you just feel comfortable even though there's other stuff to see. Faneuil Hall has become a bit like that for us in Boston. If we can't think of anything else to do, "Hey! Let's go hang at Faneuil Hall!"

This looks like such a fun trip. Can't believe how much you guys were able to do.