Wednesday, 31 December 2014

DAY 21 - Atlanta...It's The Real Thing

G'day everyone and welcome to Day 21 here in Atlanta. A sincere happy new year to all of our friends even though we still have five hours until the ball drops over here.

Despite being a rest day, we also took the opportunity to visit the World of Coca Cola Museum around a mile walk from the hotel.

Today was a rest day with some of us not crawling out of bed until 1130h. Clearly we missed breakfast at the hotel, so we elected to have brunch on the way to our first activity (despite being a rest day). So brunch was consumed at Johnny Rockets which was very tasty.

Schuyler and Kyle enjoying Johnny Rockets

We then headed across the road to the World of Coca Cola Museum. After an initial orientation followed by an uplifting video we were free to roam around the facility. We got to see where the secret recipe is stored and the fact that it is considered the World's most guarded secret.

Entering 'The Vault', which contains 'The Vault'

The World's most guarded secret recipe for Coca Cola is simply behind this door

We watched a corny 4D movie where it seemed as though the seat movements were actually out of sync with what was happening on the screen. As to the theme of the 4D movie, I learned that the secret to Coca Cola is actually me...which got me, never mind.

Schuyler prepping for the 4D movie

The displays were quite good and the staff very friendly and helpful, except for the one staff member who complained to the large group attending the 4D movie, that we didn't seem to be a very excitable bunch, whilst failing to recognise that her low level, monotonous tone and lack of enthusiasm towards her job, may have been contributory. But I forgot about her quickly.

Coca Cola Delivery Van all the way from Argentina

Coca Cola dispenser tested on the Soviet Space Station Mir in February 1985

Maureen and one of the Atlanta Olympic Torches

Joshua and one of the Atlanta Olympic Torches

Me and one of the Atlanta Olympic Torches

Maureen alongside the extensive Coca Cola Olympic Pin collection

We then went on to try and test the 110 different drinks that are owned by the Coca Cola brand. There was one in particular from Italy called 'Beverley' which tasted like a mixture of Kerosene and Grapefruit. The funny thing was that Schuyler and I tried it, screwed up our faces and quickly spat it out. We then grabbed Maureen, Kyle and Josh to come and try this, most awesome drink, the best so far, by far. I don't think they have yet forgiven us...nyuk, nyuk!

Some of the Coca Cola brand samples we tried

Expert soft drink testers

We finished up in the enormous gift store which sold everything imaginable and were given a free exclusive World of Coca Cola Bottle of Coke, each.

Kyle, testing some of the Coca Cola merchandise

After the visit to the World of Coca Cola, we walked back to the Hotel.

The weather was beautiful today, with a maximum of 11 degree C

Maureen and a couple of Police Bikes outside our Hotel Carpark

Schuyler, Kyle and I then ventured out to check out a couple of Record Stores in a district of Atlanta known as Little Five Points. Little Five Points is a funky bohemian neighbourhood with lots of art, theatre, and shopping places.

We then headed over to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport to try out a renowned aircraft spotting location. Hatfield-Jackson International Airport has been the world's busiest airport by passenger traffic since 1998, and by number of landings and take-offs since 2005. The place we decided to spot was on the fourth level of the South Terminal Carpark as this was highly recommended, and yes, it was awesome.

Schuyler and I on the roof of the South Terminal Carpark

The view from the roof of the carpark was brilliant and it only costs $2 per hour to park there. You have a great vantage point for aircraft taking off on Runway 27R and pretty good views of Runway 26L. You also have great views of aircraft taxiing back to the terminal after landing on Runway 27L. We were warned that Security could turn us away, but we were never bothered by them for the duration we were there. Here's some pics (noting that I am sparing you from the 400-plus pics that I took):

We finished the day with Schuyler, Kyle and I ordering out a couple of Pizzas from a local shop. Well that's all for our rest day. Tomorrow will likely be pretty quiet as lots of places will be closed given it will be New Years Day over here.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

DAY 20 - Hawkward Times On The Road

Hi all, and welcome to the Day 20 Blog brought to you from Atlanta, Georgia.

Today was another transit day.

We left our Hotel in Matthews (south-east of Charlotte) at around 0815h embarking on the 261 mile / 420 km drive to Atlanta. The drive takes us from North Carolina (the birthplace of aviation), into South Carolina (apparently the birthplace of the BBQ) and into Georgia (the birthplace of the mighty C-130 Hercules...according to me).

Fortunately, this is was one of our shorter drives taking just under four hours to accomplish. Of all of the fairly nondescript drives we have had on this holiday, this would have had to be the least interesting. In fact, at one point, I thought the car's engine was playing up, then realised that all of my passengers were snoring.

Charlotte, North Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia

We stopped for lunch at Cracker-barrel in the town of Commerce, Georgia. Cracker-barrel is an old style restaurant offering homely-type meals and certainly was a nice break from fast-food. My meal was a meatloaf with mashed potatoes and vegetables and it was real nice. Everyone else seemed happy with their meals also. Whilst in Commerce we stopped at a Tangers Outlet Centre to pick up some more stuff.

Welcome to Atlanta, Georgia

The Promenade 2 building (left) and an office building (right)

We arrived in Atlanta, mid-late afternoon and booked into our hotel which is in the downtown district, before venturing out for some food supplies. We then set about planning to travel to Phillips Arena to watch another NBA game, this time between the Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, Bob and I had another disagreement, but it wasn't Bob's fault, he's just old and Atlanta has changed since he last had his maps updated. So when I plugged in the address for Phillips Arena which is located in the city centre into Bob (our GPS) and noticed the city buildings getting smaller in my rear-view mirror, I knew there was a problem. However, between Bob, myself and a city map (skillfully narrated by the boys) we still managed to get to the Arena just in time for the game.

The obligatory family shot with me as photographer

We had hoped to catch LeBron James who now plays for the Cavaliers, as it was his birthday, but unfortunately he was injured and out of the game. But that's okay, he showed up on the bench anyways. Also, noting that LeBron James was going to be a big draw card for the game, all attendees were given free Atlanta Hawks T-Shirts, which is a pretty good consolation.

It's Lebron James, and he seems really happy?

The match was pretty exciting and we were in good company as Usher was also watching the match with us. I kinda felt like I was Paparazzi at this match.

Usher with his Son and Bodyguard close behind

In the end, the Hawks won the game, making this our first NBA match (this trip) where the home team has won. We were beginning to think it was our fault.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please stand for the National Anthem

For Sal...again

Action from the game

The drive back to the hotel (a mere 1.9 miles) was equally adventurous as the trip to the Arena as the inner city of Atlanta appears to have changed dramatically in recent years. In fact where once was a road, there was a building, so Bob and I continued our issues. I think that 1.9 mile distance to get home required about 5 miles of detours as Bob kept asking me to turn down roads that no longer exist. But we managed to make it back.

So between the problems with my GPS and the Hawks win, today certainly was a little bit Hawkward. Well that's it for today. Looks like we have a busy rest day planned for tomorrow.