To say that the beginning of our holiday didn’t go quite according to plan, would be a minor understatement. First of all, at the luggage carousel it soon became clear, as Tom and I were one of the remaining stragglers looking forlornly at the carriage belt, that my suitcase did not catch the same plane as us.
There’s certainly one thing to say about Atlanta, it does truly optimise ‘Southern Hospitality’. Our passport control officer gave us some good tips about BBQ ribs and our Avis rental car operator, a stand-in for Oprah Winfrey, attempted to charm us into a serious upgrade…one my jet-lagged brain nearly fell for hook-line-and-sinker!
As we waited for my luggage to catch up with us, we spent our day wandering around Atlanta. Did you know that this is the home of Coca-Cola? In 19th century John Pemberton, an Atlantian chemist, invented the Coca-Cola syrup as a health aid, the company was soon bought by businessman Asa Candler who was quite a visionary on the marketing front.
The World of Coca-Cola is one of the city’s central attractions and after we got through several apathetic audience choruses of ‘we lurrve Coca-Cola!’, Loshonda in her soft spoken southern drawl, explained the history behind the brand. Much is made of the secret recipe behind Coke’s unique flavour. Rumour has it that only 2 people ever know the recipe at any one time and that they can’t travel together and each only knows half the recipe!
The Coca-Cola company actually produces concentrates of the secret formula which is then shipped to its bottling partners all over the world. In fact Coke has the largest beverage distribution network on the planet. When Asa Chandler started expanding production of Coke he devised an ingenious way which allowed others to mix the secret formula without actually knowing what was going in!
After an awesome Chilli Dog, we headed over HQ of CNN network for an insiders look behind the studios. CNN reaches over 10 million homes in the US and an estimated 2 billion people worldwide, making it the planet’s largest news network, broadcasted in multiple languages. (This explains why when most Brits go abroad the only English speaking channel is CNN!) When the channel is reporting breaking news up to 300 staff, researchers and reporters will be on shift and these days a fair percentage of their news is gathered from social media sources.
As the sun warmed up, we stood in line at Mary Mac’s Tearoom, a local institution ‘serving classic Southern Food’ – chicken ‘n’ dumplings, pork with cornbread dressing and sweet potato soufflé. Tom warfed his hearty dinner down whilst I felt somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of beige on my plate. One thing is for sure, their cinnamon buns were a gooey delight and ordered by restaurant goers in dozen batches to go!
Eventually my suitcase caught up with us, and we prepared to hit the road.