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Day 8 – Sunday May 6: Somber to Soda

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<– Day 7 – Sat May 5: There’s a Coffee Shop? | Day 9 – Mon May 7: Jeeps, Rest & Laundry –>

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It’s been several years since either of us drank Coca-Cola, but it’s the World of Coca-Cola!

Day 8: On Sunday we drove from Alabaster, Alabama, south to Montgomery, then northeast to Suwanee, Georgia.

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Our trip form Alabaster to Suwanee

We began the morning early, leaving Alabaster for Montgomery and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum. Admittedly, that’s a mouthful and I can’t remember the name unless I pull it up on the web page. It was my son who suggested that we visit the newly opened complexes. His was a good idea.

As we headed south on I-65, the clouds FINALLY parted, giving way to blue sky for the first time since Kansas. The weather was perfect and remained so the remainder of the day.

We arrived in Montgomery at 8:30am. The Legacy Museum is several blocks (5 minutes away) from the Memorial, which sits on a hill overlooking the city. Since we had Museum tickets for 9am, we went to the Memorial first, hoping to beat any crowds and have the place to ourselves. I figured Sunday was an optimal time: many people would be in church and no downtown traffic. In this case, things worked out well.

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From the EJI website

The entrance to the Memorial, as well as strategic areas outside the block-sized Memorial, were monitored by security guards. To enter, visitors must have a ticket and walk through a metal detector; there are also restrictions on what can be brought into the complex.

Once inside, we found a somber setting and a long path to ourselves, lined with occasional descriptions focusing on the 4400 extrajudicial documented killings that have occurred throughout the US.

Once we ascended a slowly rising path, we encountered a square structure, very earthy, with 800 steel blocks, each six feet tall, suspended from above by steel poles. I interpreted them as hanging coffins or tombstones. Each was inscribed with a county name followed by those documented who were killed in that county and the date they were killed. At first, visitors must wander between them like gravestones, but soon the deck-like slightly creaking wooden floor, begins to drop, until the floor is low enough for visitors to walk underneath the hanging objects.

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The closest experience I’ve had to my walk through this memorial is when I visited Auschwitz and Berkinau in 2003. All are sobering experiences. In fact, I only took a couple photos of the memorial. Instead, I wanted to linger, look at names, and slowly walk past the stories that appeared on small plaques, ones that shared the reasons, captured in reports (newspapers I imagine), about why some folks were killed. Many reasons appeared trivial. It’s a heavy place. One man, sitting on a bench, appeared to be overwhelmed. It’s a heavy place ….

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Unfortunately, the time soon caught up to us and we had to leave to make it to the Legacy Museum by 9am. So, if you go to the Memorial, I’d suggest allowing for at least 45 minutes.

The Legacy Museum also had security guards present and required entry via a metal detector. No photos were allowed and cell phones had to be shut down. Even at 9am on a Sunday, the museum was pretty busy. It wasn’t build for large crowds and felt a little crowded.

Unlike the focused purpose of the Memorial, the Museum’s purpose was broader, starting with the injustice of slavery, then shifting to the fight for equality, especially the tensions within Montgomery in the 1950s and 1960s, and then shifting again to the injustice of incarceration of all races and sexes, highlighting the rapid increase in correctional populations, tight quarters, the number of poorly tried cases, and more. Unlike the Memorial, which I thought was done brilliantly, I thought the Legacy Museum needed more space to better tell the powerful stories it has to tell.

We completed the museum by 10am. The somber tone of the morning left us wondering if it would be sacrilegious on an early Sunday morning to have a stiff drink; instead, our better selves chose some coffee. Then, off we went for Atlanta. Our destination, the World of Coca-Cola. Maybe a little sugar and water would renew our optimism. It certainly was a striking contrast to our morning’s experience.

Again, I chose Sunday for the World of Coca-Cola to avoid downtown traffic. Still, we hit plenty of traffic as we approached the suburbs of Atlanta. We wound our way downtown until we found our destination. It turned out that the beautiful sunny day had brought out a good portion of Atlanta, along with visitors from around the world, eager to visit the tourist attractions downtown.

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Since I didn’t have much of a chance to check email, I was focused on my phone (emails) during our approach to the World of Coca-Cola, so forgive me for borrowing an external photo of the complex (above). I guess that’s what it looked like from the outside?

In 2001, I visited the World of Coca-Cola, but at that time it was located in Underground Atlanta.  I enjoyed it. It seemed that it was more of a fairly typical history/museum, teaching visitors about the history of Coke, how it had Cocaine in it at one time, how the Coke Santa marketing came about, and, at the end, the opportunity to taste coke flavors from around the world, as there are slight variations to meet locals tastes.

In 2007, the complex moved to its present location and it seems very different to me. First, everyone must wait for a group to form in the entry area. While folks wait, Coke provides free, tiny cans of Coca-Cola to drink. It’s been a few years since I’ve had a Coke and, after having a little, I didn’t miss it. My stomach doesn’t handle it very well anymore (mostly indigestion — it’s probably a getting-old thing?).

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Beginning our Coke tour.

Once the magical doors open, visitors enter a room full of Coke memorabilia, where folks line up to listen to what might be best described as a warm up act. It’s part comedy and part history. Frankly, I’m not sure exactly what the point was.

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You can just spot the emcee of the mini-show against the pillar between the two showcases.

After the emcee was finished, he ushered us into a theatre, where a few inspirational stories were played on a big screen: man proposes to woman, young boy flirts with young girl, soldier returns from Afghanistan, and a few others. Naturally, Coke products made minor appearances. The messages were clear: Coke inspires; Coke is a feel good product. However, while the returning soldier looked like an honest, real event, the rest looked staged. Again, why am I sitting through this?

Once that ended, we left the cinema to explore the world of Coke on our own. Our crowd of exiting folks joined already milling crowds of people, so it was hard to wander through some of the exhibits, especially as people posed for selfies, took pictures, and stopped to talk with each other.

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Line of visitors waiting to get their photo with the Coca-Cola polar bear.

I didn’t see nearly as much time-ordered history on the evolution of Coke as I had in 2001, though some of that may have been due to the crowd. I saw nothing on the Cocaine aspect nor anything that adequately explained the evolution fo the marketing. What I did see was many more opportunities for photo ops. Essentially, to me, it was mostly sizzle and little substance.

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I did finally spot a jeep today. The light was terrible for taking a pic of it.

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I liked this painting.

The last stop before leaving the World of Coca-Cola was a tasting room. However, instead of tasting different cokes, Coke provided a variety of different drinks from different continents. This was neat, but I also wished they still had the different Cokes to try. The downside is that people were spilling soda on the floor, making it sticky.

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We tried a variety of them. The drink from Japan (Asia, far left) was very light and tasty. Apparently the Beverly soda, from Italy, is popular, but I didn’t care for it.

Maybe the best part of the World of Coca-Cola was the gift shop. They had a wide selection of stuff that wasn’t priced too badly.

After all that soda, and not much else all day, we stopped at our hotel, then went to eat. For some cool reason, we are surrounded with highly rated (on Yelp) Korean restaurants. So, we picked one close, the Poetree Cafe. It was a great choice! The ambiance was wonderful and relaxing:

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As soon as I began looking over the menu, I knew I was in trouble. Everything looked good. A couple readers donated some money for food, telling me to treat Ann, so I’m treating Ann as requested. These fishcakes were as good as any I’ve tried, as was the broth. Outstanding!

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Ann ordered the teriyaki marinated pork belly with veggies and rice. She gave me a few pieces. Fantastic!

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I went with the Donkatsu with spicy noodles and spicy pork. The Donkatsu, a pounded-thin breaded and fried pork cutlet was actually fried into the shape of a bowl. Into the bowl the chef dropped spicy, creamy noodles topped with small strips of spicy, tender pork. It was all excellent.

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This ended up being the most food we’ve eaten on the trip. We rolled ourselves out of the restaurant and into the jeep. We both ate too much!

On Monday morning, we’ll go see the Jeep Collection. Then, we’ll be taking a day of rest and some catching up on eWillys.

<– Day 7 – Sat May 5: There’s a Coffee Shop? | Day 9 – Mon May 7: Jeeps, Rest & Laundry –>

 

3 Comments on “Day 8 – Sunday May 6: Somber to Soda

  1. SteveK

    Are you sure it was the Coke that gave you indigestion? All that spice on fizz… That was probably the longest Coke commercial you’ve ever experienced. Also, probably one of the most somber beginnings to a day on your trip too. I think Decatur County will need another marker. You guys sure see a variety of things, and THANKS for sharing your journey.

  2. CraigInPA

    Beverly is designed to be an aperitif, taken as a digestive aid after a big meal. For that purpose, I’d say it works really well. It’s pretty much undrinkable as a snack drink.

  3. Ann

    It was a very somber start to the day but well worth it. As for the world of coca-cola, I wish there would have been a little more authenticity and history rather than product reinforcement, but hey….they still have a brand to sell so I get it. BTW their product, Beverly, if it is meant to be used for indigestion, I sure could have used that after the delicious Korean food. Let’s just say we may have over indulged. 😉

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