How can the weather possibly change this quickly? I mean I thought the weather was bad at home but when we set out the Charleston this morning it was hot, quite cloudy but still the sun was shining through, and now, it is absolutely hammering down with rain and has been ever since we entered Georgia! Visibility of the car in front is pretty poor! 

Made a thousand times worse when stuck behind the spray off a massive truck or a pick up! Since we left Charleston, we have pretty much been one the i20. Aside from filling up with gas, at which I’m still astounded that it’s only costing $15-20 a day, and a trip to dunkin donuts, we haven’t left the interstate. The donuts were gooooood…..

We did pass a pretty bad 3 car pile up whilst sitting in 20 miles of traffic! I mean we were literally crawling so slowly, any slower and we would have been going backwards, so how on earth 3 cars managed to rear end each other to the extent they did is beyond me! Three fire engines and three police cars were at the scene adding to the hold up due to the lane needing to be closed. It looked like everyone was ok though so that’s the main thing.

So as I was sitting sunning myself on the dashboard back in South Carolina I booked us tickets to watch the Atlanta Braves vs New York Mets this evening (can’t believe how cheap baseball games are!!!) One thing I neglected to check was the weather so as soon as I hit pay, (stupidly not before), I thought I had better check. 90% chance of rain…..all evening 😩😩. Still, the last game we were going to see didn’t get rained off so there’s still that 10% chance it might not rain πŸ˜‚! 

The best thing about these tickets was that we could get parking too…not like trying to fight our way round Boston! They had tickets for as little as $9 which just seemed crazy to watch a Major League Baseball game!! We eventually arrived at the car park at about 18:20. I had already made the decision to change from shorts to trousers as the temperature had dropped by about 20F! Turns out that it was the better choice. We had about a 15 minute walk to the stadium and then we saw it….

It’s pretty easy to navigate you’re way around it too! We went through the security gates (they have these at pretty much every single attraction in the US) and then entered the stadium. We were a bit early so we wandered round the different levels looking at all the different food joints working our way up to the level we were seated on. Eventually we settled for a hotdog and chicken tenders box for only $12! 

Now….surely beer and a hotdog is customary at a ball game right?…..Wrong!!! If you’re not an American citizen or have American identification, they won’t serve you alcohol. I had specially cased the joint too looking for somewhere that served wine, found one place, went to order, for our passports out…nope…won’t serve us without American identification!!! To say I was πŸ’” was an understatement especially as throughout the game a guy was shouting “ice cold beer, get your ice cold beer.” 😩 Ok I don’t drink beer but still!! 

Our seats were pretty good and the build up atmosphere was electric!The game was to consists of 9 innings. They went through each players stats up on the big screen when they were up to bat too!Freddie Freeman definitely got the most cheers from the home team that’s for sure! It was quite a slow game to start with…But they did have fireworks!! I can’t quite explain how electric it was, but even just watching the players warm up right infront of you was so cool! 

We obviously had no idea of the rules so thank god for google! What does RBI mean? Why are there only 3 batters on each team to begin with? Why aren’t they hitting the god damn ball? Ok the last question clearly takes some skill as seeing the ferocity that the pitchers throw the ball with would probably see me running in the opposite direction! One of the Mets players even broke some wood off his bat! We saw a two-run homer (check me out!!) by the Mets Jay Bruce which saw them lead 3-1.  

Eventually, the heavens reopened so we shuffled back some seats and watched the magic of the covering of the pitch.I mean they had tractor-like looking vehicles pulling this massive piece of “tarpaulin” with 20 people unfolding it and pulling it extremely taut then pegging it down. Can safely say I have never seen anything like it! 

We were quite happy sitting there in the rain, watching a documentary-film about Chipper Jones which was quite interesting. The life of a MLB player who was inducted into the Hall of Fame and played his whole 19 year MLB career for the Atlanta Braves. After half an hour or so we decided to go for another wander round the stadium stopping in the club shop before they announced that the play would be suspended. We left just shortly before that as the stadium had started to empty. My god was it absolutely hammering down with rain! We walked the 15 minutes back to the car through puddles about 2 inches deep! Following that came lightning yet no thunder!Soaked through! May as well have taken my shoes off and walked barefoot in the warm rain β›ˆ. 

We arrived at our hotel, The Highland Inn, a quirky little hotel about a mile from downtown Atlanta, we were greeted by a drunk drinking a litre bottle of red (no it wasn’t me!) on the doorstep, playing a guitar! It was actually pretty a pretty cool scene to be fair but we didn’t join we went and checked in! Another upgrade πŸ‘πŸΌ. Would have hated to see a normal room…πŸ˜‚ and to top it off…no hallmark channel so no last man standing! 

It was gone midnight by the time we settled and finished researching whether it would be worth getting the city pass for Atlanta as we wanted to see the Coca Cola factory, aquarium and zoo! That then meant researching the nearest FedEx to print out our passes = effort! In the end we figured we would just rock up at the first attraction after breakfast….

Breakfast…seems to have eluded us at the hotels the last few mornings as we have been waking up a bit too late! The best thing though is that the last time we set an alarm was 14 days ago, and I can tell you now, the best feeling ever is waking up when you want to go off and do whatever you want! And repeat and repeat and repeat indefinitely!! On the other hand, nothing like waking up to the news of the storm that ripped through our campsite we stayed in last night…

First stop…Coca Cola world! It cost $17 to get in and it did not disappoint!! It was honestly one of the best exhibits that I have ever encountered! Parking wasn’t even that bad at $10 all day! There were lots of separate exhibits within the building including the infamous polar bear!When you enter, you are met by Emilio who was possibly the most enthusiastic host we’ve ever come across. He is the sort of host who is sarcastic yet funny…sort of how Nathan would be if he was hosting an attraction πŸ˜‚. Albeit…he did smile, a key feature Nathan lacks πŸ˜‚. Every room was adorned with artefacts dating back 100+ years to when this guy…John Pemberton, created the worlds most popular drink. We then watch a 6 minute film called “moments of happiness” which shows Coca Cola in all different situations, be it proposals, a marine returning home to his family, skydiving, scoring hoops off a hotel balcony. It was both funny and moving (and I don’t get moved easily!)

Now we were in our own to explore this fantastic place. There were huge coke bottles displayed all aroundin all different sizes and designs. It is crazy to think that this drink used to be sold for just 5c a glass for 73 years until 1959! They have kept the great taste of Coca Cola a tight secret but it is mainly 1 part syrup to 5 parts carbonated water. What is in that syrup only a handful of people know….

We moved round through the exhibits starting with “milestones” which is a history of Coca Cola. It showed you all the old mechanics used to make the drink as well as the old advertising before it got brought into the 21st century. This car was brought by the Reginald Lee family in Argentina to assist with the deliveries of Coca Cola. They donated the car to the Coca Cola World which meant it spent a month at sea and then a drive through Atlanta. If the traffic back then was anything like it is now it would have taken an hour to drive a mile! 

The displays were incredible and really detailed about the journey of Coca Cola over the last 131 years! The company is also a hue sponsor of the Olympics so they have the torches and pins displayed here too…Am I the only one who didn’t know that the pins made a coke bottle????
Next was The Vault. Now clearly this section is designed for children by it was insanely cool!!! Ok so first, you all enter the vault and have to wave at the security camera before you’re “granted entry.” Obviously they only let so many people through at one time. Next you wander round the corridorsall teasing about tis secret formula. Then…the best bit. Thank god for all the school children who managed to get us into the vault! Picture this…a big screen, which shows the first Coca Cola lab. A man in a hat πŸ•΅πŸΌ comes in looking for the secret formula. You have to find 10 clues to show that the formula isn’t there! You do this by manically waving at the screen! Once you have unlocked this test, you’re then on a train and have to figure out which case the formula is in before the man in the hat πŸ•΅πŸΌdoes! This time you wave your hands side to side shoving the cases off the train! Section passed, you move on to the ropes to move your way forward along the train. This time you have to pull the ropes down and you eventually meet the man in the hat πŸ•΅πŸΌ sitting down. He realises the formula isn’t on the train but is kept at SunTrust Bank so we have to jump off the train! As you can imagine it is pretty damn hard to get into the vault at the bank so there are 4 locks to crack! More waving required but eventually we prevail! It’s gone!……

The secret formula was moved in 2011 from the SunTrust Bank to the Coca Cola World vault! So the man in the hat πŸ•΅πŸΌ jumps out of the screen and lets us into the vault! Tah-daaaaaaaah there you have it folks, the secret formula of Coca Cola as kept in the vault at Coca Cola World! Impressive and complicated huh?

JOKING!!!!! The real formula is kept here in a vault only accessible by a handful of people. There is an alarm that goes off if you cross the red line too! Isn’t the secret formula what makes it so tasty anyway? Isn’t it the (cheesy) memories etc that go along with it that make it the drink it is today!?

Which brings us on nicely to the 4D theatre where Riggs and Jodie were trying to figure out what makes Coke…Coke!Admittedly I haven’t been in a 4D theatre before and I left with my eyes streaming from air blown in them, water squirted at me, being thrown around in my chair, lasers pointed at me and close encounters with a ferret! I felt like I was at Alton Towers…

Not that I would know what that feels like as I have never been πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. It was all about the 4 ‘U’s’….universal something or other (times three) plus YOU! All the cheesy memories etc involving Coca Cola is why makes the secret formula (crowd goes Awwwwww!!)

After this is was the tasting room where you can taste 100 different beverages from all around the world The most popular drink to taste is called the Beverly which is an Italian aperitif which was discontinued in 2009. It was mentioned in our orientation so Nathan and I tried it and it was bitter. Very very disgustingly bitter. Nothing like the taste of a cold Coke to wash it down though 😊. 

We exited through the gift shop and headed to Hard Rock Cafe for lunch/dinner. Delightful service and a delicious Tennessee burger from their new menu paired with Parmesan fries (pronounced parmeshannn πŸ™Š) whilst we booked our tickets for the aquarium and the zoo!

Aquarium next. Straight through and in (after the obligatory “professional” photo) we started off through the exhibitions. I find there’s something magical about aquariums. Mum says it’s the water, it must speak to me (back from my swimming days) but I’m not so sure. There’s something harmonious about it. 

One of the best things I have ever seen…Beluga Whales!!!! I have never seen these before and I found myself relating to them…Nathan dubbed them “the dopey whales”….perhaps that is why! They weren’t even doing anything spectacular just swimming around and around. They have no sense of smell so have to completely rely on their echolocation. Another fun fact is that they are born grey and don’t turn white until they are 7-9 years old! The white helps keep them camouflaged from predators as they’re generally found in the Arctic. I could have watched these for hours!

We did move through the exhibits seeing all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures of the sea. Then came the walk through tunnel. The manta ray was huge and horrible looking. One sea creature I didn’t expect to see was…Eeeek! So unbelievably huge and so unbelievably gentle-looking! There were four of them in the tank I believe along with countless fish, a turtle, black tipped reef shark 🦈 and a huuuuuge grouper. 

Next came the tropical tank consisting of Nemo and Dort and a whole array of colourful fish 🐟 Now whilst you can pretty much see all these creatures in aquariums all over the world, I have never seen the whale sharks or beluga whales so it was definitely worth it! It worked out cheaper to do the combined aquarium and zoo ticket online as it saved us about 30$! 
Another exit through the gift shop to round of a thoroughly great day! Good job there were things to do inside as the heavens had opened across the whole day! Our shoes were still soaked from yesterday’s escapade at the baseball ⚾️ (we are definitely going to see another game) so we didn’t fancy soaking both pairs of shoes hence why we found indoor things to do 😁. That my friends, is called forward planning….

Our hotel was only a mile and a half away from the aquarium…that mile and a half took an hour to drive! We checked in at our hotel, the Ramada Plaza, where it was busy due to the festival going on. On the other hand we did see an American Football player…Terry Beckner Jr who plays for the Missouri Tigers, but is currently suspended due to possessing weed….whoops!

So after a day exhibiting, learning, seeing and photographing, we end up in our hotel room , in possession of Merlot and Corona, catching up on Last Man Standing before we hit Atlanta Zoo tomorrow then move on to Alabama y’all….On the plus side…found my new tee….

Until tomorrow ❀️