Southeast USA Day 6

Up a little late today, but sort of on purpose. We did not feel like braving the morning commute in the notorious Atlanta traffic, so we delayed our departure until after 9am. We had an errand to run before we could make our way down to the city center, and by the time we were on the road, we were pushing 1030, and we arrived at the CNN Center around 11.

I have to admit to a bit of geek-ness when I was at CNN, since I love to watch it, especially during breaking news. Of course, all the good stuff like The Situation Room and Anderson Cooper 360 are filmed in Washington and New York, but at least we got to see where the regular news desk is filmed. Gary had revealed that before CNN was there, it was the Wonderful World of Sid and Marty Kroft. I don’t know why, but that makes me laugh.

The actual studio tour was a bit worn and didn’t really cover what I thought it was, but it turns out we had just missed the VIP Tour which actually goes down into the newsroom. We were left with peering through the glass that overlooks the newsroom as well as taking photos at a fake desk. (Yes, there is a Gorn photo there I need to scan.) The tour took about an hour and after getting my complimentary Anderson Cooper bookmark and an extra one for Tiffany, we set out for the World of Coke.

World of Coke is just across Centennial Park from CNN. Centennial Park was built for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and it certainly has seen better days. Sure, there were parts that were still nice, but there were definitely some rough edges. I kept looking for a memorial for the bombing victims, but I could not find one. Before long, we arrived at the World of Coke.

I am not sure what to make of this place, it is basically part Coke museum and part repeated commercial. It was cool to see some of the older Coke promotional products, and I am sure if I collected Coke stuff I would have been in heaven. I enjoyed the bottling exhibit as well as the historical stuff, and the fact that most of the staff seemed to really enjoy their jobs. To me, personnel can make all the difference, even in a mediocre attraction. The other big let down was the tasting room. Had I never been to the Coke area at Epcot at Walt Disney World, this would have been amazing. Also, the fact that I stopped drinking soda and caffeinated beverages in January, blunted the experience. One of the things I wanted to try was Sprite Zero which actually was quite good since I drink a lot of Minute Maid Light Lemonade.¬†What really amazed me was how awful regular Coke and Barq’s Root Beer tasted after not having them for 10 months. I guess I really am over having Soda! I will say the Pineapple Fanta from Greece was tasty as was some of the South American citrus drinks. After a brief scare where Mom left her cell phone behind but quickly recovered it, we headed out to find a landmark of Atlanta – Pitty Pat’s Porch.

For those of you who do not know, Pitty Pat was the name of Hattie McDaniel’s character in Gone With the Wind. Pitty Pat’s porch specializes in Southern Cuisine, and we were hoping to grab some lunch. After wandering around with some bad directions from Google Maps, we found the restaurant only to discover they had already closed from lunch and were not quite open for dinner. Disappointed, we headed back to the car and Mom and Gary decided to take me to the Varsity, a famous burger and hot dog diner next to Georgia State University. I can only imagine how crazy this place must get on Saturdays during football season! The food was good and cheap with fries that remind me of In-n-Out and shakes that remind me of Bob’s Big Boy. The burger I had (Sorry purists, I was not in the mood for a hot dog) was good, but Steak N Shake still has my favorite so far of the trip.

We were pushing 4:30 so we knew we needed to head back to Dallas, GA for a family dinner with Gary’s relatives, and after a quick photo stop at the Margaret Mitchell House, we were on our way. I can not believe how long it took us to get back to our hotel to drop some stuff off and then head to Gary’s Aunts house. It took just over two hours since we left downtown to get there, and most of the bad traffic was on the side streets! I felt like I was driving from Burbank to Anaheim on the I-5 on a Friday.

By the time we got there, people were already eating, but we quickly joined in and sat down for a reunion. Most people I had never met, and a few I knew from Mom’s wedding and just from meeting over the years. We stayed until after midnight chatting which made for a late arrival back at the hotel. I had hoped to meet up with Colleen from High School while I was here, but she had gotten back late from her event as well. Hopefully, she will hit the OC in the coming year or at the very least see her at the High School Reunion in the Bay Area next year.