Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Intro...World of Coca-Cola

Disclaimer

Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 if the copyright act of 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.


This review is my personal opinion. I am not paid by anyone. I do not receive any amenities (free or discounted).

All photos contained in this article are for the purposes of news reporting. These photos contain the logos of Coca-Cola and are trademarked and copyrighted by The Coca-Cola Company ©®.

World of Coca-Cola
World of Coca Cola, Atlanta, Georgia

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: WORLD OF COCA-COLA

After you have seen what Atlanta has to offer culturally and historically; after you have had your fill of either the Civil Rights Movement, the Civil War and perhaps even Gone With The Wind, you will invariably find your way near Centennial Park and across to the exhibit/museum/greatest advertisement in the "person" of the World of Coca-Cola. 

John Pemberton statue
John Pemberton, the pharmacist who invented Coca-Cola

1. If you have not been to Atlanta since 2006, you will learn that the museum is no longer near Underground Atlanta (a shopping and entertainment district that has seen better days). Obviously, moving the World of Coca-Cola has affected the economy of the Underground, with more tourists now staying in the Centennial Park area. For some reason, the old building is still there, overgrown with trees, seemingly decaying.

Former World of Coca-Cola, Atlanta Underground
Former location, near the Atlanta Underground

2. The relocated museum is a tribute to Coca-Cola and its products of course, but it can also be seen as an extreme example of American capitalism, the power of advertising and it's influence throughout the world. 

Coca-Cola artifacts
All things Coca-Cola (registered trademark by The Coca-Cola Company)
3. But this is a fun place. The amount of memorabilia and artifacts is a history lesson in itself. Indeed, Coca-Cola is credited with our modern visual of Santa Claus. The popular artwork of the rotund, rosy-cheeked jolly fellow was immortalized largely based on Clement C. Moore's description in his poem " "Twas the Night Before Christmas," forever cementing the American personification of St. Nick (along with other previous illustrations). 

Illustration of the Coca-Cola Santa
Santa Claus, as imagined by Coca-Cola (registered trademark of The Coca-Cola Company)

3. Coca-Cola presents a fair account of its history, it's influences, and even acknowledges its mistakes such as trying to change to formula of classic Coca-Cola. The company can be credited, along with Hallmark, McDonald's and Kodak, with changing the 1960's in-your-face style of television ads to the more artsy approach, (movie style cinematography, messages of peace, world love and family life). All of this is part of the museum, along with toys, clothing, and interactive exhibits.

Coca-Cola Polar Bear
Polar Bear, for your photo op (registered trademark of The Coca-Cola Company)

4. There are what can be considered a few major highlights: the promise that you will see the vault where the original formula is kept, (that's all you see, the vault, not the formula, which is supposedly inside), a photo op with the Polar Bear character and, the room with all of the flavors and products of the world. At the end, before you exit through the obligatory gift shop where you can get your fill of all items Coca-Cola, you are given a small bottle of the famous classic formula. Drink the soda and save the bottle, since the bottling location is considered important, sort of like where your money is minted.

Photo of the Vault
The Vault

5. If you read every line, examine every artifact, and pass through every gallery, including the room where decades of television ads are screened, you will get your $16 worth and you can conceivably be there for hours. You can imagine on a rainy day the crowds that must be there. 

World of Coca Cola, 121 Baker Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia. 1-800-676-COKE.

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Intro to...Philadelphia

Disclaimer

Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 if the copyright act of 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.


This review is my personal opinion. I am not paid by anyone. I do not receive any amenities (free or discounted).

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PHILADELPHIA, IN A DAY

If you're only in the Philly area for a day, here are some of the highlights to get you introduced to the historic City of Brotherly Love.

1. Do the fun thing and get it over with: visited the Rocky statue at the foot of the Philadelphia Art Museum steps (2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway). It's no longer at the top of the steps to prevent you from re-enacting the movie. Also, in that area are some the USA's greatest museums including the biggest collection of Rodin's works outside of Paris and the famous children's Please Touch museum. It's a great bike riding area also. By the way, Rocky is also at the Visitor Center



2. Test your knowledge at the National Constitutional Center (525 Arch St.) Cool inside in every way: interactive exhibits and great for the hot summer Philly days. The U.S. Mint is across the street, another great tour. 

3. Walk down Arch Street. Along the way you'll see the Christ Church Burial Ground where you can glimpse Ben Franklin's grave right on the corner (or you can pay a couple of bucks to go in). You'll also pass the Arch Street Meeting House (remember, you're in the land of Quakers). Near there is Congregation Mikveh Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation, seemingly a contradiction in terms in a beautiful, modern building. 

4. At Betsy Ross' house (where you can decide for yourself whether she sewed the first American flag or not), you'll take a self-guided tour, with or without audio, of an extremely tiny house. The items are either authentic of the era or good replicas. 239 Arch St.


5. Head down N. 4th Street to Market Street toward Franklin Court (part of Independence National Park), an interesting group of buildings and remains of buildings. The Post Office is real, the Printing Shop will give you a demo of house items were printed back then and you can see where Ben's house was. A surprisingly interesting aspect: one building is actually gutted out to show the architectural and archeological aspects of the building, a good site for architects and historians. These attractions are free but the must see Benjamin Franklin Museum has a small fee.



6. Come out the other side to Chestnut Street to the National Liberty Museum. The message of freedom is strong with some powerful exhibits. Or go back out the Market Street side to the National Museum of American Jewish History


7. Walk across the street to see Carpenters Hall and then head back to the Independence Mall area. 

8. The Liberty Bell Center may have a long line. Go early or toward closing time. You will have to pass through security airport style (keep your shoes on!). There is a series of exhibits before you see the bell itself. It's the real bell, the one in the belfry of Independence Hall is a replica. 


9. You have to get tickets at the Independence Visitor Center for Independence Hall. You will see the real room of the Continental Congress (Carpenters Hall, location of the First Continental Congress is down the street). You'll have to go through security. In the evening, you don't need tickets but the line is L-O-N-G. Plan this if you really want to see it. 


10. From Independence Hall, walk down to 419 S. 6th to see Mother Bethel AME Church, the oldest African American congregation. 

11. Have lunch at the Reading Terminal Market (note that some booths may be closed on Sundays). Then, see some of the outdoor sculptures: the L-O-V-E sculpture at JFK Plaza, near City Hall. and the famous sculptures of board game pieces, across the street.


12. Snack on Philly's famous cheesesteaks but from Dalessandro's, (600 Wendover St.) a local eatery but not a well kept secret. Grab the menu first, they don't seem to be too patient for first timers. 

13. If you're driving, you'll want to pass by Penn's Landing and other areas. 


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Intro to...Hilton Head, SC

Disclaimer



Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 if the copyright act of 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.


Hilton Head beach
Hilton Head, South Carolina

Hilton Head, South Carolina, can be considered one of the premier East Coast beach areas to visit. It's full of luxurious resorts, noted golf courses and fine dining. In high season, you won't find many lodging specials. But, it may be time to finally visit.


Foundation of Baynard Plantaton
Baynard Plantation Ruins, Harbour Townm Hilton Head, South Carolina
1. Check out the offerings on the major search engines and read the reviews carefully. You'll be able to find something in your price range but be prepared to use your car or other wheels (bicycle?) to get around in case you're headquartered near Bluffton.



2. Make sure the hotel has a pool in case the beach experience gets crowded, a guarantee. Also, after the ocean area has closed, a nighttime dip can be refreshing. 


Red Roof Inn, Hilton Head, So. Carolina
Red Roof Inn, Hilton Head, South Carolina

3. Get used to William Hilton Parkway, a major thoroughfare for the island. A car is definitely required if one wants to take advantage of the sights. For those who would be flying in, I would recommend staying at a beach front resort if you don't rent a car. 

4. Bicycling around the island is also a great option. The flat terrain, bike lanes and bike racks almost command you to park the car for your entire stay. You can bring your own or rent one. 

Cycling in Hilton Head, So. Carolina
Bicycling around Harbour Town, Hilton Head, South Carolina

5. If you're a golfer, you're in absolute heaven. If you just want to sit on the beach, you could do that, too, until it rains. If you want to eat, there are all types of options from fine dining to Dunkin' Donuts. If you want to get in shape, you can jog or bike ride around US 278 for miles. 

6. The ambience of the island is due to the low-key physical appearance. Town ordinances specify how construction is done resulting in the entire island looking like it was decorated by the same interior designer in varying shades of sage and taupe. Also, some buildings are behind trees to preserve the forest look of the island. 


Lighthouse, Hilton Head, So. Carolina
Harbour Town Lighthouse

7. There are plenty of beaches. Coligny Beach Park, is a public beach. It's clean, yes, popular, but accessible. Parking is not the best and you need to read every single sign. There are paid parking lots, it's better to pay to park rather than a ticket and tow.

Always plan for inclement weather when staying near the shore. Hilton Head, South Carolina, Coligny Beach Park.

8. As ritzy as the place is, one might be surprised to learn it is actually the home to descendants of slaves and those of Gullah background who stayed after the Civil War. The island celebrates its place in U.S. history and you can visit relics of a plantation on the Sea Pines Resort (Stoney-Baynard Plantation). You can pay for a day pass to explore Sea Pines.



Plantation Ruins, Hilton Head So. Carolina
Stoney-Baynard Plantation, Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head, So. Carolina.

9. If you want Vegas-y style nightlife or a noisy, lit up Time Square-like boardwalk, this is not for you. Hilton Head is a place to relax, retreat, get in some recreation and to refresh. Go on down, it just might do you some good. 

10. No vacation area would be incomplete without shopping. There are the charming boutiques, an actual Piggly-Wiggly and outlets in Bluffton.

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Anthem of the Seas Review: Part 1

Disclaimer



Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 if the copyright act of 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

This review is my personal opinion. I am not paid by anyone. I do not receive any amenities (free or discounted).

Anthem of the Seas Cruise Ship
Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas

Well, let's start by saying this: I sailed, for the first time on the Anthem of the Seas and for the second time with Royal Caribbean, right after the infamous episode when the ship was caught in a storm and turned around to return back to Cape Liberty, NJ. The next scheduled voyage was ours. 

Cruise ship docked at Cape Liberty
Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas, docked at Cape Liberty, NJ.

Unfortunately Royal Caribbean did not handle disseminating information very well. Originally, we received no email nor any other communication that our trip would sail as scheduled. I finally called them. The representative was very pleasant and cordial if not taken aback by the fact that there was no information available regarding the upcoming voyage. Coincidentally, or maybe not, almost 24 hours after that conversation, there was a notice on the website that the Anthem would sail as scheduled. I am not sure if Royal Caribbean was planning their strategy or if they were waiting for confirmation from some higher authority but we literally did not find out that we were really going to sail until three days prior. In addition none of the Twitter accounts ever mentioned that the next trip would go on as scheduled. 

Cape Liberty Cruise Port
Cape Liberty, New Jersey

So, we arrive at Cape Liberty. Parking was a bit pricier than some ports ($20/day, but this is considered a NYC area port, so there you go). However, parking for the week is still cheaper than flying to Florida for two during peak season. Presidents Day week, mid-February, is considered peak season for New York because schools are closed for mid-winter recess. Advice: bring jumper cables in case your car sits in zero degree weather for nine days. We didn't need it, but it's been known to happen.


Anthem of the Seas entrance at Cape Liberty

Royal Caribbean has a very nice check-in system, if you take advantage of the online process. Upload your photo when you check in online and all you have to do is have your ID, show your boarding pass, get it scanned and you're checked in (keep the boarding pass out until you get to your cabin). Your cabin key/card is on the ship in the mailbox outside of your room. Normally, boarding would be quick, but we were delayed while the ship and crew went through a full drill. However, Royal Caribbean/Cape Liberty gave us snack boxes and provided extra seating. The port is big enough to seat everyone if necessary and it turned out to be needed. They added chairs in the area where you disembark and even had enough heat (it was one of the 9 degree days). They also boarded in groups to avoid a huge backlog and made periodic announcements about the progress of boarding. We got more communication at that time than we did the whole week prior.

Boarding process



Warning: if you are used to bringing a travel electrical strip, Royal considers that an extension cord and it will be confiscated. You can get it back at the end of the voyage. I brought the same one on the Jewel of the Seas but they have changed their permitted items on board. You will get a ticket and if you don't want to go back to your car, they will hold it for you. Also, they sell some items in the port. They tell you that if you buy a lanyard, they will punch a hole in it on board so that you can use the clip attached. This is not true. You can't punch a hole because it will disable the chip in the card. You need to use the plastic sleeve. If you want a souvenir lanyard, buy it onboard.

Boarding the Anthem of the Seas
Boarding the Anthem of the Seas

Also: most cruise lines are now prohibiting bottled liquids except wine, including water and your own soda. They are selling 12 packs of water at discounted prices but honestly, just bring a nice wide mouth empty bottle and fill it up at the buffet. Some still allow canned sodas. This is because people are sneaking liquor on board, most notably the 18-20 year-old crowd. This includes when you re-board at ports en route. You have to finish all drinks, even water, before coming back on the ship.

Greeted with Champagne
Greeted with champagne

After we boarded, Royal greeted us with glasses of champagne and a free bottle in our cabin. I am not sure if this is standard or because of the incident the week prior.


Complimentary bottle of Champagne
Complimentary bottle of champagne

PS: we were surprised at the number of people who will drive from as far away as 8 hours to sail from the NYC area. Apparently, no-fly cruises are very big in the North as the South, even in the winter. Also, there is the allure of touring New York either before or after. As for the rest of us, getting to a port in a half an hour (and home again) is worth the parking fee alone.

Next up: the ship itself.

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