Peru & Bolivia

Summer 2006

Part 14: Atlanta

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August 31st (day 37): Atlanta

My plane from Lima landed in Atlanta at 8am. Since my connecting flight to Brussels would leave almost 10 hours later I had plenty of time to visit Atlanta - I'd bought these plane tickets with exactly that in mind. Ironically, this was my 3rd visit to the USA already and I haven't paid for a single one of them. The first time I was invited to Los Angeles on a business trip, and the second time (three weeks later) I visited Chicago on my way to Mexico.

By 9am I was out of the airport and on the metro train to the city center. I was awake for 24 hours now but after dozing on the plane I felt fine. I had prepared this short visit well: I had printed a little Google Map of downtown Atlanta at home and marked all the places I wanted to see on it, as well as the metro stations, and it served me well. Atlanta has few monuments worth mentioning but it's the HQ of the Coca Cola Company and of CNN, so those were my three main destinations.

World of Coca Cola

I first headed to World of Coca Cola, a sort of corporate museum. Although I'm a Coca Cola Light Lemon addict myself, I mainly visited this place as a sort of joke, but apparently Atlanta really considers it a highlight because the speaker on the metro mentions it at the nearby stop.

In Peru the most popular soft drink is a local beverage called Inca Kola which has nothing in common with Coke (e.g. it looks yellow). I'd bought a T-shirt with the ubiquitous Inca Kola logo and of course wore it for this occasion.
There is World of Coca Cola. On the left you see the spire of the Georgia State Capitol
Showing off my Inca Kola shirt in enemy territory
I asked the first passer-by to take that picture of me, and by a freak coincidence, this guy turned out to be a Peruvian staying in Atlanta to do an entrance exame at the university. Of course he very much liked the idea for this picture.

The museum itself consisted mostly of pictures showing Coca Cola's marketing throughout the years. Beside that there was a bottling machine at the entrance, and at the end a series of drink machines where you could try the many dozens of sodas the Coca Cola company sells around the world - that was fun.
A working bottling machine at the entrance
Not sure what this is for but it looks cool
The Coca Cola logo as it has been adapted to all the world`s scripts - nice work

I bought myself a huge Coca Cola glass from the early days when it was only served in apothecaries (completely different shape) as a souvenir and then left to get to CNN on time. I made a detour to check out the Georgia State Capitol, the parliament building of the state of Georgia of which Atlanta is the capital.
The Georgia State Capitol


Two months earlier, before I'd even left Belgium, I already made an online reservation for a tour of the CNN studios at precisely 11:50 on this day - how's that for planning ahead.
The CNN building, right next to a sports arena paid for by Philips apparently

The inside of the CNN building is very impressive with the inner court having been turned into a huge atrium. The ground floor is a public area and features the full spectre of American fast food restaurants. It is full of tables where people can have lunch and watch CNN on a cinema-sized screen.
The inner courtyard of the building
Parked on the courtyard is one of the two Hummers CNN reporters used to get around Iraq during the US invasion
This ramp is the start of the tour
Going up to begin my tour, with a series of screens showing Bush live on CNN

We first got to see some rooms only used for the tour. The first had a cinema screen showing all the images the editor was seeing at this very same moment. Bush was giving a speech about Iraq somewhere and this was being broadcast live on CNN - the big screen in the middle. Around it we see various commentators waiting in front of a camera until it's their turn to speak. It was fun to see how a live broadcast is pieced together and watch those people wait.

In the next room the guide - who was very professional and knew his stuff - demonstrated the green screen principle by holding a green cloth in front of him so only his head remained visible on the weather map (look at the monitor above him).
The editor`s view during the current live broadcast
The guide demonstrating the green screen

At this point the guide told me I wasn't allowed to make pictures during the tour. That was very unfortunate because right after this we got a fantastic view on the huge CNN studio from a walkway behind glass, right beneath the high ceiling so we had an overview from above. We saw the anchor who we'd just seen on-screen sitting at a desk on a podium, with three fully remote-controlled cameras wheeling around in front of her, while behind her in the same hall were a hundred desks with computer screens where the whole news team was busily working. The microphones cancelled out their noise, there was no glass wall or anything.

It was an impressive sight, and being a news junkie who's watched CNN for countless hours I really got a kick out of seeing it all in action. I desperately wanted to make a picture, but having just been told it's not allowed and with a guard following us, there was no chance. I found this bad picture on someone's web site though.
This shows about half the studio. The curved desk is where the anchors sit, with their backs to the hall.

We got to see the other studios as well, including the one of CNN International where another live broadcast was going on. All in all this was a fantastic tour and really one of the highlights of this journey.
Souvenir pic at the entrance


I had lunch in the atrium of the CNN building and then walked around downtown Atlanta for an hour or two, basically heading for the nicest-looking skyscrapers. It rained most of the time though it was very hot - this part of the US is said to have the worst climate.
Had to stitch this one together, too big
The mist was hiding the tops of some of the skyscrapers
That double tower is the prettiest skyscraper in Atlanta
This looks like a Sears tower wannabe
Hard rock cafe. Notice the bridge between the two office buildings behind
This isn`t the church, this is just the lobby of one of the tallest skyscrapers. Again, notice the crazy bridge between the office buildings.
Okay, they obviously like building bridges between their office buildings in Atlanta

What I found very remarkable about Atlanta was that there was hardly any traffic. With all those skyscrapers you'd think the streets would be bustling with life, but in fact it was eerily quiet, although it was a working day. Twice I ran into people who had also been on my plane and were also exploring Atlanta while waiting for their next flight.

Sailing home

I was back at the airport at 15:30, a good two hours before my flight. Now this was a few days after the attacks on Atlantic flights were prevented and all the new security measures were installed (no liquids in your hand luggage etc), but I could do a self-service check-in without any waiting and passing security took all of 5 minutes, amazing considering all over the world people were having to queue for hours at airports.

I spent the two hours I had to wait counting how many times I've flown a plane now, among other things. The flight from Atlanta to Brussels was my 46th. I arrived at 9am Belgian time on Friday, 44 hours after waking up in Lima, but by just dozing on the planes I felt fine. To my surprise Belgium looks quite nice from above, never seen it like this before.
Belgium from above

The next day (Saturday) I had an interview with one of the two companies who'd contacted me while I was traveling, and on Monday I was already working again, so the end of my half year of free time was rather sudden.

<< Part 13: Back in Lima    -   Back to Index   -     

Cy Mon 12 Feb 2007 @ 15:58
I enjoyed your photos, especially of Arbor de Piedra! How fragile it looks. Thanks for your tips on traveling to Machu Pichu on

Daria Thu 07 Dec 2006 @ 00:20
Ammmazing photos and exciting views!!! :)
I can't find the right words!

I bet in real life these views were much more breathtaking :) At some point I envy you - you had a chance to see all this beauty by your own eyes!
But the same time thank you very much for sharing this beauty with us :) This way it is also very nice ;)

Looking forward to seeing new pics and reading new reports ;)

Godsmurf Thu 30 Nov 2006 @ 00:11
It'll be 90% nature pics in the rest of the report. You ain't seen nothing yet :)

Well apart from some really wild desert llamas I saw penguins, condors, flamingos, pelicans, other birds, and sealions!

Fia Wed 29 Nov 2006 @ 15:07
Excellent pictures! Very beautiful sceneries! As usual I prefer mountain pics before buildings. ;-) I especially like the green colours of the mountains and the blue colours of the lakes that you visited.

By the way, you didn't happen to see any wildlife? Apart from that creepy millipede I mean. (And lamas don't count as wild.) :-)


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