Barcelona, Spain: Font màgica de Montjuïc

After an incredible day of sightseeing, there was still one more task on our to-do list— Font màgica de Montjuïc, also known as the Montjuïc Magic Fountain. The fountain first premiered in 1929 for the International Exhibition (also known as the World’s Fair), and has since blown tourists and locals away with its beautiful display of colors, lights, and of course, its synced and coordinated water movements.

The fountain’s water moves in accordance with the music that is playing, and the lights that are constantly changing, and it is truly a wonderful sight. Behind the fascinating water show is the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, which is Barcelona’s National Art Museum. Although we didn’t have time to see the exhibits, we were able to see the museum lit up at night, which was also spectacular.

Once the show ended, my sister and I crossed the street and came across Las Arenas, which is a shopping mall. We didn’t know this at the time, as we assumed it was a bullfighting ring since that’s what it looked like. It turns out, Las Arenas was actually a bullring, but was transformed into a mall in 2011 since bullfighting in Barcelona was banned in 2010. Although the shops in the mall were closed at the time, we went to the rooftop to see what was up there, and ended up sitting down at a restaurant for dinner. We ordered sangria (which if you couldn’t tell by now, is a must in Spain), as well as patatas bravas (once again), and seafood paella (because we couldn’t get enough of it. The food and views from the rooftop were great, and we couldn’t wait to get started on our next day in Barcelona!

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Barcelona, Spain: Casa Battló

After lunch, my sister and I reserved a time slot to visit Casa Battló—another incredible building designed by Antoni Gaudí, which is located near the center of Barcelona.

Between 1904 and 1906, Gaudí designed and built Casa Battló for a wealthy man by the name of Josep Batlló. Battló lived in the bottom two floors with his family, and rented out the remaining floors, which were used as apartments. As you can tell by looking at the pictures, Gaudí used colors that can be found in nature, but more specifically, marine life.

The outside of the building is designed to look like it is made from skulls (which are the balconies) and bones (which are the supporting pillars for the building). The roof is designed to look like a dragon, and as you walk around the exterior and see the different angles of the house, you’ll notice different colored tiles on the roof. These are meant to represent the scales of the dragon’s spine.

As you walk inside the house, the shapes and colors of the rooms and features are constantly changing. There is something to be seen everywhere you turn. The railing for the staircase is meant to fit the palm of your hand, as are all the door knobs inside the house. The banister itself represents another spine of a large animal. With incredibly large ceilings, Gaudí shaped each skylight like the shell of a tortoise, and made sure that there is an even distribution of light throughout the entire house.

This can be noted in one of the pictures below where the tiles from the bottom floor going up start off as a light blue. As you continue walking upstairs, the tiles become increasingly darker. There is also a glass casing on each floor by the staircase that provides a special effect. So, when you look at the blue tiles through the glass, it seems as though you are underwater, and the different shades of blue really accentuate this. And as if the inside of the house wasn’t beautiful enough, the various views of the city that can be seen from the rooftop are also stunning.

Below, you’ll find a video provided by Casa Batlló that shows the house come to life, as Gaudí originally imagined. It is truly a spectacular piece of art, and besides being a historic and fascinating staple for Barcelona, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

http://vimeo.com/81086090

Visiting The Coca-Cola Factory In Atlanta, Georgia

While I was in Atlanta a few weekends ago, we made sure to stop at the Coca-Cola Factory, because it’s a must-see. There is so much history and so many incredible facts about Coca-Cola that we learned about during the tour. It was truly fascinating, and of course, one of the best parts was towards the end of our visit when we sampled over 100 flavors of Coca-Cola from around the world.

Besides for learning about the history of Coca-Cola (part of which can be found below), something else that was interesting to hear was regarding the location of where the secret formula of Coca-Cola was kept throughout the years. As described from the World of Coca-Cola website, “After Dr. John S. Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in 1886, the formula was kept a close secret, shared only with a small group and not written down. In 1892, Asa Candler became the sole proprietor of Coca-Cola after purchasing the rights to the business. Then, in 1919, Ernest Woodruff and a group of investors purchased the company from Candler and his family. To finance the purchase, Woodruff arranged a loan, using the secret formula as collateral. He asked Candler’s son to write the formula down and placed the paper in a vault in the Guaranty Bank in New York until the loan was repaid in 1925. At that point, Woodruff reclaimed the secret formula, returned it to Atlanta and placed it in Trust Company Bank, now SunTrust, where it remained for 86 years until its recent move to the World of Coca-Cola” (https://www.worldofcoca-cola.com/explore/explore-inside/explore-vault-secret-formula/).

Some of the History Behind Coca-Cola

“Coca-Cola history began in 1886 when the curiosity of an Atlanta pharmacist, Dr. John S. Pemberton, led him to create a distinctive tasting soft drink that could be sold at soda fountains. He created a flavored syrup, took it to his neighborhood pharmacy, where it was mixed with carbonated water and deemed “excellent” by those who sampled it. Dr. Pemberton’s partner and bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson, is credited with naming the beverage “Coca‑Cola” as well as designing the trademarked, distinct script, still used today.

Prior to his death in 1888, just two years after creating what was to become the world’s #1-selling sparkling beverage, Dr. Pemberton sold portions of his business to various parties, with the majority of the interest sold to Atlanta businessman, Asa G. Candler. Under Mr. Candler’s leadership, distribution of Coca‑Cola expanded to soda fountains beyond Atlanta. In 1894, impressed by the growing demand for Coca‑Cola and the desire to make the beverage portable, Joseph Biedenharn installed bottling machinery in the rear of his Mississippi soda fountain, becoming the first to put Coca‑Cola in bottles. Large scale bottling was made possible just five years later, when in 1899, three enterprising businessmen in Chattanooga, Tennessee secured exclusive rights to bottle and sell Coca‑Cola. The three entrepreneurs purchased the bottling rights from Asa Candler for just $1. Benjamin Thomas, Joseph Whitehead and John Lupton developed what became the Coca‑Cola worldwide bottling system.

Among the biggest challenges for early bottlers, were imitations of the beverage by competitors coupled with a lack of packaging consistency among the 1,000 bottling plants at the time. The bottlers agreed that a distinctive beverage needed a standard and distinctive bottle, and in 1916, the bottlers approved the unique contour bottle. The new Coca‑Cola bottle was so distinctive it could be recognized in the dark and it effectively set the brand apart from competition. The contoured Coca‑Cola bottle was trademarked in 1977.

The first servings of Coca‑Cola were sold for 5 cents per glass. During the first year, sales averaged a modest nine servings per day in Atlanta. Today, daily servings of Coca-Cola beverages are estimated at 1.9 billion globally” (https://www.worldofcoca-cola.com/about-us/coca-cola-history/).

 

 

Day 2 In Cartagena, Colombia: Canoeing In La Boquilla

Upon waking up in the morning, we began our day by heading out to La Boquilla, a fisherman village in Cartagena where individuals from class zero and class one live (the two lowest socioeconomic classes in the city). La Boquilla is considered to be a fisherman village because the main activity for locals here is fishing. Fishing is so great in this area because the ocean is connected to the swamp, so local fisherman are able to catch fish from both areas of water. If you were to go to the village at 5:30am, you could purchase caught fish that are still alive, swim in the local water, and go prepare your freshly caught lunch.

There is a lot of construction taking place around La Boquilla, especially the building of hotels, so the locals have worked out a deal with the government. The deal is that hotels building around La Boquilla must employ 20 percent of their staff from the area. In addition, the must either feed these individuals once a month, or educate them in order to help give back to this community.

La Boquilla is known for having the biggest natural reserve in Cartagena. Mangroves here grow up and down, similar to the path of a circle. This is because when the mangrove grows downwards, it creates a new mangrove tree that continuously repeats the process. You can also tell the color of the mangrove by looking at the bottom of the trunk. The colors can be black, red, or white.

Something interesting about La Boquilla is the fact that numerous members of the community come together to raise money for one another and for their neighborhood. This is evident in the fact that some members make the canoes by hand, others row the canoes when tourists come to town, and a select few are in charge of organizing visits from tour groups in Cartagena. These canoe rides, offered on what is called a bote canoa chalupa (or small canoe boat), are a main source of income to the locals in La Boquilla, and they take great pride in the work that they collectively do.