Photo Of The Day: Coca Cola Everywhere

Like the golden arches, the green-backed mermaid and the swooping “Just Do It” check, the red and white Coca Cola logo is that ubiquitous symbol of American capitalism that’s near impossible to escape abroad. Flickr user Kurt Schmidt captured today’s Photo of the Day on the Cvjetni Trg in Zagreb, Croatia, achieving the vintage effect with the help of Instagram. He must have read our recent editorial about whether the mobile editing application is bastardizing travel photography, because he apologized for using the filter: “just liked it!” he wrote in the description. But in this photo of such a classic icon, it works.

Have you encountered symbols from home in the places you least expected? Upload your travel shots to the Gadling Flickr Pool and your image could be selected as our Photo of the Day.

Inca Kola: Peru’s tasty soda

One fun aspect of travel is discovering cool local brands. When I visited Peru back in 1998 I first learned of Inca Kola, a neon-yellow soda produced there. I was curious so I ordered some at a cafe. The waiter was surprised and delighted that I chose his nation’s drink over Coca-Cola and told me proudly that it was the only local soda that had a bigger market share in its home country than Coke.

He brought me my Inca Kola and I took a sip. It was wonderful, an ultrasweet bubblegum flavor that my girlfriend couldn’t stand but I immediately fell in love with. I brought two liters back with me on the plane and served it to all my friends.

Peruvians are pretty proud of this soda, and that’s reflected by its advertising, with lines like La bebida del Perú (“The drink of Peru”) and ¡Es nuestra! (“It’s ours”). Sadly, the Coca-Cola corporation got its global tentacles wrapped around Inca Kola in 1999 and it’s no longer a completely independent company. Several Peruvian-owned rival brands have since taken up the banner.

I haven’t seen Inca Kola much outside of Peru. Some Latino shops in the U.S. stock it under the name Golden Kola, but it can be hard to find. Today I discovered it here in Santander, Spain, under its own name. The local long-distance phone bank, where people use Skype for a small fee rather than racking up huge phone bills to South America, had it for sale. Strangely, the shop is owned by Pakistanis. Santander is pretty cosmopolitan for such a small city!

After I bought some I went next door to a Chinese-owned convenience store, generally called Chinos here because most convenience stores are owned by the Chinese. As I picked up some beer the owner asked me how much I paid for my Inca Kola. Turns out he sells it for five centimos less. Live and learn.

In many ways the world is getting smaller, and that can be a good thing.

Photo of the day – Traveler vs tourist

Ah, the good old tourist vs. traveler debate. Every travel blog has inevitably touched on this non-issue of which is more “authentic” or “real.” Can’t we all just get along? Whether you hit the road to check the big tourist attractions off your list or do as the locals do, you’re traveling and you’re not really local, so who cares which way is better? This photo from Mumbai by Flickr user Chris Hoare captures a small market heavy on the advertising from Indian TV channel Fox History & Traveller and the world’s favorite drink, Coca Cola. While a trip to India should definitely include a sampling of local foods and beverages, you could hardly be called a tourist for drinking the same soda the native population enjoys.

Have any travel photos to capture the traveler or tourist experience? Add them to the Gadling Flickr pool and we may use it for a future Photo of the Day.

Uniform changes, soft drinks wait for Delta and NWA

This week, Northwest employees will get some new threads. Delta has announced that the vanquished will don the mother ship’s uniforms this week, calling it “one of the first outwardly visible signs that the two airlines are now one.” More important than the employees’ new sartorial splendor, free snacks are coming back to all flights!

But, one important question remains: Coke or Pepsi? Delta and Coca-Cola, both Atlanta-based, have had a near-marriage for more than 75 years. So, does Delta want some strange, or will it honor its long-term commitment? Northwest currently serves Pepsi products on its flights.

According to a Delta mouthpiece, it could take a while to come to a landing on the “beverage strategy.” So, for now: same duds, different suds.

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Coolio caught with crack cocaine at the LAX airport checkpoint

Someone needs to tell Artis Leon Ivey Jr. (a.k.a. Coolio) that the workers at the airport checkpoint are on the lookout for more than just guns, bombs and terrorists.

When they go through your stuff and discover crack cocaine, the will haul you off to jail. And not the good “Gangsta’s paradise” jail, they’ll lock you away in the dirty jail, with all the other naughty people.

Coolio posted a $10,000 bail and was released, and I’m sure the legal system will once again go light on this celebrity.

Finding the crack cocaine is bad enough, but Mr. Ivey also “got physical” with the screener. I’d say he’s lucky they didn’t Taser him all the way to his destination.

One part of the news release really stood out – Coolio was on his way to Tulsa, on a Southwest Airlines flight. Not that there is anything wrong with Southwest, I’m guessing that all those years of being in the music business have either made him appreciate flying with us commoners, or he’s simply not been successful enough to get his own private jet.

Remember kids, drugs are bad, but drugs in your pockets at the TSA checkpoint are really bad.

Check out these other stories from the airport checkpoint!