Monday, November 26, 2012

You Had Me at Free Chocolate

After we went to Cardiff and Chislehurst Caves, we had three more days of our BritRail pass left, so I took to the Internet to  find some fun locations for day trips. In this sense, our BritRail passes are a great asset because they forced us to go to less obvious places and allowed us to go to placeswe may not have found otherwise.

As I searched Trip Advisor, I saw reference to a place called Cadbury World. Um, yes please. You had me at Cadbury. If you don't already know I love sweets. And I love Chocolate World at HersheyPark so Cadbury World sounded like a great use of a day. Upon further investigation I found that the tickets were only £10 and it's just outside Birmingham--an easy train ride from Oxford. At this point, I knew we were going. I mean, I still had to ask my flatmates, but it was pretty much a definite in my eyes.

My friends recognized my genius in this respect, we purchased tickets online and the next week we were on a train towards Birmingham.

Sidenote: it was Remembrance Day and we were on the train at 11AM but we did not have a moment of silence, which disappointed me. I was looking forward to experiencing this about Remembrance Day because I'd heard so much about it but I guess because of the business of travel, they don't incorporate into the train system. I mean, I would understand if we were at a station at that time, but we weren't, we were just whizzing through the countryside so it wouldn't have been that difficult to have a moment of silence. 

We had to change trains at Birmingham to get to Bourneville where Cadbury World is located. Luckily, the path from the Bourneville Station to Cadbury World was very well marked so we got there on time for our time-entry ticket of 12:50. We got in line and waited for our Cadbury chocolate experience to begin.

And me tell you, our adventure began on a very sweet note: when we entered we each were given a full size Curly Wurly and a full size Crunchee bar. Free candy? Yes, please! They sure know how to put me in a good mood!

The first part of Cadbury World started at the very beginning-in Latin America where chocolate originates. It was an Aztec rainforest and we learned all about how Cortes brought chocolate to Europe and we saw how chocolate was integrated into society. We then jumped forward to the Cadbury family and their foray into the chocolate business. This involved a 4D film on how chocolate is made: our benches shook as the cocoa beans were ground and it got extremely hot as they were roasted. It was a whimsical approach to the topic.

Next up was the packaging plant, which unfortunately wasn't in operation that day. But good news, we each got a full sized Cadbury Dairy Milk when we entered, so I really couldn't be too upset. It was interesting to see the packaging machinery, but because they weren't actually running there really wasn't much to see. There was, however, an interesting sign on the walls that featured a drawing of a man propelling from the ceiling with a diagonal line through it. No propelling from the ceiling? Damn, that's what I was planning on doing. Why would you need a sign that says that? Well, we were in Bourneville, so, the home of Jason Bourne, right? Well not really, but it was frequent joke between Caitlin and I (we love Matty D) during the trip.

After the packaging plant was the Abracadabra ride where we all sat in a little car moving through various scenes of personified cocoa beans. Yes, it was as weird as it sounds. To be honest, it was actually kinda creepy. Funny, but creepy. Especially since the little cocoa beans weren't even cute. Just creepy. As we exited the ride and entered the next room we were handed a small vial and spoon. It was filled with pure melted chocolate. Heavenly. This day just kept getting better and better. We walked through "Advertising Alley" which was interesting to me as an advertising student. The problem was that because I'm not British it wasn't as relevant because I didn't know the actors or the famous adverts. We don't really have Cadbury in the US, thus no Cadbury commercials.

I did learn, when I was at Cadbury World, that Cadbury owns a lot of other companies and makes candy other than chocolate. They make Britain's (sub-par) version of Sour Patch Kids and they also own Trident and Halls and some other confectionary enjoyed in the US. I also learned just how many chocolate products Cadbury makes when we got to the massive Cadbury store. I already ahd three free chocolate bars so I didn't really need any more but of course I bought more anyways! :) I bought a few different kinds to get a sampling: Freddo Frog, Fudge, Cadbury Caramel Dairy Milk and a massive Cadbury Oreo bar. This candy and a postcard only came out to about £2. It was awesome.

The last part of our chocolate adventure was Essense. This was where we learned all about how the secret recipe of Cadbury Dairy Milk through a strange little video. After the video we got to "concoct our own chocolate  combination." Basically, we got to choose one mix in (marshmallows, shortbread, white chocolate and about three other potions) and then they poured warm liquid chocolate on top. And it was free. So yeah, it was awesome and delicious and chocolaty. We sat at picnic table outside near a train engine to enjoy our chocolaty creations and reflect on how this was the best £10 we'd ever spent.

As we walked back to the train we learned all about how awesome it was to work for the Cadburys in the 1900s. They were actually a Quaker family and believed in positive working conditions, kindness and loyalty. They had sports ground and great facilities for workers and even baths for the girls to learn to swim. It was actually company policy to allow women to learn to swim on company time. All in all it sounds like a great place to work, like an olden times Google.

We got back to the Bourneville Station and returned to Birmingham not long after. We explored Birmingham a bit, went to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. As we walked to the museum Caitlin jokingly said "Maybe they'll have a Waterhouse painting," to Austy. John William Waterhouse is Austy's favorte artist. It was said in jest but there happened to be a travelling exhibit containing three massive Waterhouse paintings. Also cool was an exhibit about Birmingham's history on the top floor where it presented Birmingham to you as if you were arriving for the first time in the 1800s. It was a very cool way to learn about history. We didn't get to spend long there cause it was closing, but I wish we couldn't stayed longer. We had dinner at a pub and went on our merry way back to Oxford.

As we enjoyed our Cadbury chocolate on the train home I couldn't help but think my trademark "Best day ever!" Or rather, sweetest day ever. :)

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