Friday, August 2, 2013

New York Really is the Big Apple

Today we had a pretty interesting morning. I forgot to write about how beautiful the hotel that we are staying in is. The lobby is so ornately decorated with vases and oil paintings that you can tell someone invested a lot of time and money into this place. There are even chess boards and last night Damian started a game but had to cut it short so we could eat dinner.

Anyway, we were out at the lobby at seven twenty five, picked up breakfast, and had a few minutes to kill before the cabs arrived. Damian and I started a new game of chess and Damian was winning by the time the cabs arrived. The cabs got there and we drove to South Station, caught the train to New York, and went on a two hour train ride. The scenery was very pretty. As we exited New Haven, it was primarily dense forest and very little graffiti. But as we approached New York, the graffiti got worse and the trees thinned out. I guess you should expect that as you approach a huge city though, eh? 

To keep myself occupied, I looked over some of the required reading for our seminars. I also talked to two Navy officers who were sitting next to me. They were nice guys, and even tried to get me to join. But while talking to them I found out that they are officers aboard a nuclear submarine, I kid you not. I seem to have a knack for sitting next to people who are serving in the Navy on submarines. We talked mostly about their job, and how half of their career they’ve been desk jockeys and for the over half have actually served. They had some humorous stories about when they went to Scotland and Georgia. They piqued my interest and am glad I talked to them.

When we arrived, we pulled into none other than Grand Central Station. It took us two long hours, but we finally arrived. The anticipation built up in me like an oil well being struck for the first time. I ran out of the train, camera in hand, ready to record my first images of the world famous Grand Central Station. As I ran up the stairs I was filled with even more suspense. Then, all around me a grand concourse emerged. I was in sheer awe. The glass windows were just as they have been shown in the movies, and I saw a few posters for the celebration of the centennial birthday of Grand Central. Soon, I started taking photos of everything. We missed rush hour, thankfully, but it was still filled to the brim with people. They were running and walking in every which direction towards one of the over one hundred railroad tracks that run through Grand Central. I love it.
The Grand Concourse
Then I looked at the ceiling. Painted on it are nine of the twelve zodiac signs, I think, including Pisces, Aires, and Taurus. They are painted in gold on a blue backdrop and look stunning. My friends and I then proceeded to go to the second level, take a few pictures, and then proceed to walk out to the street. All along the way it is lined with shops, and this place called Vanderbilt hall. If you have the chance I cannot suggest enough going to Grand Central Station. I must warn you though that it will look smaller than in the movies because it is filled with people.

We then proceeded to the subway station and caught a ride to the New York University campus area. Or at least what we thought was the NYU campus. It turns out that NYU is not, in fact, like a regular university. NYU’s buildings are integrated into the city, so they look like any other building. There are banners hanging proudly from the side of the buildings and they have signs next to their doors to differentiate them, but besides that there is no way to figure what buildings they are. There is an informal campus green, but it looks like it would be difficult to organize events in the city in there.
The NYU Law Building
We then walked around for a while looking for the admissions building, found it, and asked if they could direct us towards the tour meeting area. They then proceeded to tell us that the tour does begin at eleven, like we expected, but there was an information session that we had to attend first at ten o’clock. Well, we missed it. They then told us that we could attend an information session and tour at one. I wanted to go, but was out voted and we decided to take the self-tour. It was okay, and Tracey read aloud to us some of the details of each of the buildings we passed, but I would have preferred to have taken the official tour at one. C’est la vie, I suppose. The one better part of the self-tour was that during the walk through the unofficial campus green, I got to play chess against a man who has been playing for eight years, if my memory serves me correctly. It was a challenge, no doubt, but alas, my efforts were fruitless. He won in a little over fifteen minutes. I gave him a good fight though, and was able to at least take his queen before he took my king. He also coached me a bit on where to move and how to use pieces to the best of my advantage. His name is Mack, and he is a kind man. He told me that you should only read chess books to give you new ideas, but playing the game is the only way to get good at it. In honor of him, I think I’ll start playing more often.
The Washington Arch
We then found this place called John’s, which received four stars on Yelp, and now I know why. I got a margherita pizza while Damian and Josh got a half and half: one side classic cheese and the other side pineapple. I got to try both of theirs, and they were quite good. Eric had a monster calzone filled with chicken and broccoli that was simply exquisite. The ricotta cheese, mozzarella and broccoli blended so well that I can still taste it now. I think that my pizza, however, was the best entrée of the day. It was a regular cheese pizza but it was topped with basil, and that made all the difference. The basil gave it a nice unique taste that must be eaten to be believed. I hope we have a pizza like that back home so that I can have it whenever I long for the East Coast. We were so stuffed that by the end, I didn’t want to eat ever again.

Afterwards we headed on over to Times Square to see what it is really like. It took us a little bit longer than we expected, mainly because we got on the wrong train the first time, but we eventually got on the right one and I was so excited again. Once again, camera in hand, I ascended the steps towards Times Square. Oh my goodness. It was all that we see on TV on more. It was grandiose, shops lining the street, and a particular busyness that everyone had places to be, people to see, and things to do. So many people in suits, it made the atmosphere feel so official. I loved it, and must go back someday.
Times Square
We then proceeded to Rockefeller Plaza. It was beautiful. There were fountains, statues, and flags flying representing many different countries. We decided to stop for a minute in front of a Chase building. Eric and I decided to investigate inside and it was just like any other tall office building. Except for the basement that houses the Canadian consulate, which I only looked a little bit at.
Rockefeller Center
We then proceeded to see some of the great LEGO creations that people have made in a LEGO store. We saw a LEGO Atlas holding up the Earth, and a LEGO recreation of Rockefeller plaza.
LEGO Atlas carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders

We then proceeded to check out the NBC shop, which had some comical attire that paid homage to such well-known shows as Seinfeld, Friends, and Parks and Recreation. I like each of those shows and loved the quotes that they put on the shirt.

From there, our final stop was the Nintendo store. Inside was a little bit of Nintendo history and a number of games for their Wii video game system and their new Wii U video game system. Inside one of the glass cases on the upper floor were a number of devices Nintendo made to use with their products to play shooting games and role playing games.
A Nintendo Power Glove
Then my comrades and I played different games on the new Wii U systems on the second floor, including racing, action-adventure, and LEGO video games. One LEGO video game, LEGO City, is where you take the role of a police officer, find bad guys, and put them in jail. It is kind of similar to Grand Theft Auto, without the vulgar language and graphic violence. You can still take cars from citizens and drive them around, and you can fist fight with the bad guys. Damian played a Rayman game that looked like a lot of fun. Josh played a Wario game where you participate in a series of mini games and try to get the highest score. Finally, I decided to try out the Sonic racing game, which is loads of fun as you race through land, see, and air to win.

We stayed there for a while, then headed on over to Ellen’s Starlight Dinner, where Damian had been waiting to go ever since we arrived in New York. As he describes it, it is where all the Broadway musical rejects go to get money and hope one day to star in a Broadway show. The food was good, but the singing was phenomenal. Each person had a range of singing talents, and put a lot of emotion into each song they sang. They even sang Disney songs, like one from The Little Mermaid. I liked it a lot and it is definitely a novelty. I also learned that twelve past employees have actually gone on to work on Broadway in such shows as Mama Mia and Cinderella.
Ellen’s Stardust Café
After the Stardust Dinner, we rushed over to Grand Central Station, said our goodbyes to New York, and boarded the train. Two hours later, we arrive in New Haven.

Today was a nice, relaxed day. We saw the sites, ate good food, and had a grand old time. Tomorrow, we will begin our first day of Yale classes. I just hope that I’m going to be good enough to compete with some of the world’s smartest individuals in a class about grand strategies. Good night.

1 comment:

  1. Well, Liam, you can now say that you’ve been to the show—you’ve seen the elephant—you’ve been to the City That Never Sleeps—you’ve experienced The Big Apple. Pick a euphemism and it probably fits. Has it corrupted you yet? ☺

    I was amused by your comments about how things changed so much the closer you got to NYC. Why is it, do you suppose, that so many people try to live out in the boonies and take the train into town?

    Too bad about the NYU tour. But would it have made any difference based on what you were able to see and after doing your research about it? Would a tour have turned the tide and convinced you to apply?