Friday, August 2, 2013

The City That Never Sleeps

Josh and I woke up at 6:30 AM and I woke up 15 minutes later. We got ready and headed down to the Omni hotel lobby on a warm cloudy morning. Today was our big trip. We were going to New York City! We met at the lobby at around 7:15 AM. Starbucks was our fast breakfast and morning coffee because we had to catch an early 8:15 AM train. We took a taxi to the train station and got there at around 8:00 AM. We boarded our train to go to the Big Apple. I felt a bit unwell because I had kicked off my covers during the cold night sleep in the room. When I got on the train I decided to try and sleep it off. When I woke up we were a few stops away from the Grand Central station. When I stepped out of the train I began to think that the rule that heat always rises was a big lie. I could barely breathe because it was so hot and humid down there. The air was absolutely gag worthy. We stepped into the main part of Grand Central and I was amazed at the architecture. There was a mural of constellations on the roof, there were giant chandelier-like lights hanging from the ceiling, and the place was filled with people. I've read about and watched a documentary about the Robber Barons and I recall the Grand Central station being part of it. Looking up at the ceiling, I immediately took out my phone and took pictures because it was so beautiful.
The mural on the Grand Central ceiling
Grand Central

We walked around Central Station for a little while, then we headed to the subway for NYU. The underground subway made me question the laws of physics for a second time. The air was no better than when we got off of the train. Our train arrived and we got to the area by New York University. We stepped up into the sunlight and tried to find our way to the university. Needless to say, we got lost again. We asked for directions. Apparently, New Yorkers aren't as mean as they're painted out to be, at least not in the daylight. I'm sure the darkness within New York is contingent to brightness or darkness of the day. The later it gets, the meaner New Yorkers get. NYU was built in a strange way. It didn't even feel like a college campus. It was multiple buildings across and down the streets from one another. It's like the Art Academy in San Francisco. Though most of the building were fairly close, but they were built a distance from one another so there was absolutely no college feeling to it. Though I have heard the NYU likes to send their students abroad, and I also picked up a pamphlet about health studies. Their first page had the words, "help children with communication disorders learn to interact," I was especially drawn to this because at school I loved working with autistic elementary school students during the Careers in Teaching class and many of these kids had problems communicating.
Religious center of NYU.
An alley at NYU that has a view of the Empire State Building.
A statue of Cervantes at New York University.
Due to the fact that the tour information was deceiving, we gave ourselves a self-tour. Apparently people had to be there an hour before the actual tour in order to join. The people told us that it starts at a certain time, but what they should have told us was to get there way before the tour starts. Our self-tour took the five of us to Washington Square Park, the green area of NYU. It has a lot of trees and flowers and even a dog park. At the park Eric and Liam played chess matches with some of the people at the park. Both of them lost. I only stood and watched because I wasn't sure how to play chess, but I'm sure it's similar to Chinese chess, not Chinese checkers, but Chinese chess. After watching the two of them play, I think I know how each of the pieces move and attack.
An arc that was designed to resemble L'arc de Triomphe at Washington Square Park.
After our self-tour we all decided to go to Times Square! On our way we got lost a few times, nothing new, but when we got there I felt like a child. I looked up and was grasped by all the lights and billboards in the small area. I imagined that Times Square was bigger and more shopping based, but I felt that it was more commercial and business based. Times Square only stretched a few blocks and it wasn't as cool as I'd hoped, but I was pretty pleased.
Times Square!
After our little visit to Times Square, we wanted to try New York's famous pizzas. Josh, our usual food guide, took us to John's pizzeria. We all sat down and ordered. For our appetizer we had calamari. I ordered the bruschetta pizza, Josh ordered the traditional pizza, Liam had the margherita pizza, Eric decided to have a chicken and broccoli calzone, and Ms. Tracey wanted the ravioli. All in all the food was great. Eric's calzone tasted very good, salty with a lovely mixture of cheese, chicken, and broccoli. Liam's pizza was very good. The basil on top of his pizza made everything delicious. The basil really brought out the flavor of the stone oven baked pizza. My pizza was no disappointment either, there were tomatoes and plenty of other fresh herbs on my pizza. Unfortunately, the place was so busy that the service ended up being slow.
Josh's pizza and my pizza were made into one on the top and Liam's pizza is at the bottom.
After our meal we decided to head to Rockefeller Square. As usual, we got lost a few times, but our trusty GPS user, Eric, safely brought us to wherever we needed to go. We got there, and I was amazed at how nice it was. There were flags lining an outdoor cafe with a beautiful golden statue in front of a waterfall. While walking there were two shops that caught my eye. The Nintendo shop and the Lego shop. We decided to go to Josh's store first, the NBC store. Which was a lot of fun, I got to sit in The Voice chair and pretend I was judge on the panel. Then we went to the Lego shop where they had awesome Lego artwork, like the dragon or a Lego replica of the Rockefeller square. Then we went to the Nintendo Shop and played video game demos for a little while.
A dragon created from Legos.
Rockefeller Square
The statue at Rockefeller square.
Earlier I told the group about a diner that my friend, Anmol, went to during her stay in Columbia. She told me that it was awesome and that we should try it out. She suggested Ellen's Stardust Diner. We walked to the diner, again getting a bit lost, and ate there. The place was so unique. I've never been to a diner like this before. The food wasn't all that great. I had the Philly cheese steak. What really entertained us was the music. The waiters are all people aspiring to be Broadway stars and they sing live for the entire restaurant. One song that particular stood out to me was "Part of Your World," from The Little Mermaid. It brought me back to my theater and musical days. After dinner we had to catch the train back to the Omni. This is when I noticed that a lot more people were coming out as opposed to early in the day. This is also when people started getting a bit more aggressive. People would come up to you, force something into your hand, and try to make you pay. More culture shock, because that doesn't normally happen in the Bay Area. For the umpteenth time on the East Coast, we got lost again. Though, this time I wouldn't really consider it as being lost, more like we didn't know that we were going the right way. 

When we finally found the station, we boarded the train and headed back home. I was exhausted and slept for a while and woke up a few stops before New Haven. During he train ride we helped a man find his destination on a map, though we were no where near experts on the area.

Tomorrow we are to enter Yale. I'm really excited. Yale. . . The Yale. The one that I always hear about and used to hear about on "The Gilmore Girls." My time there will be really strenuous, but will be very educational and very worth it.

1 comment:

  1. Let me see...we send four bright guys and a bright chaperone--all armed with smart phones and maps--and what I read in every third sentence of this blog is about how you’re all getting lost. We need to talk more about this later when you get home--if you can find your way.

    Your thoughts on New York City are interesting--and a little bit of a contrast to what we’ve read from some of our Columbia cohort. I suspect that it comes down to a matter of perspective.

    What I really got a kick out of, Damian, is seeing that pizza tray holder to support multiple pizzas. I LIKE that idea.