Sunday, May 6th, 2012 12:02am
I’m sitting here at the Waterloo train station with Mom waiting to travel to NYC! I’m so excited I can’t even sleep. It hasn’t hit me yet that I’m traveling to one of the cities of my dreams. Maybe it’s the sketchy train station we are at in the middle of NO where or the fact that my class hasn’t arrived by bus from Muncie either. The only things around us are a few houses, dirt roads, and a bus stop hut. Mom and I are already bored looking around at the orange glow of lights on the tracks and listening to the chirp of crickets. There is an occasional freight train that goes by to add interest. Wait… the bus has arrived!! Here goes nothing :) First vacation without the family. They are going to be so jealous! Off to a 15-hour train ride. Goodbye Indiana
Sunday, May 6th, 2012 4:12pm
Well the train ride has been quite an adventure so far! It is sooo much nicer than the ones I have rode to Chicago before. It reminds me of a charter bus mixed with an airplane. The seats are carpeted, a foot stool reclines to lay down, pillows are provided, and there is a food cart. They also have blinds to hide the sun or lights when you want to sleep, which came in handy during naptime :) I’ve been quite comfortable! Right now we are stuck at a station to split the bus into three parts. I repeat, split the bus into three parts. (The attendant told us that at least five times…) I’m not so sure we will get there on time. We are running at least two hours behind so far. I have a great train buddy to keep me company though. Miss Hannah is such a fun gal! We’ve been snacking, napping, and sharing stories the whole way here. I can’t believe we will be arriving in NYC in a matter of hours!! I’m going to sleep some more until we get there. I’ll write more tonight!
Sunday, May 6th, 2012 9:48pm
I’m in love. From the moment I stepped off the train (after a 19-hour ride mind you) until this very second, I have done nothing but smile. All of the rumble of the subway, the stench of the trash on the streets, the brisk air upon my neck. I love it all!! I especially love the fact that I’m falling asleep to Josh playing guitar and sirens blaring from outside. Such a beautiful New York lullaby. I can’t wait to see what this big city has to offer! Goodnight world <3
Monday, May 7th, 2012 9:45pm
Wow! What a day it has been. I just spent my first full day in New York City. It was absolutely perfect. I’ve been dreaming of this day for the last few months and it was so much better than I imagined. After breakfast at the hostel, both classes walked around the Village. It surprised me how many dogs New Yorkers have! We visited The Stonewall Inn and did a kickline just like the old days. This is where gay rights riots started out. They would dress in drag and kickline in front of the inn until the cops came, then they would run around the block and do it over and over again. After a little while, we all got distracted by the puppy store next door to the inn. We walked around Washington Square Park too. This was a very relaxing place for lunch or a nice walk. I wonder if it’s anything like Central Park. We saw the arch dedicated to George Washington, which is modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. I’ve studied the one in France in past classes, so this gave me a good idea of what it would be like.
After the park, many of us did some thrift shopping in Greenwich Village. I found a cute top for pretty cheap! We walked around NYU buildings and traveled to Strand Bookstore. I have never seen a bigger bookstore in my life! This place was a reader’s heaven. I bought a wedding planning book for half price :) I was jealous of Laura’s mini dictionaries too. They were too stinkin cute! Some of us ate lunch at S’Mac, which is a restaurant of all different macaroni and cheese dishes. They serve them in mini skillets too! I ordered buffalo chicken mac & cheese and it was mouthwatering. After more walking around the Village, I took a restroom break in a little coffee shop. Oddly enough, I LOVED the bathroom. It was full of graffiti and artwork all over the sink, toilet, mirror, walls, and door. I freaked out and had to go get Chelsea to come look at it. The employees thought I was a weirdo :)
We met up with both classes again at the country’s oldest pub called McSorley’s Old Ale House. The place was decorated with newspaper articles, paintings, photos, and nicknacks from all over the world, dating back to the establishment of the pub in 1854. It kind of reminded me of an old western saloon… Not really sure why haha. I enjoyed seeing my professor chug three beers down in a matter of seconds. He was racing Mitchell, one of the students in his class. Jason spilled most of the drinks down his chest, but beat Mitchell only by one mug. It was pretty hilarious! I love how laid back this group of students is. Everyone gets along so well despite our differences. I’m really liking New York so far. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week holds!!
After some of the students got a buzz, we left to walk around the Village more and grab tickets for a show at Cherry Lane Theater. It isn’t a very big place but seemed like we’d be in for a great night. Kassie, Kristen, and I went to Caliente nearby for dinner before the play. We had absolutely delicious quesadillas. It was hands down some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had. It was so authentic and they made everything fresh to order. We also got yummy daiquiris… only to find out when the bill came that they were $14 with a souvenir glass. Well I guess I have a cool drink glass now! I would definitely recommend that place to anyone who wants a good Mexican meal. Although it was a bit pricey, it was so worth it!
Around 7pm we went to the show Psychotherapy at the Cherry Lane Theater. It was so funny! The show was about this couple who signed up for couple’s therapy. The boyfriend never showed up, but instead the ex-boyfriend did. This created a love triangle between the couple and her ex. The therapist was hilarious with her chocolate obsession and freak outs. The actors and actresses were pretty good, but their stage fighting needed a lot of work. My boyfriend is a musical theater performance major and has taught me some of the fake fighting. When the boyfriend was supposed to “punch” the ex-boyfriend, he makes the motion with his right hand but smacks his chest for the sound with his left hand. He was facing the audience… So obviously we saw that and it looked very fake. Maybe it was just a one time mess up. Minus some amateur parts, the play was pretty enjoyable! I’m glad we got to see one off broadway production.
The gang headed home to the hostel around 8:30pm. It was a chilly night! It was raining just a little bit, but the subway saved us from a wet walk home. I wish Hannah wasn’t sick with bronchitis… She had to stay in the hostel room all day. Such an unfortunate thing to happen on a vacation :( I missed her today! I hope she gets better soon. She is too sweet of a girl to be stuck in a room all day alone. I’m really pleased with all the friendships I’m making on this trip. It’s amazing how close a roadtrip can bring people. We barely talked outside of class during the school year and now it’s like we were friends for years. We go on dinner dates, take pictures, and even hug haha. I also have two amazing chaperones on the trip. Dr. Berg and Jason are two intelligent and kindhearted men who care about the well-being of all of us. They add lots of humor to the trip as well! I couldn’t ask for better professors :) Well, I’m off to bed again. Time to do it all over again tomorrow. Good night!
Tuesday, May 9th, 2012 10:05pm
TODAY WAS AMAZING! These days are so long here in New York… Just ask my feet! But I’m glad time is going so slow. We have been cramming so much in to have the best vacation possible. Today we left for Brooklyn early in the morning. I absolutely loved this district. It was very homey and the houses were gorgeous!! I could definitely see myself living here. We walked across the edge of the district and saw the breathtaking cityscape. Jason said this is his second prized moment in his life, next to his children. I would definitely agree with him (even thought it’s my first seeing I have no children). Since I’ve never been to New York before, I unfortunately didn’t get to see the buildings before 911. The broken skyline has never been the same, according to fellow students. It was still gorgeous to me and in the distance, we could see the Statue of Liberty. I would love to run along this bridge every morning with the city over my shoulder.
The Brooklyn Bridge was not as massive as artists have portrayed it, but it was still beautiful. Once on the bridge, it was very windy! Compared to the buildings, the bridge seemed so mini. But when we were walking on it, the ropes and brick towered over my head. I loved the graffiti and random locks on the bridge. It added a little history of those who have walked the bridge. We read poetry under the arches of the bridge. It felt so great to be standing on such an iconic piece of work in New York.
The bridge led us to Chinatown!! This place was so fun and lively. Stores and restaurants were everywhere. Surprisingly, the Chinese like hair salons… a lot! Every other store was a spa or barber shop. I loved all the market areas. I purchased a purple shoulder bag for $20. I had been looking for a new purse all week! I bargained it down $10 from what they originally said. Gotta love markets :) We also had some of the BEST Chinese food for lunch. The place had large portions so we all split multiple dishes. We tried a lot of new items. I stuck to my fried rice and dumplings. I have many Asian friends back home so I’m spoiled with this kind of food all of the time. For dessert, we had delicious ice cream. A lot of people ordered green tea but I’m unoriginal and got oreo :) All of the flavors were delicious!! We spooned from others, trying mango, red bean, coconut, vanilla, and chocolate. I found it funny that the shop’s logo was a green dino-like character. My friend Tran has that sticker on his phone. It reminds me of bulbasaur from Pokemon haha. Must be an Asian thing!
Laura and I left the ice cream place and got lost from the others. Instead of searching for them in Little Italy, we decided to find our way downtown to meet at the 911 memorial early. We were brave on our first subway trip alone. Of course we got lost… but we eventually got there! After awhile I got the hang of things. I’m still confused on whether to take local or express subways though. Good thing we have maps and nice attendants to help give us directions! We arrived at Ground Zero around 4pm and hit up a small bakery for cookies until the others arrived. The 911 Memorial was just stunning. I never thought I would have a connection to the site since I was so young when it happened. Tears built up in my eyes as I read the hundreds of names on the waterfall walls. It was so powerful and emotional. They had the survivor tree there as well. It was the only tree to survive the accident, got moved to another location and almost died in another accident, and still lives now back in its original ground. The tree represents the many innocent lives that were lost but still exist in memories. Unfortunately, the museum was not open. I’d love to go back to visit the site again when it is available.
Kassie and I left the memorial to head back to the Village. On the walk earlier in the week, I happened to notice the sign outside the MLB Fan Cave that said the Avett Brothers would be in town tonight. I couldn’t miss it!! This folk band is one of my favorites and I didn’t want to pass up a free concert. My cousin from North Carolina introduced me to these guys a few years ago. He grew up with them and was their photographer. In the past year, they have grown and become popular. I love the Avett Brothers for their beautiful harmonies and string instruments. They thrive on wrong chords which make them stand out. They are such a unique group. Kassie had never heard of them, so I’m glad she got to experience such a good concert! I think they gained a new fan that night :) Even though we arrived only 10 minutes before the concert and were at the end of the line that wrapped around the block, we got in and pushed our way up to the front row. I am so lucky to have seen them for the first time and can’t wait until their next concert. Check out the video posted above to get a taste of them!
After the concert, Kass and I shopped a little in Necessary Clothing. It was a pretty cool place, reminding me a lot of Forever 21. We each bought a cute top and then headed home for dinner and bed. We got lost again on the subway but found our way back to the hostel. We grabbed slices of pizza and shared memories over the garlic knots in the lounge at the hostel. I really enjoyed all of my time with Kassie. She is such a genuine lady and so fun to be around! We got to the room around 10pm and were the only ones home. We took advantage of the quiet and decided to sleep. I’m almost out now, so I should stop writing. Tomorrow is jammed pack! I can’t wait to write about it. Sweet dreams!
Wednesday, May 9th, 2012 11:24pm
Today was another long, but exciting day! A couple of us went to Broadway Bagels for breakfast. Boy, do they load up the cream cheese! It was a very cute cafe though. After breakfast Kristen, Chelsea, and I walked around midtown for a couple of hours. We went to a HUGE photo store called B&H. My mind was blown by how many floors the store had and how extensive the photo supply selection was. I was in camera heaven :) We wandered through midtown some more and found an awesome shoe store. I purchased rider boots for $8! Such a steal, I couldn’t resist. We visited the fashion district and found this road of amazing stores. Sequins, ribbon, feathers, fabric, glitter, zippers, spandex, and buttons were everywhere. It was wonderful :) Around noon we visited Bryant Park for lunch. We ate at ‘Wich Craft, a deli owned by Tom Calicchio from Top Chef. It was very good, but a bit overpriced. I loved how peaceful Bryant Park was with it’s European tables and chairs. It was a bit rainy so we couldn’t lay on the lawn. I’d definitely like to come back here later in the week.
After that the girls took me to my surprise… MONGOLIA BAKERY! Most adorable place with THE BEST cupcakes in the world. I want to work there :) I wish Hannah could’ve been here to taste it. I got a “black & white” cupcake which was chocolate with vanilla and chocolate icing. So mouthwatering and filling! I thank Miranda from Sex and the City for introducing me to it. She would always visit on her bad days when she needed some sugar. Well, it was all she cracked it up to be! AND MORE :)
We visited Times Square for a little while today too. It was exactly like the movies portray it. So vibrant and chaotic, but beautiful. I’d like to go back tomorrow for evening photos! I got some great shots today despite the rain. We went into the M&M factory and admired the hundreds of colors of chocolate candies. This place would be a kid’s heaven! I’m not much of a candy junkie, but I loved how many products they had. Ranging from mugs to M&M underwear, you could find anything. Once we left the factory, we got bombarded by a vendor trying to sell us tickets to a comedy show. He was very nice at first but then got pushy. The tickets were $20 with a $14 drink minimum. Seeing I am not 21 yet, that was WAY too expensive for a water or soda. We told him no thanks, but he kept pushing. Finally we had to get a bit vocal with him and just walk away. He was not very happy and said some inappropriate things. That’s New York for ya! What an experience :)
Tickets went on sale for the Late Nite Show at 3pm. We arrived to meet our group and they already had our group tickets set aside! They also happened to be VIP status. How cool! We thanked Mark for doing such a great job organizing it for us. Our VIP title got us the best seats in the house. We sat upstairs in the balcony where no speakers or cameras were in our way. I loved the theater for its vintage decor. I’m sure it was beautiful back in its days of productions. We were lucky enough to see Eva Longoria and Florence and the Machine on the show. Eva was SO adorable and such a down to earth gal. She has a sweet heart and sincerely cares about her community. She surprised me since her character on Desperate Housewives is snotty. Florence and the Machine was wonderful as usual. I’ve listened to their music before but loved it in person! I think I’ll buy tickets to a concert of theirs soon. The CBS band was great too in between commercial breaks. It made me miss playing in band and jazz band. I played flute for 7 years and miss it so much. Anyways, the Late Nite Show was a great experience! Dave was pretty cool even though he didn’t mention anything about his BSU supporters :p I’m glad we got to go to the show for free!
We took the subway to Harlem to eat dinner around 6pm and see another show. We ate at Monna’s which was buffet style home cooking and soul food. DELICIOUS! I grew up on soul food from friend’s families as a child but have had nothing as good as this :) I had caribbean jerk chicken, fried chicken, steak and peppers, mashed potatoes, pasta salad, green beans, corn, and jello. Momma would be very jealous! We walked to the Apollo theater for the Amateur Show at 7pm. SPEECHLESS! These performers were anything but amateur. The younger age group of performers blew me away. I wouldn’t be surprised if they turned into something in a couple of years. The red head 10-year-old who sang “Home” from Wicked was my favorite! She had some much charisma and definitely a future career in theater. The older age group was phenomenal too. The first place winner deserved it all the way! He was an older gentleman, maybe in his 70s, who played harmonica. I’ve never known that instrument to sound so lovely! He was one of the few who didn’t sing, but I was so happy he won. Being at the Apollo was a once in a lifetime experience. To be a part of history’s performers was just surreal. Great artists like Michael Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, Smokey Robinson, Denzel Washington, Aretha Franklin, Steve Harvey, and Chris Tucker performed on that very stage back in their day. It was so amazing and definitely made my top favorite activity from the trip so far!
On the way home from Harlem, we met street performers in the subway. They were hilarious and had great character! The fellas were definitely big flirts and Kristen got a little butt grab :p After I mistakenly dropped my wallet and the nice guy next to me handed it back, I whipped out my phone to record it. Check out the video above this post! I love all the lively crowds in New York. So many great people with awesome talents. I wish street performers existed in every city :) We got back to the hostel around 11pm tonight. The girls in the room are cracking me up with their goofy conversations. Did you know a cello is short for its full name violoncello? Stephanie also likes chocolate… a lot! I need to get some rest for the full day tomorrow. Good night New York <3
Thursday, May 10th, 2012 11:12pm
So I’m writing this a little late. We are all having so much fun catching up on our day activities! Loving this pillow talk :) Josh is also playing guitar again. I’m having trouble writing while listening to him and trying to carry on a conversation. Forgive me for my short attention span!
Today a large group of us walked to Bryant Park again. We laid around in the sun in the lawn and relaxed. It was nice to just sit down and enjoy the beautiful weather. Some read, drew their surroundings, or napped. Josh, Kassie, and I decided to go visit the fashion district. I tried to find the strip of stores I passed by a few days ago by accident but I could not. Instead, we found a ribbon store, bead store, and fabric/accessory store. They were amazing! Josh seemed a bit bored, despite his great sense of fashion. Kassie was very proud of him for knowing good designers and taking care of his image haha! It surprised me how expensive single beads or material strips were. Being a fashion designer must empty out pockets all over the country!
After roaming the fashion district, we went to the New York Public Library with the class. Let me just tell you that this place was breathtaking. It was all I imagined and more! I’ve seen the library in movies, especially Sex and the City when Big and Carrie almost get married. I added it to my bucket list ever since that movie! Today I got to check it off my list and treasure the memories and pictures forever. Call me a weirdo, but I walked the same stairs as Sarah Jessica Parker! YAY! The architecture and ceiling paintings were stunning. It reminded me a lot of the frescos by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. The reading rooms were my favorite. They were “magnificent”, just like Jason said (five too many times). The reminded me of the Hogwarts library from Harry Potter. Downstairs, I found the original Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals in the children’s section. These were just wonderful! I loved the tattered look and wear from play of Christopher Robin. Pooh Bear was one of my favorite characters growing up so it was great to see where the story started from.
Once we all finished walking around the library, we decided to travel to Chelsea. Half of us went to the Chelsea market to eat and the others went to Benny Burritos. I was the latter group who chose Mexican. These burritos were SO delicious. They were huge like Qdoba makes them, but way more authentic. I definitely gained a food baby and went into a mini coma from all the food haha. I was set for the rest of the day! While we were eating, Berg saw the actor Victor Garber (from Titanic and Alias). He didn’t tell any of us until after he passed though… silly professor! It’s crazy to think we are among celebrities in New York and don’t even know it. After lunch we reunited with the others at the Chelsea market. We treated ourselves to cupcakes for dessert. They were yummy but nothing compared to Magnolia Bakery! We walked around the district to find the Chelsea Hotel. It was surprisingly way prettier than I expected! It was in great condition and had a beautiful facade. It was cool to see the place where Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith stayed during their lifetime. I found it coincidental that across the street, there was an art supply shop. If you haven’t read “Just Kids” before, I highly suggest it!
We walked to Revolution Books in the late afternoon. At this point, many of us were very tired and just needed a break. While some read and searched the bookshelves, others lounged in chairs and let our feet have some fresh air. I felt very drained and almost fell asleep at the table! Jason was in love with all the history books and reads about labor. While he took a restroom break, we decided to play a trick on him. All of us left (including his wife who was in on the game) and hid outside around the corner. Moments passed and we had not seen him. Josh went back to see if he had gotten lost but discovered him still sitting in the store reading more books! Guess the joke was on us :) After our break, we went to the High Line Park. I absolutely LOVED this place! It was so innovative and unique. I enjoyed the incorporation of the old train tracks in the gardens. It kept the history of the railroad line yet created a pleasing space to relax. Despite the strong wind, the High Line gained a top spot on my favorite places in New York City.
My top favorite part of the trip was the Empire State Building. I’m a sucker for landscape and cityscape views. The sunset over the city was breathtaking and the nighttime view was even better! I loved seeing all of the lights in such a bright city. It was amazing how illuminated the buildings around Times Square were! The top of the city had a glow to it from all of the lights. It was definitely windy up there so I was afraid of dropping my camera. The wrist strap was tightened securely so I wouldn’t lose everything. I walked away from the view speechless. This was real beauty.
As we were leaving the Empire State Building, I noticed how hungry I was. It was almost 10pm and we had not eaten dinner. On a whim, I chose to go to an Ethiopian restaurant with Laura, Kassie, and Josh. This was very spontaneous of me! I don’t usually eat ethnic food besides Mexican. I went out of my box and tried it. I’m a very picky eater but forced myself to eat one of everything. We ordered chicken, lamb, potatoes, onions, carrots, chick peas, and collared greens. I ate every single part! I actually loved it and wanted more. The weird thing about Ethiopian food is that you eat it with your hands, using a tangy, spongey bread to pick it up with. The bread I didn’t care much for, but everything else was delicious! It definitely made my top list of meals for the week. I was proud of myself for trying something new.
We returned to the hostel around 11pm and as soon as I jumped into bed, I started to fall asleep. I must be exhausted from the long day of walking. My feet are sore and my back is starting to hurt me. I should go to sleep now, so good night! I’ll write again tomorrow.