Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hanging out in Washington DC

My first New York audition was on December 2nd, and I didn't have another audition until December 9th in Philadelphia. I wasn't really sure what to do with myself until then, and finding a place to stay for a week in New York or Philadelphia is far from cheap.

Then I remembered that when my mom and aunt Kathy went back to DC, they'd met up with my mom's cousin Patrick who lives in Woodbridge, VA. I was going to have to take a train to and from Philadelphia anyway, and when I looked at the train schedule for New York to DC, I found it really wasn't that much more money than I'd have to pay just to go to and from Philadelphia. I'd always wanted to go to DC and had no reason to stay in New York until my next audition, so I called up my mom's cousin's family and asked if I could stay with them for a few days.

They were gracious enough to let me come visit them, and their daughter Victoria was able to pick me up from the train station on her lunch break. She still had to finish her shift at work, so I took a tour of downtown DC while I waited for her to finish.

She dropped me off at the subway station, and my first stop took me right in front of the Washington monument. I wanted to go to the top, but the lines were long so I wandered down to the Lincoln Memorial instead.

I passed the World War II memorial on my way there.

There's something really awe inspiring about being at the Lincoln Memorial. He really was a great man!

Unfortunately I was starving and there's pretty much no food in the touristy area of DC. I walked around a long time before I found any sort of restaurant, but at least I saw some cool stuff.

Here's the national tree,

The Smithsonian Institution Castle,

And the Jefferson monument.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Empire State Building, Nice New Yorkers, and Rockefeller Center

Fortunately for me, my first day in Manhatten was full of sunshine and blue skies. Since I had no guarantee that my future days would be equally beautiful, I really wanted to go up to the top of the Empire State building that day.

Unfortunately I let myself get ripped off by someone selling a "skip the line" ticket in the street. I was in a hurry to get back and get ready for my audition, and he said the skip the line deal was only $10 more than the regular ticket. When I saw the total price I just assumed the regular ticket was really expensive (I didn't know. I'd never been there before). It turned out the regular ticket was $21 and the express plus virtual helicopter ride was an extra $26. I wouldn't have paid for it if I'd realized it was going to be over twice the cost of the regular ticket.

The deal claimed to skip the lines for the virtual helicopter ride as well as the security line, ticket line, and elevator line. For some reason I got the idea from the salesman that the virtual helicopter ride would include being in some machine on top of the building and getting to see the city as it circled around the building. It was actually no more than a simulator ride and TV screen inside the building that could have been at any theme park or museum. I really wish I hadn't wasted my money on it since it was an extra $26, and I HATE simulators. They're one of the few things that give me motion sickness. Plus I didn't get to skip the elevator line as the advertisement claimed. I got to skip the security line and the ticket line, but I still had to wait in the long line for the elevator to the top. It was long but I did get through pretty quickly, so maybe I actually did skip the line and was only in line with the other suckers who'd paid extra for skip the line tickets.

Though I'd had an unpleasant experience getting there, the view was amazing! Just look at these pictures!

I loved seeing the Chrysler building. It really stands out! I think I stood and stared at it for at least 2 full minutes.

Once I came down the elevator it was interesting to see the Empire State Building replicas they have in the lobby windows.

That night after my audition, I went to Carnegie Deli for dinner.

They really cram you in there, and they sat me within a foot of 2 native new yorkers. Both were ladies about my mom's age, and they immediately befriended me. They completely denied the stereotype that New Yorkers are mean (I actually met many kind strangers while I was there. Nobody tried to rob me or cuss me out or hurt me or any of the stuff you see in movies. I didn't really expect them too, but I know my parents were worried that something terrible would happen to their little girl all alone in dangerous New York City. Milan was a much scarier city to be in than New York).

These ladies insisted I try the New York cuisine they were eating, and shared with me their pastrami, latkes, and matzah balls.

I asked if the ladies would like to share a cheesecake with me, and they even picked up the tab! It was amazing cheesecake too!

I'm not a huge cheesecake fan, but this was really something else. If you're ever in New York you must try cheesecake at Carnegie Deli!

After dinner my new friends gave me directions on how to get back to Rockefeller Center. I really wanted to see the tree in the evening, and it was totally worth braving the crowds for.

I ended up in this area by accident 10 days later when I was back for another audition. It was awful!!! I didn't even care about seeing the tree since I'd already seen it, but just trying to get back to the subway got me stuck in the worst foot traffic I'd ever seen in my life. I could barely move or even breathe! It took me nearly 40 minutes to walk a couple blocks. For that reason I'd recommend coming at the beginning of December (I was there on the 2nd) rather than later (I was there again on Saturday December 11th).

I didn't go ice skating since it was expensive and I was alone, but it was nice to watch everyone.

SAKS 5th Avenue department store was lit up with snowflakes in the evening.

These angels looked a lot prettier when lit up in the dark. If I hadn't been alone I might have opted for some professional photography with the angels and the tree backgrounds.

The ladies from Carnegie deli recommended I take a tour of St. Patrick's Cathedral as long as I was in the area.

And I enjoyed the street decorations as I found my way back to the subway station.