After a brief hiatus for school and more travel, I return to the blog. Thought I would do a quick recap of the past month, mostly for selfish reason…..
We returned from South Korea on August 31 after being away for 12 days. Since both Reeves and I were working hard in Korea (Reeves obviously for MS: I had a paper to start and complete while there as well as a group project) I actually didn’t leave our hotel for almost 3 days because of the paper. However, it was not much of a hardship, the Sheraton Walkerhill was our hotel which was connected to a brand new W, open only a day before we arrived. Between the 8 restaurants and full-sized duty free mall, large work out room and indoor pool, there was enough to keep the restless student distracted.
We did have a few days of tourism after we finished our work, including a visit to the De-militarized Zone (very surreal and in-your-face military presence) a traditional Korean folk village, several royal palaces within the city, the Modern Art museum of Korea, The Royal History Museum and Insa-dong, a local street market which closes off the street on Saturday evenings to open it to the local artists and vendors.
It was a wonderfully different experience from traveling in the Western world and I can’t begin to express how pleasant, friendly and polite the Korean people were to us.
Upon our return, I delved head first back into my homework. I must say I love being back in school. It is so great to stretch my mind again and feel like my future career is an exciting place to reach. However, like most ‘freshmen’, I am getting the three core courses out of the way right now. We have scintillating book titles like Into the future: The foundations of library and information services in the post-industrial era; Information Seeking in Electronic Environments; Text Information Retrieval Systems; and Management Basics for Information Professionals - now, can’t you just imagine the yawn-fest!
I won’t get into the really run courses till next semester…..but it is all up from here! (and again, I do love what I am doing)
I have already finished one of my three courses this past week – I can’t believe how quickly it is going – although as I try and complete another paper for Friday it never seems as if I have enough time. (maybe because I am procrastinating here!
Another bit of travel I worked into my schedule was a trip to visit my great friend Amy, in NYC. Visiting Amy is always a treat, but this trip we decided to have an additional adventure. We drove to the Pennsylvania Dutch country (did you know that ‘Dutch’ country is actually as misnomer of Deutsch – so the heritage is mostly Germans and Swiss-Germans) which was like visiting a foreign land! Other than the food (again, German homemade cuisine which is what I grew up with) we found more than just the Amish and Mennonite country a bit bizarre. First, there seemed to be very few people around in the ‘urban’ areas like Lancaster. We had lunch and walked around where we visited the Quilt and Textile Museum as well as the Cultural History Museum – two of the smallest museums I have had the pleasure of viewing. We went through many little towns that looked like time is passing them by…I don’t know too much about the history of the area, but I am guessing it is a former industrial area for which its time has come and gone. Additionally, every house had a “Bush/Cheney” sign…sigh…so if the election goes the wrong way, you now know where these people are who are voting for that moron.
We stayed in Intercourse, PA (yes, it is true, and it is right next to Bird-in-Hand, PA!) Let me tell you the title is not lost on the humor of the area – there is even a bank chain called….wait for it….Blue Ball. (no, I am not kidding!) We visited some local shops and I purchased a beautiful hand-made throw-size quilt from an amazing little group of ladies who sell and work in the shop. It is even signed on the back, which to me makes it even more wonderfully personal. Being a beginning quilter, it was fun too see all the examples of inspiration & genius. Although I like a bit more ‘free-form’ quilts like the Gee’s Bend ladies create, it was so impressive to see what many years of practice & dedication can accomplish.
Our bed & breakfast was a cute little historic house called the Intercourse Village Bed & Breakfast Suites – very cute, well updates and recommended if you are in the area. We had a fabulous homemade German dinner at the Stoltzfus Restaurant – all the fried chicken, sausage, veggies, mashed potatoes, egg-noodles and various accompaniments (& desert too) you can eat…..for $15! Just don’t get a hankering for an alcoholic libation – we didn’t see a single convenience store or restaurant with alcohol, much less a liquor store! And after the following story of breakfast, we both needed a drink!
Yet another event, adding to the surreal theme of the weekend, was the breakfast we had at the B & B. Amy and I were joined by three other couples – one couple who drove all the way from central Ohio to see “Noah: the musical” (“and they had all live animals that made you FEEL like you were in the ark!”) and the other 2 couples, traveling together from suburban NY, came to the area so they could visit the local gun shop. They were there because of the recently rescinded assault-weapon’s ban and wanted to pick up a couple guns they couldn’t buy before. The reason you ask??? - because, “the terrorists have them too!” Additionally, none of the people at the table had left the country, nor flown domestically, since 9/11, it is “just too scary to fly”!! Wow, it makes one pause to be confronted with this narrow-minded & provincial mentality – it is truly out there and shockingly real!
After our time in Intercourse we drove to Philadelphia. We arrived around lunch and walked to the Reading Terminal Market – a fun open market gathering of every imaginable food vendor. There was live jazz music playing while business convention-goers and Amish workers mingled – again, a bizarre tableau. We spent the rest of the day visiting the Liberty bell, Independence Hall and the various buildings in the Independence National Historical Park. It was quite an unplanned and advantageous visit as we were there on the 216th anniversary of the first copy of the Constitution’s printing from September 17, 1787. We were able to view one of those copies that day. (FYI – the first copy of the Constitution was not the hand printed copy, but those that came from the printing press – did you know that?!?!?)
Our evening, which was very muggy in anticipation of the coming storm, was spent in the new mid-town martini bar, The Continental. Yummy, tapas-style restaurant with a bit overpriced martinis – the food was definitely better than the drinks! Not terribly thrilled either with the clientele, we decided to walk home via a few shops that were still open. I must say, for a major-metropolitan downtown, they really need an infusing of new retail life. We were surprised at the lack of shops and only found a few near our hotel on Pine St. [we walked over 3 miles through downtown that day, so we saw enough to be representative] The supposed ‘mall’, entitled The Shops at Liberty place, was a disappointment – but, being a bit of a shopping connoisseur, I have to admit, almost any shopping is a disappointment after the many enclaves of Manhattan or perhaps Paris.
We awoke the next morning to pouring rain – it was a good thing we planned well for we had decided to do the Philly Museum of Art. We arrived before it was open and waited till the almost horizontal rain was only at a 30 degree angle to make our run for it. Thankfully, the rain kept many people away and we could wander the galleries almost undisturbed. I was very impressed with the Museum – they had an amazing collection of impressionists and modern artists. We also went through the European Art and the American Art – as well, they too were well designed collections. Because we were afraid of the rain slowing our drive and causing traffic nightmares, we headed home around lunch and stopped at a New Jersey dinner on the NJ Turnpike – what a great patty-melt!
We were able to out drive out of the rain and arrived in Manhattan mid-afternoon – just in time to infuse some money into the economy on 5th and Madison Avenues. Unfortunately, the rain caught up with us, so Saks became our home for a bit. After walking about another 3 miles that afternoon, all over the upper East side, we went to dinner at the most fabulous Hungarian restaurant called Café Mocca. It is run by the real-deal mom & pop (mom it seems needs her hip replaced however) and you might miss it walking by, but you can beat the quality and quantity, even if the interior is original 1960s! (also, who knew, the Hungarians make great wine!)
The following day, we visited mecca…aka, Woodbury Commons Outlet mall. Now, don’t be fooled by the name, this is no average outlet mall – it is the only outlet complex in America with stores like Tod’s, Gucci, Barney’s, Bottega Veneta, Burbury, Chanel, Fendi, and MaxMara to name just a humble few! It is very hard to pay retail after you visit this complex, especially when you can get things anywhere from 30-80% off retail. A great day was had by all, especially with the company of January and her daughter Ariel. We all were amazingly compatible shoppers (not a common thing to find!) and almost closed out the complex!
I was fortunate to spend a lovely evening with January and her family. We enjoyed some dinner while we watched the Emmy’s and tried to spot her husband Harold, who was in the audience. He is an executive with HBO and commonly attends such menial events. It was especially fun to watch with people who were genuinely interested in the outcome. We all did a little dance every time HBO won an award!
January and I had a great brunch the next day and she ‘let’ me get some homework done in the afternoon while I was waiting for Amy to get home from her school (she is a Science teacher in Greatneck, Long Island, NY). Amy and I walked around the West side before we had the most fabulous Chinese food and stumbled home, fed and happy.
My last day there I visited the New York Historical Society’s Exhibit on Alexander Hamilton. What a well done exhibit - many rare artifacts including a multitude of original letters & documents from and to other small historical figures like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Aaron Burr! Being only a few blocks from Amy’s apartment, it is a great place to pop-in when I only have a few hours before my plane home to honey and puppy!!
Ok, so this was verbose, I warned you earlier!