Thursday, August 30, 2012

Crazy Busy...

Less than a week left before I return to Korea, but until then I'm going to be crazy busy. One more day left at home with my parents, then heading out of state to be maid-of-honor in one of my best friend's wedding. Thursday is a (second) mini-bachelorette party, Friday is the rehersal dinner, Saturday the wedding, Sunday driving back to Boston and Monday morning I will head to the airport. After 16 hours of transit I'll arrive back in Seoul, pass out, wake up in the morning and head back to work.

On top of all that, I have started my online class for the fall which will take up the rest of my free time. 

I have lots to write, but don't expect much here for the next few weeks.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT

A few weeks ago, my parents and I took a trip to Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, VT. I had heard a lot about the museum, but honestly I had no idea what to expect. I thought it would be your typical museum, a few rooms with things on display, kind of cool, worth an hour or two, you know what museums are like. We were a little shocked by the admission price of $20.00 per person, but we were already there so we just paid and went along with it. But, upon entering, it was clear why the admission price was so high. The "museum" was actually 39 buildings spread across the expansive museum grounds.

The museum grounds contain many historic buildings which have been relocated from their original place to the museum. They even have the Ticonderoga, a steamboat ferry which was transported in one piece by rail in the 1950's. Do watch the video about moving the ferry, which is shown in a small room as you enter the boat. It's just as interesting, if not more interesting than seeing the actual boat.

I look like a boat captain, right?

Another fun house to check out is the Apothecary which shows many old medicines and a general store. You really feel like you're stepping back in time 100 years.

We really enjoyed seeing the carriage house. An old barn was converted to hold all sorts of wagons and carriages. These were some interesting stage coaches, but they also had covered wagons and even a "school bus".

Here is a typical, one room school house. The wood stove reminds me a bit of my time in Georgia. And notice the flag, it's only got 26 stars, meaning it dates back to the 1830's. 

Another one of my favorites was the settler's house. This would have been a typical house for an early settler of Vermont. One large kitchen and one small bedroom.

Next time you find yourself in the Burlington, VT area, be sure to check out Shelburne Museum. Be sure to go early, because it does take a full day to see everything on the grounds. We arrived around noon and we didn't have time to see everything before they closed at 5:00pm.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

On Efforts to Watch a Broadway Show

When my friend asked me what I wanted to do while in New York, nothing was really coming to mind. Usually when I go to NYC I usually spend most of my time in Chinatown, but I figured that since I can get all the Asian food I like wherever I am, I should probably try to find something else to do this time around. The only thing I could come up with was going to see a Broadway show. Fortunately, my friend had quite a few tricks up his sleeve on how to get into a Broadway show without paying Broadway prices.

There are generally two ways you can get cheap tickets to see a Broadway show. The first is a lottery system, and second is rush tickets. We tried first for a lottery.

Man selecting winners for the Wicked lottery

When I got off the bus at the Port Authority, we were just several blocks away from the theater where Wicked is performed. We dashed over there to put our names in the lottery for tickets. Generally tickets for this show go for over $100, but if you win the lottery, you can see the show for just $30 per person. Each person can request one or two tickets each and they draw names two hours before the show. When we arrived, there were at least 100 people waiting for the lottery so we knew our chances were slim... but we went ahead anyway and gave it a try. But, alas, it was not meant to be.

Announcing the winners for the Wicked lottery. We were not one of the lucky few...

The next day we headed out early and got in line for rush tickets at a musical with good reviews called One Man, Two Guvnors. We counted heads in front of us when we arrived and thought we were doing ok since there were only about 30 people ahead of us. But unfortunately, a lot of them had been babysitting spots in line for others. When 12:00 rolled around and the line started moving we got our hopes up for a few moments, but after half the line had gone in and gotten tickets, it was announced that there were no more rush tickets available, only full price. We thought, if the prices wasn't bad we would just buy them, but the cheapest seats were $97.00. So we moved on.

In line for rush tickets to One Man, Two Guvnors on Sunday morning

Then my friend had a brilliant idea. We'd been trying to get into musicals, which are very popular, but what about a play? So, we headed around the corner to the Walter Kerr Theater to check if they had any rush tickets left for Clybourne Park. We strolled right in at 12:30 with no line, walked up to the counter, asked for tickets and got them. Four rows from the stage on the left hand side of the theater. Just $30.00 per person. Apparently plays just aren't that popular.

Outside the Walter Kerr Theater

The play itself started out slow for the first 10 minutes or so, but then the plot started to unravel and all of a sudden it was intermission... the first hour slipped away in what seemed like 20 minutes... And the second half was just as good as the first. The play is loosely based on A Rasin in the Sun, but with a modern day twist, half way through the performance.  And it is also the story of how one small event can change the course of history, kind of like how the butterfly flapping it's wings in one place can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world. The play had us talking for a good hour afterward, it is definitely worth watching.

Inside the Walter Kerr Theater

So, if you're in New York and you want to see a show and can't get into that musical you were dying to see, try checking out one of the plays in town. You might be pleasantly surprised! But either way, if you're trying to save money, definitely look into rush tickets and lotteries!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Random things in NYC

 The Late Show!

With the exception of a Broadway show and a little night life, most of my trip to NYC consisted of random wanderings around the city. Which is fine by me, it's my favorite way to explore a city and it was nice to walk around after being carted around for long bus rides from city to city. Here are a few of the things I found along the way. 

 Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park

 Not so great photo of an amazing tap. All tasty, local beers with knife handles on the taps.

Graffiti outside my friend's apartment in Brooklyn

Morgan Ave Metro Station. Wish I had gotten a better photo of the subway mosaics... they were fantastic! 

Back of St. Patrick's Cathedral

 Dominican Parade

 Hershey's store in Times Square

 Walter Kerr Theater where we watched Clyborne Park

Grand Central Station 

Ceiling of Grand Central

Helicopter landing by the Hudson River

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ethiopian food is my new favorite cuisine

I like to think of myself as somewhat of a connoisseur of international cuisine. I'm not really the kind of person who can write detailed food reviews with flowery language of how savory flavors exploded in my mouth and excited my taste buds, but I am the kind of person who knows what she likes. I'm well used to the most common ethnic cuisines, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Spanish, Middle Eastern, Indian, etc. but I'm also a big fan of some of the lesser known cuisines as well, like Mongolian, Russian, Tibetan, Uzbek etc. So, when someone introduces me to an ethnic cuisine I knew nothing about, I'm always quite stunned. But, it has happened again, this time with Ethiopian food. 

Apparently Ethiopian food is becoming a really popular, trendy food in the States nowadays, but since I don't live in the States, I had no idea. Upon arrival in Washington, DC, one of my old friends from Korea offered to take me into Little Ethiopia around 9th and U streets in the Northern part of DC. 

We went to Etete, a rather classy Ethiopian restaurant about a 3 minute walk from the U st. subway station. Looking at the menu was a bit overwhelming for me, I had no idea what anything was or what to expect, the names were completely foreign to me. We went with the vegetarian combo and another bean based dish. I wasn't sure what to drink, so I went with the Ethiopian honey wine called Tej.

Tej is really sweet, but sweet in an almost bitter way. It's also deceptively strong, I was feeling the effects after just the one glass, that I sipped slowly throughout my meal. 

Next came our meal. I don't know what I was expecting, but it was certainly not this. All the food is placed on one dish which is placed in the center of the table atop of a spongy, flat bread called injera. Rather than handing you a fork or spoon, all you get is a pile of more bread with which you can scoop up the food. Actually it reminded me a bit of living in Georgia, although the bread was completely different...

I love this kind of communal eating. It could stem from the fact that I do often feel that the grass is always greener on the other person's plate... I hate being restricted to only eating from my own dish, I want to try some of everyone's food! Communal eating is the perfect solution. It could be why I get along in Asia so well.... 

So, after such a wonderful experience with Ethiopian food in DC, when I arrived in New York and was asked what kind of food I'd like to try... I couldn't help but ask for more Ethiopian food. Fortunately, my friend in NYC was also thinking along the same lines and knew of the perfect place to go.

We headed over to Ghenet Brooklyn, on 4th ave and Douglass St. in Brooklyn. Here we also ordered a 3 person combo where we were able to choose 3 meat dishes and 6 vegetarian dishes. And another tej honey wine.

Why oh why did I have to discover this food only to have it taken away from me in a few short weeks when I return to Seoul??? I've already searched online. There is currently no Ethiopian food in Seoul, although apparently there used to be but the restaurant closed. So, I send this message to all my Ethiopian readers in Seoul: Please, oh please open an Ethiopian Restaurant soon so that I don't have to go without this amazingness in my life!!

Read about DC's "Little Ethiopia":

Saturday, August 18, 2012

12 hours in Pittsburgh

I stopped by Pittsburgh for one night since there was no direct Megabus from DC to Cleveland. And I'm so glad I did. I stayed with two girls I found on Couchsurfing and they gave me a memorable little taste for life in Pittsburgh. After a pleasant chat with one host, who grew up in Japan and lived in China and taught English we realized that we had a lot in common. When her roommate came home they decided to take me up to Mt. Washington, a small hill just across the river from the downtown where many restaurants have balconies looking over the city.

 View of the city at dusk

While we had to wait a while to get a table on the patio, the wait was worth it. We had a beautiful view of the city, with a nice cool breeze and a show of a lightning storm in the distance which we were able to enjoy without being rained upon.

 View of Pittsburgh by night

After that we decided to check out "Banjo Night" at the Elks club. Basically, some members of the Elks club formed a band made up of about 20-30 banjos. The turn-out for this weekly event was huge. While the majority of guests belonged to the 80+ age range, there were also a number of young folks in their 20's and 30's who came out to hear this classic American music.

Unfortunately, I had to wake up at 5:30am to catch the bus downtown to catch my bus to Cleveland at 7:00 am. It was a fantastic 12 hours and I hope I can meet my new friends again, either in Pittsburgh or somewhere else on this Earth.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Tours of the US Capitol and Library of Congress

 Outside the US Capitol

I had heard before going to DC that if you wanted to take a tour of any of the famous national sites, you had to petition to your state representative many weeks or months in advance. While it may be true that you need to do this to get on some of the very in depth tours... and to get into the White House, most places, even the capitol building, have do-it-yourself internet reservations and even tours for walk-ins. I was very excited to find this out from my friend when I arrived in DC, so the first thing I did was book myself a tour of the US Capitol for Tuesday morning at 9:50. 

The instructions on the reservation I printed out said to arrive 45 mins early, and so I got myself there at precisely 9:05. I found it very easy to get into the building (especially since I entered through the Library of Congress rather than the Capitol Visitor's Center entrance) and I didn't need to wait in any line to get through the x-ray machine and explosives check. So, now I was there 45 mins early with nothing to do, so I asked the woman at the desk if it would be possible to get on an earlier tour. She said there was no problem with me getting on the 9:00 tour (which hadn't started yet now at 9:10) so she printed me a ticket and I got in line just as we were shuffled into the movie room. 

The ceiling of the Rotunda inside the Capitol building

A close up of the fresco in the dome of the rotunda, titled the Apotheosis of Washington. Apotheosis meaning rising to the rank of a god.

First we watched a little movie about the greatness of America and the legislative branch of government. I was a little nervous about the tour since there were probably about 100 people here for the 9:00 tour. Fortunately, after the movie, the group was split into four smaller groups and everyone was given a headset so they could hear the tour guide’s voice. 

Statue of Lincoln

Overall, the tour was fine, considering I made reservations 2 days before the tour and it was free. But, there is no way that they could show off the most interesting parts of the Capitol to the thousands of people that visit every day. We were only really shown three rooms: the rotunda, the crypt and the National Statuary Hall. If you want a more in-depth tour, you need to contact your representative well in advance. 

Staircase of the Library of Congress

While I was happy I got to go in the capitol building, I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t see everything. Fortunately, before starting the tour of the capitol, I had wondered into the Library of Congress and saw how beautiful it was. I decided to try to get on a tour for that next. 

Second floor of the Library of congress

I was in luck, the US capitol tour ended at 10:00 and there was a Library of Congress tour starting at 10:30. Perfect timing! This time, I was much happier with the tour of the Library of Congress. The building is absolutely fantastic. It is like a church dedicated to knowledge rather than religion (although, they do have a copy of the Guttenberg Bible and another lesser known, but equally impressive handwritten bible in the front lobby). The library itself is a wonder, it is the most decorated federal building in the entire US. It was basically built to impress anybody who might have though, back in the late 1800’s that maybe The United States of America might not survive. Gold leaf paintings, mosaics, (Americanized) cherubs lining stairways, plus electric lights throughout the whole building (the first government building to have been built for electricity). Marble floors and stairways, stained glass windows plus all the most modern technology for a library at the turn of the century, like conveyor belts and tube delivery systems (like a bank today). 

 American style Cherub with a graduation cap on

Plus, our tour guide for the library was fantastic. She really seemed to have a passion for the library and explained everything in such vivid detail. I could have listened to her all day. 

 The whole library was fitted with electricity when it was built, which was revolutionary at the time of construction. 

So, moral of the story here? Go to the Capitol, just so you can say you’ve been there (or schedule yourself a good tour with your state rep early in advance) but be sure to check out the Library of Congress to see the cool stuff.

To make reservations for the US Capitol tour, see here:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Interview with Miller Memories

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Lauren, the author of the blog Miller Memories. She is a teacher in Taiwan and she was looking for some ex-pats in other countries to interview about life as an ESL teacher. Here's the results of the interview!

And be sure to check out the rest of her blog, it is very nice!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Road Trip Around the Northeast

This past week I've been on a little road trip around the Northeast to visit some old friends who I haven't seen in years. Traveling in the States is expencive, but using Megabus to get around, plus staying with friends makes it a little more affordable. At the moment, I am actually on a Greyhound bus on the longest leg of my trip, from Cleveland, OH to New York City. It's (theoretically) a 9 hour ride, the express bus that only stops in Newark, NJ and NYC. When the internet is working, the time goes by a little faster, unfortunately, on both Greyhound and Megabus, the internet is rather intermittent and the speed varies from fast to so slow it's not worth using (5 mins to load a single page). But, I can't complain since buses in Korea definitely don't have free wifi and this service was certainly not available 5 or 6 years ago when I used to ride Greyhound all the time. But then again, back then I didn't even own a device that could pick up a wifi signal anyway. How the world has changed...

Here's a little summary of the transportation for my trip. Who knows, maybe one of my readers would like to do something similar. If you're ever in the states and want to get around cheaply there's only a few options.

Boston, MA -Providence, RI --> Peter Pan Bus, 45 mins- $8.00
Providence, RI- Washington, DC --> By car with a friend. 8 hours- about $22 in tolls, plus gas (I paid for the tolls)
Washington, DC - Pittsburgh, PA --> Megabus, 6 hours- $7.00
Pittsburgh, PA - Cleveland, OH --> Megabus, 2.5 hours- $17.00
Cleveland, OH - New York City, NY --> Greyhound, 9 hours- $59.00
New York City, NY- Boston, MA --> Megabus, 4 hours- $13.00

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Switchback Brewery

Switchback makes one of the most popular draught beers in Vermont. They're not a big brewery, nor do they try to tons of different brews. They just make one good beer, plus one seasonal beer and as for now they pretty much only distribute in Vermont. The brewery offers free tours just one day a week. Saturday at 1:00 or 2:00, so you'd be best off making a reservation before you go.

Our tour guide seemed pretty knowlegeable about the whole beer-making thing. He is one of their actual brewers, not just some random guy they hired off the street to give tours. The nice thing about this tour is that they really bring you up and close to where they make everything. A lot of other tours I've been on just show you a window to look down on the productions, but because this brewery is small enough, they can really show you everything!

And of course, the best part about any brewery tour is the beer tasting. We got to have samples of both their normal brew, plus their seasonal brew.

Switchback has no website, but they do have a facebook page here:

Tours are at 1:00 and 2:00pm on Saturdays. Call for reservations.

Switchback Brewery
 160 Flynn Avenue
Burlington, VT 05401