This afternoon my host mum took me to Lancaster in order to introduce me to the Amish People. We took a tour at the Amish farm and house, located little bit outside of Lancaster. Later, we drove along Old Philadelphia Pike, stopping at the Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, have a look at the map. Unfortunately, I left the memory card of my camera in the card reader. No photos of the Amish. Very sad.
This afternoon I went with parts of my Christmas International House Family to see the Gettysburg battlefields. We started our tour at the visitor center with a Civil War introduction film followed by the cyclorama illustrating the battle of Gettysburg. After that we visited the museum. The visitor center is providing maps for a car tour through the battlefields.
We picked one of those maps and started the tour. Before we actually started the tour we went to a really good restaurant in Gettysburg for lunch. All over the battlefields are many monuments for various soldiers or group of soldiers from various people or states. The last point was the cemetery where Abraham Lincoln delivered the well known Gettysburg Address.
After a lot of walking through three major and historic cities of the United States–especially after loud New York City–I was glad that I had the chance to stay with a family for Christmas and New Years Eve, and calm down. I was welcomed by the father at the train station in Harrisburg; unfortunately the train was late for over an hour, due to a mechanical defect of the locomotive. Before we drove to their house I got a brief Harrisburg-introduction, which was continued on the next morning.
The Christmas days were full of family parties. A lot of people and delicious food–what a great thing for Christmas! I am very thankful for the hospitality I experienced in those days.
Right after our arrival through the Holland Tunnel we went to see the Times Square. Billboards and displays all over the place and an unmanageable amount of people are shaping this place. What else is important to see if you are in NYC at Christmas time? Right. The Rockefeller Christmas Tree. But I need to warn you! It was way not the greatest Christmas Tree I saw!
Brooklyn Bridge was our next place to go. What a fantastic bridge! If you saw Kate & Leopold you might even more appreciate it. Due to the temperature, we were not able to stay very long on the bridge. After dinner I decided spontaneously to go for the Empire State Building. No line at all! I ended up staying there from 11pm until 1am when they closed – always returning inside for warming up. I had also the chance to see the rising moon, which made the visit unforgettable.
Ground Zero, St. Pauls Chapel, M&M Shop next to Times Square and a lot of Starbucks due to much wet snow was the program for day #2. In the evening we watched 4 Christmases at the Regal Cinema at W 42 Street.
Day number 3, last Saturday before Christmas. Grand Central Station and a more or less quick visit at Macy’s. At around two o’clock I started lining up for ticket’s for The Phantom of The Opera at Broadway. Although the line was quite respectable, it just took me a little bit more than half an hour. Before I returned to the hostel for dressing up we did a little walk at Central Park. The musical was fabulous!
Sunday. Started in Brooklyn, walked over Brooklyn Bridge, break at Starbucks. Wall Street and Staten Island Ferry to get close to the Statue of Liberty. The weather cleared up and I had the chance to enjoy a wonderful sunset from Brooklyn. After dinner we returned to Brooklyn to take some more pictures of Manhattan Downtown and the Brooklyn Bridge. It was super freezing! We ended this evening with a nice cocktail at The Plaza at Central Park.
Monday, last day. Public Library and Bryton Park. At three o’clock I headed for Penn Station where I took an Amtrak train to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where I’m going to stay with an American family for Christmas and New Years Eve.
We traveled to Philly from DC by Greyhound. Unfortunately, the bus broke down after short time in the middle of a five lane highway. We transferred to another bus which took us to Baltimore. There we were waiting for the final transportation to Philadelphia. We took the subway from the bus terminal to our hostel located in Bank Street, a side road from Market Street.
On the rest of the first day we visited the Liberty Bell and walked up all Market Street until the City Hall. On the place right in front of the City Hall was a little Christmas village; very similar to what we Austrians are used to. I enjoyed this a lot! We proceeded along Broad Street southwards to The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts where we ended up listening for a little concert for a while. After that we went to get a “Philly Cheese Steak”. Don’t expect a hearty steak topped with cheese – Americans are making a sandwich out of everything *haha*. We went to Jim’s located at the corner of South Street and 4th. The rest of the evening was about hanging out in the hostel, playing pool and meeting other guys there.
We started our second day, Wednesday, at the Reading Terminal Market where we had breakfast. The Philadelphia Museum of Art was the next sight to see. The steps in front of this building are especially famous trough the movie Rocky. (And we went there just because of this.) We planned to attend a tour at the City Hall but finally we canceled it because it lasted for two hours and we didn’t have so much time. We took some pictures at the Love-Sign at JFK Plaza and continued with the Independence Hall.
It was impressive to see the original place where once the Declaration of Independence was signed. This building is listed as a World Heritage Site. Before we went to see the Masonic Temple we went very quickly to see the Betsy Ross House. On the way there i jumped into the Benjamin Franklin Post Office, first post office of the United States, to send my postcards. The tour in the Masonic Temple was very spectacular for me. We saw all the halls where the lodges are meeting. Each hall illustrates another theme – the Egypt Hall was my favorite one. After the tour we went to Rittenhouse Square for dinner and then back to South Street in Old City for a drink.
We stayed for another night and left Philadelphia on Thursday at 9am with the Chinatown Bus.
On Saturday I started with looking for a grocery store, which was not as easy as I expected – shops are obviously rare in the area I stayed and are opening not early on Saturdays. But I had a chance to see a nice area of the city 😉 . After breakfast I headed for the White House, The Ellipse and finally for the Washington Monument where I queued for some minutes to go up to the observation deck. The view is just amazing! Down again, I walked down to the World War II Memorial and along the Reflection Pool to the Lincoln Memorial – a great place to hang out! Right next, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is an even imposing place. So many people bring flowers and candles to this place.
On my way home I passed once more The Ellipse, where I stopped a few minutes for listening to a little Christmas concert. At night I did almost the same tour once more to experience the impression from all these monuments in the dark. Additionally, I visited the in the dark almost scary appearing Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the magnificent Jefferson Memorial.
On my last day I visited the Library of Congress, the Capitol and the Air and Space Museum. The Library of Congress was very impressive. The first map of the United States was exhibited there as well as one of the Gutenberg Bibles. The building is impressive too. Through the connecting tunnel I walked over to the Capitol. I was really lucky to get right on a guided tour. It’s obviously a great time of the year for going there – we where just three people on this tour! At the Air and Space Museum I had a chance to see the Apollo 11 command capsule. So impressive! This thing has been to the moon!
After all these impressions I really need to say that Washington is one of my favorite so far!
One of my classes this semester was Ideation. In this class we tried to build the “Master Idea” for a specific company based on Joey Reiman’s method, who also taught the class. He is the founder and CEO of BrightHouse. This company is applying this method very successfully. Here is our result from this class – our company was Teavana. Enjoy!
The Emory University Chorus and the Emory Concert Choir were giving a wonderful Christmas Carol Concert this weekend at the Glenn Memorial Auditorium. I attended the Saturday 5pm performance. At least after this performance I do not accept any longer people saying that America is a culture-free zone! It was awesome and very Christmasy 🙂 The program is available here.