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!
This afternoon I did a Atlanta Midtown tour with my camera. I startet at trainstation North Avenue, walked W Peachtree St NW – Ponce de Leon Ave NE to Fox Theater. Then I continued walking down all Peachtree St NE, took a break at Starbucks, passed Margaret Mitchell House, till 14th. Finally I walked through Piedmont Park and took 36 back to Emory (Clifton Road). Enjoy my pics!
Last weekend I’ve been to Chicago to attend the Austria Science Talk 2008. Maria and I already arrived on Friday morning. We met at the airport and went to the City center to the Allerton Hotel where we got a pretty amazing rate over hotwire.com. After checkin we walked along N Michigan Ave. I was overruled an so we spent some time shopping at the Water Tower Place. As recommended in the tourist guide, we went for pizza at Giordanos. After lunch we took the bus to Millennium Park to see “The Bean” / Cloud Gate. It was already time to go home and prepare for the evening.
We enjoyed the show Dirty Dancing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. It was a neat experience! A very American show! And pretty cheesy too. We spent the end of this freezing evening at a Starbucks around the corner with some hot chocolate.
On Satruday, after a short breakfast, we went straight to the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel. After a small welcome reception, the presentations started. It was nice to hear about Austria. At about one we had lunch. Maria and I went for a short walk before the afternoon program, the world café, started. For the end of the afternoon program, drinks were served. The evening program took place at the University of Chicago. It was a small panel discussion about the US presidential election. Afterwards we enjoyed dinner and Austrian wine.
Before we went out, Maria and I visited the John Hankok Tower. We spent about an hour at the observation deck. It was amazing. It was impressive!
Not it was time for drinks. We met with some other Austrians from the Science Talk and had several good conversations in a nice bar.
On Sunday, our last day in Chicago, we went for a boat tour after breakfast. The boat brought us to Lake Michigan where we were able to see the whole skyline of Chicago. After Lake Michigan we went along the Chicago River. We were lucky, because right after the boat tour which was about two hours, it started to rain. But we didn’t mind – we went for a hot chocolate at Starbucks.
It was still raining when we hit the road to the Field Museum of National History to see the largest complete skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. This was actually the last thing we did before we picked up our luggage back at the hotel and left for the airport. We were quite lucky to catch our planes because we had troubles with the subway. We were waiting about half an hour and additionally we had rail replacement bus service for the last couple of stations. We checked in 5 minutes before last checkin. At the airport we had a quick final coffee and then left for Montréal and Atlanta.
It was an awesome weekend. Chicago is a great city! Here are the pics. I’m still working on the video. Check the news on the main page. I’ll post it there when it is available.
Last weekend we – Kristina, Katrin, Roli and me, four Upper Austrians – went to Savannah. On Saturday we’ve been to Tybee Island on the beach. We saw pelicans and dolphins, were lying on the beach and we enjoyed really a lot of ice cream.
Saturday night we had dinner, ribs, at Tony Roma’s. After walking along River Street we played a couple of pool games and tabletop soccer in a small pub – Bayou Café – with live music. They played really awesome music there 🙂
On Sunday we walked through the city and did a boat tour (which was actually not bad, but I would not recommend it) along the Savannah River. We enjoyed really good coffee in the morning (they had an espresso machine there) and seafood for lunch at the Cotton Exchange Tavern. Before we went home we crossed the Savannah River–which is the border to South Carolina–just to take a picture from the “Welcome to South Carolina” sign 😉
Last Saturday ISSP (International Student and Scholar Programs) offered a great sightseeing tour. We visited the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, the Government Buildings and Martin Luther King Memorial. And we saw a lot of other sights on the bus tour: Coca Cola World, Georgia Aquarium, Martaret Mitchell’s House, CNN Headquater, Olympic Village at Georgia Tech and the Turner Field Baseball Stadion. Watch the pictures!