In November of 2010 I visited New York City. That’s right; I went north (from sunny, warm Las Vegas) in the winter. It sounds like a crazy thing to do, but it was worth every one of my frozen fingers and toes. If you can help it though, you would probably enjoy your trip to NYC more if you don’t have to wear three layers of clothing – so plan your trip for a time of year when Mother Nature isn’t conspiring to ruin it.
Visiting NYC was part of a school trip; my orchestra was invited to play Carnegie Hall while the band was invited to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We stayed at the Hyatt, which is literally right next door to Grand Central Station. We hit just about every “touristy” stop that NYC is famous for: Grand Central Station, Katz’s Deli, Central Park and Times Square, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. One of the highlights of this list of must-see attractions was something we stumbled upon by accident – the Charmin Restrooms (yes, Charmin toilet paper). The Charmin Restrooms were located in Times Square. A warm building, spotless toilets, and your choice of up to three different types of toilet paper; I mean, what else could you ask for?
Since our band was marching in Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, we wanted to be front and center to show our support and our school spirit. This required getting up before the sun and sitting on cold, wet cement for a couple hours while getting manhandled by people trying to get a better view of the parade. Again, completely worth it. The band did a fantastic job! It was really amazing to see in person what I had always watched at every year at home. After getting back to the hotel and recovering from the parade war, we went to Carmine’s, a restaurant off Broadway, to eat Thanksgiving dinner. Yum!
The next day, was our Carnegie Hall performance. Until the moment we took the stage, Carnegie Hall was always this unreachable summit reserved for virtuosos and the Beatles. Being able to stand where countless other talents have stood was indescribable. Actually, it was so overwhelming that the performance is a blur to me. I do remember one of my fellow violists crying as we went off stage. It meant that much.
While my trip to NYC was filled with amazing personal moments, the most meaningful and significant part of the trip was our visit to Ground Zero. When we visited, the memorial was not yet completed, and, excuse my frankness, Ground Zero just looked like two huge holes in the ground. Seeing the rubble and construction and knowing what it came from was very jarring; I had honestly thought it would look much different but I don’t know what I was expecting. To me, it really solidified that 9/11 actually happened; I was only six then, and living on the complete other side of the country. It was a very melancholy and pensive moment for us all. I think it is imperative that everyone who goes to New York visit Ground Zero Memorial.
This trip helped me learn; I traveled to a place I had never been before and experienced a new culture, really, and a completely new environment than I was used to. More than that, it really made the impossible seem possible for me. Actually, because of this trip, I am now considering applying to both NYU and Columbia not only because they are great schools, but because NYC had such an impact on my life.
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