Monday, June 18, 2012

First Day, Early Start

Alex, Eric, and Mr. Chan-Law, enjoying their 5 o'clock breakfast.
It has been a long day, especially with a three-hour difference to throw our natural cycle off. I tried to get some sleep the night before, but for a teenager, going to bed before midnight just seems impossible. So as I rolled out of my warm bed at 2 AM, California time, I had to remind myself that one sleepless night would be worth it. Although I felt tired during Don's mini-orientation and baggage weigh-in, I am proud to see that I look okay in our group picture. Finally, around 3:30 (I didn't check my watch), we were off to the San Francisco Airport. We actually got there before the employees did, but by 5:10, we were through security, and eating a delicious but expensive airport breakfast (I got a mushroom omelet).
The flight was quick and rather uneventful; it only took about four and a half hours. We arrived in Philadelphia around 2 PM, and collected our baggage without incident. The van that picked us up was too small, though, so Eric Wang, Frank, Calvin, and Alex were crammed together in a three-seat section, with Eric Wilson and I put in the back. As our van passed first a refinery, then several decrepit buildings, and finally at least two rusty overpasses that looked like they could crumble at any moment, my first impression of Philadelphia became "dirty." Due to its age and historical significance, I expected the buildings to be preserved and pristine. Instead I found a defiled graveyard of past glory, ruined by graffiti, dirt, and overall neglect. Of course, the downtown area looked cleaner, but only because of the fancy shopping areas and the surrounding university; it does little justice to the buildings that may have been around for 200 years.
We waited about 20 minutes for our rooms.
The fancy light buttons.
I can watch the taxis pick up and drop off people.

I would not let this disappointment ruin my fun, though. We had to wait awhile for our hotel rooms because they had not been paid for yet, but it was worth it. My hotel room (located right on the UPenn campus) is beautiful, and full of tricks and toys. In order to save electricity, guests must insert their card into a special slot which turns on the room electricity; when they leave, people can take their card out to conserve energy. The room is also equipped with an LG flat screen TV (complete with HBO and Showtime) and an iPad. The bathroom comes with fancy light buttons (sorry, that's the only way I can describe them) and my shower is just another part of the room (no tub, just walk to the left, close the curtain, and turn on the water). I also have a decent view of the street, part of a campus library, and some of the downtown area.
Two beds - one for sleeping, one for jumping.
The entrance to the restaurant
(for tall people).
After playing with the iPad, I unpacked my stuff, and joined the rest of my cohort in a quest to find a convenience store (Mr. Chan-Law wanted water, and I needed more batteries for my power-sucking camera). We returned to our rooms for another hour and a half before meeting up again for dinner at the Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse. My veal cost almost $40, and it was the best I've ever had. It actually reminded me of the omelet I ate earlier this morning; but it was delicious, with the perfect combination of salt, pepper, and whatever wonderful juices the restaurant used. And best of all, it was gluten-free!
Calvin, just having a good time while we waited for our table.
My veal was awesome!
Dinner finally ended and we returned to our hotel via taxi, which is where I am now. My computer says it is 9:20 PM, but I know it's really 12; so good night for now, until I can describe my new adventure on the University of Pennsylvania campus.

1 comment:

  1. Rachel,

    Although you might have enjoyed your stay in this hotel with a roomie, it looks like you have a pretty nice room all to yourself.

    I hope you appreciate all of the green features of this room (like the way the power is controlled by your room key.

    That veal looks pretty good to me. I haven’t eaten since supper on Sunday and right now I can smell your dinner through the blog. Not to worry, though. I have some left over beans and rice I’m going to nuke so I’ll be okay.

    As for having to wait for your rooms, the error was with the hotel. We paid for the rooms on May 16th by check and your hotel people promptly cashed it. They just had a problem with crediting us with the many thousands of dollars we gave them for your rooms. We make plenty of mistakes but this wasn’t one of them.

    And I appreciate that you didn’t go to sleep on me while I was giving you the last minute talk this morning.