Friday, March 26, 2004

Our non-adventure at the Westin Hotel

I’m terribly afraid of heights, still today after Jungwon’s classes (I never have classes on a Friday, apparently Business School students need a 3 day weekend) we set out on a new adventure. Climbing the Westin Hotel in an external glass encased elevator. This hotel is a 73-floor round skyscraper downtown, and we wanted to soar to the top floor in that scenic elevator providing us with Atlanta’s best view of Atlanta. But once we got to the elevator entrance (which wasn’t easy to find in the first place), we were told that non-guests had to pay a $5 fee to ride the elevator to the top. Due to my fear of heights, I was already extremely nervous and no longer looking forward to the elevator ride, and having to pay for something that made me this scared seemed ridiculous to me, so we didn’t go on the elevator.
Instead we just got some coffee at the in-house Starbucks and lounged around in the hotel taking pictures. It’s a really luxurious and big hotel and we still enjoyed ourselves with pretending to be rich enough to stay in a hotel like this and looking at lots of people who were actually rich enough to do that. As an added bonus for being that rich they got to ride the glass elevator for free, but I wasn’t that eager to have that privilege anymore.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Spring break

Jungwon and I are pretty serious students we do our homework everyday and spend many hours in the Woodruff Library and Cox Hall Computer Center to work on class projects. And back home the light is on in our room until the wee hours of the night, because we’re still studying. Language problems are the cause of Jungwon’s slow study-speed, and perfectionism is mine. It sucks because we’d rather sleep, but at least we’re not alone, it turns out misery does like company. Eventually, I go to bed for some much needed sleep (luckily classes don’t start until 10 AM), but Jungwon doesn’t and every morning I find her sleeping face down on her desk and homework. By now, we’re pretty exhausted and we’ve both pretty much had it! We’re not sure what has been bothering us most, those all-night study sessions, the culture shock or our homesickness (although mine is basically cured after my mom’s visit), in any case, we desperately need a break.
We’ve been dreaming about this week of freedom for a while and we’ve decided to go on a road-trip through California and Nevada. For now we just know we’re going to check out San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the details are up to us and Jungwon's Korean travel guide to discover! Airtrain (cheap Atlanta based airline) flew us to San Francisco this afternoon where we picked up our rental car. We were hoping for an all-American car, but they gave us a white (the worst of all colors) Toyota Camry. We loved it anyway. The important thing is that we have a car, and this Japanese car is actually very roomy, super-comfortable and a lot more fuel friendly than the typical American car. I was a bit nervous about driving here, because the traffic rules are different here and the fact that people are allowed to pass you on both sides (and not just on the left like in Europe) scared me a bit. After causing some car accident years ago, Jungwon has been too scared to drive in any country even her own. So after telling myself I could do it (I mean I had to, after all California wasn’t going to find us in that rental car garage, we had to go out and explore it ourselves) I ventured on the San Francisco highway and found out it wasn’t scary to drive here at all! 
Tonight we’re spending the night in a tiny house on the Berkeley Campus, where Jungwon’s cousin an his family live while he works on a degree at Berkeley. Before driving out to Berkeley we did a bit of preliminary sightseeing in San Francisco. First we checked out the Bay Bridge (officially named the “James ‘Sunny Jim’ Rolph Bridge”), which we had to cross later to get to Berkeley. It’s a multi-structure toll bridge complex which has one of the longest spans in the world and is one of the seven engineering wonders of the modern world.
But the most important bridge we had to see in San Francisco was of course the Golden Gate Bridge, the internationally recognized symbol of the city. It was difficult to find a spot to take decent pictures of the red bridge, but eventually we found a rather deserted place. It was kind of creepy because it was already dark and there was nobody around, still we managed to take some pictures without getting killed or kidnapped.
We actually hung around a bit to take some pictures of ourselves in the dark car, because we wanted to remember how happy we were here in San Francisco, free from all the obligations back at Emory, free to enjoy ourselves driving around the West Coast of the States. We happily nicknamed the Camry ‘The Freedom Vehicle’ and found our way to Berkeley to get some sleep.