The advantages that Couchsurfing has brought to my stay abroad have been tremendous so far and I am sure that there are more exciting encounters going to happen. The disadvantage of Couchsurfing is the dependence of a couchsurfer on the host. Even if the decision to host someone is totally voluntary and one does not receive any money in return, a host still needs to be 100% reliable. His guest will usually not have an option other than looking for an expensive last minute hotel if the host does not show up or stops answering the email.
I am happy to own a US cellular phone, that way I have the possibility of communicating with possible hosts in a more direct and therefore easier way. Furthermore, I am lucky to know Zapo with whom I had the possibility to stay a few nights longer than expected. Tonight though, for the first time on my stay abroad, I sleep in a regular hostel together with other travelers. Unfortunately, as my blog has not been fed with stories lately, I will not be able to take advantage of the international crowd here. I will have to focus my energy on writing about the exciting activities and wonderful encounters last weeks.
Will DosSantos had invited me to visit his cousin in New Hampshire. Unfortunately, there were some transportation issues and there was no space left for me to join him, meaning that the meeting with Will had been delayed for a couple of days. Luckily, I was able to count on Zapo and stayed another three nights on his couch. This ship has meanwhile sailed though. His roommate who is working a lot and is seldom at home complained in an email about the fact that the living room has turned in a dorm room and that he was not happy about it. Pity! Even though I completely understand his point of view, I would have preferred he speaking to me directly about the matter, as I have thought that it would be no problem with me sleeping there. Nevertheless, I have lost the very useful option of spending the night at Zapo's place. I am very thankful to have had this privilege. Thank you Zapo for everything!
4th of July
I met Will a couple of days later in Hoboken, which is on the other side of the Hudson River in New Jersey. I was very happy about the fact that I was going to spend the 4th of July with an American. Will has moved to the USA when he was only four years old and I therefore consider him a real American. His father immigrated from Brazil when he was in his 30ies and has worked in Elisabeth, NJ for the last 30 years. While driving to his girlfriend Aurora, Will told me that we were invited to spend the evening with Aurora's neighbor, Manny Caamano, who lived only four stories higher than she did. Manny's whole family was having food and drinks on his balcony. Aurora wanted to contribute something by preparing a Cheese Fondue. Luckily, Cheese Fondue is not unknown by Swiss people and I was happy to help her out. The taste was very interesting but not bad at all and the Fondue was liked by everyone.
We almost missed the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks because we kept on enjoying the view.
It is great, how easy it is to meet and become friends with American people. Manny, the neighbor of my host's girlfriend, invited me to play tennis a few days later. He returned from work early due to a bomb threat in his office building. After playing 30-40 minutes in the full sun, we enjoyed cooling off in his building's own swimming pool.
For dinner, Manny and his girlfriend, Maria, invited me to a Mexican restaurant with the most beautiful view on Manhattan. I had the chance to return the favor by inviting both of them for a dinner in a Japanese restaurant with some sushi and sake.
I was also invited to a barbecue in Elisabeth, NJ. Will said that I was most welcome to come to a barbecue which his brother, Steve, was organizing. I found out only when I arrived there that it was in fact Steve's birthday. It was not a regular barbecue: Rachel, Steve's girlfriend, and Steve have been working a lot. They have been preparing the smoked bacon for this barbecue for over 10! days. Here are just a few of the finest delicatessens they served: Self-made Burgers (half bacon, half angus beef), self-made sausages, mussels, and ribs (which have first been cooked (7min), then marinated and grilled (7min), and then slow roasted in aluminum foil (3h) until they literally fell off the bone).
Pete's Tavern 1864
Another gastronomic and culinary highlight was the Burger at Pete's Tavern. This establishment is New York's longest continuously operating bar and restaurant. Being host to many celebrities, Pete's bar looks exactly as on the black and white pictures inside. The restaurant and bar has appeared on television in famous shows like "Sex and the City", "Seinfeld", or "Law and Order".
On August 8th, my friend Normen and his wife, Andrea, will travel through New York on their Honeymoon and as a gift, I plan on inviting them to this famous restaurant for a burger.
The meat fell off the bone...
How to succeed...
The most impressive and exciting thing I did on my stay abroad has most certainly been the visit of a Broadway musical staring Daniel Radcliffe (known from the Harry Potter series) and John Laroquette (he appeared in many movies and had his own television show). The name of the musical was "how to succeed in business without really trying". http://www.howtosucceedbroadway.com/
The musical is a new production a story that is based on a satirical, and bestselling book with the same title. The perfection of the show was astonishing and most impressive. Even though it was not cheap, it was totally worth it. I encourage anyone who visits New York to go see a Broadway musical.
That's it for the moment... I will write about my upcoming internship in the next blogpost.