Day 27: Budapest, Hungary. Go There!

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I took another overnight train through Vienna to Budapest, Hungary. A lot of backpackers had told me how great Budapest was and I was intrigued. I had decided on 2 days in Budapest. Best idea ever.This train out of Vienna … Continue reading

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Day 26: I Can’t Believe I Missed One!

I am writing two blogs today to make up for not getting one in yesterday. I slept in and went to an audition and before I got a chance to sit down to blog, my friend Cory came over to hang out at my apartment. We were here for a while and then he said he was going out for drinks with friends. He asked me to join and I thought it would be fun to meet new people. I heard a quote from Harvey Fierstein once that said, “Life is only as interesting as the number of times you say ‘yes'”. So I’m trying to say ‘yes’ more.

Since we went out around 7:30 I thought I’d definitely be back in time to blog. Well, when I got home at 1:15 quite drunk I knew I missed it. At one point I actually tried to blog when I was in the bathroom of a bar, but my internet connection on my phone didn’t work. If I had known I was staying out I would have planned it earlier like on St. Paddy’s Day, but this was unexpected. I’m mad at myself for not doing a blog on the 26th day but I don’t regret going out. I love Cory and I met some cool new people and we had a great time. Here is what I would have quickly posted if I had the time.

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of whether same-sex marriages should be legalized as well as whether to keep Proposition 8 intact for California. Only 9 states recognize gay marriage while 30 states have constitutional amendments prohibiting it. It is not surprising to hear where I stand.IMG_0409“It’s very dear to me, the issue of gay marriage, or as I like to call it ‘marriage.’ You know, because I had lunch today, not gay lunch. I parked my car, I didn’t gay park it”- Liz Feldman

I don’t understand why this is an issue or a problem. I think these protestors trying to “defend the institution of marriage” will feel very, very stupid in 30 years. Hopefully less.

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Day 25: Auschwitz and Birkenau

After a day in Krakow, it was time to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp. The Holocaust has always intrigued me. Similarly to my obsession with the musical Assassins, it is fascinating to me how one man can honestly think that exterminating races of people is the right thing to do and so many others can go along with it. I had already visited Anne Frank’s house and the Dachau camp in Germany but I wanted to visit Auschwitz as well.DSCF2319This translated in English means, “Work will set you free.” Likely story, Hitler.DSCF2325DSCF2330Now that they’ve planted trees and grass it doesn’t look like such a tragic place anymore. I found it very strange how it almost looks normal. Not what I was expecting at all.P1030737After walking around for a bit it definitely felt like the sign suggests –  like a museum about the concentration camp rather than the actual site. I was not as shocked and moved as I expected. I was pretty horrified when I visited Dachau. Auschwitz obviously still disturbed me, but maybe the initial shock wore off in Dachau. DSCF2345Prisoners’ luggage. They packed their lives into suitcases which were just taken away once they arrived.DSCF2342A pile of glasses. I don’t understand why they kept all of these things.DSCF2348So many shoes.DSCF2341Hair. That’s harrowing.DSCF2349DSCF2353How could Germans just stand around and watch people turn into these waifs?DSCF2354A sculpture called “Starvation”.DSCF2355Over 230,000 children were sent to Auschwitz with only about 650 being liberated in 1945. DSCF2361An execution yard between prison blocks.DSCF2369Up to 4 prisoners would have to stay in these standing cells at a time as punishment.DSCF2370DSCF2373DSCF2382After touring Auschwitz, I got on a bus to the nearby Birkenau camp (Auschwitz II).DSCF2418 Now this had the affect I was expecting and in a weird way wanted from visiting Auschwitz. This place is terrible. It was called an extermination camp; there was no pretense of work setting you free here. This is where you came to die and over 1.3 million people did exactly that here.DSCF2336DSCF2386Most of Birkenau has been destroyed. This place is huge.DSCF2390 P1030744People were literally piled into these miserable bunks to live while awaiting gas chambers. They lived in filth with rats and many died in here of disease.DSCF2415 DSCF2399The crematoriums and gas chambers were ordered to be destroyed by the SS before the Soviet Army could find the evidence. They were ordered to execute all the prisoners remaining, but in the chaos of the Nazi evacuation the orders were never carried out. Instead, they took the 60,000 remaining on a death march to Bergen-Belsen. DSCF2403A destroyed gas chamber.DSCF2411Very, very moving. If you ever visit Auschwitz, be sure to take the trip to Birkenau as well. The sickening feeling you expect from visiting a Nazi camp is there.

After a very tiring day I headed back into Krakow to catch a train to Budapest, Hungary. But before I left Poland, I had to get more pierogis and beer. It was just so good that I needed more. I wish I had some right now.DSCF2421Back in the Main Market Square for dinner. I’m so glad I had time for this stop. At that point I was over halfway through my trip and still going strong. I was looking forward to more new countries!

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Day 24: Krakow, Poland

I can’t believe it’s already day 24 of my 30 day challenge of blogging every day. I’m pretty proud of how well I’m doing. I thought I would have run out of topics for my blog by this time. Now I’m realizing I’m not even going to finish talking about my European trip in 30 days, but I’ll keep blogging about it once the 30 days are up… just maybe not every day. DSCF2316

DSCF2213Arriving in Krakow before the Starbucks is even open. Oh, God. I headed straight to the most popular, highly recommended attraction in the city, the Wieliczka Salt Mines.DSCF2217The mine is 1,000 feet deep and here are the many, many flights of stairs I descended. I don’t know that the tours actually go that deep, but that’s what wikipedia tells me. Luckily there was an elevator for the way up. No way was my ass hiking back up these stairs.DSCF2225Everything is salt in this aptly named salt mine. The floors, walls, ceilings, and all of the sculptures –  salt. The mine was built in the 13th century and is still in production though now I think they only do just enough to still be considered ‘in production’. The miners used to get bored and build these sculptures. In recent years artists have contributed salt sculptures, but it was originally just the miners. Talented, bored miners.P1030639Ok, the salt walls creeped me out.DSCF2239There are underground lakes, 3 chapels, and this huge cathedral. This room impressed me. DSCF2241A church of salt. I think Steve Parmenter prays here.DSCF2242Alright, this is good. But seriously, who comes up with the idea to sculpt the Last Supper out of salt?! Use your talents for something better, salt man.DSCF2253Back above ground and in the heat.DSCF2254Taking a lovely Rick Steves walking tour and learning things… things I don’t remember.DSCF2259DSCF2262A stroll down the street in Krakow.DSCF2263The Main Market SquareDSCF2266St. Mary’s Church in the Main Market Square. A bugler plays half of the same song every hour to honor a bugler who got shot halfway through that song. Maybe he was really terrible.DSCF2276The inside of St. Mary’s was fantastically different than anything I’ve seen.DSCF2283At 6pm every day when the church closes a nun comes out and closes the alter piece. Look at that tiny nun on the bottom right of the picture!DSCF2285It’s even pretty when it’s closed.DSCF2268Town Hall on the left and Cloth Hall, a big marketplace, on the right.DSCF2269Why does this remind me of Oliver?DSCF2275Singing is such a miserable life choice. It’s torture, actually. Every single person up there is in agony. They’re thinking, “You know, this Von Trapp shit really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe we should have just let the Nazis get us.”DSCF2287I like it here.DSCF2288How exactly did their gelato get turned into piles of rectangles? And it looks like something out of Willy Wonka’s factory.DSCF2292She loves her job as the peddling match seller.DSCF2295What a nice surprise to see Colin Farrell here. I’m not actually that obsessed with him as my blog would suggest.DSCF2296Well this one’s different too.DSCF2297Just some nuns waiting for the bus.DSCF2298I loved this bread guy and his buddies.DSCF2301Oh hell no!! No way am I sitting on the dirty ground in my wedding dress! That dress is ruined. And she would have worn it on her second marriage. No way is she staying married to this shmuck. Who’s idea was this? They look so awkward and unhappy. And what a lovely background – tourist jean shorts and ugly sandals.DSCF2304Polish pierogi stand. I had to.DSCF2303My favorite meal of the whole trip. I know Carlsberg is a Danish beer, but it was my only option. But what makes it Polish is the raspberry flavoring they add to their beer. It was so so good. I got a second beer and was tempted to get more pierogis too.DSCF2308I really went for it in Krakow. This was pretty great too. Fantastic dinner and dessert!DSCF2313Am I back at Xavier?! My high school was seriously a replica of the Cloth Hall. I didn’t notice it until night.DSCF2311I loved the square at night. It was bustling and I bought a really neat, unique vintage ring at the marketplace.DSCF2315Some very strange mannequins to end the evening with.

I quite enjoyed Krakow. The delicious food definitely helped their case.

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Day 23: Everybody’s Got the Right to be Happy

Just like last weekend, I am finishing up my second double in a row at work because I am apparently a masochist who doesn’t think it is necessary to feel my feet anymore. The point is, I’m very tired. Therefore, I will not go into discussing Poland now. Instead I will tell you a story about an amazing opportunity I had a few months ago. I need to backtrack a bit first though and start at the beginning.

I was visiting NY with my mom in the summer of 2004 when we decided to see a Stephen Sondheim show called Assassins. I knew very little about it besides that it was about all of the presidential assassins. My mom and I knew going in that it would be more up my alley than hers, but she went with me anyway. The cast was all people I hadn’t heard of except for Neil Patrick Harris (back before he was suuuuuper popular again). I was absolutely spellbound. The acting, the singing, the music, lights, concept – I was in love and obsessed. Very unfortunately for me, it happened to be closing the next day. We had seen the Saturday matinee so there were only 2 performances left. I knew the closing show would be absolutely impossible to see, but I had to see it again. We went directly to the box office after the matinee and asked for one ticket to the night show. The lady laughed at me and pointed to the very long line of people waiting for cancellation tickets. My dreams were dashed. I left pouting as we headed to find other tickets for a show that night.

My mom bought a ticket for something I didn’t want to see, so I got a cheap ticket at TKTS for Little Shop of Horrors which I had already seen and liked. I was fine with this choice, but I was still just so upset. The theatre where Assassins was playing was only 2 blocks from Little Shop so I decided I’d just try for a cancellation ticket and run to the show if I didn’t get one. I was almost positive it wouldn’t work, but I had to try.

The cancellation line for Assassins was ridiculous and I was at the end. I knew this wouldn’t happen, but I told myself I’d stay until 7:55. No one had gotten a ticket by 7:50 and it was looking very bleak. And then I heard a man ask a theatre security guard a magic question: “If I have an extra ticket can I get my money back at the box office?” Before the guard could even answer (no) I was running up to that man feverishly telling him I’d buy it. You would have thought this was a drug deal. I needed my fix! He was happy to sell it to me at face value! Unbelievable!! Just as I was about to hand him money, the woman in the front of the line had come over understandably very pissed off. She said he had to give it back to the box office so they could re-sell it and it would be fair. He didn’t care, he was just happy to have it sold and clearly I was not going to give up without a fight, so I begged him to sell it to me and I won! YESSS!!! As I was going into the theatre the woman shouted at me, “I HOPE YOUR SEATS ARE OBSTRUCTED!!” Hahahah! What a ridiculous insult. Only in NY.

I sat there even more in awe with chills watching the show for the second time in one day. I knew I was seeing some of the best actors ever to be on Broadway. And the scenario of the show absolutely fascinated me. It was gorgeous and haunting. I was the happiest person ever.

After that, I was just obsessed. I bought the recording, a bootleg video, and a bootleg audio and listened to it constantly. When I started at Boston Conservatory a year later one of my first assignments was to write a 5 page paper about the most underrated Broadway show in your opinion and defend it. Can you guess what I chose? This teacher hardly ever gave out As and I got an A. I was so ridiculously obsessed and passionate about it that I convinced him. My favorite thing about the show (besides the phenomenal acting and music) was that the assassins honestly thought and believed they were justified. The show is about 9 presidential assassins or attempted assassins telling their stories. Their first song is titled, “Everybody’s Got the Right to be Happy”. These people legitimately thought they were doing all they could to be happy. They thought killing the president was their only way to their dreams. They’re insane, but it’s fascinating to me.

Years go on and I still adore the show and follow most of those actors’ careers. Several of them got Tony nominations for the show and/or for other shows. I still love it, but don’t think of it too often anymore. Until…. I got a story forwarded to me from my mom that there was going to be a one night only benefit concert of Assassins starring 100% of the original 2004 cast in the original theatre!! I HAD to see this!!! Unfortunately for me, it is a benefit concert and all of the “cheap” $150 tickets were sold out. The cheapest that were left were $500. Yikes! $500?! Could I justify spending $500 on this? Yes, yes I could. I have never spent that kind of money on one thing, but I just had to. I wouldn’t have done it for any other show or any other cast. This is my favorite musical ever with the dream cast all reunited. I couldn’t turn that opportunity down. I work very hard slaving away at my stupid restaurant job and I decided to treat myself.

My friend Maddie was in town staying with me for the week. I told her that I was doing this and apologized for ditching her for the night. She had already heard this story and heard me go on and on about the show before, so she wasn’t surprised with me choice. But her deciding to see it with me was a surprise! She concluded that being from London, they would never do this show there and if I loved it that much then it had to be good. Wow, she trusts me a lot. And also that’s only about 250 pounds, so it’s almost half off for her! I was so excited that I could hardly contain myself!!IMG_0040Dolled up and ready to go see Assassins!!IMG_0041Oh god, I couldn’t wait.IMG_0045IMG_0046 I tried to take a picture during curtain calls, but clearly the lights didn’t work out in my favor. But I remember it. Oh, and I’m a sneaky ninja who audio recorded the entire show on my iPhone!! The sound quality is perfect!! I listen to it often and am so happy I thought to do that.

This was one of my favorite theatre experiences ever and I am so so grateful I had this opportunity. I don’t regret that purchase for an instant!

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Day 22: Prague Blog 2

*Disclaimer*

My blog may not be historically accurate. I started it a couple years ago for my family and friends to read. It has grown a bit which is great, but it is intended for entertainment. I am merely recollecting my experiences from, in some cases, over a year ago or more ago. I am not fact checking and I am not perfect, but I’m happy with that. Enjoy it (or don’t) but certainly don’t take my word as scripture.  It is my intent to be much more interesting than scripture.

*DSCF2118

My second day in Prague started off well with a sighting of this lady. Now, I’ve never thought of that one, but I will now get in any convertible prepared with my parasol.DSCF2119A view of the castle from a bit further down the river in Old Town.DSCF2121Prague’s gorgeous Old Town Square. The most interesting array of Baroque, Gothic, and Rococo buildings all next to each other. This place is amazing.DSCF2122The beautiful Tyn Church.DSCF212327 crosses mark the spot where that many martyrs were beheaded. I don’t remember why they were beheaded, but I hope it was for a good cause.DSCF2125Now you know: panoramic pictures do not work on buildings.DSCF2126The Astronomical Clock. Every hour little figures dance in a very anticlimactic performance.DSCF2128Here I am in the Square.DSCF2131Ice cold – likely story.DSCF2132Why can’t tourist stores look like this in NY?!DSCF2133A cool alleyway between buildings in the Square.DSCF2134She is probably sweating all her makeup off.DSCF2136One last shot of the Square. I quite liked it there.DSCF2137The view just walking. This is normal for them. Pretty great.DSCF2139There it is again with the silly “Praha”. And was it really ‘made by’ or ‘made in’?DSCF2142A very cool, but probably very touristy outdoor market.DSCF2144The most perfect fruit you’ll ever find.DSCF2146And perfect roses! I don’t know what they cost (in real money) because Eastern Europe is stubborn and doesn’t use the Euro. Every freaking country had different money. I knew that ahead of time and brought a paper that converted everything that my wonderfully OCD mother printed for me, but it was still a bitch to have different money everywhere. I tried to get as little cash as possible and pay my hostel bill with any leftover. That worked pretty well. It also kept me from spending a lot of money.DSCF2149Swinging tables! That looks like fun!DSCF2150Prague’s central boulevard, Wenceslas Square. It was originally a horse market.DSCF2151It was a nice, wide street heading uphill to the National Museum.DSCF2165The Saint Wenceslas Monument and National Museum.DSCF2172This was taken en route to another church? Or castle? I don’t really remember where this was, but Rick Steves said to go, so I went.DSCF2177Churches, churches everywhere!DSCF2180I loved this view from up where the church was.DSCF2182 DSCF2185 DSCF2188 DSCF2189 DSCF2195 DSCF2200A beautiful graveyard behind the church. Graveyards are better in Europe.DSCF2201DSCF2204 It’s strange that something made for dead bodies can be so beautiful.DSCF2207I’m sorry, WHAT!?!? I thought Japan had the market cornered on freaking weird signs! Prague is making a strong showing otherwise.DSCF2210Last but not least, my traditional meal in Prague: goulash and Czech beer. Mmmmboy! After this meal it was off to the next: Poland!

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Day 21: My Star Turn!

I was on my couch after a dance audition starting my blog yesterday when I got a text from my friend Sam. He asked me if I was free immediately to be an extra in a TV pilot he was wardrobe supervising. He said all the girls had bailed and they needed “hot, sassy ladies” for a party scene… right then. I actually had plans with friends, but it sounded really fun and I knew they’d understand. There’s never a dull moment with Sam. He is a dresser and costume designer and has worked on several Broadway shows. He will randomly need a favor every now and then and I’m happy to help. He gave me directions and I was on my way in about 15 minutes.

It was really strange to walk into a huuuge apartment where they were filming knowing absolutely nothing about what I was doing. The director gave me a hug he was so relieved and grateful I was there. Nice! I ran in a room with Sam who quickly changed me and gave me fancy accessories and off I went. They gave me a Sam Addams (which was cold and I got to drink!) and I was immediately in the background of my very first film adventure. That one was really quick and then I got to sit down with Sam and 2 people who ended up being leads of the show. Sam told me it was an independent pilot called “Scott Free” starring many Broadway famous people. Those Broadway actors weren’t in this scene, but it sounds pretty funny.

While we were sitting chatting, the writer comes in and tells me I have a line! I jokingly said, “Oo am I SAG now?!” Everyone laughed and she opened the script to my line.IMG_0397There I am: Model #1. And my big line, “WeOFwa”. What the hell? The scenario is: Scott is at Heather’s party he wasn’t invited to because he has an unrequited crush on her. He awkwardly comes up to Heather and her friends, Model 1 and 2, and asks Heather why she moved up to Washington Heights. She isn’t the sharpest and asks where? He says, “This neighborhood.” She replies, “Oh, WeOFwa.” This is her and her friends’ made up acronym which they think he is the biggest idiot ever for not knowing. I’ll take it!

After they lit the scene and set up the camera, the director blocked us and we ran through the lines a few times. Then we started shooting!IMG_0399Sam was amazing and took pictures which he sent me.IMG_0398

We did it so many times! Then they moved the camera probably 4 times to get close ups of all of us – even me! This 8 line scene took about 45 minutes.IMG_0400 IMG_0402We got to talk a lot during that time and it was really fun!IMG_0404I maybeeee stared at that boy all night. Am I too obvious? I mean, look at that face! He is the guy who plays Scott and he is incredibly nice. Sam rained on my parade later telling me he has a girlfriend. Wah wah.IMG_0407Sam was very nice to get a close-up of me taking my star turn!

The director told me afterwards that he thought I was really funny. He said that if looks could kill, the guy who was Scott would be dead. See, I am a good actress!

We did one more scene, but it was not as great as this one. We were done by around 11. Before I left, they came up to me and had me sign a SAG agreement because I had a line! That doesn’t mean I’m in the union now, but I only need to do something like this 2 more times in order to be. So my teasing earlier was actually kind of right! I don’t think I would really want to join SAG because it’s expensive and I don’t think I’ll be doing more film, but it’s nice to earn a point. And I got paid because of that one glorious line too. That was an unexpected surprise!

That was a fantastic night. Who would have thought my first filming ever would fall into my lap? Pretty great! I realize the odds of this actually getting on TV is probably very slim, but I’ll let you know if it does. Oh, how fun, I’m a TV actress now! Watch out for Model #1!

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