Monday, January 21, 2008

My birthday trip out east, part 1

My trip to DC started pleasantly, with a trip to the coffee shop on the way to the airport, courtesy of my step-mom. I got there in plenty of time, sat and did some crossword puzzles, and just relaxed. Both of my flights were on time, no problems, no rushing through airports to get to the right gate or anything. It was nice. I had made a (slight) mistake when purchasing tickets, I had been slightly tipsy and bought tickets into Baltimore instead of DC. I seem to remember there being a large difference in price, though, so of course I went with the cheaper option. Plus, there's a train that goes from BWI to Union Station, which is about 5 blocks from where Marin lives. And at $6, it was a bargain!

I made it into DC with some time to kill before Marin got off of work, so I just sat around and finished up What is the What by Dave Eggers (very excellent book, I'll get around to talking about it sometime in the future). Marin got off work, we met up, went for some dinner, then hung out the rest of the night.

The next day we left for New York. Of course it rained on us most of the way, and there were a few navigational errors, but we made it in pretty good time, even with stopping for the most expensive "cheap" burger I've ever eaten (here's a tip: if you're ever driving on the New Jersey Turnpike, don't stop for food whlie still on the turnpike. It's like airport prices. I think it was $7 for 2 cheeseburgers, a small fry, and a small drink between the two of us at a Burger King.) Our hotel was in Jersey, an excellent find by Marin. I highly recommend the Comfort Suites in North Bergen, New Jersey. Our room had a bedroom area with a large bed and tv, then a sitting area with a pull-out sofa, and a lot of extra space. And the breakfast was pretty good - eggs, ham, and a waffle iron to make your own waffles, in addition to the normal continental breakfast fare.

By the time we got unloaded and headed to the park-and-ride for the bus, I was getting stressed that we wouldn't make it in time to see the screening of Conan. I had pictured our bus ride to Manhattan taking much longer, like maybe an hour or more, but it ended up being around 10 minutes. Amazing! Of course, I had forgotten to look up directions from Port Authority to the NBC Studios, but a police officer pointed us in (basically) the right direction. He was off by a couple blocks, but once I knew where we were, I figured it out.

We made it with plenty of time, and then began the process of getting into the studio for the taping. It was a long process. And a hot process. First, we got a wristband and a ticket, both of which had to be displayed for most of the time. Then we were told to meet at a certain place at exactly 4:15, no earlier, no later. After we all gathered at the precise time and place, were taken through a metal detector, then to a hallway, then sorted out by numbers and letters that they had given us, and then counted, and recounted, and recounted again. Then we stood there for about half an hour. That was a fun time, especially listening to the douches in the line near us. We finally were taken into the studio after that, and seated by some dudes.

The studio was nice. Smaller than it appears on TV, but pretty cozy, with some nice HD TVs spread throughout, which were playing old clips from the show, and were also used during the taping to show any of the clips that they cut to during the show. A warm-up comedian came on for a few minutes, then the man himself, Conan O'Brien came out and talked a little bit (maybe a couple minutes), then went right into the taping. The guests for the show were Brian Williams from NBC Nightly News, a dude who wrote books on and studied cocktails, and Doyle and Debbie, a country-parody duo. (If you missed the show, you can watch it here (ok, if that doesn't take you there, the address is'Brien/video/episodes.shtml, just copy and paste the whole thing. I don't know why that's not working. Oh well)! Just select the January 11th episode.) It was pretty fun to see how everything is done, and see how things are run during the commercials and whatnot. My favorite parts, actually, were during the commercials. The band plays the whole time, and Conan sits at the desk. You know how the host is always talking with the guest when they go to commerical? Well, that lasts about 3 seconds after the camera goes off, then they sit there awkwardly for the next 2 minutes. I thought it was hilarious. All-in-all, though, it was an awesome experience.

After the show, we wandered around a little while, and found a pizza place that I had seen featured on a Travel Channel show just a few days earlier. It was amazing. But again, that's for another post, when I tackle the foods of the trip.

That was it for night one in NYC. We headed back to our room, and fell asleep watching TV, until Conan came on that night, and of course, we had to watch. It was kind of a strange feeling, watching an episode that I where I was in attendance.

Day 2 in New York was spent just checking things out. We went to Chinatown and Little Italy, got a prosciutto and fresh mozzarella sandwich made at a shop in Little Italy, then went to Central Park and ate. An awesome day. We left for DC later in the afternoon, but still had a wonderful, albeit short time in Manhattan. And once I get the pictures from Marin, I'll put them up here!

Come back soon, when I'll go into the DC part of my trip. I promise it'll be informative, if not entertaining. I'll work on that a little bit too.

1 comment:

Jack said...

I'm glad you had a great birthday! Well, part 1 that is.