Connecticut – Days 3-4: Wanderings in New Haven and around Yale

Brittany Swanson   October 19, 2015   Comments Off on Connecticut – Days 3-4: Wanderings in New Haven and around Yale

I started day three in Connecticut in New Haven. The plan was to wander around downtown, visit Yale, and then maybe head to a park or something. I wandered around and found Yale and as I walked by this one building I was handed two free Iced Teas. Yay! I love free things.

Free iced tea courtesy of Yale University.

Free iced tea courtesy of Yale University.

There was a nice big open grassy space nearby, so I sat down, read my book and drank one of my teas. My phone was nearly dead again, and I had walked by an Apple store, so I figured, well, I can at least go see if they can fix it. Somewhere along the way I saw a sign saying tours of Yale were in an hour, so maybe I could make it back for that.

Turns out, the wait to see someone at the Apple store at 1:00 p.m. on a Wednesday was an hour. So I didn’t make the tour. Instead I continued wandering around Yale, sticking close-ish to the Apple store for when I had to go back. I found Yale’s Old Campus which has an enclosed courtyard and is really pretty. Channelling Rory Gilmore, I found a comfy looking tree and sat and read some more of my book while eating a snack. Meanwhile, I used my portable charger to charge my phone so I could leave it on for Apple to text me when it was time to go back to the Apple store.

Reliving the college life, reading a book under a tree in the middle of Old Campus, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

Reliving the college life, reading a book under a tree in the middle of Old Campus, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

Eventually, I just went back to the Apple store, because they never texted me the last time saying it was my turn. The Apple store guy did a diagnostic test and it showed my battery was only holding 40% capacity. No, really?! He ran the serial number to see if it fell in a range of phones they knew to be defective. I’m not entirely sure he actually hit the submit button, but I didn’t say anything, so I guess that one’s on me. Anyway, I needed a new battery and it cost me $79, but if it worked and my phone held its charge for longer than an hour my trip was going to be way more fun.

I also asked about my computer battery while I was there, because it also only holds charge for less than an hour, though it’s much older than my phone. The guy said it might be too old (its a mid-2009) and they might not even carry the battery in the Apple store anymore, but said to bring it by so he could check.

I went to Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana for lunch after more than one person recommended I do so. I decided to splurge and get all the toppings I wanted because this was the first nice sit down restaurant meal I’d had since I started the trip. The day before was my 31st day on the road, so I could also celebrate surviving the first month of my adventure. As it happens, the pizza I ordered was a veggie pizza, which was part of a special that wasn’t on the menu, so it didn’t even end up costing as much as I was expecting. Score. I had mushrooms, onions, broccoli, spinach, peppers, and garlic. Yum. It was quite tasty and a twelve inch pizza is pretty big, so I had lots of leftovers too.

Leftovers from Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana... I didn’t have my phone to take pictures of the actual pizza, New Haven, CT.

Leftovers from Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana… I didn’t have my phone to take pictures of the actual pizza, New Haven, CT.

The day before I’d heard someone on the radio saying Americans are going to restaurants by themselves more than ever before. He asked his listeners if they thought it was ok to go to restaurants by yourself. So as I sat in a restaurant by myself, I thought about what he said. I’m pretty sure I started eating alone in restaurants before it became a trend. The first few times it was out of necessity. I was hungry, away from home, and wanted good food, so I went to a restaurant to provide it for me. Joining me in eating alone were widowed men and women in their seventies as well as fifty-something obese people. I used to feel super awkward. I didn’t know what to do with my hands. I wasn’t sure how much I should look around. It was so strange to me. I’d only ever been out with friends or family. What does one do when out alone?

Subsequently, I became more comfortable with myself and with being alone. I never liked being on my phone in a restaurant because, like when I’m with friends, it just doesn’t seem like the appropriate time. I’m fine just sitting and reflecting on my day, or looking around and imagining the backstories of my fellow patrons. Sometimes I enjoy taking the time between ordering and waiting for my food to read a book. I love reading, and don’t do it nearly as often as I’d like anymore. Anyway, as I sat at Frank Pepe’s I decided to read my book. My waiter commented that it was good to see someone reading. I appreciated his comment and left him a nice tip and a note to say thanks.

After lunch, I went back to the Apple store and picked up my phone. I was a little peeved to see it was at a whopping 12%, even though I gave it to them at 83% after I’d already used my portable charger. I found out that my computer was, in fact, too old to have my battery replaced at Apple. Luckily, the guy informed me that they have affiliates who can do it, so hopefully it’ll happen soon.

I spent a bit more time wandering around New Haven and then headed to meet my host, Alex, for the evening. Alex took me on quite the adventure, but that’s going to require its own post.

I didn’t really have any specific plan for day four. I wanted to go check out the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale after Alex had told me about it the previous night. So I started there. I did the whole, yeah-I-totally-belong-here-don’t-mind-me thing and walked in, following behind some student. I hoped I could act like I belonged and knew what I was doing long enough to get where I wanted to be.

Modeled after a Gothic-style cathedral, Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

Modeled after a Gothic-style cathedral, Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

Unfortunately, the girl I was following swiped her card to get to the elevators and I saw a sign that said only Yale students and their guests are allowed in the stacks. :(. But, that’s the best part of the library… I wandered around some more hoping maybe I could find some back stairs or something that would get me to the stacks. After about twenty minutes on the ground floor and in the basement I realized I wasn’t going to find a way up.

I remembered the tour I’d seen the day before and figured the library had to be on the tour, so if I went on the tour I could probably see the library. I walked to find the Yale Visitor Center and see when the next tour was. It was in about forty-five minutes.

I’d also wanted to check out the Yale University Art Gallery which opened in fifteen minutes. If I was quick I could probably speed walk around the Art Gallery, see if there was anything worth seeing, and then go catch the tour and come back if I needed to. I was actually quite impressed with the museum. I saw a lot of the same artists from the other museums I’ve been to lately, but also some new ones, which was a nice change of pace.

I love Giacometti, because his style is so recognizable. I can see a piece by him and go, oh, that’s Giacometti, and then feel super cool when I’m right. Which is precisely what happened when I saw this sculpture, as a matter of fact.

Femme debout (Standing Woman), 1956, Alberto Giacometti, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

Femme debout (Standing Woman), 1956, Alberto Giacometti, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

Magritte is kind of that way too. When I saw this painting I was like, hang on, isn’t that… Why yes, yes it is: René Magritte.

La boîte de Pandore (Pandora’s Box), 1951, René Magritte, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

La boîte de Pandore (Pandora’s Box), 1951, René Magritte, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

Salvador Dali also has a unique style that is pretty easily recognizable. I actually didn’t recognize this one right away. Instead of recognizing the artist’s style, I was drawn to the painting by the super awesome blending of colors. I wish I could blend my colors that well.

La libre inclinación del deseo (The Free Inclination of Desire), 1930, Salvador Dalí, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

La libre inclinación del deseo (The Free Inclination of Desire), 1930, Salvador Dalí, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

Marcel Duchamp also has a pretty recognizable style. I remember learning about him in art history class in college and thinking he was such a bad ass (pardon my language). I mean, way to completely disrupt our notions of what art is. If you don’t know, Duchamp was active in Dada and famous for his “readymades.” Readymades were everyday objects Duchamp took and displayed as art. The most famous one was The Fountain, which was an upside down urinal. The one on display at the Yale Art Gallery was a 1945 replica of a 1915 original called In Advance of the Broken Arm, or Snow Shovel.

In Advance of Broken Arm, or Snow Shovel, 1945 replica of lost 1915 original, Marcel Duchamp, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

In Advance of Broken Arm, or Snow Shovel, 1945 replica of lost 1915 original, Marcel Duchamp, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

I had just enough time at the Art Gallery to speed through European Art, American Art, and Contemporary Art, with a quick walk through Ancient Art. On my way out of the museum I noticed a postcard that had The Great Wave at Kanagawa on it by Hokusai. Usually museums sell replicas of things they have on display. There’s no way they have Hokusai here though… I looked it up and if you do a search for Hokusai on the Yale Art Gallery website, lots of Hokusai images come up. I hadn’t been anywhere near Asian Art in my quick walk through, but there was no way I was going to be that close and miss a chance to see Hokusai in person, so I guess I’d come back after the Yale tour to check.

The Yale tour was led by a Junior Political Science major who was on the Mock Trial team. It was an hour and a half. Luckily, most of what he had to say was interesting. He did a pretty good job, I’d say I was only ready to be done with the tour about an hour and fifteen minutes into it. So kudos to him, for keeping me engaged. Even though I learned some interesting stuff, I will say, I’ve been doing a lot of walking lately and my feet hurt. I had blisters on both my feet, so I was super relieved when the tour was finally over. 

The previous day I had found a statue of Nathan Hale in the Old Campus courtyard and rubbed his foot for good luck, because Meghan, my roommate from Arkansas, had reminded me about the tradition from when Rory visits Yale on Gilmore Girls.

Nathan Hale, not the man with the lucky foot, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

Nathan Hale, not actually the man with the lucky foot, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

However, on my tour I learned that I rubbed the foot of the wrong man…awkward. Good thing I went on the tour… I’m not sure how I missed the real lucky foot man. The lucky foot is very obvious; it’s been rubbed so many times it’s shiny. The lucky foot belongs to a statue of a man named Theodore Dwight Woolsey, the tenth President of Yale University. His toe is said to be lucky because every time he used it to push the crew boat out they won, and every time he failed to do so they lost, or so the tour guide told us.

Seriously, how did I miss that shiny golden toe?! Theodore Dwight Woolsey, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

Seriously, how did I miss that shiny golden toe?! Theodore Dwight Woolsey, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

So, having learned the story behind the lucky toe, and its proper owner, the tour moved on. Next, the tour guide told us a bit more about the architect responsible for Yale’s Gothic styled buildings. Apparently James Gamble Rogers was a bit of a nutter. He wanted Yale to look old, like Oxford, so he went to some extreme measures to make it look so. Torching the tops of buildings, using acid to deface the library, cracking windows in Y shapes, and using sporadic panes of colored glass to give the appearance of broken windows hastily replaced. I’m taking my tour guide for his word here. I have no idea if it’s factual, but I’d like to believe it, so I didn’t look too hard to fact check. Anyway, while all of Rogers’ antics seem a little crazy to me, I have to admit, his work is pretty impressive.

Harkness Tower, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

Harkness Tower, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

At the end of the tour someone brought me back to reality by asking how much tuition at Yale was. I always knew Ivy League schools were expensive, but then I did the math. Four years at Yale would cost a quarter of a million dollars. A QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS. Like, what?! I know there’s financial aid, and scholarships, and stuff, but, still, who goes there?! A quarter of a million dollars. $63,000 per year. That’s more than twice what I made as a teacher in Arkansas. Crazy.

After the tour I swung back through the Art Gallery and was disappointed to find no Hokusai in the Asian Art wing. My feet now barely moving and crying for me to get off them, I made my way back to my car. I couldn’t wait to start the weekend long break from the trip I’d planned for myself. I was going to hide out for three days and not do anything except stay in my pjs and watch Netflix. It was going to be glorious and by the end I’d be ready to get back on the road and continue my adventures.