03 February 2009


downtown Akron
Hi everyone and welcome (again)! Today's weather in beautiful Noo Joisey is probably a snowstorm. I'm not too sure because when you say storm/typhoon in the Philippines, it usually means extremely heavy rain and strong winds that sometimes howl. Snow is deceptively light and benign-looking, though I'm aware there's a lot of danger in it. And since it's not falling straight down, I guess that means it's a snowstorm. I took the opportunity of being stuck indoors to clean the bathroom, throw a robe over my pajamas so as not to titillate my neighbors too much, and struggle with the garden hose outside in the snow to blast the patina of germs on the trash can into oblivion. And now the time has come to post again, yay! And I begin with a tour of the first non-Joisey city I visited in the East coast: Akron, Ohio.
First thought: wow, it's kind of a winter wonderland. Only lake Erie is separating it from Canada. So cold that the skin of my legs threatened to progress into an ichthyosis-like state. My heels progressed as much, and I got two cracks on each foot, minute but enough to cause sharp pain with each step. I didn't let that deter me from getting my "tour" in, though. By now they are completely healed (and lint-from-socks-free, ugh) thanks to CVS Pharmacy's Heel Balm (for general and diabetic foot care) and a pumice stone (healed amazingly quickly-- 3 days). Rest of my skin managed with advanced therapy moisturizing lotion.
My experience on my first day was marred by extreme worry, though. You see, for some reason, my flight got canceled the night before, so no thanks to Travelocity (whose outsourced helpline assured me that the flight was not canceled despite all the websites and their mothers saying so) and thanks to Delta airlines for getting me an alternate flight, albeit after a 45-minute hold on the phone call. On the flight itself, we waited for some obscure reason for an hour before taking off, and opening the door after the flight took a long time too. Twenty minutes late for my boarding time on the connecting flight, I took a mad dash through the airport at Detroit, into another terminal (those concourses stretch out for MILES). With only about ten minutes to go before the plane took off, I almost passed out in my seat catching my breath and scaring my seat-mate. My face fell when in Akron, my luggage didn't arrive. I was trying to imagine how my interviewer would react if I came there in my day-old civvies. Thankfully, after 10 hours (11:30 in the evening), Northwest delivered my luggage to the hotel.
Walking the streets of Akron quite worried, the first thing I asked myself was, "Where is everybody?" It was a Sunday afternoon, and besides the occasional pedestrian (and one or two vagrants), only the skating rink had children and their parents. The latter was quite comforting. It appears that yesterday's (?) snowstorm had made everyone cuddle up in bed. Nice, then, that I had pictures to take, because that particular activity is no fun on your own (heh). However, after a bit of walking, I noticed that the main reason no one was around is because everything was closed on Sunday. Even the neighborhood Subway in downtown Akron (where the hospital and hotel was) closed extremely early. So, what we have are pictures of outdoor tables with snow dumped on them.
The room at Akron City Centre Hotel (formerly the Radisson) was amazing, primarily because of the existence of a Jacuzzi in the room. Also an activity more fun with 2+ people, but that didn't deter me from trying it out the night of my interview while watching Law and Order: SVU.
Akron City Centre Hotel
The Akron Art Museum was an imposing, interesting structure, and sadly closed the time I was there. I hear that many were quite opposed to it because it was too vastly different. My only concern is the function behind its form. (Makes a cool logo, though.)
A peek inside the HUGE library-- did not enter due to lack of time, sigh.
After my interview, we toured the areas outside downtown Akron, and I was extremely impressed by the houses I saw. Almost seemed like those ones they sell during Christmas with the single light source inside.
We also got to see Lebron James's house. Pic doesn't do it justice.
Lebron James's House
And now we go to the food. There are quite a few renowned restaurants in downtown Akron. It's quite obvious that the mayor of Akron is trying to remake downtown into a more cosmopolitan area, with upscale bars, restaurants, and retail stores (much like downtown El Segundo), but it's quite difficult to see in the dead of winter. One of the easily-spotted restaurants was the Chophouse, primarily Italian in influence.
Blurry pic of the interior.
The Original Chophouse Salad. My first order was the Lobster rolls, but they were all out, so I settled for this one. I'm still unused to American produce rules but obviously one shouldn't order something with fresh tomatoes in January. Even with the pieces of bacon, it was lacking sweetness, and entirely too large for just me. Could have served four people generously, and I ate half of it.
My server Sonia looked delighted when I ordered the Banana Cream Pie-- it's one of her favorites, she said. It was immense, but I didn't have a problem finishing the whole thing! (Have you met me?) The custard was a tad too gelled and solid (needs a little less gelatin for that "give"), but I have to say the neat presentation makes up for it. Bananas were ripe and delicious, custard not too sweet. Too much whipped cream but I was very satisfied with the dessert.
During our interview, a few residents took the interviewees (myself, Gabrielle, Bords, and Sanjay) to lunch at Bricco (everyone pronounced it Brick-oh, but I thought it was Italian-influenced, so I called it Brrrich-o). The appetizers were amazing-- my favorite was the pita crisps with tomato and goat cheese dip. I had the crab cake sandwich (good and huge! Again), and I had a peach-mango gelato for dessert.
Akron City Centre Hotel Bar
During my one day of luggagelessness I had my dejected dinner at the hotel bar (since even Subway was closed), and I was very pleased that the prices weren't exorbitant as I had come to expect from hotels. The chicken sandwich coated with barbecue sauce was simple, but it really hit the spot after a cold day. As is my usual, I peppered the whole thing with fresh ground... pepper.
Akron City Centre Hotel Bar chicken sandwich
I sat at the bar and an American football game was playing. I wish I understood anything about it. (Er, Wikipedia?) I was like, "Hey, nice catch! Good play!"
Akron City Centre Hotel Bar (drinks)
I wish I could have shown more because downtown Akron isn't really Akron-Akron: there are the suburbs, residential areas, malls, and shops. It just isn't that accessible without a car, unfortunately. Even with a ton of snow dropped on top of it, I still saw glimmers of life and activity in the city, and the promise of progress.

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