I have discovered one of the downsides of hostels: the shared rooms.  My roommates are from all over the world, but many were coming in at 3am and unpacking.  I had to be up at 6:30.  It just means that I made time for a nap today.

We walked through Times Square again this morning.  This time I didn’t get lost and it was much more fun to look around.  I even started noticing New York’s version of food carts.  In Portland, we have many very gourmet food carts that serve everything from soup to donuts, to ethiopian and korean food, to thai food and all-vegan southern food.  They are present in parking lots throughout the city generally in large groups called ‘pods’ which are essentially an outdoor, ethnically diverse, food court.  These are an extremely popular destination for business professionals and pretty much anyone who works downtown.  A great website on Portland food carts can be found here: http://www.foodcartsportland.com/

In New York, the street food is just the bare essentials: coffee, bagels, muffins, hot dogs, fruit, and the occasional gyro from small carts that are spaced far bewtween and usually along corners.  However, I found one cart near Times Square that makes artesian empanadas.  That sounds more like Portland.  So perhaps it is a trend that is catching on?  I hope to do more exploring while we are here and see what else I can find.

This afternoon when we made it back to the hostel for a nap, Portlandia was playing in the movie room.  It was a nice little taste of home.  The best part were some kids from Harvard commenting ‘woah, do they really do that?’  And folks, just in case we were unclear, yes.  Portland is just that weird.

My classmates and I met up at the conference in the afternoon and we went out for happy hour.  I am pretty blown away by how expensive restaurants are in New York!  I knew things were more expensive, and obviously they have sales tax, but still.  $11 for four chicken pieces and $7 for a bottle of domestic beer, before tax?  The hostel we are at provided recommendations for nearby food stores, so today I finally wandered over and picked up groceries.   I was able to get breakfast and dinner food for about $10 even with tax.  Thank goodness.

After getting food, my classmates went to more presentation sessions and I decided to check out the Museum of Modern Art, as they have free admissions on Friday night.  It was amazing!  Completely packed, but I am so glad that I went.

 They had Van Gough, Monet, Andy Warhol, and Salvador Dali pieces, along with five floors of modern sculpture, painting, photo and design exhibits.

The conference has been very interesting and educational so far.  There was a session I attended on sustainability in the New Zealand wine industry, one on community-based environmental conservation, a grad student pannel, and a graduate student networking reception.  There is much more tomorrow, including my presentation!  Now I’m back at the hostel, eating dinner in the common dining room, and feeling like it has been three days since I woke up this morning.

50th Street Station