Saturday, October 5, 2019

[PRINCETON] Princeton Campus Tour

Last stop, Princeton! I booked a Megabus ticket for $1 from NY to NJ and a $12.50 ticket going back. Yes, you can get $1 bus tickets on Megabus if you book early and if you select a not so popular departure time. The surprise of the day was how we all ended up on a Suburban bus, which had WiFi but no power outlets like Megabus does. But hey, for a $1 interstate bus ride am I really allowed to complain? Heading to New Jersey takes an hour and a half. Double that to 3 hours if going back to Manhattan on a late Friday afternoon.

Even then, Princeton is still doable as a daytrip if you are just exploring the campus, especially if you arrive in the morning. In my case I arrived after lunch and had to leave by 4 PM, which gave me just a little over 3 hours to roam around. It wasn’t enough because Princeton’s campus is really big, the biggest among the three Ivy League campuses I’ve visited on this trip. Unlike Brown and Yale, though, Princeton’s campus is its own municipality and does not spill over to an urban sprawl, which means peace and quiet.

Yeah, I guess that’s the thing I like most about Princeton. It’s like UP Los Baños perhaps, far away from the hustle and bustle of the big city but not that inaccessible for you to easily get out of it. I mean, it’s just an hour and a half away from Manhattan after all. Given the large campus littered with old buildings and patches of green meadows, the feel is just different. It’s as if you wouldn’t even run out of quiet spaces where you can just lay under the sun and reflect on the best of ideas. Not a lot of distractions!

The bus drops you off at Palmer Square along Nassau Street. You can always rely on Google Maps to see how big Princeton’s campus grounds really are, extending all the way south to the canals of Carnegie Lake. It’s Nassau Hall that will greet you as you enter the university gates. Aside from being the oldest building of the university, it also became the seat of government after Princeton was declared the provisional capital of the United States for a few months in 1783 in the conclusion of the American War of Independence against Great Britain.

Wow, full of history. There are a lot of colonial buildings here, you won’t run out of photo-ops to be honest. I started my tour at Nassau Hall and then headed west southwards. If you look at a map of Princeton on Google then you’ll realize that you are going to need to go from north to south and then from south to north and many more times like that to see everything. In my case I chose the rows with the old colonial buildings. I mean, they start to look the same after a while, you know.

The Richardson Auditorium is to the west of Nassau Hall. That will be on your right coming from the main gate of Nassau Street. I had no idea that this was an auditorium because it looked like a church. It’s one of the memorable buildings I saw there because of its style that distinguishes it from the rest. Walking farther towards the direction of Princeton University Store brings you to an arch with a tower or two. It’s picturesque like that but Google Maps won’t tell me what its name is. Photo snapped, I continued walking.

Heading south I passed by several halls. Laughlin Hall. 1901 Hall. Halls galore. I could only guess if they are for residence or for classes. The walls on the right side had sculptures on them, more like white embossed depictions of US history with titles like Battle of Princeton and the like. Head farther south and you will reach Spelman Hall which has this totem thingy in front of the building. The courtyard in front of it has a collection of animal heads, not real but for display. I think that was in front of Whitman College.

I took a short break and bought water at the convenience store where the local buses stop. After that I headed east for more colonial buildings. The area down south looks interesting on the map because of the abundance of green spaces, but me getting lost meant ending up at Class of 1895 Field, where there were tents and people playing a weird game of shoot a small sack of sand in a hole a hundred meters away or so away from you. I don’t know if that’s a sport, to be honest. Perhaps it’s university tradition?

Heading north back to Nassau Hall meant seeing more colonial buildings. There were two that looked like mausoleums, with their white Doric columns evoking ancient Greece or Rome. I also saw a pair of silver tiger statues opening to a courtyard. Princeton Tigers, yeah! Later I’ll see another pair, this time in steel right next to the stadium, which was empty when I went there and so cathartic to look at. Or maybe it was just the interplay between the green grass and the orange motif that amused me?

Looking at the map, there was so much more to explore but I had no energy left so I went to Princeton Pi & Hoagie for some pasta and to charge my phone. After that I had around half an hour left which I spent at Labyrinth Books, which was WOW. Their collection of Latin/Greek as well as French, German, Spanish, Italian, and some Portuguese literature for sale is way better than Yale’s. I wanted to shop but I had no more luggage space left. Who am I kidding, right? I settled for four thin novels in four different languages.

The trip back to Manhattan took longer as expected. This was no longer a surprise because I experienced this chaotic traffic first hand the first time I landed in Newark two years or so ago. The thing about the Suburban buses is that they are not Point-to-Point like Megabus or Bolt Bus. Suburban buses heading back to Manhattan tend to stop at almost all bus stops from Princeton all the way to New Brunswick. In any case, that’s just New York traffic during the end of the week. At least the bus has WiFi, but do bring a power bank with you just to be sure.

[PRINCETON] Princeton Campus Tour

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