Saturday, January 28, 2012

Emerald City

Emerald City, The Land of Oz

"Once upon a time..."
"One short day, in the Emerald City,
One short day, full of so much to do.
Every way, that you look in the city,
There's something exquisite, you'll want to visit,
Before the day's through.
There are buildings tall as Quoxwood trees.
Dress salons!  Libraries!
Palaces!  Museums! A hundred strong.
There are wonders like I've never seen.
It's all grand!  And it's all green...
So I'll be back for good someday,
To make my life and make my way,
But for today, we'll wander and enjoy."

Listening to Galinda's and Elphaba's description of the Emerald City in "One Short Day" is like reading a guide book, and any location you can imagine becomes a plausible travel destination when you travel a lot.  So, why not check it out?  Emerald City sounded like the perfect day trip.  There was, "so much time and so little to do.  Wait.  Strike that.  Reverse it." Thanks to Dorothy and Toto, I knew that Emerald City was dog-friendly, so I invited Maddie Beagle to join me.

It was worth a try.
I admit that planning a day trip to Emerald City was a little more difficult than I anticipated.  The first problem is how to get there.  Somewhere over the rainbow doesn't have an airport.  I'm pretty sure the yellow brick road is a myth, since I couldn't find one anywhere.  Google maps wasn't much help either.  I was really stuck, so I decided to take the train.  I figured taking the Green Line from Platform 9 3/4 might get me somewhere.  If any train went to Emerald City, this would definitely be it.

Unfortunately, when I launched myself at the wall in the station, I didn't get transported through to the other side.  Instead, I got a few scratches and a serious head ache.  Wrong story...oops!

Tricky Business 

Still determined to make it to Emerald City, I thought that perhaps climbing through a forest might get me somewhere.  It was really green, so I gave it a try.  Unless you're serious about going on vacation, I don't recommend using this as your transportation.  It's fun for about five minutes.  Several hours later, I reached the edge of the forest and fell off the ropes from exhaustion. Since I can't defy gravity, I fell pretty hard.  As someone told me lately, everyone deserves a chance to fly.  Sadly, this wasn't my chance.  I know that sounds bad, but the funny thing about Emerald City is that you can only get there if you're asleep.  It all worked out perfectly!  (Never mind the health side effects.)

With an even worse head ache than before, "I closed my eyes.  In a somewhat dreamy state, I drew back a curtain, to see for certain, and the next thing I knew, I was at the beach with a rowboat, Maddie Beagle, and a lovely pearl earring and necklace set.

Doesn't everyone wear pearls in their dreams?  Everything had gotten more green than it was before, so I knew I was getting closer.  Unsure of what to do next, I hopped into the rowboat with Maddie, and rowed away from the shore.  

Rowing through the Cave

For a while, I rowed along happily, though I figured my rowing technique was probably poor.  Three and a half hours later, I rowed into a cave with unusual things hanging from the low ceilings.  Concerned by the strange look of the place, I wondered if rowing all this way had been a mistake.  In creepy places, "night time sharpens, heightens each sensation.  Darkness stirs, and wakes imagination."  Maddie trembled and put her tail down, and I exclaimed, "Seriously, why is it so hard to get to Emerald City?"  There was almost no sunlight in the cave, and I worried that we would get lost in the winding passages.  "There's no knowing where we're rowing, or which way the river's flowing.  Is it raining?  Is it snowing?  Is a hurricane a-blowing?  Not a speck of light is showing, so the danger must be growing."

Resting after Rowing
Against my better judgement, I decided to keep going, mostly because I didn't want to row all the way back.  Maddie began to crinkle her nose and leaned over the edge.  Alarmed, I firmly scolded, "Sit down, you're rockin' the boat!"  Back in balance, I looked up and noticed a most unusual set of buildings.  We rowed as close as we could to the curious structures, and I rinsed off my hands.  Maybe someone in one of the buildings could give us directions to Emerald City.

Witch Village
As we walked closer to the buildings, the shimmering, green light weakened.  Maddie and I took the changing light as a sign that we were headed in the wrong direction, away from Emerald City.  What we didn't know was that in addition to going the wrong way, we had just docked our row boat at the Wicked Witch of the West's palace.  Note to future travelers: Avoid this stop!

If the changing light wasn't enough of an indication to turn back, the Witch Village sign certainly was.  In the spirit of exploring new places and learning about different people, we decided to continue into Witch Village.  It wasn't Emerald City, but we were exhausted and desperately needed a break.  Well, I was exhausted from climbing, falling, and rowing.  Maddie was exhausted because she had only gotten 14 of her usual 18 hours of sleep that day.

We decided to skip the famous Wax Museum in favor of venturing directly into the Wicked Witch's castle.  Good idea?  No.  Great story?  Totally.  In any case, I found a book on her coffee table called The Book of Spells, and couldn't resist checking it out.  How do you not glance through a book like that when the opportunity arises?

I reached for my camera to take a picture of a spell for success, but found a much more interesting section of the book - the Wicked Witch's diary!  The first entry read:

"Summer Dreams, Ripped at the Seams because Everyone's a Little Bit Racist"

"I had been getting to know him, getting to know all about him, getting to like him, and getting to hope he liked me," when he sent me a birthday card with a cruel poem.

"I once heard a poem that goes:
"A rose is a rose is a rose."
But I don't agree,
Take it from me,
There's one rose greener than any that grows." 
But, "don't praise my charm too much,
People will say we're in love,"
And I've only just, "grown accustomed to your face."

The diary entry continued:

"I decided then and there to, "wash that man right out of my hair."  Why not try a spell from my diary to help?  (One hour later)  "What is this chanting?  I don't even know what I'm reading!  I don't even know what trick I ought to try."  Oops...not that one.  "It happens every time.  They all become blueberries!"  This was clearly not one of those "I can do anything better than you" moments.

Furious, I, "closed every door to me, hid all the world from myself, barred all the windows, and shut out the light."  Even the light at the end of the tunnel.  I was on my own, and the world was full of happiness that I had never known.  I suppose that when you're a witch, you're a witch all the way, "from your first cigarette to your last dying day."  

Saddened by her tragic story, Maddie and I decided to leave a note with some advice.  If the witch just tried whistling a happy tune, maybe the sun would come out tomorrow.  Maddie's general life advice was "Hakuna Matata."  I grabbed a pen to write down our messages, when the walls crashed around us and this crazy lady appeared from a hazy cloud.  She had hair like Medusa, and it seemed to cackle.  Maddie, the friendliest beagle ever, actually growled.  This lady, who I figured was the Wicked Witch, was furious that I had read her diary.
Arriving on Land
She was so angry that she stole my rowboat.  That ice queen really needs to cheer up and put on a happy face.  After all, "You're never fully dressed without a smile."  Unamused, her face twisted into all these creepy shapes that are only possible in a nightmare, and her snake-hair snapped at us.  Maddie and I sensed it was time to leave, but leaving without a rowboat was complicated.  This Emerald City trip looked more and more like a fiasco at every turn.

I spent the next several hours wading through the water while carrying Maddie because Princess Maddie doesn't like water.  Whatever Maddie wants, Maddie gets.  At least you can instantly change into waterproof overalls in a dream.  After what seemed like forever, I spotted the shore line and waded over.  The return of Emerald City's glow reassured us that we were once again traveling in the right direction.

A long way to go...
Leaving the water, we gazed out over a desert that extended as far as we could see.  Maddie and I had a long hike ahead of us, and we knew we should get a running start if we ever wanted to make it to Emerald City.  

Maddie and I were both hungry, and we knew we needed to get out of the desert as soon as possible if we wanted to make it to Emerald City before dark. I thought we might find a Starbucks on the way since their logo is green, but sadly that plan didn't come to fruition.  Once or twice, Maddie started to eat what few plants we saw.  

The Tunnel
I promised her that we would stop for green tea, a drink with kiwi jam and bread when we arrived.  Just as the desert ended, we came upon a tunnel, much like one I had seen before.  Music played and we skipped joyously through the tunnel as fast as our six legs would carry us.  The green glow had intensified and there was a blinding sparkle at the end of the tunnel.

Sprinting as fast as we could, Maddie and I raced through the opening and caught our first breathtaking glimpse of Emerald City!  We had finally found it!  Tiny Maddie runs way faster than me since she has twice as many legs, so she slipped through the fence and pranced ahead to sniff out a path.  We were so close to the Emerald City, yet still so far away.  This place was harder to access than a remote, Pacific island without cell towers!  We had literally had to, "climb every mountain, ford every stream," and go, "somewhere over the rainbow."

Our first view of Emerald City

"Maddie," I exclaimed, "Do you hear the munchkins sing?"  She paused, glancing at me from the hills, and waited for me to make an obvious Sound of Music reference, but I didn't.  It seemed a little over the top.  Instead, we listened:

"Let your mind start a journey 
to a strange new world.  
Leave all thoughts of 
the life you knew before."  
You can, "spread your wings,
and do a thousand things, 

you've never done before."

Just as Maddie rolled over to scratch her back in the sunny field, the two of us were whisked away into the strangest swirl of green light you can imagine.  By strange, I mean that it defied physics.  Our faces stretched and Marissa dropped in to say a quick bonjour. With one look at my frizzy hair, she shrieked, "Ooh...wicked!"  Raising an eyebrow, I replied, "Don't. Even. Go there."  Maddie's floppy ears blew in the wind as we sped through the green light.  Judging by the Harry Potter movies, I guessed we had "aparated," to somewhere.  Marissa pointed out that we probably we not "aparating," and cited my Platform 9 3/4 debacle. 

On the way to Emerald City
The swirls of light slowed and transformed into balls of green light floating through the air and gently deposited us into a platformed room.  Maddie wasn't sure about this unusual place, and tilted her head in effort to figure out where we were.  Taking a closer look at the balls of light, I realized they were bubbles, and got the idea that we needed to somehow travel to Emerald City in a bubble.  

Bubble Transport
I wasn't sure how to get myself into a bubble, but I figured it couldn't be that much more difficult than navigating the T, the Metro, or the Tube.  I didn't have much time to think about it though, because a few minutes later, a Dana-sized bubble arrived for us.  As it hovered near us and opened, a recorded voice proclaimed, please take a, "jump to the left, then a step to the right.  Put your hands on your hips, and bring your knees in tight!"  I glanced at Maddie as if to say, "Is that like "Mind the gap?""  

With mixed joy and anxiety, I leaped into the bubble, not pausing to consider if it was delicate, and Maddie followed.  Most bubbles would have broken, but this one held us, so I assumed we were really on the way to Emerald City at last, and finally, I was right!  With a long ride ahead, we were delighted to see that they were serving green tea ice cream that afternoon on the Bubble Transport.  They also had green lemonade, just like at OSRUI!  It was..."Not too sweet.  Not too sour.  Just"  Later in the ride, Munchkin-Sam, the attendant, offered us a breakfast of green eggs and ham.  Politely, I declined the breakfast by reciting, 
Green Tea Ice Cream

"I do not like green eggs and ham, 
I do not like them, Munchkin-Sam."  

Not surprisingly, Maddie's answer was a little different:

"I like green eggs and ham!
I do!  I like them, Munchkin-Sam!
And I will eat them here and there,
And I will eat them anywhere!" 

A few minutes before landing, we were advised to put on sunglasses and to wear them until we had adjusted to the shocking shimmer of the Wizard's castle so as not to hurt our eyes, and the recorded voice announced, "Consider yourself, at home.  Consider yourself, one of us."
The bubble delicately plopped us onto the ground, and popped, leaving us right in front of the Wizard's castle - the perfect place to finally begin our "One 'Short' Day."  Like the excellent tourists we are, we posed for a couple of pictures in front of the iconic palace of the famous, albeit phony, Wizard of Oz.  For a brief moment, we wondered if the green light would harm our skin, and if we would look funny in our pictures.  Deciding not to worry about it, we climbed the many, many stairs to the palace's doors and purchased tickets for the official tour with a Munchkin guide.

Photos were only allowed in one room of the Wizard's palace: The Hall of Mirrors.  He didn't want any more mishaps with people finding out he was just a man hiding behind a curtain.  We almost, "looked right through him, walked right by him, and never knew he was there."  Though his castle is a top 10 tourist attraction year after year, visiting the Wizard himself has become unpopular since his exposure as a fraud.  The Hall of Mirrors was our favorite room in the castle because all the mirrors were warped and grossly distorted our images.  Maddie was a little surprised when her head changed shape, so I guess she does realize that her reflection is an image of her.  She's a good travel buddy, so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.

Just outside of the Wizard's palace, we found a cutout of the Wicked Witch with an empty hole for the face so that tourists could insert their faces.  Photo opp!  The cutout looked a lot friendlier than the witch we had met earlier.  Thinking back, I couldn't remember if we had escaped from her five hours ago or five days ago.  Time had either ceased or started racing, but I wasn't sure which.  Maddie didn't know either.  After all, "How do you measure, measure a year?"  We were rather disoriented by this, and decided to leave the palace and do some shopping.  Galinda's lyrics assured us there was great shopping in town, so we resolved to check it out.  
On the way there, we saw the first street sign since arriving in Emerald City: Bicycles Prohibited.  Like good tourists, we were quick to photograph the sign.   Obviously, bicycles were prohibited since the Wicked Witch was known to ride around on her bike quite often.  The fine print read, "Ya got trouble.  Right here in Emerald City.  With a capital T, and that rhymes with B, which stands for bike...or broom."  We were surprised there was no sign prohibiting people from riding broomsticks.
Galinda was right.  Or did she go by "Glinda" then?  Either way, she was one singular sensation, truly high-flying, and we adored her.  Emerald City has great shopping!  To begin our spree, we stopped into a store called "The Ruby Slipper." After browsing for a minute or two, I was overjoyed to find that all the shoes were my size.  Only in a dream could I walk into a shoe store and find that the shoes are only sold in narrow sizes.  We left the store with a pile of green, "paper packages, tied up with string."  I had chosen a sparkly pair of ruby colored heels.  

As soon as I put on the heels, I was reminded that Dorothy's words, "There's no place like home."  I wasn't sure how to hail a bubble to get back through all that green light, and I hoped the shoes would do the trick.  The sun was setting - with a green sunset, of course - and as any good traveler knows, that means your day trip is ending.  From the moment we arrived in the city, and blinking, stepped into the glow, there was more to see, than could ever be seen, and more to do than could ever be done.                                                   If you're looking for a wild and unusual day trip, give Emerald City a try.  Satisfied with our sublime destination choice, Maddie and I were carried away in the same unusual way we had arrived.  Our marvelous day trip vanished as a bubble bursts, and we were very glad we had chosen to visit the magical and marvelous Emerald City.
Credits: To everyone who wrote all those original lyrics and quotations, thank you!

Photo Key
2. Kingscross Station, London and Kenmore Station, Boston
3. New Hampshire
4. Cape Ann, Mass.
5. Madrid - Parque del Retiro
6. Belize
7. Valencia - Ciutat de les artes y ciències
8. Salem, Mass.
9. Salem, Mass.
10. Natick, Mass. - Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary
11. Israel
12. Salzburg, Austria - Mirabell Gardens
13. Israel
14. MAC
15. Madrid - Museo de la Reina Sofía
16. Madrid - Miss Sixty on C/Fuencarral
17. Coral Gables, Miami - Moon Thai
18. Key Biscayne - Crandon Beach
19. Chicago
20. Montmartre, Paris
21. MAC
22. Salem, Mass.
25. Marsh Plaza, Boston University

I wasn't kidding when I said I went everywhere to find Emerald City!


  1. your blog pots are too long to read in one sitting. but i really like the green photos. super cute.

    1. I guess they're designed for a longer attention span. I considered breaking this one into three sections, but preferred to keep it all together. You could read it in little bits if you wanted to though. Glad you like the photos!

  2. Dana -
    This is fabulous! I didn't know that you are such a clever writer!

    Aunt Beth

    1. Thanks so much! I'm really glad you enjoyed it.