Do you want to know how the Central Park looked like during the Black Friday shopping madness?
That is a very calming natural light in the background.
Do you want to know how the Central Park looked like during the Black Friday shopping madness?
That is a very calming natural light in the background.
Where: San Francisco, U. S. A.
When: Sometime ago. Circa November 2012
This American city needs no introduction. It is most likely one of the top ten most popular cities in the United States. Many thanks to the famous Golden Gate (which is actually rust, or to be precise, international orange, in color) and the infamous Alcatraz who’s got its fair share of interesting Google entries.
If one only has a day to explore this wonderful city, one should take the hop on/ hop off bus, which I did. I actually had two days to spend there. But the second day was reserved for shopping and a well-deserved “chillaxing.”
In advance, I would like to ask for forgiveness for my “angry bird” eye brows. We, ladies, go through that phase, don’t we? Also forgive me for my godawful outfit combination. They were too bright they hurt my eyes too by looking at them. I must have been thinking of rainbows and unicorns while packing my stuff.
Meanwhile, we got on at SanFo Airport Train Station.
Got off at Powell Street Station. There is a huge Forever 21 store infront of it. One of my ladies went inside and simply disappeared. Tsktsk.
Downtown SanFo where the best shopping stores are.
Hop On-Hop Off Bus tour costs around 35 US$. If you are short of time and want to explore the city, the best way to do it is via a Hop On-Hop Off Double-Decker Bus tour. It takes you around to the most important tourists pit stops with the least hassle, with additional sites informations and also the best view.
My Arab conection from Egypt and Jordan.
The SanFo skyscraper begins.
Oooopssss….The red light district does not time discriminate.
The famous Saints Peter and Paul School, where O. J. Simpson studied as a kid.
The more famous Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral where Joe DiMaggio married his first wife and where he also posed with Marilyn Monroe after they wed at the SanFo City Hall.
Even when the couple divorced nine months later, Joe had ordered for fresh flowers delivered to her grave for twenty years.
Dropped by at the Fisherman’s Wharf. You may also rent a bike from here and cycle all the way to the Golden Gate bridge.
The Disneyland cruise ship dropping by too.
Not your ordinary skyscraper.
Guarded 24/7 by three creatures. Creeps.
Another interesting building with a story to tell. This is a building that was dedicated by a woman to the Firemen of San Francisco after they saved her from a burning house.
It was a hot day. 🙂
The flying books between the telephone wires caught my eye.
The world-famous Condor Night Club. It introduced to the world the first topless and bottomless stripteasing in the year of…what do you know…1969. 🙂
Just passed by the Lombard Street.
My perfect capture of the Alcatraz. 🙂
Ladies, what are you looking at?
The thick fog means we were almost near the bridge.
A place of love and tragedy.
As of press time, the number of suicides in the bridge totaled to almost two thousand. Most of them were caused by a broken heart.
It felt like a scene out of a zombie movie. The Golden Gate bridge amazed me, visible or not.
The view at the other end.
The most popular lookout and photo opportunity point.
The Golden Gate was a little shy today.
It is okay. Standing in your presence proved to be enough to me.
Words of love left behind for the sky to see and for the winds to listen to.
Thinking of you too.
Me and my girls.
…Because I cannot get enough of you.
Everywhere was fog.
Back to the bridge. I’ll see you again, Red Lady.
Under the bridge.
A welcome of rain.
Back to the downtown.
The last leaves of fall.
Up ahead is the most crooked street in the world–the Lombard Street.
Where I usually eat when in the USA. Where else?
My first letter to Santa at MACY’S!
Just an interesting trivia about Macy’s. Did you know that the two old couple in Titanic who died together in their bed was based on the deaths of the owners of Macy’s?
“Isidor and Ida Straus, co-owners of Macy’s, were on the Titanic. They were seen standing near Lifeboat No. 8 in the company of their maid, Ellen Bird. While the officer in charge of the lifeboat was willing to allow them a spot, Isidor Straus refused to go so long as there were women and children still remaining on the ship. His wife refused to go because he refused to go. She said, “We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go.” And they both went down with the Titanic.
Their story struck a chord with many. In fact, the creators of the movie Titanic even subtly tipped their hats to them. They were the old couple in the movie who went to sleep as the ship went down. A cenotaph at the Straus Mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx is dedicated to Isidor and Ida together. Its inscription reads: “Many waters cannot quench love – neither can the floods drown it.”
Done! Time to say good night. 🙂
That was a day well spent, I must say.
For useful tips to enjoying the sights, taste and sound of San Francisco, click here:
As I was growing up, the American dream had consumed the mindset of almost every single person in my hometown. Everyone just wanted to have that bright and golden opportunity to enter the United States. If they have to sell everything they got over here, they would do it if that was what it would take. The plane ride ticket to “America” seemed to be the end of the means. On the contrary, I have never dreamed of having to do anything in the US territory, except when it involves shopping and sightseeing.
Today’s Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre validated my disinterest even more. What happened today will forever be a nightmare to all mothers. I have a five-year old little boy of my own and my heart is bleeding from the inside. I am deeply sorry to say this, but the US is just so full of nutcases. The scary part is that they walk and fulfill their daily routine just like totally sane people. I have done several trips to the US and I have seen this with my own eyes. But all you need really is to watch the US television shows to know what I am talking about. Ever heard of “16 and Pregnant” and “Jon and Kate plus 8”, yes? A country full of these plus a lax gun law makes the perfect cocktail for random mass killings. I live in Mindanao, which is probably the least safe part of the Philippines. Schools, malls and public transportation get bombed from time to time. Rich families get kidnapped for ransom especially when it is almost election season. But when anything like that does happen, at least I know why.
May the 18 innocent souls rest in peace today and live in our hearts forever.
Praying for a stricter gun law in the US.
Today is a special day. I want to greet all the mommies out there for a job well done. There is no job more noble than sustaining the human race, right? So happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, who are basically every woman I know, except for one, my sister Maricon who is most likely a man in secret. 🙂 Peace.
I don’t really give too much fuss to Mother’s Day. With a family this cute, every day is a celebration. Let’s run away again to somewhere very far, please.
A few snapshots during our trip to Hongkong and Macau around 3 years ago. Our little baby started traveling very early. He is going to grow up like, Mommy. Forever restless in one spot.
I greeted the dawn of my 5th year of Mother’s Day celebration I don’t know how many feet above sea level. But it was very high up for sure because I was looking down at the Himalayas, most probably at similar mountain range where Mount Everest is located.
This was how the sun rises above the world’s tallest peaks.
17 hours later into the flight, we touched down at DFW in Dallas where the I know the softest bed known to me is waiting. It feels like sinking into a bed of baby feathers and dreaming of marshmallows and pink unicorns.
I have two double beds just for me at Marriott. We should have Marriott in every ultra long haul flights. We deserve sleep therapy after a long day’s mental and physical challenge.
I was supposed to go to the mall with Shuang, my colleague from China, but the two alarms that I set in my phone did not go off for some reason. Shuang did not call me either. I am starting to have a bad feeling for this room. Hahah!
So I followed the sidewalk to the right of the hotel. Three blocks away later, I did not find anything. My stomach monsters were growling like desperate lionesses on a prowl. I told myself that I would take the first restaurant that I would find. I did exactly that.
This was my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Of course, a pot of gold does not come cheap. I paid my dinner with my hard-earned blood and sweat. Hahah! But it was a delectable dinner. And it always feels good to be surrounded with people who dress up for dinner. The men came marching in with their suits and pomade in their hair. The ladies sashayed into the room in long dresses and high heels and some vintage pieces here and there. About 85% were senior citizens. That was how I know that I was going to have good food tonight.
I ordered the Lawry’s cut prime steak. The serving was humungous. It made my heart cry for the hungry people. It was weird to feel guilty with a very satisfied stomach.
The evil sauces. I tried first the one on the right. It tasted like a sour soap. The one on the left was like wasabi with a friendlier face. It attacked my nose and mouth like a Samurai warrior that I had to spit it out into my black colored table napkin.
I had buttered corn on the side which was simply heavenly.
My food was delivered by the chef in this cart. He cut my meat right in front of me.
Even an order of salad was a show. The chef would come with a cart to your table and would do some culinary action of salad mixing before delivering the plate to you.
A reserved table.
My imaginary date in front of me. Cheers to this lovely mother who was brave enough to take herself out on a dinner date. 🙂
Lawry’s prime rib waitress in the 50’s.
Lawry’s Prime Rib in Chicago.
That is all, ladies. Cheers and good night!
I made a flight to Houston and met up with this friend of mine who did the same flight a day earlier. When the crew arrived at the Hilton, he was there waiting for me at the lobby and carried my bags for me. The crew found it really sweet but when I introduced him as my husband just for the fun of it, no one believed me. Hahah. Oh well, I tried. 🙂
Moving on, he is one hell of a special friend who has energy like a nuclear power plant. He loves to sing. He loves to dance. He loves to host. He loves to be a celebrity. There is never a boring moment when he is around. 🙂 Thank you for the company when my husband was not yet in Dubai.
Meet David Cator.
Dinner at Cheese Factory and we met this lovely Vietnamese couple. Marriage should be like what they have. They have been married for over 20 years and yet they still find time to dress up, look dapper and pretty for a dinner date. They did not have those married couple bellies either so that was really nice.
P. S. For those who are still planning to eat at Cheesecake Factory, those cake servings are huge!!! One should suffice for two or three people. It was not even mind-blowing amazing so after like five teaspoonfuls you will have enough to last for a month of cake craving. 😉
After dinner, we walked around for a little Christmas shopping. Out of the blue, this Filipina lady stopped us for a conversation. She started really friendly and giving us the nicest compliments. We knew something was coming up from under her sleeves. Very soon she asked us money to donate to a charity for abandoned Filipino children. She was a very persuasive one at that. She seemed like a scam from head to toe. She must be a scam. And I have heard these Filipino ladies scam asking for money around the malls and train stations are becoming ubiquitous in the US and Canada. We gave her a dollar or two and left.
David went window shopping at Taghuer and Burberry with this transparent Bath and Body Works shopping bag that I have unwittingly taken with me. Told you he is one of a kind.
Shopping for my real husband’s underwear. Yep, he only wears Calvin Klein and Armani since he met me. Lucky YOU to have me, huh? 🙂
We went to the ice skating rink to have a Christmas-y feel by the giant Christmas Tree. Christmas season is a very lonesome time for OFWs. We gotta take what we can get.
Heading back to the hotel at ten in the evening…and we took the wrong bus and got lost!!! Help!!!
Safe again. Back to the hotel…for more photo shoots. 😉
I particularly love Hilton’s new bathroom amenities provider. Look at that fun-shaped soap bars. They smell like the forest too. I can’t resist taking them with me whenever I sleep at Hilton.
The first guest to have dinner at the new Paras residence for the showing of his travel documentary Byahe. Click here to view http://www.youtube.co/watch?v=jtFOFQvGUl4&feature=related
This was the first time I made leche flan and it turned out perfect!!! Lucky guest who ended up washing the dishes. 😀
Yes, that was him with his imaginary microphone, because I do not have one.
After several plans of going on a trip, the Cambodia trip was derailed…the Petra trip was postponed tentatively, we finally made it on this one. On the 3rd of November, Ricardo and I landed on the busiest airport in the USA—the John Fitzgerald Kennedy International Airport. And so we said, “Hello, New York!” 🙂
Living up to its reputation, the immigration and customs queue at JFK snaked its way for a number of meters. Ricardo was supposed to ride on the bus with the rest of the crew, but because it took him a long time at the queue, we had to leave him behind. That meant he had to find his way to the hotel alone. Oh, the expression on his face as I waved him goodbye, he looked like a helpless puppy. Still sorry for that, babe.
For some strange reason, yet admirable courage, but still stupid decision, and you don’t dare do that again, Ricardo hopped on a shady carlift instead of a real taxi. Yes he did exactly that, in New York, on his first time there, with a heavily accented guy that sounded very similar to the thugs in Scarface for a cab driver. It was one hell of a cab ride for sure, but in a real good way. Thank, God! Though his heart was pounding real hard the whole time, as what normal people coming from a small Asian city with a few hundred dollars on hand on his first time in New York on a random carlift would feel, the friendly Trinidadian/Tobagonian gave him a little personal tour to the streets of New York that kickstarted his NY trip. When I opened my hotel room door for him, I have never seen him that excited.
If you have only less than ten hours to explore Manhattan like we did, the first thing to do is to walk along Times Square. Times Square represents the ever fabulous caricature of New York—Manhattan, Broadway, Central Park, Grand Central Terminal, Empire State Building, the impeccably dressed men and women of Park Avenue, the bustling hordes of colorful tourists, the never ending stalls of souvenirs, the bright yellow cabs squeezed into a four-lane street and, of course, my favorite—the classic shoe box, brick buildings of New York.
My bag belongs in New York.
The charm of Times Square is just timeless. Due to the number of times we saw it on the television, our brief time of strolling felt like a scene from a movie. We saw the New Year’s Ball too on one of those huge TV screens. Ric got excited even when it was two months away from New Year. Imagine New Year’s Eve on that exact spot. It must be out of this world crazy!
I have always wanted to watch a show on Broadway. What better way to spend my first time to do it than during a vacation with Ric? The selection was extensive. I could not decide. Should I watch Chicago, Wicked, Hugh Jackman’s muscle on stage or see Brook Shields’ dance tango for me? You see what I mean? In the end, we entered the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre to see the Addams Family and bought two tickets for $127 each. Ric did feel the hemorrhage it caused on his pocket. But like what he said after that insane cab ride experience, “New York is one city I am willing to spend my money on.” It was all worth it.
I would have opted to devour a hotdog and coke in the seats that were arranged right in the middle of Times Square, but we ended up having an Italian dinner instead beside the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. It must be a pre-cursor to our first Broadway experience. The helpings were impossibly large. Good enough for three Asians for each serving. It made me wonder, do Americans have voracious appetite?
Moving on, we had to go back to the hotel because Ric left some cash outside of our locked suitcase. One important tip when traveling: Never leave anything of value outside a locked safe or outside your locked suitcase. Hotel staffs have their means of getting in your room and taking your staff. Yes, even with that Do Not Disturb sign hanging outside your door. If your things go missing, the hotel would not be responsible to any of it.
We had been awake for too long and the sight of our bed was like the apple in the garden offered by a snake. After struggling very hard to fight off the temptation to have a little nap, we managed to trudge our uncooperative legs outside and proceeded to look for the Central Park. We had only four hours left before our Broadway date. There were horse carriages, tricycle rides or bicycles for rent upon the entrance. We opted to just walk. It was a great day. The temperature was just chilly enough to feel the winter approaching. The trees were putting on their romantic shades of orange and yellow. The maple, of course, had turned red. Hopefully, in our next time, Ric would have the chance to see real snow. Even better, to catch the snowflakes with his tongue.
Next pit stop: Grand Central Station. It was a very long walk. We probably walked for a good 30 blocks. We should have felt tired. But other than a little stress on the soles of my feet, we were both fine. Our adrenaline rush helped a lot. Walking along Park Avenue would make you wonder how those fabulously rich people live. You see those posh apartments, the revolving doors and that interesting-looking doorman with a tail coat and a top hat, especially that pretty lady who just walked in through those revolving doors looking like a million dollar in heeled boots, a ridiculously expensive handbag, a seemingly permanent blow-dry and a smile that screamed, “I know I am fabulous!”
30 blocks away later of walking, we reached to the biggest train station in the world— the Grand Central Terminal. The Vanderbilt family built and owned the station, thus, the Vanderbilt Hall in the station. Their name would not be missed in the station. The Grand Central Terminal is a cavernous, classic building with a massive interior, Greek columns and a high ceiling with an elaborate astronomical painting by Giovanni Smeraldi. An American flag was hung in the Main Concourse a few days after the 9/11 attack. The most distinguished part of the Grand Central Terminal is perhaps the four-faced clock on top of the information booth in the middle of the Main Concourse. It is made entirely of opal and is estimated to be worth between $10 to $20 million dollars. With all those history and grandeur of the station, our experience at the Grand Central was almost magical. We had a Gossip Girl moment there for a few seconds. Good enough for me. 🙂
And so the day was young and we still had 2 hours left to squander. We walked farther along and found our footsteps greeting another famous but cooler landmark—the ice skating rink at the Rockefeller. I had skated on ice once before but I could not remember one damn thing about it. Therefore, I consider this time as my first time too. To get straight to the point, I looked affirmatively awkward in those ice skating shoes. But holding hands while skating felt wonderful. And we kissed right in the middle of the rink and immortalized it in a lomo photograph.
Next stop: eat New York hotdog. This is a very simple experience, but nonetheless, a must in New York. We got served by an Egyptian guy who guessed we were Sri Lankans. Whaaat?!?! Whatever, dude.
The last, but not the least—see Brooke Shields in Broadway. But before that, we had to take a photo at Times Square at night. Those LCD screens were even brighter. It felt like some fantasy land with so much colors. It had to be. I told Ric you could never feel lonely in this place. On second thought, it could be so lonely too with those too many people around you.
Every step closer to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre was another serious dose of excitement. We were too tired though. A tall glass of coke was only good for at most ten minutes. But Brooke Shields was wonderful. And she was so close I could see the lines on her face. It was another list off my Bucket List, probably on my husband’s too. 🙂
After that very long day, our beds felt like heaven. It was another amazing day in our long list of travels abroad. Long list of first times too. And thank you dear husband for that beautiful frame you bought for me.
Cheers to many more perfect days like this.
Date: September 9, 2011
My idea of a great travel is always the one unplanned where I just need to sit back and relax and enjoy the spontaneity of the moment. There would be no time pressure of where I needed to go and I would have no damn notes to follow of what to accomplish for the day. My last visit to Los Angeles was one of such. I did not have any plans for two days. When Anacio invited me out, I thought it might be better than just to stay put in the hotel.
Starting my day right with:
The day after.
Alana’s driver’s license was used to get a car though it was Anacio who took the wheel. Men are always better with directions so even if we were sorry for him for driving the whole day, he had to. Besides, I love being in the passenger’s seat. I could take a nap whenever i want and I could enjoy thinking about a thousand things in my mind while watching trees and houses pass by in a blur. So go ahead, boy. Drive! 🙂
The weather outside was really lovely. Quite warm for a BER month. I had my cardigan on but it proved to be a hassle later on. Alana and I had our bikinis under our clothes because we were heading to the beach while Anacio brought along his longboard.
We finally arrived in Venice Beach around 40 minutes later. It was a wonderful way to start any day. I was in hippies heaven. This was this whole avenue of restaurants and stores selling cool stuff from souvenirs, skateboards, beach outfits and “medicinal” marijuana. There were some hawkers laying their wares on the sidewalk like dream catchers, herbal incense and many other stuff that were too weird to identify.
Perhaps the main attraction were the homeless people with lots of sense of humor. Here are some photos from the web.
Other homeless pickup lines include:
I wanna be a pornstar. Need money for penis enlargement.
I need money to reduce penis size.
Pay advice: 1$
I need$$$ to buy beer to get wife drunk so I can get laid.
There was one homeless who got “Feed me. I’m homeless” on one side of his cardboard when the cops were doing rounds and “Need pot?” on the other when the cops had left.
Next stop was Mount Hollywood.
What is a Los Angeles tour without stopping by the Walk of Fame?
Hello there, Beverly Hills.
Seafood for dinner.
Now, flying back to Dubai.