Sunday, December 30, 2012

Loving the Sky Experience Adventure

I have been wanting to try the Sky Experience Adventure ever since it opened at the Crown Regency Hotel and Towers in Cebu City. However, none of my Cebu-based friends were too keen to plunge into this kind of adventure while the willing souls were a thousand miles away.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Disney on Ice on Christmas Day

After attending mass, the family spent the afternoon watching Disney characters glide on the ice-laden Smart Araneta Center. Thanks to Riza and Annie Pinpinio, we got to watch the first of the many shows of Disney on Ice Presents Princesses and Heroes this holiday season. Plus Mommy has long wanted to watch this show.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Glorious Sunset at the Manila Bay

Witnessing the beautiful sunset

I haven't seen the famous Manila Bay Sunset after having left the urban jungle a decade ago.  And even back then, I seldom get to see it because I was living somewhere in the northeastern grid of the metropolis.

However, last month, I was lucky enough to witness the horizon turn gold one moment and fiery orange the next. We were cruising down Roxas Boulevard at around the same time that the sun was about to set. And while I was taking it all in, I just couldn't help myself from clicking away as I try to freeze that afternoon's glorious moment.

Colmar Tropicale and Japanese Village: European and Asian Living inBerjaya Hills Resort

Here's the highlight of my travel to Malaysia last year. Thanks again to my friend CM who suggested we include this in our itinerary.

From Batu Caves, we proceeded to the Berjaya Hills. The travel took us about an hour with the slow moving traffic which seemed to be following us from Kuala Lumpur all the way to Bukit Tinggi.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fullhouse Lifestyle Store and Cafe in Kuala Lumpur

One of my friends suggested that we try dining at Fullhouse Lifestyle Store and Cafe once we reach Kuala Lumpur. To cure our curiosity, we decided to have dinner at Fullhouse.

Upon entering the cafe, you immediately get the homey vibe. The whole place was done in white and with December just a few days away, it was festive with Christmas trimmings; a perfect place for a photo shoot.

We Meet Again, Malaysia!

Petronas Towers

The first time I visited Malaysia, particularly Kuala Lumpur, was in September 2005. We were on vacation in Singapore and my Mom and I decided to make a side trip to Kuala Lumpur. So in all of a little less than twenty-four hours, we found ourselves boarding a bus to Kuala Lumpur, enduring the horrendous traffic in KL, having nasty bouts with cab drivers, making our way to the bridge of the Petronas Towers, gobbling a quick supper at a fast food joint and catching the bus back to Singapore. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: Airborne

I think I have logged in the most number of air miles and flew in different airlines in a month in this trip.  From the so-called red-eye flights to afternoon and evening flights and flying from one time zone to another which can be disorienting to the body clock. So here's my take on the different airlines we took for this journey.

Korean Air (

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: Film Realm at Universal Studios

One last touristy thing we did before we rounded up the Star-Spangled Journey was to visit the Universal Studios Hollywood. Being such a big fan of the movies especially with the behind-the scenes stuff, this was my Disneyland. I definitely got a kick out of this day visit to this filmdom and one whole day wasn't enough as we missed out some of the other attractions because the park closed at 6:00 p.m. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: A Taste of San Francisco

Food tripping in San Francisco with our all-around guides Tina and Eli Africa.


This chocolate and ice cream shop was the brainchild of Domingo Ghirardelli, an Italian who migrated to the United States during the Gold Rush. It has been serving the public since 1852.

Starting our day by choosing from among the many sinfully delicious treats at the Ghirardelli shop.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: The Sights of San Francisco

After our Napa tour, we spent the remainder of our days in San Francisco seeing the sights and enjoying the flavors of the city. Thanks to our tour guides, high school and college school mate and fellow Sidling Cristina Arinto-Africa and her hubby, Eli Africa (our professional photographer, haha!) who are now currently based in the Bay Area. This trip was also a reunion for us since it has been a long time (was it a decade) since we last saw each other. If my memory serves right, we haven't seen each other since our graduation from UP.

I've compiled in a video the scenes of San Francisco.

Sightseeing in San Francisco
from Sojourner Sol on Vimeo.

San Francisco is a beautiful city with its old buildings adding to its character. In a way, it reminded me of Stockholm because of its buildings, its proximity to a body of water and the unpredictability of the weather (one moment it is all sunshiny and in a couple of hours, everything turns foggy). And the city will definitely make you huff and puff with its uphill terrain.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: Filipino Meals (in California) to Start and End Our Wine-Filled Day

Before heading off to a wine-filled day, we had to have breakfast. So my friend brought us to Vallejo to have a Filipino breakfast at Max's restaurant. It's located near the Seafood City Supermarket along Sonoma Boulevard.

Max's here is open not just for lunch and dinner but breakfast as well. They have a breakfast buffet at $ 6.95 with coffee or juice, exclusive of tax. So we had a very typical Pinoy breakfast of pan de sal, fried rice, scrambled eggs, tocino, and bistek to name a few. The works.

Star-Spangled Journey: One Wine Day in Napa Valley

The last US state that we explored for this journey was actually the first state we visited. We flew to San Francisco and my friend from way back in college who is now with UC Berkeley, Jay Balza, picked us up at the airport and brought us to Nob Hill where we would be staying for the duration of our San Francisco trip. Prior to the visit, my friend promised to take us to Napa Valley. And so the next day, off we went to the wine county.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: Historic Route 66

As we were cruising around the three of the four states that comprise the Four Corners (New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona. We never got to Utah.), I kept seeing that sign on the road which contained the number 66.

Star-Spangled Journey: The Grand Canyon

From Colorado, we drove to Arizona for our next destination, the Grand Canyon. But since we would be arriving in Arizona at dusk, we decided we'd stay in for the night and make the trip to the canyon the next day.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: Mesa Verde's Cliff Dwelling in Colorado

View of the surroundings in Mesa Verde

We made the long trip from Albuquerque to Colorado to see the cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo People (or the Anasazi) in Mesa Verde. This national park was established  through the efforts of President Theodore Roosevelt.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: On the Road to Colorful Colorado

On our way to Colorado, I was amazed and in awe of the sights beyond my window seat. It was definitely a picturesque road trip. My words will not be able to do justice to the beauty of the plains and hills and plateaus against a rich, blue sky so let me share the images I captured on this journey.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: Charmed by the Old Town of Albuquerque


Welcome to the Old Town of Albuquerque. Really old as this was founded by the Governor of the Spanish Province of New Mexico Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdes in the year 1706. Town was located right on the Camino Real.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: I Did Not Take The Left Turn in Albuquerque

If you ever get lost and want to find your way back to Albuquerque,
look for and move towards the mountain.

Remember that classic line of Bugs Bunny whenever he got lost? He'd always say, "I know I shoulda taken that left turn in Albuquoikey (Albuquerque).

But me ending up in Albuquerque was not because I missed the left turn. Nor I got lost in the middle of nowhere. The Duke City is where I should be at that time.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: New Mexico Remembers the Bataan Death March

I had the biggest surprise that day in Santa Fe when I saw the Bataan Memorial Building. What significance does Bataan have in the history of New Mexico?

Star-Spangled Journey: Santa Fe in New Mexico

The seal of New Mexico

New Mexico. A state southwest of the United States. One of the states comprising the Four Corners which also includes Colorado, Arizona and Utah. Of the four states, we failed to visit Utah.

The capital of New Mexico is Santa Fe, located in the northern part of the state. The city, which literally means Holy Faith, has for its official name La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: Hotel-Hopping the Las Vegas Way

The Fountain Show at Bellagio

One of the main attractions in Las Vegas is its row of hotels. A hotel is no longer a place where you retire for the night after a day of shopping, sightseeing and casino luck. In fact, the hotels in Las Vegas have become tourist destinations themselves.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: Enjoying Manilow and In-N-Out

A big thanks to Gerald Gutierrez for treating us to the Barry Manilow concert at the Paris Las Vegas. We spent the whole afternoon hotel-hopping and our friend's house was quite a distance from the concert venue so we never got to change for the night's show. While the rest of the concertgoers were spiffy, we had to make do with our afternoon get-up, kept ourselves neat and sprayed on some perfume so we would somehow at least look presentable.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: Exploring Beyond The Strip

Pool Area of Red Rock

Most tourists flock The Strip. This is where the action is in Vegas. But there are nice places outside The Strip which are worth your time.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: The Heat Is On In Las Vegas

City of Entertainment. Boxing Matches. Manny Pacquiao. Golden Nuggets. Rat Pack. Showmanship. Quick Weddings. Hotel Rows. Fine Dining. Glitz and Glamour. The Strip. Casinos. Sin City. These are just some words associated with Las Vegas.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: New Jersey in a Whirl

J.F. Kennedy Blvd., one of the major roads in Jersey City.

We were in New Jersey on two occasions. First was to meet my brother's friend, a Filipino teacher he came to know back in his college days. Second, upon the invitation of mom's high school classmate.

Star-Spangled Journey: Hello Liberty!

Another touristy thing we did while in New York was to get up close with Miss Liberty.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: A Tourist in NYC

The Empire State Building and the view of NYC from the top.

So much to see in such limited time. I am usually drawn to places unknown with very little hype. But this time around, I had to play tourist in NYC. 

Our first stop after Hurricane Irene was the Empire State Building. Yes, that same building with King Kong. And where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan met in the film Sleepless in Seattle.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: Getting Around NYC

The Ronkonkoma Station

Our gracious hosts in New York lived in Long Island which is a considerable distance from New York City. So when we wanted to see the Big Apple, they'd drive us to the Ronkonkoma Station to get on the train that would take us to the Penn Station in NYC.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: A Slice of Pinoy in NYC

Filipinos are all over the globe. And NYC is not an exception. Take for example Roosevelt Avenue. I was just overwhelmed by the Pinoy sights in this side of the city. 

There is a branch of the Philippine National Bank.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: Hurricane Irene Unleashed

It's been a long time since I last posted an entry on my Star-Spangled Journey series. Work, more travels and procrastination contributed to too much backlog. And sooner or later, I'll find myself still blogging about a travel which happened a year ago. So I guess I better get going, posting one entry at a time. So here goes.

I thought the earthquake in D.C. was enough to make this trip one for the books. But no, there was another surprise from Mother Nature.

We've been monitoring Hurricane Irene even before we left Boston. We wanted to make sure that we'd get to our destination and not be stranded somewhere in the East Coast when Irene unleashed its wind power.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Geek is Cool at The Mind Museum

                                                      The Mind Museum

I was in Manila in April and instead of heading out on a road trip to the suburbs or spend a day at the theme park, my friends, brother and I decided to become geeky and trooped to The Mind Museum in Taguig. We arrived a couple of hours before the next batch of museum-goers would be allowed entry to the museum. We bought tickets for the 12:00 noon session and then proceeded to the Science in the Park just outside the museum. It was no ordinary park. Every installation is a lesson on science, mathematics, music, water and living things. A fun way to learning new things for the young and old. And we didn't mind the scorching heat.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Feast for the Gastronomes in Dumaguete

I'll take a break from my Star-Spangled Journey posts and whet your appetite with these gastronomic choices in Dumaguete City.

1. Have your breakfast and pamper your sweet tooth at Cafe Mamia, located along the Boulevard. The view of the sea and comings-and-goings at the Boulevard make for perfect breakfast companions.

All-day breakfast, salads, sandwiches, shakes and pastries at affordable prices.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: Boston to NYC for US$15

At the Boston Bus Station

Getting to New York City can be expensive. But for US$ 15, we hummed New York, New York from Boston to the Big Apple. We took the Fung Wah bus from the Boston Bus Station. 

Star-Spangled Journey: Quacking Around Boston

I've taken the Hop-On Hop-Off bus tours and water cruise in the past but this was my first time to take a Duck Tour. We bought our tickets at the Prudential Tower (the ticket included a pass to the Skywalk Observatory) and then waited for our 4:30 ride just outside the Prudential Tower.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: Education(al) Tour in Massachusetts

A trip to Boston won't be complete without making a side trip to Cambridge to somehow get a glimpse of the Harvard University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). We managed to visit two campuses and had a glimpse of the other academic institutions.

Just across from the hotel where we were staying was a long stretch of buildings comprising the Boston University.

And while we were strolling one evening, we passed by the Berklee College of Music. This school, located on Boylston Street, was founded by Lawrence Berk in 1945. Among its roster of alumni is the conductor of FILharmoniKA, Gerard Salonga.

Star-Spangled Journey: Boston

I was glad that East Coast was part of our itinerary because I have always wanted to visit Boston. I already fell in love with the city even before I set foot on its soil.

From Buffalo, we took a Jet Blue flight to Boston. Then we proceeded to Hotel Buckminster where we would be billeted for the night. And surprise, we were upgraded to a two-bedroom suite facing the CITGO sign and the main thoroughfare of Boston. It is close to the Charles River, the Boston University, the Subway station and of course, the famous Fenway Park. The brick hotel almost takes the form of the triangular lot on which it stands in Kenmore Square. I love the old charm of this place with its carpeted floor in dark rich red, the wooden furniture in the rooms, the columns in the hallway, and even the elevator (with its slow speed and that familiar old chime when it reaches a floor). It allows one to imagine being transported to a bygone era. The hotel is an institution in Boston, it being one of the oldest hotels in the city. It was designed by Stanford White, the same guy behind the Boston Public Library. Hotel Buckminster also figured in sports history when it became the nest for the Black Sox Scandal which fixed the game of the 1919 World Series. In fact there is a plate attached to the lobby's wall which served as a reminder of the said scandal. On the other hand, the CITGO sign has been a beacon to Boston since 1940, a welcome sight to sports enthusiasts, particularly the baseball players and runners. And it has survived five hurricanes. 

 Hotel Buckminster

Friday, March 2, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: Niagara Falls

We took a morning Southwest flight from Baltimore to Buffalo. A SuperShuttle van picked us up at the hotel at the scheduled time. For my party of three, we paid $65.00.  We shared the van with three other passengers whom we picked up on our way to the airport.

The flight took almost an hour. Upon arriving at the Buffalo airport, we decided to take the Metro Bus #210 since it was cheaper with a fare of $ 1.75/pax compared to taking a chauffeured transpo. The downside though was waiting for at least 30 minutes for the bus to arrive. There were no luggage counters at the airport so we had to bring our suitcase to the Niagara Falls. Good thing, we could leave our stuff at the Visitors Center.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Star-Spangled Journey: When An Earthquake Shook DC

Throng of people rushing outside the museums in the National Mall.

It was August 23, 2011. A hot summer day in DC. After seeing The White House and the Washington Monument, we decided to explore the museums in the National Mall. Our first stop was the National Museum of American History. My brother had visited the place before so he decided to wait at the lobby while Mom and I  entered the museum. 

We checked a couple of exhibits when I felt the tremor. I dismissed it at first but then it started getting stronger with each passing second. Suddenly, stuff from the ceiling (was it bits and pieces of the chandelier?) dropped to the ground floor. The security people in the museum told everyone in loud booming voices to vacate the building. Then, there was a throng of people rushing out of the building. As mom and I made our way out of the building, I thought of my brother who was waiting at the lobby. I knew he was no longer waiting for us at the lobby but I hoped we would easily spot him outside the museum. And we did.

Star-Spangled Journey: Washington D.C.

We took an early morning flight from Norfolk to Baltimore. But even before we could check in, we encountered problems with our tickets purchased online. According to a staff of the Southwest Airlines, their airline being a domestic carrier wouldn't recognize international cards. To cut the story short, (and I'll be making a future post on the various airlines I took), we were able to board our flight to Baltimore, thanks to the Southwest staff in Norfolk. Likewise, Joe F. of Southwest Baltimore made sure that all our succeeding Southwest flights were a go.

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