Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Disneyland!

What is your dream?

Disneyland was once part of my dream during my childhood days. It was introduced to me when I was a kid since most (if not all) of my relatives reside in the United States, they would have their vacation here in the Philippines and would hear stories on what it is like. I have seen my father's pictures in Disneyland back then and as a child I would imagine how fun it would be when I actually go there. I really hoped that one day I would actually set foot on that place and see it for myself.

During my trip to the United States last year, I had this chance to actually go to Disneyland before I even turn 20 [well at least I can tell my children that I've been to Disneyland as a teenager]. With me on this trip is my friend Jasper. It was a nice Saturday morning when my aunt is deliberating on where she will be bringing us first, to Disneyland or to Six Flags Magic Mountain and then there it goes: Disneyland goes first. She dropped us off to her brother-in-law then he took us to Disneyland. It was a long travel from Santa Clarita to Anaheim; I think it took us around 2 hours to reach Disneyland.

The Disneyland Park in Anaheim is the first Disneyland that was ever built in the whole world. It was opened in 1955, and now is composed of two parks: the original Disneyland Park and the California Adventure Park. We were lucky to have been able to run back and forth those two parks the whole day.

Once you get to Disneyland, from the parking lot you get to ride a tram which will bring you to Downtown Disney where there are shops, ticket booths, and entrances to both parks.


The first park we went to is the original Disneyland Park; at this point I can't believe that I am actually seeing for myself the place that I only used to see in the photo album of my dad. Pictures become reality. Upon entering the park you would see one of the famous icons in Disneyland parks, the train, and the station. We took time to take pictures around.


Then after that you turn left which will lead you to Main Street, USA where you would see a lot of shops, people and various Disney characters just like Cruella De Vil.





The first part of the park we've been to is Adventure Land. Here we tried one of the handfuls of rides we took in our visit of Disneyland which is called Indiana Jones. We weren't able to ride everything because there is a lot to see and explore.


We don't have any clue on what Indiana Jones is, later did we know that it is just like a roller coaster ride only that it is not that scary because it is dark and you wouldn't see where you're going.


After that we strolled around and think of the next attraction that we'll be trying and we tried Splash Mountain thinking that it is just one scary drop. This is just like Enchanted Kingdom's Jungle Log Jam but little that we know (or little that I know) that it is actually, two drops (hidden from the public's view), one drop in darkness (within the mountain) and one huge scary drop compared to EK's two drops.


One interesting thing with this ride is that after that second drop and before the third drop (in darkness) there is like this mini puppet / robot puppet show going on. We thought that this was designed for kids so that they would be calmed before the big one.


Then the Big one comes (and as you can see, I think it is a bad decision to take the front portion of the log), here you can see Me, Jasper, My Aunt's Brother in Law Kuya Edward, and some guy in shades which is completely unrelated to us.



After that with my clothes partially wet, we strolled around the park some more before jumping to California Adventure for Lunch since Kuya Edward said that he knows a place in California Adventure which serves a better lunch meal.

Storytelling, to be continued in the next blog post entitled: "Adventure in California with California Adventure".

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Great Big Freeway: Los Angeles

One of my mom's favorite songs is entitled "Do you know the way to San Jose?" by Dionne Warrick. In that song, the lyricist describes Los Angeles as a "Great Big Freeway", which is really true, that city has a LOT of expressways with lots of lanes too.

When I was planning my Canada – United States last year, I made it a point that I will be going to Los Angeles to visit my relatives and cousins and spend some time with them. So right after the Microsoft MVP Summit in Seattle last year, together with my friend Jasper we went to Los Angeles, California.

We took the afternoon United Airlines flight from SEA to LAX and we arrived early evening, as our plane approaches the runway, we see that Los Angeles is huge compared to the first two cities we've been (Vancouver, BC and Seattle, WA).


Upon arriving at LAX, I saw that my relatives are already waiting for us; they have been in the airport early so as to avoid the congestion in the city's "Great Big Freeways". It is quite surprising that people could actually wait inside the carousel area of the airport, which is quite unlike here in MNL where people have to stay outside.

Everyone is hungry, so for dinner my relatives brought us to Chinatown to eat at the Mayflower Seafood Restaurant.


So what is so special about Mayflower? Well they do serve delicious dishes and this is a place where I realized that I'm not allergic to Crabs but I'm allergic to Lobster instead. For those who are fans of the People's Champ Manny Pacquiao, it is where he ate when he was in Los Angeles.

After dinner, we headed towards Santa Clarita where my relatives reside, upon arriving we unpacked our things, had some chit-chat with my relatives (since we have a LOT of catching up to do), experience some nosebleed, and got some sleep for the exciting day/s ahead in Los Angeles.

Goodbye, Farewell, See You: Seattle!

It has come to our final day in Seattle, after that dinner in my last post; we headed back into our hotel room and packed our things. We woke up early the next day (as we always do) and we have the whole morning to explore this amazing city by foot.

We wouldn't let Seattle pass, without eating in Pike Place Market (our first attempts were futile). So the day before, we asked the locals what time do the market open and up to what time they serve breakfast. We made it sure that we'll be getting a taste of the local stuff here.


And so we went to Lowell's, a diner in the pike place market and this is how it looks like, from the inside:


I can't remember what I have ordered, but this is what my friend Jasper ordered, I think it is crab omelet with shoestring hash brown. I think I ordered something that has meat on it (because I think I'm allergic to crabs, but later on realized that he isn't).


After that we went and go on our final tour of Seattle. If you think that Seattle is just about the Space Needle (like what I did), then think again, there are interesting architecture around downtown too which gives you a feel on what "old" buildings look like in Seattle.




Then we went on to see the different fields and stadiums in Seattle. There is Qwest Field and Safeco Field.





Then, we wandered some more and saw pretty interesting stuff:




And then at last, we saw the Seattle Underground tours. Too bad, it's already too late :-(


After that, we headed back to our hotel, made a final check on our things (made sure that we're not leaving anything behind), checked out, and went to Seattle Tacoma International Airport for our next destination: Los Angeles, CA.

Seattle is the city where I first met the United States. It is where, in a short span of time, I got a glimpse of what is America all about and what their culture looks like. It is also for almost a week, where I learned to be more independent and to make decisions of my own. Sadly, it was only in the later part of this trip in Seattle where I started to appreciate the true Seattle, the city beyond its famous landmark: The Space Needle. I hope that I will be back there again soon, hopefully there would be sun with clearer skies, and hopefully I would have more time to explore the emerald city and the evergreen state.

To this emerald city, gracias.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rewind and Play: Seattle Continued

I think I left you guys hanging about my adventures last year in North America and I just wanted to let you guys know that I'm still alive after being immersed deeply in school and work for the past few months. It paid off, and I'm now on my way to graduation in June 2009. [YEY!]

The last post was all about Seattle, it is all about the places that we've been to before the MVP Summit began last year. Now this blog post is all about the places we've been after the MVP Summit. The event ended at around noon and my friends (Jeo, Adrian, and Jasper) and I have decided to go around Seattle on foot. So from the Washington State Trade and Convention Center, we went to different points of interest in downtown.

We've passed by some places of interest such as the Seattle Art Museum and the Harbor steps, which is a public space that connects residential areas in downtown. However our wandering ultimately brought us to Argosy cruises and we're just in time for the next cruise. We opted for the Harbor Cruise + Seattle Aquarium combination.


After buying some tickets, we have decided to take a picture of ourselves with the boat.


But then we realized that we are posing with the wrong boat (our bad) and the boat we're about to board is the one that is at the leftmost area of the dock. And that boat is called the "Spirit of Seattle"


The Spirit of Seattle has three levels; you have the lower deck, the upper deck and the one that I will call "the uppermost deck". Wanted to see an unobstructed view of the harbor, we took the uppermost deck where it is open air (and thank goodness, I brought my jacket with me). During the cruise, you will hear some narration about the POIs in the harbor. Here are some of the sights from the cruise:





After that, the "Spirit of Seattle" returned to the dock and we disembarked the vessel, now we walked towards the Seattle Aquarium.

From afar, the Seattle Aquarium looks like an old warehouse and you may start wondering what you will see there and if its worth going to, but they say one must not judge a book (this time an aquarium) by its cover.


This is the fa├žade of the Seattle Aquarium, pretty neat huh! At this time, I wonder what is behind that old warehouse and there it is, upon entering we were greeted by a spacious, newly renovated lobby.


And some marine animals!


And there is this portion which is soo cool where you can actually touch the marine creatures!


There is this exhibit about other types of animals such as birds and mammals (whales, etc)



After that, we went back to Pike Place Market to check it out and to look for the first (original) Starbucks branch in the whole world. The market is nice and colorful, I recommend going there not at night (because it's closed) but sometime in late morning and early afternoon.



And there is Starbucks!!



Finally at the end of the day, we looked for some place to eat and we went to Johnny Rocket's near the pike place market. It's pretty neat because you get the feel of dining in an old fashioned diner in the early 60's – 80's.


This post has gone way long, and this storytelling will continue in just a bit so stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Exploring (more of) Seattle


There I was, my first night in Seattle. After the basketball game, another trip at the Space Needle and a dinner at Mc Donald's we returned to our room and what I did is to let mom know that I'm still in one piece after my relatives headed back to Vancouver and to check on my grades. Unfortunately, I could not access the website from Seattle and have to wait for a week before everything goes back to normal.


Good Morning Seattle and yes it is another day and we have half-day to explore the city before the MVP Summit officially kicks off in the afternoon. The first thing Jasper and I did is to go back to Mc Donald's and grab something to eat, then we met up with Jeo and explored the nearby places.

First stop, Victor Steinbrueck Park, this is a park near the Pike Place market. A simple search using Windows Live Search suggests that Victor Steinbrueck is known primarily for his pen and ink sketchbooks of the city and his work in protecting the Pike Place Market (that is why a park near the market is named after him). Anyways, one of the most prominent features of the park is the two cedar totem poles.



After that we walked again and we passed by the Pike Place Market. If you are a Starbucks fan, this is the place to be! Here you can find the first Starbucks store.


After that we went to the Westlake Center (a shopping mall in downtown Seattle) and we took some pictures.



Then we passed by Nordstrom where you will find the signature and shoe-prints of Microsoft's founders: Bill Gates and Paul Allen as well as other personalities who were born in Seattle. It is like the walk of fame in Hollywood.


Then we headed to Marriot Hotel to hang out and checkout the accommodation of our friend Jeo. Here are some of the pictures along the way and from the room.




After that, we head to the Washington State Trade and Convention Center to have lunch and to start the 2008 Microsoft MVP Summit.