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.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Let’s Go Sonics!

Basketball is a prominent sport here back home; if you are in college, you are very eager to follow the team standings for UAAP or NCAA (whichever applies to you) or to follow the PBA. People back here at home are also very eager fans of the NBA.

Our friend Mark treated us (me, Jasper, and Adrian) to a live basketball game between Dallas Mavericks and Seattle Supersonics. To be honest, I am not a fan of any sport, but I think this would be a great way to start my stay in the United States to be immersed in their culture and specifically in what I will call the 'basketball culture'.

Late in the afternoon after picking our badges at the WSTCC for the MVP Summit, we went to the Key Arena for the basketball game.

This game is important for those who reside in Seattle, because there were this rumors back then that this would be the last game that the Supersonics be playing under Seattle. Because of that, everyone flocked to Key Arena on that day. Here we see the almost empty arena:

After a few minutes, we see an arena jam-packed with people from all over the city and here we see the Flag of the United States of America being unfold for the singing of their national anthem – "The Star Spangled Banner"

Then we see cheering and players being introduced.

Now, let the games begin!

It is important to note that in an American basketball game, there are performances during breaks by different groups who support the home team as well as other gimmicks for fans.

A few minutes later, I am cheering with the crowd too (welcome to the United States, Chester), Seattle Supersonics is winning!

A few more minutes, Seattle Supersonics WON against Dallas Mavericks

There it was, my first live NBA Basketball game, I should say that it has been one great experience for me that I will never forget (being immersed in some aspects of the American culture). Thanks Mark!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Space Needle

Built in 1962 for the World's Fair, the Space Needle is the most prominent landmark that you will notice in the skyline of the city of Seattle. It is probably the first place you want to visit once you get your foot into Seattle and that is what we actually did. After a four-hour long drive from the city of Vancouver our first stop was the Space Needle.

Pictures may deceive you into thinking that the Space Needle is not that tall, but actually, when you are really there it is just amazing. Measurements say that with the antenna / spire on the top of the space needle the height measures at about 605 feet from the ground.

For you to be able to go up the Space Needle observation deck, you need to prepare around $16.00 per adult. After you get your ticket, you will ride an elevator, which will bring you to the observation deck. During the short elevator ride, a guide will say some introduction and history of this very famous landmark.

At the observation deck, you will see some great sights view of the whole city. Here are some of the pictures:

After some sightseeing and searching for our hotel in the space needle, we went down, the day went by, and we returned with some of our friends in the evening. Here are some of the sights:

Just fantastic!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Emerald City, Evergreen State

I am not talking about the Emerald City of the Wizard of OZ; rather I am referring to the nickname given to the City of Seattle and to the State of Washington respectively.

So what comes into your mind when you hear Seattle? Most common would be the Space Needle, then Starbucks, among many things.

The main purpose of my trip to abroad last spring (summer for those who are in the Philippines) is to attend the 2008 Microsoft MVP Summit in Seattle and Redmond, Washington. Therefore, after spending two fun weeks in Vancouver, British Columbia I along, my uncle, three of my cousins and Jasper left early morning Sunday, drove south via Highway 99 (Interstate 5 after the border), and crossed the border to Seattle.

After approximately four hours of driving, finally, we arrived at the City of Seattle; our first stop would be Seattle Center, the Space Needle, which I will be discussing in my next post.

After that, we ate breakfast at a nearby Mc Donald's and checked in our hotel at the Westin Seattle and hit the road again once more to Tulalip, WA and visited the Seattle Premium Outlets.

All items there from everyday brands to high-end brands are on clearance; however, I did not purchase anything from here except for that very cheap mobile phone, because I am thinking of the free baggage allowance of United Airlines.

After that, we head back to Seattle, we were dropped off our hotel, and I said my thanks and goodbyes to my relatives. They headed back to Vancouver that same afternoon.

We went back to our room and rested for a while, contacted some friends and went out to pick our badges for the summit at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center.

Then we joined our friends and headed back again to the Seattle Center where the Key Arena is located. Here we watched a basketball game between Seattle Supersonics and Dallas Mavericks; this was a treat for us by one of our friends, Mark Punzalan.

Unfortunately, I left my jacket in the hotel and I was left to "enjoy" the cold temperatures of this city.

After the game, we went up again the Space Needle, this time with our friends. Then after that, we looked for something to eat but unfortunately, Mc Donald's is the only open food outlet that night.

There it was, my first day in the City of Seattle and in the United States.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Arrivederci Vancouver, Arrivederci Beautiful British Columbia

I wish I could have stayed longer, but we all know that a journey does not remain in a specific city. It continues because we all have that inclination to explore what is beyond.

This trip began when I am all exhausted (from the recently concluded second semester) and excited (well during the Saturday before my flight).

This trip began with one very important lesson; do not bring La Paz Batchoy / Beef Instant Noodles into Canada because Customs prohibits it.

Another thing that I learned, in Canada you do not call carbonated drinks such as Coke or Pepsi as softdrink, you call them pop.

What an experience it was! I could not believe that I experienced sun, rain, hail, and snow in just two weeks (well everything except hot weather) with this, I would thank all my cousins and relatives for this very wonderful trip.

I would remember Vancouver, BC for its sights and the very friendly people that reside in that city. I could not erase that scene from my mind where at the counter where I brought Ate Sharoll's Birthday Card there is the checkout woman and an old man conversing exchanging how their day was ending with the man giving a piece of candy to the woman and in return she was very cheerful and thankful for it. I could not forget the conversations that I had with people from that Gondola going up to whistler, the sno-limo chauffeur, and that person who staffs the native artwork shop in downtown.

Now my journey continues south, goodbye Vancouver for now.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Around the City: One Last Time

My friend Jasper who will be also attending the MVP Summit in Seattle, WA joined me in the later part of my trip in Vancouver, BC. On his second day in the City and with the sun shining and almost clear skies like a true local (as what he described in his blog), I brought him around the city by commute to the places where I am sure that when we go there we can go home.

Commuting in this city is a painless task; there are buses even in the suburbs and it is easy to get from one point to another. Lucky for us the SkyTrain Station (like an MRT) is just around 1-2 small blocks away from where we are staying. Our first stop would be the City of North Vancouver. Therefore, we took the SkyTrain to Waterfront and from there we hopped on to the SeaBus, which will bring us to North Vancouver.

A SeaBus is a passenger ferry that transports passengers between Downtown Vancouver and the City of North Vancouver. It takes around fifteen minutes to cross the Burrard Inlet. From what I have read recently, there are only two ferries operating. One named MV Burrard Otter and MV Burrard Beaver.

In North Vancouver, I brought him to the Lonsdale Quay and we went to a nearby park.

After that, we went back to Downtown via the SeaBus. We went on foot to Robson Street where the shops are and passed by a department store where Jasper brought some stuff then we went on and explored downtown.

We passed by the Vancouver Art Gallery and with nothing else to do we decided to go in and appreciate works of art. Unfortunately, no cameras are allowed inside. However, I would say that it is something that one must not miss when visiting Vancouver.

The City of Vancouver will be hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, so just outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery; you will see a countdown to the Olympics. (I want to be back there)

After that, we explored the city by foot and passed by the Vancouver Public Library, BC Place and General Motors Place.

Collecting Souvenir Pennies is one of the things that Jasper does when he travels (a hobby that I also adopted and have gone crazy about when I was in the US), we went back to Science World but unfortunately, the machine is out of order.

We went back to where we started and attended an anticipated mass at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church.