Archive for February, 2012

Day 13 in LA

Today I visited what could possibly be my future office–Hollywood. It was a cool and rainy day, just like one you’d expect in Manila.

I arrived at LAX where Ate Carleen and her friend, who was also named Lants (albeit spelled differently) picked me up. We weren’t quite sure where we were going so we ended up going to Umami Burger, which is a somewhat gourmet burger. It was my fourth burger in as many days, and it was pretty good. It was a Bad Boy Burger, with swiss-cheddar cheese, griled onions, and bacon lardons, all with umami sauce. We had some cheese tots, smushed potatoes, and french fries to go with that.

We headed off to a nearby mall where I bought pasalubong for my lola. The mall was relatively small and pretty quiet. But that was probably cause it was a Tuesday afternoon. We looked around a couple of stores as well.

Next stop was Hollywood. We drove to Hollywood Blvd, home of the Walk of Fame. I regret going shopping in Denver now! There were some great things at the souvenir shops. I came home with a clapper board, a director’s plastic megaphone, and a mini Oscar Trophy for Excellence. It was like a dream come true, in some ways. I saw the hand and footprint exhibit which apparently now has the Twilight trio immortalized.

We drove further up to a place called Griffith Observatory which overlooks the Hollywood sign. It was too bad it was too dark and the sign wasn’t lit up! No matter though. I did a thirty second exposure and got a great shot. We also took some photos of the LA nightscape.

We grabbed In N Out for dinner. I had a Cheeseburger, Animal Style, which is supposedly in the secret menu. It was great for a fast food burger, but they all start to taste the same after a while.

I’m in the apartment of Ate Carleen and Larry now. We played a couple of NBA 2K12 games on the PS3 which is why I’m still up. I’ll be sleeping on the plane tomorrow anyway.

LA was great. I can’t believe I’m only here for a night. I’m finally flying home tomorrow. Manila, I’m coming home!

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Day 12 in Colorado

I had the time of my life doing something I never thought I’d do–skiing. Uncle Richard took me to El Dorado, a ski resort that’s 9,000 feet above sea level. It was a forty five minute drive from Boulder, and it was the whitest and coldest place I had ever been to. It was a great day for skiing because the sun was out and it wasn’t that cold. Relatively. It was still below zero.

I signed up for a first timers ski class and rented out some equipment. Ski boots are the worst thing ever. They pinch your feet and go all the way up to your shin, making it impossible for you to walk properly. I tried walking around a bit as we waited for the lesson to start but I didn’t get very far. Our class was really small. There were only four of us in it, so our instructor, Tim, was able to focus on us pretty well. He started us out by doing some exercises like duck walking and side stepping. We practiced going up and down a small slope and we learned how to stop. It wasn’t much fun…yet.

We headed to the beginner’s slope, which they called the Magic Carpet because you ride up a conveyor belt to get to the top. There, we learned how to turn properly. As I learned, skiing isn’t about going down in a straight line. It’s all about turns, and swerving your way to the bottom. This is where I had the most trouble. I had problems turning left–i could only turn right. Tim taught me another way of doing it and I got it after that. I was far from even looking good, but at least I could control myself. I fell a few times though. It also started to snow a bit. I loved it!

After lunch, we practiced the Magic Carpet a few more times before we headed to the more advanced slope. It was called the Bunny Slope, or something like that. This time, we got to ride a ski lift! It was amazing! I had a fantastic view of the park. I fell down when I got off though. The trail itself was a lot more challenging because it was a lot steeper. I did it twice with Tim and fell a couple of times, but generally it felt great. I could feel the wind going through me as I skied down the hill. In the middle of the second try, we pulled over and played around in a 12-inch deep layer of powdered snow. It was amazing! I got to make my first snow angel. I don’t care if I’m an 18 year old boy. It was fun!

After the lesson ended, I went back up two more times to do it. It seemed like I did better when the instructor wasn’t looking! Nothing against him though. He was a fantastic teacher. I learned how to unload from the ski lift without falling and I got my turns down too. After that, we went home.

My body was still a bit sore and I was still reacting as though I had skis and poles. I’d lean every time the car would turn. We stopped by a hardware store called McGuckin’s which had practically all the hardware equipment you’d ever need…and more! All their staff members are professionals in their respective fields, be it plumbing or lighting, so they really knew their stuff. I bought a fire starter just for kicks.

We had dinner in a place called Ted’s. I had a Bison BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger. It was great but it tasted just like beef.

I had an amazing time in Colorado. Uncle Richard and Tita Sockie really made sure I had a great time. It’s off to LA tomorrow!

Day 11 in Boulder

The surprising thing about Boulder is that, even if the weather reports all say it’s below zero, it doesn’t actually feel that way. I went out today with thermal undergarments under a shirt and khakis, and I was pretty much fine.

I heard mass with Tita Sockie at the Sacred Heart of Mary (I never knew there was such a thing) Church in Lousville. They had ministers holding chalices so it’s probably a bit safer to conclude that it’s a common practice in America.

I went to Target afterwards and bought a number of gadgets including a pair of noise-cancelling headphones for the plane. I also bought a cardigan that was on sale, and a black director’s hat (it’s really just one of those New York cabbie hats but it can pass for a director’s hat!). I really love the selections at Target. It’s just so convenient!

I got my first taste of real (sorta) rock climbing today. Uncle Richard took me to this outdoor goods store somewhere in Denver where we climbed a path (is that what you call it?) that was a 5-7 on a scale of 5.0 to 5,15. So it was hard enough to be challenging but easy enough for me to get all the way to the top. It required a lot of upper body strength which I didn’t really have, but I managed to find my way to the top nonetheless. It wasn’t easy though, and my forearms ached afterwards. I stretched them so hopefully they don’t hurt as much tomorrow.

We headed over to a small bar/restaurant called Gordon Biersch where we watched the Superbowl while I ate a Kobe Beef Cheeseburger that was delicious. It was my first time watching it, and I was not disappointed. Even the commercials were amazing. They should be–they cost $3.5 million a spot. We stayed until Madonna’s extravagant but amazing halftime performance, and then continued the game at home.

I was rooting for the Giants since I had just come from New York where all my cousins were cheering them on and I enjoyed seeing their amazing comeback. You don’t need to know much about football (I was learning as I was watching) to enjoy the great passes and the great tackles. Bradshaw’s drive and touchdown was amazing as well! The Patriots played well and I’m glad it really came down to the last pass. Games are more exciting that way.

I’m going to go skiing tomorrow! I am so excited. I hope I don’t freeze to death.

Day 10 in Boulder

Snow, glorious snow!

I left Maryland this morning to fly four hours west and one mile high to Denver, Colorado, the Mile-High City. Even if I was one of the last to board, I managed to get a seat on the front row in between two elderly men. It didn’t have a tray table, but I did get unlimited refills since we were right next to the stewardesses.

As we neared Denver, all you could see was a white blanket of snow. There was a blizzard yesterday and all the flights were cancelled. You could see why! There was about a foot of snow covering the ground.

The flight was actually pretty smooth. When we landed, the stewardess commented, “Just so y’all know, that was a great landing.” It was the bags that took long though, and I had to wait a half hour to get all my bags ready. Thankfully, Uncle Richard was already there and we spent the time chatting away.

We passed by a delicious gourmet burger place called Red Robin, where I had a delicious Bacon Cheeseburger. I’m not quite sure if i like it better than Five Guys, but it’s definitely within that league. We took out a couple of burgers for lunch, then had snow for dessert. Yes, actual snow! We got snow from the backyard and mixed it with cream, milk, and sugar. It was delicious!

I got to visit a Walmart as well today. It was really something! I have never seen any supermarket quite as large or as stocked. We picked out a couple of things and headed home. Uncle Richard made this delicious baked salmon with a crust of breadcrumbs, pecan, and parsley with baked potatoes. We had banana foster a la mode for dessert.

In other news, I forgot to mention that yesterday, the waiter at the restaurant (Fogo de Chao is the name) asked me about my camera because he had apparently bought a Canon 5D. Wow, waiters with SLRs! I wonder how much they make.

In other news, Jim Paredes shared Fine Dining on his Twitter account! He said that he really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to see how far we’ll go.

Colorado is pretty cold, but so far I’m alive. I can’t wait to see what else this icy town has in store for me!

Day 9 in Baltimore

I am becoming very bad at this whole remembering business. I left my passport at home on the way to the airport so we had to go back to get it. Thankfully, we were only about ten minutes away. Ate Mary Ann took me to the Long Island Airport where I got to experience a curbside check in for the first time. I’ll further remember it because I had to take out stuff from my check in luggage because it was overweight.

It was pretty easy to get through everything except maybe the x-ray machine. I had so many layers on on me because I had to put on a sweater I took out of the bag. They also tossed out the Nutella that I accidentally left in. Whoops.

The fight to Maryland was reminiscent of a Cebu Pacific flight except they had free beverages and refreshments. The pilot flew the plane the same way. Seating was on a first-come, first-served basis so I ended up near the  back. I got an aisle seat though!

Ninong Doc and Tita Avic picked me up and took me to this amazing Brazilian steakhouse. It was unlike anything I’d ever had before! There’s an unlimited salad bar and an unlimited streak service. They had sixteen different kinds of steak from fillet mignon to ribeye to lamb. They were ask deliciously grilled. Waiters would go around with meat impaled on long Skewers that they’d cut for you. Amazing! We had key lime pie for dessert.

Both of them work at Johns Hopkins, the number one hospital in America, and so they took me there afterwards. I got to see one of the oldest buildings as well as a terrific statue of the Risen Christ. I felt like I was on an extended campus tour! The weather was fantastic so we got to take photos outside.

We went to Cold Stone afterwards where I ordered a delicious mix of peanut butter ice cream with Reese’s, Snickers, and Butterfingers. I never got to finish it though. It was huge! I also got to see Costco, which S&R was supposedly modeled after.

We headed home for a sorry while to pick up the kids and pretty soon we were  off to a big mall called Arundel. We looked around and had dinner in the food court. I finally got to taste Popeye’s again! I missed those biscuits. There were a lot of outlets  too.given more time and more luggage,I would’ve probably bought a few things.

I wish I could’ve stayed longer. Baltimore is a great little town and there are so many things to try and do. I’m sure there will be a next time though. Colorado tomorrow.  It’s snow time!

Day 8 in NYC

It was my last day in New York, but it couldn’t have ended any better.

I got up pretty late today. I got up at around noon since we didn’t have to rush to catch an early train. Ate Dimples and I went to the city and headed straight for the first stop on today’s checklist: the Empire State Building. A tour guide approached us and told us he could get us tickets without having to line up, which is what we did. I don’t know how much the difference would’ve been, but we took it anyway. Our first stop was the New York City Skyride, which is like Rialto of sorts. It’s basically a short movie where your pilot, Kevin Bacon, takes you on a crazy space shuttle-esque ride around New York City. The chairs moved and all, and it was pretty funny, so that was a lot of fun. It was shot a long time ago though, so it seemed a bit outdated. But nonetheless, it was a lot of fun.

We headed straight for the 86th floor after a quick meal. It was freezing! But the view was amazing. We could see the whole New York, as far out as the Statue of Liberty. I took a couple of photos which I’ll upload soon. We couldn’t stay long because we were freezing to death so we went down after about fifteen minutes. We spent a total of about two hours in the whole Empire State though, and I don’t understand how that happened since it felt so short.

We took a cab to one place that I’d been wanting to go to for a long time–the Fountain Pen Hospital. It’s the Mecca for fountain pen collectors and I’d heard so much about it. When we finally got there, I was in awe. It was like a museum for fountain pens, all of which you could buy (assuming you had the money though). After looking around, Ate Dimples got a Parker for each of us. They were the same model but different styles. I can’t remember the name now though! We also got a bottle of ink each.

We headed for Battery Park next. We passed Ground Zero on the way although it was blocked by a lot of construction fences. I got some great shots on the waterside. I didn’t get the name though.

After all that, it was time for the event I was looking forward to most this whole New York trip–the Bulls at Knicks game! We took a cab to Madison Square Garden, “The Most Famous Arena In The World”. They had a sale on jerseys so she bought me a Stoudemire jersey since I already had a ‘Melo t-shirt from Kuya Jamboy.

We got hotdogs to eat, but I wasn’t really hungry. I was just bewildered at the sight of some of the greatest basketball players of my generation playing on the court in front of me. I saw Rose and Melo who had just been named All-Star starters for the East, as well as all the other players on the team. It was amazing! I got my five seconds of fame when I tweeted with the #Knicks hashtag and saw it displayed on the Jumbo Tron!

Experiencing an NBA game was one of a kind. It’s actually a lot calmer than a Filipino basketball game since people don’t stand up till the fourth quarter. It was a fantastic game, with neither team really holding a strong advantage. Rose was crazy, just slicing through the lanes and dishing assists like there was no tomorrow. Stoudemire and Melo played great too. Amare was dunking his way through and Melo made some great jumpshots. In the end, the Bulls won by three after Melo missed the potential game-tier.

To add the exclamation point, I left the plastic bag with our Knicks merchandise on the train. We had to drive back to the station to get it. Thankfully, nobody had gotten it and the train hadn’t left yet.

My time in New York was one I’ll never get. Thank you so much to Tito Leo, Tita Malu, and my cousins. Special mention goes to Ate Dimples for all she did for me today. I love you all! It’s off to Maryland tomorrow!

Day 7 in Boston and NYC

Okay, today was just absolutely crazy. Not physically though. Today was pretty much my lightest day when it comes to physical activity, but definitely the heaviest and most overwhelming, emotionally.

I woke up this morning to the news that the feature on Fine Dining and I would be aired on ABS-CBN’s Bandila. Jasmin Romero, a well-known broadcaster, had been interviewing me and assembling materials to create a feature on the whole thing. It was about 9:00AM and we were headed off for breakfast at IHOP so I didn’t bother finding a way to watch it. I figured I could just catch it online afterwards. IHOP was pretty good, although it wasn’t anything magnificent. American-wise, the meal I had was pretty good. I had two pancakes, two strips of bacon, two pork link sausages, and two eggs for $5.99. Given a choice, though, I’d probably stick with Pancake House.

We drove around for a while, and I checked my Facebook account while we were getting gas. Beside the Friend Request icon, I saw the number 221. It was probably a glitch, I thought. That was probably the total number of friend requests I’ve ever ignored ever since I started using Facebook, right? Nope. Apparently, all 221 had come in just after the feature had aired on Bandila! Wow, mga Pinoy talaga! I also had around fifteen private messages, some from people I knew, and some from people I didn’t. It was crazy! I also found people tweeting about Fine Dining and I. My five minutes of fame were extending a bit too long. I ignored all the ones from people I didn’t know. (If you’re one of them, I’m sorry. I like to restrict my Facebook page to my real-life friends only.)

Ate Mia and Kuya Joel showed me around Boston. I saw Boston College, Boston U, Ninoy and Cory’s house while they lived here, TD Banknorth Garden, and Fenway Park. I really like the Boston feel. It’s very town-y, and has a home-y sort of feel. They dropped me off at South Station (just like Alabang’s!) and I took the bus back to New York. It was delayed a bit because of some traffic obstruction, but I arrived in New York City nonetheless. I love how the bus had wifi and power outlets. It was very convenient.

I took the Subway to Union Square to meet up with my high school friends, Mig and Javier. We had dinner at this amazing pizza place called Artichoke. I had a pizza with Vodka Sauce and one with Cheese and Artichoke. It was delicious! We had cereal milkshakes in a place called Momofuku for dessert. It was interesting because it tasted like cornflakes with milk, but had the same texture as regular milk!

I’m now back home after a long day. I have no idea how I’m going to fit all the pasalubong I bought, but I guess I’ll have to do it somehow. I’ll be touring the city tomorrow, and I’m going to watch Bulls @ Knicks. Can’t wait!

P.S. I forgot to mention that the other day, I helped out an elderly couple work the ticket machine at the subway. It felt good! I guess it’s very American to help each other out and to ask “How’re you?”. I noticed they also say “That’s awesome!” a lot.