Fort Worth, Texas

My flight was 9 in the morning, but I needed to arrive 2 hours in JFK prior to the scheduled flight. I took the train until Grand Central but decided to take a  cab going to the airport as. I boarded the American Airline plane going to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Texas. A friend picked me up at the airport and I stayed in his house until the following morning before visiting another college friend in Fort Worth.

Fort Worth Water Gardens

Fort Worth is a city in Texas referred to as “Where the West Begins”.
The first place we went to was Fort Worth Water Gardens. The Water Garden was located downtown between Houston and Commerce Street adjacent to the Fort Worth Convention Center. It is a beautiful and refreshing oasis with a variety of water features in a cityscape.

Fort Worth Stockyards

The Fort Worth Stockyards is located in Rodeo Plaza. It is a historical district for the livestock industry during the late 19th century.

The Stockyards consists of entertainment and shopping venues that capitalize on the “Cowtown” image of Fort Worth. I also saw the parade of longhorns cattle with the cowboys of Stockyards.

During dinner, we ate at the Golden Corral Buffet and Grill with my friend’s whole family. We also shopped at the nearby Walmart Supercenter before going home. I saw the train of the Fort Worth & Western Railroad.

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Exploring Washington D.C.

That Saturday morning, my friend and I took a bus going to Madison Square Garden. We alighted there and walked going to the bus stop where the bus was heading for Washington D.C. Since we were early we ate at Bagels and Schmear for breakfast.

New York to Washington D.C.

The bus arrived and we were traveling to the Capital of the United State of America. It was a long journey. I wasn’t sure about the roads but I saw some bridges and rivers along the way. In Philadelphia, the bus also changed drivers.

Somewhere in Baltimore, we were stuck in the road for almost an hour before the bus took a U-turn and found another road going to Washington D.C.
It was already 3 in the afternoon when we reached the bus stop which is Washington D.C. Union Station.

Union Station

The Union Station is the central station in Washington D.C. It is a terminal for buses and subways. We went outside and took a picture in Columbus Circle, the Union Stations’ plaza with a fountain.

United States Capitol

We walked going to the Lower Senate Park with different tres and trimmed grass and a beautiful walkway. We then went to the United States Capitol. The United States Capitol is an iconic domed shaped classical building of the US Senate and House of Representatives.

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is one of the remarkable National Library in Washington with beautiful interiors and architectural design.

We also went to tour the area of the United States Capitol and went to see Garfield’s statue. You can also see Union Square. From the left side, there’s a Botanical Garden which was already closing at that time.
We went back and tried the Hop-on-Hop-off Bus at the bus stop in the Garfield Memorial/Botanical Gardens.

Hop-on-Hop-off Tour Loop

It was the last tour of the Day Tour Bus. We decided to try the tour loop without going out of the bus to explore the landmarks and scenery of Washington D.C. Here are the landmarks for the tour loop: Air Space & Space Museum/ Bible Museum; Washington Monument/Bureau of Printing & Engraving/Holocaust Memorial Museum; Museum of American History; Museum of Natural History; Newmuseum; Chinatown/National Law Enforcement/Memorial & Museum/Capital One Arena/ Madame Tussauds/Grand Hyatt; Hotel Harrington/Ford’s Theatre; White House/The W Hotel; African American History & Culture Museum; Jefferson Memorial; M.L.K and F.D.R Memorials, Lincoln Memorial & Vietnam; Shuttle Bus to Arlington National Cemetery; WWII Memorial; White House Visitor Center; National Archives/U.S. Navy Memorial; DC Wharf. The Hop on Hop off One Day Pass is 42USD.

When the bus maneuvered going back to the trail, we decided to go down at the White House.

White House

The White House is the official residence of the president of the United States of America. We went to the famous view were people took a picture with the backdrop of the White House.

Washington Monument

Crossing the street in Constitution Avenue, we walked to the German-American Friendship Garden with the view of Washington Monument. The Obelisk was built to commemorate the first President of the United States, George Washington.

World War 2 Memorial

From the Obelisk, we went to World War II Memorial. The World War II Memorial is a memorial for the Americans who served in the armed forces as civilians during World War 2.

There are 56 granite pillars for the 48 states in the USA, the District of Columbia, and 7 other territories. A striking pillar dedicated to the Philippines which was under the USA during the war.

The memorial is also surrounded by a square and fountain. You can also see the view of the reflecting pool and the Lincoln Memorial.

Lincoln Memorial

We headed to the Lincoln Memorial via the long stretch of reflecting pool. The Lincoln Memorial is built in honor of the 16th USA President Abraham Lincoln.

The architecture of the building is a Greek Doric temple with a large seated sculpture of Lincoln. Inside the building is a museum.

From the Lincoln Memorial, we went to Constitution Ave near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and waited for another friend to go to Virginia. We ate first at Taco Bamba in Falls Church, Virginia. After eating we drove to check the Pentagon, before going to her house in Virginia where we will be spending a night.

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New York City Central Park

The whole Thursday was spent in the GSA Summit in New York Academy of Sciences. On Friday, July 25th, I decided to explore the more of New York City, and this time I started early in the morning.

Central Park is a very famous landmark in New York City. It traversed from the Upper to Midtown Manhattan both in the East and West Side.

South GateHouse

I skipped the Vanderbilt Gate and the garden inside. I entered the Engineer’s Gate and walked towards the Jacquelyn Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. I walked to the Bridle Path going to the middle of the reservoir and went to South Gate House. The South Gate House is building with the equipment used for the reservoir. There were lots of people walking, jogging and cycling along Bridle Gate.

The Obelisk

From the South Gate House, I walked to the East Drive and saw the Alexander Hamilton Monument and the Obelisk. Alexander Hamilton is one of the founding fathers of the US. The Obelisk was erected in 1881 with Egyptian hieroglyphs which is one of Cleopatra’s Needle originating from Egypt.

Belvedere Castle

I looked at the street signs in Central Park when I passed thru the 79th St Transverse Road. There was an arrow going to Belvedere Castle. The castle is a folly with an exhibit room and observation deck. It is a mix of Gothic and Romanesque architecture built-in 1869. Belvedere means beautiful view.

It is set on a Vista Rock which is the highest point with the park views. The castle is free for everyone to explore. There’s a great view from the top of the castle. Be careful with the steep and small stairs but the view is really spectacular.

From the Belvedere Castle, there’s a view of the Turtle Pond.

The Ramble

After navigating the Belvedere Castle, I went inside the Ramble. The Ramble is a 38-acre woodland in Central Park with rustic trails that will lead you to the lake viewing area and to the Bow Bridge. There’s a falls with a rock formation in the Ramble.

The Lake and Bow Bridge

From the Ramble, you will see the lake viewing area, a nice place for photoshoot with the backdrop of the skyscrapers from the West Side of Manhattan. Tourists and locals can ride a boat with a fee and explore the lake.

There’s a nice spot called the Wood Chip Vantage Point to have a great view of the Bow Bridge. The Bow Bridge is a pedestrian bridge going to the other side of the lake.

Bethesda Terrace and Bethesda Fountain

I went to see the Cherry Fountain and headed to the Terrace Drive going to the famous Bethesda Terrace. The Bethesda Terrace is overlooking the Bethesda Fountain and the southern lake.

The Bethesda Fountain with the Angel of Waters bronze statue is one of the iconic landmarks in the middle of Central Park.  From the fountain, you can walk to the underpass with a decorated ceiling. The whole terrace and the underpass has a very nice architectural design.

From the stairways, you can see the Mall, the Skate Circle and the Naumburg Bandshell.

Sheep Meadow

I took a left turn from the Mall and entered the Sheep Meadow. The Sheep Meadow used to be a place for the sheep. As of today, it is a wide-open space with a perfect backdrop of huge buildings.

Strawberry Field

Before I leave Central park, I made sure that I get to see the Strawberry Field. From the sheep meadow,  I went back to the west side of Central Park to see the spot. Famous for the title of the song, Strawberry Field’s was a tribute in memory of late Beatle member, John Lennon.

From the memorial, I went outside Central Park and took a photo of the building called The Dakota where John Lennon was shot.

I went out from Terrace Drive at the Central Park West Street and crossed the street to ride the subway from 72nd Street station.

Museum of Natural History

From my Central Park tour I went to another famous museum in New York City. I alighted at the 81st Street Station and went to the Museum of Natural History. There were visitors at the front of the museum. It was already past 4 in the afternoon and I didn’t go inside because they were closing at 5PM. I just took a picture of the Franklin Theodore Roosevelt statue and the façade of the museum.

When I go back to New York again, I’ll spend a day in the museums I didn’t have the chance to explore and one of them is the Natural History and the nearby Science Museum.

I went to buy snacks along the road and ate the pretzels before going to the Brooklyn Bridge.

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One of the best parts in Central Park was my close encounter with the squirrel.

Broadway Musical and Ground Zero

During the GSA Summit in The New York Academy of Sciences in Greenwich Village, we had a break because the STEM students went for a tour around New York City, together with one of the parents of the student we went to the World Trade Center Ground Zero.

World Trade Center Ground Zero

The Ground Zero was the commemorative memorial for the 911 tragic event in the history of the world. Near the Ground Zero is a museum called World Trade Center Museum.

We took a picture in the Ground Zero. We also took photos with the street art wall in front of the Occulus.

After that, I went to Broadway to watch a Broadway musical. I told my friend that I wanted to try watching any Broadway Show. He asked a friend for a ticket and we decided to watch King Kong Alive in Broadway.

Broadway Theatre

There are so many Broadway musicals. The Broadway Theatre is in the 53rd Street corner 7th Avenue where they are playing King Kong. I arrived earlier in Broadway Theatre ahead of my friend and waited for him. When he arrived we lined up to get inside the theatre. The play started at and end at 8 in the evening.

The Kingkong storyline is the same as the movie, what amazed me was how they made King Kong come alive on the stage. The visual effects were great. The casts were top-billed by Christiani Pitts as Ann Darrow with Eric William Morris as Carl Denham and Erik Lochtefeld as Lumpy. It was really a great show to watch and another check on my bucket list.

The Halal Food

Since we were hungry after watching the play, we walked two blocks from the theatre and found a line of people in a food stall called The Halal Food. After we lined up and got our order 30 minutes later, the food was really great and delicious. Everybody was in the street eating the food from the Halal Food.

Rockefeller Building

After eating we walked to another famous landmark in New York. This time we went to the façade of the Rockefeller Building. We entered the alley and arrived at the restaurant in Rockefeller.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

We also went to check the famous Catholic church in New York which is the St. Patrick Cathedral.

We also took a picture in the Lotte New York Palace before we rode a bus and alighted at the bus stop at 104th Street.

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Museum Mile and the World Trade Center

On my second day in the United States of America and it was a Monday, my friend and his roommate went to work. I went out at 11am to enjoy my time alone in New York City. I didn’t have wifi but my phone was in roaming but I couldn’t use the data since it would be expensive. I relied on the free internet in New York City.

I saw most of the museums with my friend during our first tour, I started my Monday trip with the famous New York City Museum and explored the museums. Museum Mile is a beautiful stretch of museums and other fine arts institutions in the 5th Avenue.

Museum City of New York

The Museum centers on the history and culture of New York City.

Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Institution

Next to the Museum City of New York is the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution that is the only museum devoted to the historical and contemporary design.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

I only saw the façade of the Museum as I opted to explore the MET since it was already past 1 in the afternoon after exploring the Museum City of New York and Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Institution.

The Metropolitan Museum Art

The MET or The Metropolitan Museum is one of the famous museums in New York City. It houses a diverse collection of objects from different eras and continents.

Other museums in Museum Miles that I haven’t explored are Museum of African Art, El Museo del Barrio, Neue Galerie and fine arts institutions like National Academy Museum and School and Goethe-Institut New York.

World Trade Center

The main reason I went to the USA was attending a conference, I decided to check the building where it would be held. And upon checking it was near the famous World Trade Center. After the tour in MET, where I actually spent my whole afternoon until the closing, I walked going to the 77th Street Station and went to Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall Subway Station to have a glimpse of the bridge and the New York City Hall.

From there I walked and crossed the street going towards St. Paul’s Church. From the Church, I turned right and saw the World Trade Center. I entered the Occulus and somehow found the place eerie.
It started to rain, I stayed in the Occulus for a while and explored the mall. There are other terminals and subways connected to the Occulus. Since it was getting dark, I went to eat in Eataly but because there were so many people, I decided to buy food and went home.

It was my first time going home and it rained. I alighted at the 103rd Street station. It was scary because it was already dark and walking home from there was also my first time. I was afraid of the neighborhood as I took a wrong turn. Luckily I asked a student walking and asked where the 105th station. She told me that I took a wrong turn and had to go back to where I came from and straight ahead. From there I found my way to the apartment.

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First Tour in New York City

It was summer when I went to the United States of America. There was a strong heatwave when I arrived in New York. It was 101 deg Fahrenheit and it would last until Sunday night, based on the forecast.
On the Sunday of July 22, EDT, we went outside and started my first ever tour in New York City.

Central Park and Museum Mile

We went to Central Park past 4 in the afternoon. The apartment is along Museum Mile. Museum Mile is the stretch of museums and fine arts institutions in the 5th Avenue.  Because my friend lives in the Upper East Side of  Manhattan and along Museum Mile and with the lush green sceneries of Central Park, I really loved and enjoyed my stay in New York. And because I loved museums, it was really a bonus of staying near the famous Museum Mile.
The Vanderbilt Gate is a gateway for a beautiful garden called Conservatory Garden. Fountains, lush green sceneries and flowers are seen inside. The garden is also a gateway for lover’s having a date. There’s also a bus stop near the gate.

A block away, which is the 104th East Street is the Museum City of New York. It was the location of different American series and movies. While walking we also saw the other museums like Guggenheim and Cooper Hewitt.
We entered another gate in Central Park and had a view of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Here, people were taking a walk, jogging and exercising. The walkway inside the park will also lead to the most famous museums in New York, The Metropolitan Museum.

There were lots of locals and tourists enjoying the street show at MET. It was already 5PM when we arrived at the museum and the people were already coming out because they were already closing. There was a gathering of people from the stairways of the museum and enjoying the street dance and exhibition.

From the museum, we went to Madison Avenue. Madison Avenue is parallel to the 5th Avenue, which is also known for the flagship stores of luxurious brands that were concentrated in the 57th to 88th streets. While walking we went inside La Maison de Chocolat Paris and bought chocolate truffles. The chocolate was really good.
We went to 77th Street Station on Lexington Avenue to try the subway train. I bought a one-week subway ticket which was good enough for my stay in New York City.

Famous Landmarks in Manhattan

From the station, we went to Grand Central Station on 42nd Street and Park Avenue. Grand Central Terminal is coterminous of different trains and buses. The iconic landmark is the transportation hub in Middle Manhattan.

We ate at Shake Shack in Grand Central Station. We tried the Whispering Gallery in which you can whisper and the sound travel from the other side of the acoustic arch.

From the Central Terminal, we walked to the corner of 42nd Ave and Vanderbilt Ave to have a view of the Grand Central Station, Grand Hyatt New York and the Chrysler Building.

We went to the New York Public Library in which I only saw during my Universal Studios Singapore Trip.

Then to the Bryant Park where we sat and rest for a while. Locals were enjoying the fresh air although it was humid because of the heatwave.

We walked to 5th avenue and went to the Museum of Sex. We went to 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar to drink and had a great view of the famous Empire State Building.

We walked to the Madison Square park to the Flat Iron Building.

We rode at 28th street station to the 8th street station. We went to New York University to the Washington Square Park.

There are so many tourists and students in the park. After exploring we went to where the university students hang out and ate pizza at Architoke Basille Pizza. Another famous for the students is the Bleecker Street area.

Staten Island and Statue of Liberty

From the Bleecker Street station, we went to the Bowling Green and walked going to the Staten Island Ferry. We waited for 10 minutes before the ferry arrived.

It was already dark while riding the ferry to Staten Island. We went outside to enjoy the cool breeze of the wind while on a ferry. The night view of New York City was also spectacular. The lights from the buildings brighten the sky. We could also see the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.

Halfway to the island, we were traversing the Governor’s island with the view of the famous Statue of Liberty until we reached Staten Island. We disembarked and then waited to go on board again, which was actually free.

Time Square

From Ferry Station, we went to Time Square Station in 42nd street. We took a picture of the famous drop in Time Square. It started to rain and we had to go to the station again to ride going home. We alighted at the 110 street and walked going back to the apartment. I will talk about Time Square more since I went here multiple times during my stay.

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Paoay, Ilocos Norte

Paoay Church

Paoay Church or Iglesia de San Agustin de Paoay is located at Paoay, Ilocos Norte. It is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines which was completed in 1710. The baroque architecture church is declared a National Cultural Treasure in 1973 by the Philippine Government and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 along with the other baroque churches in the Philippines.

The church is made up of coral stone and bricks. There are 24 massive buttresses on the side of the church and at the back making the structure an earthquake baroque design.

The bell tower on the right side of the church is a three-story coral stone tower. It was said the bell tower played a major part during the Katipuneros revolution serving as an observation post.

Paoay Lake National Park

Paoay Lake is the largest lake in the province of Ilocos Norte. It is a freshwater lake with different resorts around the area.

The lake was called Lago de Nanguyudan was supposed to be a barangay. The barangay was called San Juan de Sahagun that sank after an earthquake.

Another place to see in Paoay is the Malacanang of the North, a presidential museum and the residence of the family of President Ferdinand Marcos during his term. The museum is around Paoay Lake.

Fort Ilocandia, Laoag, Ilocos Norte

Fort Ilocandia is located on the coastline of Laoag City in Ilocos Norte. The only 5-star hotel in the northern Philippines in an over of 77 hectares of land in the sand dunes and pine forests. The 2-kilometer sandy beach bar is overlooking the West Philippines Sea.

There are 5 function rooms for gatherings, events, conventions and conferences. There are 5 restaurants inside: Café Ilocandia, Red and Asian Restaurant, Palms Bar, Sunset Lounge and Piano Lounge.

What are the things to do in Fort Ilocandia? Since it’s a little far from Laoag City, you could enjoy your stay here doing different things like paintball, basketball, beach volleyball driving range, horseback riding, horse-drawn carriage, archery, tennis, and others.

There are water activities like swimming, snorkeling, boating and beach bumming in the sand. A few kilometers near Fort Ilocandia is the Paoay Sand Dunes.

Laoag City, Ilocos Norte

Laoag is the capital of Ilocos Norte. It is also known as the Sunshine City. It is the gateway to Pagudpod and Bangui Windmills.

Laoag Cathedral

One of the famous landmarks in Laoag is the Laoag Cathedral located after the bridge on the right side. It is also known as Saint William Cathedral that was built by Augustinian friars in 1612 which features Italian Renaissance design.

Sinking Bell Tower

Located near the church is the sinking bell tower. The tower sinks into the ground at a rate of an inch per year and used to have a big clock on the tower’s western face. Near the tower is a park named Aurora Park.

Museo Ilocos Norte

The museum was an old Tabacalera warehouse that showcased the cultural heritage of the Ilocos Region. It is located in V. Llanes Street, one block away from Aurora Park.

La Paz Sand Dunes

Another place to see in Laoag is the La Paz Sand Dunes, the original sandboarding in Ilocos Norte with an 85 sq. km. protected sandy coastal desert and beach.

Touring Ilocos Sur

The capital of Ilocos Sur is Vigan. Here are the other notable places of Ilocos Sur that I had been to. These are landmarks on the way to Vigan.

Sulvec Point

Sulvec Point is on the coastline of Narvacan, in which you can also see a grotto in a rock. The grotto can be viewed along the highways. it is also known as grotto by the sea and also called Paraiso ni Juan. The beach area is called Sulvec Beach with stunning rock formations and brown rock sands. A Spanish boat was shipwrecked in this coastline led by Captain Juan de Salcedo, hence the name of the place.

Narvacan Church of St. Lucy Parish Church

One of the famous places in Narvacan is the baroque church called St. Lucy Parish Church or Narvacan Church. It is established by the Augustinians and is also the seat of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia. There’s a belfry near the church.

Quirino Bridge

Quirino Bridge is an iconic symbol of Ilocos Sur. When you reached the bridge, it also means that you are near the historical Vigan City. The bridge is traversing the Abra river. It is sandwiched between two mountains. The old bridge is preserved as a tourist attraction and is built in honor of President Elpidio Quirino.

The new bridge was a replacement for the typhoon stricken old bridge and was inaugurated in 2009.