Showing posts with label city. Show all posts
Showing posts with label city. Show all posts

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Washington DC: A History

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I love the East Coast. 

Hello, capital city of the United States of America!  I have never felt more patriotic being in the presence of a place that doesn't even have the remotest connection to me or my ancestors ( I am exaggerating, there is a connection).  Washington DC kind of does that to you.

Let’s start with the towering obelisk that strangely represents the nation’s first president – the Washington Monument.  Curiously, why would an Egyptian symbol represent an American forefather?  If you want the “conspiracy theory” answer, just read Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.  It’s more interesting than the historically-accurate answers you’re going to get.

With my back turned to Washington Monument, I would be facing another former and probably more famous president – Abraham Lincoln.  Or at least his memorial.  It is a Greek-style building with Doric columns and white marble stones and everything.  Reminds me of the Pantheon. 

Surrounding Lincoln’s statue are wall inscriptions of his two famous speeches – the Gettysburg Address, and the Second Inaugural Address.  I can feel the air of reverence from American tourists as this man saved the Union.  Without him, maybe the United States would have been two separate countries or something of that sort, and slavery in the South would have continued.

Another notable person honored in the same memorial was Martin Luther King Jr.  His name and his speech title “I Have a Dream” was engraved on the very spot he gave it to further their African-American Civil rights movement.  You can easily miss it if you don’t know where to look.

This time, facing towards the Washington Monument in the distance, I can choose to go to the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial on the left, the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the right, the National World War II Memorial just up ahead where the reflecting pool ends.

We went to the Korean War Veterans Memorial because we were going to walk to that direction anyway.

I guess the Philippines was one nation of the United Nations which assisted in this war.

I’m just right beside the Potomac River where my cousins are going to pick me up.  On to the next historical landmark!

Up ahead, I saw a domed structure that I didn’t know what represented until I went inside.  All I knew then was that this was really a popular site for wedding pictures!  I saw at least three wedding parties, with their wedding outfits on and everything! Bonus fact: That last guy was really cute.

This neoclassical building turned out to be the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.  It’s right across the Potomac River and directly south of the White House (which I couldn’t wait to see).  

You can see the Washington Monument right behind me while I was facing the Jefferson Memorial.  It was camouflaged by the white clouds so it might be difficult to spot it.  I must say, I didn't have the fanciest camera to capture it in "extreme" conditions such as too-bright lighting.

Squished in-between my pretty cousins.  We're going to the White House next!

And no, this isn't the White House, obviously.  It's the Renwick Gallery, which is a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  We didn't go inside because, you know, the White House is just a few steps ahead and I'm the ever excited gal.

Close, but no.  This isn't the White House still.  This is the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building, situated beside the White House.  It is occupied by the "Executive Office of the President, and including the Office of the Vice President of the United States".  I got that from Wiki and I was confused.  So other than the Oval Office, there's another Presidential Office?  

Anyway, what captured my fancy on this building was the plaque hanging on its iron gates.  Look at the second line, second word.  See it? It says "Cavete" and yes it means, "Cavite".

Here's the complete transcript: 

These five-inch brass trophy guns were captured from the Spanish Arsenal at Cavete, in the Phillipine (The Travellite's Note: I did not just misspell our country, that's exactly how they spelled it) Islands on May 1, 1898, following the defeat of the Spanish Squadron in Manila Bay by the United States Navy. Admiral Dewey, the hero of the campaign, directed that the guns be sent to the United States National Museum (now the Smithsonian Institution).  The guns are on loan from the Smithsonian Institution Division of Armed Forces History.  Plaques atop the gun barrels state they were made in Sevilla, Spain in 1875.  

From 1900 until 1943, there were 29 such pieces of ordinance from the revolutionary, Mexican-American, and Spanish-American Wars displayed on these grounds.  Many were dispersed to the battlefields across the country, while some were scrapped for the World War II effort.

The two cannons are right behind me, in a sort of greenish/bluish hue.

At last, here's the White House!

I was pretty surprised about how small it is in real life.  I always thought it was a bit bigger.  I was not disappointed though.  It met my expectations in terms of its pristine splendor.  I even spent more than a few minutes to just stare at it and imagine seeing a silhouette of Obama or something.

The day (and hence, this post) is not over yet.  Although I'm not a museum-going person, I must see the Smithsonian!

There are several museums making up the Institution (pictured below); there's one for art, American History, air and space, etc.  It's not just contained in this one castle.

We went to Natural History.  Does Night at the Museum, ring a bell?

Pre-historic animals are cool, I guess.  I'm just interested in the Harry Winston Gallery. *drools*

And within this enclave are gems and more gems, and the queen of all gems: the Hope Diamond.

Can I haz eet?

I must get some air because I was suffocating on my poverty.  

The US Capitol from far away is enough to cap the day off. 

If you're sick of my writing or you're just looking for another blogger to admire, check out my friend Sandy's blog Feel-Good Avenue.  You won't regret it, I promise.  Plus, she takes waaay better photos.  Watch out because she just invited me to be a guest blogger and all I have to do is be more diligent in my writing!


Monday, March 3, 2014

New York City 2012: The Wishful Student at Columbia University

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Ever since the movie, The Bucket List, there's never been a week that I haven't seen someone post/tweet/upload anything related to his or her own personal "bucket list".  I guess we all have our aspirations before we, well, kick the bucket.  Like most of my friends, one of the major things on my list is to really travel and see the world.  Apart from the generic, I have this specific travel goal and that is to visit all eight Ivy League schools in the US.  This is a real goal of mine, not something fabricated impromptu as a result of being at the right place at the right time.

I've always been fascinated of the Ivies since I was in high school and dreaming of where I would like to go to college had I been rich enough, smart enough, and active enough in community service and some other worthy advocacy. Anyway, enough about my sob story.  Just to give a brief background, there are eight Ivy League schools in the US and fortunately for me, they are all in the East Coast.  They've been called as such originally because of an athletic conference formed by the said private schools but the term came to be accepted as with reference to academic excellence and selective admissions.  

With no further ado, the eight Ivy League schools, and the same eight items on my specific "Bucket List", are: Harvard, Yale, Brown, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), Cornell, Dartmouth, and.........

Columbia University, New York City, New York!

If you've read my prior posts, you'll remember that I was roaming the streets of Manhattan like there was no tomorrow.  But then, I made sure to leave enough time for me to visit the first "scratch off" opportunity on my list.  Believe me, I am not exaggerating when I say that I was filled with too much giddiness.  If I only knew their Alma Mater song, I would have sung it.

But no, I wasn't an alumna, I was merely a visitor in this open campus.

Unfortunately, I cannot really go inside the buildings.  On a brighter note, however, I was free to look around the outside and take as many pictures as I wanted.

The stand-out building for me is the University Library.  It looks so imposing yet comforting at the same time.  Good thing I wasn't able to go inside or else I'd just drool all over the precious book collections that maybe date back centuries ago.

That's me wishing that I had the right to call Columbia my Alma Mater. Sob!

With my back to the library, this was the whole line of my sight.  Or my camera's, that is.  I paused for a minute just to imagine what it would be like if I were an actual student, a back pack and all, crossing the grounds to hurry to my next class.

I also wondered where the dorms were.

So I guess I wasn't the only tourist in the grounds.

Oh well, enough self-pity.  One more photo then a kiss farewell.

The neighborhood is just so... colonial, for lack of a better word.  I love every corner of it.

Just a parting shot of the back view of the main buildings. 

Goodbye, Columbia, my Ivy League #1.

For tourists, this is one less popular New York City attraction that I think is worth a visit.  I took a quick cab ride from Central Park West Avenue.  Here's the address: 116th St and Broadway, New York

Saturday, March 1, 2014

New York City 2012: The Refreshing Green That is Central Park

If downtown Manhattan explodes with electrifying energy, it needs to be balanced by something more serene... Something like Central Park. Whatever sins the city committed to Mother Earth, it made up for it in the form of a refreshing green space that expanded across 50 blocks and 3 avenues. I never fully grasped the vastness of Central Park until I was there walking for a considerable length of time and realized I haven't seen half of it. 

I entered the Park from 5th avenue corner 84th street and cut across to Central Park West Avenue.  Fifth Avenue in itself is a sight to marvel.  I wish I lived in one of the penthouses.

Outside of the Park is the Metropolitan Museum of Art... as in the Met... as in the Met steps... as in the steps where Constance Billard girls would hang out after school.  I forgot if I wore a headband intentionally,just to give tribute to the Queen Bee, Blair Waldorf.

Too bad it was closed early Sunday morning.  Honestly, I'm not an art aficionado so for me, it wasn't the end of the world that I didn't get to go inside.  I can definitely go back next time.

After a few photos on the steps, I proceeded to the park.  I should have done my research on the must-visit spots but in my mind, Central Park = Strawberry Fields... forever.  I'm glad the scenes willingly unraveled themselves to me; all I had to do was walk.

The Loeb Central Park Boathouse

The Lake

The Bow Bridge behind me.

Facing the Boathouse is the Bethesda Fountain.  The whole area is called the Bethesda Terrace, with the fountain being its main feature.  I found out all of these after the trip... because I live life effervescently.  

Since I couldn't wait to rush to Strawberry Fields anyway, I'm rushing my post towards it.  This John Lennon memorial was named after The Beatles' song "Strawberry Fields Forever".  This was dedicated to John Lennon because the entrance to this part of the Park was where he was shot.  

The sign says this is a quiet zone, and I couldn't agree more.  It seemed like the people who visit have a disposition of reverence for the musical genius who long passed away.  And then there's me eating ice cream ... no disrespect intended... just trying to be a "rebel" in a cold fall weather.

The plaque below lists the nations that contributed to the development of the memorial.  I spotted the Philippines! Represent!

In the center is a mosaic of stones with a single word, the title of John Lennon's famous song, Imagine.  Ironically, I can't imagine that I've been here and have seen this.

Across the John Lennon's memorial is a thicket of trees with a small reservoir that I think is still part of The Lake.

Outside of Central Park, I'm back to the metropolitan jungle, with concrete structures, rather than trees, casting shadows over me.  I was trying to look for the Dakota Apartments, John Lennon's home, when the eagerness of going to my next stop was just too much of an urge to ignore.

Columbia University, I'll be seeing you soon...