Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. 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!


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Maryland 2012: The Perks of Autumn

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Here in the Philippines, where I live, there are only two seasons in a year, the dry and wet seasons.  In my opinion, I think they are the hot and warm seasons.  So imagine my delight when I got sent to mainland United States for the first time (Hawaii was the first State that I visited and shared with you here, but it's so tropical, it felt like being in the Philippines still).  To make this more exciting, I was scheduled to go during autumn, which would be my first cold-weather experience.

As you know, I've covered most of my experience in my New York series in five previous posts.  In those posts, I dressed up in full autumn gear but the surroundings were not that... well, autumn-y.  Here, somewhere near Olney, MD, I saw the countryside and the autumn sights and colors that I was craving for.

The best thing about being here in Maryland is being with my cousins, nieces, and nephew.  We haven't seen each other in years!  They knew I wanted to experience something "American" and so took me to a pick-your-own apple farm.

In this particular farm, you can eat as much apples as you want for free but you have to pay for those you take home.  

This photo below is proof of what I'm saying.  Hyperbolic-ally speaking, there's nothing more satisfying than taking a bite of an apple you picked yourself.

There were many kinds of apples other than the red ones and green ones, so I've been told.  Fuji apples are still the most delicious ones. I should know, I tried them all.  Fuji apples are the reddish ones I took a picture with above.  But I did have a penchant for picking the green ones, or the granny smiths kind, only because my favorite color is green.

This was probably the itty-bitty Braeburn apple.  I finished it in three bites.

To know more about the kinds of apples, I found this page very helpful.

Here we are paying for our "to-go" apples.  Thank you cousins, for this unique American experience!  It made me sort of reminisce our childhood (well, my childhood and your teenhood :)) when we picked Indian mangoes each summer and ate them with soy sauce or bagoong.  Good times.

Marching back, mission accomplished.

But that doesn't end there.  Autumn, after all, is also the Halloween season.

Here I was taking a picture with soon-to-become jack-o-laterns or pies.  Either way, pumpkins represent Halloween as much as candy and ghosts do.

I was having so much fun with all the weirdly shaped and sized pumpkins. Some were cute, some were gargantuan.  And this one was outright peculiar.

Inside the red barn were more fresh market produce.

Rainbow-colored licorice sticks at the check-out counter.

What an amazing autumn experience that was!  I loved that it's not something I can do or try here in the Philippines.  It might not be a typical tourist activity but it was unique and it's like an immersion in the Western culture that we're already so familiar with.

Want to pick your own apples?  Here is the list of farms within Maryland.


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