Red-Faced by the Thomas Jefferson Building

Upon my arrival in Washington D.C. I was super glad to find out that my Bed & Breakfast accommodation is just near the U.S. Capitol Building.  It was only a five minute walk.  That is why after checking-in, dropping my luggage and having no time to waste, I immediately headed to this imposing building.

It was barely 30 minutes before the U.S Capitol visitor center closes that is why I opted not to enter and instead roam the grounds and marvel myself from the beauty and grandeur of the said building.

My carnal body and itchy feet however led me to a gorgeous building just across the U.S. Capitol.  It was too beautiful that I totally forgot how excited I was on seeing and taking shots of the U.S. Capitol.  The fine-looking building I am talking about is the Thomas Jefferson Building formerly known as the Library of Congress Building.

Accepting visitors too for this building was about cease for the day but I opted to enter thinking that I’d rather spend my afternoon’s remaining time inside this less-known building instead of my much preferred U.S. Capitol.  

  The stupidity in me was so high that afternoon that I was actually clueless and was not expecting anything to marvel about inside this building.  But upon entry my jaw simply dropped!  I never imagined that this building’s interior would elaborately be so decorated.  I was astonished to see each of the sections of the building which of course exhibits the richness of the American history and culture.

I thought that the highlight of all highlights was the splendor, opulence and grandness of the main hall.  But when my curiosity attacked, I led myself to a small stairs which looks like it accommodates long queues of people on ordinary days because of the signs posted (but none that afternoon was around since the building was already closing). I discovered an even grander magnificence of this extra-ordinarily beautiful building.  The unimposing stairs led me to the Main Reading Room of the building! And if dropped jaws can further plunge, I guess that was what pretty happened to me during that time!

And when I was done doing the tour of the building, I felt “pahiya” (guilty and embarrassed) because I underestimated the beauty and grandness of the Thomas Jefferson Building which I later found out to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the United States. 

I was at a wow stated when I left Thomas Jefferson Building.  It then dawned in me that my Washington D.C. adventure would be something colorful and spectacular!

clueless

Wow! Hindi ko akalain, gradioso pala sa loob!

The Oculus in Lower Manhattan

When I was in NY four years ago, there was one structure at the Lower Manhattan that was still being built.  It was a bummer of a sight then because it was construction noisy, construction dusty and construction ugly.

But now that I am back in NYC, I have nothing but special words for the new architectural landmark in Lower Manhattan on the very site that I am taking about.  It is called the Oculus and it is such a cool place to visit!  It is completely unique and is definitely different from the other buildings around the area.

Its beauty though comes with such a hefty price because according to google, it costs 3.9 billion US dollars to make!  That is just a massive amount of money!

Oculus, aside from being shopping center is also a transportation hub.  It is I suppose now the main train station in Lower Manhattan.  I know that Grand Central station is really classic, beautiful and un-comparable but I really really like this station.

The distinctive design of the building obviously seem to imply a bird’s wings that is ready to take off! The Oculus I guess is a symbolism of being like a Phoenix that has risen from the death and destruction in that area.

this blog post will not be complete without my proof of being there. striking a pose!

It is an awe-inspiring representation of giving hope and confidence to the whole New York that it is time to take off again after the sad events of 9/11 whose actual site of the tragedy is actually a few steps away.   But what I really love about this building is how it looks from the inside!  It’s matchless!

The Oculus is definitely one gorgeous structure!

Ganda! Grabeh!

Dear Evan Hansen: My New Musical Favorite

I don’t remember how I got to know Dear Evan Hansen, the musical.  Maybe it is because I so love songs from various musicals and I adore Broadway musicals that is why my algorithm just simply popped Dear Evan Hansen on my internet searches in the past.

And since I live half-way around the world away from New York City, I just have to satisfy myself from listening to the beautiful soundtrack of this musical and watch snippets on YouTube of Ben Platt singing the musical’s songs on American TV shows.

where majority of the letters were written…
stole a shot at the end of the show
the cast…

One of my workmates can attest that I am a fan of this musical because when he (Chef Juan Carlos Lima) travelled New York for a short holiday 2 years ago, I actually asked him to buy me a souvenir shirt of Dear Evan Hansen. Chef Juan Carlos when I was showing him the photo of the Dear Evan Hansen shirt looked so puzzled and so funny because he does not have any idea on what I was talking about.

But now that I am in New York, I promised myself that no matter what, I will have to watch this award-winning musical.  And I did not fail myself because last Wednesday I got to actually see it at the Music Box Theatre!

Its an Experience!  Only the stone-hearted will not be moved by this musical.
where it’s running…

Dear Evan Hansen though profoundly contemporary will definitely struck everyone’s inner chord.  Everyone can actually relate to the story and there seem to be like an Evan Hansen in all of us!  And I agree to the popular reviews in past that it will instantly pierce the viewers’ heart and will burrow it through to their consciousness.  I for one was crying.  As in like C.R.Y.I.N.G!  I was like having waterfalls on my freaking face! And I was not the only one who was crying because I can actually see and hear people in the audience sniveling, sobbing and clearing their snot!

May you be a young or an old person, a parent, a person with or without a parent, a student, a worker, a friend, a person with insecurities (which everybody got), a person who feels being like an outsider (who hasn’t?), Dear Evan Hansen definitely is one of the most relatable musicals I have ever seen! Even on the first song, you will already be so hooked because it is way too relatable!  It is as if the musical knows us so much and was written about each and every one of us.

I thought I already saw my favorite musical when I was here in New York four years ago.  Well, I guess that has changed.  And I think it would take a very beautiful masterpiece of a musical to topple Dear Evan Hansen as my favorite.  Dear Evan Hansen is clearly an EXPERIENCE!

my playbill… love it!
#youwillbefound

I only have one wish now that I have seen Dear Evan Hansen.  And that is someday, this great musical arrive the shores of Manila because like what the musical says…‘no one deserves to be forgotten’.  And when it arrives in Manila, I will be one of the first persons to watch it again.

Ang galing! Peyborit!

The Vessel at Hudson Yards

It has taken me six days to initiate writing about my new New York travel.  Reason behind it is because I was just so zoned out by the magnificence of the very extraordinary centerpiece of the new Hudson Yards known as The Vessel.

The Vessel is the hottest thing to see now in New York City.  And it is said that The Vessel is one awesome piece of sculpture that is meant to be climbed.  I for one did not miss the opportunity to do such. And as what Hudson Yards website indicates, it is a new focal point where people can enjoy new perspectives of the city and one another from different heights, angles and vantage points.

Climbing the highest point of the structure which is almost a mile of a vertical climb was actually something easy for me. It is 16 storeys high!  Not because I am still fit but because I am so used to climbing stairs higher than this one which usually happens when elevator service in my condo is not available (I stayed at the 24th floor).

The Vessel with its network of stairs and landings offers some remarkable views of the city, the river and the Hudson Yards itself.  I was so lucky to make it to the first batch of people who were allowed to go up on the day of my visit.  Yeah, I was early and was too excited!

 

I particularly don’t know what this structure would do for the city aside from attracting visitors like me.  There has been actually quite a number of mixed reviews about this structure but for me honestly, I like the look of this structure from the inside than that of looking from the outside.  And when I looked down at the center of the structure from the highest point and landing, all I can utter was a big Wow!

For me I highly recommend seeing The Vessel when you are in New York City.  One more awesome thing about The Vessel experience is it’s for free.  Hudson Yards is not fully finished yet, I will definitely be back in the future to check on the full work of this new NY landmark.

Ang kool!

Shimmering Soumaya Museum

Modern and present earthlings’ visit and holiday to Mexico City would now no longer be complete without visiting the Soumaya Museum.  Hailed as a new landmark, this weird looking building in the city is a private museum owned by the richest living earthling Carlos Slim. 

Named after the wife of the owner who passed away in 1999, Soumaya Museum building is one of the weirdest-looking modern architecture that I have ever seen!  It is so weird that I could not actually ascertain its geometrical shape.  Add to its weirdness is its being windowless and that the whole building glimmers and sparkles when hit by the rays of the sunshine!

And since the owner is filthy rich, admission inside the museum is free. Only the blind would miss the bronze cast of Rodin’s The Thinker upon entering the open airy lobby.  There’s also a colorful mural (considered to be one of the last works) done by Diego Rivera pointing toward the restrooms.

the lobby!

 

la puerta del infierno (the gates of hell) Ang taray ng title!

look at how tiny the people are at the bottom of this photo

Art collections found inside Soumaya Museum are all so grand and ostentatious.  It is dominated by the great works European artists, including El Greco, Van Gogh, Degas, Matisse and Picasso.  There are also a spectacular section of religious art which includes the Mexican portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Spanish painting of the Virgin of Toledo and surprisingly intricate ivory sculptures of Jesus hanged on the Cross done by Filipino artisans.

And like in any other museum, it has been my tradition of choosing a collection that I am most impressed with.  Soumaya Museum had three amazing collections that enticed, engrossed and charmed my wits.

El Pansador (The Thinker by Auguste Rodin). I need to have a photo with this masterpiece
Joven de Bou-saada (Young Girl of Bou-saada). It looks so real, it scares me!

If art feeds the soul, Soumaya Museum would definitely have you so full! This was indeed a very enriching adventure! 

Hugis ano?

Castillo De Chapultepec

A castle is the last thing I am expecting to find when I decided to tour and visit Mexico City.  But expect the unexpected because I found Chapultepec Castle or Castillo De Chapultepec which is also unexpectedly located in the middle of a very huge park, the Chapultepec Park.  This park is so big, it is even bigger than the famous Central Park of New York City.    

The funny thing is, while roaming around the castle area, I am reminded by a number of things and I am telling myself that I have seen such place in the past.  And then I realized that this was the place where some scenes were shot in the 1996 movie Romeo & Juliet starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Clare Danes.  It was the set of the Capulet Mansion in that movie! 

The castle has been home for different purposes throughout its long history.  It has been a military academy, a presidential home, of course the royal residence, as well as an observatory.  Now it houses Mexico’s National Museum of History.      

It is the only castle in North America ever actually used as a royal home.  It was the residence of Emperor Maximilian I and his wife Empress Carlota.  And during such time, it was still considered to be in the outskirts of Mexico City.  This emperor then wanted to connect his castle to the main city.  He then ordered the construction of a road so as to link it to the energetic city.  That road now is known as the bustling and affluent Paseo Dela Reforma. 

paseo dela reforma

 The construction of the castle started in 1775 and in 1806 it was purchased by Mexico City’s municipal government.  It was mostly abandoned during the Mexican War of Independence.  But it rose to prominence again with the story that is probably the most famous event that has taken place in that castle, the Niños Heroes (or Hero Children). 

Niños Heroes are six Mexican boys who defended the castle against the U.S. soldiers invasion of the castles in September 13, 1847 during the bloody Mexican-American War.  These boys are now permanently honored throughout the grounds of the castle through massive sculptures, artifact exhibits and a commemorative mural painting.  

Besides the beauty of the castle itself, there are lovely gardens and grounds.  You also got fantastic view of the city and the park’s surroundings.  And since it is now the National Museum of History, there are also historical artifacts, exhibits and furnishings that I really enjoyed seeing.

Chapultepec Castle caught me in such a big surprise, that it is one site that I would recommend seeing when in Mexico City.  It was one lovely and surprisingly enriching visit.

Mapapa-biba Meksiko ka sa ganda!

Templo Mayor & Piedra Del Sol

In my recent travel, I spent all my visiting days in Mexico City.  I opted to stay in the city and not move out or visit other places in Mexico because I prefer to completely immerse to the city’s rich culture.  This of course is beside the motive of giving myself a reason to go back to Mexico. Hahaha!

Mexico City is too vast to fully explore in two weeks and it’s seem impossible to see and experience the city in just a couple of days.  And what is good about staying in Mexico City is that visitors can still see and experience the old Mexico because right at the city center exists a very cool ruins called Templo Mayor.

templo mayor ruins  
the city beneath mexico city
a massive ancient metropolis 
portions of templo mayor

The incredible thing about Templo Mayor is that it is right near Zocalo, the center square of Mexico Ciity.  And that the existing and present city of Mexico was actually built on top of it.  Its like Templo Mayor ruins is just beneath the grounds of the present modern city.

Here’s one cool lecture and quick history lesson!  When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico City, it was actually an Aztec city at that time.  The Aztec people known as Mexica people had a huge beautiful city.  And basically the Spaniards (though they did not destroyed it), built over and on top of this Aztec City a new and modern metropolis.  So the huge Catholic cathedrals in downtown Mexico are actually built on the foundation of an ancient ruin.  And this ruin is known as Templo Mayor.

Templo Mayor as I noticed is still actually being studied and dug up.  It is a work in progress so as to fully understand the culture, customs, civilization and background of ancient Mexico.  It is so cool to know that the existing city is actually on top of another city!

And one of the major archeological find in Templo Mayor is the Sun Stone or locally known as the Piedra Del Sol.  Discovered in 1790, the Sun Stone now is housed at the National Anthropology Museum of Mexico City and is considered the most famous work of Aztec sculpture. 

piedra del sol (the sun stone)
the usual and common design on mexico souvenir shirts

When I personally saw such a massive monolithic sculpture, my jaw simply dropped!  I could not describe the elation when I saw the Sun Stone!  I could not believe that I am actually seeing the actual figure and image of the most iconic sculpture in Mexico! 

This sculpture is one of Mexico’s famous symbols.  It is basically printed in almost all types of Mexican souvenir items (shirts, mugs, wall decors, keychains, etc.).  I did quite a number of readings about Piedra Del Sol after I have been stunned by the massiveness and beauty of it.  And I have learned that there was even a poem that was composed by a Nobel prize-winning poet because of the beauty, mystery and grandeur of such an epic piece of stone. 

12 feet in diameter and weighs 24 tons
ding ang bato!

There are a lot of different theories that historians and archeologists have about the stone’s meaning, its use and its intention.  Some think it was used as a calendar and some say it has some significance concerning ancient religion, geography, politics or even something else that hasn’t yet been thought of.

But whatever its original meaning, it is arguably now the most important Aztec sculpture that exists in the world today.  As for me, I prefer not to interpret nor even think deeper.  I simply prefer to be marveled by the beauty, intricacy and grandeur of such a massive piece of work.

Parang gusto ko iuwi nung nakita ko yang batong yan!