Unique Looking Washington D.C. Metro Station

I have written in the past that one benchmark for me to consider visiting and exploring a place or spot on the planet is the availability and complexity of its metro or subway system.  The subway or metro train has always been my preferred mode of transportation when discovering a metropolis.  It is quick, cheap and convenient. 

Also, for me, an urban zone’s train transit system is a suggestive representation of that place’s culture, social conduct, and communal conventions.  Riding the subway train is like being one with the locals.

When I was in Washington D.C., its metro train system was my most used mode of transportation known as the Metrorail. And what is so distinct and captivating about the Metrorail is its exceptional look, motif and pattern.  Its design is like a weird fusion of retro and space-age at the same time.  Being at the station creates the feeling of being in a futuristic movie set in which such movie was created sometime in the 60’s.

It is weird but I also often felt like being inside a thermos bottle!  And it also felt like some strange alien is about to pop out at the end of the stunning tunnel.

Even the lighting of the stations were something unique.  It’s not bright like the usual and distinctly dim which adds up to a whole lot of character as compared to other typical subway stations of other urban zones!  Being at such an uncommon looking-station adds up to the unique Washington D.C. experience.  The Metrorail stations are also photo-friendly.  It’s actually Instagramable!

And through my readings, I have learned that Washington D.C.’s metro stations were voted and included in the list of America’s Favorite Architecture.  After reading such, I seem to not be so surprised by this recognition.  Metrorail is hip, cool and totally dumbfounding.

Sakay Na!

The Blind Whino

If I live in Washington D.C. I would have the quadriceps of steel.  After just 48 hours in the city, my shapeless flabby thighs were beginning to show signs of muscular definition from all the walking.  My friend Jhong who is based in New York was correct when he warned me that being a tourist in Washington D.C. requires tons of walking.

But aside from the corporeal benefit of touring D.C., tourists like me would get to encounter cool contemporary spots that are often snubbed and not featured in typical tour destinations of the state.

One particular dapper of a spot in D.C. is the psychedelic-looking structure called the Blind Whino.

The structure was originally a Baptist Church that served and provided the religious needs of the local community.  But a developer bought it out from the Catholic Church and sat for over 2 decades before an artist was commissioned to beautify it and call it the Blind Whino.  The former church then was transformed into a superb venue for art performances, exhibits and even social functions.

It was actually some considerable walk from the nearest train station before you can get to the Blind Whino.  But all the troubles and pains of walking were all ignored and neglected when I started to marvel at the dazzling colorful structure.  Funny because when I tried to enter the main door of the building, I stopped myself from doing/gesturing the sign of the cross when I realized that, yeah, it is no longer a Catholic Church.

try locating this piece at the facade of the building

vibrant collection! 

lucky to see how young artist, shawn michelle perkins does his job

And what added up to the already awesome experience was the exhibit that was running during the time of my visit when I entered the Blind Whino.  A number of sassy and vibrant painting works by artist Shawn Michelle Perkins were beautifully hanged on the walls. 

It was definitely awesome to have discovered the Blind Whino.  This type of cool spots definitely makes walking the streets of Washington D.C. all worth it.

Muntik na ko mag-sayn op da kros. Kaloka!

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!

Wowed by Biblioteca Vasconcelos

If you don’t know me yet, and though I don’t look like one, let me tell you that I absolutely love books and reading.  That is why when I travel, there is always a book that I would bring along with me.

So when I heard that there is a unique mega library in Mexico City and even though it is not included in Tripadvisor’s the top 15 destinations to visit in Mexico City, I know that this would be a place that I have to check out.

It’s Biblioteca Vasconcelos!  I didn’t know really what to expect.  But when I walked in, I literally let go of a massive gasp.  It was so loud,  a bunch of quiet people inside the building knew that there is an elated first timer who has just entered.   

This place is unlike any other places that I have been to.  The architecture is incredibly unique and it is not just like any other library but unlike any other place I have ever seen!  And the more entire I went, the more incredible it becomes.

After the first initial wow impression, the next thing I noticed is just the sheer scale and size of the building.  The uniqueness is that you would see people around: beside you, beneath you and above you.  Some of the floors are actually thick translucent glass.

Biblioteca Vasconcelos opened in 2007 and has over half a million books.  It got its name after Jose Vasconcelos who is a Mexican philosopher, a former presidential candidate and was also the president of the national library of Mexico.   

I noticed that the walls are transparent and that the floors seem mismatched.  It also have very intricate staircases and balconies, it reminds me of the movie Inception in a scene where things were folding on to each other.  I really felt like I was in a sci-fi novel.  It gave me the feeling of being set in the future which not many equally awesome buildings could do.

Biblioteca Vasconcelos is called a mega library because it is actually 5 libraries merged into one.  And each one library is dedicated and pay homage to Mexico’s great thinkers.

One thing that really takes center stage inside this library is the massive white whale skeleton done by an artist named Gabriel Orozco.  The whale’s skeleton, fitted onto a metal armature and inscribed with granite rings and circles, hangs suspended in midair.  It seem visible from almost all sections and every point within the library.

The library is so massive, there are tons of areas where people can sit and work.  Entrance of course is for free and there is free wifi.  And what is best is that Tripadvisor seem to have yet discover this place as one cool tourist destination. 

If you are a book lover like me or an architecture fanatic or just want to see a really unique place within Mexico City, then Biblioteca Vasconcelos is definitely worth a visit.  

Waw as is WAW!

The Blue Mosque of Instanbul

Sultan Ahmed Mosque also known as the Blue Mosque should not be missed by any tourist in Istanbul.  Set on one side of the magnificent Sultanahmet Square, this vast mosque with high-domed ceiling is accessible to non-worshippers only at certain times of the day.

But don’t let the time of its closure put you off! The beautiful exterior can be considered one engineering marvel.  It is tagged to be one of the most impressive monuments in the world.  And its interior is a beautiful display that exudes peace, harmony and goodwill.

Can’t say much about this place for I was astounded by the massive beauty of the Blue Mosque.  Let me just post numerous photos I took of this majestic world wonder. 

Ang ganda!

Bravura of Hagia Sophia

VoucherCloud, a money-saving app, last year released a world map that identifies each country’s most popular tourist destination based on TripAdvisor’s top-rated “things to do” feature.  Surprisingly and with a bit of disappointment, the stand out for my country, the Philippines, was Kayangan Lake.  But where is that?  I wonder how this lake beat and knocked out world-class destinations like El Nido, Boracay and Bohol.

spectacular especially at night

massive indoor view

impressive minbar, the pulpit where the imam stands to delivers sermons

grand calligraphic panes!

selfie muna

monolithic marble cubes: these massive liquid container is used to distribute juice to the public for holy nights and prayer celebrations

But when I checked Turkey, I was super happy to know that this beautiful country’s top destination was the Hagia Sophia.  Though they seem to be a flop in the Philippines, VoucherCloud and TripAdvisor are so correct with the Turkey result.  I have recently been to Turkey and only a stupid, puny and absurd tourist will miss the majesty, grandeur and beauty of the great Hagia Sophia.

As one of Turkey’s most celebrated landmark, the great Hagia Sophia was a Byzantine church for 916 years. It was later converted into an imperial mosque by a Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and stayed as such for 482 years.  Then in 1935, it was transformed into a museum and was later considered to be a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It may have a turbulent past but because of its rich and significant historical background, Hagia Sophia easily earns respect from all religions and occupations.

Though every nook and corner of this building seem to have an intense and loud story to tell and despite being the busiest and most visited attraction in Turkey, the Hagia Sophia still maintains its calm and peaceful effect towards its visitors.

I don’t have a tip on how to explore this ancient structure.  The only advice I can give to all those who will be fortunate to visit this top Turkish destination is to breathe, digest and admire the bravura of the rich stories of this spectacular structure.

mother mary with baby jesus in the middle. to the left is emperor john komnenos while to her right is empress irene

theotokos! apse mosaic

lovely dome

ancient deisis mosaic treasure…

at awe!

Nakakamangha!