Saying Thanks at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

I am a Catholic.  Finding and visiting a Catholic church during the duration of my travel has always been like something automatic.  It’s like an involuntary response of saying Thank You every time I am heftily rewarded.

And now that I am in New York, I made sure that the Catholic church that I would visit to say my sincerest gratitude to the Holy Heavens would not just be any other ordinary church. I made sure to enter and visit the largest neo-gothic cathedral in the United States, St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

saint patrick’s cathedral

awe-inspiring!

had to light up a couple of candles to complete my saying thanks…

calmness and serenity seem easy to achieve

St. Patrick’c Cathedral is as magnificent as it is massive.  What is so unique with St. Patrick’s Cathedral is that it is a European-style of a church that is centrally located at America’s ode to consumerism and one of the most expensive shopping district, the 5th Avenue, no less.

It comes not as a big surprise then that St. Patrick is the patron saint of a local Catholic New Yorker.  And despite its being located in the busy street of 5th Avenue, as you walk in and gaze heavenward, achieving the sense of peace and solemnity seem easy to achieve.  Thus, saying a deep prayer and thanks was something uncomplicated and effortless to do inside.       

And just like any other Catholic church, St. Patrick’s Cathedral definitely completed my NY adventure.

San Patrisyo, salamat…

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!

A Stay at Novotel Taipei by a Novotel Fan

I think I am a fan of sister hotels Novotel and Ibis (both are members of the huge Accor Hotels).  These hotels as much as possible has always been my go-to hotels each time I am out of the country.  It is proved by the numerous posts I had about Novotel and Ibis.  This has been the hotel I stayed at when I was in Casablanca, in Bangkok, Singapore, Melbourne and last year in Zona Rosa, Mexico.

The latest room I had with this sister hotels is the one in Taoyuan, Taipei, Taiwan.  And after having been so impressed, and though considered mid-scale and budget types of accommodation, I can truly say that Novotel and Ibis has been my favorite.

overnight is not enough

zoned out by the massive lobby

a look of their restaurant outlet where buffet breakfast is served

While on transit and on my way to New York, I chose to stay for a day and an overnight in Taipei.  I initially planned to revisit the city of Taipei while on a stopover but because of the amazing facilities and amenities of Novotel in in this part of Asia, I chose not to roam the streets of Taipei and instead stayed within the confines of the amazing hotel!

Novotel in Taipei is a huge airport hotel with free airport shuttle!  It offers great buffet breakfast selection which is typical of a Novotel.  And it was my first time to use the gym facilities of a Novotel, which actually is huge and is so complete based on my typical gym routine.  At dinner time, I rested my gut from ketosis and ordered the classic Taiwanese Beef Soup Noodle.

some cool hallway!

super nice, super huge!

comfy bed!

bathroom!

waiting for my dinner to be served

Bitin is a Tagalog word for “wanting more”… and that was my general feeling when I left Novotel, Taipei.  Not because they have less but because it has so much that I wanted to stay more. I will definitely book my future stays in a Novotel…

Ay hart Nobotel…

Vanilla Cafe in Baguio City

I would like to believe that I have some level of proficiency on determining what and how good food would be like.  My taste buds know how to ascertain and adjudicate what good food is.

And though I love cakes and may seem to have the sweetest tooth on the planet, I have never been a fan of Red Velvet cakes.  And though I have yet to encounter a Red Velvet cake that makes my taste buds do a double-somersault with one and a half twists in the free position, I think I just had one that is the most remarkable.  

red velvet… it tastes delicious or it tastes beautiful

But my appreciation of this Red Velvet was not due to my taste buds doing a standing ovation but it was my sense of sight that makes me rejoice and be delighted towards the cake I was consuming.  I was at awe about the look, design and colors of Vanilla Café inside Kamiseta Hotel located in Baguio City, the tourist summer capital of my country. 

I guess this is the cutest café I have seen in Baguio.  The interiors were so stunningly pretty, it will definitely put some very sweet delicious smile on every one’s faces.  The café was so visually attractive, the happiness it ignites would surge towards all the other senses making all dishes they serve to be so happily pleasant and appealing.       

Vanilla Café have seem to possess some enchanting potion that smoke-screened my usually resplendent sense of taste.  I actually could no longer recall if the Red Velvet I had was good or mediocre but what I know is that I was smiling while consuming it inside Baguio City’s lovely and bewitching Vanilla Café.     

Hindi lasang masarap.  Pero lasang maganda!

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!

Ibis Styles Mexico Zona Rosa and the Internet

How did people travel before the Internet?  This question I guess would be too much to ponder about.    Imagine trying to simply pick out a restaurant where you want to dine simply in random.  Or booking for an airplane ticket without the assurance that you will be seated along the aisle. What about packing for your travel?  Without the internet, how would you know what sets of clothes to pack when you would have no idea on the upcoming weather forecast in your travel destination?  Pinoy travelers in the past (being from the tropics) I suppose suffered from hypothermia when they do travel at the northern and southern temperate zones of the planet. 

Imagine going to a place that has long been written in your bucket list without a hotel accommodation reservation?  How can a traveler budget a travel expense without the internet? Planning for a trip before the advent of an Internet would I guess been so difficult that you would rather stay home. It must have been some sort of a nightmare then. 

Thanks to internet, travelling to a different country nowadays has been so easy.  And thanks to internet, I found Ibis Styles Mexico Zona Rosa, the hotel where I stayed while I was in Mexico. 

clean and colorful lobby

bar & dining area 

instagramable clock inside the room.  this is so mexico!

dining area

 I initially found Ibis Styles Mexico Zona Rosa through AccorHotels.com since I am an Accor card holder.  My membership gives me the privilege of being offered a discounted member’s rate.  But I did not booked my stay in Ibis Style via this website because surprisingly Booking.com (which I am a member also) offers a much reasonable price inclusive of breakfast.  I opted of course to the website that offers cheaper pricing. Who would not want a bargain?!

Ibis group of hotels has always been a reliable group of hotel brand that I have stayed at.  Though it’s not grand nor luxurious, this hotel simply provides what I need in terms of facilities, services and security.  Ibis Styles Mexico Zona Rosa is no different because I enjoyed my stay in this hip hotel.  It is clean, quiet and comfortable. 

clean, quiet & comfy

super hip! i love the colors and the modern set-up 

will definitely not feature this hotel if i was not impressed

Aside from being in such an excellent location in Zona Rosa area of the city, I particularly love the aesthetics of this hotel.  It is young, it is vibrant, it is happy! 

Without the internet, how in the world would I know and enjoyed staying this hotel?  Thanks internet!

Komportabol!

The Spectacular Teotihuacan

One of the beautiful highlights of my recent trip to Mexico was my visit at the magnificent ruins of Teotihuacan.  It is about an hour bus ride from the modern-day Mexico City.  And because there are massive information available online on how to get to these ruins by commute, I decided to do the adventure by following the instructions indicated on various blogs and web write-ups.  I could have simply joined a tour group but as usual, I challenged myself. 

courageously doing a commute at the bus station armed with a lot of things

I learned from my first few days that majority of Mexicans do not really speak English.  Thus, before I left for this ancient city, I armed myself with adequate internet data, the proficient Google Maps and reminded myself the simple steps to communicate, i.e. (i) speak English slowly; (ii) drop the articles as they only cause confusion; (iii) repeat the main concept two or three time; (iv) gesticulate; and, (v) smile a lot.

Teotihuacan was really overwhelming!  And based on various write-ups, no one knows who built this humongous ancient city.  It was so old that it was already in ruins before the ancient Aztecs were able to discover this old puzzling metropolis.  In 1987 this ancient city was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.  And since it is so close to the modern-day Mexico City, Teotihuacan has been the most visited archeological site in Mexico. 

on my way to the pyramids via calle de los muertos

pyramid of the sun

strike a pose! it’s one of the largest pyramids!

unbelievable! I had to pinch myself!

cleverly called… the avenue of the dead

mysterious!

i need to have a selfie! on top of the pyramid of the moon!

photo taken from the pyramid of the moon

i love this shot!

What for me is so cool about Teotihuacan is how spots in this ancient city were named and labelled.  Mexicans’ naming of the interesting places of Teotihuacan gave it more appeal and character.  Whoever tagged or named the places inside Teotihuacan are so smart and imaginative.

And since the term “Teotihuacan” meant as “the birth place of the gods” or “the place where men turns into gods”, it is but fitting that this ancient city has the Pyramid of the Sun (the third largest pyramid in the world) and the more gracious-looking Pyramid of the Moon.  There was even a location that is sensationally called the “Temple of the Feathered Serpent”! 

feeling happy & feeling blessed! pyramid of the moon at the background…

will definitely not forget this adventure

The coolest actually was how the main road leading to the pyramids was called.  The central 2.4-kilometer main road is called Calle de los Muertos or “the Avenue of the Dead”.  So when I was walking on this runway, it felt dramatic! I felt like I was being transformed by some creative spirit from being a human being to some sort of a god!  It was really amazing! 

Teotihuacan, built hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, will remain a mystery.  Little is known about its first inhabitants and why this magnificent place was later abandoned.  Whatever is the mystery behind the ruins of Teotihuacan, it remain to be something so pleasing and imaginative.  Its mystery definitely adds up to its awesome charm. 

Ispektakular! Ang galing!