Yes yes, it’s already June. But you should be used to my late posts by now.
(I already blogged about how our family spent last Christmas Eve. This entry will be about how we spent Christmas day.)
Last December, our family booked a 2-day tour around Coron. We arranged to have them on the 26th and the 27th, which meant that we had to leave LB on the 25th. We originally planned on leaving on the 26th so we wouldn’t have to spend Christmas day at the airport, but we discovered that we would be able to save P5000 per person if we book our flights a day ahead. There were 7 of us, this was a pretty considerable amount. My dad was against the idea at first and argued that Christmas is a time for family. My mom pointed out that we would still be with family anyway and that it would just be a waste of money to postpone our trip, so he agreed in the end.
All set to go to Coron!
We expected the airport to be empty since we thought that most people would want to spend Christmas day at home - we couldn’t have been more wrong!
We got to the airport early and had a few hours to kill before our flight so we decided to grab some food first, since some of us weren’t able to have a proper breakfast. (I ate breakfast before leaving the house but I found Shakeys at the airport and ended up buying a whole box of mojos anyway. Yummm~).
As usual, I took vain shots of myself to pass the time
I uploaded this a while back on Flickr, but as usual I forgot to post it here on my blog.
This was my self portrait the week after my friends and I attended the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Clark a few weeks ago. I wanted a picture with the actual hot air balloons there, unfortunately we weren’t allowed to go near them. To make up for it, I made this photomanipulation of me chasing a hot air balloon. This obviously wasn’t made to scale, but I had no choice – not unless I wanted to end up as a tiny speck in this week’s self portrait.
There’s a funny little side story behind this photo. I asked my sister to help me take the shot of me running because I couldn’t get the timing right using the remote control. I told her to stand in the corner while I ran towards her with my arms outstretched. It sounds easy but I overestimated my motor skills (or lack thereof). It was going pretty well and we managed to take a few good shots with ease until I tripped over my own feet and crashed right into her. Needless to say she wasn’t too happy about that. (Neither am I for that matter. I sported a huge bruise on my knee for a week after that.) But I like how the photo turned out, and she’s already forgiven me so all is well XD
Last October, Amie, Kat and I were invited to attend the 1st M.O.V.E. Symposium: Materials Development Towards Innovative and Emerging Applications. The three of us took the bus to go to Batac where we would be meeting up with the other participants. We left Cubao around 10:30pm and arrived at MMSU around 8am the following day. As soon as we arrived, Sir Chelo took us (along with the other participants) to have breakfast at the hostel before going on a quick tour of his laboratory.
This was where I did my clay beneficiation for my thesis way back in January 2011.
Kat and Essa (Sir Chelo’s research assistant)
Grubby girls from LB. We didn’t have time to shower, change or even brush our teeth when we arrived, eew~
Inside Sir Chelo’s laboratory
After the tour, we attended the launching of the Center of Innovative Materials for Emerging Applications
Dr. Pascua giving the opening remarks
After the program we had about an hour of free time, so we took that chance to go to our room at the guest house and freshen up. We showered, brushed our teeth and changed our clothes before going back to the hostel for lunch.
Messy room because we were in a rush
Our itinerary for the afternoon was a short tour of Ilocos since Sir Chelo had invited a few Japanese professors for the symposium and he wanted to show them around. We were given about 30 minutes to get ready after lunch, but since Amie, Kat and I were all set, we decided to just stay at the hostel and wait for the other participants there. To pass the time, I did Kat’s nails for her.
Ta-dah! We have matching nails now
First stop of our tour was the Paoay church, the oldest church in Ilocos:
Amie and I have actually seen the church before (Sir Chelo showed us some famous landmarks in Ilocos when we visited back in 2011 with Beulah), but it was Kat’s first time here
After this we went to see the Paoay sand dunes:
Part two of our Tagaytay weekend getaway last October. (You can read about part one HERE.)
On our second day in Tagaytay, this was what we we woke up to:
FOG! Lots and lots of fog! It rained early that morning and this was the result.
We planned on grabbing breakfast around 8:30 and going sight seeing afterwards, but we had to push our plans back by about an hour because of the fog. It started clearing up around 9:30 am so we were able to make our way over to the hotel’s restaurant to grab some breakfast.
We had eggs, waffles, sausages, soup, etc. Yummy breakfast food perfect for a rainy/cold day.
My mom though this large pine cone at the restaurant was cute
By the time we were done eating, the fog had cleared up so we walked around the compound a bit before heading back up to our rooms to get ready for sightseeing:
Our plans that day included eating lunch at Josephine’s, dropping by Picnic Grove, and visiting the Lady of Manaoag at Tierra de Maria. Before doing all that, we dropped by the Christmas Village inside the resort compound first.
It was only October but they had a lot of cute decorations up already
Last INSTABITS post for 2012 There was a lot of fun things to do this month so this entry’s a bit longer than usual.
Started the month off by going to SM Calamba with Ezra. We met Ckloy there to watch part 2 of the Breaking Dawn movie. Ezra treated us because it was our anniversary the next day.
Ckloy and I spent our 7th anniversary attending the 3rd session of FPPF”s Advanced Photography workshop. We had a field trip that day because our topic was Travel Photography Happy 7 years baby~ I love you!
It’s become tradition that we start decorating our house for Christmas on December 1. We were a bit late this year because we had to get a bunch of our Christmas lights fixed.
But the wait was worth it. I especially love our house this time of the year
Since I’m part of the Socials Committee (and I’m a “new” faculty member – again, sorta …) I was asked to take part in this year’s Faculty Follies. The last time I joined was back in 2006, when I first started teaching at the Physics Division. Back then I was the only Physics representative so I felt a bit lonely during the practices we had, but this time I had Kat, Hahriz and April with me so I had a lot of fun. (Amie was supposed to be part of the group too, but she injured her foot and had to drop out T__T) Here’s a group shot of team IMSP/UPRHS during our dress rehearsal.
More pictures taken during dress rehearsal
Physics people playing around with the giant iPad/iPhone props during practice. We didn’t win, but I had a lot of fun. (The champions were actually the College of Economics and Management, so congratulations to my mom and her group ^__^)
Random shirt I bought at Festival Mall. It has eyelashes
Week 52/52 : I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I’ve ended up where I needed to be
Last day of 2012. This year just flew by!
This was taken in Coron (Palawan) a few days ago. My family went there for a 4-day vacation starting Christmas day. It’s such a beautiful place This was shot at Mt. Tapyas. We had to climb 700+ steps to reach the top, but it was worth it because the view was amazing! It was the perfect place to shoot my last self portrait for 2012.
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who followed and supported me during my 52-week journey this year. I know I post late most of the time and I can take forever to reply to comments, so I’m super thankful to all of you who have stuck with me despite this. You guys are awesome! I hope you’ll still be around when I do my 52-week project for 2013
(Credits to my cousin Raffy for the shot.)
For my mom’s birthday this year, our family booked one weekend at the Crosswinds Resort in Tagaytay. My mom found the place online and she decided she wanted to celebrate her birthday there. We left our house around noon because check in time was at 2pm.
The entrance to the resort
Pine trees! I felt like I was in Baguio
Check out those cottages. Aren’t they so adorably quaint?
It was super windy that day
We stopped by the lobby first to check in before exploring the place
My parents making the arrangements
The lobby had a large mirror on one of the walls
My parents booked a one bedroom suite on the 5th floor. Their plan was to just get two extra beds for Ezra and me. They had the hotel staff set them up in the living room.
Here are some pictures of the room:
Ckloy took this shot of me last week. It was our 7th anniversary that day. Normally I post something with hearts or Ckloy’s name on our special week, but I was just too busy this year. I asked Ckloy if we could maybe take pictures together instead, but we didn’t have time to do that either. Although he did manage to take this picture of me on our actual anniversary, so it’s still something special.
We spent our 7th anniversary at the Grand Villa Resort and Butterfly Center. Unfortunately, we didn’t really go there to relax. We’re currently enrolled in FPPF’s advanced photography workshop and our lesson for that day was travel photography. To make it more hands-on, the organizers arranged for the class to visit the resort so we could take pictures there for our final photo contest. Basically we spent our anniversary attending class, but it was a field trip (sort of) so we still enjoyed ourselves
Happy 7 years Ckloy! I love you baby!
Last month, Amie, Kat and I went to Ilocos to present our theses at a symposium that our adviser organized. It was held at the Villa Del Mar Ivory Beach Resort. The place was lovely, so after the symposium, we all headed over to the beach to unwind. We swam and played around until the sun went down. Watching the sun set at the beach is always so magical.
Amie took this picture for me. She’s becoming an expert on these silhouette shots. Two years ago she took a similar one of me when our adviser showed us around Ilocos for the first time. Thanks Amie!
ANOTHER shot from Tagaytay. This is the last one in our 52-week project, I promise! But this one wasn’t posted late because I got lazy, we really planned to submit this on December because of the giant Christmas ball.
The resort we went to had this nice little Santa’s Village with many cute Christmas decors. We stopped along the side of the road and spent about 20 minutes there just taking pictures
Two weeks left till Christmas! I can’t wait! 2012 went by so fast. Exactly this time last year, my family was in California visiting our relatives for the holidays. I wish we could go there again, but it’s their turn to visit us this year, so we’ll be spending the holidays here in the Philippines.
(EZRA) 44/52 : The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind, but the goodness of a person spreads in all direction.
Another old shot I’m submitting late. This was once again taken in Tagaytay back in October. This was supposed to be her self portrait for the first week of November. It’s almost mid December now, so we’ve got a lot of catching up to do…
This was shot in the same area where I took my 44th portrait. You can see the pillars behind her.
(She got her title from a quote by Chanakya)
(Quote by Gerard Way)
Another selfie from our Tagaytay trip.
When I did my 52-week projects in the past, I always made sure that the self portrait I’m uploading was taken that week. I felt like I was cheating whenever I considered uploading something that was over a week old. But this year, majority of my uploads were shots that were taken weeks (sometimes even a month) before. Now that Ezra and I both have jobs, we don’t have the luxury of shooting self portraits every week. We have very little free time, so when we get the chance, we take as many pictures as possible for our 52-week project. It may not be ideal, but it beats having to quit. I’ve been doing 52-weeks for almost 4 years now, and I’m not ready to give up yet.
Thanks Ezra for taking the shot!
(Quote by Napoleon Hill)
A quick shot taken during our short Tagaytay getaway last month. Ezra took this picture for me. Thanks Ez! I love it.
You can’t really tell from the picture above, but the stone thing I’m holding on to is actually a HUGE pillar. The resort where we stayed at had a bunch of them in one area and they were part of a large arch that went over the road. We were on our way out to do some sight seeing when we came across these and we knew that we had to get some pictures taken with them.
Here’s how they look like from far away:
My aunt dropped by the Philippines for a quick visit last July, so naturally we crammed as many activities as we could during her short stay here to make the most of it. One of the places we went to was the La Virginia Resort in Lipa. My parents found it online and they liked it so they booked us a cottage for one weekend.
We left our house at around 8am and arrived at the resort a little past 10am. We checked in at the entrance and headed off to find our cottage. We had to do quite a bit of walking from the parking lot to get there, but there were so many interesting things to see along the way that we didn’t really mind. (Although I can’t really speak for Ezra – she looked as though she was about to pass out by the time we reached our cottage XD)
But she still managed to smile for this photo
The resort placed us at the Lalen House. (I kinda covered up the sign … whoops. All you can see is “EN”)
There were 5 bunk beds inside, so there was enough room for 10 people. The “kids” got to stay on the top bunk while the adults slept at the bottom – mainly because they didn’t have the energy to climb up and down the ladders. It was nice and cozy inside. The only downside is that there was only one bathroom O_o
Since it was the weekend, Ckloy was able to join us, yay~
By 11am, we were mostly settled in so we decided to have lunch.
There were no tables inside the cottage so we had our meals at this little picnic area at the back
Since we all woke up early that morning and it was still too hot to go sight seeing, we all decided to take a quick nap after lunch in our nice airconditioned room. We woke up at around 3pm to walk around and explore the resort.
The place was HUGE!!!
I don’t know how many pools they had but I’m pretty sure they had at least 5 big ones and a bunch of tiny ones for kids.
Hmm … very clever Ezra
Looks like Raffy adopted Ckloy’s tradition of posing next to trash bins XD
We found this pool with these cute jumping dolphins so we decided to do some jump shots with them in the background:
Raffy impersonating the dolphins
I pulled a muscle after this shot T__T It was PAINFUL! And the sad news is that the shot didn’t even turn out that great, hmph~
Ckloy pulled a muscle too, but at least his jump shot is worth it. (I think we probably should have stretched a bit first before all that jumping.. We’re getting old baby T__T)
But we recovered quickly and took a few more shots:
Ezra tries to attack Raffy
But he’s got some moves of his own
This shot reminds me of old arcade fighting games (Because of the background I suppose. Fighting games always have the most interesting backgrounds XD)
I must go! My people need me!
The resort offered zipline rides so we were pretty excited about that. We headed over there to see if they were open.
We reserved this day of our tour for sightseeing and visiting famous landmarks in the area, needless to say we were disappointed to wake up and find it raining heavily that morning. We arranged to have our tour guide pick us up around 9:30 at the resort, so when the rain didn’t show signs of stopping by 9am, we were a bit worried. Luckily it started to let up around 9:30 and we were able to leave the resort by around 10am.
Vanity shot in the car Excited to see Bohol!
Our first stop was the Blood Compact shrine
From what I was told, this was where Miguel Legazpi (a Spanish explorer) and the Bohol datu performed the famous blood compact ritual to seal their friendship back in historical times.
There was a line to take pictures at the actual shrine, so Ezra and I walked around the viewing deck while we waited for some people to leave:
(For some reason I can’t find our family picture at the shrine. I know we took a couple of them on my dad’s camera, and we even bought one from one of the dudes there who took our photo and had it printed out on the spot …)
After this we headed over to the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon, one of the oldest churches in the Philippines:
My parents visited this church for the first time years ago and my mom told me that the first time she walked inside, she was immediately taken back to the Spanish colonial period. She actually had a vision of people from that era walking out of the church as if they had just finished attending mass.
It was a bit small inside, but very beautiful
Ezra and I had to put on these sarong things before they could let us in since we were wearing shorts.
We found this old wishing well outside the church
After this we headed over to the Tarsier Sanctuary to see the famous little primates. I’ve always wanted to go to Bohol to see a tarsier. They’re just so adorable with their huge eyes and batty ears My friend Kat is from Bohol, and whenever she visits home I ask her to bring me back a tarsier, but of course that’s not possible. They’re endangered species and are naturally being kept safe in these sanctuaries. Also, Kat tells me that tarsiers get suicidal when they are placed in stressful situations, so even if she did manage to smuggle one out of Bohol, it would probably die in a few days
When my parents went to Bohol a few years ago, their guide took them to a place where you get actually get close to a tarsier. (My mom even managed to pet one for a few seconds before being reprimanded by the staff since you weren’t allowed to touch them XD) Naturally, we expected our experience this time to be something similar. But apparently, constant exposure to tourists (as well as being poked and prodded) counts as a stressful situation for tarsiers, so places like those are now being banned.
When we got to the sanctuary and saw all the trees, I joked that we would probably have to search for the tarsiers ourselves and find them in the branches. After all, they can’t possibly expect us to find a primate the size of my fist among all those trees, right? Right??? WRONG! It turns out that that was exactly what we had to do!
Fortunately we didn’t have to look for them all by ourselves, the sanctuary provided us with a guide who more or less knew the tarsiers’ favorite hangouts. Thanks to our guide, we were able to find 4 out of the 10 tarsiers in the sanctuary. That guy must have amazing vision to be able to spot these little guys in the trees, because even with him pointing them out to us, we had a hard time seeing them. Most of the time they were really high up and I had to use the zoom function on my dad’s video camera to see them clearly.
It wasn’t what we expected, but I actually had fun walking around in the sanctuary and looking for the little guys. It was definitely a challenge though, we probably wouldn’t have found one without our guide. They should invite shows like Amazing Race here to the Philippines and have them do something like this – without the guides of course. I imagine the contestants would get extremely frustrated XD
Ezra the Explorer – all set for her quest to find tiny primates
There’s one, can you see it? It was way up in the tree and I had to zoom my camera to even see it.
Here’s another one that was a bit closer to the ground. It was sleeping when we found it but it opened its eyes for about a minute when we arrived.
Gotcha! (It went back to sleep after this photo.)
I wish I had more shots to show you guys, but that’s all a managed to take before another group of tourists arrived and we had to leave.
Back at the reception area, we looked around some of the exhibits they had on display
This board gave some physical facts about tarsiers
This one gave a bit of info about their lifestyle (what they liked to eat, etc.)
Some stuff that the tarsier considers food
Dead baby tarsier
We had to leave after this, but first I took a photo with the sign near the entrance
After this was the place I was most excited to go … CHOCOLATE HILLS! After all, who goes to Bohol without dropping by to see the Chocolate Hills right?
We had to climb up this small hill to get a good view
So pretty~ And this was when we were only halfway up
Ezra was in charge of video taping the whole thing
Finally we made it to the top:
We wanted to take some jump shots but they told us not to in case we fall off the hill, so we just took a regular group shots and some pictures of the landscape. But on our way back down, we found this huge tarp of the hills where we could pose and pretend we did jump shots at the actual location (for a small fee of course XD). Technically they charge you per shot but the guy there was nice and he let us take some additional pictures using our own camera for free after we paid for the ones he took of us. He even let us use his props and gave us soft copies of some of the pictures he took
(Once again, a super late blog post. I have a bunch of entries and pictures lined up, but no time to write them This trip actually happened 4 months ago, but I couldn’t find the time to finish blogging about it. I’d open it, write a few lines, and close it again because I’d remember that there was something I had to do for work. But at least it’s done now.)
Last May, my parents had their 28th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, they decided to take the entire family out to explore Bohol. They’ve been there several times before (it was even part of their honeymoon tour), but Ezra and I have never had the chance to go with them, so they figured that this was the perfect excuse to take us.
Our flight was at 10am so we left the house around 6am in case we run into some traffic. Ezra and I took forever to get ready (as always) so we ended up having to skip breakfast. We were starving by the time we arrived at the airport! Luckily we found a stall selling hot arroz caldo.
(Amie’s always amazed at how I can camwhore using my DSLR. I tell her it’s all for the sake of vanity.)
See? (I love this shot because of Ezra’s expression in the corner. She was showing me this new manga that she started reading, but I was too busy being vain to notice her XD)
Garcia girls and some random lady at the background looking shocked
We had about an hour to kill before our flight. Ezra and I spent it reading manga and ebooks while my mom graded papers. (She’s a bit of a workaholic. This is supposed to be their anniversary celebration but she brought so much work along with her!)
Ezra finally got my attention by showing me this bishounen
The airport had wifi so I passed the time browsing Facebook and Instagram
Finally, we’re on the plane!
Our flight was about an hour and a half long. I spent most of it fast asleep. I woke up a few minutes before we landed and started taking pictures of the view outside my window.
CLOUDS~ I love clouds
We’re almost there!
Look how green everything is! So pretty~
We arrived at the Tagbilaran Airport a little after 11am
The airport in Bohol was smaller than I expected
It’s not everyday you see a plane parked next to cars XD (Well, not for me anyway … )
We had to wait a while before we were able to get our bags because they were stuck at the bottom of the pile. We were one of the last ones who left.
Since we don’t have any relatives in Bohol, we arranged to have one of the resort staff pick us up at the airport.
We stayed at the Blue Water Beach Resort in Panglao. It was beautiful there, and the staff were all really nice and accommodating.
Check out the pool:
Makes you feel like jumping right in there, huh?
The rooms at the resort had sliding glass doors. Ezra and I made sure that the curtains were completely closed every night because we have this fear of people watching us while we sleep. (Blame it on all the horror/thriller movies we watched as kids.)
Inside the room:
I love how the bed looks like it’s floating (I actually posted a picture of it in a previous Instabits entry back in July)
It looks more “magical” here
The work/vanity table
I love the motif
The bathroom was huge and lovely but it made me super paranoid. About 1/3 of the ceiling was made of glass! When I lie in the bathtub I can look up and actually see the sky!! I suppose it’s meant to be relaxing for the guests, but it kinda stressed me out because I kept looking up to make sure no one was watching.
(Another super late blog entry from our holiday trip. These were taken sometime in January. But the good news is that this will probably be my last entry about our US trip since the only other photos I haven’t gotten around to posting were the ones we took on New Year’s and it seems kinda silly to post them now that we’re halfway through 2012.)
During our visit to California, we mostly stayed over at Ninang’s house, but on our last week there we spent a couple of days staying with my uncle. One of his favorite place to take us is Big Bear Mountain, and this time was no exception. However, instead of simply wandering around the town and lake, we requested that we do something different this time – like tubing :D So he made arrangements and we scheduled a day to play in the snow.
So pretty <3 It was our 2nd time to see snow that year
All bundled up to keep myself from freezing
We left my uncle’s place at around 9:30am and after about an hour’s drive we arrived at our destination:
Big Bear Snow Play. None of us have been here before, but we’ve passed it a few times during our previous visits. We’ve always wanted to go in, but we never had the chance until now.
We stopped by the counter first to get our tickets
They provided us with these Snow Play tags. These are good for one day (unlimited entries) in the park. They attach it to your belt hoops or your shoes and you just have to present it to the guard every time you want to go inside the park.
Look at all those colorful tubes waiting for us
It was actually pretty warm that day so there wasn’t a lot of snow. But the good thing about Snow Play is that they make their own when there’s not enough, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not it snowed the day before to go and have fun.
Pretty cool right?? The two runs on the end are more “extreme” since it has a couple of bumps along the way.
Once inside, we rushed into the pile of colorful tubes to choose one for ourselves. Of course we all wanted a shiny new one.
Oops, Ezra I don’t think you want that one
Kurt chose a blue tube while my mom and Ninang went for the red ones. Ezra initially picked out a red tube but swapped it for a blue one later on in the day. I switched back and forth between yellow and red because those colors seemed to match the happy and excited mood I had that day.
We took a few shots near the entrance before actually heading up the hill.
And because no blog entry is complete without any vain shots of me, here you go:
(That last one is for Ezra because she loves it when I smile with only my two front teeth showing. She’s always calling me up on Facetime and asking me to smile like that so she can screencap it. I swear she has a whole collection of my rabbit smiles. Weirdo.)
Week 19/52 : Sometimes you wake up from a dream. Sometimes you wake up in a dream. And sometimes, every once in a while, you wake up in someone else’s dream.
Quick picture Ezra took of me during our vacation last week in Bohol. We didn’t have time to do a shoot, but we did manage to get a few SP-worthy shots. This was taken during our first day there, as we explored the beach at our resort. We found this little wooden couch-like thing which Ezra dubbed “The Armadillo Chair“. The bottom picture is a shot of our resort from when we went glass-bottom boating on our 3rd day there.
The quote I used for my title came from the book Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead. I just finished reading her Georgina Kincaid series and I absolutely love it~
Our family went to Bohol last weekend to celebrate my parents’ 28th anniversary. They’ve both been to Bohol plenty of times before (they even had their honeymoon there) so they decided it’s about time Ezra and I visit the place. We stayed at the Panglao Blue Water Beach Resort, which was BEAUTIFUL! And all the people there were so nice. I wish we could have stayed longer.
Title from a quote by Gloria Stuart from the movie Titanic.
Day two of our quick sightseeing trip with my aunt and cousins. (You can read about Day 1 HERE).
We woke up early that morning because we had 9:30am tickets for the Hearst Castle tour. I didn’t really know much about Hearst or his castle until my aunt arranged this trip for us, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. She told us that the place once belonged to Sir William Randolph Hearst. After he died his children decided to donate part of his property to the state of California, and since then it has attracted many visitors. It was a well known fact that Mr. Hearst only invited aristocrats and elites into his home back when he was alive (some of his favorite guests included Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable and Winston Churchill) so I suppose a lot of people simply wanted to see the place that these famous people once visited.
Ate Maryann dropped us off at the Hearst Castle Visitor’s Center at around 9am. (She couldn’t join us for the tour because she had to work.)
It was a beautiful sunny day. Just look at that lovely sky~
In case you were wondering, this isn’t the castle yet. It’s just where visitors go to get their tickets and wait for the tour guides to pick them up.
We looked around inside and explored a bit while Kuya Wibet went to the counter to get our wristbands.
Mama Darling headed straight for the gift shop XD
Tour packages available for visitors. We got the Grand Rooms Tour.
Map of Hearst Castle
Our tour bracelets:
My mom helping me put mine on
Ta-dah! All set for our tour.
We had about 10 minutes before our shuttle arrived so we just did more exploring and took a few more pictures at the visitor’s center
Poor Kurt woke up with a heavy migraine that morning and could barely stand. But he didn’t want to miss out on the tour so Ezra volunteered to be his crutch for the day, lol. It must have been hard on him seeing as she’s so much shorter, but at least he was able to walk around (really slowly) through her help.
He still managed to smile for cameras too. (He said it was because he didn’t want to look back on the pictures and videos in the future and see himself in pain, lol). But he got better throughout the day and even managed to take pictures during our tour. (Some of the shots I will be posting in this entry were actually stolen from his camera XD – Thanks Kurt for the copies!)
Soon our bus arrived to take us up to the castle. As we drove up, our bus driver gave us a bit of info about Mr. Hearst and this place. He told us that all the land we saw around us belonged to Mr. Hearst. He used to call this place La Cuesta Encantada (“The Enchanted Hill”). Mr. Hearst loved animals so he filled this place up with them. We saw a couple of black cows, deer, rabbits, squirrels and some zebras on the way up. Supposedly Mr. Hearst even kept polar bears around back when he was still alive (but he made sure they were locked up of course).
All of this belonged to Sir William Randolph Hearst. I can’t even imagine what I would do if I owned this much land! Probably build my own amusement park.
It took us about 10 minutes to get up to the castle, where our tour guide was waiting for us.
Our first glimpse of the famous Hearst Castle. It’s beautiful, but not what I expected. I sorta envisioned a modern Hogwarts when my aunt told me we would be visiting a castle, lol. This seemed more like a church or a cathedral to me – which was actually what it was modeled after (according to our guide). Oh well, it may not have been Hogwarts, but it was still gorgeous.
Speaking of our guide, here’s a quick shot I took of him. Doesn’t he sort of look like Jack Nicholson? I kept telling my mom that and she didn’t believe me, but my dad and aunt agreed with me XD
Anyway, Mr. Nicholson-lookalike (I can’t remember his name, sorry) gave us some background information about Sir William Randolph Hearst and his famous castle. Supposedly he had a lot of strange quirks and was quite eccentric, but no can could deny how brilliant he was. He was a perfectionist and he loved art. As for the castle, something that many people may find interesting was that it was designed by a woman named Julia Morgan. While this may seem trivial to some, our guide reminded us that the castle was built in the early 1900′s and female architects weren’t as common back then. According to him, Ms. Morgan was a brilliant architect and she utilized a lot of modern technology (well, modern for their times) which allowed the castle to withstand a lot of earthquakes and survive up to this day. (He did admit that the castle has undergone many restoration projects but there wouldn’t be anything to restore if it wasn’t for the castle’s strong foundation.)
After his brief introduction of William Hearst and his castle, we were finally allowed to go inside. We had to go through the side entrance though because the main entrance lead to a hallway which had intricate mosaic tile floors. In the past, visitors were allowed to enter through there, but eventually the tiles became damaged and the people running the place had to pay to have it restored, which took years! The guy who fixed it told them that they better not let anyone walk on those tiles again, because there was no way he would agree to repair it a second time.
One thing we all noticed going in the castle was how tall and narrow the doors were. Only one person could fit at a time, so we had to queue up to enter the building. Some people even had to walk sideways. It makes me wonder if weight loss didn’t present as much of a problem back then as it does today.
Inside we were taken in to see the assembly room. It was huge and reminded me of a fancy hotel lobby.
It looked so cozy and inviting. I would have loved to have curled up on one of those armchairs with a good book. But we weren’t allowed to touch anything, let alone sit on the chairs. In fact, visitors were only allowed to step on the areas marked with a black/gray carpet to prevent any sort of damage to the room. Flash photography wasn’t allowed either because they wanted to avoid light damage, so forgive me if some of the following pictures turn out a bit blurry.
Look at the details on that ceiling!
There were two of these huge Christmas trees inside. (Uh yeah … it was the holidays when we went there. I guess I should probably mention again that I’m pretty lazy when it comes to blogging, which is why this entry is 5 months delayed ….)
Took some selca shots while our guide explained more about the room
(Finally had time to finish writing this entry after Ezra’s nonstop complaints of how I take forever to post pictures, lol. Can’t really blame her though seeing as it’s already April.)
After Christmas, my aunt and cousins had a bit of free time so they decided to take us to take us sight seeing. First on our list was Solvang, a Danish village in Santa Barbara county. We left my aunt’s place early that morning and arrived at Solvang after about 3 hours. I didn’t really know what to expect when they told us we would be going to a Danish community, so when we first got there and I saw all the buildings I was so amazed. I felt like I left America and traveled all the way to Europe. The place was so beautiful! It was like something straight out of a children’s story book. I mean look at this:
Aren’t those buildings just super gorgeous? And to top it off, it was wonderfully warm and sunny that day. I didn’t even bother bringing my coat down from the car because the sun felt so good. Also, may I just mention how incredibly amazed I am with how clear and blue the sky was. We never get such clear skies here in the Philippines. Even when it’s sunny there’s always a handful of clouds up in the sky. You won’t find a single cloud in the pictures above (And no, its not because I photoshopped them out or anything – these pictures are pretty much SOOC except for resizing and watermarking.)
Anyway we spent our morning just walking around the village and taking pictures of all the pretty buildings. Kuya Wibet kept teasing us because we stopped in front of practically every structure we saw to take group photos, lol. (Forgive us and our tourist ways~ But seriously, can you blame us? This place is so lovely!)
(Kurt became more interested in the cars than the buildings)
Horsies! I had to snap this really quickly because cars kept passing by and blocking the view of the carriage
After about an hour of walking, we passed by this Subway restaurant and decided it was time for us to have our lunch anyway, so we went inside to grab a bite and rest for a bit.
Subway : Danish style
Two hungry girls waiting for their food XD
After eating we walked around the village again and stopped at some gift shops to look for souvenirs:
We came across this shoe store
And took pictures in front of the famous giant red clog:
My thesis revisions have been keeping me busy these past few weeks, but I finally have some free time now to blog and sort through vacation pictures again. These were taken a while ago (three months to be exact), but better late than never right? XD
My last vacation-related entry was about the last day of our little Vegas-Arizona tour. It was fun but quite tiring, so after that my parents just wanted to spend the next couple of days resting at my aunt’s house. It’s a good thing that Kurt had his last final exam the same day that we got back, and he decided to temporarily move in to my aunt’s house while we were there as well, which meant that Ezra and I had someone who was willing to drive us around. We gave him a couple of days to relax and get some energy back from all the studying and deadlines he had to face during his Hell Week before we started requesting places that we wanted to visit. First on our list was Little Tokyo (AKA J-Town) in Los Angeles. Our relatives have taken us there a couple of times before during our past visits, and they introduced us to the the yummiest mochi ice cream, which is something that Ezra and I miss terribly back home.
The trees were so pretty, all decked out in Christmas lights
We didn’t want to buy the ice cream immediately because it would melt, so we looked around first before dropping by the grocery store. We passed our time looking at the shops, eating snacks and peeking inside the restaurants (in a non-creepy way) to see the different foods they serve.
I can’t believe that it’s March already! And here I am still blogging about Day 3 of our Las Vegas/Arizona tour from last December! Ack~ Anyway this will be a short entry because the last day of our tour was pretty uneventful since we were just heading back to Los Angeles that day. But we did make a few stops along the day. The first was at the Ethel M chocolate factory in Nevada:
The company is owned by the same people who owns Mars Incorporated, which is known worldwide for chocolates such as Milky Way, Twix, Snickers, M&M’s and (of course) Mars bars.
To get inside the factory, we had to pass through the gift shop, which was filled with M&M’s merchandise:
We didn’t have anyone to guide us along the way and give us information, so we just peeked through the windows to see the chocolate factory and read the information written on the bulletin board:
It must be so cool to work here, surrounded by chocolates all the time XD
The factory is divided into different sections, such as the caramel apple station, cooling tunnel and the cutting tables: