Family of Four

Joined September 2017
  • Day28

    A Day in Stanley Park

    October 17, 2017 in Canada

    The sun was shining when we woke up this morning. Looking at the front balcony, we saw the red leaves of the maple tree across the road, sparkling from the heavy rainfall yesterday as the drops caught the rising sun. We all sighed with delight. This time, mom and I managed to convince dad and sis to go take a walk with us to the local café and boy oh boy did we take a lot of pictures of the surrounding autumn foliage and some with us in it.

    We had our breakfast at the Mighty Oak Café. We saw a very behaved and cultured little dog that patiently waited for its female companion, who was having a nice cuppa with a friend. Then a middle aged guy came in and complemented the Café proprietor on his upcoming olive oil exhibit, and both engaged deeply on the subject of changing times--apparently, people are now willing to pay more for the sake of quality. Well, in their affluent neighbourhood anyway, they concluded.

    While getting dressed and ready to head out, we observed a rainbow in the back balcony. It was hovering above the mountains of North Vancouver. There was a light shower there, but it looked kind and non-threatening.

    We took a cab towards Prospect Point. There we saw a panoramic view of the Lions Gate Bridge and the vastness of English Bay. The openness of the area naturally allowed wind to flow unabashedly. After we took our time taking snapshots with the vantage point and huge maple leaves (one lady presented to us a leaf bigger than my head). Then we proceeded to have a late lunch at the nearby pub with locally sourced grub.

    We were thoroughly delighted at their warm spiced apple cider. Though it was a sunny day, the breeze outside in the unguarded cliff was brisk and the beverage was quite comforting. We shared a plate of seafood spaghetti with some honey garlic chicken wings and potato fries.

    Whilst eating we weighed our options, as, with the amount of time in the day left, we are only able to pursue either a movie or the sea wall walk. In the end, we took advantage of the lovely weather and opted for the activity that will give all of us a much needed workout: we circumnavigated the scenic and renowned Stanley Park Seawall!

    As it stands, the Stanley Park Seawall is the world's longest uninterrupted waterfront path. We were very tired when we finished the walk. We transversed some foliage on the way down from Prospect Point and enjoyed more maple leaves, before finally accessing the concrete portion of the seawall, then had to complete the 3.5 km curves and junctions. We also encountered a lane of russet leaves that we took pleasure in.

    When we got to the Horse-drawn carriages stall, we tried to call a cab (no Uber available in Vancouver) but the operator was too lazy to locate in her screen our exact whereabouts. We ended up walking towards the Westin Bayshore and covered another 1 km or so. From a side street we managed to board a cab and then headed to Gas Town.

    There, mom and sis managed to purchase their Le Sport Sac bags, while I tried to figure out a photographer who kept shooting at something but I was unable to determine his subject. At this stage we were all ravenous and not long after a little walk we stumbled upon Silvestre Gusto Latino, a cosy, casual restaurant that featured Peruvian cuisine.

    We were thoroughly delighted to find familiar menu items. My sister had pork adobo, mom had pescado escabeche, I had some peanut based Peruvian sauced chicken dish, and dad had some beef. We also tried their golden Inca Cola and a sweet-sour spiced-drink which sis and I both enjoyed. We finished our pseudo-exotic experience with the Peruvian version of leché flan and alfajor--butter cookies sandwiching dulce de leche! It was a very scrumptious treat.

    Also noteworthy to mention: the young couple who tasted some gelatine sold in that shop, decided to buy, went off for a walk, and came back demanding for a refund as they did 'not like' the gelato. Of course they were asked to turn around and leave the premises); And the gentleman who attended to us was of Chinese heritage but somehow ended up living in Peru then migrated to Vancouver.

    After the sumptuous dinner we walked to a nearby liquor store and bought some Ice Wine, and then bought some bottled water on a convenience store across the road. There were some shouting drunk people on the street when we made our way to the adjacent cab stand, but we did not run into any trouble on our way back to our accommodation.

    To end this day, we popped the ice wine open and had a nice toast to each other's health and a hopeful wish for more future travels for the Family of Four.
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  • Day27

    Butchart Gardens and Victoria

    October 16, 2017 in Canada

    My sister organised a trip to Butchart Gardens and Victoria through her friend Rhoda while we were still spending time with Tita Agot in New York. She secured the trip for us to go with West Coast Tour.

    It was raining when we woke up early to ready for the day. We were praying and hoping that the weather in Victoria would be different. We had our breakfast and then called the cab to head to Robson on Rosedale hotel. There, we waited for the tour bus for quite some time and instead of being picked up at 0845am, the bus came at 0915 instead.

    Our tour guide's name was John. He was very descriptive about Vancouver and its suburbs. He even had input regarding the real estate prices, the connection of the places we were passing through to the first nation, the livelihood background of the locals, and how Victoria's weather is affected by the geography in Seattle.

    We waited to board the ferry service that will take us to Vancouver Island at Tsawwassen Port, and there my mom and sister purchased some new hat wear. My dad sacrificed his desire to buy himself a cap he liked so he could buy mom the one she fancied.

    I was thoroughly surprised by the ferry. It was huge, with two floors of storage dedicated for vehicles alone and can contain trucks and buses. But not only that, it also had 3 floors of passenger capacity teeming with retail shops, cafés and a buffet restaurant.

    My sister treated us to a relaxing lunch buffet up in the front deck of the ship ferry. There was a 180 degree view of the Salish Sea and the ship passed by Sturdies and later, Swartz Bay. It was still cloudy and rainy outside, but it was a wonder to watch the birds trying to make their way across the gray body of water attempting to catch fish despite the dreary weather.

    Upon arriving at Vancouver Island, we were then driven off to Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay.

    What a sight. There was so much to see in such a small amount of time. Our tour guide only gave us an hour and a half. We tried our best, we probably spent most of the time in the Sunken Gardens, and later, in a section with an assortment of flowers. It was tough to get pictures when everywhere you look at there are tourists upon tourists fighting for that same photo angle. On another note, apart from the landscaping and the myriad of plants exhibited, there were very interesting water fountains sourced from all around the world scattered in the garden.

    We were second to the last in returning to the bus. John then took us to Victoria, the Provincial capital. It was a nice port city, but unlike Vancouver it did not have any mountains surrounding it. On the way, John introduced us to the local Chinatown and its rich history, pointing out the narrow brick-walled Fan Tan Alley, where, later on, my sister and I had a picture at. He dropped us in front of the Royal BC Museum where we were instructed to return there in an hour and a half's time.

    We had a lovely afternoon tea in La Roux Patisserie and enjoyed their bread pudding and Opera cake. On the way back, my sister and I walked past Bastion Books in Bastion square where there were plenty of rare and second hand books (the smell of the book shoppe was thick with antiquity). Then we took pictures of the British Columbia Legislature building and the Fairmont Empress hotel. They were regal looking structures both facing the harbour--commanding yet elegant all at once. The waters mirrored the gloomy skies but thankfully there was no rain at this stage.

    Afterwards John drove us through a town called Sidney, apparently it is often used as setting for North American soap operas. Unfortunately it had grown too dark when we got there and the temperature outside the bus had dropped making the windows all fogged up, so all we had to rely on were John's commentaries.

    When we got back to the very wet Vancouver, we said hello to my sister's friend Rhoda at the hotel reception desk, then we braved the rain to buy takeaway from a nearby Maccas. We were very grateful for the divine providence of our transport home when just after our orders arrive, a taxi pulls over right in front of us, then a couple alights, as if on cue.
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  • Day26

    Mom and I woke up early today and had a morning photo walk for the nearby autumn foliage surrounding our AirBnB host's neighbourhood. Finally our autumn morning walk dream came to fruition! We then checked out a Café close by called "The Wild Oak" and bought some breakfast wraps (Turkey sausage with cheddar cheese and eggs) and some almond croissants for my still sleeping sister and dad.

    We then tried to attend the nearby 11am mass at St Patrick's Church but we did not make it so instead we went to the 1230 mass downtown, in Holy Rosary Metropolitan Cathedral. They had some interesting stained glass walls, and outside the main doorway was a 'homeless Jesus' sculpture.

    We then went to Canada Place, albeit a detour to BC place when our navigation skills momentarily failed us. And there we savoured the view of the Vancouver harbour, the Stanley Park, North Vancouver and mountains beyond looking back at us. To further describe the scene, there were some clouds around and pencil strewn sun beams scattered across the verdant, tall mounds that made the interplay of shadows and lights even more interesting. The entire scene reminded us of the views omniscient in Cebu. Also there were plenty of seaplanes hovering the area, and it was interesting to watch how they navigate the Vancouver harbour while they set themselves up for flying and landing.

    My sister took us to the Vancouver Convention centre for a late lunch at DeDutch Pancakes. We got to it just a little less than an hour before they closed up for the day. They served delicious, thin pancakes, perfect for both savoury and sweet variations. We then languidly made our way across Coal Harbour towards Westin Bay shore. We took advantage of the pleasant, rain-free afternoon and the burgeoning autumn foliage by snapping plenty of photos. We saw all sorts of people enjoying the weather: there were some health enthusiasts, tourists from all over the world, and some local pedestrians.

    We then took a cab back to our accommodation, and had a walk around Cambie St, where we ended up having dinner in Soho, a Japanese and Asian cuisine restaurant. I ordered a hot pot soup that I struggled to finish as it was indeed very hot and the serving was more than ample.

    Back at Amir and Mary Anne's place, we enjoyed the Drew Barrymore, Adam Sandler movie "Blended" before turning in for the night for an early start tomorrow.
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  • Day25

    Art Gallery, Granville Is, Gastown

    October 14, 2017 in Canada

    Today we arrived on a rainy and windy Vancouver. My family and I had lunch at the airport and waited for 11am as we were too early to check-in at our accommodation.

    We took a cab to our AirBnB host's suburb and we were thoroughly excited that the streets were lined with trees bearing russet and goldenrod leaves and even more delighted that there were a couple of bright red maple trees just standing outside our home for the next few days.

    Our ensuite unit was still being cleaned when we got there but they were kind enough to let us leave our luggages so we could further explore their city. When we arrived there was a furry black cat that welcomed us and it didn't take long for my sister to drop her bags and offer some affectionate response to the warm gesture.

    My good friend from university days, Blair, suggested for us to have afternoon tea at the Vancouver Art Gallery. From our accommodation we walked towards the nearest subway station. On the way there was a drizzle here and there but we were enjoying the sights and sounds of Cambie Street. Apparently the same street goes all the way into downtown Vancouver.

    It was a packed day in the art gallery as well as in the cafe. My family and I thoroughly enjoyed our orders. Blair had to miss out on the afternoon tea, but when she was able to join us she ended up taking us to Granville Island. My family and I were touched that she turned up with a car rental so we can get to our destination comfortably. When we got to Granville Island, there were exclusive parking spots labelled car2go, and we were stunned at how easy it was to use their system. Unfortunately I was not aware that that was the last time we were going to see that car so my little bag of Australian goodies for her was left inside for the next user to find.

    Granville Island was very touristy. It was getting even more wet and cool outside and so, we had to keep indoors, otherwise, there would have been so much to see. We passed by a broom shop (yes, they had Harry Potter's Thunderbolt), and a metal art work shop (with live demonstration). Then we reached the market area. There we had some calamari and chips while looking out the harbour, and later, did some window shopping around the artisan shops. It was surreal being able to sit beside an amazing friend and relive our university days while being able to bring each other up to date on each other's lives.

    We then took the Aqua Bus to Yale town and walked our way towards Gastown. The Aqua Bus was of intimate size--it allowed about ten passengers. It reminded me of the ferry boat that crossed the Mactan channel that I used to traverse back when coming home from University.

    Then we got to the steam clock. It was an interesting contraption: a well maintained relic of that era--the cogwheel and gears were fascinating to look at as they turned and interacted with each other. Not far from the clock was a Starbucks, and it was there my sister met her friends.

    As we were all together, we then tried to locate a place to have dinner but because it was Saturday night, every place we turned to were full. Finally, we were able to eat at a Teppanyaki place. Blair and I shared a 3-course-meal for two which completely filled us. The thin beef cuts, scallops and salmon were very delicious, and everything had a touch of butter! The chefs were thoroughly dexterous and efficient.

    When we were finished, Blair had to go home first. Our time together felt very inadequate as there was still so much to talk about. I hope we will meet again soon.

    My sister's friends, Rhodalene and Aivic, were generous to us: they drove us back to our place then even shared some of their bottled water. It was a real joy to see them both and Blair thrive and pursuing their goals in Vancouver.
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  • Day24

    Last Day in Calgary

    October 13, 2017 in Canada

    We spent most of the day packing. We Ubered towards my sister's place and unloaded more items in her place while also picking up a bigger suitcase for her.

    Then we went to this amazing Pho restaurant in Calgary's Chinatown. I cannot emphasize enough how comforting it was to enjoy such a delicious, warming meal on another cold day. Their soup broth was balanced and deep flavoured, their beef BBQ was well marinated and seeping with lemon grass aroma, and their spring roll was surprisingly crispy yet moist and tender on the inside.

    Afterwards we had a stroll along the river towards Al Forno's to have one more taste of their carrot cake. We were very lucky as they only had one more slice left. We also tried their chocolate mousse and a banoffee treat. We had them all as take out and then headed back to Hotel Alma to finish packing. We watched a bit of Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack's Serendipity that we bought from Fair's Fair book shop before turning in for the night. We didn't get to finish it as we it was getting too late and we had to catch an early flight the next day. We packed the DVD just in case we can watch it in Vancouver.
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  • Day23

    Downtown, Inglewood and Riverwalk

    October 12, 2017 in Canada

    We had lunch at Sunterra Marché in Downtown Calgary. They had a sumptuous selection of salads and cold meats and even pies and sweet pastries. I enjoyed my roasted herb turkey and cranberry mixed grains salad.

    Then we shopped around for a bit, afterwards, off we went to Inglewood. When we alighted at Fair's Fair book shop, mom screamed when we realised that we were missing our shopping bag! Amazingly, when my sister and I went back to the bus stop where we thought it was inadvertently left, it was still at the exact spot! Definitely something to remember Calgarians about.

    Inglewood was a quaint suburb--the shops were for niché market, one featured yarns and crochet items, another dedicated itself to vintage, vinyl records. We had a taste of the award winning Inglewood Pizza known for its brick oven cooked pizza, and indeed we were satisfied with every bite when we partook it at the Bow River walk.

    The River Walk was very picturesque. The autumn foliage was at its soulful swan song, and a hint of sunset rays kindled everything into a burst of golden light. There was even a patch of plant there that reminded me of the fields where Russell Crowe's character meandered in Ridley Scott's 'The Gladiator.'

    After taking heaps of snapshots, we found ourselves back at Chinatown, then had another go at the Thai Bistro and we ordered their delicious pad Thai for takeout. Then Mom and Dad returned to Hotel Alma while my sister and I went back to her place to get the luggages we require to complete our packing for our departure on Saturday.
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  • Day22

    Healy Dr, Chinook Centre & Gyu-Kaku

    October 11, 2017 in Canada

    Today we had to try and readjust to Calgary weather. From New York's sunny 28C, here it has been 1-5C throughout the day. On the upside, it was lovely to see Sigourney Weaver's doppelganger again as she gave us the run through of the the Weather Channel's forecast.

    We ended up deciding to bring some stuff to my sister's residence in Calgary. It was quite overcast, and some drizzle here and there was also noted. We had a brisk walk from the bus stop near her place towards the house at Healy Drive.

    Then we went to a nearby mall called Chinook Centre, and there we had some A&W burgers and sweet potato fries as we had a bit of time to spare before our chosen film started.

    After we watched Kingsman: The Golden Circle, we then shopped around as Chinook Centre was full of retail shops. Apparently it is the largest shopping mall in Calgary. It was spacious with high ceiling and very comfortable to roam around in. No one would know that outside was almost freezing.

    We then called an Uber service to take us downtown. My sister wanted us to experience a cook-it-yourself Japanese barbecue, so we headed to Gyu-Kaku. We ordered a variety of meats to try, and once they arrived, the waitress informed us of how long it took to cook each of them. It was visually stimulating to see the meat turn from pink to brown, watch it sizzle and then smell the aroma of caramelising flesh. We also had a bit of sake to go down with our dinner.

    Afterwards we headed back to Hotel Alma to retire for the night filled with hopes of visiting Japan again someday.
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  • Day21

    Goodbye, New York City and USA

    October 10, 2017 in the United States

    We woke up around 9am and had some bread and provolone cheese with sausage and eggs for breakfast. Outside tita Agot's apartment complex, an autumn tree finally burgeons.

    Then we went to Chinatown once more to buy some baked siopao to bring back to Calgary and had some more ice cream. Truly it was a delicious diversion! Tita Agot also bought some garlic stir-fried kangkong leaves and some chilli crab for lunch take-out. We watched some Filipino teleserye while we had our meals.

    We struggled for a bit in trying to fit our articles inside our four suitcases and a balikbayan cargo box but with strategising and some compromises, it was accomplished.

    David, Tita Agot's friend, picked us up and took us to the airport. We bade goodbye to the ultimate host, Tita Agot, down at her car park. We also said goodbye to her gallantry and generosity. It was utter pleasure meeting some of her friends-- her family in the Big Apple. One would never survive in such a busy and somehow, despondent place without the warmth and sincerity of genuine and lasting relationships.

    Thankfully it was a smooth check-in process for us when we got to the JFK airport. One of my workmates said she and her family had to go through five security checks when they took flight from there but we only had to undergo one.

    We also said farewell to the wonderful temperature of 27C. Back in Calgary we are expecting some rain and snow, and a maximum of 4C over the next few days.
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  • Day20

    Jollibee and Relaxation

    October 9, 2017 in the United States

    Oh my goodness! Chicken Joy and Jolly Spaghetti!

    Tito Rudy and Tita Edna gave us a lift to Jollibee Queens New York. It was a rainy, windy day outside, typhoon Naten was circling the area, but it did not stop us from visiting this Pinoy favourite. It pretty much felt like the good old days when we were little kids, mom and dad would take us to a nearby Jollibee on Sundays after we heard the mass.

    Tita Agot ordered a bucket of Chickenjoy and a buffet platter of Jolly Spaghetti and Pancit Palabok and some glasses of Pineapple juice. It was a gustatory experience that elicited a multitude of new and old happy memories and burps.

    Afterwards, they took us to two more outlet stores and we got a few more high quality cheap clothing items. Then we headed back to Tita Agot's place early and started packing our bags.

    This time we successfully managed to pursuade our extremely gallant host not to cook anymore for our dinner as there had been heaps of left-overs from the previous days.

    Not long before dinner Tita Olive dropped by once more and bid us safe travels and also gave us some pasalubong to take with us.

    To cap the night off, some therapeutic time took place. I massaged Dad's sore hand, and my sister helped tita Agot relax with a kneading on her back.
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  • Day19

    St Francis Church, and 37th to 42nd St

    October 8, 2017 in the United States

    It was an overcast day, with some rain. There was a typhoon hovering in the eastern coast. But we persevered with today's plans.

    We braved the light rain towards the subway, but when we had to do some walking to St Francis Church in Manhattan, the rain picked up. We managed to get there in time for the mass we were hoping to hear. Afterwards, mom and Tita Elery met. Lots of warm hugs and kisses long overdue were exchanged between two good old friends. Her daughter and her husband were present as well.

    We also got to meet the mass celebrant, whom Tita Agot knew. It seems that he portrays an essential role for the Filipino community there, especially with visa related matters. He met us while we were queuing to utilise the public bathroom. He was very kind to offer us the use of the private toilets inside the administration area of the church. There I had to help him carry a box of sacramental wine up a few flights of stairs and I managed to see a bit of their priory, which wa mainly built-up wooden structures.

    We then had lunch in a nearby multi-cuisine centre that featured a buffet section as well as quick to-go meal options for the ever busy New Yorkers. Mom and Tita Elery exchanged stories with candour while they sat together and had their lunch.

    Then we said goodbye to Tita Elery and her daughter. Hopefully the two good friends will get to see each other again sooner than later. Then we went on our separate ways--they went home and we proceeded to visit the South Korean ethnic enclave in West 32nd St Manhattan simply called Koreatown. We were surprised with the alacrity of the place, and the amount of South Korean tourists made the surrounds look even more authentic. We had a snack at the nearby Caffe Bene and tried their pastries and coffee.

    Then we walked our way towards the Empire State Building. It was truly fascinating to be stepping into the world-renowned structure. It had a foyer featuring a very shiny embossed signage and building art. We did not go up the top but instead made the most of our visit at the lobby.

    As we proceeded, we were treated to a multi-cultural parade to mark Colombus day. It featured a variety of people in differing skin tones. We thoroughly enjoyed the live band music that accompanied the baton twirling females, along with all the colourful costumes the participants had to wear. As much as we enjoyed the spectacle it was difficult to repress the feeling of the need to be alert and be ready for the worse.

    Thankfully enough it turned out to be just another parade, no violence or whatsoever ensued. We then got to the Rockefeller Centre and took heaps of photos. It was packed with people, but we persevered, and Tita Agot's photo ideas gave other people some inspiration too. There plenty of gold statues and flag poles in the area.

    Then we passed by St Patrick's Cathedral. We were unable to enter as there was an ongoing mass. It was a real shame as the structures inside would have been beautiful to behold. Outside, there were a flock of pigeons roaming around, and when they flew altogether it made a scene usually featured in films.

    On our way to Broadway we passed by the Radio City Music Hall, and then, the Times Square.

    There were so much people in Times Square. It was an assault to the senses: gargantuan, animated advertisement boards found everywhere you look at, people in costumes, tourists, pedestrians, cars, rowdy crowds, eateries, shops.

    We took some photos while it was still dusk and decided to take some more later after we watched the Lion King.

    We made our way to the Minskoff Theatre and because we thought we will all get hungry if we attended the show without having something to eat prior, so we went to the nearby Junior's bakery.

    Finally, it was time to enter the Minskoff theatre. There was a bit of a queue that resolved quite easily. There was a quick check on our bags by the security personnel. Then up we went to the main halls to where our designated seats were located.

    My sister and I have both seen the Lion King Musical before and we thoroughly enjoyed it, so we thought it would be special to watch it with our mom and dad and auntie--in Broadway.

    Alas, the walk around the city have proved to be taxing that for some of us, it became challenging to stay fully alert throughout the duration of the show. Next time we know better, we will have to make it a relaxing day should we be watching a performance at night.

    Then we visited Times Square again for more photo ops. There were some ridiculous costumes there, such as an adult man wearing baby diapers, some nude people covered in body paint, while others had superhero costumes, or even some Looney Tunes or Sesame Street characters. Most tourists have photos with them and give them a tip.

    We then walked our way to M & M's shop. My sister and I were delighted and impressed. Straight away we caught a whiff of the distinct M & M's aroma as we entered the store. There were all sorts of merchandise there featuring the M & M's characters. And the highlight of them all are M & M's of the colours of the rainbow - - each colour in their very own dispensers!

    Unfortunately the Hershey's shop across the road was under renovation.

    Close by was a McDonald's, and we thought it was only right that we had some dinner so mom and dad can take their medications. Thankfully enough we did, as we got back to Tita Agot's home very late (around 1am+) due to track works and modified timetable. The subway was very uncomfortable--very humid and hot. It was noteworthy to mention that despite the unfavourable conditions, there were still some buskers performing in the platforms, singing their hearts out.

    By the end of it all we were very tired, but very fulfilled as well.
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  • Day18

    Mizumi, Shopping pt 2, and a Reunion

    October 7, 2017 in the United States

    Today we were taken to a restaurant called Mizumi. It was also a Sushi buffet. I have to say that I appreciated their dishes more than Sushi Legend's! The amount of sushi varieties were phenomenal! I particularly enjoyed Escargot (land snail), Seared Tuna, Bacon Wrapped Bass and some Roe. Then there was an equally impressive dessert table, filled with fruits and even soft serve ice cream.

    Tita Agot's friends were very gracious for treating us. It was really lovely to see how they all seemed like a solid family, full of hearty laughs and that genuine sense of comfort with each other. They have all seen a multitude of experiences--of highs and lows as they lived together through the decades.

    Tita Edna and Tito Rudy then took us to some more outlet shops and consequently, we had to do more shopping. Then we called it an early day, and chilled back at Tita Agot's place. And lucky we did, as my dad got a chance to have a bit of a reunion with his college seat mate! Apparently he only lived very close by there. What a small world indeed. They reminisced and spoke of the days old and new.

    Then Tita Olive also came by and said hello to us. We thanked her for the dinner we had the night before. Naturally Tita Agot had some goodies for her as well.
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  • Day17

    Bakeshops, Statue of Liberty & Shopping

    October 6, 2017 in the United States

    Tito Pete was our chauffeur for the day, he is the husband of one of tita Josette's close friends. He was very generous spending his whole day with us today. We particularly enjoyed his sense of humour and he was very down to earth too!

    My sister enjoyed watching the TV show Cake Boss and today we located Carlos's bakeshop. It was located in a street where there were some ongoing constructions. Their cannolis and lobster tails were very delicious, the pastries were surprisingly crispy and rich cream fillings with just the right sweetness.

    After that, we went to the Filipino bakery and shop. My sister and I were reminded of our childhood days when we went to Goldilocks foodshoppe in Cubao. We used to have some cold treats there such as sago at gulaman when we finished our dental visits.

    Tito Pete then took us to Hamilton Park in New Jersey. It was an ideal vantage point offering 180 degree views of the Manhattan Skyline. We were surprised as there were no tourists there to compete with us for such a view.

    Then we headed off to the Liberty State Park. There we saw the now defunct entry point of immigrants or visitors to the USA. I remembered Saoirse Ronan's film, Brooklyn, when, in one scene, she was filled with trepidation, about to start a new life in a new country, and she was queuing in the exact location, waiting for her passport to be stamped by a border officer.

    We boarded our ferry service, Miss Gateway, towards Lady Liberty. On the way we picked up more tourists from Ellis Island. My sister and I thought that it would have been nice to visit the immigration museum if we had more time, maybe for another visit.

    Lady Liberty stood tall, dignified but graceful. She looked indifferent to time, unaffected by the current state her nation is in. But her presence attracts a sense of stillness and wonder.

    It was a hot, sunny afternoon. The ferry had a covered area but to get the best photos with Lady Liberty, we had to sit under the sun. We had two chances to get it right, one was on the way to the Liberty Island and the next was on the way back to New Jersey.

    We then drove off to Jersey Gardens at the Mills. It was an outlet mall. We had some lunch at Sbarro, and we were surprised they had rice meals, and even baked tilapia. They were quite delicious. Then we did some shopping. I thought my $7 shirts were already a good bargain, but my sister and auntie found $1.90 shirts. I also managed to get some swimming gear, cheaper than stocks back in Australia. We finished the spree with some Hagen Dazs and some chicken fingers, fries and onion rings.

    By the time we got back to my auntie's place, my dad's voice was tired, and hoarse. It was really nice that he and tito Pete had a great time chatting. Dad even said he did not notice the time went by as their conversations were that entertaining.

    When we got back to Tita Agot's place, there was some food from her friend/neighbour/workmate Tita Olive--tomato beef stew.
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