November 26, 2020

25th at San Francisco - Timeless Thursdays 26

My 25th Birthday at San Francisco, California, USA

It was a beautiful Northern California morning when I woke up for my 25th year as a human being more than five years ago. I arrived at the United States last June 1, 2015 and three days after, it was time for me to add up another year to my life, another number as my age. I have not been to America for almost 18 years and it was really thrilling for me to finally be back. I still have both vague and clear memories of my childhood in America but of course, things have changed, a lot of things have changed.

Hayward BART Station

Hayward, California is a quiet city along the bay area where my brother lives, a city I learned to love and call home. A train ride away to San Francisco, I left at around 8:30 am through the BART together with my brother Kuya Jon. BART stands for Bay Area Rapid Transit which services all the major cities across the Bay Area including Downtown San Francisco, the Peninsula Area, and the Cities across the East Bay. 

We got off at Montgomery Station, which was the first BART Station on downtown San Francisco crossing the transbay area coming from the Oakland and the East Bay. Kuya Jon and I parted for he has work for the day and then I started my birthday trip all around the foggy city.

San Francisco Contemporary Art Museum

I took some pictures at the San Francisco Contemporary Art Museum that has this giant Cube Building and just in front of it is the Saint Patrick's Catholic Church. There I prayed for thanksgiving for the gift of Travel that I received and am enjoying at that very moment. 

The Main Altar at Saint Patric's Church

Right after, I went and walked more up towards San Francisco Centre near Powell Street, which was still closed during that time. Passing through the Yahoo! Office, Union Square, until I found this giant weird looking tunnel that has a hanging street above it which was part of Stockton Street. Walking inside it led me to it, Chinatown!

The Street above a Street, Stockton Street

It was the second time I was there since my brother Erson toured me around the city on my second day so I am a bit familiar of the place already. I can easily get familiar through places especially if there are landmarks that I can follow throughout the streets. And also, I don't have a map or any mapping device at hand that time. Well, I do have my phone with GPS with me but I just don't want to use it the whole time since I'm in it for the adventure. 

San Francisco Yahoo! Office

I walked through Chinatown sightseeing all the shops and stores that were so busy during that time. it was a couple of hours before lunch time and food houses are packed with people waiting for their orders to be taken and served. I passed the bakery where me and my Kuya had lunch the time we were there and then went straight to one of the places I would really like to visit over and over again, the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi. I was the only one inside and since the lunch mass was just abut an hour away, I decided I'll join the mass after I get myself some drinks and use the restroom.

National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi

I walked out of the church and look for the nearest Starbucks. I walked downhill towards the Transamerica Pyramid which is one of the famous landmarks of the San Francisco together with the Golden Gate Bridge. Went inside Starbucks and got myself a Venti Peach Green Tea Lemonade and used their restroom. I brought my drink with me and walked all the way up back to the church. 

Transamerica Pyramid

Peach Green Tea Lemonade

Still it was barren and quiet and very peaceful, when the clock struck 12:15, the priest came out and fixed the things needed for the mass and it started. It was a very solemn. I feel so blessed being on that very place, at that very moment. It really is a different way of celebrating my birthday with so much serenity and blessing. 

Inside Saint Francis Church

We were just about 5 or 6 inside the church throughout the mass and when it was done, I walked up in front to greet the priest. His name is Fr. John De La Riva and he is probably the nicest and the sweetest priest I have ever known. I introduced myself and I told him it was my birthday and when he knew, he prayed a special prayer just for me. It was a very beautiful prayer. After that, I asked him for a picture and he agreed and we even did a selfie with Saint Anthony of Padua. I will never forget Father John, ever!

Me, Father John, Saint Anthony and Jesus

I continued walking after I got out of Little Italy, all the way back to Chinatown, and said a prayer at Saint Mary's Church and then back to San Francisco Centre. There I went down to the lower ground floor and to this sport's apparel shop called CHAMPS. There I got this very pricey Golden State Warriors Finals shirt which I decided to give to my cousin. 

Just near the Centre was Yerba Buena Gardens which I would really like to visit next but then it happened, I got lost! I was walking around in circles and weirdly, I was still enjoying the fact that I was lost, I then saw something!

STEVENSON STREET! Now I knew why God made me lost for a few minutes so that I will see this street, it was my street! I took a few selfies and finally I found my way to Yerba Buena Gardens. I spent all the remaining time there and at St. Patrick's church which was just across the park. St. Patrick's is the church of most Filipino Catholics in the San Francisco Area. I lit a candle for San Lorenzo Ruiz. 

This is my Street, Stevenson Street

When Kuya Jon got out of work, we met up again at Montgomery and rode the train back home to Hayward. Kuya Erson was waiting for us and we continued the celebration at the Kokyo Buffet in Downtown Hayward. 

Me and my dear brothers Erson and Jonathan

It was truly one of the best Birthdays I ever had since my Mother threw me a surprise party when I was 16! This Birthday spent alone gave me a sense of independence, liberation and solitude and I thank God for this blessing. I will forever remember those momentsspent at San Francisco and will never get tired of going back to this city, my favorite city ever! Now the question for me that time was,"Where will I be on my 26th Birthday?". The world's answer 4 years ago was four letters, HOME :)

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November 19, 2020

Gadong Market - Timeless Thursdays 25

Brunei is a very exotic country for some and it is living up to its name. It is one of the richest nations in the world but keeps itself very peaceful. It is a country of lush rainforests, golden mosques, gentle Bruneians, and yes, delicious food!

Gadong Night Market is situated in the Gadong district of Brunei's capital, Bandar Seri Begawan. Stalls begin to start selling their specialty delicacies at around 4 in the afternoon and goes on until the evening. It is best to visit it as it starts so you free away from the crowd plus to make sure you can taste everything while they're displays are still full.

Here are some of the goodies we tried! Note that 1 Brunei Dollar is equivalent to 0.75 US Dollar.

Different deep fried dumplings and meatballs

Spicy Fried Chicken over Rice ($2 BND)

Nasi Katok - Rice, Fried Chicken, and Sambal wrapped in Banana leaf and paper ($1 BND)

Assorted Fruit Drinks ($1 BND) and a variety of Noodles ($2-3 BND)

The Gang enjoying a giant $1 Melon Juice!

 

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I would love to welcome and invite everyone to join Timeless Thursdays.


Timeless Thursdays is open for anyone who wishes to share old photos or old thoughts that you would like to share as beautiful memories with everyone. This can be from yesterday, a year ago, or something from your grandma's treasure chest.

This runs every Thursday at 12 am (Manila/Perth Time) until Sunday at 11:59 pm (Manila/Perth Time)

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November 12, 2020

Christmas Ornaments - Timeless Thursdays 24

11/12/2020 - At the moment we are being banged by scary winds and rain, please pray for the Philippines. 5th typhoon in 2 weeks, this is a very strong one we have now.

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Christmas is almost around the corner. In the Philippines, Christmas begins at September 1st until the feats of the Epiphany on January 6th. During this time, streets are lighted with Christmas lights and different displays. But of course, this year would be very different because it's almost the middle of November but houses are still not lit yet (I can't speak with my eyes since I still can't go outside often, but speaking from my updates from my Filipino friends)

Whenever I travel, I always make sure I take home a little something from that country that I visited. Before, I used to hoard a lot of stuff but after 10 years of travelling, I realize I don't need a lot of souvenirs, I just need at least one or two that I can treasure forever. On my trip to Europe, since it was during the last three weeks of December, there are Christmas Markets in almost every city I visited. Too bad I wasn't able to see one in Amsterdam, my first stop out of Paris, but I found my first one in Milan.

    
A Christmas elf boy ornament I got near the Duomo

I was so happy to see this one on the store. It's a bit unusual for me to see a lot of witch inspired ornaments and decorations on sale at the market dressed up on festive and colorful dresses, but as a traveler who's eyes are open to different cultures and perspectives, I really appreciate seeing them as well. I think I got this for 4 euros a piece so I bought two, one for me and another for my brother's friend who was hosting me in Milan for my 12 hour stop in the city.

    
The Charles bridge and Prague's Astronomical Tower

On my stop at Prague, I did not miss getting one of course at the Christmas market in the old town square. It was packed with people but everyone was happy as a system of speakers blow out joyous carols which heightens the Christmas feeling! That moment made me realize that I really was on a Christmas Village, something I used to build at home using ceramic figures of shops and churches and stuff. I was there, on the real thing! And as a remembrance of that magical moment, I got this beautiful hand-painted ornament from a very kind Czech uncle who even agreed to have a photo taken with me. His work will forever be treasured on my tree.

Beautiful handmade Czech Christmas ornaments made by this Uncle

Ornaments are just simple things that adds beauty and color to a Christmas tree. Not everyone appreciates these little trinkets the way I do, but knowing all the stories behind every special ornament is a timeless spirit that will forever be attached to each of these. Hope I can bring more from my future travels and add it to my tree every Christmas season to add more joy and cheer to my holidays.

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By the way, I would like to share with everyone this beautiful Disney short animated film made by Disney UK that tells a story about a Filipino Grandma and her granddaughter living somewhere in London. It was trending here in the Philippines and in the Filipino community around the world and it really touched a lot of hearts, mine included! Always wanted a Disney movie about our culture, and thanks to Disney UK, we had a very good taste of it this Christmas! Watch it below.


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And another thing my friends! I was featured on Becky's Blog about World Superstitions where she invited me to be part of her collaborative post about different beliefs in the world. Of course I shared something about our own culture here in the Philippines. Check out the 10th edition of her series on this link: Trekking with Becky

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Timeless Thursdays is open for anyone who wishes to share old photos or old thoughts that you would like to share as beautiful memories with everyone. This can be from yesterday, a year ago, or something from your grandma's treasure chest.

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November 5, 2020

A Wizard for a Day - Timeless Thursdays 23

One of the biggest highlights from my 2018 Japan trip with my dear cousins was our day at the Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. I love theme parks but I extra love this one because of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Growing up in the 2000's, Harry Potter and his world has been a very big part of my childhood, teenage, and until now life! So this is literally stepping into a dream world for me and my cousins as well.

Me in front of the Hogwarts Castle

It was a very amazing experience for me. We started with the Hogwarts castle ride which I enjoyed so much despite the dialogues of the characters were all in Japanese. I was so lucky that my house scarf is still sold on the old design rather than the new one which I did not like. This trip to Japan was the beginning of my realization that there is no need to buy a lot of souvenirs from a trip, just one or two good ones are enough so I did save my pocket cash for this moment because I really want a scarf.

"Those patient Hufflepuffs are true And unafraid of toil!"

When I finally have hold of the scarf I just can't keep it away, well who cares right? I'm at Hogsmeade! (the village located beside the Hogwarts castle). To non-Potterhead readers, the Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry has four houses. Gryffindor, the most famous one where Harry Potter and his friends are from, Slytherin, the antagonist house who favors pure-bloods. Ravenclaw houses the smart ones and then you have Hufflepuff, my house, who takes the lot. Much has been said about how inferior Hufflepuff is but I really associate myself with the traits of just, loyal, and hard-working which probably is the reason why I took about a hundred quizzes online and about 80% sorted me to the Yellow house.

The Weasley's Family Car at the Forbidden Forest

As you enter the park from a long stretch of Pine trees that line up which is supposed to be the Forbidden Forest with remnants of the Weasley's Car, you will be welcomed by the arch to Hogsmeade's Village. Then on your left as you enter, you find the Hogwarts express that is supposed to take you to Hogwarts from the Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station in London.

A photo with the Hogwarts Express Conductor. A big and friendly guy!

Real shops line up the village just like how it is on the movies, one of which is Olivander's where Harry and Hogwarts students mostly get their wands (they also sell wands out there of course for a fortune HAHA) But what one wonderful thing about the theme park is that the Characters on the park are all British/European yet they can speak very fluent Japanese, part of the requirements of the park for sure!

A poor lit photo of me and my cousins at Olivander's

Inside Gladrags Wizardwear, the salespeople are just extremely kind where they let us try out the cloaks even if we don't intend to buy them. Of course I did not miss my chance to have a photo of me taken with the Hufflepuff cloak. It felt so good to wear it like I was really part of the cast!

My "official" photo at Hogwarts.

Never Stop the Magic!
Stevenson

 


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Timeless Thursdays is open for anyone who wishes to share old photos or old thoughts that you would like to share as beautiful memories with everyone. This can be from yesterday, a year ago, or something from your grandma's treasure chest.

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October 29, 2020

A Night with the Eiffel Tower - Timeless Thursdays 22

Seine River Cruise

I really wanted to post something long this week for Timeless Thursdays but just earlier, while I was fixing some pictures from my trip to Paris, I stumbled upon this photo and decided I'll share this one with all of you. No long stories needed for this one I believe, the photo says it all.

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PS I would have to apologize to all of you my blog friends, I have been caught up with a lot of work this past couple of weeks but please remember that your comments are very appreciated and makes me so happy to read them, it eases all my stresses. Sending everyone love! And please do pray for the Philippines, especially my countrymen that were greatly affected by the flooding due to the typhoon that passed through earlier this week.

Never Stop Dreaming!
Stevenson


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I would love to welcome and invite everyone to join Timeless Thursdays.


Timeless Thursdays is open for anyone who wishes to share old photos or old thoughts that you would like to share as beautiful memories with everyone. This can be from yesterday, a year ago, or something from your grandma's treasure chest.

This runs every Thursday at 12 am (Manila/Perth Time) until Sunday at 11:59 pm (Manila/Perth Time)

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter