Tag Archives: history

I longed for a warm scarf…

“Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times” – Asian Proverb

Day 2 started with homemade mimosas and extreme bewilderment as to why it was so ridiculously cold. [Read Day 1] I longed for a warm scarf and a cozy jacket. So what do I do? I purchase the fluffiest scarf I could find at Walgreens. Once I had my fluffy warm scarf, I was ready to tackle on the adventures that awaited us.

Our first stop was the Painted Ladies. We decided that it would be ideal to walk there since it was approximately only a 15 to 20min walk from where we were staying in Nob Hill. During our walk, I was just in awe by the beauty that surrounded us. There was something about the architecture in San Francisco that gave the city a modern vintage look.

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On our way we passed Japantown. Apparently, the Japantown in San Francisco is the oldest of the three remaining Japantown’s in the U.S. which, all happen to be in California. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to explore Japantown, but it was nice to learn of its existence.

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When we finally arrived to the Painted Ladies we were confused. For some odd reason we thought that the Painted Ladies was the location of the Full House (the sitcom) house. However, it’s not! The Painted Ladies is actually one of the most photographed locations in San Francisco. Right in front of the Painted Ladies is Alamo Square Park where people usually sit on its hill and enjoy the view of the beautiful colorful houses. Unfortunately, the hill was fenced up and tourists had to take their beauty shots from across the street.

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The infamous Chinatown was our next stop. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the second-largest Asian community in North America. Chinatown was filled with an abundance of culture and history. There were stories being told all over the streets through the form of art.

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By this point we were starving and wanted some food. We go on the look for some authentic Chinese food but, instead end up having Sushi at Sushi Taka, a Japanese restaurant specializing in sushi burritos and rice bowls. The irony, we skip Japantown to eat in Chinatown and end up getting Japanese food. Sushi Taka was a small spot in the corner of Kearny street and was only take-out. The line was long but we waited because that only meant that it would be worth it. All three of us order the Sushi burrito and decide to eat at the park in Portsmouth Square, known as the heart of Chinatown.

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The square was filled with pigeons, adorable Asian elderly locals, kids and your few random scattering civilians/tourists. Everything was so serene. We sat by the kid’s playground. As soon as Steph took a bite of her Sushi burrito, she saw a new world and stated that it was the best thing she has ever had. In the midst of Steph’s revelation, an elderly man decides to feed the pigeons right by where we were sitting. The pigeons flocked towards us, and as the man grinned with happiness we fled to a new bench fearing the pigeons and their hungry eyes.

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Apart from the awesome Sushi burrito, the best part of Chinatown was the dance group composed of older Asian women. It was the cutest thing ever! They were performing traditional cultural dances. If I knew what they were doing I would of joined in the dancing festivities.

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Off we go to find a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Beforehand, I do some quick research and read that there was a nice view of the Bridge in Presidio Park. Therefore, we tell our Lyft driver to take us to the park. After our awkward drive, we find ourselves in the middle of a huge hill with no idea where to go. So what do we do? No, we don’t climb the insane hill as shown above instead, like good tourists, we ask a local girl walking her dog. She points us towards Inspiration Point.

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Inspiration Point was truly inspirational; just breathtaking. From the point you can see Angel Island, Alcatraz, the Palace of Fine Arts and the East Bay.

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I am absolutely obsessed with scenic views because there is so much power in them. They hold dreams, inspirations, love, hope; they hold stories of success, failures, sacrifices, beginnings and ends. All we simply have to do is get lost in them and we are sure to discover something valuable. 

Inspiration Point and all its beauty did not have a view of the Golden Gate so our search continued. After waiting for our lost Uber driver for about a half hour, we made it to the Marina District.

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The Marina District houses the Palace of Fine Arts. The Palace was designed by Bernard R. Maybeck and the design reflects the impression of a Roman ruin. It was stunning to look at. There’s always so much meaning behind historical buildings. I always find it interesting.

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As we started walking towards Crissy Field we came across baby ducklings! Yes, it was an exciting point in our trip! We don’t see baby ducklings everyday.

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Finally! We found our view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was perfect. However, in the midst of all the perfection was the strong cold wind blowing so fiercely that my scarf didn’t feel as warm as it did in the morning. There I was again longing for a warm scarf. I sat down as the cold winds caressed my face and took the opportunity to call home. It was nice to feel home close to me as I viewed a historical landmark.

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I looked at the Bay with gratitude and thought of how perfect the moment was. I was truly and genuinely happy.

To be Continue…

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Oh Budapest: The Sites (Part 3)

Big Bus tours took us all over Budapest. At a quick glance we saw Parliament and the Grand Palace. We were also able to see some of Budapest famous bridges. Never did I pay attention to the history of bridges but the bridges in Budapest definitely caught my attention.

The Liberty Bridge was the first bridge to be reconstructed after WWII.

Chain Bridge

The Chain Bridge caught my attention the most because of the legend behind it. According to legend, János Marschalkó, the sculptor of the stone lions at the end of the bridge, threw himself in the river during the bridge’s opening ceremony because a spectator mentioned that the lions had no tongues. However, the lions do have tongues you just can’t really see them unless you are at a certain angle. Marschalkó, also lived for many years.

Underworld opening scene building

The Elisabeth Bridge was named after “Sissi”, Elisabeth Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary wife of  Franz Joseph I of Austria.

During the bus tour I also learned some fun facts! Harry Houdini is from Budapest. I also passed the building where Vampire Selene, Kate Beckinsale from the movie Underworld, jumps off in the opening scenes. I absolutely love that movie! I was so excited I took a couple of pictures.

Dohány Street Synagogue

We also visited the Dohány Street Synagogue, the largest synagogue in Europe, and the second largest in the world. The synagogue can seat 3,000 people however, it is not used during the winter because the building is too big for heating. I found it interesting that the synagogue has some architectural Christian aspects because it was built by a Christian architect. This makes it a modern synagogue, which is why next to it a more traditional synagogue was built for more old-fashioned jews. I found this very interesting.

cemetery

In the backyard of the synagogue there is a cemetery where over 2,000 people that were killed in the Jewish ghetto during the winter of 1944-45 are buried. There was an horrific breathtaking picture that the tour guide showed us of all the bodies on the floor before being buried. A very sad image.

The Weeping Willow

In the back of the synegogue stands the Weeping Willow tree a holocaust memorial. On the leaves of the tree the names of Hungarian jews killed during the holocaust are inscribed.

It was very interesting learning some history about Hungarian jews.

Oh Budapest: The Sites (Part 2)

Hungarian Flag

When I arrived to Budapest I didn’t realize how much the city has to offer. With Big Bus tours I discovered that Budapest has so much history, beautiful statues, beautiful scenery, and so many things to discover.

The view from Gellért Hill

Budapest Statue of Liberty

The bus took us up Gellért Hill on the Buda side. The hill overlooks Budapest and the Danube River. It was named after Saint Gerard who was thrown to death from the hill. It was an absolutely beautiful view up on the hill. You don’t see something so breathtaking everyday. On the top of the hill resides the Szabadság Szobor or the Budapest Statue of Liberty. It is there in remembrance of the Soviet liberation of Hungary from Nazi forces during World War II. The statue is beautiful!

Shoes on the Danube Promenade

Before we embarked on our river tour we stopped by the Shoes on the Danube Promenade (on the Pest side,) a memorial that honors the Jews who were killed by the Arrow cross militiamen in Budapest during WWII. The Jews were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river, but before being shot they were asked to take off their shoes. The shoes in the memorial represent the shoes of victims left behind on the bank. It was a beautiful memorial. I really had to take a moment to take in how horrific it must of looked to have so many shoes on the promenade and dead bodies flowing on the river…a terrible image.

Buda Palace at night

We were about 1.5 hours early to the river tour. After the monument and deciding to take advantage of this extremely fancy bathroom in a hotel restaurant, we went to go wait inside the boat. We got their to find out we had to wait inside this restaurant boat until it was time to board the tour boat. At this point I had the most intense headache and I was beyond exhausted. We finally board the tour boat and decide to stay inside because it was getting chilly outside. The boat ride was so soothing that we each ended up taking a small nap. The river and buildings looked amazing at night! The lights on the buildings and bridges shined so bright. Throughout the boat ride the lady talking through the voiceover or recorded (whatever it was) had the most monotone driest voice ever! No wonder we took naps! I couldn’t even pay attention. Towards the end of the tour the boring lady stopped talking and some other lady started singing Bob Marley songs. That was pretty funny because we pictures dome Hungarian lady going in on these songs. The annoying drunk couples singing along WAS NOT funny and didn’t help the ridiculous headache I had.

To be Continued….

Beautiful Vienna

Arrived to Vienna

Saturday, my cousin’s wife planned a wonderful trip to Vienna, Austria! I fell in love with the city! It truly opened my eyes to how many wonderful things the world has to offer! I never would of imagined visiting Vienna, I honestly didn’t even know anything about the city. A lot of times we get stuck in our bubble forgetting there’s an entire world out there so different from what we are used too! Sometimes we might be very amazed with what we find outside our bubbles.

It was decided that we would take the train to Vienna so I could experience more also because parking would of taken time away from the trip. It was interesting because as soon as we got in the train I went from listening to Slovak to German. The train ride from Bratislava to Vienna only took an hour. This is nothing for a person who has to take the train to New York all the time (my cousin was impressed by my patience.) What shocked us all was the weather change as we left Bratislava. It went from sunny to having fog everywhere! You couldn’t see anything! However, that was NOT going to stop us from having a great day!

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

The first sight we visited was St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the most famous church in Vienna. It’s an absolutely breathtaking gothic church with so many intricate details in its design. As we approached the church there were people dressed in 18th century clothing promoting a Mozart concert that was happening in the evening. That was something you don’t come across or hear everyday. Inside the church was incredible and extremely beautiful. Outside, around the back of the church we came across horses with carriages! There were so many of them! I seriously felt like I was stepping into a scene from a movie.

Burggarten

We came across Mozart’s house, which is now a museum. We also came across a wedding dress shop with future brides trying on dresses! It was such a beautiful scene! They looked so happy and pretty. My cousin said people in Vienna love weddings. It is such a beautiful city I don’t doubt it one bit. Getting married in Vienna must be something else!

Inside the Butterfly House

By the time we stepped foot into the Butterfly House, which is right next to the Palm House around the Burggarten the sun was coming out. The Butterfly House was such a great experience! It is truly unforgettable. There was a waterfall, small ponds, a beautiful bridge made out of a tree trunk, and dozens of butterflies flying everywhere. It was ridiculously hot inside but worth every inch of sweat. The Burggarten is a park where the statue of Mozart stands. (Vienna is full of beautiful parks) Burggarten was the former private park of the monarch. It is attached to the Imperial Palace. The palace is absolutely stunning. It is also huge! I honestly could of sat around there all day!

Imperial Palace

Fountain at the Maria-Theresien-Platz my little cousin almost fell into

We then visited the Maria-Theresien-Platz it’s a huge square with 2 mirroring museums (Natural History Museum and Art History Museum) and a garden in the middle. Maria-Theresien was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions. The Platz was beautiful and very peaceful. My little cousin almost fell in one of the garden’s many fountains so we didn’t stay there for long. My cousin-in law almost had a heart attack! I mean who wouldn’t!

Next was a walk to parliament! I fell in LOVE with the statue of Athena that stood right in the middle. I couldn’t stop starring at it! In my opinion the statue is what makes the scenery the beauty it is today!

Athena Statue in front of Parliament

Our last stop was the Rathaus, which serves as the city hall of Vienna. It’s a beautiful building with a huge open space. Apparently, during Christmas season it’s used for a Christmas market! It must be something amazing!

City Hall

After visiting one last church, there was a choir singing so we stopped for a look, and walking around for a bit we went to a small park. The park had a nice playground and some swings! I was so happy! I joined my little cousin on the swings and felt the wind on my face! Oh and I finally got to eat the famous Turkish Kebab. They are very similar to a Greek Pita wrap. They were being sold all over Vienna! My cousin really wanted me to try one! They were DELICIOUS!

I saw so much and yet so little of Vienna! It is a big city with many things to see! I’m very grateful that I got to experience such an amazing city! I’m glad I stepped outside my bubble and experienced something completely new!    

Amsterdam

There is only one way to describe Amsterdam: Beautifully Crazy

Welcome to Amsterdam (Train station)

My day yesterday started at 6am. I was going to meet up with the Amsterdam crew Talya, Brielle, and Skyler. We bought our tickets at the station for 49.30 Euros (roundtrip) and off we were. 3 hours later after what seemed like the longest train ride ever! We made it to Amsterdam!

Street Performer

Amsterdam is the largest city and capital of the Netherlands. Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourists destinations in Europe. There were so many people there I was in shock! As soon as we arrived I had my first Falafel ever at Maoz Vegetarian with frites on the side, topping mayonnaise (keep count of how many meals I ate during this trip!) After we had our lunch we continued to walk and ended up in the middle of Amsterdam’s central square right in front of the Royal Palace. The square was overcrowded with street performers, tourists, and pigeons. We became curious about a specific performer and stopped to watch him escape from saran wrap  and chains. This man took FOREVER to do the escape! He was annoying the entire crowd! I was so over him! And his jokes were so bad. We think he was stalling to make sure he sweated excessively under the saran wrap, which most likely was the key to escaping. The funny moments during his show included a random italian man dressed as Mario, who I’m pretty sure had no idea who Mario was, and got shouted out by the performer. Also, a drunk man that interrupted the performance by trying to do a hand stand but failing miserably. What a welcome into Amsterdam.

Entrance of Heineken Museum

Heineken Museum

We then proceeded to the Heineken Museum. First of all I had no idea that Heineken was a beer from Amsterdam! You seriously learn something new everyday! The museum cost 17 Euros. I must say that those were 17 Euros well spent! The museum package came with 3 beers, a boat ride, and a souvenir. I learned how Heineken beer is a family business and how it is processed. The museum even has a room where you can watch all the Heineken commercials. I even learned how to drink a beer without sipping the foam, which protects the beer from getting flat while you are drinking it. After exploring all the the museum has to offer we met some cool people at the bar (part of the museum.) A 2010 RU graduate who was on a business trip for his job and a cute couple who teach kids in military bases. The boat ride was absolutely peaceful and so beautiful! Amsterdam has so many “boat houses,” which are apparently very expensive, according to the tour guide. I can’t imagine living in houses like that. They were houses built on water not really “boat houses” per say. After we got our souvenirs, a bottle opener shaped as the Heineken “e.” I was very pleased!

Ahead: The Red Light District

Walking around Amsterdam you notice how beautiful it is. The buildings have their own unique structures and mix in well with the scenery. We stopped by the flower market and decided to get some frites to snack on. Slowly we started approaching the red light district. Never have I seen something like that before in my life! Let me tell you that the red light district does NOT discriminate! You have your skinny prostitutes, your chubby ones, the one with small titis, the ones with flat asses… well you get the idea. Every type of girl you can think of is available.The amount of men that walk around horny and wishing to get laid is also unbelievable. Some of these girls are literally wearing close to nothing as they are displayed behind the glass doors like dolls. I actually saw a man go into one of the girls door and curtains were immediately closed. One girl even had a sign that said she takes S&M and lesbian action. Like I said before no discrimination whatsoever in the red light district. It was something you seriously have to experience to understand.

Side note: A man approached us saying “I’m a gigolo try me before buying…” .__. 

Eat Me Restaurant

Before continuing to explore the red light district we needed some food! We decided to eat at this place called “Eat Me.” The place was very pretty inside and they played some spanish music. I ordered the steak because I realized how much I missed eating steak. From what I understood it was the back of the cow and it came with some frites. I got a cappuccino to drink.  I get the steak, eat a little and realized the steak looked practically raw to me. Of course they tell me that’s how it was suppose to be but they still cook it a little more for me. It looked the same when they returned it but whatever I ate it anyways I’m not really picky with food. It was juicy I’m not going to lie. Come to find out it was beef that came from Galicia, Spain. After dinner we thought about going back home and last minute we decided to catch the morning train. We watched the train leave us. We had 9 hours to kill and no hostel to stay in. Hello Amsterdam! There were so many people on the streets!! After visiting various bars/clubs we felt absolutely exhausted! We even ended up getting Wok and Go (a chinese noodle place) like at 1am in the morning. I ate the entire thing by the end of the night! Yes, I am currently regretting it. We even managed to crash McDonalds and chill there while Brielle got a McFlurry. We were trying anything to stay awake!

Rotterdam Station

We get to the train station and only one section of the station was open. Security told us we had 2 choices: 1. Wait somewhere in Amsterdam till our train arrived or station opened at 5am (it was about 3-4:00am at this point.) 2. Catch the last train to Rotterdam. We decided option 2 would be best so we could get at least 1.5 hours of sleep and take the train from there back home.

We get to Rotterdam and the train station is outside!! We were freezing for about 2.5 hours! Train didn’t get there till 8:34am. I had to end up buying another cappuccino. It was the train station from hell! We even resulted to going into the bathroom and putting our hands under the dryer! Basically I didn’t get home till 12:00pm absolutely exhausted and without energy whatsoever!

Nothing like Beautiful Crazy Amsterdam to wear you out!

A Day In Antwerp

Welcome to Antwerp

Yesterday, Saturday, I visited Antwerp. It is a Dutch speaking city in Belgium. In Dutch Antwerp is spelled Antwerpen. It also has one one of the largest seaports in Europe, the 2nd largest I believe. The city is located on a beautiful and peaceful river called Scheldt. Antwerp is known for diamonds, shopping, and of course its seaport.

I really enjoyed visiting Antwerp we were top notch touristsyesterday! After a night ofchugging beer waking up at 7am was definitely interesting. We went to downtown Brussels to take about a 40min trip to the city of Antwerp by train. The train was full of European pre-teens that later we found out were going to some event called “laundry day.” Don’t even ask… We visited so many sites. We went to the Grote Markt, the main square of Antwerp. The city hall was located right in the square so I witnessed about 4 weddings yesterday, apparently people are constantly getting married. We saw the National Maritime Museum, a museum full of all types of boats! It was really fascinating to see.  We got on a bridge with an amazing view of the river Scheldt. We even went to what used to be Napoleon’s kitchen and witnessed some pretty cool chocolate sculptures.

Antwerp City Hall

Antwerp Train Station

Stella before shopping

After the sightseeing we drank some beers, like true Belgians, and off we went shopping. I am not really a shopper so I mostly just walked around the stores while my friends shopped. I did splurge when I went into Forever 21 though! Finally got myself some red pants and bought a nice little dress 🙂 As we finished with our splurges and thought about our bank accounts we witnessed a parade with lively Africandrums, the people were promoting their church. A little after that we found a Brazilian and Mexican food place where I wasted more money than necessary. We got a pitcher of Martini’s, which I wouldn’t recommend having if you end up eating spicy food and don’t like spicy food! It felt like my mouth was 10x more on fire whenever I took a swig! (But I had no water and was definitely was not purchasing one) Might as well been having straight up hot sauce! I had 2 tacos with rice and if it wasn’t for the spiciness it would of tasted absolutely delicious!

Brazilian & Mexican Restaurant for dinner

Martini’s

After dinner it was time to head home. I was absolutely exhausted!! Never did a shower feet so good! But overall Antwerp was a huge success! 🙂

Ma premiere jour de classe (My First Day Of Class)

VeCo building: Where i’ll be taking all my classes

Bonjour! Today was my first day of class! And what better way to start the semester than with a French class 🙂 Things went great especially when the professor said that we did not need a book for class! My bank account immediately became happier!

After class I had certain errands to run. The night before I intensively looked up the directions to a store (whose website was in dutch o_0) to purchase some school supplies. Google maps said the place was just approximately 12min away, but somehow I ended up walking for 1.5 hours! I couldn’t find the store and didn’t realize as I walked that I passed the area in which the store should of been located. But I did find some interesting stuff during my endless walk. I first found this beautiful fountain in the middle of this residential area. I sat and decided to think a little and snap a picture of it while I was there.

Residential Fountain

I also found a hair salon that charged 13 Euros for shampoo and a blow dry!!! 😀 That made the walk soo worth it! I been looking for a place to do my hair! I also found an Aldi. I had no idea Belgium had those, felt like I was back home (I peeked inside the window like a creep and it looked just like the ones in the U.S.) I also found a huge supermarket, which was where I ended up buying two notebooks, one folder, and a pack of three post-its all for 5 Euros! I felt very accomplished. Only problem I had at the supermarket was that when I approached the cashier there was a man in front of me that STANK! I’m sorry but I literally felt dizzy his body odor was just too much for me! I think the cashier felt it too because she looked a bit disturbed. I wonder if his wife or girlfriend was smelling it?! Smh! I would never let my man walk with such a stench!

On another note I decided to do some research because I kept thinking about the Royal Palace “Palais Royale” in Brussels. So I found out that Albert II is the current King of Belgium (the sixth King of the country!) The first King was Leopold I. Pretty interesting how people are just born into monarchy. “Princess Tiffany” ^__^Now to find that prince!

http://www.monarchie.be/en – Learn more about the Belgian Royale Family and its history!

Palais Royale