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Showing posts from January, 2016

Peace and quiet at Mission Santa Inés

The hustle and bustle of Solvang's Denmark-themed commercial area was in stark contrast with the Spanish mission established in the early 1800s. It's founded by Franciscans and (according to a museum staffmember) is still an active parish. The thing is, I've long believed that the USA mainly has practising Protestants. So it was a foreign concept to me to see a relatively old Roman Catholic church. Through my walk through the museum, I learned that this mission was built as a place to cultivate the faith within the Chumash community (mainly inhabiting the southern California coast).
I was also amazed that the artistic styles of the mission remind me of Philippine churches. For one, the old images of saints in Santa Inés looked very similar to the images of saints in the old Philippine churches. For another, the paintings on the interior wall of the Mission Santa Inés church reminded me of the walls of Our Lady of Caysasay Church in Taal, Batangas... And even those found in…

Island-hopping, United Airlines style

Alas, my Christmas vacation was drawing to a close. It was time to head back to the daily hustle and bustle back in the Philippines. However, instead of feeling sad because my vacation was over, I was actually looking forward to my flight home because I was taking United Airlines' "Island Hopper" route: 14 to 15 hours of flying through a 6900-km stretch of Pacific Ocean (from Honolulu to Guam) aboard a Boeing 737-800, with pit stops in the Republic of Marshall Islands and in the Federated States of Micronesia. What I didn't expect was the number of boarding passes I had to get before boarding the plane in San Francisco: I was carrying eight boarding passes!! I wasn't keen on the length of travel but I was stoked by the remoteness of the region I was going to reach through this flight.

My eight-stop island-hopping adventure started uneventfully in San Francisco. After a few hours, I landed in Honolulu (stop #1) only to realise that the airport was largely closed …

I must have been in "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous"

Last year, my family and I went on a road trip along Highway 1, the scenic route, to visit Hearst Castle in California's Central Coast. However, we weren't able to reach the castle last year. And so we tried again this year... and we succeeded this time.

I'd say that this was my first-hand experience at seeing what the life of the upper class back in the early 20th century really was like. It's as if I've been brought to the location of the 80's television show, "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" but with Robin Leach hiding somewhere. I say this because the gardens leading towards the castle is a sight in itself and the castle is as grand as the tourist guidebooks said it is.

Back in the day, the Hearst Castle was where people wanted to go to see and to be seen. If the Great Gatsby were real, he'd be William Randolph Hearst. His art collection is not limited to an art gallery in one of the rooms. The whole castle is one giant art museum! He had …