Hello there! It’s September now and I can’t help but feel excited for “ber” months to come. It’s one of the most awaited months of the year, at least for me. But this post isn’t about “ber” months and such, I will be sharing a recipe I learned and made a few weeks ago. I do hope you would all enjoy!
As you all may have noticed, I have a great love for pasta recipes. So one day, my dad requested that I make a tomato-based pasta sauce from scratch. I honestly felt intimidated and thank goodness for Google and Youtube for making this girl’s life a lot easier. Lol. Here is how I did mine:
Pasta al Pomodoro
1/2-1 kg of tomato cut in quarters
1 whole carrot diced (optional)
1 whole white onion diced
1 red bell pepper diced
2-5 cloves of garlic diced
500g spaghetti pasta
Salt and pepper
Handful of fresh basil
Parmesan cheese for garnish
Blend your tomatoes on the food processor. You may opt to leave them chunkier depending on your taste. On a wok pan, or a any pot heat your oil and cook your garlic until golden. Do not burn your garlic. Then add the onions until translucent, add carrots and red bell pepper until cooked. Add the blended tomato and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and cover it slight with a lid.
On a separate pot, cook the pasta according to instructions. Drain and add the pasta sauce. Add the fresh basil until wilted. Garnish with parmesan cheese and enjoy!
I am glad that my family enjoyed the meal and I think this would be my favorite from all the pasta recipes I made. I hope you also enjoy this recipe and you might want use the sauce for a ciabatta dip instead of the pasta. Here is the video where I followed the recipe and added some twist:
Give this a try and lemme know on the IG account! Love love love!
Hello! I’m back again and will be posting another food recipe I learned. The original recipe is none other from Liv B’s Youtube Channel. She’s a vegan and if you wanna give vegan a try, I highly suggest her channel and blog for more scrumptious recipes. She features both healthy and delectable delights in the vegan cuisine. I am on the brink of becoming one too, but is still on the process. Being vegan after all is a lifestyle. But, enough of the ramblings, let’s go ahead to the recipe:
* I did my own version and hence this is not a vegan recipe as I added parmesan cheese to the pasta. I will add Liv B.’s link below for the vegan version.*
1 small size squash or half or a quarter of a large one.
1 whole carrot diced
1 whole white onion diced
1 red bell pepper diced
2-5 cloves of garlic diced
500g penne pasta
Salt and pepper
Handful of fresh basil
Parmesan cheese for garnish
Chop your squash to cubes and boil them under cooked. Take them out of the pot and save some of the broth. In a food processor, blend the squash, add a little of the broth for a thinner texture. On a separate pot, sautè your garlic and onion with olive oil until translucent. Then add your bell pepper and carrot. Stir until cooked. Pour in the blended squash. You may opt to add a cornstarch mixture or cream to thicken the mixture or the squash broth to thin out. Let it simmer then add the basil. You may choose to leave a few for garnish. Add salt, pepper and paprika to taste.
On a separate pot, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Mix the sauce and pasta, add parmesan and remaining basil for garnish. Serve while hot.
Another thing you can do with this recipe is to leave out the pasta and serve it as a soup or ciabatta dip.
I hope you enjoy making this or making your own version. As promised, here is Liv B.’s version of the recipe.
Salut! Finally writing down the last leg of my USA Trip. So sorry for dragging this series for too long. I have been busy at school trying to balance the surplus of assignments and projects before deadline. On my previous blog, we talked about our trip to Pensacola, Florida and to the US Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Today, I’m writing about our trip around Birmingham and to the Six Flags over Georgia then back to NYC and back to Manila.
*Note: I’ll be posting the website links of the establishments I’ll be writing about here at the end of the blog*
We started off for that day quite late as we were quite dead tired from our past day’s adventure. We decided to go somewhere near and off we went to the Birmingham Zoo. It was a bit of a long drive going to the zoo and the best part? We passed by the “fancy” houses of Mountain Brookside.
We saw all sorts of mansions and castle-like, monastery-esque style houses. My eyes had a total feast and all that I could utter were “ooh”, “wow”, “ahhs”. 😲😮
We finally reached the zoo at the end of the road and nearby was the Botanical Garden. We were suppose to go there as well, but time had constrained us and so we had to pick only one. We chose the zoo.
The zoo was huge and had a lot of divisions, there were even constructions on the way for adding up Asian species. They had far more animals that I have never seen on our local zoo which made me really excited to see them in real life.
After the lunch, we went to the primates section then the aviary followed by Alabama’s local species. My favorite part so far were the flamingos and the lorikeets. They are such beautiful colorful creatures that are definitely an eye candy.
The last part of the section were the barn animals and you can pet them too. Though I was a bit hesitant, I just enjoyed taking pictures and gazing at them. Haha.
After the zoo experience, we then visited my Uncle’s dad, Mr. Doug Phillips and even met Matt (my Uncle’s older brother) along the way. We had a great time chatting and ended it around past 6pm, passing by Ate Chariz (another Pinay who gave us biko, a Filipino rice cake delicacy) and went home dead tired. We had to rest early as our last adventure on will be on the Six Flags!
I have heard of Six Flags from my aunt before and I have been wanting to try out their death-defying roller coaster rides. I always love to give myself a mini heart attack during this rides. Sometimes I make poor life choices. Haha. We left a bit earlier than our usual and the as you can see the clouds looked ominous so we were really praying that we get to enjoy Six Flags before it pours.
The theme park was really huge and you need to plan out your rides to maximize the park. We, the adults decided to go the high rides instead while the kids take on the kiddie rides. Our first ride really made my innards jump. I was really short that the crew had to push me down to touch the flooring of the ride. Haha!
Some rides made me almost flew out of my seat and I had to hug on the bars for the love of my life! I also literally saw my saliva go up and down before dropping on my knees which made me laugh and drool more. Yeah, I was classy like that.
However, some rides made me nauseous too. Like this Batman ride that had a lot of loops. We had to stop for a while to rest and continue for the Goliath and Dare Devil. By this time, it was drizzling a bit and some rides were having technical difficulties, but thrill of riding exceeds my safety fears. Haha.
Thank goodness, my Uncle and Auntie were adventure-seekers like me and my brother. We rode the Goliath thrice and had a super great time together while the elders sat and rest. Sarreh mom and dad.
It then started pouring and we decided to ride the train and see more of the theme park while being sheltered from the rain. We went down on the first stop to roam around and look for kiddie rides for my younger cousins. Sadly, there were only a few rides open since it was raining. But we found one where we all enjoy and even had a contest of the getting the highest score. It was a great bonding experience.
Eventually the park had to close due to the rain and as we were on our way out, we saw the Georgia Cyclone, which was a wooden rollercoaster who was still running. We rode it three times and had the best time. It was juggle of a ride, it was bumpy and scary fun. I think I hurt my shoulder so bad from hitting but it was worth it.
Although we only rode a few of the rides because of the rainy weather, the good part was the short lines. I still can’t complain cause I get to ride Goliath, the Dare Devil, and the Georgia Cyclone who was put down by July 30. Huhu. I at least I get to try it thrice. 😦 We ended our Georgia adventure and ate at Arby’s and I enjoyed their burger/sandwiches a lot too.
We went home late and started packing our stuff. It was kinda sad to pack your stuff and know that it’ll take time before I get to see my cousins and Aunt and Uncle again. But we just chatted the night away and slept for the big trip tomorrow.
That morning was a silent one, we were trying to not be emotional and did some last minute packing too. Mims (my Uncle’s mom) came over and helped us. She even sent us chocolates and jerkies to snack on the train back to NYC. By the time we were leaving, my cousin Raicelle got really sick and so she had to be left at home. We just gave her a kiss on her forehead and big squeezy hugs and few words of wisdom before we left.
We laughed on the car ride as we didn’t want to be emotional. We checked in our baggages but somehow the Amtrak in Birmingham wasn’t too strict with the 50lbs rule per bag. It was a small station so we had to wait on the hallway and the train got delayed for hours. We were a bit worried cause we have a flight to catch and time zones to compute whether we’ll make it to the flight.
We were all praying that we won’t miss the flight. Honestly, we ate almost all of the snacks that Mims gave us at the lobby area of the station. Haha. When the train arrived, everybody was a bit cranky due to the delay but we were more of emotional than irritated.
When the train finally arrived, we were all crying. I was bawling and so was my uncle and what made my heart break was to see my aunt and little Tate cry. Typing this now even makes me cry. We truly enjoyed our bonding with them and saying goodbyes are too painful. It really pains me to hear Tate say “I don’t want you guys to go.” So instead of goodbyes we instead said, “See you all soon”.
We had puffy red eyes as we board the train and slept most of the train ride. The train crew gave out free complimentary drinks and snacks which I think is because of the four hour delay. They also opened the cafeteria and had free unlimited coffee (we had to pay $3 during our first ride). We just give the server a tip as a way of saying thank you for the service, though the meals and pastries are still paid for.
By the time we reached New Jersey, we got delayed again for some problems by an hour or so. The air conditioner even shut down and it was really hot in the train. I was in pain that day too as the “flow” came in with a good timing and worried about our flight. We reached NYC and had to wait an hour before our baggages were released from the baggage section. My dad and I were computing the number of hours left for our flight plus the fact that we need to ride the subway going to the Airtrain.
It was a true amazing race in any sense. We were even debating which train to ride whether we had to go uptown and downtown. Thankfully, I found the signboard and we all boarded the train. I told my dad to look for people with baggages and follow them as for sure they were going to the airport as well.
We thought we’d be able to settle calmly on the train and guess what? The train operator suddenly announced that there were some changes on the route and some stations that we’d only pass by. The “good” part was that he removed the screen signs and instructed us to listen to his announcements. The “best” part was that I couldn’t understand a word he says. I could only pick on few words but most were gibberish. I could literally feel panic creeping in.
I am just so thankful for the man who sat beside us and noticed that we really confused and told us when to go down and what the operator said. Which was a big relief for all of us, I mean I understand English and can speak English well, but with differences in accent, I find myself confused. Nevertheless, we reached JFK airport just in time for the check in and finally settled down. We changed clothes because, hygiene and had a small meal with whatever snack we had left.
The flight home was more relaxing since we all sat together and thank goodness for China Airlines’ yummy meals which filled us up till our flight back home.
Overall, the US trip was an exhausting, sleep-depriving, body clock wrecking, adventure-filled memory of a lifetime. I am hoping and praying that we will go back and see more of the United States. But for now, my blog series ends here. I do hope you guys enjoy our trip and see you all soon for the next #LesVoyagesdeNica!
Hello Guys! Let us take a momentary break from the USA Trip series and talk about food first. 😝 I always love a good pesto pasta and have seen numerous recipes online. It just so happened that yesterday, I have remembered that we still have plenty of avocados and I thought of making a pesto pasta. Now, I know that pesto is an Italian sauce made out of basil, garlic, olive oil and parmesan. Some add nuts and some add good ole avocado for that creamy kick.
But like the usual, our kitchen pantry had some ingredients missing. The first would be basil and the second was parmesan cheese. So let me tell you how I made my creamy avocado pesto pasta using avocado as the main ingredient and in replacement of fresh basil is dried up basil spice.
Creamy Avocado Pesto
2 whole ripe avocado
1-2 tablespoon of dried basil spice
2-4 garlic cloves (depending on your preference)
1/4 cup of olive oil or more
1/4 cup of nuts (preferably almonds or walnuts or any nuts of your choice)
1/4 block of cheddar cheese (1 cup or more of parmesan cheese)
500g of penne pasta or any pasta of your choice
Salt and pepper to taste
Chili flakes for added spice
In a food processor or blender, blend the avocados, garlic cloves, olive oil, nuts, cheese, dash of salt and pepper. Add oil to make your sauce a bit runny. Set aside. On a separate pot, cook your pasta according to the package instructions. Spare a half a cup of your pasta water in case your sauce is still too thick. Drain and add in your sauce. Mix well and add the dried basil spice, some salt and chili flakes. Serve and enjoy!
A post shared by Lasea Jeziel (@thefooodiefeed) on
My pesto was a brighter green because the main ingredient was avocado, Lasea used fresh basil and I hope to make one using fresh basil as well in my next cooking sesh. For now, use whatever you have. Lol.
Ola! We are now on our third installment of the USA series of #LesVoyagesdeNica. We are still currently in Gulf Shores, Alabama and will be exploring more of the place and some part of Florida. I’m really sorry that it took a week for the next post, my plate has been full of tasks that I needed to complete. Now let’s get on the trip!
*Note: I will post the links of the places we went too at the end of the blog*
After our beach day in Gulf Shores, we decided to head over to the nearest city and state, which is Pensacola, Florida. We also happened to pass by the famous Flora-Bama Lounge, who stands in the borderline of both Alabama and Florida. Cool story my Uncle told me was that in Alabama, alcohol was not sold on a Sunday, so if you are inside the Flora-bama, simply hop on the borderline to Florida and buy your drink on that side. Hehe.
It wasn’t a super long drive but when we reached Florida we were definitely hungry and so we gave out Chick-Fil-A a try. I love their chicken sandwich and the honey barbecue sauce is definitely a two thumbs up. I also love the fact that they don’t open on Sunday ever since they started. That kind of reminded me of our business back home where we don’t open on a Sunday for church and for the Lord.
Our first stop was the Pensacola Beach. It was beautiful and thank goodness the sun shone really bright or we’d be freezing from the cold winds.
Then we went shopping and headed back to Gulf Shores for a good night’s rest. For the following day, we decided to have brunch at Mikee’s (a sister company of Shrimp Basket) then headed over to the Hangout to enjoy another beach day.
It was really cold by the beach and we had to take shelter under a lifeguard’s seat from the freezing winds. Haha!
After my dad and uncle’s quick dip at the sea, we then headed to an outlet store to go shopping for clothes and gifts to bring back home.
We managed to look for sales and promos which gave us a huge discount too. Then we ended the night with some ice cream milkshake which was truly a thick one. I had the Malt Brownie and it was really good too!
That following morning, we then headed back to Trussville after cleaning the whole place. Our family truly enjoyed the stay at the Phillips’ rest house, once again, thank you Mr. Doug Phillips!
Going our way back home, we passed by Huntsville and saw the NASA Space Center and decided that our next trip would be there. So the following morning, we did so. We should’ve started earlier but we were tired from the travel, so we make do with whatever time was left but we enjoyed the tour and learned a lot.
We enjoyed the interactive activities inside the NASA center
We went to where my Aunt and Uncle go to which was the Church of the Highlands. It was huge! The parking was full when we arrived and thankfully they’ve got people who assist you on your parking problems. I also got to ride a golf cart as they use it to service old people who parked farther away from the entrance. I’m glad my grandma was there and my aunt who carried Tahlia.
They had theater rooms for in case the Main Auditorium got filled up by the crowd. They also offer free coffee and boy, I drank a lot. The preaching was good as well and after the service we left for lunch at the New China Buffet and meet up with my aunt’s Pinay friend.
We enjoyed a good hearty meal and chatting. It was all fun and laughter as we all bonded together. Then we parted ways and headed home to rest a bit and went to JC Penneys.
My dad, me and my aunt were the only ones who went shopping. We bought some gifts and souvenirs as well. Then by around 7pm we headed home to fetch the rest for dinner at Chipotle.
Most restaurants in the US lay out the Nutritional Content of their meals, which is a good way for people who monitor what they eat and their calorie intake.
I truly enjoyed that Tex-Mex dish! I wish they would open one here in Manila. Chipotle, if you are reading this, please heed to my request. Char! Haha. After a super late dinner, we then went to Walmart for some grocery shopping, but my mom suddenly had vertigo attacks and thankfully, here in the US, people with disabilities are given the sense of normalcy even in the simple thing of grocery shopping.
After a long but fun day, we headed home for another adventure that awaits us on our final days at the United States of America.
Hello there once again! Sorry if the next post takes time to get published. Blogging 5 days of adventure in one go is quite a handful. So I hope y’all bear with me. Hehe. We are now on Alabama and will be touring most of the Southern States.
* I will post the links of the tour attractions’ websites below at the end of the blog.*
Ark Encounter > Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center
After a day of our arrival, we decided that our first stop 20th of May was The Ark Encounter. The Ark is located in Williamstown, Kentucky and it is a 7 to 8 hour drive from Trussville, Alabama. It is a life-size Ark of Noah which is seen in the Bible. A must see tour attraction for all ages!
We left home a bit late as we were all dead tired and time zone changes are kicking in. So on our way we decided to stop by for coffee at none other else than, Starbucks. Haha. I was really surprised to see their venti size which was really huge! After a coffee break, we drove all the way to Kentucky. It wasn’t hard to see where the Ark was seeing the huge arch they made.
We bought our tickets on the spot at the Ark and rode their free shuttle bus. The Ark’s outside attractions were not completely done yet, but the Ark itself and the insides are. It was HUGE and beautiful. I love the detailed work they did and followed every step same as it was written on the Bible. For a Bible-believer like me, this is indeed wonderful.
The first floor of it is their souvenir shop, the second floor contains all the animal replicas and fun facts of how it was built and run by just 8 people during Noah’s time. The third floor are the quarters of Noah and his family and some mini museums about the Bible. Each floor has a restroom and a TV show that either features documentaries or movies about Noah’s Ark.
They also featured how did the Flood happened and the Creation as told in the Bible. I love how interactive their museum is, you may get to ask the wax figure/robot of Noah and he’ll be answering you. Kinda creepy looking but fascinating!
After walking through all the three floors, I was truly exhausted and my toes felt like separating from my feet. I guess, that’s what you get when you try to go on fashion without comfort. Haha. It was tempting to walk on bare feet especially when the wooden floors are all cool and shiny.
It was late in the afternoon when we left the Ark and headed to Nashville, Tennessee to see my cousin who was based there. It was a long drive since it rained really hard on us on our way back. I have ever seen such rain and thunderstorms. I could see lightning hitting somewhere afar and it was indeed scary. We even got lost on our way to meet her at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center.
Gaylord Opryland is one of North America’s largest hotels without a casino and is famous for its convention centers. Truly a 5 star hotel. I felt fancy entering the place and the garden was truly an oasis. Though it was a quick catch-up as we arrived there around 1am, we are happy to have seen each other. I haven’t seen her for almost a year and so we both were truly excited.
We arrived back at home at around 6am, it was a Sunday and as bad as we felt that we couldn’t go to church, we all were truly exhausted and slept almost the whole day. That evening we prepared our things for another long trip and left in the early morning of Monday for Gulf Shores, Alabama.
I would like to take this opportunity once again to thank Mr. Doug Phillips, my aunt’s father-in-law, for allowing us to use his home in Gulf Shores. My family enjoyed the place and are truly grateful for it. You may or may not read this but still, thank you and we hope to see you again!
Gulf Shores: Canal Park > Pass On Point Beach > Souvenir City > Shrimp Basket
Right before the crack of dawn, we traveled from Trussville to Gulf Shores, Alabama which takes around 4 1/2 hours of driving. We slept on the car and woke up on Gulf Shores. It was a bit chilly in the area seeing that it is near the sea. We first did our groceries and napped for a while. We then headed to tour around the area first.
Our first stop was the Canal Park. My Uncle said that we could go fish for bait here at the Canal and fish at some lake or by the beach area. It was a quiet place where a lot of boats are parked too. Here in Gulf Shores almost all the house are raised with poles and columns and beneath the house are their boats parked.
On the way to the beach we passed by some of the fanciest condominiums in Gulf Shores. They sure do look like hotels, but Auntie said that those are Condominium units and very expensive ones too. Most of them are facing the beachside.
The beach we went to was Alabama Point East. It was nice and calm that day and perfect a beach outing but we just wanted to see the area and we didn’t bring out swimwears too. Hehe. After the beach, we headed downtown to eat dinner at a eat-all-you-can resto called Shrimp Basket.
Although what we ate wasn’t shrimp or anything. Haha. The menu that day for eat-all-you-can was whitefish and catfish. We had a great time bonding over good food and then we headed to the Souvenir City just right across the street to do some shopping.
We did bought a lot of shirts for souvenirs and ended it that day. So far, our first day in Gulf Shores was a great time for the family. On the next day, we then headed down to the Little Lagoon beach and enjoy swimming.
It was also windy and sunny that it made it difficult for us to stand a tent. We had to dug up sand so it would stand. After the hassle, we swam a bit and ate lots of sandwiches too. My uncle and the rest of the men went out fishing, while we girls ate and goofed around. We stayed there up until noon. It was a great family bonding time that we all enjoyed.
*Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. All that is written here are based on my experience and opinions on the matter.*
Ola! I’ll be taking a break for a while in the USA series of #LesVoyagesdeNica by sharing my experience in subscribing with Spotify Premium using my prepaid Globe load. I am really glad that Spotify gave us this option of using your mobile load as a means for payment. I am quite hesitant at first because they first offered the premium service using credit card. I don’t own a credit card, but I do own a debit card. So, seeing this offer that they have which is accessible for most Filipinos is really a convenient choice.
When I first tried this, I didn’t get the process of the subscription. I loaded my prepaid sim around 130php during my first try. However, my Spotify account kept saying that I have insufficient funds. It was totally frustrating. Thankfully, after seeing Spotify Cares post, and messaging them directly via Messenger, they gave me the steps on how to subscribe via Globe. It turned out that I needed 144.48php due to the 12% VAT added to the 129php.
Heya! I’m back again and this time would be about our 19 day trip to the United States of America! 🇺🇸✈️ If you followed my latest posts on Instagram then you would know what #LesVoyagesdeNica has been up to. Also, just last Wednesday, I posted the first of these USA trip blogs to come, just click here to check it out.
Our adventure began last May and after the stressful albeit exciting visa process for all 6 of us. We finally got to book our flights at China Airlines via cheapoair.com. Our flight itinerary is from Manila to Taipei, then Taipei to New York. It’ll be the longest flight we’ll take which topped our Israel trip and the longest number of days that topped our Asian trip.
*I will share the link of all the sites where you can purchase the tickets of our tour at the end of the blog*
Flight to Taipei
We went so early at the Terminal 1 of NAIA around 4am and the check in desk opens at around 7am while our flight is still at 10:35am. 😵 Terminal 1 is the oldest terminal in Ninoy Aquino International Airport. I kind of remember it during our Saudi Days where I would bawl everytime Papa left.
After we checked in, we had breakfast at the waiting area lounge, then waited for a bit and boarded to Taipei.
It is my first time to ride with China Airlines and I tell you. It was quite enjoyable! Though I would say, most of the food they served were pork. 😔 I don’t eat pork so it was really envious to see your seatmates chowing down on their meal. But since we didn’t indicate any preference on the food during our booking, we had to make do of what we can eat.
China Airlines served us one meal during our flight to Taiwan. Plus they have TV screens too which made the flight not too boring. We watched a couple of movies then dozed off. I wished I just slept, cause after a few minutes of sleeping in the pilot announced our arrival.
I didn’t get to see much of Taipei Taoyuan International Airport as we were on a 4 hour connecting flight to New York. We had to see were our boarding gate was before we get to roam around. There was a lot to see at the airport and we got to try out free tastings, free car racing video games and so much more. There were tiny museums of dolls and knick knacks all around. I hope we get to come back here in Taiwan and see more of this country.
After gallivanting, we changed clothes because…hygiene. Hehe. Then boarded for our long haul flight.
During the flight the airlines served us two meal courses, two to three snacks. They gave us two options on the menu which was really good since it was either chicken or pork or beef. At least we’ll get to eat!
JFK New York > Hotel Pennsylvania
We arrived at night in New York and it was cold! Thank goodness I had a sweater and scarf prepared but my legs were shaking! After passing through the Immigration and seeing JFK. I didn’t really expect that there was no wifi. 😞 I badly wanted to tweet. Hahaha.
We decided to take the subway and thankfully, the New York subway is almost open for 24 hours. I did Googled that on Taiwan, just tell me if I am wrong. Haha. We had to ask for directions as it was kind of a jungle to all of us. What is cool about JFK and like almost all airports we’ve been through is the train. They do have an Airtrain that you can freely use if you are on the airport and changing terminals.
We boarded the Airtrain going to Jamaica Station. Then bought the Metrocard tickets. Each Metrocard ticket can swipe for 4 people only. We bought two to swipe for 3 people each card. The thing about the Metrocard is that they are like loadable cards. You could load up to $100 and every swipe when you enter a station costs $2.75. When you exit, you don’t need to swipe. When we finally got that part our subway rides were smoother. Haha. It was truly different from every country we’ve been through.
From Jamaica Station you walk to Queens-Sutphin Blvd Station and there we boarded going to 34 St. Penn Station. There are signboards above the train telling you what the next station is, so you can chillax. 😂
We walked to our hotel which was just in front of Madison’s Square Garden and checked in at around 2am. It was a three star hotel, which in my opinion was not so bad at all. It was near the different tourist sites and near to almost three subway stations and to the Amtrak station. Though the facilities were old looking, we didn’t really encounter any issues at all. We ate our early breakfast/super late dinner at a gyro cart across our hotel and slept.
Amtrak Station > New York Water Taxi > Times Square > Central Park > Empire State Building
It was a jam packed adventure that day so we headed to the Amtrak station first at New York Penn Station. Be mindful of train station names as they are quite confusing. We bought our tickets to Birmingham and headed out to see more of New York.
We hopped on the subway at the station of W 34 St/7Av then went down on the South Ferry Station (Whitehall St Station). Out there we were met by New York Water Taxi agents. Initially, we wanted to go up the Statue of Liberty but we were told that we should have it booked a month ago. Bummer! Still we had other options.
We chose the New York Water Taxi hop on hop off all day access ride. We’ll be able to see the Brooklyn Bridge, Governor’s Island, Statue of Liberty and get off at Times Square. After buying the tickets we walked on to Pier 11. There we ate our breakfast from a gyro cart and hopped on the boat ride.
If you have heard the news, just a few days after an 18 year old girl died and few other civilians were injured from a car that rammed them through Times Square. 😞 I do pray for the families of the victims and that justice may be given to them all. 🙏🏼 I can only thank the Lord for His continuing protection.
After Times Square, we walked to the Central Park and along the way enjoyed New York’s concrete jungle. Get that? Haha. Sarreh.
It was a huge park. I would suggest that you try renting a bike to see all of it. We rented two bikes, one single and onw tandem bike. I rode the tandem with my brother, cause I don’t know how to bike. Seriously, I really don’t and I’m scared of falling over. 😁😬
It took us an hour of biking and it was a good heart pumping event. My brother and I truly enjoyed that. For around $7-18 you can enjoy Central Park and it’s lush green view. You may also opt to rent a carriage or sleep under the trees which my grandparents did.
After Central Park, we walked back to our Hotel and napped until around 8:00pm. Then all four of us headed out to see the New York City lights. We didn’t really expect to see Empire State Building, my dad really wanted to check out Times Square once again. But we wanted to see a new view so we headed to Empire State.
We got there and learned that we could go up. My dad said, “Let’s go see the top. We weren’t able to at the Statue of Liberty, we might as well do it here.” 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 And so we did. We bought tickets up to the 86th floor only and it was around $34 for adults.
After Empire State we headed home to rest for the night.
Bryant Park > Grand Central Station > New York Public Library > Coney Island > Chelsea Market
On this second day of touring, we headed out for a quick breakfast on Salt and Pepper which was beside our hotel and walked going to Grand Central passing along Bryant Park and the NYPL.
It was quaint park that was a perfect place for coffee and quiet book reading. After a few strolling, we headed straight to see the Grand Central Station. All I could say was that it was so beautiful. 😍 Magnifico!
Reaching there, we were probably the only ones in long sleeves as we all felt cold. Everyone was on their swimwear and here we are fully clothed. Hehe. But we enjoyed sightseeing and even had cold coffee cause despite the cold winds, the sun was beamingly hot. We headed home once again on a long train ride then walked back to our hotel and rested.
Around 4pm we walked to see Chelsea Market. I finally got to see the apartments that I use to see on movies and tv shows. Those small quiet street red bricked apartments are IG worthy. Hehe.
We enjoyed seeing lots of food at the market and there were different delicacies to try. After feasting our eyes we then headed back via a subway ride to our hotel and bought our dinner at Salt Pepper. Afterwards we packed our stuff another long ride the next day heading to Alabama.
24 hour train ride to Alabama
We had our breakfast checked out before 11am then headed to the Penn station of Amtrak. It was really hard to carry 6 huge luggages on the escalator, but we managed.
We checked our luggages in the counter. Each passenger is allowed 2 baggages, strictly 50lbs each and two carry on bags. We had to remove the excess and put them on the baggages that had less weight.
Since we are going through Amtrak we waited on the waiting area for Amtrak passengers where wifi is free. We then boarded as soon as our train was announced.
It was a comfy ride and we brought food to eat at the train. They do have a cafe lounge where you can buy food and coffee. It was a bit expensive though. When you bring your own food you may only eat it at your seat. You cannot bring that on the cafe lounge.
The train is also equipped with free wifi so you won’t have to be bored and still stay in connection. They also have electrical sockets on board so you won’t have to worry with your battery going empty.
After that long train ride, we finally met my aunt and her family, who I haven’t seen in 5 years. It was a tear-jerking moment for all of us. We stayed at their house and they welcomed us with a warm meal that we all enjoyed.
We ended the day through a grocery shopping in Walmart and other stores in Trussville. It was my first Walmart shopping ever and I really like it that it was wifi equipped. Now I understood why some van living explorers on Youtube park on Walmart overnight for the free wifi. Hehe 😜
Hello! We are back from the longest trip we had so far since 2015 of #LesVoyagesdeNica. I had to take a week off since we came to cope from the jetlag and nights of sleeplessness from the differing timezones that my body had to recover from. I have so much to tell you of this trip, which I never thought would happen and so let us start from the beginning.
The U.S. Tourist Visa, it seemed a big deal to most Filipinos to be granted with such an opportunity. I have heard countless of stories of denial and being granted and it made this journey all the more exciting for all of us. There are six of us applying for the visa, two students, two seniors and two businessmen. I will share to you what documents we decided to prepare. Take in mind that acquiring the US Visa has no secret, our results may differ from yours and that this blog written will only give you tips but not the assurance that you’ll be granted with the visa.
Applying the US Visa seems really daunting, as they do not provide an exact list of what documents to present except for a photo (with very strict details on how it should be taken) on a white background, completed online DS-160, email confirmation, and bank receipt from BPI, your passport and a pen. I suggest that you take your photo on a studio at a mall and indicate that this is for US visa application. They do know the rules so your picture would be accepted when you submit it online. Do ask for a hard copy and a soft copy of your photo.
Now, that is the general requirements. But the process of applying is different. It took us almost a week or two just to complete all papers at hand both original and photocopy before we applied online. It is important that you have those before applying as you may need it during the process. Here is what we prepared: Take note that this may differ with others, you may add more documents to prove that your stay there is financially supported and that you will not illegally stay in the US.
For students: Your school ID, latest grade results, school certificate that you are a bonafide student, enrolment certificate, school calendar, parent’s ITR, business documents (DTI), bank statements, credit card statements, birth certificate (proving your relation to your parent/sponsor).
For senior citizens: Senior ID, birth certificate, sponsor’s business or employment documents (ITR, salary, bank statements, credit card statements, birth certificate). If they are retired from a certain company you could add the documents of their retirement and pension they receive.
For businessmen/self-employed: Birth certificate, business registrations, DTI, ITR, bank statements in the last 6 months, credit card statements in the last 6 months, valid IDs, business permits. If you have properties such as land, house, car add their titles and photos. Add photos of the business as well that you owned. If you are employed you may add a letter from the HR proving that you are working there, your letter of vacation leave approved, salary from the past 6 months.
Those were the specific papers we prepared for each person. The general ones include latest travels, itinerary for your stay (include the hotels and planned airline tickets-DO NOT BOOK yet unless your visa is approved just indicate the names and address of the hotel and airline that you plan to use). If you are staying with a relative indicate their address and phone number, prepare a scanned copy of their status whether they are working, citizen, permanent resident and etc. If they are married to a US citizen,add their marriage contract as well and birth certificate to prove their relationship to you.Whoever is the sponsor or the one paying for the trip should have the most documents to prove that they are capable of paying for the trip.
These were what we prepared and carefully applied for online at their website. Be very sure to read carefully the instructions and if you have any difficulty you may call their telephone number and ask for assistance with a Filipino speaking agent. After I completed online the DS-160, I was guided by the Filipino agent to the payment. I had to print out 6 different bank payment slips for each person that I had to pay before 3pm that same day so my papers would be processed immediately after 6 hours.
Be sure to carry their passports with you when you pay for it at the nearest BPI and keep the bank receipt. Do not ever lose it. After payment, we decided to wait for the next day to schedule our interview and we did it through calling the embassy once again and have it scheduled with the Filipino agent. Passport, banking receipt and the DS-160 application should be all on hand as you call for the appointment. If you will be applying for a family take note that it refers to IMMEDIATE family members only (dad, mom and unmarried sibling). You would have to make a separate call immediately for other members of the extended family (grandparents, niece, cousin, aunt, etc) that will go with you.
It was a long process for six of us and I had to make three separate calls due to the IMMEDIATE family members only rule. But I am thankful for the assistive agents who were really patient and attentive. You may have the same schedule interview for all and be sure to bring all documents both specific and general. DO NOT BRING any electronic devices at the day of interview. I suggest bring yourself, the documents, a pen and someone who could wait for you outside and carry your other stuff.
Be there at least an hour early before your time schedule. They announce the time outside so you would know if it is your turn. Dress well and appropriate. If you are a student, wear your uniform or a formal business attire would do. Then of course, add a lot of prayers to get your visa approved. We applied for a B2 visa which meant Tourist Visa. We were all nervous but then if you know that you are honest and will abide with the rules what is there to fear?
You will know immediately from the Consul whether your visa is approved or not. If you wish to get your visa expedited do not hesitate to tell it to the Consul so that they will jot it down and guide you on what to do. They will hand you a slip on what to do next. The process of getting your visa expedited meant calling the embassy again and having the delivery area changed to whatever is in the slip of paper given. The usual seven days of waiting could lessen into two or three during the process. We actually had our passport with the visa the next day immediately when the courier texted us that our passports where delivered.
We had so much joy to receive such good news and booked what we needed to book for our trip. I could still feel the excitement and tension when I think about that wonderful blessing. I am also glad that I could share it with you so that you get a glimpse of what could happen when you apply. They say that there is no secret in getting your US visa approved. Truly, there is no secret but then it wouldn’t hurt to listen to other’s experience and learn the good from it.