Creamy Avocado Pesto Pasta

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!

 

#Avocado Pesto pasta. A success! 🥑🥑🥑

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Here is the pesto version of my vlogger friend Lasea from @thefooodiefeed. Do check out her Youtube channel and IG feed for more food recipes to enjoy!

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.

Merci beaucoup et á bientôt!

USA Trip (Day 11-15)

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We also checked out the yachts and deep fishing gears.

I had to sit very still. #Florida #Alabama #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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I'm ready to see more of you #Florida. #USA #Alabama #LesVoyagesdeNica

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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They played “volleyball” LOL

Off to another beach. #Florida #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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After a few walks, we went to the other side which is the Quietwater Beach and enjoyed the serene waters and the huge giant oyster for photo op!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm a rare South Sea Pearl. ❤️ #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA #Florida

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Definitely full from it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A news reporter

It was really cold by the beach and we had to take shelter under a lifeguard’s seat from the freezing winds. Haha!

Take your time to enjoy. #Alabama #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malt Brownies ❤️ #USA #Alabama #LesVoyagesdeNica

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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!

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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

T-minus 10… #Alabama #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA

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What gravity feels like on the different planets of the Solar System
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A bumpy ride

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My arms will end up sore. #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica #Alabama

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Short girl problems eh? Haha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also enjoyed the outdoor activities and rides that are either scary or nauseating. LOL

I thought my heart stopped for a bit. #Alabama #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA

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A Memorial for the Monkeynaut

The US Space Center was a wonderful experience for all of us. It was truly one of a kind! We went home a bit later that evening and slept for church the next day.

#Alabama #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA

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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.

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SO YUM!!

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.

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She had a nice ride

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.

I hope y’all stay tune till the end!

Links:

Flora-Bama Lounge
Mikee’s Seafood
Sonic Drive-In
U.S. Space Rocket Center
New China Buffet
Chipotlè

Merci beaucoup et á bientôt!

USA Trip (Day 6-10)

Off to another day's adventure…#LesVoyagesdeNica #USA #Alabama

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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.

#Kentucky here we come! #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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Isn’t she a cutie? That’s my little cousin who gives us “good music” during this trip. LOL

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 Ark. #Kentucky #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA

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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

A day at Gulf Shores. #Alabama #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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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.

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Canal Park

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.

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Some fancy condominium unit.

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.

Beach day. #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA #Alabama

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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.

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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.

Into the shark's head we go. #Alabama #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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There goes my silly little baby

Aye Captain!! #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA #Alabama

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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.

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If my skin gets tanner than it usually is, here is the reason why. ☺️ #Alabama #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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We also went Seagull feeding

Chill. #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA #Alabama

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Notice the immediate tan lines? Haha yep, I get so tan easily. We still have a lot places to go to here in Gulf Shores, so I do hope y’all stay tune for the next adventures we went to here in USA.

Check out the links provided below:

The Ark Encounter
Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention
The Shrimp Basket

Merci beaucoup et á bientôt!

Spotify Premium via Globe Load

*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.

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Current promo that will end for this week! Grab it now!

The steps were for (Globe users):

  1. Log in to your Spotify account on the web.
  2. Click the Get Premium option
  3. Choose your mode of payment: Credit Card, Globe/Smart, Online Banking
  4. If you chose Globe. Be sure that you have at least 150php prepaid load. Enter your mobile number.
  5. Wait for 2770 to send the PIN. Enter the PIN.
  6. Wait for the Confirmation message either on SMS, email or the web.
  7. Enjoy your Spotify Premium!

 

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There you have it! I do hope my experience will help you on your journey to musical happiness. Haha!

Merci beaucoup et á bientôt!

USA Trip (Day 1-5)

 

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.

Touchdown #Taiwan ✈️✈️✈️ 4 more hours till the next flight. #LesVoyagesdeNica

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Medyo Ma Luo Ho 😂😭 #Taiwan #LesVoyagesdeNica

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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.

Taipei Airport 

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.

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JFK Arrival Area

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. 😂

In #NewYork… *cues in music* #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA

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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.

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Midnight strolling. #NewYork #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA

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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.

Brooklyn Bridge ❤️ #NewYork #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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She is beautiful. #NewYork #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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On our last stop we were told that there was a free bus ride going back to the city for passengers of the ferry. So we hopped on it again and we down to see Times Square.

In the sea of people… #LesVoyagesdeNica #NewYork #USA

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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.

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A big secret garden 💚💚💚#USA #NewYork #LesVoyagesdeNica

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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.

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The 86th floor, open deck observatory. #NewYork #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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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!

Such a grand place. #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA #NewYork

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After being bedazzled by the Grand Central Station we headed out to see the NYPL. I remembered seeing this on the movie the Day After Tomorrow. Hehe.

It's going to be a good day. #NewYork #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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It was free to roam around and see lots of books! It felt like Belle entering the Beast’s personal library. ❤️

We didn’t stay too long as we had another place to go by and this would take us about an hour of subway ride. We were heading to see Coney Island.

We went down the 5 Av Station beside the NYPL walked underground to the F Train to Coney Stillwell Station. We had to ask for directions so as not to board the wrong train.

Warm and sunny. #LesVoyagesdeNica #USA #NewYork

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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.

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#LesVoyagesdeNica #USA #NewYork

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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.

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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 😜

Meet Yuna, she loves me almost immediately I called her name. ❤️ #Alabama #USA #LesVoyagesdeNica

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The day 1-5 ends here first. Stay tune for a whole lot more of my US adventure!

Check out the links below:

Cheapoair
Hotel Pennsylvania
Amtrak
New York Water Taxi
Central Park Bike Rentals
Empire State Building Observatory
New York Public Library

Merci beaucoup et á bientôt! 

Special shout out to my IG photographer/brother, Nick for taking the awesome IG pics. 

Our U.S. Visa Experience

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.

For more details on the application visit:

US Tourist Visa Application Experience

US Visa Application

US Embassy

I hope that this would help on your application and see the land of the brave and free!

Merci beaucoup et á bientôt!

 

Nadai Fujisoba

Hello there! I said I would try to post more book reviews and yet here I am posting about food again. Haha! Well, well, but who wouldn’t love a good soba noodle soup right? So we gave out Nadai Fujisoba (SM Megamall branch) a try. Just to give you a heads up, my brother was not much of a big fan of Japanese food and I would prefer sushis and sashimis over ramen bowls. But somehow, Nadai Fujisoba truly was a savory treat for our family.

Before we jump into the food pictures and drool once again, let us look into the story of Nadai Fujisoba which I copied at the site (fujisoba.ph):

Nadai Fujisoba is the oldest 24/7 soba restaurant in Japan. In 1966, we built our first soba noodle store in Shibuya, which also serves as our flagship store.

During Japan’s economic boom, we built our stores to cater to on-the-run businessmen, and the community has continued to support us ever since. We serve more than 58,000 meals per day by opening our stores 24-hours.

You can find Nadai Fujisoba when you come to the bustling areas in Tokyo, like Asakusa, Ueno Akihabara, Roppongi, Shinjuku, and Ikebukuro.

In 2014, we also started our first store in Taiwan, and it has went on to become a great success for our brand.

We believe that customers in Philippines will like our signature Japanese buckwheat noodle. It is our pleasure to bring to you the best soba noodle Japan has to offer!

There you have it, authentic Japanese soba noodle bowls at it’s finest! So here we go with the pictures that both you and I love to stare.

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Felt like we entered into Japan.

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One of their best sellers. 

My dad and brother chose this same meal and dad had the extra plain soba noodles.

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Potato Croquette

It had tiny meat pieces in it, it was okay but better if you dip it in the sauce.

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The extra plain soba noodles
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Chicken, Egg and Rice donburi

My brother never gets full without rice.

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Mixed vegetables. Yum!

My mom and I had this meal. We both were full and satisfied.

Overall, it was certainly a heavy meal for our family and we quite enjoyed it. The broth was really tasty and complements every ingredient in it. I specifically love the egg, that is half cooked and makes the soup taste a bit creamier when I popped its yolk. We truly had an enjoyable meal and not bad for Japanese food.

Merci beaucoup et á bientôt!

NICA’S READING NOOK: HARRY POTTER & THE CURSED CHILD

This post is long overdue as I have seemingly forgotten about it. The section of the blog, seemed to be forgotten too. Haha. I have noticed that most of my posts are related to food, which probably explains my widening waistline (of which I am trying to combat). Ugh. 😩 So, let’s get off food for a while and stick to books (hopefully, I can do that).

When J.K. Rowling released the latest of the Harry Potter series, every Potterhead in all corners of the world went cray cray. That includes me! Although, I am quite the poor definition of Potterhead. As I have not read any single HP book, which I promise to amend. 🖖 (Speaking of which, I am on the 6th Book)

Though my clumsy excuse was that I watch and rewatched all the movies. 🤓🤓🤓 I enjoyed every last bit of it and even dreamt of Voldemort at times (in a frightening way, of course). 😱😱😱

Allow me to share you some bits of  J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. ⚡️⚡️⚡️

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*Disclaimer: To do those who haven’t read the book and wouldn’t want to get any spoilers. I suggest you stop right here and start reading the book. If however, you wish to continue, do so at your own risk.*

First off, this isn’t the typical book like the previous HP books you probably have read. This book is actually a script, a playwright of the theatrical act that was performed a year or so ago in London. It acquired lots of criticisms from some HP fans regarding the casting and how they didn’t look like the movie actors who played them on film.

Nevertheless, it is a big hit in the UK and all over the globe of Potterheads. 🎉🎉🎉 I find it actually interesting which really made me delve into the first seven books to get a more clearer picture of who, where, what, why and how did all of this happened.

The main characters are of course, Harry’s son Albus Severus Weasley Potter. We all saw him in the end of the movie when his dad, gave him a tiny bit of advice regarding his fear of being placed in the House of Slytherin. Apparently, he did end up there much to the chagrin of his siblings and cousins.

He, however in such a weird circumstance became close to Scorpius Greengrass Malfoy. Not just close, but best of friends. Though, Scorpius had his father, Draco’s looks, he had his mother’s kind heart and tolerance with Muggles and non-wizard folk. Also, he wasn’t the bullying type like his forefathers were in Hogwarts. He and Albus where the subject of ridicule. Stemming from the rumor that Scorpius might be the son of Voldemort.

It was funny to read how the tables have turned for the Malfoy folk. I would presume that if Draco’s old self would see his son falling head over heels for Albus’ cousin, Rose Granger Weasley, he would’ve preferred to die. But, all is well.

Draco was more tolerable and understanding having gone through so much shame and pain from the ideology of pureblood supremacy. Harry on the other hand, was a very known wizard and his fame was rubbing onto his son Albus who happened to inherit his father’s appearance. Which caused a great deal of strain to both.

Most of the original characters where in the Cursed Child as well. From Neville being teacher, to Diggory’s dad, to some surviving Death Eaters. But the main story involved a magical artifact that at the height of that period was being  destroyed. The time-turner. Harry was, if I remembered correctly, one of those tasked to do so. He, however had one left and confiscated by Hermione.

Aside from the time-turner was Mr. Amos Diggory badgering Harry to use it to save his son Cedric during that dreadful event at the Triwizard Tournament. Then we also meet a new character, Delphini Diggory (who really was Delphini Riddle). Daughter of the Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange. I really wondered, how in the world would Voldemort even thought of it when he really didn’t know what love is like.

I mean, he wanted all power to himself. Though he did regard Bellatrix as his most faithful servant, and I am pretty sure that Bellatrix would be fangirling over that fact that she and her Master had a tryst. Haha!

I also kept wondering of her husband, Rodolphus. Well, maybe they never really cared for each other and are only bonded for the sake of pure blood marriage and their dark desire to serve Voldemort. But, let us not dwell on that.

Delphini had that desire to go back and save her father from the very beginning. Before Voldemort’s first fall, when he tried to kill Potter as a baby. She wanted to stop her father to prevent it all from happening and retain his power. But like all, her plan failed, by the two most unlikely heroes named Scorpius and Albus.

Through the book, we see the disastrous effects of one meddling with time. There were different timelines with the most disastrous effects, one resulting to the death of a Hogwarts’ student. Eventually all was restored with Delphini captured and thrown in Azkaban. While Harry and his son finally settling their issues. It was nice to read of Draco helping out Potter and fighting together for their children’s lives.

Overall, it was a good read, which reminds me to continue with the 6th book now as I don’t want to miss a day.

Merci beaucoup et á bientôt!

Bingeing at Shinsen

Salut! It’s April and the summer heat is finally here in Manila. In a way to beat the heat here, most Filipinos go swimming at the beach or at pools. I set Wednesdays for my swimming days where I exercise and beat the heat as well together with my swimming buddy/boyfriend Sunny. But this particular Wednesday evening was a bit cold and we both were shivering at the pool and even after our swim. Good thing, there was a near Japanese restaurant called Shinsen at the Hampton Garden’s Arcade and to heat ourselves, we decided to get some hot soup for dinner!

It was a quaint and cozy place, plus the servers are so polite and assistive. We chose to seat on the sushi bar so we can seat beside each other. #cheesy Hahaha! We ordered California Maki, a bowl of Spicy Miso Soup and a bowl of Seafood Udon Soup. I forget to jot down the prices, really sorry about that. But here are the photos!

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All time fave! But I have to cut off the rice. 
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It wasn’t as spicy as I expected but it was good!
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Sunny had this and he sure did enjoyed it.
 

Overall:

We enjoyed our dinner that night. I loved the Spicy Miso it had a mild spice which is suitable for those who don’t really like spicy foods. Although, I wish they really lived up to the name of the meal. Nevertheless, it was a yummy meal. Sunny’s seafood udon soup was a bit sweet to taste but is balanced. He enjoyed his meal and finished it all up. It was well packed with seafood goodies too! The California Maki is pure joy for me, or is it I just love all California Maki. Hahaha. I hope you guys get to try Shinsen and enjoy yummy Japanese meals.

 

Merci beaucoup et á bientôt!