Tourists get tired too

Sorry I haven’t updated this. I haven’t had the time. But I’ve written them down in the notebook I brought with me. Days 3, 4, and 5 are written there. I haven’t jotted down Day 6, and my Day 7 just ended. Maybe next week I will have time.

So far, I am enjoying, especially New York. Fantastically beautiful.


‘Murica Day 2: Golden Gate, fog, and football

Day 2: October 20

Today, we went to the image associated with San Francisco: the Golden Gate Bridge. But today, another regular visitor came up: the fog. The entire time it was really foggy and we couldn’t see the bridge! Tourists also flocked to the Bridge. They were probably as disappointed as I was.

This was actually the second time we’ve gone here. The first was back in 2004 during our first USA trip as a family. Here’s the thing: if I remember correctly, during that visit, it was ALSO FOGGY. How Golden Gate unlucky are we, huh?

But the fog didn’t just obscure the view of the Bridge. It also blocked driving views. When we were coming back home, there was a time when the fog limited visibility to around 10 feet. I wasn’t driving but I felt that driving was dangerous.

Today is Sunday, and in America, that means football day. Days before, I already checked the NFL TV schedule and saw that my New England Patriots had a game today against their rivals the New York Jets on CBS. I excitedly watched the game as it was the first live regular season NFL game I would be watching since 2009, when Balls and Solar Sports stopped airing NFL games in the Philippines. But I only got to watch till the second quarter because we already had to leave for Golden Gate.

After the Bridge, we had lunch at Red Robin, where they serve lovely burgers nd the biggest fries I’ve ever seen. While eating, another football game was showing: the hometown San Francisco 49ers versus the Tennessee Titans. It was the clearest HDTV broadcast I’ve seen so far. Behind me, there was a group donned in full 49ers gear. They also had their kids with them (or they looked like their kids). Here’s the catch: they were women, hot ones. The kids may have been their siblings, but maybe not, I don’t know. But yes, they were hot. And they watch football.

We went to the nearby Serra Monte Mall afterwards. US malls are nowhere near Philippine malls. Back home, malls are alive and vibrant. Here, they have dull malls: no music, not much people, just a bunch of stores clumped together.

When we got home, my uncle was watching, yep, football. Sunday Night Football featured the Denver Broncos visiting the Indianapolis Colts. It was Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis homecoming. I didn’t finish the game because it was a blowout in favor of the Colts, who eventually won by single digits.

Today was a fantastic football experience, something really foreign to me. Not only does American football not exist professionally back home; TV networks also do not show it. It’s all basketball, which is fine. It is a basketball country anyway.

‘Murica Day 1: Downtown, soju, and ice cream

Day 1: October 19

Saturday morning, we went on a sightseeing tour of Downtown San Francisco. These tours always interest me because of the knowledge I get from it. I don’t just see the sights, I learn history. For instance, we came across the building where William Randolph Hearst operated from. That man was one of the biggest forces in the field of journalism (ooh, my Journalism intro courses taking effect).

Another notable information I picked up from the tour was the origin of the term “sugar daddy.” Over at Union Square, there is a statue of a woman high above a pole. Apparently, she was a struggling artist who lived on the streets and can’t make money. One sculptor was looking for a model, and when he saw this woman (named Alma, by the way), he found the model he was looking for. She was young and beautiful, and eventually, men started lining up for her. Since she had a huge lineup of men, she became choosy and only wanted the “experienced” men. One of the men who were in line was an old man, a rich man, who was one of the richest men in America then. I forgot his name, but he was a sugar tycoon. They eventually got married. Alma was 27, the man was 54. He was labeled many names like “cradle snatcher”, but the name that really caught on was, yep, you guessed right, “sugar daddy.”

And that’s where the negative term came from. Interesting, ain’t it?

Anyway, on to other things I learned in Day 1. I experienced how terrible traffic can be in San Francisco. Apparently, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers were on strike, therefore the BART trains aren’t functional. Perhaps that was why everyone was driving. There was also a market near Fisherman’s Wharf and the AT&T Center, the home stadium of the San Francisco Giants baseball team. It was bad traffic. Of course, it doesn’t beat EDSA during rush hours. Sucat Road is also worse. But by American standards, and by the mage projected on to us in the Philippines, the traffic we went through was bad.

Come night time, my cousins and my brother and I went to this Korean drinking place where they serve Soju, a Korean alcoholic beverage. It was served in frozen fruit and was consumed by shots. We ordered three flavors: watermelon, pineapple, and strawberry. Word of advice: go for the pineapple and strawberry. The watermelon was bad. But what do you care what flavor you drink when you’re already drunk, anyway?

Right after, we went to this ice cream joint called Mitchell’s. I was a bit nervous when I found out we’d get ice cream. Alcoholic drinks and milk don’t really mix well, don’t they? Ice cream and a 10-degree weather also do not go well together, and that night was indeed close to 10. Mitchell’s was a small parlor with a very big crowd. The line was overflowing, even that late at night (it was around 10:30 to 11). And when I tasted the ice cream, I saw why. They had lots of flavors and the ice cream was really creamy.

Good thing the alcohol and the milk did not cause a war in my stomach.

That afternoon, we went to mass. It was really different from the Philippines. It was the first time I saw women lay ministers. And I don’t mean just a few. All of them. They were about five or six, no men. Feminists would love to have seen that, conservative Catholics might have cringed. I liked it, personally.

But the most amusing thing was the lector. She was not just a lector. Along with the microphone, she had a guitar with her. When she first came up, I thought she was just a singer. I was wrong. She was the singer, the instrumentalist, and the lector. I’ve never seen a lector multitask before! She triple-tasked that afternoon. Amusing.

‘Murica Day 0

I think it’s been over 24 hours since I last took a bath. But don’t blame me, blame the 13-degree Celsius Daly City temperature.

I’m here abroad, but my body is still kind of stuck in Parañaque. As I write, it’s 4:40 am local time. I’ve been up the past 60-plus minutes. And I can’t do anything because everyone’s still dozing off; I can’t turn the lights on, I can’t FaceTime with anyone, I can’t walk around.

That is why I’m writing.

Day 0

We left NAIA on time (11pm) and so we got to SFO Airport on time as well (a little before 8pm local time). I couldn’t really sleep much on the near-12 hour flight. But I survived thanks to the last three episodes of Suits’ third season and the 2011 documentary I Am Bruce Lee.

Upon arrival, we waited so long in line at the immigration counter. It was NAIA-like. For over 30 minutes we wee standing in line. I could see why. There were over 300 passengers that arrived, and there were only five immigration officers available.

After we cleared this step and got our luggages, we waited outside for my mom and my other relatives. The first sign I saw was a “no parking/waiting” sign outside the airport. It had a fine of $43. I don’t know how much the fine is back in the Philippines, but what I know is $43 is a lot of money. And maybe if back home we did have high fines, we would be a slightly better nation with less violators. That is one big maybe.

This car then came and parked, with his car’s trunk wide open and his engine and hazard lights turned on, about ten feet from where the sign was posted. A few minutes later, the car was empty, and a police officer approached. He inspected the vehicle, noted the plate number, and wrote a ticket. A minute later the vehicle’s driver came back. I’m not sure if the officer gave the ticket, but I saw how swiftly they followed the rules and implemented it.

So that’s Day 0 of our US trip. Today is Day 1, and it started really early for me.