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Trip California California   My trips to California since 2009. Walter C (US)
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My trips to California since 2009.

  • 23Sep 2009

    1 Cookies, Hills and Steps 09/23/2009 USA —

    SF, USA

    Description

    I arrived into town, the last night before, very late. From the airport, I arrived at Union Square, and would meet another women, who arrived from Hawaii. Walked part of the way, until we parted ways, as I headed to USA Hostels. This was a very nice hostel. Then checked in and to sleep.

    After the sunrise and getting ready, it was time to see the city. First, I had to take care of some business, and buy the 7-day Passport, which gives unlimited rides on any Muni bus, streetcar, or cable cars. It would be worth it, not only for getting my money's worth, but also the flexibility of planning.

    Then I stood in line for the cable car. I get to see the cable car turned around when reaching the end of the line. Then hopped on it, and rode it to Union Square, riding it for a few blocks. A nice little public park, to people watch.

    Then it was off to Grant Ave, walking on it, taking me to Dragon's Gate, which represented the entrance to Chinatown. I believe this one is the oldest, and has the largest Chinese communities outside of China. Walking up that hill, it does have that authentic feel. I went to St. Mary's Cathedral, then walked around the area, visiting 2 places to note.

    One of the most interesting places to visit, is the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company. This is where fortune cookies are made the old-fashion way. I got to eat a fresh one, plus some flattened ones as well, given by one of the workers as a bonus, when I bought a bag of chocolate fortune cookies. Another interesting place is Portsmouth Square, where a bunch of Chinese people were playing cards. It was interesting to see, but out of respect, I did not take any photos.

    After eating lunch in Chinatown, I walked in the North Beach neighborhood. This area has a bit of an Italian feel to it, kind of like a Little Italy. The Transamerica Pyramid can be seen from Columbus St. Also there are a quite a few peepshow places.

    The area is quite hilly, as the city is known for the hills. I would be getting a workout on this trip. First, I went up the Vallejo Steps, with homes and gardens along it, and a view of the Bay Bridge. Then it was down a hill, taking me to Columbus St. I did relax for a little while, to catch my breath.

    Later, I would go up and down the Filbert Steps, in the Telegraph Hill area. The Filbert Steps felt a bit more steeper, and there are gardens and homes along it, which are only accessible by the steps. I thought about visiting Coit Tower, but just did not have the time. When coming back down, I was on to Levi Plaza. This is where I hopped on the bus, and back to the hostel.

    Then, it was time to get ready to go to the baseball game.

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  • 23Sep 2009

    2 Bringing Their A's Game 09/23/2009 USA —

    Oakland, USA

    Description

    From San Francisco, I took the BART train to Oakland, where I would be attending the ballgame. Funny how I first knew about this city because of its baseball team, the Oakland Athletics, commonly known as the A's. I remember that '89 team that won the World Series, the first one that I ever saw, and the one that got delayed by the earthquake.

    I arrived at the Oakland Coliseum, and bought a ticket at the window. I figure the games would not be sold out, since the A's are in last place, and normally don't sell out in general. And I don't want to pay those ridiculous fees when buying online or on the phone. This day, it was $2 day and dollar dog night. I had to buy the ticket for next day's game at another window in the stadium.

    So I walked around the stadium, but not much to see. One of the few multi-purpose stadiums left in baseball, so I guess not much can be done. Nearby is Oracle Arena, the home of the Golden State Warriors. Funny how both the A's and Warriors started in Philly, and now both in Oakland. How ironic is that?!

    I entered the stadium, and first thing I did, was to find the office, to buy for next day's game. Then being a dollar dog night, I went ahead to buy 6 hot dogs, and consumed them slowly at my seat. And I was sitting in the outfield, which was not an area I like to sit at. And it had to be in front of annoying, noisy girls, who just kept yelling nonstop, mainly at their friends. It was a chilly night, and I noticed the very few features in this stadium.

    Not really much to see in this stadium. Being located in a not so good area, the only good thing is that it is a cheap place to watch a game. It has been home of the A's since 1968, and has seen a lot of history, with all those World Series titles that they have won.

    The Oakland A's took on the Texas Rangers. The Rangers have a slim chance at the AL Wild Card, although they have not been playing like it. The A's are in last place in the division, and well out of the playoff picture. But that would not mean this game would be dull, as it turned out to be a high-scoring affair.

    The Rangers would start scoring immediately, and go up 4-0, with Hank Blalock knocking in 3 of them. But the A's scored 5 runs in the bottom 4th, giving them a 5-4 lead. But that lead was very short-lived, as the Rangers came back with 4 of their own in the 5th, retaking the lead, 8-5. The Rangers scored 1 more, and the A's slowly chipped away, but fell short by 1. The result was the Rangers beating the A's, 9-8.

    After the game ended, I was so tired, and hopped on the train, without realizing for a while, it was the wrong one. When I fell asleep on the train, and when waking up and hearing I was at Berkeley, I had to get off, and get on one, taking me back to San Francisco. By the time I got back to the hostel, it was 12:30 AM.

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  • 24Sep 2009

    3 Doubleheader - Opener in Oakland 09/24/2009 USA —

    Oakland, USA

    Description

    This day is a doubleheader for me. I would attend a day game in Oakland, and a night game in San Francisco. One of the rare times that both teams are home on the same day. I don't think I have been to both games in a doubleheader. But I do know that I attend one of the games, but had to leave after that, since my parents did not want to sit through a second game.

    First, I had to switch hostels. When checking into the 2nd one, the room was not ready, so I had to leave most of the my things in storage. Then it was off to see baseball.

    I took the BART train to Oakland. It was a hot and bright day, but luckily, I had a seat in the shade, and on the lower level. When entering the stadium, I looked around, but as I mentioned before, not really much to see, other than the retired numbers and championships, and a few banners outside the stadium.

    The final game between the Oakland A's and Texas Rangers, with the latter barely alive for the Wild Card. The Rangers got off to a good start, taking a 2-0 lead after 3 innings. But the A's would explode for 4 runs in the 3rd and 3 in the 4th, taking a 7-2 lead. And they did not stop scoring, while the Rangers never threatened after that. The A's routed the Rangers, 12-3.

    After the game ended, I went back to San Francisco, and took care of business at the hostel. Then it was time to get ready for the second game of the doubleheader. I will return to Oakland for a Raiders game later in this trip.

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  • 24Sep 2009

    4 Doubleheader - Nightcap in San Francisco 09/24/2009 USA —

    SF, USA

    Description

    This time, it was riding the Muni streetcar to AT&T Park, to attend my second game of the day. I arrived there, having only bought a ticket for 1 game online, and hoped to buy for the other games at the ballpark.

    After picking up my ticket, I had to go to the advanced window inside the ballpark. So I went in right away, without getting to see the exterior of the stadium. I figure I would have time to do that in the other days. I went to my section, which was on the 3rd level, to see what the view was like, and to decide if I'll buy tickets for the same area, since these were one of the cheapest. As it turned out, they were great, so I went to the advance window and bought tickets for the other 2 games in the same section.

    I walked around the stadium in the concourse area. Then along the bay, alongside the famous McCovey Cove, where home run balls get into the water. There would be people on kayaks hoping to catch a home run ball.

    And as seen on TV, I passed by the giant Coke bottle and mitt in left field. Nearby is a small replica of AT&T Park, where kids could play some ball.

    I went up to my seat, which had a view of the field and the bay, plus I saw boats passing by. The fog would roll in later on, and it was interesting to see.

    The San Francisco Giants took on the Chicago Cubs. The Giants needed to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Same with the Cubs, but they would need so many things to go their way for that to happen. The game turned out to be low-scoring, since the Giants just can't hit, and a pitchers duel between Brad Penny and Ryan Dempster. But it's their pitching that allows them to be in the playoff hunt. Both teams traded a run in the 4th inning. Then in the 7th, John Bowker hits a solo home run, to give the Giants a 2-1 lead. It looked like they would win, as they were 1 out and 1 strike away. But Jeff Baker hits a 2-run homer, to put the Cubs ahead, and they ended up defeating the Giants, 3-2.

    This was an interesting day, going to 2 games in 2 ballparks. The experiences turned out to be opposite, as my time at the A's game was sunny and hot, and the crowds was small, while the Giants game was foggy and cold, and more people at the game. The Giants' ballpark had a lot more to see than the A's. Overall, I had fun at both places.

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  • 25Sep 2009

    5 A Foggy Day 09/25/2009 USA —

    SF, USA

    Description

    I started the day off, by riding the cable car from the starting point, on the Powell-Mason line, taking me to Fisherman's Wharf. Once I got there, I walked to Pier 33, as I planned to catch a ferry to Alcatraz Island. But it turned out that tickets for the day were sold out, and I would have to get one for Sunday (2 days later).

    So it was time to walk around the Wharf area, along the waterfront. I went to Pier 39, which was very touristy, but a nice place to stroll around. Just some restaurants and shops to buy souvenirs. The highlight was getting to see the sea lions very close, not to mention very smelly and noisy. There was one wooden island (not sure of exact term), where the seals were fighting for space on it, as so many crowded onto it. I did go to the opposite side of the pier, where there were a few just relaxing in the sun.

    I could barely see Alcatraz Island, and the thick fog made it impossible to see the Golden Gate Bridge (called GGB, for now on). I stopped by the visitor center, but only sat around to rest my sore feet. Then left Pier 39, and came across Blazing Saddles, a company that rents out bikes. At first, I was undecided whether to rent on, but decided later to go for it. It would be faster for me to get to the GGB than trying to get there by foot.

    Well, it would be the first time I have ridden a bike in 20 years, and it really showed. I had a hard time keeping my balance, trying to take off, and navigate my way around people, always worrying that I would crash into them or cars. I took off from Pier 41, and my butt started to hurt. The seat was uncomfortable, and felt it was too high, but it could not go any lower. It would be bumpy, and wearing jeans isn't exactly the ideal thing to wear when riding a bike.

    I would ride through Fisherman's Wharf, going up and down hills, and passing by a marina. I pass by a beach and into Crissy Field, which is a section of the park leading to the bridge. I stopped by a cafe to rest, and learned to use a bike lock for the first time. This was one of the spots where I could get a great view of the GGB, but not so this time, because of the thick fog. When resuming riding, I had to go up a hill, and ended up walking my bike most of the way. It was just too tiring.

    I reached the bridge, seeing the toll booth nearby, then started to cross the GGB. I walked and rode, depending on how congested the sidewalk was. It was narrow, and noisy due to the fog horn going off every minute, as well as the traffic. Because of the thick fog, I could not see the city, the bay, and the Pacific Ocean. But I was here, getting to cross it this time, which I did not get to do in my previous visit to San Francisco.

    There were moments when it was semi-clear to see the bridge, but only for a few seconds. I made it across, going into Marin County, and stopped by the vista point. Then came the tough part, riding down a hill on a street with no sidewalk. After that, I was going through the residential area, then along the bay, until getting to the town of Sausalito. By then it was getting more harder to ride, and I was getting worned out.

    Sausalito was a touristy town, with buildings on a hill. After parking the bike, I walked along the main street. A nice place to look at, and stroll for a few hours. It just had some places to eat and shop, but a more relaxing atmosphere. I ate lunch there, and then went to wait in line for the ferry back to the city.

    As it turned out, there was a long line of people with bikes, and the ferry only took a certain amount. And it ended up cutting off right in front of me. I swear they could have put more one, and I'm sure the person in charge was thinking it was funny. I was not happy at all, since it would mean I would be late to the baseball game.

    I waited for the next ferry, and hopped on that one. The ride was okay, but seeing that the fog cleared, and I'm able to see the city and bridge clearly, just added insult to injury. I thought about crossing again on a clear day, but had to remember it was just too much. Well, I guess what mattered is that I crossed the GGB.

    I arrived at the Ferry Building, and quickly rode my bike to Pier 41, where I would have to return it. And with game time approaching, I tried to ride as fast as I can, feeling sore and tired. The pier numbers were in order by odd number, and I made it to 41 in 10 minutes. I returned the bike, but had to wait for the billing. Then when looking for a streetcar, I saw that I just missed the ones I needed to catch. So more time wasted on waiting for another one.

    When the next one came, I rode it to the downtown, then to AT&T Park. By the time I got to my seat, I was 25 minutes late and 2 innings done. As it turned out, 25 minutes was the difference between catching the first and second ferry, and being cut off from boarding the first one. I would sit next to Annie, who started talking to me. As it turned out, she is a Yankees fan, being from New York State, and obviously thinks they will win it all. But she is a baseball fan and has been coming out to Giants game, and even being at the scheduled Game 3 of the Earthquake Series in 1989 before it got postponed. Very interesting to hear.

    As a result of talking to Annie, I would miss what went on between the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs. A great pitching matchup between Tim Lincecum and Carlos Zambrano, and it did not disappoint. It was a pitchers' duel, and Zambrano won, as he helped himself by driving in 2 runs and allowed none as the Giants could only muster 2 hits. The Cubs shut out the Giants, 2-0.

    I headed back, riding the Muni back to town, along with a lot of Giants and Cubs fans. I went back to the hostel, and had some issues there with the bed assignments. It gets annoying when hostels get very picky about this, and I have to end up on the top bunk. I prefer the bottom one, since I hate climbing to the top.

    A day that did not go exactly as planned, but oh well.

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  • 26Sep 2009

    6 No Giants Win 09/26/2009 USA —

    SF, USA

    Description

    It was time to pack up, and move to another hostel. I would take the bus to Fisherman's Wharf, and checked into the HI - Fisherman's Wharf. It was a much more scenic area, and nicer than the previous location. Then I went back to the Civil Center area, and visited the Asian Art Museum.

    This museum was very extensive, with a lot to see. Obviously, I would not see everything, so no need to even try. So I just picked some sections, and focus on those, including the Korean exhibit. I had only 2 hours in this place, before the ballgame.

    I left and rode the Muni streetcar to AT&T Park. This day would be a day game, and I arrived early, so I could spend time touring the exterior of the ballpark. I walked to the marina, where boats arrive and drop people off, and along the way, a bunch of plaques on the ground, marking significant events in the ballpark's history, like the first game ever, division titles, and Barry Bonds "breaking" the all-time home-run record. It was a sunny and gorgeous day to stroll around the area, and for baseball too.

    I went in the ballpark, and the same section on the 3rd level. My seat was in sunlight, so I moved to the back row to sit in the shade. If happened to be someone's seat, I would move. I have to say, a great view from my seat, and even better in the daytime. The blue water and seeing boats passing by, making it a great setting. And I did get some garlic fries, dipping them into ranch, which tasted so good.

    The third game between the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs, as I hoped to see at least 1 win from the home team. Well, I knew it would not happen, when the Cubs scored 3 runs in the 3rd inning. The Giants got one of those runs back in the bottom 3rd inning, only to give it back in the next inning to the Cubs. Once again, the Giants just could not get anything going with their bats. The Cubs win again, by a score of 6-2. So I would not see a single Giants win.

    I left the ballpark, and went to Powell St, to hop on the cable car. Then rode that to the Russian and Nob Hills neighborhood, which was an affluent area. I would walk up the steps of the Ina Coolbrith Park. Named after a San Francisco poet and writer, this park was up along a hill. Some of the houses only accessible by the stairs, plus getting a great view of the city and the bay. Going up these steps, definitely a walk in the park, but not easy. I got to the top, which led me to a street there. Then I continued walking around, up and down hills with sore feet.

    I got to Lombard Street, the most crookedest street in the world. It has very sharp turns, going down a hill. Not sure if I want to attempt to drive on it. I looked at it at the bottom, dodging traffic in the process. Then went up the stairs on the side. Interesting to see tourists trying to get a good spot, to snap a great photo of the street.

    I rode the cable car back to Union Square, then a bus to the Pacific Heights and Japantown area. But by the time I got there, it was too dark to really see anything. So I just went back to the hostel. As it turned out, I would be staying in a room that was co-ed. Never expected that in the US. The room had 24 beds, and yeah, I got the bottom bunk. Just relaxed the rest of the night. Next day, prison and football.

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  • 27Sep 2009

    7 The Rock 09/27/2009 USA —

    SF, USA

    Description

    I started the day with a trip to Alcatraz Island, also known as the Rock. I got to the pier early, so I could catch the first ferry to the island. My plan was to see Alcatraz, and then go to Oakland for a football game. I got on board the ferry to Alcatraz.

    Once there, everyone was given an orientation and history by a ranger. I picked up a map, and walked to the Building 64. I went inside, and saw the artifacts and saw a little bit of a film. Hard to believe that there were people who lived on Alcatraz, and those people thought of it as a small town, without any major problems. By the time the prison closed, the island was briefly taken over by Native Americans. This would make sure that they were heard by the government.

    I went up the trail, looking at various buildings, until I got to the cellhouse. Once inside, I got an audioguide, which gave an informative tour of the place, given by a former guard. Each row of jail cells happened to be named after some famous street in the US, like Broadway and Michigan Ave.

    This was a prison where escape would be impossible. Security was very tight, and even if the prisoners found a way out of the cellhouse, they would have a difficult time getting by the rough waters of the bay. There have been some prisoners who attempted escape, but none that were really successful. One of the notable prisoners held there, was Al Capone, famous mobster from the 20's.

    I walked around, seeing the recreation yard and the warden's office, as well as the control room and isolation cells. I did get to see the prison doors open and close, just like in the movies.

    I did get to step outside, where I could see the bridges and the city. It has been told that seeing the city and bridges was disheartening to the prisoners, because of seeing it but not able to go to it. Or something like that.

    The tour ended in the dining room, where the prisoners ate. After that, I went to the gift shop, and got to see an Alcatraz inmate in person. He was there for a book signing. But still, just unbelievable to see one. I don't remember his name.

    I enjoyed touring the prison very much. I remember first hearing about it from the movie "The Rock", believe it or not. I would leave the island via ferry, returning to the city. Then picked up some lunch, and headed to Oakland for a football game.

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  • 27Sep 2009

    8 Raider Nation 09/27/2009 USA —

    Oakland, USA

    Description

    I arrived at the Oakland Coliseum, and realized my seat was in the upper deck. And this being a sunny and clear day, meant that I would be sitting in the sunlight. I tend to burn and sweat easily and badly. Well, I already put on the sunblock, as I went to my seat in a sea of black, with mostly Raiders fans and some Broncos fans in there as well. I wore all black, to blend in with the crowd, who I hear, are one of the craziest fans in the NFL.

    As I sat in my seat, I could see the baseball diamond on the field, as well as the dugouts. Both just seem so out of place, in a football game. Now I see how multi-purpose stadiums just don't work.

    It was Week 3 of the NFL, and the Oakland Raiders faced the Denver Broncos in this intense AFC West rivarly. I was not expecting much since both teams were expected to be terrible this season. The Broncos were 2-0, while the Raiders were 1-1. Well, right from the start, the Broncos dominated the game completely, marching down the field at will, and going up 10-0 quickly by the end of the 1st quarter. Then both teams traded field goals in the 2nd quarter, making it 13-3 lead for the Broncos at halftime. The 2nd half was even worse for the Raiders, as they just could not get anything going. The Broncos would win easily over the Raiders, 23-3.

    I did see some Bronco fans, who got booed and cursed when they showed up in the stands. And one fan in particular, was having a lot of fun stirring up trouble, taunting the home crowd. Needless to say, the Raider fans did not take kindly to it. That fan had to be escorted out by security. As I heard one fan say, it's either that or out on a stretcher.

    I endured sitting in the sunlight for 1 half, then tried to move up to the shade. There was not too many sections in the shade. I sat in one of them, and it was a huge relief, for most of the 3rd quarter. I ended up sitting in someone's else seats, and moved over when they came. And then, one of them probably told the usher that I did not belong there, and I had to move when asked if I had a bracelet for that section. So I moved to the concourse, and tried to watch the game there. Not easy to do, with the overhang obstruction. With the outcome of the game already known, I would end up leaving the game by the early 4th quarter.

    I would have to go with the crowd, and ended up missing the train that I needed to get back to San Francisco. So I would have to wait a long time for the next one, which was annoying.

    I thought about doing a football quest, like I'm currently doing with baseball. I may hold off on it for now.

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  • 27Sep 2009

    9 Rest of This Day 09/27/2009 USA —

    SF, USA

    Description

    After returning from the football game, I learned the Giants baseball game just ended, and guess what...the Giants won!

    For the rest of the trip, I would walk around the Pacific Heights, which is a very wealthy neighborhood with the Victorian houses. I usually refer to them as the Full House houses, since they were shown on the TV show Full House. I did try to find the exact row of houses as shown on postcards and guidebooks, but just could not find them. But I did see a bunch of them along the way, as I walked to the top of Lafayette Park.

    Nearby Pacific Heights, is the neighborhood of Japantown. The area had some buildings of Japanese architecture. By then, it has gotten dark. I reached the Japan Center, which was an indoor shopping mall of Japanese businesses. I walked through it, and thought about eating here, but with a tight budget, I had to pass. Have to admit, it made me think of international travels.

    I headed back to the hostel, and just took care of some things there. Used the computer and did some laundry. Then packed up a little, as I was leaving the next day.

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  • 28Sep 2009

    10 End of Trip in San Francisco 09/28/2009 USA —

    SF, USA

    Description

    It was time to go home. I had to get up early, and pack up my things. I went to grab the breakfast at the hostel, and ended up sitting with a couple women. One of them was from the Netherlands, and the other was from Seattle. Both of them were traveling up and down the West Coast of the US, but not together.

    After breakfast, I had to get my backpack, and get ready to leave. Then checked out. I hopped on a bus, taking me to Union Square. Then had to ride the BART, going to the Oakland Airport.

    Strangely enough, my stop would be the same one as the stadium, that I went to for both the A's and Raiders. Once I got there, I got on the airport shuttle, taking me to the airport.

    I made it with enough time to check-in and get through security. Then got on the flight, taking me to Phoenix, Arizona. After a layover there, I went back to Philly, arriving there at night.

    A fun trip, as this ended my visit to the Bay Area of California.

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  • 27Sep 2012

    11 Going to Hollywood 09/27/2012 USA —

    Los Angeles, USA

    Description

    I was not sure where to go, as I tried to squeeze in another baseball stadium before the regular season ended. I narrowed it down between Kansas City and Los Angeles. The deciding factor was a TravBuddy meet-up being scheduled that same weekend, so I chose LA. Never been to a regular one before, and wanted to check it out.

    So from the Philly airport, I would go to Dallas first, with only an hour to connect. I was able to make it, getting on the plane, and arrived at LAX. Returning to LA since 1999, I went to board the FlyAway bus, which took me from LAX to Union Station in downtown. I decided to rely on public transportation for the first couple days, to save some money. I know, it's unheard of, but wanted to try it as well.

    I got to Union Station, where I would pay at a window booth. The strange thing is that one can only pay by credit or debit card, and no cash. Usually, it's the other way around. So after paying, I went to the Metro station, and tried to figure out the card machines. Turned out I had to pay an extra dollar for the TAP Card itself, in addition to the fare.

    Once I figured all that out, I got on the subway, and headed to Hollywood. I arrived at the Hollywood and Highland stop, and walked to the hostel, which was a few blocks away. And it was hot, as I was sweating quickly. I arrived at the USA Hostels, and checked in. I was caught off-guard when being asked for a passport, but I did not have one with me, since I am a domestic tourist. So I had to show a copy of my itinerary instead.

    After checking in, I went to the room, and got settled. It felt a little stuffy, as I had the top bunk. Each bed has its own outlet and light, which is a huge bonus. Took care of a few things, then went out to see Hollywood.

    I went one way on Hollywood Boulevard, to the well-known intersection of Hollywood and Vine. Along the way, I could see the Hollywood sign, and the Capitol Records building. There was a little monument at the intersection, back when all the movie studios used to be in the Hollywood area.

    I turned around, going the other way on the same street. Along the way, I looked at the names on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In a nutshell, the celebrities earned their star, for their accomplishment in the entertainment business, of all-time. And some of the names even include cartoon characters.

    I walked to the Disney Soda Fountain and Studio Store, which was a diner and gift shop. I walked around, seeing the photos of various celebrities that have eaten there. I thought about getting a sundae there but it was way overpriced. Looked around the gift shop as well, seeing the Disney merchandise. Just outside of it, was a star for Disneyland, along with a small statue of Mickey Mouse sitting. Next to this place, is the El Capitan Theatre.

    I went to the Grauman's Chinese Theatre, but it was very crowded, so I would come back to it later. I continued on, passing by museums and people posing as movie characters, to the Gateway to Hollywood. This is a silver structure of silver statues of 4 ladies, holding an arch. When trying to photograph it without people in it, the camera batteries died. Major bummer!

    So I went back, stopping by, to get some drinks, as I felt dizzy and hot. And passed by the Hollywood Wax Museum, which I planned to visit later. I returned to the hostel, and rested there for a bit. When getting back up, I took advantage of the all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner, which cost $6. I ate so much and got stuffed. Then went back out.

    I walked along Hollywood Blvd, seeing the place at night. I past by the theaters in neon lights, which looked nice. Passing by the Disney Soda Fountain place, I came to the Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Less crowded this time, I saw the handprints and footprints, of various actors and directors. Tried to look inside the theatre, but could not see anything.

    After a while, I went to the Hollywood Wax Museum, which looked different than when I last visit it in 1999. Obviously due to the advancement of technology, as it did some light show at the entrance, which was unthinkable back then. I went through it, and it was different this time around, which is not surprising. Basically, a bunch of wax figures from various movies. A bit more "updated".

    After going through the museum, I went back to the hostel. Next day would be a big day!

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  • 28Sep 2012

    12 TravBuddy Hollywood Hike 09/28/2012 USA —

    Los Angeles, USA

    Description

    Since joining TravBuddy in 2008, I have only been to one mini meet-up in 2008, and met a few TBers over the years. But this would be a big day, since I was going to my first regular TravBuddy meet-up.

    I would meet up with the TBers, and we all hike to the Hollywood sign. I left the hostel, and walked to Hollywood and Vine. Then boarded a DASH bus, going to the end of the line. When sending a text to Virginia, she told me that she was running late. When reaching the end of the bus line, I walked the rest of the way. It was uphill, but luckily, it was mostly in the shade, and in a quiet neighborhood. Then onto dirt road to the start of the trail.

    I got a text, being told that everyone was running late. I had bugs buzzing in my ear, as I tried to stay in what little shade remained. I started to get discouraged, until Mike came. He noticed me waiting, and figured out that I was a TBer. Good timing, too, because I was close to turning back and forgetting the whole thing.

    The other TBers showed up, as I got to meet each one of them for the first time. Then we started on our hike. The people on the hike included the following in alphabetical order by first name:

    Adam (bluemoon), BiG (Biglush_23), Ferlin (ferlinwu), Luis (Trekk), Mike (NJTProadcruiser), Monica (monky), Raymond (saintgl), Virginia (lachicktravels), Walter (WalterC)

    We came to a fork in the road, where one way was blocked by a "Road Closed" sign. So we went the other way, which went around a hill, and farther away from the sign. It was very hot, and there was very little shade along the way, which was only provided by small trees.

    When we hit paved road, we realized that we went the wrong way, and turned around, going to the fork in the road. That was when we realized that the sign was ignored, as we saw people coming back on that trail. So went up that trail, and towards the Hollywood sign.

    My eyes started to hurt, because of sweating and causing the sunscreen to go into my eyes. It bothered me so much, that I had to keep wiping my eyes. And my bottled water was running low. Luckily when going around a hill, there was some shade, which was much needed relief. And we would see downtown and Burbank in the distance.

    I am not much of a hiker, but this one was worth it, mainly for doing it with TBers, talking and getting to know them.

    We were able to reach the Hollywood sign, which was fenced off. And we could only see part of it. Nearby are a bunch of security cameras, for those who get any ideas. Still, it was remarkable to see the sign really close. We then went up another hill, to get a better view of the sign, though still not the whole sign. Still, we made it to the top. After being there for a while, we went back down.

    Once at the parking lot, I got a ride with Mike, as we all went to Alcove Cafe and Bakery. Once we got there, we sat at a table outside. Then just had lunch and a fun time. 2 more TBers came: Bruno (bubu932) and Rodney (joe2009). The food at the restaurant was okay, as I had a turkey melt with fries. But the space at the restaurant was cramped, and never easy for me to sit in the sunlight. On the other hand, it was nice to go to the register and place our individual order, and pay for it that way. That saved the hassle of figuring out the bill in the end. ;)

    Bruno ended up ordering a large piece of chocolate cake, which it got passed around, with some people taking a piece. But there was still a lot left, and normally I would have eaten the rest, given that I love chocolate. But somehow, my appetite was just not there.

    Afterwards, there was a valet who was nice enough to take a group photo with multiple cameras. Then we parted ways, as the TBers would meet up again for dinner and drinks later that night. But for me, I will be heading to the Dodgers game, as I continue my baseball quest.

    So Mike gave me a ride back to the hostel. Once there, I would go in and just rest for a little while. When I got back up, it was time to go to the ballgame. More about that in the next entry.

    [Special thanks to BiG, for taking most of the group shots!)

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  • 28Sep 2012

    13 Dodger Night 09/28/2012 USA —

    Los Angeles, USA

    Description

    Leaving Hollywood, I hopped on the Metro, going to Union Station. From there, I would go on the Dodger Express, an express bus that takes people to Dodger Stadium. It was free with a game ticket. And the bus was not completely filled.

    The ride took about 30 minutes to get there. Once there, I looked around for a bit. Then tried to enter at lower level entrance, but was not permitted. Instead, I had to go up flights of stairs, all the way to the top, where the Reserve level was. Along the way, I saw murals on the wall, highlighting moments in Dodgers history. I would enter the ballpark through that entrance.

    This is the 3rd oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball, opening in 1962. I would learn that a game ticket is restricted to a specific section of the stadium, and there is no switching between them. Not even for a visit, and not even after the game is over.

    I went to my seat, which by the time, the sun had already set. And it was a cool night, making it an enjoyable night to watch the game. I looked around, seeing the 2 scoreboards, with the retired numbers in the outfield seats.

    As game time was approaching, I had to try a Dodger dog, which is a foot-long hot dog. It was okay, as I enjoy eating hot dogs at baseball games. Hot dogs is to baseball games as popcorn is to movies.

    I did worry a bit about the gangster element, which I heard about at Dodger games. Especially since the incident last year, with the Giants fan nearly getting beaten to death. But I did not run into that problem.

    I would get to hear the legendary broadcaster, Vin Scully as the radio announcer, whenever I went to the restroom. It is odd to have only one person in the broadcast booth, with no color analyst.

    And it was Tommy Lorsada's birthday. The fans would sing "Happy Birthday" to him, then a montage of him, played on one of the scoreboards. Moments included the 2 World Series championships, in 1981 and 1988. I think the Dodgers were underdogs in both seasons.

    The Los Angeles Dodgers took on the Colorado Rockies. The Dodgers are trying to keep pace with the Cardinals in the NL Wild Card Race, while the Rockies are in last place in the NL West. The Cards already won earlier, so a must-win for the Dodgers.

    The game was one-sided, as the Dodgers jumped to a 4-0 lead in the 2nd inning, which included a 3-run homer by Shane Victorino, who spent the past 8 seasons with the Phillies before being traded this season. The Dodgers scored 1 in the 4th, and 3 more in the 8th. I did see another former Phillie, Bobby Abreu, hit a 2-run homer. The Dodgers would shut out the Rockies, 8-0. Clayton Kershaw limited the Rockies to only 5 hits, who probably could not wait until the season ended.

    After the game, there were postgame fireworks. Set in the tune of Frank Sinatra songs, since Sinatra is Lorsada's favorite singer. When the show ended, looked around a bit, but could not get close to the field, due to the rule of not going to another section.

    I exited, and headed to the Dodger Express. There was a line, and I jumped in front, as the usher asked for those willing to stand for the whole ride. But I did not get on. I ended on getting on the next one, and even had a seat. And I sat near some people wearing a Giants cap. Very brave of them.

    At Union Station, I took the Metro back to Hollywood. Taking public transportation sure beats driving to the game.

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  • 29Sep 2012

    14 A Look Back, Then the TravBuddy Bonfire 09/29/2012 USA —

    Los Angeles, USA

    Description

    I started the day, by going to Union Station, and taking the FlyAway bus back to LAX. Then went to Enterprise rental agency, where I would pick a car. Hard to believe that I got around in LA, without a car for the first 2 days.

    So I picked up the car, and went towards downtown. I went towards the campus of USC, to the street, Ellendale Place, where I stayed during my 1999 visit. This was when I used to be part of a group (now I realize they are a cult, but that's another story). I passed by the house that I stayed at, and the memories came back. But I could not stay long, and continued to Koreatown.

    This part was a look back to my first visit to LA, which was 1984, but not exactly sure. I remember going with my family, and being bored when my parents were visiting their friend. I remember giving them a hard time that I had nothing to do. But later on, they tell me that they used to live in the Koreatown area, when they first moved to the US. I drove around Koreatown, and continued on, until I found the Korean Cultural Center. I went inside, and looked around.

    The first floor has a quick overview of Korean history, and displays of items relating to Korean culture. Also, there is a replica of a traditional Korean home. On the 2nd floor, is a display of Korean ceramics. The museum is sparse, which can be seen very quickly. I assumed it would be a museum on Korean history, as well as the history of Koreatown. Well, it had a little bit of the first one, but none of the second one. Not extensive enough! Not worth going out of my way to visit.

    Afterwards, I got a few text messages from Jamal, and I told him when I would come. I had to go back to the hostel, because I was not feeling too good at the time. So once there, I rested for an hour. After that, I went back out, and headed to Dockweiler State Beach. When trying to pay, I tried to pay with a $100 bill, which they did not accept. But I managed to find enough small bills to pay for parking.

    I found the right Lighthouse, which was #54, and the TBers there. It was a barbecue and a fun time together. The TBers that were in attendance:

    Adam (bluemoon), Adrian (acowboy), Belinda (belinda2000), BiG (Biglush_23), Bruno (bubu932), Cydele (retrospeck), Daniel (daniel_jetsetter), Ferlin (ferlinwu), Jamal (Jamal1280), John (pensacolapyro), Luis (Trekk), Mike (NJTProadcruiser), Monica (monky), Raymond (saintgl), Rodney (joe2009), Solomon (soljohnson), Sue (Tamanawas), Virginia (lachicktravels), Walter (WalterC)

    During the day time, it was all food and drinks, and getting to know each other. And seeing planes flying over us, since we were very close to LAX. Sometimes, we wonder where that plane is going next. And I can't go without mentioning the little incident of BiG getting pooped on, by some seagull. It was just too funny and unbelievable.

    We did get to see the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. I missed my chance to photograph it, but it was truly something to see. After sunset, it was time for the bonfire. Some TBers would arrive later as the night went on.

    Never thought I would ever be at a beach bonfire, considering how I'm very much an indoors person. And thought this was very much something I would only see in the movies or TV. But here I am, at a beach bonfire, as people were roasting marshmallows, to make s'mores. Just feels too surreal!

    There was a limbo contest. I figure I try it, but did not get very far. I was not flexible enough. I think it came down to Virginia and Ferlin, with Ferlin coming out as the winner of the limbo contest.

    It was a great time at the beach. But unfortunately, it had to end, as it got late. There were a group of TBers, planning a trip to a winery the next day. But I could not go, because I was going to a Dodgers game, plus promised to meet up with another TBer, who could not make it to this meet-up. After saying goodbye to everyone, I headed back.

    My first TravBuddy meet-up, and it was definitely a great time. While it won't be the only reason for me to travel anywhere, I am definitely open to going to more in the future. Though it is hard to explain to non-TBers on how I could meet up with total strangers.

    So I left, and went back to the hostel, and had to ask about parking. I would learn that the hostel did not have its own parking. Instead, I had to park at a lot or garage, none of which have in-or-out privileges. Plus the rates are pricey. But I had no choice but to park there, as it got late and I was really tired. Then back into the hostel.

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  • 30Sep 2012

    15 Some History, Lousy Baseball and Meeting a TBer 09/30/2012 USA —

    Los Angeles, USA

    Description

    Even though I had a car, I would end up not using it at all, instead choosing to walk and rely on public transportation, which itself, is not so bad in this city. At least not for the tourists, getting to the immediate area.

    From Hollywood, I rode the Metro into downtown, to meet a TBer. But before I do that, I stopped by the Bradbury Building. I went inside, and was only allowed access to certain parts. This building has been used in various movies, most notably "Blade Runner". And it has been used in multiple music videos as well. The look of the place looked interesting, and I could see why this building is used in films. Like a step back in time, as this is a LA landmark, built in 1893.

    Afterwards, I would meet up with May (cotton_foam), and met in the Grand Central Market. The Grand Central Market is a farmer's market and food court into one. We finally met up, and she came with her husband, Ed. She would refer to me as her first TB friend, since I was the first one to comment on her page.

    So we tried to look for a place to eat, and looked around the market. Then went out, and to El Pollo Loco, which was a fast food Mexican place. We ate our lunch there, and had a fun time, as I got to know May and Ed better. It was very nice of them to drive 4 hours one-way, just to see me. Well, they came to see me and relatives who live in the LA area.

    After the meal, we walked around downtown. Oh man, I can't believe how hot it was. Yeah, I get that this is LA, but still, very unbearable.

    Anyway, it was nice of them to accompany me along the way. We went through the Grand Central Market, and took a ride on Angels Flight, which was a funicular. It took us to the top of the hill. Then came upon a fountain, and a view of downtown. We came to a street, which we walked along it, passing by the Museum of Contemporary Art. Then passed by the Walt Disney Concert Hall and Music Center. Then down a hill, towards City Hall.

    This was when we would part ways, as they had to get somewhere, and I was on my way to the Dodgers game. After saying goodbye, I went to Olvera Street, which was part of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument. This was the oldest part of LA, dating back to 1781. Also known as the Mexican Marketplace, with a bunch of stalls along this stretch.

    I did wish I had more time to spend here, as I found it very interesting place to check out, with the Mexican and festive feel to this place. I got to walk around, getting a quick overview of the area, and visit the museum called the Avila Abode. This was a replica of a California home in the 1840's.

    But now, it was time to head to the game. So I walked through Union Station, and took the Dodger Express to the game. Once there, I walked around, and had to go up the stairs, this time on the 3rd base side. I entered and saw that my seat was in the sunlight. So whoever said that this section was in the shade during a day game, was dead WRONG!

    I have a hard time sitting in the sunlight, and would get up and stand underneath the overhang in the concourse, behind a section there. My feet started to hurt, but it was better than sitting in the sun. But then, some security guard told us that we had to stand behind the white line, which made it harder to see the field. After a while, I went back to my seat. Luckily for me, my section would eventually be shaded, about 90 minutes into the game, or the 5th inning. Though, some crazy fans decide to hit a beach ball around the seats. I think I hit it at least once, and nearly got hit in the head.

    This was the 3rd game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies, with Josh Beckett starting for the Dodgers. The Rockies finally scored in this series, after being shut out in the previous 2 games. But that's all they would score, as the Dodgers scored 7 unanswered runs after that, on 3 home runs. The Dodgers win the game 7-1, thus sweeping the Rockies and keeping pace with the Cardinals in the Wild Card race.

    The game took nearly 4 hours. At times, I wanted to leave early, and wished that I went with the TBers to the winery instead than sit at this game. Also, I hope not to attend any more day games, just for the fact that I hate sitting in the sunlight. And for a stadium that turned 50 this season, it did not seem to do much to acknowledge the ballpark's history.

    So I left the ballpark, and headed back to the hostel, and just waited there until the spaghetti dinner there. I met 2 Dutch guys there, and hung out with them, as I ate so much again, and satisfied.

    After dinner, I tried to go to the Griffith Observatory, without a car. I took the Metro, then waited for the DASH bus to the observatory. But turned out, the schedule on the internet was not accurate, as I called the hotline for real time, and what they tell me, did not match the internet schedule. As a result, I would not get to go to the observatory at all on this trip, since it is closed on Mondays.

    So back to Hollywood, and walked around for a bit, seeing costumed characters. Then back to the hostel.

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  • 01Oct 2012

    16 Touring Warner Bros Studio 10/01/2012 USA —

    Burbank, USA

    Description

    I packed up, and was ready to check out of the hostel. Only to find out, that I actually paid for the night that I won't be staying. I did not realize it until they told me, and showed on the receipt. A major oversight on my part. So I put my backpack in the room, and would check out at night, since that was when my flight was. Too late for a refund.

    I decided to do a studio tour, picking Warner Brothers Studio. Located in Burbank, it was not as far from Hollywood as I thought, though it was difficult finding the right area, as the studio covers a wide area. I had to pay $7 for parking, and nearly $50 for the studio tour. So it is not cheap. Also, it has been said that no 2 tours are exactly alike, as it does depend on what is open, and what is closed due to filming in progress.

    So I arrived and went inside the studio store, greeted by statues of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. I waited until my tour time started. Then went inside the theater, for a short film, which basically was an intro to Warner Bros. Then went outside, where it was very hot, and to the tram.

    Once on the tram, we entered the studio lot, and toured the area. The guide that we had, was a guy named Nance, and he was great.

    The things we saw on this tour included:
    1. town set that was used in "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "Gilmore Girls"
    2. El steps from "ER"
    3. hospital from "Chuck"
    4. set of "2 Broke Girls"
    5. Ashton Kutcher's trailer from "Two and a Half Men"
    6. courthouse from "Night Court"
    7. the iconic water tower (most associated with "Animaniacs")
    8. Central Perk from "Friends"
    9. garage having cars from "The Mentalist"
    10. displays of cars used in various movies and TV shows (like Batmobile, General Lee, among others)
    11. desk used in "The West Wing"
    12. prop rooms

    I'm sure there are more, but that's all I can remember, for now!

    It has been said that you may see an actor or actress on the set along the way. I did see one, and it was Bernandette from "The Big Bang Theory". I was not able to get a photo of her, since she was pretty far away, and facing away most of the time.

    The tour ended with a visit to a small museum, where we had only 30 minutes to see it. This was one of the few places where photography was not allowed. I saw a small exhibit on the Looney Tunes, with the other props and dresses on display, along with the Harry Potter exhibition on the top floor. I had enough time to see everything, as I am not a big Harry Potter fan, but did read most of the books.

    That marked the end of the tour, and we were taken back to the studio store. After thanking Nance, I just relaxed in the cafe there, having some ice cream. And thought about doing another studio tour, but the tour times and the distance would have taken up too much time. Not to mention, very costly. So I decided to head to the ocean!

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  • 01Oct 2012

    17 Sunset, Take Two! Then Head Back! 10/01/2012 USA —

    Los Angeles, USA

    Description

    Leaving Burbank, and after stopping by the hostel, I drove on Sunset Boulevard all the way to the ocean. And yes, I can't go without saying this... how I first about this street, from the Nintendo game, Rad Racer. There were no car crashes or flipping over a few times, like in the game. :)

    I did the same thing back in 1999, and thought to do it again. I drove on the Sunset, until I reached Beverly Hills. I took a detour, and did a quick drive through Rodeo Drive. A bunch of expensive places, basically way out of my budget range. Moving on, I did stop to look at some of the mansions, with palm trees lining up the street. Basically what I would see in the movies.

    Continuing on, I was driving through a wealthy residential neighborhood. I did hit a problem along the way, but found a way to solve it. Can't really get into it here.

    After a long, curvy drive, which takes a while, I finally reached the Pacific Ocean. Then drove on my way to the Venice Boardwalk. I was able to find a cheap parking lot, as I planned to linger around until after sunset.

    I walked up and down the boardwalk, which was not the same as the one at the Jersey Shore. I saw some weird t-shirt shops, with places to eat and other weird stuff. I walked to one end, then went the other way.

    As I went towards the beach, there were people riding bikes or roller blading. And an area where skateboarders go up and down in the pit. And some interesting artwork on structures along the way.

    I found a spot, to watch the sunset and photograph it, since I missed my chance at the TB bonfire. Seeing the sun set over the horizon, it was amazing to watch once again. Glad to have seen it. Then I headed back, going to Hollywood.

    I got back to the hostel, hoping to get to the BBQ there, but learned that it ended. So I went back to the room, for a much needed shower, since I sweat so much. Then packed up completely, and checked out. Yes, I would have to deal with the extra cost, but since I got a shower, it was not a total loss.

    I did take one last walk around Hollywood, seeing the costumed characters, like Jack Sparrow, Chewbecca, and Wonder Woman. Then headed to Mulholland Drive for nice views.

    I followed the signs, and stopped by one of the lookout spots, which was closed off. But I was able to see downtown LA in the distance, which was nice to see. After that, it got difficult finding my way around, as there were no signs to point the way. I would eventually figure it out, and came to a few more lookout spots, seeing downtown LA and Burbank. Too bad that I could not get good photos of it, and will need a lesson on taking good nightime shots with an old camera. But still, it was worth it, for the views, which is so nice to see.

    It was time to go, and I got lost along the way. I had to stop by a McDonald's to get directions, as well as get something to eat. Then headed to LAX, first going to Enterprise to return the car. Then to the airport.

    I went through security fast, and to the gate, where I waited until boarding. I went back the same way as I came, having to connect in Dallas. And taking me into the next day (October 2nd). Then from there, going back to Philly.

    It was a memorable trip, mainly for going to my first TravBuddy meet-up. But now, I look ahead to my next trip.

    [I put the photos under Los Angeles, to keep it in one entry, rather than split them into many entries.]

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  • 04Sep 2016

    18 Returning to Southern California 09/04/2016 USA —

    Fullerton, USA

    Description

    The plane finally arrived at Los Angeles International Airport (or LAX for short), and I could not wait to get off. When getting off, I made a fast walk to the curb, trying to figure out the shuttle situation. I arranged and paid for one, but arrived a lot later than planned. I sent texts and tried to call the shuttle company, Shuttle 2 LAX, but it was past office hours.

    I started to worry, until I came across a lady, who helped arrange shuttle rides. So I arranged one with her. I had to wait a while, but glad to see that I have a ride. When the shuttle van came, I got inside it, and finally headed to Fullerton, located in Orange County. I would get a ride to the HI - Los Angeles - Fullerton Hostel.

    The ride itself, would take a long time, and I felt carsick after looking at my phone for some time. It was getting late, and I started to feel worse. After dropping a few people off, there was confusion where the hostel was. I called the hostel for directions. And even willing to get off at some nearby spot and walk to it, but the driver would not allow it. I guess the driver would get in trouble if he did. After talking to hostel staff, we were able to find the driveway to the hostel, where I got off. And glad to get off, so I can finally breathe.

    Walked up the hill, to the hostel. And checked-in, and paid for my stay. And to my room, where there were some people already sleeping. So I would be one of those people making noise, as I unpacked. I took a much-needed shower, and recharged my devices. Then went to bed. I would take a look around the hostel, the next morning.

    After taking so long, I was finally here, back in California. And this time, I will be going to Disneyland.

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  • 05Sep 2016

    19 Finally Going to Disneyland! 09/05/2016 USA —

    Anaheim, USA

    Description

    Getting up, I have gotten ready, and went to the kitchen, where I would have a pancake breakfast. I would have to make them myself, and had some trouble doing that. But there was a guy who worked at the hostel, helped me out. I had to learn how much powder and water needed to make pancake batter.

    After breakfast, I would take some bread to save for later. And pay for another night, deciding on 3 nights. When all was done, I headed out, and walked to the supermarket. I went in, and bought some drinks. Then got on one of the local bus, which ran every hour, and took me to Disneyland.

    Arrived there, and one more hurdle to overcome, which was actually getting the park ticket. While I did buy ahead of time, I had to print the voucher to get the ticket on site. But I printed the receipt instead, and worried that I would have to go all the way back to the hostel, to do the whole thing. Waited nervously at the ticket line, but much to my relief, it ended up not mattering. I did get the 2-day ticket. Then finally entered Disneyland!

    I have been to Disney World in Florida, 8 times. But this was my first time ever, at Disneyland. Or as Anna would say, the first time in forever, as I did have same excitement as she did, after getting past the turnstile. With the Bare Necessities, which consists of a park map and Times Guide, I was all set to enjoy the very park that Walt Disney himself, has been to, and has his personal touches.

    Disneyland opened in 1955, and the very first Disney park in the world. All this time, I kept thinking that this park was an exact replica of the Magic Kingdom in Florida. As I would quickly find out, that would not be true, as soon as I got through Main Street USA. For starters, it is Sleeping Beauty Castle at this one. Nearby is the Matterhorn, which is a rollercoaster, that is similar to Expedition Everest. The only place where I would go on rollercoasters, as I am not really a fan of them.

    After the ride, I started going around Fantasyland and other parts of the park, I did feel a lot more compact, as everything seemed to be closer to each other. But that does not mean that I would get to see everything, being that this was Labor Day. And the final day of the Paint the Night Parade, which was my main reason for this entire trip happening in the first place. All of that meant bigger crowds and longer lines. Also, I arrived late morning, taking away even more time.

    I would go on some of the other rides that are unique to this park, like Indiana Jones Adventure and Pinocchio's Daring Journey. And I was disappointed when some rides broke down, and could not go on them, like Splash Mountain. Even the power was down in the entire Fantasyland. And some that are going through refurbishment (or renovation), like Haunted Mansion, as it was putting up Halloween decorations.

    Also, even with the rides that are at both parks, I notice that some of them have queues that are outside, even in the sun at some parts. Not to mention, the sequence within the rides would differ between the different parks around the world. Also, there are often random character meet-and-greets, meaning that Disney characters would walk around the parks, and stop at some spots to meet people. Instead of the scheduled ones at only one location. I would get to see Aurora, Fairy Godmother and Gaston.

    Speaking of Aurora, I would do the walkthrough in Sleeping Beauty Castle. This was basically going through the story of the film of the same name. It was really nice to see, but too dark, making it hard to take good photos. But I did like seeing the art.

    I would sit across from It's a Small World, to reserve a spot, to see Mickey's Soundsational Parade. Since that parade started at Main Street, I would see it later than the stated time.

    This afternoon parade begins with the float that has Mickey Mouse and friends, followed by a bunch of floats that has characters from the different Disney films. Each float is set to a certain theme or specific film.

    After seeing the parade, I would turn my attention to Tomorrowland. But it felt more like Star Wars Land, as it seemed like everything was about Star Wars. Having recently watched all the films recently, including "The Force Awakens" in theaters, I have a better understanding and appreciation of the franchise that happened "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away". Even really got into for some time, as I did read some of the books. Anyway, names like HyperSpace Mountain, and a museum-like attraction like Star Wars Launch Bay. Makes sense in a way, since Disney did buy Lucasfilm, and that a new Star Wars Land was being built. The only non-Star Wars ride that I went on, was Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, which is a lot of fun.

    Along the way, I did worry when seeing my camera battery losing a bar, as I still wanted to take photos of the Paint the Night Parade. And my phone was running low on power as well. So I would go to the bathroom, and charge my camera for a little while. But I did not want to waste too much time, so I cut out after 20 minutes.

    I would visit 2 more attractions, which were Tarzan's Treehouse and the Pirates of the Caribbean. Attractions that different than the ones in Florida. After going to those 2, I headed towards It's a Small World, and tried to reserve a spot for Paint the Night, almost an hour ahead of time. But not surprisingly, it was already taken. In fact, I remember seeing one family sitting on a spot in the morning. Really? And one area was closed off, and would not open until 30 minutes. But it seemed to have opened earlier, or that people just ignored the barrier. I would get a spot, but behind 2 people. Not bad views, but it does make it tough to take photos. Still, I was finally going to see Paint the Night.

    So why is Paint the Night Parade a big deal to me? Well, after seeing it a bunch of times on YouTube, and learning that its regular run would end after Labor Day, I could not pass up the chance. So yes, this parade was the tipping point to take this trip. So what do I think of this parade? Well, it was definitely worth flying across the country to see it in person. And yes, a lot better than seeing it on YouTube.

    This showing was the 2nd-from-last overall. I would go on only 1 more ride, which was Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, which is a submarine ride. Then went to find a spot, to see the final showing of Paint the Night Parade. And it was a better spot, as there was less obstructions in my way. I would stay for about an hour, until the final parade started.

    After the parade ended, there were crowds of people following the last float. And even singing along to the theme songs. Even I got caught up in the moment, joining in the crowds. It was really something to see and experience, and never thought it would get this festive at a Disney park. Here is a video of it... Following the last Paint the Night show. I would skip ahead to the 10:45 mark. Or check another one here, to get a feel of it.

    It was getting late, and I had to leave the park. So I exited, and stopped by a store for a bit. Then to the bus stop, where I waited for some time. I worried a bit, about being stranded, as it was past midnight. But a bus did come, and took me back to Fullerton. Once there, I went back to the hostel. I took a shower, and then to sleep.

    Despite some problems along the way, this ended up being a very enjoyable day! As they would ask during Paint the Night, when can we do this again?

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  • 06Sep 2016

    20 Relying on Public Transportation in Orange County 09/06/2016 USA —

    Fullerton, USA

    Description

    I would sleep in late, after coming back very late the night before. So no hurry to get out, and decided to save the 2nd day of Disneyland for later on, in the trip.

    I would eat the pancake breakfast, and think that I got the hang of making pancakes. And I would borrow the laptop, as I still prefer using a regular keyboard. And did get to talk to the guy at the front desk.

    After getting ready and figuring out some things, I would leave the hostel, as I was going to the John Wayne Airport to pick up a rental car. Walked to the Ralphs, the name of the local supermarket chain. Bought some things, and then took the bus to Fullerton Station.

    Once there, where I hoped to transfer to the next Metrolink train. But the next one would not come for a few hours, which was too long. So I would have to rely on buses, to get to the John Wayne Airport. I did get to see a freight train pass by, which I always like seeing.

    I went to the cafe, needing to break a $20 bill. But that took a little too long, and missed the bus that I need to take. I did try to chase it down, but gave up and just waited for the next one. So I went back to the cafe, and just waited there. When that 2nd bus came, I got on it, and rode it.

    I got off, and had to transfer to a 3rd bus, which finally took me to the airport. I think the entire journey took about 3 hours, as this seems to be typical of relying on public transportation in Orange County. And possibly southern California, for that matter.

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  • 06Sep 2016

    21 Last Minute Visit to Zoo 09/06/2016 USA —

    Santa Ana, USA

    Description

    Arriving at the airport, I would have to take a shuttle van to the Thrifty rental location. Then would pick up the car there, and would get talked into getting extra insurance coverage that I did not really want. Mainly to cover myself since I am going to a different state, since the laws may be different. And just as bad, that I would NOT have any XM satellite radio, as this place rarely has cars that has one. So this will make the long drives, a lot more longer.

    I would get a mid-size car, I think, which was a Mazda. And getting used to the idea of turning on the engine by hitting a button instead of using a key. I drove out of the location, and would go to the nearest Burger King, to get a quick lunch.

    After doing some thinking, I decided to go back to the car rental agency. I had to try, at least to remove this nagging doubt. Luckily, I was not far from it, and would go back. I went inside, and was able to get the insurance plan, which reduced costs. That saved me some serious money, which the difference would be credited back. Then headed back out, and onto the freeway. And have to deal with traffic, which is not surprising, being in southern California.

    Being that it was late in the day, I figure that my only options would be limited to the Orange County area. And decided that I would go to the Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park. I did not have much trouble finding it. I arrived there, and then entered the first zoo of this trip.

    Starting with the replica of a South American outpost, which was more of an interactive exhibit. I would then come to the Colors of the Amazon Aviary, which has birds from South America. I was able to spot a few, but not many. Then would walk around the back end of the zoo, seeing some camels and macaws.

    Then walked down Monkey Row, or Primate Row, which goes down one side of the zoo to the back side. This was a series of displays, with a variety of primates, in some old-looking cages. Because of this, this zoo would sometimes be known as the Monkey Zoo.

    After seeing Monkey Row, I would see the rest of the zoo, seeing some open spaces and more birds. Some of them would include greater rhea and a giant anteater. And to the last part, the Crean Family Farm, which consists of farm animals and more. I walked around the area, then back towards the entrance area. A small zoo, it took me about 1.5 hours to see it. And it was hardly crowded at all, and at times, it seemed like I was the only one in the zoo.

    After seeing the zoo, I looked into other options. But considering the travel time and the heavy traffic, I would have no time. And save myself some headaches. So I headed back to the hostel. I would get lost along the way, but would eventually find my way around.

    Once at the hostel, I rested for a bit. Then went back out, and stopped by a Ralph's supermarket, to get some drinks. And a nearby Subway, to get a sandwich, as this would be my dinner. But I would eat that later.

    Back on the freeway, as I was heading into Los Angeles, to the Griffith Observatory.

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  • 06Sep 2016

    22 Seeing Into Space and the City 09/06/2016 USA —

    Los Angeles, USA

    Description

    From Fullerton, I would have to get on the freeway, to get to LA. But would get lost, when taking the wrong lane, leading me onto the wrong freeway. And had to get off, in an industrial area that looked deserted. I quickly got back on the freeway, and drove to the Hollywood area. Then drive to Griffith Park.

    I tried to go in one way, but it was closed off. So I had to go in another way, and hit traffic. The main parking lot was full, so I had to go on a street, and park on it. Then had to walk along that street, which has no sidewalk, and not well-lit at all. At times, I had to use my cell phone as a flashlight, to let others know of my presence.

    Then I walked up the hill, to the Griffith Observatory. It was quite a walk, and I did worry about running out of time. And very windy and chilly. But I made it to the top, and sat at one of the picnic tables, to eat my dinner. It was kind of nice, to eat and see the lights in the city. I would see some beams of lights, which I assume, are some type of search lights in the Hollywood area.

    After looking around the grounds, which are really dark and hard to photograph, I went to stand in line for the telescope in the dome. I should not be surprised that the line was long. There was a guide, who told what time the door to the telescope, would be closed. And how it can be pointed at a different target in space each day. This day, it was pointed at Saturn.

    Well, I was able to get inside, and see the huge telescope pointing into the night sky. And did get to see the planet Saturn, and one of its moons. Possibly Titan, its largest moon. Just wow, as I got to see the 6th planet from the sun, and its famous rings. I wish that I could have looked longer, but had to move on, to keep the line moving.

    I would go on the terrace, and see the city of LA at night, with its bright lights. Seeing this, just reminded me of the countless times I would see this in movies, thus making me think of LA as the land of the movies. So this was really something for me. Though, it would be a huge challenge to take photographs of it, trying different modes on my camera.

    Afterwards, I went downstairs, and see some smaller (and more modern) telescopes on the lawn. And went inside, to look at some of the displays in the museum. I would only get to see a few of them, including the pendulum, which is a giant, swinging ball on a string, that shows that our planet Earth is really rotating. And giving us our days and nights.

    I would leave, since the observatory was closing up. But I decided to come back later on in the trip, as there is still more that I wanted to see. And wanted to see in the daytime as well.

    I walked back downhill, then along the street, to the car. Then drove out of Griffith Park, and headed back to Fullerton, in Orange County. Quite a long drive, not really realizing how vast the area it really was.

    Once back in Fullerton, I started to pack up a little bit, as I would be leaving California the next day. Then to sleep!

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  • 07Sep 2016

    23 The Start of the Long Drive 09/07/2016 USA —

    Moreno Valley, USA

    Description

    It was time to leave Orange County, as I would finish up packing. And eat a quick breakfast. Then borrowed the laptop, which I used to reserve a night in Phoenix. So yes, I would drive all the way to Phoenix within the day.

    I did take my time a bit, as I had to make sure of some things before leaving. Once that was taken care of, I checked out and left the hostel. I went to follow directions on my phone, looking for the freeway. Not surprisingly, I got lost. I would stop by a 7-Eleven, to get some bottled water. Not only to stay hydrated, but in case the car overheats, as I will be driving through the desert. It can reach up to 100 F (or 38 C).

    I would find my way to the freeway, on CA-57. Then to CA-60. I left the urban area, and drive past some mountains, as I would see a different side of California. I did look for some strip malls along the way, and stopped by one, in the town of Moreno Valley. As I parked the car, I did notice the M on the mountain, and had to look up where exactly I was.

    I went to the Wendy's, for a quick lunch. Then take a brief nap in the car, as I did feel tired. And felt like I should rest up as much as I can. After waking up, I resumed driving, getting back on CA-60. I continued on it, until it merged with I-10, which I would take the rest of the way to Arizona.

    I did make a brief stop at a rest area. Not only to use the bathroom, but to see how far along that I am, and let the car rest for a bit. Mainly to prevent overheating. I would also have the air-conditioner off at times, as just a precaution. Maybe I am being too much cautious.

    Getting back on the freeway, I would see more mountains, and windmills in this desert terrain. Continued on, to the town of Palm Desert.

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  • 07Sep 2016

    24 A Desert Zoo and More 09/07/2016 USA —

    Palm Desert, USA

    Description

    Arriving into the town of Palm Desert, I passed by strip malls and some gated residential communities. I did have some trouble finding my way, as I was heading to the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.

    Once I did find it, I would buy a Summer Membership, which has the benefits of an Annual Membership, but much cheaper. More about this and the zoo, along with more zoo photos in the zoo blog.

    Entering the zoo, I would see a lot of cacti, and start at the Indian Ethnobotanical Garden, which was a little museum that I did not expect at this place, on the Cahuilla tribe. I skimmed through it quickly, as I really came to see the animals. Made a stop at the animal hospital, looking at the different rooms. Then back out to see more of the zoo.

    As I would have to remember the name of this place, in addition to the animals, there are also a lot of plants on display. Mainly those that can survive in the desert. I started on one side, which has more plants. Then went through the Oasis Aviary, which was a replica of an oasis, and had some North American birds. Then saw more plants, from different deserts in the Southwest part of the US, and Mexico as well. Then to Eagle Canyon, where there were more North American animals. Including another aviary.

    When coming along the other side, I would see the Bighorn Mountain, which was part of the Santa Rosa Mountains. And see the bighorn sheep, which seem to have the whole mountain to itself. Then came to the Africa part of the zoo, which has mainly African animals. First along the mountain, then to the Village WaTuTu (yes, it is actually spelled that way on some literature). A replica of an African village, which was shaded, and had more African animals.

    I came to the petting zoo. I would talk with one of the keepers there briefly, and we even got to see the giraffes and ostriches in the distance. I remembered the keeper saying that the ostriches are too unsightly to see, which I found to be a little amusing.

    After walking around the village area, I continued on, and get a closer look at the giraffes. They seem to have a huge wide open area to themselves. Enough space to roam around, on a series of hills. So it can be hard to see them at times.

    Towards the end of the visit, I would see G Scale Model Train Exhibit, which was really impressive to see. Too bad that the model trains were not running, as I guess, it has been shut off for the day. After seeing this, I would start heading out of the zoo.

    There was hardly any people there, and at times, it seemed like I was the only person there. Well, I can understand that, being in the middle of the day on a very hot day, with some parts having no shade at all. In fact, the zoo would close early for that reason. And not surprisingly, most of the animals would retreat from the sub by this time. So I did not have much time to see it all. And turns out, I would miss one animal building, which I did not know about, until I already exited out.

    After exiting out of the zoo, I would get back on the road, and stop by a Sam's Club. I filled up on gas, and picked up a cheap lunch inside. Good thing that I brought along my Sam's Club card. After all that, I was back on the road, as I resumed driving on I-10.

    I was heading to the next place, the Joshua Tree National Park, which was farther away than I thought.

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  • 07Sep 2016

    25 Driving Through 2 Deserts 09/07/2016 USA —

    USA

    Description

    Exiting off I-10, I drove to the Joshua Tree National Park. Then entered it.

    I made a stop at the Cottonwood Visitor Center. Mainly to pick up a map, and get directions and recommendation of a route from the ranger there. I was also given the newspaper on the park, which was a seasonal one.

    Also, I had to get the regular National Park Services (or NPS) stamp and the centennial stamp in my NPS passport book beforehand, as the visitor centers were going to close in a short time. Might as well get that out of the way. The NPS stamps are normally called cancellations, but I call them stamps, since that is what I actually do. After all that, I was back out, and looked around for a bit. Then started driving and exploring the park.

    I would make stops along the way, and read some of the description boards, but not all of them. Some areas seem to have names, but I am not exactly sure. But I will name them that way in the photos.

    Joshua Tree National Park consists of landscapes of 2 different deserts, thus can be divided into 2 parts. Coming from the South Entrance, I would go through the Colorado Desert first. Then came to a point where it switches to the other part, the Mojave Desert. There is no real boundary line, but the differences are gradually noticeable mainly by landscape and the type of plant life. And elevations as well, which would result in the differences in temperature.

    As I drove through the Mojave Desert part, I would see a lot of rock formations, which were really impressive to see. Even got out, and did a little rock climbing, around Skull Rock. Let's just say, rock climbing is definitely not my thing, as I find getting down a lot more scary than going up. And supposedly, this is the easy part, as I did see some kids and old people climb rather easily.

    I came to an intersection, which I took to go to Keys View. Passing by a bunch of joshua trees, I reached the end of the road, to Keys View. Getting out of the car, I walked up for nice views of the Coachella Valley and the Little San Bernardino Mountains. Supposedly, there is a lot more things to see, but the thick haze made that impossible. Still, very much worth making the detour.

    When getting back to the car, there were a swarm of bees around it. Not sure why the bees are attracted to the car, but that made it very difficult for me to get in the car. This was just unbelievable and scary to see, as I never saw anything like this. But I had to get inside, and just sucked it up, and entered into the back seat. Then to the driver seat, and drove out of Keys View. There were a couple bees that got in, as the buzzing sound did make me jump. I had to let them out, but luckily, out of that area.

    I stopped to see the joshua trees. Supposedly named that by Mormons, because they looked like the upstretched arms of Joshua to the sky in prayer, in the Bible. There were a bunch at this part of the park, along with some more rock formations to see. No doubt, this part of the park was a lot more nicer to see.

    I reached towards the end, and considered backtracking to exit out of the South Entrance. But thought that would take too long, so I decided to go out the West Entrance. As I exited the park, the booth was closed. So it turned out, that I ended up visiting Joshua Tree National Park for free.

    But I had a very long drive ahead, as I was heading for Arizona.

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  • 10Sep 2016

    26 Pissing Away to Hollywood 09/10/2016 USA —

    Los Angeles, USA

    Description

    As the plane landed at LAX, I would need to use the toilet so badly, and was having harder time to hold it in. Making it worse, was that there was traffic on the runway, so that meant being stuck on plane, with our seat belts fastened. I would press the call button, to tell the flight attendant that I needed to go so badly. Not surprisingly, she said no. So I tried to wait it out. But after the pilot announced that he was not sure when it will park at the gate, I just thought "screw this", and went to the toilet. Talk about major relief, as that made the wait more easier. I did not care what the consequence would be, like getting taken away once at the gate.

    The plane did arrive at the gate, and I proceeded to the curb, for the FlyAway bus. I waited for a while for the next one. When it came, I rode it to Union Station. Then took the Metro, to the Hollywood/Highland stop. Then walked along Hollywood Boulevard, to the Hollywood & Highland Hotel & Hotel. And soon enough, I was worried about this hostel.

    I would have to wait a while to check in, as there was only 1 person on staff. So I waited in the TV lounge, until my turn came. Then I checked in, and to my room. I needed to do laundry, but this place did not have any laundry machines. So I took the clothes that needed to be washed, and went to a laundromat, a few blocks away.

    Once there, I washed and dried my clothes there. I was not happy that this was pissing away valuable vacation time, but could not put it off any longer. Walked around area for a bit, and got some ice cream. Then waited at the laundromat, until it was all done. I returned to the hostel, to drop my things off there, and organize them.

    Afterwards, I was back out, heading to the Metro station. I would see some characters along the way, like Spider-Man, Jack Sparrow and Elsa. You never know who you will see when in Hollywood. I got to the station, and waited until the next subway came. Then rode it, as I was heading for Koreatown.

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  • 10Sep 2016

    27 A Hearty Meal in K-Town 09/10/2016 USA —

    Los Angeles, USA

    Description

    Arriving into Koreatown, a place that I have visited briefly in my previous trips to LA. But I figure, spend a little more time in it. As I arrived there by subway, I came out, and walked and rode the bus one way. But it turned out to be the wrong way. So I got on the bus that went the opposite direction, taking me towards the Koreatown Plaza.

    Koreatown (or K-Town) is the largest Korean community outside of Korea. I have seen Korean communities in other cities, but not as big as this one. And this was where my parents used to live, the first place they moved to when arriving in the US, coming from Korea.

    I went inside K-Town Plaza, and this looked like a Korean version of a shopping mall. And did feel like the ones in Asia. I went to the International Food Court, which I saw about in a YouTube video. So I decided to check it out.

    The food options looked like different Asian fare, mainly run by Koreans. I just went to a place called Tonkatsu House, and got a rice omelet (also known as omurice). I have not eaten this for a long time, as I used to enjoy eating this whenever I went to Korean restaurants back in the day. I placed my order, and later got my food.

    Sitting at the table, there were some side dishes. The most unusual side was macaronu and cheese, which I never expect to see here. So American, as this seems to be a fusion of cultures in a way. There was also cole slaw. I was really hungry, but even I could not finish it all, as there was so much. But it was very enjoyable.

    After eating, I did look some more, and made a stop at the supermarket there. Then back out, and deciding to walk to the Metro station, as the bus would take too long to arrive. I would get there, passing by the Wiltern Theatre. Then hopped on the subway, and go to Union Station.

    Once there, I had to buy a round-trip ticket to Anaheim from Amtrak. Then went to the platform, and got on the Amtrak train. This would be the first time that I ever rode an Amtrak train, as I find them very overpriced. They do seem to have a few extra amenities, like an outlet for each seat row, to charge or use your electronic devices. The train took off, leaving LA, and heading to Anaheim.

    It would make a stop at Fullerton, making me think that, maybe I should have stayed here instead, since it is a lot closer to the places that I planned to visit. I guess that I wanted to stay at the very hostel that I enjoyed from 2012.

    But I had to move on, as the train arrived into Anaheim.

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  • 10Sep 2016

    28 Angels in the Outfield 09/10/2016 USA —

    Anaheim, USA

    Description

    Arriving into Anaheim, as I knew only knew about it, mainly from its 2 sports teams, as well as the home of Disneyland. But more for its sports teams, otherwise I would have not known about it at all. This visit would be for the baseball team.

    From the train station, I made a fast walk to the ballpark, as game time was getting really close. And I wanted to make sure that I caught the home team taking the field, which has become a tradition for me to see and photograph, since Colorado in 2009. I arrived at the back gate, and had to go through security. But then, the national anthem happened, and everything was stopped to stand for it. When it ended, I was able to get through it, and enter into Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

    Home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (that is bit of a mouthful to say), as the team have gone through some name changes over the years. I knew them as the California Angels, then Anaheim and its current name. In my mind, I still think of them as the Anaheim Angels, as they are not even located close to LA. Or sometimes refer to them as the Halos.

    I would wait first at the bottom level, then went up to the next level, to make sure that I catch the Angels taking the field. Luckily, I was able to catch that. So the tradition stays alive, though that was cutting it close. Then I went up to the top level, to my seat. And looked around for a bit. Both inside and outside of the stadium.

    Angel Stadium has gone through a bunch of name changes over the years, just like the team itself. Opened in 1966, after the Angels shared Dodger Stadium with another team for a few seasons. It is currently the 4th oldest stadium in Major League Baseball. And once was the home of the Rams in football, from 1980 to 1994.

    I did change seats, halfway through the game, when noticing a row of empty seats. I sat along the 3rd base side, but moved to the home plate area. And catch a colorful sky, as the sun was setting.

    The Angels took on the Texas Rangers, as I did notice some Rangers fans at the game. The Rangers were leading the AL West, while the Angels (or Halos) were pretty much out of the playoff picture. This would be another game with a lot of scoring. And very quickly, as the Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the 1st inning. The Angels scored 1 run in the 3rd, and both scored in the 4th, as the Rangers led 4-2. That score would remain until the 7th inning, when the Angels got 3 to take a 5-4. But that lead did not last long, as the Rangers scored 4 unanswered runs for the rest of the game. And the Rangers would beat the Angels, 8-5.

    After the game, I would see the postgame fireworks, which is always nice to see. Then walked around, seeing some murals along the way. A little history on the Angels and the past players, including ones that have made it to the Angels Hall of Fame. Including one for Jim Fregosi, who I remember from managing the Phillies to the World Series in 1993. I remember when the Angels would win all those division titles in the 2000's, but not get very far in the playoffs. They did win 1 World Series in 2002, but strangely enough, as a Wild Card team.

    Looked up on my phone, if any other things to see. But unfortunately, the stadium was about to close, and I had to leave. How disappointing, reminding me of Nationals Park, with this thing of pushing people out so quickly. I wanted to look around some more. A reminder to always come to the ballpark very early, for this very reason.

    Still, I ended up liking this stadium, as I found this experience better than that of Dodger Stadium. The only problem is the location, and the transportation to get there if trying to get there without a car. If I had to choose between the 2 stadiums in the LA area, I would choose Angel Stadium.

    So I would exit the ballpark, and did walk around it for a bit. I did see a statue, but not sure who, as I could not get a good look from the outside. Then I went to the train platform, having to wait a while until the next Amtrak train came. When it did, I got on it, and rode back to LA.

    Once arrived there, I went to the Metro, and just missed the subway, as I saw it leave. So more waiting, for the next one. When I did get on it, I rode it back to Hollywood. Then went back to the hostel.

    Arriving back at the room really late, I would have more issues with this hostel. Cramped room, with an AC that is not really working. With people leaving their things on the floor, it was hard to navigate around them. For now, time to get some sleep.

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  • 11Sep 2016

    29 Going to Zoo and Observatory 09/11/2016 USA —

    Los Angeles, USA

    Description

    Getting up in the morning, I would end up going to a LA Fitness across the street, as I did not feel like waiting for my turn to use the bathroom. The hostel did not have any bathrooms down the hall. Good thing that I brought my LA Fitness membership card. And good thing, as the LA Fitness does look a lot more nicer.

    After washing up there, I went back to the hostel, to pack up and eat breakfast. Then checked out, as I could not wait to get out of there. I walked to the USA Hostels Hollywood, the same one that I stayed back in 2012. I went in, to check in. Then left my backpack there in storage, as I would head back out. I walked to the Metro, which seems so far from the hostel.

    I rode the subway to the Civic Center / Grand Park stop, which was downtown. Then waited for the bus, to take me to the zoo. It would be a long wait, as buses come every hour. When it did come, I rode it, taking me to the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens. Used my Summer Membership to get the discount, then entered the zoo.

    Rather than give a detailed walkthrough, I will just try to give a general summary of my visit...

    There were some side attractions and displays, but I had to skip them, to see the animals. I would see some animals along the way, until I got to, what I thought, was the main loop. I walked through an aviary, then saw the Asian elephants.

    Also, there were statues of elephants, which were part of the Elephant Parade at the Los Angeles Zoo exhibition. These represented the Asian countries that has elephants. There were some on one side of the elephant yard, and the rest on the other side of the yard.

    I did walk through the Rainforest of the Americas, which has animals from that region. The highlight was seeing the giant river otters going down a water slide, which was funny to see. Seemed like they were having fun.

    Seeing this zoo, would prove to be tricky, with all those roundhouses of enclosures. Not sure of the exact term, but I saw what others referred to them as, on another site. There were a bunch of them, and they do make it hard to photograph them.

    I would generally walk in a counter-clockwise direction, trying to see as much as I can. Though, the layout of the zoo is very tricky to follow, with the way it is set up. It is really huge, with a lot of twists and turns, that makes it hard to keep track of what you have seen so far. And I do try to see everything within one visit, if I can.

    It was very hot, but luckily, majority of the zoo is under the shade, making it more bearable. Though, I was annoyed that there was no place to sit inside, to eat and relax. I tried looking for such a place, but no luck. Instead, just tables with umbrellas, which don't help me at all.

    And I am sure that I have seen some animals for the first time ever, but never know for sure, as I am no animal expert. The only one for sure, was something called a markhor. Not to mention, a bunch of reptiles and amphibians in the LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, Reptiles).

    Towards the end, I started to feel tired. I am sure that I missed some parts, but just ran out of time and energy. So what did I really think of this zoo? More about that, along with more zoo photos, in the zoo blog.

    I left the zoo, and took the bus back to downtown. Then the subway back to Hollywood, and to the hostel. I went to the room, and rested for a bit. And meet some of the roommates from other countries.

    Shortly after, I went back out, to go to the Griffith Observatory. Took the Metro to Vermont / Sunset stop, then the DASH Observatory Shuttle to the observatory. I hoped to get there while there was still daylight.

    But by the time I reached the observatory, the sun had already started to set. So I did not really get any good photos in the daytime, and not get a chance to look through the solar telescope. I looked around the front lawn, and looked through the telescope there. This one was pointed at the planetary nebula.

    I went to the terrace, and looked out to the city at night. I did not bother with the Zeiss Telescope, since I have already seen that, and the line was really long. This telescope was pointed at Saturn.

    Then went inside, to look around the museum part, as there was still more to see. There are displays to see, and I did have fun, weighing myself on other planets. And that included Pluto, as this place still considers it a planet. A lot to see, and I did really like this place.

    After seeing the museum, I did consider getting something at the cafe. But it was too overpriced, and nothing appealed to me. So I just went to the bus stop, and left the observatory, around 9:30pm. That was 30 minutes before closing. I overheard someone say that at closing time, the bus would normally be full and crazy.

    I rode to the Metro station, which then, I rode it, to get back to Hollywood. I would get dinner at a Popeye's, and eat the meal at the hostel kitchen. After eating, I would go back to the room for a little bit.

    A short time after, I went back out, as I thought about visiting one of those pricey museums, which are opened until midnight. I went to one of them, the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, up to the entrance. But decided not to visit. I did not have enough time, to full enjoy this place. So I went back to the hostel. It was getting late, and I went to sleep.

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  • 12Sep 2016

    30 Making the Best of a Setback 09/12/2016 USA —

    Los Angeles, USA

    Description

    Getting up, I went down to the kitchen, to eat the pancake breakfast. Never easy for me to do, but still enjoyable. Then back to the room, to get ready and pack up. I did get to meet some of the roommates. Then to the front desk, to check out and put my backpack in storage. This was my last day on the West Coast.

    I used the computer, looking into renting a car, but it was too pricey to me. So I just bought Amtrak tickets instead, to Anaheim, as my plan was to go to Disney California Adventure. I walked to the Metro station, which always seem so far away. Once there, I had to wait for the next one. The times on Google Maps is not accurate at all. When the subway came, I rode it to Union Station.

    I was cutting it very close, as I kept looking at my watch. By the time I arrived at Union Station, I ran to the platform. But I was too late, as I missed the train. Not surprising, when being honest about it. So I had to wait for the next one, which was not for another 2 hours.

    So I had to make best of the time that I have to kill. I picked up some info, and looked into walking around downtown. But just stuck to the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, a place that I visited back in 2012. I did not want to stray too far from Union Station, and find myself hurrying like crazy.

    I would see the plaza again, and go down Olvera Street. Mainly as I learned more from this visit, that Olvera Street is a small part of the Historical Monument (which covers a much wider area). This is a historical site and open-air museum. Dating back from 1781, when the first settlement took place on Olvera Street. It would eventually grow into the city of Los Angeles.

    After walking down Olvera Street, I would visit a chapel in the church across the street. And saw some buildings that I remember seeing before. And walked around one block, and saw that there are other museums on the grounds. But they were closed on Mondays. Besides, I would not have time for them anyway. And I did walk around the Old Plaza for a bit. I am sure there is more to see, but I had to get back to Union Station.

    I walked to the platform, and boarded the Amtrak train early. I did not want to miss the train again, as I already lost some valuable time. The train left Union Station, as I was finally headed to Anaheim.

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  • 12Sep 2016

    31 Disney California Adventure 09/12/2016 USA —

    Anaheim, USA

    Description

    Arriving into Anaheim, I walked through its nice-looking train station. Turns out, this was that same building that I saw from Angel Stadium the other night. I should have known about this, which would have made some things easier for me. Oh boy, just another way to make me feel worse.

    I went to one of the bus stops, and took the bus to Disneyland. I got to meet an elderly couple during the ride, who were going to the same place. Turns out, they are Kings fan, and how I mentioned how the Flyers helped the Kings win those 2 Stanley Cups. And they sort of agreed. Also, I looked around, to see if there were nearby shopping centers, for free parking. There may be one, but I don't know for sure.

    Arrived at Disneyland, as I had to go through security. And hear one of the guards ask the guy in front of me, about a poison apple, which I thought, was funny. A Disney joke! And hearing the Disney music in the background, after I went through security, did make me feel better. Then I would go into Disney California Adventure.

    Opened in 2001, this is the 2nd theme park of the Disneyland Resort. As space is really tight in the Anaheim area, Disney does not have the luxury to expand here, as they would in Florida. As this is my first time going to this park, not sure what to expect.

    As I entered, it did remind me somewhat of Hollywood Studios in Florida. And would catch the very end of some street show, with Mickey Mouse. Then he and the performers got on a trolley, and rode away. I would go one way, and get a Fastpass for the Tower of Terror ride. Fastpass is a specialized ticket, that allows you to come back between the times on the ticket, and go into a line, that has first priority. Only a few would have them. My ticket would have me come back in over 4 hours (I think). So I did some of the nearby attractions.

    After going on a couple rides, I would go see the stage show, Frozen - Live at the Hyperion. It is the staged version of the 2013 film I did not have a good view of the stage, as I was far up and back. But good enough, and lucky that I got in, as it does fill up.

    After the stage show, I rode the Tower of Terror. Then went through "a bug's land", which is full of kiddie rides. I did go on one of them earlier, but did not bother with anymore there. So far, I have been underwhelmed with California Adventure so far. That was until I got to Cars Land. Then I was blown away!

    This area was an exact replica of Radiator Springs, the town from the "Cars" films. A great attention to detail, looking like one of the towns along Route 66, and just like in the movie. Have to say, this did give me the urge to want to go on another road trip.

    I did get on some of the rides, including the Radiator Springs Racers. It got in the single rider line, which was faster for me. Plus there is DJ's Dance 'n' Drive, which was a nice little diversion. And worth a look.

    After seeing Cars Land, I quickly reserved a spot, to see the Pixar Play Parade. It was still early, but just in case, I better stay at my spot. The parade would start, and I got to see the whole show. This is a series of floats featuring Pixar characters. I really enjoyed this parade.

    After the parade, I walked around Paradise Pier, going on a few more rides. This is the area with the Mickey Mouse ferris wheel. But unfortunately, time was running out. So I started towards the exit. And decided to make a stop at the Disney Animation building. Oh boy, I wished that I had more time, as the lobby area was really lively.

    I would come for a meet-and-greet with Anna and Elsa, from "Frozen". First time, meeting characters that do talk. And I will admit, I was kind of nervous, being a 40-year old male. But it was all fun, and I'm glad that I did it. Afterwards, I would have to leave the park.

    I caught the bus back to the train station, as I came really early. Better safe than sorry, I guess. Then the train came, which I rode back to LA. And the Metro to Hollywood, where I would make a mistake that would defeat the purpose of leaving California Adventure early. Very big mistake!

    I went to the LA Fitness, to take a much-needed shower. But that cost time, and the long walk to the hostel. I had to go there, to get my backpack. Then walk to the Metro station, as I hoped the connection times would work out this time. I let out a prayer, needing a miracle badly, as I was sweating again!

    And that prayer would be answered, as I saw 2 taxi cabs waiting there. I got into one of them. As much as I hated taking taxis, it was the only way. The driver would actually be a white guy, who is a native of LA. And he did share some interesting stories, mainly of how LA was like, in terms of transportation. And how it has changed over the years. He would take regular streets, to get to the airport, and not get on the freeway at all. Unusual, being in LA.

    He got to LAX early enough. I had to pay $50, but that was the price for my mistake. I went inside, went through security, and to the gate. Luckily, I did already print out my boarding passes in the morning.

    One of the terminals was under construction. I got to the gate, where I would board a flight that took off after midnight. Much to my surprise, it was completely full. I got on the plane, and did try to sleep. It took off, leaving Los Angeles, as I was heading back home. And the end of the trip, as I had to go through Houston, before finally arriving back in Philly.

    And face a future of uncertainty.

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  • 24Sep 2019

    32 Go West Young Man 09/24/2019 USA —

    Anaheim, USA

    Description

    The last trip of the baseball season, as I will be making a return trip to California. I will be visiting Anaheim and San Diego on this trip. Planned at the last minute, it would be a short trip. Starting the morning with packing up and going to the airport. Then going through security, and to the gate. And waited until it was time to board.

    I boarded onto an American Airlines flight, to Los Angeles. Yes, I would fly to LA, as it was better for my trip, though not necessarily cheaper. It was non-stop with a major airline, and not have to worry about connecting flights. So good in the long run. But I did have that dreaded middle seat, and forgotten how long the flight really was. About 5 to 6 hours, reminding me of how big the US really was.

    When the plane arrived in LA on time, I got off and to the curb at LAX. Then waited for the connecting bus to the Metro stop. Not easy to find, as LA was not exactly known for stellar public transportation. Just waited until one finally came. And rode it to the nearest Metro stop.

    I was back in California, and in the LA area, but only briefly. As much as I wanted to see more of this city, I had to keep this trip simple, sort of speak, as I won't have a car at all. I have been to LA, 4 times before, but this won't count as I am just passing through, to get to Anaheim.

    I rode to the Aviation stop, and rode that train to the Norwalk stop. Located east of LA, I was at the station parking lot, which has a bus depot there. I got on the bus, that took me to Disneyland. This was a cheap, public bus, that would take about 90 minutes. I chose to take this much cheaper option, mainly to save money, and to see how it really was.

    Not surprisingly, it was a very long ride, and hard to sleep on the bus. Felt like forever, as I left LA and went through Orange County. But not as a big deal as it seemed to me, as I did not have much planned on this day, so no hurry to get there. The way it has to be, when being at this part of the country.

    Arriving near the entrance of Disneyland, I got off and walked towards the hotel. As much as I want to, I will not be visiting Disneyland on this trip. Mainly to keep my focus on baseball, and not go crazy with cramming things into this trip. I hoped that I learned my lesson from the 2016 trip.

    On the way, I went to a Subway, to get a sandwich for lunch. And to a 7-Eleven, for some drinks, as my app gave me discounts. Then walked to the Motel 6, near the Anaheim Convention Center. The only option for me, as the hostel was only opened during the summer season. Arriving at Motel 6, I checked in and went to my room. Then ate my lunch there, and just relaxed for a bit.

    After some time, I went back out, and decided to walk to Angel Stadium. I decided not to bring a backpack, instead using my jacket to carry some things in my pockets. It was a very long walk, but luckily, I would meet a couple from Fresno, and we talked for part of the journey. This helped get my mind off the long walk.

    Arriving at Angel Stadium, we went our separate ways, as I wanted to walk around the stadium. Just wanted to see some parts that I missed from my first visit in 2016. And in the daytime, as I saw the main entrance and that column shaped like the letter "A". Afterwards, I entered the stadium, and saw more things.

    They include the board with franchise records, display on the 2002 World Series championship and a couple statues. It was kind of crowded, as there was a promotion of giving away Otanu shirts. And did go to the canyon area in the outfield area, seeing it really close. Wow, I did miss a lot during my first visit.

    After seeing all this, I walked to my seat. Along the way, I was tempted to get a helmet bowl of nachos, even if it costs a lot of money. But resisted the urge, as I got to my seat, with enough time left before the starting lineups were announced. I sat a few rows from the walkway, so there was a little obstruction with the metal bars. But I was able to see the entire game.

    The Los Angeles Angels took on the Oakland Athletics (or A’s). The Angels were already out of the playoff race, while the A’s were in the Wild Card spot. The A’s jumped to a 2-0 lead in the 4th inning, but then in the 5th inning, the Angels scored 3 runs to take the lead. And that was basically all the scoring, as the Angels defeated the A’s by score of 3-2.

    After the game, I just took some last looks, and did leave the stadium. Then to the home plate entrance, for some last photo. As it was getting late, I decided to walk back. Leaving the stadium area, I had to walk through the huge parking lot. I was going to go back the same way that I came.

    Stopped by a McDonald's on the way, to get some food as dinner. Then changed my mind, and took the bus back. Getting off at the Anaheim Convention Center, I walked back to the hotel. And ate there.

    I did come back out, to go to the nearest grocery store, to get some snacks. It was overpriced, and they did not accept my credit card. I should have forgotten the whole thing, but I did not feel like looking for another place. So I paid cash and went back to the hotel.

    Just enjoyed having this room for myself, as it will be the only night of that. A nice start to this short trip, and just grateful that it happened. Then tried to sleep as much as I can.

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  • 25Sep 2019

    33 Already Leaving Anaheim 09/25/2019 USA —

    Anaheim, USA

    Description

    Getting up early enough, I had to pack up my things, and grab a quick breakfast. I walked to the 7-Eleven for to get something to eat. Then back to the room, as I had to get my backpack and check out of the hotel. Then walked to a bus stop.

    I have to say, the blocks seem longer here, made harder by the humidity. I got on the local bus, which took me to the Anaheim station. Passing by the Honda Center, I arrived at the station.

    Weird to be back here again, after 3 years. I just waited around, having arrived there really early. Well, better safe than sorry, as I did not want to stress myself out big-time. That 2016 trip was a hard lesson on trying to cram so much in a short period of time, as things don’t always work like clockwork. Especially in southern California.

    The station looked nice, as it opened recently. Looked around, as I could see both of the sports venues, Angel Stadium and Honda Center. The Amtrak train arrived, and I hopped on it. Leaving Anaheim after a short visit, I am sure that I will return someday. I mean, of course, as I will come back for the Honda Center and Disneyland, and attend D23 one of these days. But I digress!

    I was on the way to my main focus of this trip, to San Diego. Even though I paid more for the train, I will say, a lot more comfortable than the Greyhound bus. The ride took about 3 hours. And got a good view of the Pacific Ocean, as the train went along it.

    The train arrived in San Diego, and I got off at the Old Town stop.

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  • 25Sep 2019

    34 Going to Different Types of Parks 09/25/2019 USA —

    San Diego, USA

    Description

    I arrived into San Diego, by getting off at the Old Town stop. I finally returned to this city, having only been here once before, in 2003. I took the trolley into downtown near the Convention Center. After getting off, I walked into the Gaslamp Quarter, to get to the hostel. I was walking to the hostel, following the directions, until I got confused, as I could not find the place. As it turned out, there was not much of signage to indicate where it was. A restaurant hostess had to tell me where it was.

    So I entered into USA Hostels, one of the branches in California. Being that I came early, I was not able to check in the room. So I put my backpack in storage. Then looked around the place, as this place does hold a special meaning to me.

    That is mainly because this was the very first hostel that I ever stayed at, back in 2003. I can still remember how things were back then, and how they have changed over the years. I knew that the staff from 2003, are long gone. And making me realize how much time has passed. Glad to see that this place is still in business, though finding it has been more tricky, due to lack of signs.

    After going down memory lane, I went back out. Walked to Petco Park, to buy a game ticket there. And walked around part of the stadium. Then went to see the San Diego Convention Center, the venue of San Diego Comic Con, which I had no luck of attending. But someday!

    I walked through the Gaslamp Quarter, as I thought about going all the way to Balboa Park that way. But decided to save my strength and time, by taking the bus instead. When arriving there, I walked into the park, one of the places that I did visit back in 2003.

    This was a public park that was full of buildings, in the type of Spanish architecture that was more common in California. It has a lot of museums, so a lot of options. But I won't be visiting any this day, and just look at the buildings themselves. Mainly because I started late, and did not want to be rushed. There were some gardens there as well, and I saw a few of them, including the Alcazar Garden.

    I came to the House of Hospitality, which has the visitor center, and asked some questions there. And sat in the courtyard, which looked nice. I sat down for a little while, as I looked around. Then continued on, to see more of the park.

    I started to head back, and saw that I did not have any small change. To get some, I had to buy something overpriced, which I did not want to do. So I decided to walk back to the hostel. The walk was not as bad as I thought, since it was downhill. Got into downtown, and to the hostel. Then I was able to get into the room. I got a receipt slip, which I had to put on the side of the bed, to reserve it. It did tell the dates of my stay.

    The room did look familiar from before, but with newer beds. There were lockers, but I was annoyed that some one person, used 2 lockers. I wanted to complain about it, but decided to wait a day, since I saw on the individual receipt slips that hung on each side of the bed, that some will check out the next day.

    After a while, as I don't think that I really rested, I decided to walk to Petco Park. t was not far at all, taking about 20 minutes. And such a luxury, to have my accommodations being within walking distance to a stadium. A very rare thing for me, and very nice.

    Once I got there, I went inside the ballpark. Looked at some things, then went to the Padres Hall of Fame. This was a history museum on the history of baseball in San Diego. Starting with different minor league teams, then the Padres when they started play in 1969, with the team history. Included notable moments and players. A small museum, it gave a good overview of the history. Outside of the museum, there are a bunch of plaques of the different Padres who are in the Hall of Fame.

    After the museum, I went to see some statues, and the area that looked like a public park. Unusual that it is part of the ballpark, as it looks like any other public park, with its playground and small baseball field. I saw people playing on the field, and just sitting around to relax or have a picnic.

    As I continued to look around, there was a model of the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier. Then to the sculptures of numbers, which represented the jersey numbers that have been retired by the San Diego Padres. Then went to the upper levels, to my seat. By then, the sun was already setting, as it was near the end of the regular season.

    The San Diego Padres played the Los Angeles Dodgers. And it felt like a Dodgers home game, as there were more Dodger fans, and more cheers whenever they scored. The game started with some scoring in the first 2 innings, with each team scoring 3 runs each. Then in the middle innings, they traded a run, remaining tied. Then the Dodgers scored 2 runs, as they hit 3 home runs throughout the game. The final result was the Dodgers beating the Padres, by score of 6-4. It was a long game, and there were times when I did doze off for a bit.

    I did like this ballpark, and wished that I could go to another. But the last remaining game was a day game, which I did not want to go to. Leaving the section, I went out the different way, and came to the Breitbard Hall of Fame. This was to commemorate the athletes of the San Diego area, whether they were natives or played for the local teams, of all different sports. Good thing that I went out this way, or else would have missed it.

    Leaving the ballpark, I walked back, and stopped by a place to grab a pizza for a cheap dinner. And it did surprisingly rained a little, as San Diego tends to get very little. Just my luck, as it also rained during one day of my 2003 visit. As I walked back to the hostel, through the crowded Gaslamp Quarter.

    Back at the hostel, I had to take care of some things, before going to sleep.

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  • 26Sep 2019

    35 Last Minute Museums and Old Town 09/26/2019 USA —

    San Diego, USA

    Description

    Started the day with eating the hostel breakfast, then trying to decide what to do next. I was not in any hurry, as I wanted to relax for a bit, with my muscles being sore from so much walking. Already decided not to visit the zoo on this trip, but looked into going to SeaWorld. Then decided to go there, and bought ticket from Undercover Tourist on my phone. It would take some time to process the ticket.

    After getting ready, as I got off to a late start, I went to the trolley. I got on one, going to the Old Town stop. Then tried to catch the connecting bus, but missed by by a minute. So I had to wait for another one. When it came, I hopped on it, and rode it to SeaWorld San Diego, located in the Mission Bay area.

    Arriving there, I got to the entrance, and saw that my ticket was still not processed. So I called Undercover Tourist, and was told that it could take up a long time to process. Though, my history with them, tickets were processed really quickly. They were able to cancel the ticket, so I was not charged. I looked into the price of buying there, but it costs a lot more. So I decided not to go. And left the area, going back to the Old Town area. Then deciding to go to Balboa Park.

    With some time left, I tried to see as much as I can. I would visit a couple museums, which had suggested admissions. The first one was the San Diego History Center, which has a rotating exhibitions, with some ongoing ones. They would relate to the history of San Diego, like ones that focused on the city history, gay rights and skateboarding culture. I was able to see just about all of them, as they could be seen quickly. And I did get to talk to one of the workers there for some time. He has lived in California for the last 20 years. I also caught a film that was about the history of Balboa Park, which was interesting to me.

    After seeing this place, I went to the second museum, Museum of Photographic Arts. Located next door, this has a series of photos, set to a certain theme or a photographer. Whether one would like this museum, depends on whether they like the current exhibitions. I thought it was an okay place to visit, worth checking out if time permits.

    Leaving the museum, I went to see the Bea Evenson Fountain, located on other end of the park. And looked around the park some more. I had no time to visit any more museums, as I did not want to rush through any of them, as they do cost money to enter. So I left this park, and rode to the Santa Fe Depot, an old train station. And now, a trolley stop.

    I rode back to Old Town stop, and went to the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. I do remember visiting back in 2003, and eating some really good Mexican food. I figure, just focus on the outdoor part, as long as there was still daylight left.

    I toured around the area, starting with Old Town Plaza in the middle of the historic park. Old Town is considered the birthplace of California, as it was the very first settlement there. Dating back in 1822, from the days when California was part of Mexico. Then later, part of the US. The park has a bunch of buildings, built from that era. The ones that I saw, will be in the photos.

    I did walk out of the park, as I followed a walking tour on a web site. And came to an area, which has a bunch of shops and restaurants. Walked around the area, before going back into the park, to look at some more buildings. Then went to Plaza del Pasado, with has its own souvenir shops and eating places. Walked around it, then headed out of the park boundaries.

    Looked for a place to eat, and decided to go to Old Town Mexican Cafe, to get some dinner. My main dish was a collection of multiple items, consisting of chicken taco, cheese enchilada and rice. And it was really good, as I ate it all. Also, I did catch a little bit of the football game, with the Eagles playing the Packers.

    After dinner, I went to a nearby Cold Stone Creamery, to get some ice cream. Afterwards, I went to the trolley stop, and rode back to downtown. Then walked back to the hostel, to end the day.

    I was able to see quite a bit, considering the late start and the setback. Just had to remember, to keep moving forward, and not let it ruin my trip.

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  • 27Sep 2019

    36 Old Town and the Sea 09/27/2019 USA —

    San Diego, USA

    Description

    Started the day with hostel breakfast, then tried to decide what to do. Then bought a SeaWorld ticket online at a cheap price, early enough to allow the process time of 4 hours. This was my last day, as I would leave by nighttime. So I had to pack up my things, though not in a hurry. I wanted to leave enough time to charge my devices.

    After packing up everything, I checked out of the hostel. Then put my backpack in storage, before heading out. As there was still time left to process the ticket, I decided to spend some of that time in Old Town. I got there by trolley, as I wanted to see it with the buildings open. And I kept checking my e-mail, if the ticket was ready.

    I started at the Robinson Rose House, which was a visitor center and a gift shop. There was a huge model of Old Town, as it looked back in the 1820's. The attention to detail was impressive to see. Can't imagine the amount of time to put this together.

    I went back out, as it was a cloudy day, making it better for me. Then to the Casa de Estudillo, which was open this time. Free to enter, this long building was built in 1827, in the Spanish California style. Constructed by the Estudillos, one of the earliest settlers in San Diego. There was a series of rooms, with period furniture in each of them. Not exactly labeled, as far as the name of the rooms. As the place was U-shaped, I went along one side. Then to the other side, seeing all the rooms. Plus the courtyard in the middle of it. Definitely worth seeing!

    Afterwards, I went to the Courthouse Museum, which was inside a former courthouse building. This was where the judge and sheriff worked. Very small, it can be seen really quickly. Worth a quick look, as part of the visit to Old Town. There was also a small jail building, separate from the courthouse building.

    Then I walked around Plaza del Pasado again, looking at some of the shops. When calling and seeing that my SeaWorld ticket was ready to use, I left Old Town. And took the bus to SeaWorld San Diego. The driver missed the turn to the park, and find out that the driver was a substitute. So I had to get off, and get on the bus, going in the opposite direction.

    I finally arrived at SeaWorld San Diego, and went to the entrance. This was my first visit to this park, as I have went to the Orlando one earlier. I wanted to see for myself, and compare the two parks.

    As before, I would only see the animals, and not go on any of the rides. With the limited time that I had, I had to see this place at a faster pace. I had to pick up some info, and decide on which showtimes that I will go to. More about this SeaWorld, along with more photos, in the aquariums blog.

    The layout of the park was different, as I went from one animal exhibit to another. And felt that the differences between the SeaWorlds, is more cosmetic than actual differences. Not enough to say, visit both if you can, as this is not a Disney World/ Disneyland comparison. If I had to choose between the two, I would choose the Orlando one.

    Also, I would have the problem with the stadium seating, as there was no cover. So most people had to sit in the sun, which I hate very much. As a result, I would only go to 1 show, which was the orca show at Shamu Stadium. While the cloudy day made it easier, I still can get sunburn. This show was a replica of the other one. And I was glad when it ended, as I could not take it anymore. So much so, that I ended up skipping the dolphin show, which was also open air seating. Instead, I chose to use that time to see the rest of the animal exhibits.

    Speaking of open air, I also had a hard time finding a restaurant that had indoor seating. After looking at a few places, I had to ask someone if there was any in this park. Turned out, there was only 1 indoor place, and I was able to get food there, right before it closed. So I was able to eat a meal, being indoors and away from the sun. Though, I had to overpay for it.

    After the meal, I went to finish up seeing the animal exhibits. And to Dolphin Interaction Check-In, which would make up for not going to the dolphin show. This was where a few pools of dolphins, with trainers feeding them. And the dolphins would jump out of the pool. Fun to watch, with far less crowds.

    Also, there was the Orca Underwater Viewing, which is something that is in San Diego, but not Orlando. But when I was there, I did not see any orcas swimming by. Then went to see the rest of the animal exhibits. When I was finished seeing that, I browsed through some shops, as there was a little time left before closing. Considered buying some pins and other things, but did not get anything.

    I headed out of the park, and went back to the hostel. I washed up for a bit, and hung around for a little bit. Not much else to do. When the time came, it was time to head to the airport.

    Leaving the hostel, I went to get on the bus, taking me to the airport. Then check-in and go through security. I waited in the sitting area of the food court. When boarding time approached, I went to the gate. And got on the plane, which was an overnight Delta flight. It took off, leaving San Diego, and headed to Detroit first.

    After the layover in Detroit, I took a flight back to Philly. Then went home, ending my California trip. It was an enjoyable trip, despite being short. And I am closer to completing my baseball quest. This was the last of the baseball trips this year. And my next trip, will be during the Christmas season.

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