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Trip 2019 Travels 2019 Travels   All of my travels in 2019. 1. Florida (Waypoint 1-7) 2. New York (Waypoint... Walter Ch (US)
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2019 Travels

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All of my travels in 2019.

1. Florida (Waypoint 1-7)
2. New York (Waypoint 8-9)
3. Reading (Waypoint 10)
4. Lancaster (Waypoint 11)
5. Midwest (Waypoint 12-16)
6. Jersey City (Waypoint 17)
7. Pittsburgh (Waypoint 18-22)
8. Washington DC (Waypoint 23-24)
9. Missouri (Waypoint 25-29)

  • 26Mar 2019

    1 Delayed to Orlando 03/26/2019 USA —

    Orlando, USA

    Description

    I decided to take another trip to Florida, which was originally planned in 2018. But something came up, and that trip never happened. But this one will, as I would make a return trip to Orlando, and make my very first visit to Tampa Bay. I would be resuming my baseball stadium quest, and hoped to finish within the next 2 years. And visiting the theme parks, including SeaWorld. But no Disney this time.

    Started the day, by packing up. Since my mom was my ride and had to leave early for something, I would leave home very early. Dropping off at the train station, I took the train first, to Temple University. I would use the computer, to buy a 2-park ticket. Then bought lunch, but no time to eat, as I had another train to catch. Arrived at Philly Airport, where I ate my lunch. Then went through security.

    I walked to the gate, and later found out that my flight was delayed by 1 hour. Then a second time, and the final one being about 5 hours. Meaning that it would not be until night time, as the Frontier Airline had to get another plane, as the current one has mechanical problems. When asking about booking with other airlines, they could not do it. So I looked at other options, and saw a cheap flight with Spirit Airlines. After some thinking, I decided to book that.

    Luckily, the gate was just across the way. No need to change terminals. I told some people what I did, and thought that refund was not possible. But one of them, told me that he got a refund. So I asked for one myself, and got it. Though, the Spirit one cost a little more than Frontier. Still, reduced the cost for me. I tried to get on an earlier flight, but it was full. So I just waited and charged my devices.

    When it came time to board, I was able to get on the plane, having the aisle seat. And shared the row with 2 other people, also from the Frontier flight. It turned out that this plane was not full, so the middle seat person sat in a different row, giving me and other person some leg room. The flight took off, leaving Philly, and back to Florida for me.

    Arriving in Orlando, where it was that odd feeling that I would not be going to Disney World. I took that familiar tram, and to the curb. I decided to take Mears Shuttle, since it was well after sunset. It costs more, but it would be faster and safer.

    I would ride in a cab, and the only one in it. I had to say, to go to Magic Castle Inn, since Mears does not go to the hostel, since it was the closest location that I can think of. The ride took longer, as part of a highway was closed off due to police activity. But I was able to get to the Magic Castle Inn, which itself, was not easy to find, due to the setup of Highway 192, and how the hotel is not visible from the street. I just decided to get off, a block away, to save the driver the trouble.

    Being in the familiar area of Kissimmee, I walked to the 7-Eleven, to get a coupon for Rays game. Then walked to the Palm Lakefront Hostel, which was farther than expected. The same one from 2013. It was only $20 per night, so it was unbelievably cheap. But I knew that I would get what I paid for.

    Arriving at the hostel, I checked-in, with Julia at front desk. We did talk for a bit, as we were going through the process. Then I went to the room, and met a guy named Luis. He was from Colombia, and traveling through the US. We talked for a bit, as I got settled in the room. The room did feel hot, as the air-conditioner did not seem to work properly.

    After a long day, I finally made it, even if the hostel seems more rundown than before. I did not have anything originally planned, so I was not upset (much to my surprise). Just wanted to get as much rest as possible, mainly for the next 2 days.

    That was when this trip will really begin!

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  • 27Mar 2019

    2 Visiting Tampa For First Time Ever 03/27/2019 USA —

    Clair-Mel City, Tampa, USA

    Description

    Started the day, getting up early enough, so I can make it to Maingate Lakeside Resort. This was where I would catch the bus to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Plus I wanted to stop by a pharmacy, to get some things.

    Leaving the hostel, I went to the bus stop, to catch the Lynx. I hopped onto one. When looking up directions on Google Docs, I had a feeling that I got on the wrong bus. I did ask the driver to be sure, and it was the wrong one. I got off, and waited for the correct bus. When it came, I rode it to the Maingate Lakeside Resort. Once in the area, I stopped by the Walgreens.

    Afterwards, I walked one way, but realized something was not right. So I called the hotel, and found out that I went the wrong way. So I backtracked, and found the hotel. This was where I waited for the shuttle bus to Busch Gardens, getting there early enough. So in the meantime, I took care of some times, and waited at the stop. And it started to rain.

    The bus came, and I got on it. It made one more stop, then headed to Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay. The ride took less than 90 minutes, as I had the row to myself. The bus arrived into the Tampa area, as I finally made my first ever visit to the Tampa Bay area.

    Arriving at Busch Gardens, I saw that it was already crowded. I had to get in line, first a bag check, then a ticket scan. Only that the paper that I printed, was not actually a ticket. So I had to go back out, to the kiosk, to get the 2-park ticket printed. Then had to go through the same 2 lines again.

    After all that, I was finally in Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, or BGT for short. I have seen this place for various TV shows. Picked a park map, and just went basically, in a counter-clockwise direction. I would only focus on the animals, as I did not really have a desire to go on the rides.

    Started with the American alligators. Then to the Myombe Reserve, which was a walkthrough, that has chimpanzees and gorillas. Then came close to riding the Serengeti Express Train. But decided not to, as I was hungry. I have not eaten anything so far, this day.

    I came to a stand, as I had an All-Day Dining Deal. I decided to get this, so I can eat as much as I wanted to, and not worry about the costs. But it would not be accepted everywhere. I got a chili hot dog, which I did enjoy.

    After the meal, I would see some more animals in the same area. Then went through Animal Connections, and Edge of Africa after that. Toured around this area. Then continued on to the Egypt area, where I saw cheetahs. Then backtracked to the main path, which would take me to the Animal Care Center.

    The Animal Care Center is the animal hospital, featured in the TV show, "The Wildlife Docs". I went inside, and looked around. There was a display, on the veterinarians that are often appeared on the show. I saw the different rooms, then sat on a keeper talk, as a keeper held a snake. It ended with a Q&A.

    I left the building, then saw some Asian elephants, before entering the Pantopia area. This part has a more Asian look. I did stop to try to get some snacks from a stand, but my card was not accepted. But I went inside a restaurant, where my card was accepted. I just got a cheesecake and soda, and learned that All-Day card is only accepted in certain places. I just sat and enjoyed my food, and even got to see a performance on stage, where 2 ladies would sing some 80's songs.

    Afterwards, I continued on, to the Congo area. This was where I considered going on a ride, the river rapids. But I did not want to get wet, and had no place to store my bag without paying. So I just watched the rafts passing by, and seeing the riders getting squirted by a spray, which is activated by people. As if some type of target practice, or an amusement park game. Kind of relaxing, though I stood the whole time.

    After a while, I continued on, seeing more animals along the way. Too numerous to list here. And considered getting on the train at the Stanleyville part of the park. Even got in line, but had to make a decision, whether to ride this, or see the rest of the animal exhibits. I asked myself, which one would bother me more if I missed it? I decided to see the rest of the animal exhibits.

    I would enter into a couple aviaries, and a kangaroo area. And I'm glad to decide to see these things, as it would have been more disappointed to miss them. I did hurry myself, as I still wanted to ride the train. So after seeing the rest of the animal exhibits, I walked to the first station of the Serengeti Express Train. I decided to ride only half of it, and get off at Stanleyville.

    Getting on the train, it went into the open field, with the African animals roaming free. I would see rhinoceros, which can only be seen from the train ride. And there is a possibility of the animals blocking the tracks, as there is no barrier around it. Also saw giraffes and kudus as well. Thus, my visit was complete. More about visiting the park and more photos in the review, in the zoo blog.

    Arriving at the Stanleyville area, I got off, and just walked towards the exit. I would get some bottled water, which is covered by the All-Day Dining Plan anywhere. Then browsed a little at a shop, before exiting the park. Closing time was approaching, as well as the time to catch the bus before it left.

    Exiting the park, I went to the bus with enough time. When the time came, the bus left Busch Gardens and returned to Orlando. Arrived back at nighttime. Getting off, it was really chilly. I took the Lynx bus back to the hostel.

    Once there, I just unloaded my bag there. Then looked into doing laundry there, but none were available at the time. So in the meantime, I went to a nearby shopping center, stopping by a Panda Express, thinking about dinner. But decided not to, to save money, and it was getting late. So I went back to the hostel. Also had to make sure that I knew when the front desk opened, so I can check out early.

    Back in the room, I packed up a little, and ate some of the food that I brought from home. And talked to the roommate, Luis for some time. We were the only ones in the room. Took care of some things, as this was my final night at this hostel.

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  • 28Mar 2019

    3 Return to SeaWorld 03/28/2019 USA —

    Orlando, USA

    Description

    I got up early, so I can check out of the hostel, and head to my next hotel. Packed up my things, all done by 7 AM. This was when the front desk would open up. Returned some things, and left the hostel. It is very cheap, and even more rundown. Still, I won't rule out staying here again, mainly due to the cheap price.

    I took the bus, taking me into Disney World. This was where I had to transfer. When waiting there, it was weird that I would not be going to Disney World at all, even if I am in the Orlando area. The next bus came, and I rode it towards SeaWorld Orlando. I would arrive at the Days Inn by Wyndham Orlando Convention Center.

    I was disappointed to learn, that there is a $45 fee for checking in early. I really needed to unload some things. But I was still able to store my bag there. And learned that there is a free shuttle bus to SeaWorld. Something that seemed to have gone missing at hotels on Highway 192.

    I waited until the shuttle bus came. Then rode it to SeaWorld Orlando. Got off, and walked to the entrance, as this was my return trip since 2013. Since I started visiting zoos and aquariums, I decided to give SeaWorld another visit, and see it with a different set of eyes. More like an aquarium and less like a theme park.

    Started this visit with breakfast, as there was still the All-Day Dining Plan, and I have not eaten anything. After that, I started with Dolphin Nursery, which has dolphins in a pool. I assume this was where dolphins were rehabilitated. Seeing them above and under water. Then decided to see re-trace my steps from my 2013 visit.

    Seeing the flamingos, Stingray Lagoon and Dolphin Cove. As I wanted to see all the shows, I walked to Dolphin Theater. I got there, and it was already crowded. But I did find seating in the shade. The show was called "Dolphin Days", which was different name from 2013. Still the same type of show, but not boring at all. I did really like it.

    Then a short time after, I went to Sea Lion and Otter Theater, to catch "Sea Lion High: The New Class". Getting there, not nearly as crowded as the dolphin show. I thought this one was okay, but not as good as the dolphin show. But better than the 2013 show, which I originally thought was boring.

    I did make multiple stops at Voyager's Steakhouse, which I learned about, from Youtube. I decided to get lunch, as the lines were shorter this time. I would get the sample meal, which included large portions of ribs, sausage and chicken. And it was so good! After lunch, I saw more of the park.

    I would see the manatees, where they were rescued and nursed back to health. And the only attraction that I did, was Turtle Trek. And did visit some places that I missed in 2013, like the Jewel of the Sea Aquarium, and the Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. And some repeats from 2013, like Pets Ahoy! in Seaport Theater and One Ocean at Shamu Stadium. I liked both of those shows as well.

    Afterwards, I would try to see the rest of the animal exhibits, like Wild Arctic and Shark Encounter. And eat as much as I can. But one thing that I would miss, is the Pacific Point Preserve, with the sea lions. And finished seeing the marine life with Manta Aquarium. More about visiting this park and more photos in the review, in the Aquarium blog.

    I would end my visit with one last meal, the last with my All-Day Dining Plan. And I would say, I got full value of it, and more, eating a lot more than if I did not have it. Then browsed through a couple shops, as I was tempted to buy some things. But I did not, and left the park.

    I walked back to the hotel, and finally checked in. Then went to the room, to get settled. I decided to spend more, for a nicer hotel for a change. And relaxed until I went to bed.

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  • 29Mar 2019

    4 Laundry and Pin 03/29/2019 USA —

    Kissimmee, USA

    Description

    Getting up early enough, I wanted to make sure that I got the laundry done, as I ran out of fresh clothes. So I did that, but after the dryer part, my clothes were still wet. And I did bring this issue to the front desk, but all they did, was get someone to check out the broken dryer. I should have asked for a refund.

    I would dry out my clothes, until checkout time. So I got some breakfast, and later, picked up my rental car with Enterprise. The rental place was only a block away, so very convenient. And got to talk some sports with the agent, who came from Minnesota.

    Back at the hotel, I waited as long as I can. Luckily, I have a car, so no need to pack all within my bag this time. I would check out and went to Highway 192, in the Kissimmee area. I came to some non-assuming building, as I was dependent on Google Maps, away from the main street. Inside, was a collection of stalls, sometime I would normally see in other countries.

    I came to a place called "Booster Packs and Beyond", which has mainly Disney pins. Sold cheaper than in the parks, as I heard about it from Youtube. And thought about starting a collection of pins. I wanted my first ever pin to be a Disney pin, and decided to check it out, as I did not have any set plans.

    I browsed, and saw a variety of pins, whether related to movies or the parks. And even some non-Disney pins as well, like Pokemon and Toothless from "How to Train Your Dragon". It was tough, trying to decide which one will be the first, as there is that tendency to go crazy. After a while, I would get a 2019 Disney pin. After my first one, I would get more later on, whenever that will be.

    Leaving, I decided to go to a Subway, to get lunch. I ate there, and after getting a drink, I was leaving the Orlando area. And driving to Tampa.

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  • 29Mar 2019

    5 Unique Hostel in Tampa 03/29/2019 USA —

    Clair-Mel City, Tampa, USA

    Description

    Driving to Tampa, I started to feel tired. So I would stop by a parking lot, and rest for a little while. Basically, sleeping in the car. After that, I stopped by gas station, to get some water. Then resumed on the road, towards Tampa.

    I arrived into the city, and got confused by the directions, as I tried to follow manually. I would end up going in the opposite direction, so I had to turn the GPS on my phone back on, using some valuable bandwidth, which is limited on a monthly basis. After doing that, I was able to get to the Gram's Place Hostel. Turned out, relying on GPS ended up saving me a lot of trouble.

    I arrived at the hostel, and was able to check in, as I got to meet Rhonda. She was the owner of the place, and very interesting person to talk to. As she showed me around, I could not help but be amazed at the type of hostel this place was. It was almost as if, it was some type of treehouse. I would stay in the Amsterdam room, upstairs. There was an outdoor kitchen and shower. Very unique place, and possibly an attraction of its own.

    As I got to the room, which does look very promising. And already better than the Orlando one. Looked around some more, and bought a Rays ticket on my phone. I chose to get the more pricey one, for better seats at the ballpark.

    But I could not stay long, as I wanted to get a head start to the Rays ballpark, Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. So I left the hostel, and back on the road.

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  • 29Mar 2019

    6 Seeing Rays 03/29/2019 USA —

    St. Petersburg, USA

    Description

    Leaving the Tampa hostel, I would drive to St. Petersburg, which was separated by Tampa Bay (referring to the large harbor). A long bridge connects the 2 cities. And the drive was not as disorienting as I thought it would be.

    Arriving into St. Petersburg area, I was able to find free parking, with favorable hours. So this will help save some costs. I took picture of intersection, so I can refer to ti later, when finding the car. Then walked to Tropicana Field. When getting there, it was not open yet, so that gave me some time to walk around part of it.

    When realizing that there was nothing noteworthy, I just turned around, and to one of the entrances. I did notice a lot of Astros fans in attendance. When the gates did open, I was able to enter Tropicana Field. Also known as "The Trop". And even ran into some Phillies fans, who I talked with, for a bit.

    This ballpark has been around since 1990, and even once home of the Lightning. The baseball team started play in 1998, originally as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Then just became the Rays in 2008. As I walked around, I wanted to see some of the attractions before the game started.

    First was the Rays Touch Tank, which was a pool full of sting rays. But it was empty, and would not have rays until start of the game. I did not feel like waiting, so I had to skip it. Disappointing.

    Second was the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame. This was basically a mini version of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. And for its size, it was pretty extensive. As the name would indicate, there was a display on Ted Williams. Plus there was a series on the Negro Leagues, and different hitters that made it to the Hall of Fame. And some on baseball in the Tampa Bay area, and more. A bunch to see, and worth seeing. Especially for baseball fans.

    Leaving the museum, I would see some sculpture out of the wall, of a guy catching a fly ball. Hard to describe. Then went to the Rotunda, which turned out to be the main entrance of the ballpark. I did check back at the Touch Tank, but still no rays. So I just went to my seat, which was a quite a distance. And my time was short, as I wanted to get to my seat before the start of the game.

    I was able to make it with barely enough time, sitting in the middle of a row. It was a great view, being on the home plate side. I think that I got my money's worth, for the most part. I looked around, as I am glad that this stadium has a roof. And would be surrounded by people, who were very knowledgeable about baseball.

    During the game, when trying to get a photo taken, I would get to know an usher, named Marshall. And we would talk for about 2 innings, about the stadium and even the other sports. It definitely was an interesting time.

    The Tampa Bay Rays played the Houston Astros, the 2nd game of the season. This would be the earliest that I ever attended a game in a season. And I noticed a lot of Astros fans, which was common to see more away fans than home fans. Almost all of the scoring was done in the 3rd inning, with the Astros jumping to a 2-0 lead. But the Rays scored 3 in their half. Then the Rays scored another run in the 6th inning, from a home run. And it ended that way, with the Rays defeating the Astros, 4-2.

    After the game ended, I went to lower levels, for better photo opportunities. Then went to a gift shop, to browse for a bit. I looked at the pins, and thought, maybe later. Then I left the ballpark.

    I thought it was an okay stadium, not as bad as I thought it would be. Just that I hate that there was hardly any reliable public transportation, hence why I rented a car. Walked back to the car, having trouble finding my way. And very good thing that I took photo of the intersection signs, which proved very helpful. Otherwise, who knows how much longer.

    Getting in the car, I drove back to Tampa. Even listening to a station playing 80's music. Made it back to the hostel. Then went inside, to unpack. Took care of a few things, as this was the final night, before going to bed.

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  • 30Mar 2019

    7 Delayed Again, and Stuck 03/30/2019 USA —

    Clair-Mel City, Tampa, USA

    Description

    I was able to wake up early enough, to get ready and pack up my things. I did eat the rest of my snacks, as breakfast. And got to talk to some people, who were traveling around Florida for a bit. Then just left the hostel, as there was no formal check out process. I will say, this was one of the most unique hostels that I ever stayed at. And would not mind staying here again.

    I drove to the airport with no problem. But getting in the area, there was the issue of refueling the car. I had to look up where any gas stations were, and did find one, that did not stray too far. Just had to go to this one, to refuel the car, which was a 7-Eleven. After that, I went back to the airport. And dropped the car off there.

    I walked to the terminal, to check-in and print my boarding pass. That was when I learned of a lengthy delay. When getting to front desk after waiting in a long line, and telling the agent that I would kill time by going into the city. But the agent warned me that the delay time can change to an earlier time. So if I missed it, it would on me. So I was stuck here.

    As it turned out, the delay was reduced by 1 hour, but still a long time. I took a tram, and went through security, to get to gates. But when unloading some things there, I saw that my camera was missing. After security, I went through my things again, to make sure. And yes, it was not there.

    I filled out a form online, and called the hostel first. It was not there. Then called Enterprise a few times, but no luck. Then it hit me, from the day before, when I threw my jacket in the car, I heard a thumping a sound. That was when I realized that my camera may have fallen out, I had to call the airport Enterprise. And turned out, they did have it. I was relieved.

    So I went back to the car rental center, and did get the camera back. So I guess the delay, and the fact that I did not venture into the city, were blessings in disguise. Because I would have been devastated that I could lose those set of photos. The camera sometimes, is the better option than the cell phone.

    So back to the gates, and got lunch there. Luckily, that place allowed free refills of drinks. And just waited for time to board. A long wait, but after all that, I really should not complain. When the time came, I did finally board. And sat with other people, who I got to talk to.

    The plane took off, leaving Tampa, and arriving back in Philly finally! But taking the train back, took longer. But I did finally made it back home!

    This was an interesting trip, and possibly the first of 2 visits to Florida this year. And got to visit another stadium, as I visited Tampa for the first time.

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  • 08May 2019

    8 Full Yankee Return 05/08/2019 USA —

    The Bronx, New York, USA

    Description

    Decided to make a last minute trip to New York, as I wanted to see a full game at Yankee Stadium and more. I packed really light, as this trip would be for only 2 days. I would arrive into the city by bus, getting into Manhattan in the afternoon.

    After getting off the bus, I decided to go to a Chipotle, for a lunch. With nothing else planned, I wanted to get something to eat, and kill some time until check-in time at the hostel. I did some people-watching while eating a pricey lunch. After the meal, I went to the subway, exchanged for a new Metrocard. Then rode it to the Jazz on the Park Hostel, where I stayed in 2017.

    After checking in, I would go up 5 floors by steps, as there was no elevator. Then just got settled and rested for a bit. After that, I went to ride the subway to the Bronx, as I arrived later than planned. I only spent a little time, looking outside of the stadium. Then entered!

    I went to Monument Park, and much to my surprise, there was no line. I just walked in. A huge difference from my last visit in 2013. Though, it was very sunny, making it hard to take good photos. Another difference was seeing the numbers and plaques of the more recent Yankees that have retired, which included Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams and more. As I was looking around, I did notice some people in visiting team gear. When done with this place, I went to the New York Yankees Museum.

    This place has gone through changes as well, with fewer display cases. I just focused on the changes, with a display of different players, including Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Plus one on the 1978 season, and how the Yankees made a comeback to win the World Series that year. So this place has rotating exhibits, I guess, to get people to return to museum.

    After the museum, I had enough time to get to my seat, as the game would start at 6:35 instead of the usual 7:05. My main reason for this visit, was to see a full game here, which I did not in 2013. This was due to spending a couple innings, seeing the museum. Normally, I would allow 1 inning at the most to miss, depending on reason.

    The New York Yankees took on the Seattle Mariners. And this game would be one-sided, as the Mariners took a 5-0 lead, as they hit a few home runs. During the 7th inning, when the crew go around the diamond, they would do the YMCA. Something I missed in 2013, but I do remember seeing it at the old stadium in 2008.

    The Mariners would end up winning the game, 10-1. It was a chilly night, and good thing that I packed an extra layer, to wear. Surprisingly, the final score was not displayed at all, on the scoreboard. I guess that applies to any embarrassing losses. I will say, I was happy to see the Yankees lose.

    I stopped by the store, to browse. Then went back to Manhattan. I stopped by a Baskin-Robbins, for some ice cream, and ate it back at the hostel. Then went to the room, where I would meet some more roommates. They were exchange students from UNC, originally from Hong Kong.

    Took care of some things, and trying to decide what to do the next day.

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  • 09May 2019

    9 Greenwich and Lower 05/09/2019 USA —

    Manhattan, New York, USA

    Description

    Started the day, trying to decide what to do. I considered visiting the Bronx Zoo, but with the limited time and high admission price, I decided to save it for another time, that is less rushed. With the sky being cloudy, I decided to walk around Greenwich Village. I packed up my things and checked out of the hostel. Then to the subway, going to Greenwich Village.

    When I arrived there, I walked to Washington Square Park, in the New York University area. Also known as NYU, as I have been here a few times before. Named after George Washington, was formed as a public park in 1871. There is the fountain, and people playing chess. But the most notable landmark is the Washington Square Arch, which has statues of George Washington. I looked through it, from both sides.

    After looking at the arch, I went to a nearby McDonald's, to eat a brunch there. Then came back to Washington Square Park, and just sat for a bit. I did some people-watching.

    I got to visit this area back in the late 1990's, and always remembered it as a unique area, as well as interesting. A different side of Manhattan. Will it still hold up for me? This would be my first visit with a digital camera, as I would be following a walking tour.

    Leaving Washington Square Park, I came upon Washington Mews, which used to be stables. Looked like an old side street. Then went inside the nearby Church of the Ascension, and sat for a bit. Then back out, walking along 10th Street with its elegant-looking row homes. Continued walking around the area, seeing different buildings and side streets.

    Some places of note, include the building from the TV show, "Friends". And I went to see the outside of what was considered the Cosby Show house. The "Friends" building is very touristy, but the Cosby Show one is not. I have seen every episode of both shows, as I used to love them both. Interesting enough, the Central Perk is actually inside a Warner Bros studio, which I have visited.

    Continued walking around, until I came back to Washington Square Park. And that ended the walking tour. I have to say, it does hold up for me, as it is interesting now as it was then. I remember, seeing this area, it made me really like this city, and part of why I continue to visit this unique city in the world.

    With some time left, I decided to visit the Brooklyn Bridge. Rode the subway to Wall Street, and came close to walking across it. But I wanted to see the entire bridge first. So I went towards the East River to see it. I thought that I could do both with the time I had left.

    Well, I came upon a comic book shop that I took a detour in. That would cancel the part of crossing the bridge, but no big deal. I stopped by a few places, until I got to the South Street Seaport. There was the Titanic Memorial and the museum there. But no time to see the museum.

    Instead, I went to Pier 17, where I would see the East River and the boats that passed by. And the Lightship Ambrose, which was a lighthouse on a boat. Plus seeing Brooklyn on the other side, and the 2 bridges (both named after boroughs). I see that this pier is relatively new, as it was a great place to look around. I did not stay long, as I walked along the river on the East River Esplanade.

    I would see the Brooklyn Bridge, then the Manhattan Bridge. Then left the area, as I came into Chinatown. I did a quick walkthrough, seeing a few statues as well as Kimlau Memorial Arch. But not enough time to linger longer, as I had a bus to catch. I did see Columbus Park, and saw some Chinese locals playing games there. Then went to the subway, to get back to midtown. I was running short on time.

    Stopped by Penn Station, then walked to the Megabus stop. Arrived there, with just enough time, as I did run a bit. Much to my surprise, the line was not long. I was able to get on the bus, and had the row to myself.

    The bus left NY, and arrived back in Philly. Though, it arrived late. I would then take another train to get back home, ending this short trip.

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  • 16May 2019

    10 Reading Baseball 05/16/2019 USA —

    Reading, USA

    Description

    I have been meaning to take a day trip to Reading, which is an hour outside of Philly. But never really got around to it, until now! Main reason was to see a baseball game there.

    Leaving home, as I got off to a late start, I drove to the town of Reading. Once I got there, I went to Infinito's Pizza Buffet, as I was hungry. It was an all-you-can-eat buffet, or pizza and pasta. It was okay, but nothing to write home about. And drinks were extra and overpriced. But I guess they need a way to stay in business.

    After lunch, I debated whether to visit one of the attractions. But none really stood out enough, to make me want to visit with limited time that I had. Plus I did not want to be rushed, trying to squeeze as much in as possible. Instead, I decided to go to a LA Fitness, to take care of some things. Then went to the Reading Public Library, to use the computer there. I went to one branch, but it was too crowded. Then went to the main branch.

    After the library closed, I went to FirstEnergy Stadium, with enough time. Turned out, parking was free, and I was able to find space. Then stood in a long line, to enter the stadium. When I did, I got a program and a free cup. Then looked around, as I went through the team store. And to the wall of team photos over the years.

    It was interesting to finally be here, after hearing about them for so many years. I knew them (and still refer to) as the Reading Phillies, the double-A affiliate of the Phillies. Even if their current name is the Reading Fightin' Phils. Seeing the collection of team photos on the wall, I recognized a lot of names of past players, whether they had a long career in the majors or not. Including some that were part of teams that have made it (but not always won) the World Series.

    Walked around the ballpark, then went to my seat. I would sit in the section behind home plate. The seats were dirty, but my assigned seat was not, fortunately. Should I be surprised at this? During the game, there was the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor, who would throw hot dogs in the stands. And the Veggie Race, this team's mascot race.

    The Reading Fightin’ Phils took on the Portland Sea Dogs. And while no home runs were hit, the Phils would dominate the game. After falling behind 1-0, the Phils scored 4 runs in the 3rd inning. And really never looked back. They would defeat the Sea Dogs, 7-2. Good game to watch, and possibly seeing some future Phillies down the line.

    After the game, I browsed in the team store. Then left the stadium. I went to a few places in the Reading area, before driving back home. Arrived back around midnight.

    I finally did what I have been meaning to, for some time. Now that was done, I do plan to visit all the other minor teams of the Phillies team, and more. It was a very nice day.

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  • 25May 2019

    11 Dutch Wonderland 05/25/2019 USA —

    Lancaster, USA

    Description

    This would be a day trip to Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, and meet up with my sister's family. Originally, it was suppose to be a weekend trip, with me and my mom staying in a hotel. But after seeing the cost of staying in the hotel, we decided to just drive up for the day instead, to save money.

    Started the day, getting the necessary things. Then the drive to Lancaster with my mom, on a cloudy day. It went well, as we reached Dutch Wonderland around the opening time of 10 AM. We parked at a nearby shopping center. Then walked to the park.

    We waited until we met up with my sister and her family. They had all the tickets already, and have arrived the night before. We entered into the park, and started with the Skyride. Then did a round-trip on it, as it did go to the other side of the park.

    I only recall having visited once, back in the early 80's. Probably back when we used to live in Philly. This was a park that has been a staple of Central Pennsylvania, as I did remember a few things from back then.

    After the Skyride, I would make a very big mistake. And that was riding the swinging ride. That made me feel very sick, as I also made the mistake of looking sideways. Somehow, my sister and niece did not feel sick. After getting off, I just wanted to sit down for the rest of the day. I just felt very lousy.

    I tried to push on, as I did not want to ruin for everyone else. We would go on the train, and they would do a few other things. But I was not really getting any better. To the point where I just did not want to eat either. We would also ride the monorail. And then the Frog Prince Show, where I would sit in the back, so I don't get wet at all.

    And that would end my time, as my mom was getting tired as well. We left the park, and she would do the driving back home. I slept most of the way. And arrived back home.

    It would have been a nice time, but unfortunately, my mistake would end up being very costly. No more swinging rides for me.

    Dutch Wonderland is a nice park to visit, but probably not one that I would re-visit unless I am with family. Or if I was really into rides. The shows were enjoyable to watch, and actually pretty good. I'd say, entertaining enough for entire families.

    Now, I just needed to recover.

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  • 13Jun 2019

    12 Cheap Return to Cincinnati 06/13/2019 USA —

    Cincinnati, USA

    Description

    The trip to the Midwest has come, which would be similar to the 2015 one. But this time, I will be starting in Cincinnati instead, as there was such a cheap fare to there. Kind of a sequel of some sort.

    Started the day, getting ready and packing up. I decided to use the bigger backpack this time. Then rode the train to the airport. Once there, I went through security and to the gate. I would fly with Frontier, where delays tend to be common. I did worry a bit, as it did rain earlier. But this time, there was none. I got on the plane, which took off, leaving Philly, and to Cincy. The cheap fare was the only reason why I was returning to the Queen City.

    At the airport, which was actually in Kentucky, I had to break a big bill. And see some things, like the sculpture of Reds mascot. Then went to catch the bus, taking me to downtown. Then took another bus, to the same hotel from 2015, the Quality Inn and Suites.

    After checking in, I relaxed in the room, enjoying having it all to myself, which is not often. I would eat a lunch that I packed, and get a drink from the gas station from across the street. It was nice to return to this familiarity, even if 4 years have passed.

    After a couple hours, I realized that I should get out there. So I left the hotel, and walked to the Cincinnati Union Terminal. It was about 20 minutes away. When getting there, I saw another one of those Reds mascot on the bench.

    I started to wonder about this, as this reminded me of the Shaun the Sheep series of statues in London. Looking it up, this series is called Mr. Redlegs Benches, with each one representing a different era in Reds history. They are placed all over the city, and I knew that I would not get to see them all, as there was a map of where they are located.

    Main reason for coming here, was the Union Terminal building, which served as the inspiration for the Hall of Justice in the “Superfriends” cartoon. It was truly awesome to see, as I pretended that the Justice League were actually inside it. This used to be a train station, now being the Cincinnati Museum Center. So their headquarters is actually in Cincy?

    I went inside for a bit, only to use the restroom. Then waited for the bus, as it started to rain. Then it stopped. I rode it to the Eden Park area, which was on a hill. When getting off, I would go up some steps, which has deteriorated. Not easy to walk on. When reaching the top, I came to the Cincinnati Art Museum.

    I would start with Persian art, and the special exhibition called "The Burning of Man". This was a series of mushrooms that move if one stood at a certain sport by it. It was cool to look at.

    I went to see Islamic art, then came to the Damascus Room. This was an actual room from the city of Damascus. And it was transported piece by piece, to Cincinnati. And now, all together in this museum. Really nice to see.

    Continuing on, I would be looking at Indian art, followed by East Asian art. Mainly Chinese and Japanese, as there was only 1 Korean display. Then to a section that was more locally focused, on Cincy artists. A quick walkthrough at a couple rooms, then the small ancient art collection.

    I would go to the 2nd floor, which has European art. With little time left, I would do a quick walkthrough, seeing the art from Medieval Spain. A series of frescos, plus tomb and altarpiece. After that, a few more things, before I had to leave, as the museum was closing. I did enjoy this museum, which was made a lot better, that admission was free.

    Leaving the museum, and down those steps, I went back to downtown. And returned to Great American Ball Park, seeing the statue of Pete Rose and another Mr. Redlegs Benches. Then to Fountain Square, where there was a concert, and another Mr. Redlegs Benches. So that was 4 for this trip!

    After a while, I would go back to the hotel. Then went to a nearby Subway, in a gas station, to get a cheap dinner. Then ate it back in my room. Plus watched the NBA Finals, where I would see the Toronto Raptors win the championship.

    Took care of some things, before going to sleep! I would not get much of it.

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  • 14Jun 2019

    13 First TB Meetup Since Shutdown 06/14/2019 USA —

    Indianapolis, USA

    Description

    Getting up really early, I had to pack up and check out of the hotel. And just walk 5 minutes to the Megabus stop, as I would be leaving Cincy. I boarded, and it would make the same 2 stops, on the way to Indianapolis. Including the same gas station, as I was not sure if it was in Ohio or Indiana.

    The bus did arrive into Indianapolis, but at a different stop this time. It was at the Indianapolis City Market. Getting off the bus, I had to make sure that this was the same stop where I would depart.

    I did call Jeremy, who I planned to meet up with, and we arranged a time to meet. Then went inside the City Market, and looked around. Basically, a collection of eateries, of different kinds. Some were very tempting to try out, but I had to hold off, as I was saving my appetite for lunch.

    I just sat and looked at my phone. I considered going somewhere, but decided to stay put, as I should not try to squeeze something within limited time. Just waited until I got Jeremy’s phone call, when he would tell me where to meet, and that he was on his way.

    When he arrived, it was the first time seeing him since 2015. And the first meetup with a TBer, since the shutdown of the TravBuddy site. Kind of weird to meet in these circumstances. We would head for the same place as before, Shapiro’s.

    This time, it was just him, as Michelle was at work, and Gracie is away. We just talked as we headed to the deli. Once we got there, I looked at the food options, which was immense. Not sure what I wanted to get. But decided to get spaghetti, with meatballs, which was very pricey. And not a good option. We just ate and talked for some time. It was fun to hang out and see each other again.

    Afterwards, he would give me a ride to the Indiana State Museum. After parting ways, this was probably a new era of meeting TBers. I looked at some options of what to do next, and after doing some searching, I decided to go to the Eiteljorg Museum. Located next door, I went out the back door, seeing the canal. Then went to the front entrance, to enter that way.

    I would walk around the building, and go through the front entrance. My personal preference, as I wanted a photo of the building. I went inside, and paid admission. And stored my backpack in storage, which was a walk-in. So a risk of things being stolen.

    This museum contained mainly art of the American West and Native Americans. I started with the Art of the American West, which basically showed paintings of cowboys and scenes from the American West. And not just the Wild West period, but even before and after that time. Really interesting to see some American art, as I tend to overlook it.

    After seeing this part, I went to the 2nd floor, which focuses on the Native American tribes. Started with “The People’s Place”, which was an exhibition on the Miami tribe and others that lived in the Indiana area. From their history, and how their respective culture is trying to survive in the present day. Then the Native American Galleries, which was going under some changes, showcases the different groups of indigenous people, from different regions. While looking kind of sparse at the time, it does look like it has major potential.

    I would see a few temporary exhibitions, one on Hopi carvings and another being "The Photography of Horace Poolaw". And finally, the special exhibition "A Sense of Beauty", which has native art in various forms. As I finished up, the museum was about to close.

    I really liked this museum, as it does have a very good collection of American art. Glad to have visited this place, and a type of art that I often do not seek to see. I would have given it 4 stars out of 5, as it can still be better.

    I left the museum, and walked to the Megabus stop. I put on sunscreen beforehand. And would have dust flying on me, as I passed by a construction area on the street. Passed by the Capitol building, which I won't visit, since I did not bring my Capitol book.

    Coming back to the Indianapolis City Market, which was a lot more quieter, I waited until the Megabus came. When it did, I quickly hopped on, which has every row filled up. So I would sit in the very back, with a free seat next to me. The bus would leave Indy, and on the way to Chicago.

    It did make one more stop in Indiana, at a Love's Travel Stop. Considered getting something to eat, but ended up getting nothing. The bus left, as I would be entering the Central Time Zone. I already adjusted my watch, as I entered into Illinois.

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  • 14Jun 2019

    14 Arriving Into Rainy Chicago 06/14/2019 USA —

    Schiller Park, USA

    Description

    The bus arrived into Chicago, at a different spot from the last time that I was there. After getting off, I tried to look for the nearest subway stop. I would go the wrong way, and it started to rain a little. I did find the Blue Line stop, and buy a Ventura Card. It was like a Metrocard, as I put some amount on it. Then waited for the subway to come.

    When it came, I hopped on, and rode it to O'Hare Airport. It took about an hour to get there. When I arrived, I had to go to the shuttle area, and call the hotel to get the shuttle to pick me up. I ended up waiting for almost 30 minutes.

    When it finally came, I got on, and had to wait until other people got on. Just felt like forever, as it got really late, going past 11pm. The shuttle van would take us to the O’Hare Inn and Suites, which was farther than I thought. Definitely not walkable distance, even from the nearest Blue Line stop.

    Arriving at the hotel, I got off quickly, and went to front desk to check in. I was the first one, since I had no luggage in the back. After checking in, I went to my room.

    Not as good as the one in Cincy, but still, great to have the room all to myself. I would take care of a few things, like hand-washing my jeans, as a way to save money and time from using laundry. And went to the nearest gas station, which had a Subway restaurant. I got a sandwich as my dinner, and ate it back in my hotel room. Then washed up and just relaxed for rest of the night.

    I was finally back in Chicago after 4 years. And after making attempts to visit in between the times. Could not wait until I finally got to go to the arcade.

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  • 15Jun 2019

    15 Return to Arcade Plus Baseball 06/15/2019 USA —

    Chicago, USA

    Description

    Getting up, I did go to the lobby building, to the breakfast there. But the options did not appeal to me at all. So I just went to the nearby gas station, to get a king-size candy bar as my breakfast. Then back to my room, as it started to rain outside.

    I packed up my things, and checked out. Then waited for the shuttle. When it came, I got on, and told the driver that I wanted to go to the Blue Line. Then he decided to take me to Rosemont, which was a little closer than the airport. When I got there, I ran to the platform, and got on the wrong train, going the wrong way. So I ended up at the airport, and just switched to the other side. Then rode into the city.

    Back in a familiar area of the Greektown area, I walked to the Chicago Parthenon Hostel, the same one from 2015. Arriving there, I had to wait until the hostel staff finished giving list of attractions to some people in front of me. Felt like forever! When he was finally done, I tried to check in, but could not since it was too early. So I put my backpack in storage, which costs $2. Then back out, to Union Station, where I bought a weekend pass. Then caught a train to Brookfield.

    When I got off at Brookfield, I was back here after 4 years. Kind of felt like returning to old stomping grounds, as I walked to the Galloping Ghost Arcade. And when i got there, I would get a weekly pass. The place has expanded since my last visit. Being back here, I was only here for 2 hours, since I was planning to go to the baseball game. After 2 hours, I walked back to the train station. And it was raining.

    I worried that the game would get rained out, and hoped that it would announced ahead of time, to save me the time. But no luck on getting a definite answer. So I had to proceed as if it was still on, as I already paid for the ticket. I took the train back, and stopped by H-Mart, to grab a meal to go. Then ate the meal at the hostel. I was hungry, and wanted to eat ahead of time.

    After the meal, which was really good, I headed to the ballpark. Turned out, the meal took a lot of time to eat. So I was running close to game time, as I rode the subway to get there.

    I did arrive about 20 minutes before game time. It did stop raining, as I went inside the White Sox ballpark. Now called Guaranteed Rate Field, another name change. Another visit to this ballpark.

    When I went inside, there was a promotion with White Sox Hawaiian shirts. Since I could not try out to see if it fit my size, I had to decline one. I would go up escalators to the top levels. And seeing the field, I saw a tarp on it. And learned that the game start has been delayed. So I went back down to 100 level, hoping to walk around that concourse. But when I got there, it was closed off, as a way of crowd control due to the game being sold out. How disappointing!

    So back to the top level, and to my seat. There was a column that obstructed my view of the scoreboard. I considered moving, but did not. So far, not going well, as I prefer to look at the scoreboard.

    Since my last visit, it does look like there have been a lot of updates., with its HD scoreboards and more. And the game was between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees. So naturally, there were a bunch of Yankees fans there. The Yankees would jump to a 7-0 lead, after 7 innings. The White Sox scored 4 in the 8th, and the Yankees scored one more in the 9th. The Yankees beat the White Sox, by score of 8-4.

    Afterwards, there were postgame fireworks. I decided to try to go to 1st level concourse, and was able to get in, getting past the usher. Having seen fireworks here before, I did not mind missing it this time. So I went to see the group of statues of the White Sox greats, like Carlton Fisk and Harold Baines. But more have been added since my last visit, like one for Frank Thomas. When the fireworks ended, I would leave the stadium.

    I came to Champions Plaza, which was for the 2005 World Series title. And the row of pillars, of retired numbers, which I missed somehow, in past visits. After seeing them, and the area quieting down, I went back to the hostel.

    Ending this day here, I would spend the entire next day at the arcade. I won't be writing much about it, but I will say, that too much of a good thing, is a not good thing. It resulted in my fingers and feet hurting. So next entry will skip a day, to Sunday, June 17.

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  • 17Jun 2019

    16 Walk Around Pier Before Games, Then Over 06/17/2019 USA —

    Chicago, USA

    Description

    With no set plans for this day, after starting the day with the hostel breakfast, I decided to visit 1 site. And decided to visit the Navy Pier. I would take the buses to get there, which was a little faster than the train. I have been there back in 2002, but don't remember much of that.

    When getting there, I started with the Polk Bros Park, which has a fountain that its own show. I don't remember if this was here back then. Then I went inside the Navy Pier building, the Family Pavilion. This was basically a mall, with some shops and a food court. Plus the Chicago Children’s Museum. I would go up to 2nd level, and into the Crystal Gardens.

    This was a little greenhouse setting. Though not hot at all. A bunch of trees in the place, with some fountains shooting water between them. The water in form of arches, which I could go through, without getting wet. I remember seeing this before. Looked at the cool display, before going back outside.

    I came to the most well-known part, the Pier Park. This was a little amusement park area, with the ferris wheel and a few other rides. I did not go on any, but continued walking around the pier.

    I would come to the Shakespeare Theater, and went inside for a little bit. Then back out, looking at the water and the city in the distance. Then came to the Festive Hall, with its pair of towers.

    Reached the end of the pier, with the anchor sculpture, the USS Chicago Anchor. Plus some other things. And I did notice the rainbow flags, which was for LGBT pride. A bunch of them around the Navy Pier. I would see a lighthouse, in Lake Michigan, as well as a bunch of ships along the way.

    Also, there was the Grand Ballroom building. I walked around it, as I headed back towards the city area. Walking on the other side, where there was nothing to see. Then walked through Pier Park, and back inside the Family Pavilion. Then walked to the bus stop, where I hopped on one, to go back to the hostel.

    The walk around the Navy Pier was very nice and enjoyable, and probably something I needed to do, after playing so much video games. It helped that it was completely cloudy, but not rain at all. And it did not cost me anything, as the walk along Lake Michigan was nice.

    Getting back to the hostel area, I went to a Subway, to get some lunch. Then ate it at the hostel. After that, to the room, I noticed that it was nearly empty. And some things left on the table, like soap and shampoo. I considered taking it, but also noticed one bed that does not look completely checked out. So I better not take them.

    I left the hostel, and went to Union Station. And rode the train to Brookfield, to go to the arcade. I would play less games with less time, but still had a great time. I stayed until after sunset. But not too late, as I had to get back to the hostel.

    Back at the hostel, the room was full, with people already sleeping. So I had to do some things quietly, as I tried to pack up as much as I can. Can't remember if I ate anything. After a while, I tried to sleep as much as I can.

    The next day, as it won't have its own entry, here is a quickie... I woke up really early, and go to the airport. Once I got there, I would get on the plane, which left Chicago and arrived in Philly. And went home, ending this Midwest trip. It was a nice trip, getting to meet a TBer and play some old video arcade games.

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  • 28Jun 2019

    17 Museum With Family 06/28/2019 USA —

    Jersey City, USA

    Description

    A day trip with family members, as my mom and me would spend part of the day with my niece. We drove up to my sister's place, and first went to a Greek restaurant nearby for lunch. Then took my sister home, as the rest of us would drive to Jersey City, to visit the Liberty Science Center.

    Located in the city of Jersey City in the northern part of New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. The part of the state that I have not visited much, other than driving through it, and few other visits to meet with family.

    As we would entered into the parking lot, at the Liberty Science Center, we went inside. And decided to watch one planetarium show, in addition to other exhibitions.

    Some of the parts, where my niece, Gabriella, would play in some of the playground areas. One of them was to the theme of "Lion Guard", a Disney Channel show. And another one, where it was a walkthrough, called Infinity Climber. This was suspended in the air, attached to the side. I did try to go through it myself, but the space was too tight, so I did not bother.

    The planetarium show was mainly about the Night Sky, which showed what could be seen at this moment. And got to see a little bee hive, with actual live bees. My niece was fascinated by that.

    The most notable was the "Eat and Be Eaten", which was a little zoo, with small animals. Interesting to see, as I did not expect this at all. And saw a few other exhibits before leaving the museum.

    We would leave Jersey City, and drive Gabriella back home. Then we went back home, and would drive through a rainstorm as we approached home.

    It was a good day trip, and unusual that we did it on a regular weekday.

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  • 23Jul 2019

    18 Starting Western Keystone 07/23/2019 USA —

    Coraopolis, USA

    Description

    I have been meaning to visit Pittsburgh, ever since my baseball quest began. But never got around to it, until now. I have been there 2 times before, with the last visit being in 2001. So it has been a very long time. I did not realize how long it has been.

    Started the day, getting ready and getting to the bus stop, as I would take Megabus to Pittsburgh. The cheapest way to travel. Catching the bus at 30th Street station in Philly in the morning, the bus would make a few stops along the way. First to Harrisburg, then to small town for a break.

    I came to a diner, and decided to get hash browns to go, mainly to make sure that I don't miss the bus. But I was able to finish it before the bus took off, as I kept an eye out for the driver coming back. When it was time to go, the bus continued to State College. Along the way, I noticed the river and mountains, reminding me that there is still more of my home state that I don't know about.

    After State College, finally to Pittsburgh. The bus arrived there, being 15 minutes late, and dropping off in downtown. Not bad! There were 2 other people who asked me to tag along, but I really did not have time. I had to get a weekly pass, at the ticket office. Then walked to a bus stop, and waited for the next one to the airport area. I ended up waiting a little longer, due to some confusion.

    The correct bus came, and I rode it to the airport area, in the town of Coraopolis. Why I came here? Because this was where my cheap hotel was, the Super 8 Wyndham by Pittsburgh Airport. I was just not willing to spend a lot of money for a place that I would only go to, mainly to sleep. It would bother me big-time if I did. The total cost of staying at this place for 3 nights would equal cost of only 1 night in a downtown hotel. Yeah, enough reason for me to take the long journey, back and forth.

    So I went to check in and just basically dropped my things off. Only taking a few things with me, I was already back out. A nice room, and for once, I would have it all to myself for entire trip. A rarity for me in my travels, as there are no hostels in Pittsburgh.

    I went to the bus stop, where I took one that took me towards downtown. But not quite there, as I was going to the Duquesne Incline, just outside of downtown.

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  • 23Jul 2019

    19 Inclined to the Top 07/23/2019 USA —

    Pittsburgh, USA

    Description

    Arriving at the Duquesne Incline, I went to ride it to the top. This was a funicular that goes up and down the hill, dating back to the 19th century. A faster way, as I was going to the top of Mount Washington. There used to be a bunch of them, but now, only 2 remain here. And I planned to ride both of them.

    Reaching the top, there was a little museum, which displayed the photos on the history of Pittsburgh. Plus a gift shop there. But the main attraction was the observation deck, and got to see the city and the confluence of rivers. Seeing downtown at the confluence end, where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet to form the Ohio River. Hence the name of "Three Rivers", which was the name of the old multi-purpose stadium of the Pirates and Steelers. I planned to see from both inclines at 3 different times of day (daytime, sunset, nighttime).

    Afterwards, I decided to walk along the top of Mount Washington area to the next incline. It was quite hilly on its own. And more views of the skyline, from different angles. More overlooks for these views, which were named after Pittsburgh politicians. As I continued on, it was the view of the downtown on the Monongahela side.

    I got to the Monongahela Incline, which was more closer to downtown. I rode it down, then back up a short time after. Just to say that I did it.

    So the differences include the different views of the city, and the type of funiculars used. The Duquesne was just one open seating area in a box, while the Monongahela was a multi-leveled one. Hard to describe in words. If I had to chose one, it would definitely be the Duquesne one. But the Monongahela is no slouch either, seeing a different part of the city. Or go up one, and down another.

    I went through a shopping district for a brief time. Then started to head back to the 1st incline. The sun was started to set, so I looked at the city again. The sky was more colorful, as the lights were starting to come on.

    As I was starting to run out of time, I hurried back to the observation deck. By then, it was nearly nighttime. The sun has not completely set, but still, the lights were on. And I could see that there was a game at PNC Park, which I will visit later. The deck did start to get crowded. I stayed there until a certain time, hoping to see it completely night. But I did not not, as I had to get back down early enough. Still, great views of the city with the lights on. So I did see the nighttime views at one of the inclines.

    Coming back down, I went to the bus stop. Waited until the correct bus came, as it was the only one to take me back towards the hotel. I had to catch this one, as the next one would have been 2 hours later, around 11:30pm. I did not want to get back late, as I needed to get enough sleep.

    Arriving back at the hotel, then to the nearby gas station convenience store for a cheap meal. Got a couple hot dogs, and ate them back in my room. And took care of some things before going to sleep.

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  • 24Jul 2019

    20 Cathedral of Baseball and More 07/24/2019 USA —

    Pittsburgh, USA

    Description

    I started the day with the hotel breakfast, which was basic with cereal and bread. Then went back to room, to relax a little more. After getting ready, I went to the nearby bus stop, and took the bus to downtown. I had a bit of a late start to the day, and had to take care of one thing.

    That one thing was getting baseball ticket to the game. So when arriving in downtown, I took the subway to the North Side, which is where PNC Park is located. I went to the ticket office, to buy a ticket. It turned out to be the same price as Stubhub for the same sections that I wanted to sit at. After doing that, I decided to walk around the stadium. Get this part out of the way, as a way of saving time down the road.

    When doing the loop around, I would see the statues of past Pirates greats, like Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente. Plus along the river, and seeing downtown in the distance. I think this was one of the very first places that I stood at, back in my very 1st visit in 1998. After walking around the stadium, I went back to the subway, and rode to downtown. Then went to catch a bus near the Allegheny County Courthouse, going to the Oakland area.

    The Oakland area was the one that I am familiar, from the previous 2 trips. This was like University City, with University of Pittsburgh (or Pitt for short) and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). I came here, mainly to go inside the Cathedral of Learning, to see the Nationality Rooms at Pitt. When trying to go inside one of the rooms, they were locked. That made think that I wasted my time coming here.

    But then, I came to a gift shop, and asked about the Nationality Rooms. Turned out, I had to pay a fee for a key to open the different rooms, along with the audioguide. After getting those things, I started to tour the rooms.

    The Nationality Rooms are a set of classrooms, set to the themes of different countries and time periods. Like a step back in time, at different parts of the world. Representing the different groups of Pittsburgh. They are still used as classrooms, with the architecture and period furniture in them. There were 2 floors of these rooms, with the 1st floor can only be seen with paid admission. There was also the 3rd floor, but those are free to see, and I would look at those later on.

    Starting with the 1st floor, I had to unlock to enter, and lock when exiting. When in those rooms, I listened to the audioguide. I did have quite a scare, as I thought that I got locked in. There was no knob inside to unlock. Luckily, this particular one had another door that was unlocked. So I was able to get out.

    As far as the different rooms that I saw, I won’t get into a detailed visit here, as it can get tedious. The photos will tell the story, showing which rooms that I saw, and the order that I visited them. It took a lot more time than I originally thought, as I went around the 1st floor. So long, that I decided to save the 3rd floor for another time.

    Still, this place was definitely worth visiting, seeing the different ethnic styles of the rooms. They were very nice to see, and the variety of them. The only setback was the audioguide, which I did find a little too long at times. Mainly when I was finished seeing a room, but the commentary was still going on. Not to mention, it seems like it was more meant for a much more detailed visit. I’d say, the Nationality Rooms is recommended, but the audioguide is optional.

    I left, and went back to downtown. Since I have not eaten for some time, I decided to look for a place to eat. And came upon Primanti Bros at Market Square, which I have heard about on TV and YouTube. So I decided to check it out. Went inside, and did order one of their sandwiches to go. Then to the Plaza at PPG Place, which has tables, to eat and see the fountains.

    I got one of their famous sandwiches, with chicken. It came with coleslaw and French fries in them. Quite a combo. And it was really good! After eating, I just sat for a bit, then went to Point State Park.

    This was a public park, at the confluence of the rivers. And where the city of Pittsburgh began, with the formation of forts in the French and Indian War in the 1700's. There is the Fort Pitt Museum and Fort Pitt Blockhouse, but I had no time to see either. So I just focused on the park itself, walking to the fountain, at the confluence of the rivers. Looked at all sides for some time. Then left, going to PNC Park.

    I walked part of the way, then the bus to the ballpark. Getting to the North Side, I entered the park, about 90 minutes ahead of game time. I was finally at this ballpark, which opened in 2001, and has been one of the most praised ballparks in baseball. Well, I am about to see for myself.

    I walked around the concourse. And so far, there was not much to see. Then I went to see the field, and there it was. Seeing downtown and the bridge over the river, was just a great view. Now, I could really see why people say this was one of the best (if not the best) ballpark in MLB. Though its reputation has been hurt by the fact that the Pirates have been mostly terrible since moving to this stadium. The Pirates that I remembered, were from the early 90's, when they dominated the NL and won the NL East, 3 seasons in a row.

    I looked some more, then went to the upper deck, to my seat. The view was even better from there. This one does give the best one a run for their money. And I would see a bunch of Cardinals fans in attendance.

    The Pittsburgh Pirates played the St. Louis Cardinals, in a high scoring blowout. The Pirates took a 2-0 lead in the 1st inning, but it was basically all Cardinals after that. They would score 9 runs in the 2nd inning, taking a 9-2 lead. The teams would trade some runs along the way, with the Cards staying comfortably ahead, as they did hit 5 home runs. The final result was the Cardinals beating the Pirates, 14-8.

    I did worry about the game running too long, as I wanted to catch the last bus to the airport area. I did not want to take a taxi back, and even considered leaving the game early. But I did have this rule of the baseball quest, that a stadium visit only counts when seeing the whole game, staying to the end. I did keep looking at my watch, and considered going to the next day's game, which was in the daytime. Not a fan of daytime games. Luckily, this game ended with enough time for me to catch the last bus. Even enough time to go to lower level and get some more photos.

    Leaving the ballpark, I went back to downtown. And caught the bus back to the airport. I got back really late, but I'm not complaining. And to back to my room, to rest up!

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  • 25Jul 2019

    21 More Classrooms and Incomplete Zoo Visit 07/25/2019 USA —

    Pittsburgh, USA

    Description

    Starting the day with the hotel breakfast, I would get a late start due to the bus schedule to downtown. It seems to be hourly, which was annoying. Considered using the hotel shuttle to airport, but that turned out to be time-consuming as well. So I took the usual bus, going to downtown. Then switched to another bus, going to the Oakland area, at the campus of Pitt.

    I decided to finish up seeing the Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning. This time, on the 3rd floor of classrooms, which was free to visit. No need for a key, as all of them should be unlocked. And another difference was the narration, which was over the PA system in each classroom. It can be activated by hitting a switch by the door. I would listen to the first few in its entirety, then found it to be too long, as I ended up waiting for them to finish. Even if I finished seeing the classroom itself.

    As before, I went into each one, looked around and took photos. And will let the photos show which rooms that I saw, as there is no point to list them here. There were a few that were closed due to renovations. This tour would take about an hour.

    After finishing seeing the classrooms, I went in the elevator, trying to go to the basement level, and ended up going to the top floor at the 26th floor. There were some offices and meeting rooms. But within those meeting rooms, which were open, there were nice views of the surrounding campus and mountains in the distance. So an unexpected detour that I'm glad that happened.

    Afterwards, I went back down, to basement floor, and to Cathedral Cafe. After looking at food options, I decided to skip this, as it would have taken time. Plus nothing appealed to me. So I went back out, to bus stop. I decided to go to the zoo. When the bus came, I hopped on, to go there.

    Along the way, I fell asleep on the bus, and missed my stop. So I had to get off, and get on the bus to get to the zoo. This ate up some more valuable time. When getting off by the zoo, I had to walk through the parking lot. And not much of a walking path, as I had to walk along the driveway to get to the zoo entrance.

    I did get there, and had less than 4 hours to see the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. I read that this was not a big zoo, so I thought that I had enough time to see all of it. Oh boy, I would end up being wrong!

    Starting with the animals in Forest Passage, then to the African Savanna. I just followed a trail, which would take me to all parts of the zoo. It was quite hilly, which did make it more challenging. I did stop by one of the eating places, the Jumbo Grill, to eat something, as I was hungry. After the meal, I went to see more of the zoo.

    And more hilly, as I walked through The Islands and Jungle Odyssey areas. It was also winding and twisting path, in the sun. So when I came to the PPG Aquarium, I was relieved to be indoors. Unfortunately, there was hardly any place to sit down.

    The PPG Aquarium was a small building, with a series of fish tanks. Nothing that really stands out, as it would have been one of those much smaller aquariums. By itself, it is really nothing special, and works more as an area of the zoo. By the time I finished, I was running out of time.

    I tried to see the rest of the zoo, but that would prove to be too much in a short amount of time. And by then, just seemed very empty and half-hearted. I tried to go into the reptile building after last entry allowed, by going through the exit. When seeing how much there was to see, I had to give up and realize that I would not finish seeing this zoo. So it ended up being an incomplete zoo visit, much to my disappointment. And I had no one really to blame, but myself.

    This was a first time that it happened to me, as I kept second-guessing myself. I had to leave the zoo, and walked to the bus stop. Still, review of this zoo and more photos in the zoo blog.

    Getting on the bus, I fell asleep once again, and missed my stop again. I got off somewhere, having no idea where I was. I would find out that I was in the South Side, and went to look for the bus stop to get back on track. Waited until the bus came, and took it to the Oakland area. Then transferred to one going to downtown. And made it with enough time, to catch the bus back to the airport area. I decided to go back early, since the bus was every 2 hours after 7pm.

    Getting back to the hotel, I packed up a little. And did make a quick stop by a nearby store, to get some drinks. Just washed up and relaxed for the rest of the night, as this was the final night of having the room to myself. Then set alarms, so I can get up early enough, before going to sleep.

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  • 26Jul 2019

    22 Last Look Before Lousy Greyhound 07/26/2019 USA —

    Pittsburgh, USA

    Description

    I got up early enough, to pack my things and check out of the hotel. I picked up a slice of bread, as my breakfast. Then took an early bus to downtown. Just wanted to get a head start, so things would not be as crazy. Once I got there, I was undecided what to do, with plenty of time.

    So I walked to Point State Park, and to the fountain. Looked around, then walked along the Allegheny side, seeing the stadiums across the river. And to the Roberto Clemente Bridge, where there was a pickle festival called Picklesburgh. Never knew there was such a thing. I walked part of the way on the bridge, then turned around. The festival was just being set up at the time.

    I walked to the Greyhound station, as I lost track of time. I wanted to get there early enough. Arrived there with enough time, and got to the gate, where there was already a long line. When it was time to board, turned out that there were more tickets sold than the number of seats for this particular time. Why am I not surprised? And yet, not any less annoying, as Greyhound just does not want to learn from this mistake.

    So I was not able to board, but luckily, we were told that there was another bus, licensed from another company. And 30 minutes later, it arrived, and I was able to get on. The bus left Pittsburgh, and already, there was some problem as the bus had to pull over. Then went to a bus repair shop, where it was checked out. I assume everything was good enough, to continue on. So we were heading towards back.

    When reaching Harrisburg, I started to see the trouble, mainly with the driver, who did not communicate with the passengers at all. He missed the turn into the Greyhound station, and had to go around, to try again. That ate up some valuable time. After reaching the station, and dropping off people, it was finally heading back to Philly. I did keep track of the progress, and wanted to get back as soon as possible.

    Not surprising, when approaching the Philly area, there was rush hour traffic. But when reaching the downtown area, the driver was clueless again. In short, he went around a couple times, and came up to the station parking lot. I was ready to flip out if he missed the turn. But then, everyone yelled "turn left", and the driver finally did arrive at the station parking lot. He almost missed it. I could not get off the bus fast enough.

    And after I did that, I went to get 2 donuts to eat, as I have not eaten anything since that slice of bread for breakfast. And waited for the train to take me back home. And once I did that, the trip was over.

    Despite this Greyhound ending, it was an enjoyable trip, and I did get to visit another stadium. And I am sure that I will return someday.

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  • 13Aug 2019

    23 Wonder to DC Museums 08/13/2019 USA —

    Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, USA

    Description

    This was an unplanned trip to Washington DC, as a result of changing my bus ticket from my previous trip (to Pittsburgh). Though, I have been meaning to take a quick trip there before the end of summer. It was just for a couple days, and one night.

    Started the day by packing light, and deciding not to put my cat in boarding. Then went drove to the train station, and parked my car there for next 2 days. Took the train to 30th Street station, where I basically waited until boarding time.

    When I got on the bus, I did have the whole row to myself. But the problem was the strong chemical strong, which made me feel sick. It did not help that I have this habit of looking at my phone, causing motion sickness. Plus no caffeine so far, and hardly ate anything. I did keep looking on how far we were along, as this was digital equivalent of "are we there yet?".

    Well, we were finally there, as the bus arrived into DC, and to Union Station. I could not get off the bus fast enough, to get away from that chemical smell. Walked around Union Station, and looked at option at the food court. But none appealed to me. I came to a Sbarro's, for a quick lunch. And finally, some caffeine in Pepsi. After lunch, I went outside, to the DC Circulator stop.

    This time, this bus was free. So I rode it to the National Mall, getting off near the National Museum of American History. I went inside the museum, to see one thing that I had to see first. And get it out of the way, which was the Wonder Woman costume from the 70's TV show. This was not on display the last time I was there. There was one other display that changed.

    After looking at this, I went to see a few more things in the museum. They included a couple items from "The Wizard of Ox", the Good Witch's wand and Dorothy's ruby slippers. Then went to see the Star-Spangled Banner flag, from the War of 1812. This was at the Battle of Baltimore, when the Americans held off the British during this war. No photography was allowed at this part.

    Afterwards, I was undecided where to go next. And used a coin to help me decide between seeing more of the National Museum of Natural History or National Air and Space Museum. It was decided that the Natural History one would be next. So I left and walked to it.

    After entering into the familiar Rotunda, I went through the stuffed animals, which I have seen before. And came to the exhibition on narwhal, some type of whale with a long tusk, living in the Arctic. Then saw more skeletons and a variety of skulls from different time periods. I went to the Ocean Hall, and saw a show on the history of the oceans on a rotating globe. And finally, the fossils of dinosaurs, as I was running out of time. I looked at some, until it was closing time. So I left this museum, and went to another place that I have visited before.

    Back at the National Portrait Gallery, I went to see the Presidents again, which included Barack Obama this time. Then went to see portraits on "American Justice", which was about civil rights in the US. After that, it was "American Origins", on the colonial period and more. Tried to see as much as I can, as closing time of this place was approaching. The photos will tell the majority of the ones that I saw.

    After the place closed, I walked to the hostel, as I did not need to take the Metro. Arriving at the same one as before, I checked in and went to the assigned room. Then unpacked a little, and back out to get some dinner. I decided to go to Popeye's, as I love eating their chicken. However, their soda was horrible, as I did try different ones. Something was wrong with their machine.

    After eating dinner, I went back to the hostel. Took a much needed shower, and just relaxed for the rest of the night. This trip was really short, as I would return home the next day.

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  • 14Aug 2019

    24 Short Museum Visit Before Home 08/14/2019 USA —

    Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, USA

    Description

    Getting up early enough, I was able to enjoy the pancake breakfast at this hostel. Something that I did look forward to. And it was good. Then back to the room, where I just relaxed a bit, and had to start packing up. Once I took care of some things, and decided which attraction to visit before my bus ride home, I checked out and walked towards the National Mall.

    I wanted to see if I could manage without taking the Metro once. I stopped by a 7-Eleven, to get some soda. Then walked to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which was a little past the National Mall.

    I had to go through security, to enter the museum. And get a timed entry ticket. Then into an elevator with an ID card of a prisoner, to get to the permanent exhibition, which was on multiple floors. I have been to this place in the past, but I never saw this part ever before.

    The permanent exhibition told the entire story of the Holocaust, and the entire Jewish experience during World War II. From the rising of the Nazi party to the end of the war, there were some artifacts on display. I did have to deal with crowds, as it got bigger as time went on, making it hard to read some of the descriptions with people getting in the way sometimes. And to take photos of the few of the items on display.

    With so much to see and limited time, I was not able to finish seeing it all. I underestimated how extensive, as I wanted to see for myself the whole thing, to really evaluate this place. From what I have seen so far, I think it was worth the time to see it, as it does try to cover all aspects of it, in a mostly, chronological order. But I have to come back at another time, to truly get a complete picture.

    Leaving the museum, I walked to the DC Circulator stop, and had to run to catch one. Luckily, I was able to, as I was really cutting it close. And always worried about missing my bus back home. The DC Circulator took me to Union Station, where I walked to the bus parking lot.

    The boarding on Megabus has already started, and I thought that I would have to share a row with someone. But much to my surprise, I was able to get one for myself for the entire trip. The bus left DC, and headed back to Philly.

    And I think it made it back on time. I know that would have not been the case with Greyhound. Took the train to get back home, ending this trip. It was a fun short trip, and I do plan to return to DC during the Christmas season.

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  • 27Aug 2019

    25 Coming to Middle of the Country 08/27/2019 USA —

    KCMO, USA

    Description

    Kind of planned at the last minute, I would be taking a trip to Missouri. I originally planned to go somewhere else, but decided to take this one, as I wanted to get closer to finish this baseball quest. And with low airfare, that pretty much sealed it for me. I planned to visit Kansas City for the very first time, and St. Louis again.

    A late start to the day, as I had an afternoon flight. I arrived at the airport, and went through security to the gate. I had already checked in online earlier. I just waited until boarding, as I was flying with Frontier Airlines. I did worry about the flight being on time, considering my experience with them back in March to Florida. Though, the one to Cincinnati worked out well in June.

    Anyway, I got on the plane, which left Philly, and arrived in Kansas City on time. A short walk to the curb, as this was a small airport. Waited there for the city bus to take me to downtown. I was surprised to receive a text from the hostel owner, asking about my arrival. This never happened before. I responded, then just waited until the bus came. It was running late.

    When it did come, I got on and went to downtown. I did notice some fountains. Then remembered reading about Kansas City (or KC for short), having the 2nd most fountains in the world. I got off one bus, and walked to another stop. Then hopped on another, taking me to the hostel.

    I did notice along the way, the not-so-appealing neighborhood, making me a little nervous. I had second thoughts about this, but the reservation has already been made. Getting off, I walked to the Honeycomb Hostel, the only one in the KC area.

    Going inside, I did meet the owner, Elsa. And she had 2 dogs who lived there. No formal check-in process, as I just went up to the room. It has already been paid for, when making the reservation online.

    After dropping my backpack in the room and choosing a bed, I went to ask about any nearby restaurants. There was only one, about a mile one-way. I did not feel like walking that much, though Elsa thought it was nothing. And making me fee like an idiot. Okay, not off to a good start. Instead, I decided to go to a nearby Save-A-Lot, to get some groceries. About half a mile away.

    So I went there, to get some things that won't require me to cook, like bread and turkey. And to eat for multiple meals, to help save money and time. After shopping, I returned to the hostel, and ate a little dinner. Then went to take a shower, and take care of a few other things, before going to bed.

    Not much happened on this day, as it was basically an arrival day. But the next one should be a biggie.

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  • 28Aug 2019

    26 Baseball With Some Jazz 08/28/2019 USA —

    KCMO, USA

    Description

    It was tough to sleep at times, so I did not sleep too well. After getting up, I would ate breakfast with the groceries that I bought. When asking the owner Elsa for something, she just seemed very annoyed that I asked. After taking care of some things, I went out.

    Being that this was a baseball trip, I had to go to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Getting there, I did get off at the wrong stop, and had to walk a little more than planned. Then came upon the 18th and Vine District, which has been declared a historical district. This was an African-American community, and looked like a step back in time.

    I saw only a portion of it, seeing the American Jazz Walk of Fame. I did recognize a few names, and went to the building with the 2 museums. They were the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and American Jazz Museum. I decided to visit both, since I was already there, and a better combo deal. Obviously, I decided to start with the baseball museum.

    This was a history museum on the Negro Leagues, starting from its beginnings in the late 1800's, to its end in 1951. They were formed, as black players were blocked from playing in Major League Baseball. And making it possible for them to play baseball. When Jackie Robinson broke the racial barrier in Major League Baseball, it was basically the beginning of the end of the Negro Leagues.

    There were artifacts and displays telling the history, and all the struggles these players had to face through those times. Like how it was difficult to find hotels that accepted them, and other different groups, like Latin players and female players. It ended with the Field of Legends, consisting of the most well-known players in the Negro Leagues, like Satchel Paige, Buck Leonard, Josh Gibson and more.

    I did enjoy this museum and spent quite a bit of time. Very well-organized, I think it was well-worth a visit. A must for baseball fans, but I think non-baseball fans should check it out, mainly for the race history. After this museum, I went to the American Jazz Museum.

    This one was not so much on the history of jazz, but getting into the different aspects of this type of music. Like the different instruments used, and the different sounds heard within the music. Plus displays on some of the famous musicians, some of which, I have heard. And tying into with history, as it does have roots in African-American history.

    There are interactive exhibits, along with displays of artifacts. Plus a look at the jazz club, which is still operating as one. It does not follow a linear pattern, so it can get confusing at times, being all over the place.

    Let me say this... I know very little (if any) about jazz music. I could not describe it to anyone, other than it was usually the soothing type of music. I used to think it was boring, but I did grow a little appreciation for it over the years. While I don't go out of my way to listen to it, jazz can be be enjoyable for me to listen to, mainly as background music. With the museum, I think it was enjoyable in its own way. But I would have skipped it if not already in the area, as well as being part of a combo ticket with the baseball museum.

    Afterwards, I went to see a little exhibition called "African Roots", getting into African-American history in Kansas City. The only free part of the museum, as it was located in the lobby area. There was also an art exhibition, but after seeing a part of it, I did not find it as interesting. So I left the building, looking around the area.

    I went to get on the bus, going to downtown first. Getting off at the City Hall area, I would see a fountain nearby. Then went on another bus, going to Union Station. I passed by Crown Center, and arrived at Union Station.

    Going inside the station, I saw that the building itself would be worth touring. But that had to be another time, as I came here to buy an Amtrak ticket to St. Louis. Hoped to avoid paying fees online, but the cost ended up being higher. Yes, the price has increased. After buying the ticket, I looked around for a bit, then left the station.

    I hopped on the streetcar, which was free. Though I was not sure where to go exactly, and considered going to the River Market, hoping to get some food. But got off after realizing how long and far it was. It was near the same bus stop from before, at 14th and Main. Then walked towards the Power and Light District, as I stopped by a Domino's Pizza, hoping for lunch. But there was no one at the counter. I waited, and even counted to 10, but still no one. So I just left, and headed back to the hostel.

    When getting to the area, I stopped to get some more things at a Family Dollar store. Then back at the hostel, where I ate a couple sandwiches that I prepared. Then going upstairs, I saw some dog poop on the floor. Luckily, not in my path. Then to the room, to rest as much as I can.

    After resting, it was time to get ready again. Then leaving the hostel, I walked to a bus stop, as I was heading to Kauffman Stadium for a baseball game. I worried that I get there later than I wanted to, as I hoped to have enough time to take photos. I got on one bus, and kept looking at my phone to keep track of the progress.

    As it turned out, I got to one transfer spot earlier than expected. So enough time to catch the bus to the stadium early enough. After riding the second bus, I arrived at Kauffman Stadium. Then walked to the stadium, and waited for the gates to be opened. The parking attendant told me that there was not much to see outside of the gates, so that saved me some time from making a loop around the stadium.

    When the gates opened, I went through security, but learned that bottled drinks were not allowed. I had a bottled Pepsi, which I ended up drinking the whole thing. Then was finally able to enter the ballpark. I walked to see some statues, and the fountain in the outfield area. Then came to a museum, the Royals Hall of Fame.

    More commonly known as "The K", this was built as an only-baseball stadium in 1973, which was unusual at the time. The trend was multi-purpose stadiums that baseball and football teams shared. Almost all of those are gone now.

    This museum was on the history of baseball in Kansas City, as it mentioned the previous teams that were there. Then it has all the memorabilia and artifacts from the different moments in Royals history. So not really a traditional history museum, as it does not follow a linear pattern. The notable exhibit was the sculpture of #5, made of 3154 baseballs, representing the number of hits that George Brett had in his entire career. And he played his entire career with the Royals. There were also the 2 World Series trophies, for 1985 and 2015. And ending with the plaques of players and more in the Royals Hall of Fame.

    Overall, I enjoyed this museum, as I think baseball fans will enjoy it as well. But non-baseball fans may give this a skip, as I don't think it would appeal to them at all. I left the museum, and started to head towards my seat in the upper deck. Seeing some history on some of the columns in the concourse along the way. I got to the upper deck, and even got to talk to an usher, who understood my need to sit in the shade. Even if she preferred to sit in the sun.

    I got to my seat with time to spare. And looked around for a bit, until the game started. I did hope that the game would not end too late, as I hoped to catch the bus from the stadium. And early enough, so I don't get back too late. I would keep looking at the time, as the game progressed, as I did not want to spend money for a taxi either.

    The Kansas City Royals took on the Oakland Athletics, as the Royals were well out of playoff contention. But the A's still have playoff hopes. The game was back and forth between the teams, with the A's started with a 2-0 lead. But the Royals came back to tie it. The A's scored another 2 runs, but the Royals then scored 4 unanswered runs. The Royals beat the A's by score of 6-4.

    The game ended early enough for me to catch an earlier bus back. Even enough time for me to even go to the lower level for some photos. I went down there, but only managed one photo, as the stadium seemed to close down immediately. So I headed out of the stadium, and to the bus stop. I even got a ride on one of those carts, to the stop. Then waited for the next bus.

    When it came, it took me to another part of the city. Then transferred to another, and headed back to the hostel. So I was able to get back early enough. I washed up and to sleep.

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  • 29Aug 2019

    27 Union With the Museum and Crown 08/29/2019 USA —

    KCMO, USA

    Description

    Starting the day with trying to decide what to do, after getting ready and eating some breakfast at the hostel. Being that it was a very hot day, and getting off to a later start of the day, I decided not to visit the Kansas City Zoo. Being outdoors in that hot weather was too much for me. And seeing how big the zoo was, it would have taken the whole day, with little else to do.

    So I decided to do the indoor attractions. Starting with Union Station, as I got there by bus and walking. I took the bus to a hospital area, then walked to Union Station. I did notice some streets were blocked off from car traffic. I got to Union Station, and went inside, as it was relief from the heat.

    I did look around, and stopped by the visitor center. I considered a fountain tour, and asked a few other questions. I did eat some of my packed lunch, then took my own tour of the station. I looked around the architecture of the place. Then went to tour the museum exhibit, called Union Station Stories, on the history of Union Station.

    This exhibit consisted about 3 floors, starting on the 2nd floor. Not easy to find, as there was only a set of elevators on one side of the station that goes there. I did take one on a different side, which was a mistake. When i got there, I worked my way up, reading and seeing the displays on the history of the station. The station opened in 1913, and was the major railroad hub. It would go downhill to the point of being so rundown, as there was plans to demolish it. But it was renovated, and back to its former glory. Now, it does look really nice, and worth a look. The museum part was mostly worth it too.

    After seeing this part, I went to the Model Train Gallery, which has a set of big model train sets. I would only see one of them for the time being, since I wanted enough time to see a nearby attraction. So after looking at one set, I left the place. And went out of Union Station.

    Along the way, there was the fountain nearby. And to the National WWI Museum and Memorial. Starting with the memorial part, with the Dedication Wall. Then continued up a hill, until I got to the courtyard, with its tall tower and 2 separate buildings there. I could see the downtown area, behind Union Station. But the heat was just too much, so I went into one of the buildings.

    Turned out, this was the Memorial Hall building, which was not the main entrance. But I went towards the main entrance, and saw that. Then paid admission to enter the museum. I find out that the tower was closed. I just continued on, as there was no turning back now. I entered into the museum, starting the tour with an introductory film on World War I. After that, I went to see the museum itself.

    In short, World War I was a dogpile of European nations declaring war on each other. And it came from a number of factors, as there was a buildup of tensions, to the point of hitting that breaking point. The museum was divided into 2 parts, with the 1st part being the part of the war before the US entered. A middle part, representing the US entering into World War I. And the 2nd part, after the US has entered.

    There were a displays and artifacts of the different weapons and artillery used, by the different nations that were involved in the war. Plus other aspects of the war, like the medical staff and the different uniforms. And a bunch more.

    I would have enough time to see the 2 separate buildings. The first was Memorial Hall, which looked nice with the paintings on the wall. Also, a series of maps and a memorial to the KC people who fought in the war. There was also a temporary exhibition "Devastated Lands", a photo gallery showing the destruction of war. After seeing all this, I went to the second building, Exhibit Hall. This one has a temporary exhibition "1919: Peace?", showing what happened after the war ended.

    After seeing these 2 buildings, I went back to the museum part. And see what I may have missed. I would have had enough time to see the place to my satisfaction. I thought the museum was very much worth it, as I have not really seen any sites that involved WWI. So this was something completely different for me.

    I left, and went back to the Model Train Gallery in Union Station. And went to see the rest of the model train sets, which were just impressive to see. The attention to detail was just amazing. I stayed there, seeing the trains pass by, until closing time. Then I left Union Station, and walked to the Crown Center.

    This was a shopping mall, as I went there to look at the food options. I decided to look for some of that KC barbeque. And found a place called' Three Little Pigs", where I ordered a chicken BBQ sandwich, with some potatoes. At first, it looked small and overpriced. But after eating it, I did feel full, and did not bother getting any ice cream, which I originally planned to do. And it was very good, as I enjoyed it very much! I just relaxed, being inside an air-conditioned place.

    I did go outside, as I noticed the green fountain. It was done for the upcoming Irish Fest. And a little fountain show nearby. After seeing them, it was time to go. I walked back to the hospital area. Then took the bus back to the hostel.

    I arrived back, and just washed up and relaxed for the rest of the night. I did get to talk to one of the roommates, who was from Wyoming, and looking to relocate. I packed up as much as I can, before going to sleep. This was my last day in Kansas City, as I would leave the next day.

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  • 30Aug 2019

    28 Gateway to a Rainout 08/30/2019 USA —

    St. Louis, USA

    Description

    Getting up and ready early enough, I left the hostel and went to Union Station. It was raining outside, and I had to walk through it. First, to the bus stop. Then after getting off the bus, when missing where I was suppose to get off. I was not too far, and just went to the streetcar line. I rode that to Union Station, then went inside.

    I wondered if the museum part was open at this time, and checked for myself. Turned out that it was. So something I could have done to bypass the waiting time. No point to get upset about it. And I saw a long line for another train, as I just waited around there. Considered getting something to eat there, but was not willing to pay for overpriced food.

    I did hear about another train being delayed, and was told that my train was not. When the time came, I did board the train, and it left on time. Leaving Kansas City, I was heading to St. Louis. So I was going across the state of Missouri, passing by places that I recognized. Like Independence, which was a reminder that I have to return to KC someday.

    I learned that the train would fall behind schedule for reasons. And see for myself, that Amtrak was not much better than Greyhound when it came to being on time. And with some of the delays that happened, it was very true. The big difference was that it was more tolerable on the train than on the bus. I was able to read without getting motion sickness. But still, it was still frustrating, as I was losing valuable time in St. Louis.

    I hoped not to buy any food on the train. But since I ate very little so far, I just had to buy a hot dog, overpriced by a lot. And ate it in the cafe train. I would see some people playing cards, and overhear conversations about the upcoming baseball game. Even a possible rainout, as it has been raining for the entire train journey.

    The train arrived in St. Louis, getting there by an hour late. This was my 3rd time visiting, with my last visit being in 2009. Getting off the train, I walked to the Metrolink station, seeing the Enterprise Center nearby. The home of the St. Louis Blues, who just won a Stanley Cup. When the Metrolink train came, I rode it to the airport. Kind of a strange journey, but my hotel was in that area.

    A long ride, I arrived at the airport. Then walked through it, to the curb to wait for the hotel shuttle bus to the Marriott St. Louis Airport. Yes, that's right... I am staying at a Marriott. I was able to find a good price that was more safe, than the hostel that I stayed back in 2009. Besides, not even sure if the hostel was still open. But even back then, the hostel was very rundown. And there are no other ones in the St. Louis area.

    So the bus came, and I arrived at the hotel. I quickly checked in, and got to my room. This was me getting to experience some luxury, as I almost never stay in places like this. Just dropped my backpack, and took the only things needed for the baseball game. Then leaving the room, to the lobby, it started to rain outside. Not a good sign. I got on the shuttle bus, and rode it back to the airport. Then to the Metrolink, going to Busch Stadium.

    Arriving there, I did look around for a little bit. And it was raining, making it tough to take photos. So I waited for a time when it stopped. I walked around the ballpark, and came to an usher, who told me that backpacks were not allowed at all. That was bad enough! But made a lot worse when there was no place for storage. This was the part that annoyed me big-time! When asking about what to do, the only answers were either, take it back to the car or hotel, or throw it away. The first was not possible, and the second was not willing.

    The rule was to put it in a plastic bag. Luckily, I had one with me. So I had to improvise, and put the contents in the plastic bag. Then turned it inside out, and tried to pass it off as my jacket. Luckily, it worked, as I was able to get past security at the gate. And after getting my ticket scanned, I received a giveaway, which I put in my bag without looking. Then walked around the concourse. So that obstacle was overcome.

    I was back at Busch Stadium since 2009. This was the 3rd version (or Busch Stadium III), as there have been 2 previous versions. As I walked in the concourse, I saw 2 sets of old scoreboards from the 2nd Busch Stadium (or Busch Stadium II). They were the exact scores from the final home game at that stadium, left as they were after that game ended.

    Went up to Ford Plaza, but since it was out in the rain, I turned around. I tried to go to the upper levels, but it was closed off due to rain. So I walked around aimlessly, until deciding to sit in a section underneath the overhang. Not much else to do, and could not take any good photos of the stadium due to rain.

    I saw the tarp on the field, and seeing it rain hard at times. With the forecast, I could not see this game happening. When the game time came, it was announced that it was postponed. So history repeats itself here, as it happened to me in 2009 as well. The game would be made up as part of a doubleheader on Sunday. But I won't be in town by then, so I hoped to exchange tickets for Saturday game instead.

    Tried to go to the ticket offices, but all of them were already closed. Oh boy, history repeating itself again, with paying for a ticket that I could not use. I hoped Stubhub will resolve this. But now, no point staying here any longer. So I left, and rode the train towards the Gateway Arch.

    Getting off, I followed the marked directions on the sidewalk. But it seemed like I was getting nowhere, as I was walking in the rain, making it more miserable. After a while, I just went with my own instinct, and was able to find the museum under the Arch. But it seemed so far away, as I was getting soaked. Luckily, it was not a downpour, but still terrible to walk through. A bad day all around.

    But I start to think... it was all about balance on this trip. With things going relatively well in Kansas City, it looked like it had to be balanced out with not going well in St. Louis. In some strange way, this was my way of having to pay the piper.

    I arrived at the museum under the Gateway Arch. I did not take the time to look at it, since it was dark and raining steadily. I just wanted to go inside, to dry out. And I did, which was some relief for me. Good thing that this museum was opened late during the summer. This allowed me to salvage the day.

    I had to go through security, then went to tour the museum. This was a completely new place for the most part, as it did look very futuristic. I figured that it was in need of a major update, as the previous one seemed to be old and stuck in time (not in a good way), which I have seen in my previous visits.

    Before touring, I did call Stubhub, to see if I could exchange the ticket. At first, it was not possible, as it was up to the Cardinals. But the guy that was on the phone, put me on a lengthy hold. It was a long wait, as I was obviously impatient. But then, the surprise happened. The long wait was for a reason, as the guy made it happen, to give me credit on Stubhub, which in turn, I could use to buy a ticket for Saturday. That was really nice of him to help me out like that. He figured that since it was seeing the Cards in Busch Stadium, he helped me out that way. After all this, I toured the museum.

    The museum was divided into 6 sections, but I toured 5 of them. They were the following... 1) Colonial St. Louis, 2) Jefferson's Vision, 3) Manifest Destiny, 4) Riverfront Era, 5) New Frontiers. The final one was Building the Arch, but I decided to save that for the next day. It was getting late, and I wanted to get back to the hotel.

    The museum itself, was indeed a nice update. More organized, and more balanced for that matter. As American history goes in terms of expansion, with settlers moving into new territory, it came at the expense of the Native Americans. As a result, major tragic clashes happened. I thought the museum was very much worth going, and a worthy part of the Gateway Arch.

    Leaving the museum, I returned to the hotel, walking in the rain part of the way. Once back at the Marriott, I did go to a nearby convenience store, to get some food. All of it was basically junk food. But I had to eat something, and not willing to pay for expensive food in the hotel. After that, back to the room, to eat some of the food. And took a much needed shower, and relaxed for the night.

    The day was almost completely lost, with the late arrival and the game not happening due to rain. But it ended on a very good note, with the Arch Museum being opened late. And credit on Stubhub, to basically exchange tickets without paying extra. I hoped the next day will go better.

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  • 31Aug 2019

    29 Getting Around With Plastic Bag 08/31/2019 USA —

    St. Louis, USA

    Description

    I would start the day late, as I did have to take care of some things at the hotel. Plus I wanted to enjoy my stay at the Marriott a bit more. Plus I would use my credit from StubHub, to buy a ticket for one of the games on this day. Then decided on what to take, and had to put them in the plastic bag. Since backpacks were not allowed at the stadium, plus my hotel was far from downtown, I had to carry around with the plastic bag. Good thing that it was big enough.

    I went to the Metrolink by shuttle bus, at the airport. Then rode it to downtown. I would get to sit next to a couple locals, who were heading to the 1st game of the day-night doubleheader. And got to talk with them for the duration of the ride, not only talking about the Cardinals, but even the Blues, who just won a Stanley Cup. A fun time. They got off at the stadium, while I continued on, getting off at Laclede's Landing stop.

    I assumed this was the Gateway Arch stop, as it was the last one on the Missouri side, before crossing the Mississippi River to the Illinois side, in a city called East St. Louis. After getting off, I walked to the Arch, seeing the riverfront along the way. It was a hot and humid day, plus sunny, which will make it harder to take photos.

    I got to the museum building, and went inside to stand in a long line to buy tickets. At first, I was not sure what I wanted to do. So much to do, so little time! Even if I have done all this before. After I got to the table, I chose to do the riverboat cruise and ride to the top of the Arch. I skipped the movie this time, as I have fell asleep both times before.

    Afterwards, I decided to leave the museum, and walk towards Busch Stadium. I came upon Ballpark Village, which is built on the site of the previous Busch Stadium. Now a place of restaurants and bars, for fans to hang out, if not going to the game itself. Also, the new home of the Cardinals Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, I will not have time to see that museum.

    Instead, I just focused on seeing the exterior of the stadium. As the first game was in progress, I went to see the group of statues, of the different great Cardinals of all-time. Like Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith and more. And a separate one for Jack Buck, who has been a long-time announcer of the team, located somewhere else.

    I could hear the cheers, as the Cards did score a run. And get a glimpse of it, as I passed by a gate. I walked around part of the stadium, seeing the outside, and the individual tiles on the ground. Those tiles were different moments in team history. After reaching a certain point, I had to return to the Arch. And then to my appointed time for the riverboat cruise, as I did not want to miss it.

    Got in line for the riverboat, which was the Tom Sawyer. When getting on it, I had to take care of something, causing me to miss the first 10 minutes of the tour. The boat went northward, focusing on the Missouri side first. I went to the front of the boat, under some cover, which provided shade for me. Plus less crowded, so it ended up working out for me, as it gave me more room to take photos.

    When the riverboat turned around, I focused on the Illinois side. Then on the Arch, as it got closer to it. Then back to the dock, when I got off quickly. It was a nice tour, which I have done before. Only this time, hot and sticky! Afterwards, I went back to the museum, and inside for some relief.

    Walking past the museum part, I got in line for the ride to the top of Arch. Since I was traveling solo, I was able to skip most of the line. It started with a short film, and a guide telling us the rules on the ride. When all of it was done, I went to the doorway to one of the pods. I figure the ride was still the same. Can't recall what the queue was like back then, but I'm sure this current look was more updated, with the projections on the doors. When the door opened, I went to sit down, with another group of people. Then to the top.

    At the top, it was crowded, as I went to see both sides on a series of windows in the viewing area. Tough to pass through, as it was also narrow. Went one way to see downtown St. Louis, and the other way to see the Illinois side. After looking, I went back down.

    I sat in the cafe, and ate some of the food that I had. I considered seeing the last part of the museum, but time was getting tight. I went back out, looking at the Gateway Arch again. Then walked into a hotel for a bit, before finally heading to Busch Stadium. Passing by the Old Courthouse, which I won’t get to visit this time, and through Ballpark Village. And to the stadium, where it was already crowded. I did try to find a shorter line, but no luck. So I just got in one, and entered that way.

    I was able to enter the stadium, with the plastic bag of things. And got a jersey in the process, as the promotion. I walked along the concourse, going around as much as I can. Mainly the parts that I did not do the previous day. Seeing a timeline photo gallery on the team. Then to my seat in the upper deck.

    I was able to make there with enough time. Good seats, as it was under some cover. And behind the home plate area, so good views of the field and downtown in the distance. Though, this time, there were a few more high-rise buildings than the last time that I was there. So not as nice this time.

    The St. Louis Cardinals took on the Cincinnati Reds. The Cards have made a major surge in the NL Central, battling the Cubs and Brewers for first place. They were in 3rd place most of the season until recently, and now, in first place.

    The game itself, was for the most part, boring. I did find myself dozing off at times, which is never good. I never like falling asleep, as I insist on seeing the entire 9-inning game. The Reds took a 2-0 lead after 3 innings. And stayed that way, until the 7th inning, when the Cardinals finally scored. But then, came the 9th inning, when the excitement began. The Cards scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th, on a walk off single. And the Cardinals beat the Reds by score of 3-2.

    After the game, I did make a brief stop at the Redbird Club, which I remember seeing in 2009. Then went to get some last shots of the stadium, but the ushers were really trying to get everyone to leave. They won't even allow for a quick photo. But I was able to find someone who did it for me. Then exited the stadium.

    I took the Metrolink to the airport. And had to endure some guy who was playing music really loud. Luckily, it was not the whole ride. When getting to the airport, I did notice other people doing the same thing as me, as they were also staying the same hotel. Walking to the curb, and taking the shuttle bus to the hotel. Then back to my room.

    I started to pack up a little, and took care of some things before going to sleep. The next morning, I got up early enough, to pack up and check out. And the short ride to the airport. Then go through security, and to the gate with enough time to spare.

    When boarding the plane, it turned out that the plane was mostly empty. So I had a lot more leg room. Leaving St. Louis, I was back in Philly. Then took the train back home, ending the trip to Missouri.

    While not originally planned this year, I am glad to make it happen. And I could not pass up the chance of the low airfares. I am one step closer to finishing my baseball stadium quest.

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  • 24Sep 2019

    30 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

    31 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

    32 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

    33 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

    34 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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  • 25Oct 2019

    35 Train Ride to See Fall 10/25/2019 USA —

    Jim Thorpe, USA

    Description

    Planned at the last minute, I would take a day trip with my mom, to the town of Jim Thorpe. Located in the Pocono Mountains, I have heard of it over the years, but never really thought about visiting the town. Named after the famous Olympic athlete from the early 20th century, as we hoped to see the fall colors there.

    Leaving our home, we drove up to the Poconos, an area that I used to go to with my family, when I was in high school. Mainly for skiing, but since then, I have only been there very sparingly. Along the way, we drove through the Lehigh Tunnel, which I remember going through, over the years. Can't remember the last time that I went through it.

    Getting to the town was tough, as I skipped one turn, and another way was closed off due to construction. As a result, I had to drive on a hilly back road, which was narrow and crooked. Luckily, the traffic was almost empty, with only a few cars on it. After going through this, we finally arrived into the town of Jim Thorpe.

    It looked like an European town, with the look of the buildings. Arriving at the train station, we were cutting it close, to catch the scenic train ride. I parked the car, and hurried to the station. We were able to buy the tickets on time, with enough time. Then boarded on the train.

    It was the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, which was old-looking train from the turn of the century. It gave a ride around a mountain, over the Lehigh River. Supposedly, this was when the fall foliage was suppose to be around its peak. But from the looks of it, it actually was not that impressive. And that was putting it nicely. There was a lot of yellow, but hardly any red or orange.

    Also, we passed by some train cars, and an old tunnel and station. There was narration, but at times, I could not hear. The train went one way, then turned around to return to the starting station. The park did look nice, but I am sure that I did not need to ride the train to see that. Overall, it was okay, but probably something that I would not do again. I can see it being for people who aren't walking (for whatever reason), though it is a bit overpriced. Not a complete waste, though.

    After the train ride, my mom and I just walked around the area. We crossed a pedestrian bridge, and walked part of the way before turning around. Then back at the station, we walked around the immediate area of the town.

    Starting in the Josiah White Park, where I would see a couple scarecrows. They were made for a town contest. And seeing the nearby courthouse. Then we went up a hill, to see a couple of mansions. And some nice views of the town and the surrounding mountains. With the weather being nice, it was worth the day trip. And something to do, to get out of the house.

    We went back to the car, and drove out of the town, as we decided to head back home. Driving through the town, and then onto the highway, we did make a stop at a service plaza, to eat some lunch.

    Turned out, there was a Roy Rogers eatery, a restaurant that I thought, disappeared completely. And seeing the fixins bar, reminding me of what I thought, was a bygone era. We did not eat there, but ate from another place. The plaza looked so different from the previous times that I went there. More of a food court, and less of a mall-like setting, with its separate restaurants within one building. Reminding me of the times of going on road trips, which I miss doing.

    After the meal, we went back home. It was a nice day trip, and something to do. A reminder that there was still more places to see in my home state. But I won't be planning any trips until the Christmas season.

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