Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hungry for Hungary

I know corny title but indulge me please. :)

I will be going to Hungary courtesy of CERN. Yay! Since our passport is good without a visa in only very few countries, I have to apply for a visa. I found at that Hungary is not part of Schengen and will require a Hungarian visa. I searched for the Hungarian Embassy address here in the Philippines but to no avail. I eventually found out that there was no Hungarian Embassy here in the Philippines. It was good that the agency from Hungary that issued me a ticket sent me an email. I inquired about a consulate here in the Philippines because it will be harder for me to coordinate with their embassy in Jakarta. The travel agency replied promptly and gave me this address of the consulate for Hungary:

address: c/o Argosy Advisers, Inc. 8th floor, Pacific Star Building Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue corner Makati Avenue 1200 Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines,
phone: 632-811-5519, 632-811-5521
fax: 811-5545
honorary consul: Alfonso S. Yuchengco III.
e-mail: asyuchengco@argosyinvestments.com

I hope this helps all the others who are planning to go to Hungary and are in search of their embassy here in the Philippines. I should call them tomorrow. The Pacific Star Building also has the French Embassy. They used to house the Taiwan Embassy too before they transferred to RCBC.

On Malu Fernandez

I realize my last post on our France trip is incomplete but I do not feel like retelling the story yet. :)

I wanted to write about Malu Fernandez, the tongue-in-cheek writer who lambasted OFW's because she took an Emirates flight with an economy ticket.

She complained about her thighs getting bruised. If you want your thighs not bruised, lose weight or get bigger seats or buy the next seat.

She said her only consolation was her entertainment set in front of her was not working. Here is my theory, it was working. These things take some time to start up (because the files are actually shared by each row, there is only one machine that contains this, assuming it's the same for all planes) and seeing from how she wrote the article that she is an impatient woman, she probably assumed it's not working.

She ranted about the cheap perfume that she smelled on board. She should be thankful they smelled of cheap perfume instead of body odor! She did not enjoy her flight because all she ever did was to find things that was wrong with the flight.

She hated how the "migrant workers" were talking too loud. Maybe if she were half a sociable person she would have found this rather interesting. Maybe if she bothered to talk to one of them maybe she would have learned a thing or two about how to be a human being and the realities of life.

There were more things that she talked about but this is as much attention I want to give her. She berated these people as though she had every right to do so. Even if she were a big time socialite (which I take she is not because she could not afford a first class ticket) she did not have the right to say such mean things about these people who are actually contributing to our GNP.

Next time, if you want to go to Greece, you should travel in style and stop bitching about things you have inflicted upon yourself.

Trip to the Book Shop

I was in MOA alone on a Sunday morning and I found my feet moving towards Books for Less. I buy secondhand books because I think it's practical.

I love books! If only I had all the time in the world to read all the books I want! I saw Stephen King books. I am a big fan of his but I stopped reading his books back in college. I guess I got tired of all the creepiness and moved to John Grisham's lawyer tales. I am not into chick lit save for Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedman that I also bought from Books for Less I do not have any chick lit book. I have a copy of The Devil Wears Prada but only because I asked Janine, my sister to buy it for me hehe... I just feel that buying chick lit is a waste of money. I mean I do not get much out of it anyway. But that morning, I picked up Edge of Reason (yes, the one that was turned into a movie) and I found the format rather interesting and really funny. I thought of buying it but it was hardbound and I thought it was too much for a chick lit.

I was itching to buy a book but which one? I looked at the John Grishams and the Stephen Kings, we have all the Michael Crichtons already at home and most of it I have read already so it was just Grisham or King but then I realized we have these in our library in school.

Why can't I buy a book? I mean I did buy a 350 Php worth of Wedding Magazine but then again I did get a lot out of this wedding magazine. Probably a whole lot more that I will get compared to the chick lit. I cannot seem to just buy a book out of sheer entertainment and pleasure! I have Crichton to thank for. I love his books. I always learn something new from his books whether be it something in biotechnology or medieval times or even information technology. He's amazing! To think, he graduated with a med degree! After reading Crichton, I seem to look for more value from the book I am reading.

I am currently reading Beyond Recall by Stephen Kyle. I like the plot (so far) but I hate it that he makes a lot of nasty remarks about third world countries. I swear he makes my teeth grit with anger.

I was itching to buy a book that morning but I ended up buying nothing. Crichton, King, Grisham and other best selling authors (of non chick lit books) are available in our trusty library in the university. I have not given up on the thought of buyin chick lit. Maybe it's time I read for entertainment.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tour de France

You may view pictures from My Multiply .

First Day
The tourist information center of France is very helpful. I was very glad because people in London were not as nice. I mean they had no maps in the airport, there was no tourist information there (I did not see one anyway). The maps were in the tourist information centers in the Underground and the people there can be sometimes snobbish. They are helpful but they're cold. It's hard to describe but you will know as soon as you get to talk to them.

The very day our plane landed in France we started going around already. Thanks to the maps that we were able to obtain. I decided to take unlimited passes for five days for the Metro so we can ride the Metro as many times as we want (just in case we get lost). We ate at a French restaurant first. They do not serve the food right away. They serve it one at a time, the appetizer first then the main course and then the dessert. Most of the orders have "plat du jour" or plate of the day which comprises of three courses. :) Evian is just a normal mineral water there so every other bottled water is priced the same. They are all expensive in peso, around 1 to 2 Euros. (1 Euro to 60 to 70 Php)

We first visited the L'arc De Triomphe (I hope I spelled this right, I am too lazy to check). We took a lot of pictures there. You can see the pictures at My Multiply . After that we took the Metro again and after a few transfers, we were able to see the Eiffel tower. We were planning to wait until it gets dark so we can see it lit up but then I had a girly emergency so we had to go home much to the annoyance of my siblings. I could have gone home alone but I was also their navigator so grudgingly, they went home along with mois.

Upon arrival at the hotel, everybody was just ready to sleep. My mom has been craving for rice since London. We found a Chinese resto in London before we left and my mom was happy that there was a Chinese resto again near our place. We had to learn the French words for fish, chicken and pork since they did not speak much English there. They are nice people, not at all snobbish but most of them do not speak English.

I do not understand you.Je's nes pas comprendre pas. (Or something like that!
I'm sorry. Pardones mois.
Excuse me.Excusez mois

These are all that I can remember. It also helped me familiarize myself in reading some of their dipthongs (or whatever they call it in French). :)

2nd Day
On the second day we went to see the Notre Dame. I have seen Hunchback of Notre Dame and I know how nice the work of the animators was and how grand the church is but nothing could have prepared me for the grandeur of it. The stained glass was spectacular. I have never seen such intricate things. A tour guide of a group (I overheard this. It's a bad habit hehe) said that beautiful artwork in churches were provided so as to keep people entertained during the mass. The Disney animated film did a good job creating a version of the Notre Dame because it was pretty close to the actual thing. Underneath the church is a lair which they turned into a museum.

After the visit to Notre Dame we went to another building but I have forgotten the name of it hehe... Apparently it did not make any impact on me. Sorry.

I wanted to walk around Paris to feel the romance of the city so we did. My family hated me for making them walk (I am in charge of navigation). They basically follow me around and curse me when they are tired or if they feel we are lost. Many times, we were not lost but they curse me anyway because they think we are lost. *sigh* Such is the fate of a tour guide and a clueless one at that. :)

During our walk along the River Sienne, we passed by several bridges (pont). Pont Neuf is the bridge made famous by Bourne Supremacy. I also got to see the Louis Vuitton building and finally we were able to see the Louvre. By this time they were too tired, while I was too amused by the paintings on the sidewalks and the old books they sell (which are all in French). We also dropped by gift shops. I did not buy anything because everything was way too expensive! I just bought several Eiffel Tower key chains while we were in Notre Dame.

We decided not to go to Louvre yet because we wanted to reserve one whole day to explore the spacious, jam packed French museum. We failed to go to D'Orseille and Versailles. We ran out of time and my siblings were no longer interested. After Louvre, we walked some more and this made them even more tired. After that, we proceeded to go to the Royal Garnier Opera house from which the novel Phantom of the Opera was based. When they made the movie musical, they used this as basis as well. We could not go in either because it was already closed. I have not mentioned in my blogs that the daylight there lasts until 9 to 10 pm. Yup it only gets dark at around 10pm! But everything closes at around 5pm so imagine how bored we get after 5pm!

While eating fresh cherries at our hotel, we realized, we could go to Lourdes. And so, off we went.We took first class seats, thinking there would be bunk beds! There were no bunk beds, just really comfortable seats! We got to Lourdes (after eight hours of travel) at 4 in the morning and it was freezing cold! At first we thought it was just because it was early in the morning but as the clock struck 9am, there was no sign of the environment getting warmer. In Paris, it was already pretty warm. We did not know Lourdes was a mountainous region and that it was cold there all year round! It was also raining that day so it was as cold as it could get and we only had shirts on! Thinking about it makes me shiver!

We rode a taxi to town and we bought very thick fat jackets that made us look like Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters or for those of the younger generation, we looked like Kenny from South Park! It felt nice to have a warm jacket but our feet were wet and cold too from the rain. Still we trekked on. We got on the bus going to Our Lady of Lourdes.

There were so many people in Lourdes when we got there. A lot of them were in wheelchairs. There was a big church built for Our Lady of Lourdes and there were other chapels named after different saints. We fell in line so we can touch the grotto where Our Lady made an apparition. The rocks were already very smooth from so many people who touched the rocks!

The water from the grotto flowing down from the hill where the church for Our Lady was built can now be conveniently accessed at the same time by people through a series of faucets. I got three bottles of water. I bought Our Lady of Lourdes containers where I put water when I got back to the Philippines.

St. Joan of Arc's shrine was also nearby but my mom's legs that are cold and wet can no longer bear the rain so we decided to pass up. We stayed at the station for most of the day until our train going back to Paris arrived. We got back to Paris at around 11 pm and we had our pictures taken by the Eiffel tower. We looked wasted but the Eiffel tower looked great!

It was a very tiring day, the following day was supposedly a rest day so we decided to just go to the Louvre! Haha!

Extra Extra!!!

I have written somehing about Paris but let me post that next time... I have more exciting news!

I just found out today that Josh Groban (one of my favorite singers... the roster includes Michael Jackson, yes, I am weird so sue me) will be coming to the Philippines, October 17! It will overlap with my Cisco training but I really want to go and see him perform live!!! I wonder how much the ticket costs... It's a concern because I am going to Budapest a few weeks before the concert and I know I will be spending a lot because though they are shouldering air fare and predeparture expenses my accommodation will not be shouldered by CERN. Yikes... I hope I can find a cheap place. I heard October is peak season too so good luck to me. I will be going there for Enabling Grid for E-SciencE 2007. I am very excited! I will be there for seven days! More travel, more backlog in my blog hehe... :)

Also, Avenue Q, a really cute, funny, naughty musical from Broadway (or West End if you are from London) is here in the Philippines. There's a show on September 5. My fellow faculty members and my sister plan to watch. I am not sure yet if Vince is up for this one but just in case I ordered (thanks to the sister of a friend) an extra ticket.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Lost in London

You may view pictures at my Multiply Account .

I can't say I was absolutely looking forward to the Europe trip because I had to leave a lot of work at home. Then again, how do you pass up the chance to go to Europe?

Our first stop was London but since our carrier is KLM, our hub airport was Amsterdam. We had to stop at Amsterdam before going to London. I love their airport. Biggest by far among the other countries we have been to. During the flight from Manila to Amsterdam, my mom discovered that she has left ALL her credit cards and ATM cards in the Philippines... it's that or she has dropped them somewhere. *gasp* We do
not have money! And we have not even landed yet!

Fortunately, I had my card with me, which is a card that will access my mom's account as well but we were not so sure yet if it would work since I have never used that card before. My mom had some cash on her but we don't think we can survive on that.

I was worried but I could not ignore how exciting the trip was by the time we landed in Amsterdam. I started clicking away with my camera. As soon as we found an ATM my mom tried my card out and it worked! I paused for a while to thank the Lord for the miracle.

We boarded a smaller plane that will take us to London. I was so thrilled to see the city from the plane as we landed. It was pretty!

First Night

We took a London taxi, that was also so very cute! I have seen these in the movies of course but it was a thrilling experience to be riding it. Hehe... The buildings were a beauty to behold! We stayed at the Holiday Inn at the Oxford Circus. It's a very nice location because it's walking distance to the train station. First thing I looked for? Where to buy tickets for Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. :D Hey... This is my chance to finally see the musicals of my dreams! :D

First Day

We went to Picadilly Circus where the tickets are. This is also your stop if you intend to watch Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables since their theaters are in this area. Phantom was showing in Her Majesty's Theater and Les Miserables is showing in errr.. Hmm... forgot already. :D We took the Hop On Hop Off bus since a Malaysian from one of my conferences recommended that we take this rather than getting lost most of the time. This took us to the different spots like the White Marble Arch, St. James Park, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, St. Stephen's Clock Tower (Big Ben), The Parliament (which is basically in the same building as Big Ben), Tower Bridge (we call it London Bridge but London Bridge is not what we think it is, it's another fugly bridge), Tower of London, Victoria Station, Trafalgar Square, St. Paul's Cathedral and so many more! We also took the cruise on the Thames River! We also got to see the house of Benjamin Franklin! I thought he was American!

We spent most of our mornings standing in front of Buckingham for the Changing of the Guards which in retrospect, was soh not worth it! You just see a bunch of guards marching to the music. Maybe it's an impressive display but it's not worth standing around for uhmm... three hours? Not doing that again. But if my future husband and I will get to go there together, maybe I will do it again for him. :D On the same day, we tried to get into Westminster Abbey but it was closed since it was Good Friday (I think). We also got to visit the National Gallery for a bit. Really beautiful! The artworks were breathtaking. It was during this day that I got to see Virgin on the Rocks of Leonardo da Vinci. Yes, the painting mentioned in the Da Vinci Code. Apparently, Leonardo created two versions. One is in the Louvre in Paris and another in the National Gallery. The first one created was the one in the National Gallery. A man commissioned him to do it but he sold the first one to somebody else so he was forced to do another one or the police was going to get him. We did not get to finish all the rooms so we told ourselves we'll come back again.

The bus ticket is only good for a day so I took note of the Underground stops (MRT in London :)) so we can just take the train the succeeding days. I already obtained a map and their Underground is pretty easy to navigate. We bought our tickets for Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera that day as well. :D The tickets were pretty pricey at 50 Sterling Pounds each. It's 100 PHp per 1 Sterling Pound. Never mind, I was sure it was going to be well worth it.

Second Day

On the second day, we went to Westminster Abbey and finally, we were able to go in. We were not allowed to take pictures but it's also a very nice place. Mostly, you'll see a lot of graves of the people. Yes, this is another Da Vinci Code place. This is where Sir Isaac Newton is buried. This is where the "orb" is hehe... Bodies of kings and queens are in this place, Queen Elizabeth I is here but Princess Diana is not. This is used for worship still but they have very limited seats since there isn't much space inside anymore. There's also a school in the grounds. They say the school there is very expensive. Also famous music people are buried in that place like Handel. Famous poets like Robert Frost and more (Sorry, I cannot recall everybody) were also there. They made us pay a lot of money too...

After the Westminster Abbey, we went to St. Paul's Cathedral. At this time I was already very much addicted to Paul (a chain of bakeries in Europe) croissants and other pastries. :D My mom and I keep on buying everytime we see one! We went inside and it was pretty too. All the churches they have there are all grand that after a while, all the grand things, begin to seem ordinary. When I got home, all the churches I go to seem to be so bare now. All the stained glass seem to be too simple and elementary but I do not care, hearing mass here beats any mass in Europe. :) I missed the Philippines.

We had lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant. We were not very happy with their food there because everything was bland. They're not into salt. People there are trying to live healthy lives and eating right.

Afterwards, we went to the National Gallery to view more paintings. I got to see one of the Sunflowers of Van Gogh. There was only one painting of Picasso. Famous impressionists like Manet and Monet were there as well. I did not know there was a Manet! :) I was overwhelmed by the beauty of all the artworks! There is no entrance fee to the National Gallery.

Since the Trafalgar Square is in front of the National Gallery, we also hung out there.

After the National Gallery, we had some dinner and went on to see Les Miserables. It did not disappoint me at all. It was amazing. Still I had to wonder, how amazing it would have been if Lea had been Eponine. Lea never performed in London since she did her stint in Broadway but still I had to wonder.

Third Day
I think our third day was a Sunday :), so we heard mass. We were surprised that the church was following old rites. It was a bit weird. We just had to follow what everybody was doing. The priest's back was turned against us. I was amazed because I got to experience how masses were said before Vatican II. I like the post Vatican II masses better. :)

After this, mom chose to stay at the hotel while the three of us went to the Tower of London. It was an old castle of King Richard. Famous people got executed there including those who planned the November 5th bombing of the Parliament which inspired the movie, V. It was nice, but the highlight was the precious crown jewels of the Royal Family they had in display. I have never seen precious stones as big as the ones set in the different crowns, scepters, punch bowls (yes punch bowls!), laddles and other trivial things!

We also went to the Tower Bridge and saw... nothing but what was beneath us hehe... It was nice too though it's just that it's nicer from the outside. Going up to the bridge is not really worth the entrance fee. After, we went to the Imperial War Museum near the Elephant and Castle stop. This Underground stop used to be a bomb shelter.

Unfortunately, by the time we got to the Imperial War Museum, it was going to close already so we decided to save it for the following day.

We went to Harrod's after and then went home finally. My mom got so bored in the hotel so the following day, she said she was going to go with us.

Fourth Day
On our fourth day, we got to see Phantom of the Opera! But before that we went back to the Imperial War Museum. The tanks used for the war against Germany were there. My brother's eyes twinkled since he has always been very much into weapons and warfare. He has a lot of books on WWI and WWII and he even has a whole set of Weapons and Warfare encyclopedia! He wandered around the museum while my sister and I went to see the children of war section. After a while, it got a bit boring too... hehe... So we just waited with our mom by the Berlin Wall (part of it) until my brother was finally done.

After the museum, we also visited other museums like the Science museum. My sister had fun. We did not realize that it was her first Science museum. My first was in Saudi Arabia when I was nine. It was fun for her and we were all glad that she had fun. After, we proceeded to Her Majesty's Theater to see the Phantom of the Opera. It was a grand, grand play. Our seat was in the third row so the view was spectacular! I shall never forget my experience watching my favorite musicals!

Fifth Day

The following day, we went to Salisbury to see the Stonehenge. They still do not know what the Stonehenge is for. Some say it was used as an altar. Some say it was used as a calendar or clock. They also do not know how those rocks were placed there. If you see it, it is indeed gigantic! And there are no rocks around the area but only those. It felt like we were inside Windows XP while we were in Salisbury since it was just fields and more fields. Green fields! The train ride was pretty long and one of the stations was not working so we had to take a bus going to the next station which took a very long time. After this ride we were too tired.

Sixth Day
We went to the Windsor Castle during this day. It was a luxurious castle with a lot of gold in almost every corner of the castle. I cannot bring justice or even attempt to put into words the grandeur I have laid my eyes on. I will try to post pictures here instead. I do not remember if we were allowed to take pictures though. There was also a doll house with working plumbing and electricity. Even the objects in the house was adorned with gold! There were also a collection of dolls! Beautiful, delicate porcelain dolls with clothes done by the famous designers of Paris. It was a gift from princesses of France. Wow!

Seventh Day
I think we went to France on the seventh day. Not before we discovered my sister's ticket was cancelled so we had to purchase all her tickets right then and there. I did not get to go around Heathrow Airport because we were going to be left by the airplane already. Thanks to the delay caused by the cancelled ticket. We found out later on that the travel agency here in Manila made a mistake. Sheesh...

London is nice but the people there are snobbish (as in!) and the food is bland. It's a nice place to visit but I would not want to live there. I still think the beaches in Boracay can whoop their snobby asses anytime. :) They have the intricate architecture and lavish castle decors but we have the natural beauty exuding from our land and our people. I have never been more proud to be Filipino than when I was in Europe.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Rant, Rant and Rant!!!

I have been lagging on my posts here because I have been too busy updating our wedding blog, Getting There .

I don't feel like talking about the Europe trips yet especially since I still can't find where my sister put the DVD with our pictures.

The trimester is about to come to an end and now I find myself once again going nuts with soh many things that I need to do! I have to finish checking all the practicum requirements first and foremost because I need to come up with a list of recommendations and a mentoring report. I also need to come up with a dissertation document before the term ends or else I will get delayed by one term. I could not find the time to work on it. I also do not know where to begin honestly. *sigh*

I have also been busy teaching CCNA Sem 1. I know it's just Sem 1 but it takes most of my Fridays preparing for it. Handling the masteral class for Advanced Operating Systems is not so easy for me as well because I have to prepare for it every Tuesday. My entire Tuesday is devoted to that alone. I have been lagging on my swimming because of all these activities. I am also advising two thesis groups and they also take up most of my time.

I just remembered, I should start preparing for the final exam of my ADVANOS class! I will also be checking their documents. Ack! All these are enough to send me to an anxiety attack.

Must take things one at a time!

1. Finish practicum stuff.
2. Reimburse practicum receipts.
3. Prepare final exam for ADVANOS.
4. Finish Chapters 1 - 3 of dissertation.

I think this is it for now!


My brother bought a wireless access point so now I can surf the net any time I want! Yahoo!!! I soh love my brother! Now I can do my dissertation! No more excuses!!!