Love Chic

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Disneyland and Universal Studios, Hollywood

The requisite photo diary of any California tourist. I’m not a big fan of Disney and actually had no plans of going to Disneyland, but my dad insisted. I’m glad he did ‘cause it turned out to be fun—before I realized how much of the Disney culture I didn’t agree with, I got to watch all of the movies and am familiar with all the songs and the characters, so there was much nostalgia. Out of literally a thousand photos, here are some highlights.

As we were making our way inside, we saw this lovely Korean couple who just got married! “And they lived happily ever after,” we hope.

Walt Disney had a well-known passion for trains, so it was no wonder that it’s the mode of transportation around the theme park. There was also a monorail, but this one was preferred by most of the guests as it was like riding a toy train.

On the boat cruising through Storybook Land. It featured 3D miniatures of villages, cities and other settings of various Disney movies.

Agrabah. Jasmine’s palace against the marketplace where Aladdin hung out as a street rat.

One of the awesome 4D rides was Star Tours by Star Wars, with R2D2 and C3PO as flight crew members who mistakenly take off without the pilot. The spacecraft ends up moving more like a magic carpet—soaring, tumbling, freewheeling through space.

Trying out different hats while waiting for the world-famous fireworks display.

Narrated by my favorite Julie Andrews, the lights danced and exploded in the air as various sound bytes from Disney movies and theme park rides were heard all over the park. Took these photos with one hand while my iPhone was taking videos on the other!

And then, there’s Universal. Now this one, I was really excited about. As someone who works in the media industry, I looked forward to the Studio Tour and see the giant sets, props and special effects equipment that Hollywood uses to make movie magic.

We passed through villages and streets where they actually film hundreds of movies and television shows—moving the trees and road signs around and adding a few props here and there to make the location look like whatever place and era they wanted it to look.

But when seen from the back, they’re all just backdrops and facades!

This was the city hall in Back to the Future.

Wisteria Lane, where the Desperate Housewives live.

Generic-looking establishments could be painted and re-decorated to look like a different country or even a different planet.

Jaws, up close and personal. The fires (and the panicked yells of everyone) were real.

We passed through a subway station when suddenly, this tanker starts coming out of nowhere and flying toward us! What would disaster movies be like without hydraulic technology in Hollywood?

One of the Jurassic Park vehicles in a decomposing T-rex.

Speaking of vehicles, here are some famous stars: From The Mummy Returns, Magnum P.I., Knight Rider, and Back To The Future.

One of my favorites (partly because Seph is a former street racer and such a die-hard The Fast & The Furious fan)—as we were pulling up by the Tokyo Drift section, these cars that were supposed to show us drifting stunts started getting shot at. Suddenly, an explosion! The cars were hurled forward upon impact and looked as if they were about to fly toward us. Again, hydraulics saved the day! The last two frames are of the cars dancing—yes, dancing—to Pitbull’s “Gasolina” before taking a bow.

Mr. Bean’s mini Cooper on the London strip of Universal.

Some of the attractions based on movies: Waterworld, featuring professional actors performing aerial, water and fire stunts. How many of these below can you recognize? :)

At the end of the day, I took photos of my parents for being Love Chic Senior: matching from head to toe, yihee!

We actually had so much fun that we went back the very next day! We had an Annual Pass, which means for the whole of 2012, we could come back anytime we want for free. (Of course, excluding plane tickets, haha).

We basically did the same things except for the Animal Actors and strolling in the town square, which we didn’t get to do the day before. I swear this dog looks exactly like mine. Isn’t she so cute?

On the day of my birthday, we were supposed to go to church and then stay home and rest. But since we were already in town, we decided to do an impromptu exploration of Hollywood.

We took this train, and apparently, not even our relatives here have tried commuting. Most people here either drive or walk, but their trains are actually very efficient and cost-effective, not to mention traffic-free!

Spotted a shooting of the next Glee Project when we got to Hollywood. I’ve done producing work for a reality show here in the Philippines and this got me excited! I was gonna take more shots and maybe try to go inside but of course it was off-limits.

We didn’t get to cover everything, because touring Hollywood and its neighbors (Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills) requires a lot of planning and coordination with tour guides beforehand. But there’s always next time! :)

Sacramento, CA: Spring cherry blossoms

It was my first time to see these trees in person! Cherry blossoms are called sakura in Japanese and I didn’t expect to see them in Sacramento (which prompted me to make a Sakura-mento joke that I shall spare you from). I thought I’d dress up in their honor.

Hype this look (and be my fan, hehe) on Lookbook here.

My cousins were saying our trip to Sacramento was perfect timing—a few days earlier or later and we would’ve missed the cherry blossoms.

As with my San Diego, Long Beach and San Francisco photo diaries, I won’t be able to share the entirety of my travel photos without inundating everyone’s feeds but here’s another set from one of the many places we visited: the state capitol.

The Church of the Blessed Sacrament, a walking distance from the capitol. It’s where the city got its name from.

The Sacramento Capitol, built in the image of the Washington State Capitol. In the interest of full disclosure, let me admit that I wasn’t aware that the capital of California was in fact not Los Angeles,but Sacramento. Let me know if you didn’t know either—let’s be embarrassing together! Haha!

We went on a guided tour that day but 477 fully-captioned photos with encyclopedic information about California would be overkill. Instead, trivia.

The dome is gilded with goldleaf—gold that has been melted and hammered and molded for decorative purposes. Unlike painted gold, goldleaf doesn’t need to be polished or repainted, and shines like new for decades and decades.

The Senate or Upper House, and State Assembly or Lower House. Apparently, this form of government was influenced by the British government’s House of Lords (for the noble and upper class) and House of Commons (for regular folks like you and me).

Governor Brown’s office. When Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor, the capitol was always full of tourists hoping to get a glimpse of the Terminator at work. He did leave a remembrance for all visitors, though.

Meet Bacteria Bear. Arnold got him in an auction for a huge amount of money and brought him to the office because he was one of the state symbols. But when it was time to leave, he left the bear here because it was too heavy. The bear got its name from all the kids visiting the capitol kissing it and smearing it with snot. And yes, my mom’s hand is in Bacteria Bear’s mouth.

We had great fun and it wouldn’t have been possible without my family. It’s my birthday on the 20th, but they’ve made me feel like my birthday all the days I was in Sacramento :)

San Francisco, CA: Suspended animation

The day we spent at the bay area of San Francisco was a blur. I’ve always longed to see one of the most picturesque cities I’ve ever explored through books, and there it was, every scene (as well as the chilly weather) leaving me breathless.

What I wore. Again, I raided my aunt’s barely-used wardrobe that morning for something to wear, as most of the clothes I brought turned out to be too spring/summer for the still very fall/winter temperatures of San Francisco. If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you may recognize the SM Accessories hat, Forever 21 boots, and Seph’s scarf from Baguio. Hype this on Lookbook here.

Our lovely relatives in Sacramento who took care of us as soon as we arrived from Longbeach. They cooked hearty Filipino meals, treated us out to sumptuous lunches and dinners, and showed us around. Here are just a few of the beautiful things we got to see.

Crossed the bridge when we got there

Tulips and other beautiful flowers abloom

Pier 39, where all the shops, restaurants and attractions (such as these sunbathing seals) are, as seen from the Blue & Gold bay cruise ferry

Fellow passengers marveling at the skyline

Sailing near Alcatraz Island

While no longer a prison for the most cold-blooded and sophisticated criminals in the country, Alcatraz emanates an eerie glow, a shadow of its dark history by which one can’t help but be haunted.

Albatrosses flying low around our ferry, as if guiding us on our way

Every hour is magic hour

Sailing under the most famous suspension bridge in the world

Spanning 4,200 feet, with each cable 7,650 feet long, 36 and 3/8 inches in diameter and containing 27,572 wires within, the total wire used was 80,000 miles long and the weight along with the suspenders and accessories is 24,500 tons. I may forget these numbers soon, but the magnificence of how the Golden Gate Bridge was built will remain.

Next: Sacramento

Long Beach, CA: Fun’s a shore thing

Indeed and how. After a week in San Diego, we drove to Long Beach to stay with our relatives on my dad’s side. With all the touring and family bonding, it’s taken me a week to properly go through hundreds of photos and sort them out per city, let alone choose just enough photos to share on the blog without turning it into a highschool-project diary or a jetsetter-wannabe journal (neither of which is an entirely bad thing mind you, except that it’s not what we do here). So here we go, Long Beach highlights!

My outfit for the sunny yet chilly weather here: SM Department Store top, The Ramp skirt, Topshop tights, grey Keds, necklace from Bangkok, knitted cardigan from my aunt’s closet and SM Accessories shades. Hype this on Lookbook here! This was taken at noon, as you can probably guess from the shadow. But even with the sun high up, it was cold enough to make me regret not wearing pants instead. 

Digging the worn-out, lived-in look of this cardigan though. I actually just got it from my aunt’s closet here, and she told me she was the one who sewed on those sequins and beads. Pretty neat.

My trusty Keds, one of only three shoes I bought for this month-long trip, because bringing an entire shoe collection along on a trip abroad is just a tad too glamorous (read: tedious) for this here gung-ho blogger. 

One of the places we dropped by was the shoreline village, a combination of a tourist spot, park, food court, port area, and quaint small-town recreation center.  

This ship is the RMS Queen Mary, a former ocean liner that sailed in the Atlantic from the ’30s to the ’60s. It’s now a tourist attraction featuring a number of restaurants, a museum, and a hotel. How awesome must it be to be staying in a hotel next to the Scorpion, that Soviet B-427 submarine pictured above. 

Nautical nonsense: Papa as Captain Jack Sbarro and Mama as hipster-pirate Ariel

Another place I enjoyed seeing was my cousin Santiago’s newly bought house in an affluent area in Longbeach. Took this shot from across the street for a general idea of how it looks from the opposite side.

This side. Although the neighbor’s house is much bigger (as you can see by that car), it’s Santiago’s house I’m so inspired by because of its backstory. My cousin’s parents weren’t well off, hailing from a small town called Dueñas in Iloilo. There were no inheritances, no privileged lifestyles, no trust funds to “cheat” with. Through sheer hard work and strong family values, they were able to raise my cousins into goal-driven, humble and successful individuals who were able to pursue and achieve their dreams. One of Santiago’s was to be able to afford a house in this area someday (let’s just say one house here could buy you thirty houses in Manila) and now he has!

His lovely and kind wife Belinda, an interior designer and dedicated mom to handsome boy Elijah and precocious baby Hunter. Santiago works as a CPA for a gas company, while Belinda’s been staying at home for a few months now taking care of the children and attending to the ongoing house renovations.

The den.

The dining area leading to the huge kitchen.

The stair carpeting is still covered in plastic, and official house guard Angel makes sure it stays that way until construction is completed. 

The kitchen’s corner booth. I took photos of every room in every floor, but from just these, one can imagine how beautiful it’s going to look when it all finally comes together.

Took too many photos of Elijah because he’s just so kind and adorable, not just for a toddler but for a guy of any age. And that says a lot, because I’m not like Seph who finds all children adorable. I love it when a kid is so smart you don’t have to simplify your words or do baby talk, and yet so nice they defy the phrase “toddler tantrums.”

This trip feels like child’s play, and it keeps getting better. Not only because it’s my first time outside Asia, or because of all the tourist attractions we get to see—millions of people get to experience those each day, and you can Google photos of those things any second you want to see them. For me, it’s being able to spend time with family, discover things about them on a deeper level and appreciate their stories better. So it wasn’t just word play: by the sea or on land, fun is a sure thing here in Long Beach!
Next: San Francisco 

Sandy ego, California

They couldn’t have thought of a cuter nickname for this beautiful Southern California city. San Diego’s cool climate, sandy shores and friendly folks have definitely made their way to my “favorite cities” list.

My first impression upon landing was that it looked like those miniature model cities I used to have as a kid. I couldn’t wait to see the rest of it!

Uber-casual outfit for walking around downtown: hoodie from Paris, H&M leggings, Lacoste tote bag and sneakers. I wasn’t really feeling well the whole time I was there, hence the lazy mood. I put on a happy face and trudged on nevertheless—no colds and sore throat could’ve stopped this tourist!

I was originally planning to wear something different, but when I saw how wonderful it would be to just roam the streets on foot, there was no point in getting all dressed up for the sake of photos and not being able to move about freely and enjoy every bit of the experience. Right? Hype this on Lookbook here.

View from where I took the outfit photos. The City Hall, which looks more like an old-town museum. Most every corner in this place actually looks postcard-worthy to me.

See what I mean? This ship is actually a maritime museum located behind the City Hall. 

Ran into some locals waiting to cross the street to the museum. Kidding, obviously. But they really were right in front of the pedestrian lane, alongside people like they just didn’t care.

The San Diego Convention Center is where the Comic Convention is held. This year’s won’t be until July, but I’m just glad my dad’s company had their own convention in this place.

I sure had fun imagining Neil Gaiman and Frank Miller and Stan Lee and all the celebrities starring in different comic book-to-movie adaptations, giving talks and signing autographs amidst a sea of fanfolk.

Sculpture a few meters away from the Convention Center. Behind it is the Petco Park, where major league baseball games are held.

We heard mass at the Church of our Lady of the Rosary in Little Italy, an area in downtown full of—what else?—pizzerias, trattorias, espresso shops, delicatessens and Italian-style buildings. A few blocks later, I met lovely couple David and Ruth.

Look how cute their Eeyore couple shirts are! I just had to approach them and ask to take their picture. David was the one who sewed these on, as well as a week’s worth of other DIY couple shirts. They’re actually newlyweds on their honeymoon! David was married for 54 years and his wife passed away five years ago. Soon after, he met Ruth and the two became friends. They realized they actually love each other, got engaged, and the rest is sweet history. They were in San Diego that day to take a cruise ship to Hawaii and other Pacific islands. Stories like this never fail to make my day.

Speaking of couples, another thing that never fails to make my day is seeing Seph’s name. Hihi. How apt that this store sells menswear. Hello, lovey!

Mama and Papa in matchy clothes as well. Love Chic senior? Haha.

Most of our days in San Diego were spent with dad’s longtime friend, Tito Dante and his warm and lovely family. I wouldn’t want to inundate your news feed with more touristy photos, but let’s share just a few.

American food plus Pinoy hospitality equals everybody’s happy tummies.

The Mexican border. Those numbered fences with the floodlights are guarded by border patrol 24/7 to keep illegal immigrants from sneaking into US territory. It would’ve been fun to step one foot on US soil and the other on Mexican ground—being in two places at the same time like in “A Walk To Remember.” But it wasn’t worth getting deported. Heh.

The 25-foot statue “Unconditional Surrender” by J. Seward Johnson at the San Diego Embarcadero, based on the iconic photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Mount Soledad memorial, with a magnificent view of the city below.

La Jolla Cove, literally the jewel of San Diego. It’s a small beach with high-end hotels, resorts and villas, as well as cute critters like these ones.

"Enjoying your trip, miss?"
"Why yes, I’m nuts about this town!" 

Ba dum tss.

A-corny jokes aside, I really did enjoy this part of our trip. It was exactly what I preferred—to see the city’s old-town charm instead of Sea World or Lego Land or other more popular tourist attractions. Random snapshots on my Instagram @shailagarde :) So long, San Diego! I shall return. 
Next: Long Beach