Nothing Like Home

We left NY/NJ two days ago and I was very excited to go back to familiarity and rest. I cannot say when, but I will be back for the remaining destinations to check off my list.
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Since we were very early at the airport, we grabbed lunch at the food court. How cool is it to order through an IPad!? This definitely reduces miscommunication and wrong orders.

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Complimentary in-flight service usually gives only one snack, though I suppose our stewardess was feeling generous. I loved these oat bran sesame sticks. They are so addicting!
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Our flight from Toronto to Calgary was in the afternoon so we arrived very late at night in Calgary. The 4-hr. flight seemed longer…  I could not wait to get back home to my own bed and baby seals!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt’s nice to be back. There’s nothing like home!

A plus tard et avec l’amour!

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Day 7: Ate to our Heart’s Content

To relieve ourselves of exhaustion and prepare for a tiring flight tomorrow, we decided to spend our last day in New Jersey. We never intended to go to Carlo’s Bakery because we thought it was far, but after finding out that it was a 10-min drive from our place, we paid a visit. Seeing its quaint exterior outside of the TV screen was very exciting! Upon entering, a strong whiff of baked goods could make anyone hungry. We took a ticket and waited until our number was called. Unfortunately, none of the cast from the show was in the shop.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Even though I’m lactose intolerant, I took the chance of taking a taste of these pastries: Dark and White Chocolate Mousse! They were perfectly baked although after not having consumed sweet goods for a long while, I found them too sweet for my tastebuds.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES For lunch, we went to Newport Mall. I had maki and salmon sashimi. One cannot expect much from mall sushi but this particular location made them exceptionally! If anything, it’s even better than other sushi restaurants I’ve visited. The sushi was fresh, warm and the salmon was fatty and tasty that melted into my mouth.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Then, we went to get smoothies and found that they were made lactose free. How considerate was that place!? Our family officially holds the title of bottomless stomachs. Though as for I, this vacation from my diet shall end soon. I actually miss my healthy ways: oatmeal, multigrain and fruits and vegetables!

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It was nice to have a relaxing day and the nice, friendly people of New Jersey only made it better! If I were to live here, could I have one of these houses? They have so much character!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

A plus tard et avec l’amour!

Day 6: Last of tourist must

Today, we returned to New York to check off the last of tourist spots. We were informed that going up to the Empire State Building was not worth it so we just took pictures outside the building and in the lobby. We also visited Madison Square Garden, not finding anything interesting.
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Since Koreatown was close by, we walked around to see what was there. Basically, it was a row of Korean restaurants and cosmetic offices. In Canada, it’s illegal to have offers on liquor so finding this advertisement was quite entertaining!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

We had lunch at a nearby café and acting as if we were local, ate by the windows looking out into the streets. It was nice to be momentarily away from the busy streets and people watch instead. That man definitely wanted a taste of my pasta.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESNot knowing where else to go, we visited Fashion Ave, which to my disappointment was nothing of what its named to be. I wish we were in SoHo instead.

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For dinner, we ventured to Queens to meet up with our family friend one last time. Queens was exactly how Ugly Betty portrayed it to be: a neighbourhood of different ethnic stores within a cluster of blocks. In the ‘Filipino area’, we went to a restaurant called Krystal’s. After not having home cooked meals, nor rice for days, I ate more than I usually do. The food was wonderful!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I believe this is our last day in New York. Goodbye then, Big Apple~

A plus tard et avec l’amour!

Day 5: It is law, the mall is closed

Happy Sunday!~

This morning, we went to church, Holy Rosary. It has the same name as the one I used to attend in Vancouver, making me miss my former home even more! The interior was gorgeous with its baby blue and pink paint, pillars of marble and stained glass windows. Although it saddened me a little when I realized that the congregation size was only ~20 people.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter, we drove for 30 minutes to Westfield Mall, only to find out that they are closed on Sundays. So we searched for the nearest alternative and it too was closed. With a little research, my sister found out that in that particular county, it was law for the malls to be closed on Sundays. Really quite odd!

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For an additional 30 minutes, we drove to another mall and ate lunch at Legal Seafood. The food was amazing! For appetizer, we ordered their Trio Calamari: three different seasonings of classic, Thai and Southern. It was perfectly cooked and the batter was well seasoned. As for my main course, I had the Curried Shrimp with pineapple and peanuts served with jasmine rice. It was scrumptious! If one were to splurge on food, I would highly recommend seafood restaurants because the seafood is fresh and the menu is unique.
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Onto dinner, we returned for our last trip to Jollibee. I wish they would open a franchise in Canada, more specifically, in Alberta!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES The mall we visited today was quite a classy one. Most stores were designer brands and department stores. Before coming to the States, I knew I wanted to splurge on one item. As a fan of Marc Jacobs, I intended to buy a Marc by Marc Jacobs cross-body to add to my collection. However, I’m not particularly fond of their new line. My second choice was a Rebecca Minkoff Mini M.A.C., but I did not want to buy it immediately without considering other options. Finding out that there was a Miu Miu in the mall, I dragged my sisters along to check it out. Miu Miu is very rare anywhere, most especially in Canada, that I had to pay a visit. It’s a pity I forgot to take a photo of the interior because the store was very posh and elegant! I did not intend to buy anything there but when I saw their wall of edgy sunglasses, I had to try them on. From dreaming of owning one while I was trying them on, to surprisingly finding myself convinced in purchasing one led me to my first high-end designer piece! My sisters and I all had a different pair of preference but in the end, I chose my choice. I absolutely adore them and with my life, I will protect them forever! I will surely write about them once I have the chance to.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA plus tard et avec l’amour!

Day 4: Typical Tourists

Our morning started a little later than usual because our bodies needed a little more energizing. After finding dislike and inconvenience in using public transit, we decided to drive down to New York and find a parking spot close to our adventuring. Not only was this more efficient, it was surprisingly cheaper.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESCentral Park was our first stop. I did not expect it to be as lively as it was: many people were exercising, tourists were lured into riding bicycles or carriages, vendors were in every corner and there was all kinds of performers. As a former viewer of CSI NY, I made a joke that there must be a crime scene somewhere in the park and sure enough, I found one. Let’s pretend it’s real.

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On the benches, there were messages engraved in metal plates. I was very fond of these two. Adorable, are they not?

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Walking around Central Park for a couple of hours depleted our energies. We grabbed lunch soon after and without surprise, ate Middle Eastern food. It was very tasteful but the portions were too big for our stomachs.

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Being outdoors for the majority of the day, we decided to finish it by going shopping. We took transit down to 34th St. from 59th as to not waste our paid parking. Claiming to be the biggest Macy’s store, we decided to check it out. It was indeed enormous! However, it was very crowded as if one was in a fish market: loud and packed. Having spent too much time inside gave me a headache.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESCentral Park’s peacefulness from the honking cars and traffic was a good way to spend the morning. It definitely reminded me of my jogs around Waterfront and Stanley Park in Vancouver. Oh how I miss my second home!

A plus tard et avec l’amour!

Day 3: Shopping is our Exercise

We went for a 2-hr. drive to Atlantic City to go shopping in outlet stores. We expected it to be up to par with the ones we visited in Seattle and Florida but the deals were not that great, nor were there lots of stores. But to my surprise, I ended up finding a wallet which I direly needed and cheap shoes to add to my collection.
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We ate at Longhorn Steakhouse. The food was superb! I ordered a 6 oz. sirlion, with a side of broccoli. The broccoli was very well prepared that I forgot I had steak to eat. When it was time to pay, my sister tried to use her Canadian TD debit card and found that they accepted it. I suppose that was possible since TD branches exists here too.

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After hours of walking around and shopping, we stopped by McDonalds for snacks. We have been to the States multiple times however, we still remain surprised at how cheap it is! This amount could have bought you only 2 smoothies back home.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe drove back up to Westfield Centre to go shopping at UNIQLO. We knew that we had to go here because our friends highly recommended the brand for its simplicity and good quality. We had 30 minutes to shop before close and I managed to finish in 10. The store was huge and well organized! I was running around like a maniac.

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The four hours of sitting in the car was good rest for yesterday’s hectic schedule and shopping was also quite therapeutic. It was nice to have a day off from the bustling streets of New York.

A plus tard et avec l’amour!

Day 2: Stairs and Subway

Breakfast was early at 7 a.m. to get ready for a meet up with a family friend way back from U.A.E. We walked to Hoboken Station from our rented condo and headed to 42nd Street/ Times Square.

Riding the New York Subway reminded me very well of Vancouver. It was crowded, people were always in a hurry and the trains were very frequent unlike back in Calgary. As tourists and my elders being quite unfamiliar with using transit, naturally, we moved at a slower pace and locals showed obvious signs of annoyance. That was expected on my part because Vancouverites act similarly.
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We arrived at Times Square early and achieved so without getting lost. Since we had time before our intended meet-up, we roamed around H&M and Modells. At Modells, a salesman greeted me with, “Hi, how are you?” and to my reply, “Good, and you?” To his surprise at my friendly gesture, or rather Canadian ways of politeness, he gave me a big smile which made my day. Having been to the States multiple times, I am well aware that it is rare for salespersons to encounter friendly customers, let alone ask them how they are doing.

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There were mascots everywhere in Times Square. We decided to take a picture with them and realized after that they asked for tips. Personally, I don’t mind but, if you ever visited New York, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Can we just laugh at how there are two Elmos? Who’s the impostor?

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Then we headed to McDonalds for a little snack: panels of TV screens everywhere, an ambiance of an old club and 4 floors high! How odd is that? Then we headed to Hard Rock to be gifted with souvenirs from our family friend. The Gibson guitar deco was so cool!

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Soonafter, we rode the Staten Island Ferry and got a gorgeous view of the New York skyline and Statue of Liberty. On our return, we went to the 9/11 Memorial, ate at Così (which was delicious) and to my dismay, looked around for Parsons but did not find it. However, we visited the Strand bookstore, a 3-level beauty filled with so much knowledge and art! I decided to snatch up a book of Maya Angelou’s poems as memorabilia, as well as an addition to my collection.

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We had an exhausting day of taking the stairs and Subway all day, but it was quite the experience. We felt how it was like to live like a New Yorker and to be honest, I think it’s not our cup of tea. We very much enjoy our slow-paced, decongested and laid back life in Calgary, but we’re not ready to return until we finish our adventures. Tomorrow, we shall commence again!

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Bonne nuit.

A plus tard et avec l’amour!

Day 1: New Jersey

We are staying at a week rented condo in New Jersey, ~15 minute drive from New York. Our view of New York skyline is gorgeous and waking up to it this morning was breathtaking!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAs continuation from yesterday, I took pictures around the condo when we first arrived.
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After an exhausting day of flying, we immediately rushed to dinner and our golden choice was Jollibee! My sisters and I haven’t been back home since we came to Canada ~a decade ago. It goes without question that we had to visit this franchise store while we were here! When on vacation, one shall take a break from all of it: stress and diet!
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Dinner was scrumptious and I ate to my heart’s desire! I ate chicken joy, spaghetti, mango&peach pie and buko pandan pearl cooler to drink.


The night skyline was gorgeous! Bonne nuit!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA plus tard et avec l’amour!

Day 1: Mo(u)rning, New York!

When it comes to our yearly family travels, I can never fall asleep the night prior due to the excitement! Luckily, I was able to ‘break’ the curse and indulge in 4 hours of sleep. Our flight was at 7 a.m. so my sister bought me Starbucks for that needed caffeine. But as a coffee snob, I opted out from the usual, screeching, burnt milk and settled for an English Breakfast tea.
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          We had a 3.5 hour connection flight to Toronto, long enough to start a movie. The last time I intended to watch Princess Mononoke was months ago and since it was the only video I had on my laptop, I decided to watch it with my eldest sister. As riveting as it was, sleep was fighting against the action and we agreed to take a rest instead. Though that wasn’t easy to achieve because the seats were quite uncomfortable. Or rather, the headrest was oddly shaped.

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1) V-neck tee: GAP | 2) Trousers: Nümph | 3) Flats: ZARA

After one too many flights in my lifetime, I was best dressed for this trip in terms of comfort. Besides the fact that I was wearing all black in an ~80F (might as well act American xD), I was at the very least comfortable! Fun fact: I was pulled in for a body scan for the first time and I wasn’t fond of it.


I have yet to see all of New York but from a brief glimpse after our drive from the airport to New Jersey, mainly exposed to the streets of Brooklyn and Chinatown, it was quite the culture shock. There was graffiti in most buildings, many old and torn, and the streets were bustling with cars and people, as if I was in the Philippines. Cars were very close together, traffic lights were useless because traffic was directed by police, people jaywalked in all directions and I’ve never heard so much honking in my life! On average, we spent ~10 minutes to pass through each block because it was that congested. Claustrophobia did not belong in this city.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES As much as I love all things Canadian, aka including Timmies, I have always been a loyal supporter of Dunkin’. Growing up, my mom used to work in a franchise back home and we were showered with diabetes filled treats! Those were the days that our bodies could afford to have a sweet tooth.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESEven if I did not manage to finish Breakfast at Tiffany’s due to its incompatibility with my preferences, I was in awe when I saw these apartments! I have always loved the concept of old, but well-kept and charming buildings. A little past from where I took this photo, there was an obvious divide between Chinatown and Manhattan. Manhattan seemed like a gem and in the next few days, I will be there to visit. We shall see the rest of New York then!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA plus tard et avec l’amour!