Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Iconic Golden Gate Bridge

We missed our exit on the way to the Exploratorium and found ourselves headed straight towards the Golden Gate bridge. My initial reaction was: what a hassle, now we have to go all the way to the other side to turn back! Then I quickly realized this was the first time the girls were seeing the bridge.

Why I didn't even think of showing them the bridge, I have no idea. We were staying with friends in Palo Alto, and our activities were centered around that area. In the week we were in the Bay Area, we only drove into the city this once, and it was to go to the Exploratorium.

"Look Geormel (that's our term of endearment for both of them at the same time), this is the very famous Golden Gate Bridge!" Actually, we missed the 75th anniversary of the bridge by a couple of days--not that I would've trekked to the city, braved the traffic, and celebrated with ten million people. I was a bit relieved we missed it because B is the celebratory type of guy and he would've insisted we trek, we brave and we celebrate (while I'm just a cornball who would prefer to watch it on tv).

B told the girls why the bridge was so iconic: it was once the longest suspension bridge in the world, explained how it was constructed and why it is painted orange, and other fun tourist stuff.

For me, the drive towards the bridge through Pacific Heights was just as interesting. I liked seeing the architecture of the homes and how nicely they are preserved.

'These are not apartment buildings, these are single-family homes. Look at the beautiful facades!" Of course the next question was, "Can we go inside the houses?"  I wish we could!

"And look girls, that's the San Francisco Bay!" 

Unfortunately I didn't take my own photo of the much-photographed Victorian homes. This photo below is from here.

I only managed to take these...

Here we are now driving across the famous landmark of San Francisco. Memories of Sausalito came to mind. It would've been nice to drive straight to Marin county and onwards, but the kids were hyped, expecting a day at the Exploratorium. So many things to little time...

On the other side, we just parked the car and took the usual touristy photos.

Look at this clown...

Time to turn around and head back towards that Exploratorium. The detour was definitely worth the $6 toll back to the city.

Imagine, the girls would've gone to San Francisco and not seen the Golden Gate Bridge?!  Sacre bleu! We didn't mention the cable cars anymore. Maybe next time.

Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco, Ca

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco

The Palace of Fine Arts is a peaceful retreat right in the Marina district of the city. Contrary to its name, it isn't a palace, nor does it have any "fine art" anywhere near it.

It was originally built in 1915 for some exposition that San Francisco hosted, and then the city decided to keep and maintain it.  I remember walking around here as a college student. I know the Palace of Fine Arts Theater is here too, but I didn't realize the Exploratorium was also located here!

Since we had the kids with us, our destination for the day was the Exploratorium.  It was only when we walked out that I realized that the Palace of Fine Arts was next to it.  B looked at me strangely, as if it was something I should've known. Like him, I lived in the Bay Area for a few years too--but I don't seem to remember as many details as he does.

Even if the sun was out, it was a cold and windy day, typical of beautiful San Francisco.

The kids explored and climbed what they could.

And when they came down, G saw a sign that had fallen and was partly hidden in the plants.

"Mommy! Look what it says!"   Oops! Too late!

If you visit the Exploratorium, spend some time outdoors here. And if you are coming here for a quiet stroll, go visit the Exploratorium and spend the whole day there. There's so much to see and do. Just make sure your kids don't climb the monuments.

Note: The Exploratorium is moving to Piers 15/17 in the Spring  of 2013.

Palace of Fine Arts
3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco, CA 94123
415-563-6504, 415-561-0364

Monday, November 19, 2012

Madrid Barajas Airport

The airport in Madrid is stunning. The very modern design is warm and inviting mainly because of all those wooden slats undulating overhead.

This high-tech light contraption on the ceiling looks like it's filtering in natural light, while underneath, artificial light is being bounced off some kind of reflector. Lighting has a big effect on people, whether they recognize it or not, and natural light always has a "feel good" effect. Looks like the Barajas airport design has found a perfect combination of warm and cool light.

There's lots going on in terms of design, but it's still sleek and neat. I think I'm particularly attracted to the design too because my favorite color is yellow.

Here is the design concept of the Madrid Barajas Airport.

I saw this "Passenger Rights" sign in the check-in area. I've been bumped off a couple of times in the past and have always been (generously) compensated. Not everyone is aware of their rights though. I think all airports should have this sign. Good for you Madrid Barajas Airport!

I get very excited when I see beautifully designed airports. The unfortunate  thing is that instead of just enjoying the good design for what it is, I automatically think of what we have back home and then feel sad. I hope to be able to post on the Manila airport one day. But while I have the tagline "Where I go, What I like", it looks like it's going to be a long way off.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Shower Enclosure Idea

This hotel bathroom gave me a great idea. I usually specify one panel of glass as a shower screen instead of a full bath enclosure. It's really all you need and keeps the bathroom spacious.


But this is the first time I've seen it with a stainless post anchoring it to the floor and to the ceiling.


The frameless glass screen might look neater but I think this is a safer option, specially if the bathroom is going to be used by seniors or children.

One side is in a stainless channel and anchored to the wall, and the exposed edge is protected by a stainless post with a stainless channel attached to it.

Here I am scrutinizing design details again.

Bernadette, paki-sotto yung design nito please?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

You're a Great Way to Fly...

Found these while backing up my iPhoto files. This was taken at an airline-themed birthday party about 7 years ago. We received a boarding pass party invitation, and food was served in trays just like in a plane. Very cute!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Snow Angels in Yosemite

This was the first snow sighting for the girls!

Deciding to do a road trip from Las Vegas to San Francisco was one of the best spontaneous decisions we made. We had been in LV a few days and I was about to book our onward flight to SF when B said, "Want to drive instead? There might still be snow..."

A chance of snow?! How cool! We told the girls about the road trip but didn't mention the snow part. This was going to be a surprise. 

Snow is one of the biggest curiosities for those like us who come from places with only two seasons (wet and dry). I experienced my first snow when I was 11 while visiting mom's sister in Canada. I still remember exactly how I felt, so I could imagine exactly how the girls were going to feel. I was so excited for them.

We couldn't contain them (and their excitement) inside the car for long-- we had to keep stopping so they could play in the snow. We stopped so often that their jeans were wet and they were cold. Okay, enough of that you two, and back in the car NOW!

I've visited Yosemite a couple of times in the past, each time in July or August--the US summertime. This road trip was in May, Manila summertime but and technically the end of spring in the States. This was probably the last snow of the season.

Our car was equipped with satellite radio and we were glued to a station that was playing the top 20 pop songs over and over again. I finally heard all the songs the kid sing with their friends. Now whenever I hear these pop songs, I remember Yosemite and snow.

Like our drive through Death Valley, we were also just driving through Yosemite. We weren't planning to stop for any length of time. It took us about an hour to navigate Tioga pass and get to the California side of the park.

It was fun teaching them how to pronounce "Yosemite." Having only seen the word in books, they thought it was Yoh-se-might. So when we told them we were driving through Yoh-seh'-mee-tee, there was a lot of "Yo-seh-mee-tee?! Isn't it Yose-might? Why is it called Yoh-seh-mee-tee?" A quick google search (don't you just love Google?) revealed its American Indian origins.

An information center and a gift shop welcomes visitors at the California side of the park. We didn't see anything similar at the Nevada side.

Here we are at the end of our Yosemite drive and now heading straight for the Bay Area.

Google maps on my iPhone was a great tool. Those companies that make those GPS navigational gadgets for cars are probably all out of business by now.

Look at the beautiful California spring weather on the other side of the park. We came from summer in Death Valley, the drove through winter in Yosemite and here is spring in California.

We still had a few hours' drive. We were actually trying to catch some friends at a picnic in Palo Alto.

It's such a pleasure to drive in the States. The roads are beautiful and directions are well-marked.

We stopped to pick up a few baskets of strawberries from the farms we passed.

We finally arrived at our destination at the tail end of the picnic. It was an unusually cold and overcast day in Los Altos and our friends, although happy to see us, didn't  look like very happy picnickers.  If they only knew that our kids were happily rolling in the snow just a few hours ago...

Time to warm up and have some S'mores.

Driving from LV to the Bay Area was much longer than a quick airport to airport hop, but it was definitely worth the adventure. This road trip will definitely be one of the girls' more memorable experiences.

Yosemite National Park
California and Nevada


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