Blast from the Past: Visiting Leyte

PauTravels to Leyte Island

Like what I’ve posted last week about my trip to Bicol, here I’m going to share about my very first trip on board an airplane.  This was a trip back in June of 1999 to my father’s home province in the Visayas region on the island of Leyte.

My father along with his siblings were all born in the small town of Tabontabon in the province of Leyte in Eastern Visayas before they moved to Manila when they were older.  And since back in the 90’s, my father together with one of her sisters have been flying back to Tabontabon once every year during the town’s fiesta to check out the parcels of land left by my grandmother.   And in June 1999, my father tagged me to join them along with my cousin to fly over Leyte with them.

This was my first time to fly on an airplane.  We took a Cebu Pacific Air flight to Tacloban City, the only major airport on the island of Leyte.   Back then, Cebu Pacific was fairly new in the market where it only started it airline operations in 1996.  There was even a joke then that when you fly on Cebu Pacific, you fly out from Cebu and arrive in the Pacific.  The joke came out after some airplane crashes Cebu Pacific had in its early years along with the then Asian Spirit (renamed to Zest Air but now operated as AirAsia Zest under AirAsia) which got the joke of flying as an Asian and arriving as a Spirit.

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San Francisco’s Charm

PauTravels First Trip to San Francisco

Why does San Francisco attracts people around the world?  Is it because of its cable cars, its steep-sloped streets, its cold weather, the crooked road of Lobard Street, the rows of Victorian styled architecture, or the famous Golden Gate Bridge?  Well I think all of the above.

On the 9th of December, Sunday, we took a trip to see the Golden Gate and the rest of the city.  From Milpitas, we took a drive through US 101 to see this world famous bridge.  But before we go directly to the Golden Gate area, we first drove to St. Mary’s Cathedral on Gough Street to attend mass.  Along the way to the cathedral, we saw blocks and blocks of Victorian houses.  It looked wonderful and very picturesque, seeing whole communities that follow a specific architectural design.  Makes me want to have one.

The mass that we attended in St. Mary’s was the 11AM mass where the cathedral choir is performing.  From the outside, the cathedral looked like a big white box.  But when we saw inside, it was beautiful.  It had a high ceiling where on its four sides run a line of tainted glass that meet up at the center of the high ceiling forming a cross.  And on top of the altar hang this big chime-like chandelier that looked very beautiful.

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Aboard the Amtrak

PauTravels at the Union Station to board the Amtrak to San Jose

December 5th of 2007, I arrived in Los Angeles for my 1 month vacation in the United States of America (USA) to be with my family. And on the 7th, I took a ride on Amtrak to bring me to San Jose.  Since my brother is in Milpitas, I decided to stay with him for a whole week and go back to LA.

Prior to my trip to the US, I booked my trip through the Amtrak website.  My train trip leaves 7:30 AM from the Los Angeles Union Station and arrive at the Great America station in Santa Clara at 6:12 PM.  The train trip is divided into 3 legs, an LA to San Luis Obispo station, then a bus connection to San Jose, and then a short train ride to Santa Clara – Great America station.

I arrived at the Union Station in LA at 6:30 AM, since I had to still get my tickets at the ticketing station and boarding to the train is 30 minutes before departure.  Coming in to the terminal, I find myself in a beautifully interior designed station where the ceiling is wooden.  It also has this round chandeliers that light up the hall.  There are two ways to get a printed ticket for the trip.  One is using the Quik Trak machine and the other is in the ticket counter.  I had mine through the counter.

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