I like to travel,

and now that I've graduated from college and have a full-time job, I finally have the time and the finances (sometimes) to quench my wanderlust. since I can't take you all with me (though I wish I could), I decided to keep you updated on my whereabouts via the blogosphere.

Friday, August 29, 2008

>>> greetings from the mediterranean sea

Hello all,

This is ridiculous. I am so addicted to the Internet that I'm actually paying $.55 a minute to have access to the slowest connection possible. There's no justifying it. I'm just... Insane.

Europe is beautiful and hot and expensive --- just as I anticipated it would be. I'm having fun, but not at its fullest potential. I guess I'm kind of homesick. And I've only been gone for 3 days! I have 19 days to go, so... I'm either gonna get over it real soon, or be really sad for a few weeks.

I guess that's one lesson learned: I can never, ever move away from Seattle. LOL just kidding.

It's just... I miss Milo, I miss cheap Coca-Cola (2 euros for a can!), I miss my bed and the comforts of home, and I probably miss you.

Don't get me wrong, though... I'm glad I'm here. I'm glad I'm getting to see what's out here. And out here, it's beautiful and different. This is invaluable information to have obtained at my age.

I'll post entries about Barcelona and Marseille soon enough... I just gotta write 'em. ;) None of this "on the fly" writing... Also, if I told you I'd write you postcards, I totally did and you should expect them in your mailboxes sometime in the next two weeks. :D

If you have my number, text me once in a while. It's cheaper than using this crappy boat wifi and it will make me feel closer to home. :)

Wish you were here! Really, I do.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

>>> heathrow airport (London, UK)

Man, the Brits weren't messing around when they built Heathrow Airport. Really though, the place is HUGE and kind of confusing -- my family was walking around in circles for a while before we found our way.

The flight from Seatac to London was 8.5 hours; luckily, I was able to sleep through most of it (except for when I was watching Made of Honor, hahaha).

As soon as our plane touched ground and I was able to turn my phone on, I received a barrage of texts wishing me a Happy Birthday. THANK YOOUU!!! to everyone who sent their well wishes from home! Thanks for remembering (you probably saw it on Facebook, but that don't matter) because my own family didn't remember til a few minutes ago, hahaha.

I am now seated smack dab in the middle of a British Airways plane, awash in a sea of good-looking Spaniards on their way back home. Now that I've gotten to see just a small sample of Spain's progeny, I'm thinking one thing: I'm gonna like it in Barcelona.

Wish you were here (really).


Monday, August 25, 2008

>>> next stop: Europe!

I am currently seated in 33J on a NWA plane that is about to depart for London's Heathrow Airport. From there, we're hitting up Barcelona via plane then train.

Planes, trains, and automobiles... Tis the story of my life right now. LOL.

Be good, Seattle. I'll be back before you know it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

>>> california: days five to eight (san francisco)

The adventures continue!

[Note: You'll have to excuse me if there are any typos or missing words or missing capitlizations... I started this post a couple of days ago by uploading pics to it but didn't get to write anything, and now I'm sitting at the airport about to leave for Barcelona and all I have to access the internet is my Blackberry. Whoops. I guess I could wait until I find some internet cafe in Spain to do this, but we all know that probably won't happen. Let's be real. So this will be a briefer-than-usual recap of my SF trip, sorry.]

DAY 5: My uncles went back to work and Anna left early in the morning to head back to Seattle, so 90% of my day was spent in solitude. My flight to San Francisco wasn't til 5, so I kicked it at the house and watched movies and didn't blog and packed up at the last minute.. Hahaha. I took my very first cab ride by myself and it cost me $18 to go 3.46 miles. Yes.

So I flew out to SFO, grabbed the Airtrain to the BART, took the BART to downtown SF, and walked up to our hotel (Hotel Adagio).

The rest of the gang (Toni, Jeffrey, Paolo, Erika, Justin & Plinette, plus Kuya Don) didn't get to the hotel until a few hours later, and then we (I) had a late dinner at a Thai restaurant called Asha where the first picture below was taken. Good times. :)

DAY 6: We all got a pretty early start to the day - had breakfast at a diner called Dollie's and then piled into Toni's truck (Momo!) to search for the KidRobot store!

Oh man, my love for KidRobot vinyl toys really knows no bounds! Pao and I bought an entire box of Munny zipper pulls together, and I also picked up a couple of other toys. We walked around the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood for a while, then walked over to the USF campus for a bit, and then headed back to the car to check out the Golden Gate Bridge.

Unfortunately, it was extremely foggy over the water, so most of the bridge was not visible. It was almost as though it didn't exist... We took a couple of pictures there anyway, walked around a scenic area (I can't remember the name! =p), and then headed back to the hotel so that we could go shopping around Powell.

After a decent amount of shopping time, we all had some fun BOB (Bodies on Bunks/Beds) time in the hotel, watching the Olympics *and stuff* while waiting for Kuya Don to join us for dinner. It was a pretty early night in for everyone - we ate out at Tad's Steak House and then went to sleep afterwards. True story. ;)

DAY 7: Got off to a slightly later start than the morning before.. Pao, Ek, Pliny, Justin and I ate at a diner across the street from the hotel (mmm, bacon) while Toni got a haircut and Jeffrey went shopping. By noon we were on our way to Stanford University to see the campus and possibly get stuff from the student store. The latter didn't actually happen, but we did get to see a bit of the campus. Our conclusion? UW campus is prettier :)

Afterwards, we headed to Mountain View for lunch at Best Bites, a Mediterranean restaurant that the Bay Area Sanchezes like to frequent. We ate some yummy kabobs and geeerooos (gyros) and then headed back to the hotel to rest.

What we had intended to be just a couple hours of rest before going out turned into a night of Chinese takeout and a scary movie at the hotel. If you're ever staying in the Union Square area and want some crazy ass cheap Chinese takeout, I highly recommend you call Tai Chi Restaurant. The NFT guide to SF does not lie -- it really is crazy ass cheap and pretty good!

That was pretty much it for day 7. I did get a chance to wander around for a couple of hours that night, but that's another story for another time. Or for never. Hahaha.

DAY 8: Sadness -- the end of my California adventures. I got to wander around a bit more in the morning by myself, and then it was time to pack it up and check out. We crammed ourselves into Momo once more --- still better than taking the BART - quality car time! --- and I got dropped off at SFO. I was back in Seattle by 330, just in time to start my laundry and start packing for the next leg of the Tita World Tour '08.

Thank you, Sunshine State, for a great time. I look forward to seeing you again soon. =D

Please enjoy the captionless pictures below... For more, you can check my Facebook albums.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

>>> california: days two to four (san diego/anaheim)

Oh my gosh. Here I am, about 12 hours away from the end of this vacation, and I haven't even updated the blog since my first day out here in California. SORRY SORRY SORRY SORRY SORRY to the people who have been waiting for an update (there's probably only 2 of you, haha). I am a terrible blogger, I know!

I'm going to try to recap all that went down in San Diego first before trying to tackle San Francisco, so here we gooo...

[hot, right?]

DAY 2: After an unsuccessful attempt to wake up early after our night out at Gaslamp, Anna and I finally got up sometime around noon --- just in time for low tide at La Jolla Shores. Last year we had a great time snorkeling with Uncle Joey and our Kiwi buddy Nathan, so we asked if we could do it again this time around.

So Uncle Joey, Uncle Mike, new buddy Brent, Anna, and I set out for the beach. Unfortunately, the beach was PACKED, both sand and surf, because it was a Sunday afternoon AND everyone knew that the leopard sharks were back in town for breeding in the shallow waters. Uncle Joey dropped us off with the snorkeling gear and boogie boards before going to find parking, and after about 45 minutes, we were in the water.

[I love my underwater camera case :D]

The water was warm and full of kayak and snorkel traffic, and I had quite the struggle with my boogie board because my rib is still injured (I slipped in the bathtub a couple of weeks ago and am still recovering), so I only got to see one leopard shark; all of the activity in the water was scaring the sharks away, and I was preoccupied with avoiding drowning.

[leopard sharks --- totally harmless ;)]

Fortunately, Uncle Joey swims like a friggin' dolphin, so I handed my camera off to him and he was able to spot about 20 leopard sharks and take pics of them. He also took several pictures of me and Anna trying not to drown. :)

[happiest place on earth]

: DISNEYLAAAAAAND! Who cares if I'm almost (*gulp*) 25? My love for Disneyland will never fade. No trip to southern California would be complete without a trip to the Magic Kingdom.

Uncle Joey works in LA during the week, so we hitched a ride up north with him at 5am and were outside the Disneyland premises by 6:30am. Disneyland doesn't actually open until 8am, so with time to kill, we grabbed breakfast at IHOP.

[7:48AM and still happy to be there]

We lined up to buy our tickets around 7:30, so by 8:05am we were IN. I have to admit though, Disneyland really doesn't feel like Disneyland that early in the morning, especially when the sky is gray and the air is cold. It kind of smelled like garbage, too.

The good thing about getting there so early is that the lines for rides are really short. In the first couple of hours, we were able to browse a lot of the shops and fit in four rides (Buzz Lightyear, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Carribean, and the Haunted Mansion). And thankfully, the sun decided to come out to play and the garbage smelled slowly got replaced with the smell of popcorn, cotton candy, and churros.

[California Screamin': unfortunately, we did not go on this one for fear of further injury to my ribs]

We had the 1-day hopper pass to go between the two parks, so after California Adventure opened at 10am, we headed over to ride Soaring Over California. We ventured further into the park than we did last time and rode the big ferris wheel and the swing ride inside of the giant orange (I don't recall the names of these ones) before stopping for lunch (and gossip).

[C is for...]

All in all, we were at the Disneyland resort for 12 hours. We didn't go on many more rides, but we did a lot of browsing and shopping, as well as sitting and talking. It definitely lived up to my expectations.

[our DIY picture in front of the castle]

DAY 4: For our last full day in SD, Uncle Joey took Anna and I to the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, located about an hour north of where the uncles reside. It was originally the space where the zoo animals were taken care of (bred, acclimated, nursed to health, etc.), but I guess a while ago they had the bright idea of turning it into a Jurassic Park-like wildlife reserve.

[view of the open range portion of the park]

It was pretty cool --- we went on a tour of the reserve on a tram and go to see a lot of the animals peacefully coexisting on 18 acres of land. Most of them were antelopes and other antlered creatures, but there were also rhinoceroses, giraffes, zebras, and birds.

[Nola the Northern White Rhinoceros]

I consider myself to be quite the animal lover (except when it comes to birds... sorry), so I ended up taking more pictures of the animals that day than I did at Disneyland.

I found a new appreciation for rhinoceroses (rhinoceri? is that the plural) on this trip, especially for the one pictured above, which is a female Northern White Rhinoceros. This species is extinct in the wild and there are only 8 left in the entire world (three of which are currently living at the Wild Animal Park). Unfortunately, it is unlikely that any efforts to repopulate the species will be successful as most of the females are beyond their fertile age and there's only one known male left (also located at the Wild Animal Park).

[steady chillin]

We also caught one of the shows at the park, bought a few stuffed animals, and rode the carousel once before leaving to eat and then head back to the house to rest. Our San Diego trip was short this time around, but we were still able to do everything we had intended to in an abbreviated amount of time. Good times, man, good times.

Until next time... Stay classy, San Diego. ;)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

>>> california: day one

Oh, San Diego. How I love thee.

Anna and I have been here for a day and a half now, and it's been a great time thus far. I feel like I'm going to need a vacation after this vacation because I'm so tired and sore! This was to be expected, though --- the last time we were here (a year ago), we were going to sleep by 10 every night because we'd be so exhausted. Uncle Joey usually doesn't let us have an idle moment.

Anyway, let's rewind to the beginning of this, my second trip this summer. :) I stayed out late Friday night/Saturday morning and hadn't really started packing for California. =P I got home around 2:30AM and finished up my laundry. Then I started cleaning my makeup brushes slowly while watching TV, and next thing I knew, it was 6:00AM and I barely had anything packed. I decided to lie down for a moment to rest my back, and then the next thing I knew, Ricky was waking me up at 7:00AM to give me money for his Super Crew shirt (more on that later). I got up, took a shower, got ready, and then finished packing about 15 minutes before Anna and James picked me up to go to the airport. It was the most inefficient packing job I've ever done and I'm pretty sure I'm going to run out of clothing before the trip ends, but oh well. I can always buy clothes to wear, right? ;)

Anna and I got to the airport about 2 hours before our flight, but it took about a half an hour to check in. The airport is PACKED on a Saturday morning! Travel tip: don't fly out of an airport during the day on a Saturday. Just don't do it. I saw that the line for NorthWest Airlines was incredibly long, which is disheartening because in 8 days I will be in that line. DAMN.

So like I said, the airport was packed and there were long lines for everything, food included. By the time we found something to eat, we got to our gate and found that everyone had boarded already. Wow.

The Virgin America plane was a small one, but pretty cool. Whoever designed their planes knew how to appeal to the kids because it felt like I was flying in a ginormous iPod with purple lighting.

Both of our flights were pretty short, so I don't have very many complaints about them or the airline. There's a touchscreen on the back of every seat, so it was very cool and high-tech but kind of annoying when the person behind you presses each button really hard. I sat next to a really sweet older Mormon couple from Vegas who chatted me up for most of the first flight (Anna and I were separated). Then for the second flight, Anna and I sat next to each other and listened to the "Tita No Like Mix #2" (thanks Pao) on my laptop and chilled.

After Uncle Joey picked us up from the airport, we dropped our stuff off at the house before setting to our first task: hitting up the Armory Survival Gear store, where they sell Jabbawockeez and SuperCrew shirts, among other things. Ricky and I had been perusing their site about a month ago when we discovered that they have two stores in San Diego, so rather than ordering shirts online, I told Ricky I'd pick something up for him when I got here. UNFORTUNATELY, they were having a massive Back-To-School sale this weekend, so by the time we got to the Pacific Beach location at 5:30PM, there was only one SuperCrew shirt left and it was size 2XL. Sorry, Ricky. I did manage to cop a Jabbawockeez shirt for Pao and Anna got one for James, so the trip to PB wasn't a total loss.

Anna and I hadn't eaten all day, so the next stop was Carl's Jr, of course. Last summer, when we were here in SD, we must've eaten Carl's Jr burgers almost every day. So we got our burger and crisscut fries fix before continuing on our merry way. :)

Of course, we had to hit up a beach at some point on our first day! The natural choice would've been to go to Pacific Beach since we were already in the neighborhood, but there was absolutely no parking in the area so we went a little bit south of there to Mission Beach and watched the red sunset.

After a quick rest at the house, Anna and I met up with Toni, Jeffrey, and Denise at the Ivy Hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter, where Toni and Jeffrey are staying. Talk about swanky! The hotel had a rooftop lounge with a color-changing pool and beds and waitresses in white swimsuits and sarongs, another lounge downstairs, and a club downstairs. The line outside to get into each of these kickit spots was long, but Jeffrey was able to get us all-access wrist stamps, so there was no waiting for us. Eilleen and Alvin met up with us as Toni, Jeffrey, and Denise were finishing up their dinner, and we all headed up to check out what is probably the most accommodating hotel room I've ever seen.

What do I mean by that? Well, in addition to free champagne at check-in, this particular hotel also provides its guests with unlimited access to its lounges and club, a fully-stocked bar in each room, and, uhhh, other special accommodations. Ask me about it the next time you see me if you're really that curious.

After visiting the room, we headed straight up to the rooftop lounge for drinks and then down to Club Envy for more drinks and dancing. We had such a good time that we were all exhausted by 12:3oAM and went our separate ways. Check the Facebook album ("California Adventures, Day One") for the photographic evidence of our fun.

Not bad for our first 8 hours of vacation, right? I've still got to tell you all about our snorkeling adventure, but right now I have to go to sleep because in about 5 hours I've got to wake up to go to --- *drumrolllll, please!* --- DISNEYLAND! I can hardly wait!

Monday, August 4, 2008

>>> thank you.

I always speak very highly and warmly of Calgary, Alberta, and people often wonder why. "Where the heck is Calgary, and what's so great about it?" they ask. "Why are you so amped on some place in the middle of Canada?"

First off, I wish people wouldn't speak so disparagingly about Canada. This may be a broad generalization, but Canadians are very hospitable and genuinely nice people. Plus, they have little to no gun violence! What's not to love about that? And my friends in Seattle will, without a doubt, attest to the fact that the best sushi they've had was in Canada (Richmond Sushi in Vancouver BC, that's wassup). So stop hatin' on them cuz they dope (Step Up 2 reference, holler --- just for Neeks).

Anyway, Calgary is a very nice place that I have found to be pretty similar to Seattle except that there are a lot more "cowboys" here and they don't have freeways or carpool lanes, so it takes at least a half an hour to get anywhere. That's my only beef with the city, really. Their minimum wage is like $13/hour nowadays and I like the scene and the weather is okay (though I haven't been here during their typical snowy weather, so I can't really say...)

But the real reason that I love Calgary so much and am so drawn to this place is my family here, especially my 3rd (or 4th?) cousins. They are the warmest, most hilarious, raddest, cutest, most down-to-earth people in all of Canada and if they didn't live in Calgary, I'm not so sure my Calgary hype would be at this level. We all get along fabulously well and have a great time together, and 3 days was definitely not enough for proper cousin bonding. I am always sad to say goodbye to them, and this time its especially sad because Paco and Ricky and I didn't even get to say goodbye to them in person =(. I guess its okay because we'll be seeing them in Orlando, FL., for our Ate Ditas's wedding next April, but still. No hugs goodbye? I will be terribly sad on the 14-hr ride home today. =P

In case my dear Calgarians happen to be reading this, I want to thank them for being awesome as always, for organizing a wonderful family reunion, for driving us EVERYWHERE all weekend, for taking me and my brothers, as well as Alyssa and Cody, to all the (shopping) places they thought we'd like (and of course they were right), for being so funny and warm, and for all of the memories and laughs. I love you guys like crazy and will see you again soon!

I took over 500 pictures over the long weekend, all of which will be posted on Facebook within the next 24 hours (guaranteed!), so keep an eye out for that. I also have a couple more blog entries that haven't been posted yet because I haven't had time to edit or add pics, but those will be up very shortly.
Thank you again, fam, and congrats on another successful Origuel Family Reunion!

Now, about that 14-hour drive home...

Friday, August 1, 2008

>>> aaaand 27 hours later…

GEEZ that was a long journey. We left my house sometime after 10pm and after a quick stop to return beer to QFC (yes) and fill up on gas, we made pretty good time to the border. But then we got lost for an hour trying to get to Nicko’s aunt’s house in West Vancouver. I definitely fell asleep on the way and didn’t even realize anything was wrong when I woke up until I checked the clock. 2am --- sheeeesh. We all pretty much crashed, but not before we agreed that we would depart for Calgary at 7am.

Cut to 7am --- we’re all still sleeping. Wait, cut to 6am first, when my alarm woke me up and I turned it off and went back to sleep. Nicko finally woke me and Chan up at 8am and after some showering and eating, we left West Vancouver a little bit before 11am.

The drive was not toooo bad; Nicko drove for most of the time, only getting a break when Rick drove. I rode bitch almost the entire way, which I didn’t really mind except when I fell asleep it was awkward and Nicko got some really lame pictures of me sleeping. Hopefully those won’t ever get circulated on the internet. Anyway, for the most part we slept or just listened to music, stopping only a few times for gas, for food (at Tim Horton’s), and a couple of run-ins with the wee-ooh-wee-ooh-wees. Yes, we were stopped twice in one day. Don’t ask. We even saw a bear chilling on the side of the highway; it looked like he was leaning with his elbows on the guardrail. Do bears have elbows? I don’t know.

We had hoped that by some miracle we’d get to Calgary quicker than the estimated 11 hrs and 38 minutes that Mapquest stated it would take to get there, but it was actually pretty accurate. We rolled up to Tita Neneng’s house at around 11:45pm (MST) --- about 11 hrs and 45 minutes after we’d left Vancouver. Granted we did drop Vin off at home first, but still… It was a long journey.

We hung out with whoever was still at the house until 2am, and now my brother, my dad, and I are at a family friend’s house about to go to sleep. I am exhausted and I’m sure my dad is too (my dad and the rest of the Seattle fam left the Seattle area at about 6:45am and didn’t arrive in Calgary until 10pm MST --- they definitely had a lot of stops along the way), so I don’t think we’re even going to think about leaving the house until 11am. Whew.

The plan for tomorrow (technically today) is to hit up 17th Ave and Chinook for shopping, and then the reunion officially kicks off with dinner at Tito Fred’s house. The guy cousins are already trying to corrupt Paco this time around and bring him to the peelers, but I keep threatening to smack them in the faces if they do. We’ll see what happens. We also have to find a way to pick Ricky up from the airport at midnight…

Anyway, my eyelids are drooping so that’s my cue. Stay classy, Seattle!