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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Let's Go to Greece

A friend from abroad who just went home treated me a lunch, at CYMA Greek Taverna. Located in Shangri-La Mall, this Greek-inspired restaurant is said to be one of the richest and healthiest cuisine in the world. I love the food and the ambiance, and the waiters are shouting "OPA!!" as soon as they serve something flaming. First we had a Mezedes and the word is translated as appetizer, which means "something small and delicate". Tzatziki is a cucumber, garlic and greek yogurt dip, and this Mezedes is served with warm pita bread.

Paidakia, a char-grilled lamb
Following shortly, the main course was served and this time we had Paidakia, the most popular delicacy is a char-grilled lamb ribs serve with a choice of rice-stuffed peppers or Greek roasted potatoes. But in our case, we chose the roasted potatoes. The overall fine dining experience was absolutely excellent, for the staffs exemplify amiability and great customer service, its ambiance shows Greek heritage and the foods are superb and it's worth your cash in.

I've been in Shangri-La Mall often times as always come to pass CYMA Greek Tavern at Level 6 of the Mall where some of the favorite restaurants are located. At first it was a wishful thinking but never thought I would be in this restaurant one of these days. Who knows, that my next destination is Greece! Ahh..it's one of the places I would love to literally see!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cafe Agnes

One of my favorite past times during dead hours is to go to the mall and coffee shops are my usual hang out. I love coffee, and to keep me more relax from my ennui, I make sure that I order some brewed coffee. The more intense the aroma is, the more alive I am, especially when I get weak and in need of some energies to keep me awake. Most of the coffee shops have wi-fi internet so it's always best to bring along your laptop or your cell phone so you can check your email or social networking site like facebook.

In Sta Lucia Grand East Mall, it's great to have a place like Cafe Agnes. Located at level 2, the coffee shop has been in the business for seven years. They have loyal customers who keep coming back in the shop. It has a smoking lounge outside where you can see the scenic view of Ortigas Center. Coffees need not to be expensive. The price of their coffee can be justified with great customer service. Unlike some coffee shops which the staffs are not allowed to have some chit chat with their customers, Cafe Agnes stands out in this department. That's one thing that you can find in this shop aside from its location, you can expect great customer service, amiable staff and that's one of the reasons why they have more loyal customers who keep coming back as soon as they are in the mall. Check out one of their staffs, Gina, who's been with the shop since its opening seven years ago. Customers love her because she exemplifies friendliness and she delivers an excellent interpersonal skill. Just try to drop by at Cafe Agnes when you are at Sta Lucia mall. I've been hanging out in this cafe for more than three years now.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Excruciating Ordeal in Brooklyn, New York

Staying in New York is expensive, especially when you have no friends or relatives to support you in your accommodation. The standard of living is high and if you do not know someone in the Big Apple, you must find ways to have some Filipino friends so that in time when you need help, someone will let you lend a helping hand. And to keep you going, you need to stretch out your budget and that should be good enough to finance your needs while you are in the city. And you must also know where to find a good food hub to justify your means of necessity, like the Filipino, Chinese, Thai restaurants which the foods they serve have to be paid at a fraction of your cost.
I've been in New York three times and was back in 2010 for a business trip requiring attention to facilitate necessary documents for our client’s order coming from China. From then, it was also a good idea to initiate visit to some clients, whose office is located in the heart of Manhattan.

I came from an extended flight with Emirates en route Dubai since this was the only flight available in conjunction with the date of my planned departure from Manila. I had over 10 hours stay in Dubai before boarding the plane bound for New York. From JFK Airport I went to the main city taking the air train and the subway in Howard Beach. I have two bags, the first one is the laptop bag that I carry on my shoulder and the other one is my luggage with a trolley and both I could barely carry with my hands which made me quite uncomfortable in time of my arrival in New York. Stretching between the 7th Avenue and 42nd St that I walk, I met three Filipinos in their mid-life hanging around while sitting at the seats in the side walk. They tried to advice me where to stay safe and they brought me to Burger King to have some meals. I just forgot their names but I still have their numbers on my cellphone using a sim card with a New York number, though in time I would need to travel back, then I would have someone to hang out with. I walked around and inquired some hostels because the Manhattan Inn that I have checked in the last travel that I had in New York was already closed. Chelsea Star, which was just in front of Manhattan Inn hostel, was full so I had to find another place that will keep me safe. It took me time to find a place which lets me stay the entire night in Broadway Avenue. Tourists in the city are welcomed with bright lights as soon as the sun start to disappear. I’ve walked all night long in Broadway so it was a good idea to hang around in Times Square till the night is over. It’s safe because there are police roaming around to ensure the safety of people all over the place.

So I spent overnight in Times Square and when the sun began to rise, From Penn Station via subway I went to Broadway Junction station and ride a J-M-Z train in Brooklyn, New York to see the hostel which I’ve searched through the internet with instructions how to get to Williamburgh. It’s a 20 minute ride through the subway from Times Square or Penn Station. Glenwood Hostel is located just across the river line connecting to the Brooklyn Bridge, at the Broadway in Williamburgh, Brooklyn. Just a 5 minute walk to the station and you can hear trains are passing once you get into that hostel. Well, I guess I have no choice ‘cause it’s been two nights I haven’t sleep well. I took the risk
 and got my room, so small and hot, about 5-7 square meters and a bit larger than a single bed. The rest room was common; it stinks and not clean enough if you set your own standard when it comes to bathrooms. Think about a cubicle that your arms could not extend when you stretch it between the two walls. No toilet papers and no running water inside the cubicle but just a flash to wash that “something”, haha..If you are unfortunate enough, the pooh is your host welcoming you the moment you enter the cubicle. The ceiling of each room is covered with a net used for catching fish which lets you see the main ceiling as the rooms are just partitioned and wall off with a ply wood. No fan in the ceiling at all and you can feel the hotness as it happened to be summer and I was sweating a lot the entire time in the hostel, as I can feel the agony towards my body. You can hear the trains passing by which lets you unable to sleep well at day or at night. You can hear some people fight in the premise yelling indecent words as most of the guests in the hostel are dominated with colors. I slept for a couple of hours. I never trust anyone there so I guess I had to leave before the darkness come. My intention was to have an overnight stay in Times Square because I would say it’s much safe there than staying in the hostel. I could no longer procrastinate leaving the hostel as the thought of looking for a good place to stay has been planted already.

I've been to an agency in Spanish Harlem who gets to recommend a client with a nice room for a minimal fee. They directed me towards an apartment in Elmhurst where you can see most Filipinos who live there. But their recommendation did not materialize which few days later I had to reimburse the money that I paid for.

In time I was looking for an apartment that the agency directed me to go to, I met Tita Julie  in Elmhurst who I asked for a decent place to live in time it was Philippine Independence Day where she invited me to watch the festivity in Madison Avenue which the parade is taking place. She recommended me to a Filipino couple who own a condo unit and I got a very nice and clean bed room for $500 a month. It was Tita Glo Soriano and I forgot the name of her husband who we spoke first to berth at their place. I was well taken cared off and they showed me around to their condo unit. Immediately after taking the room, I went back to Brooklyn to check out in the hostel and pulled my bags off to Elmhurst.My excruciating experience lasted about more than a week and thanks to Tita Julie who became an instrument so I would be able to find a better place to stay in New York

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pushing Through with the Plans

We are now in the month of August and nearing the "ber" months. And as soon as we reach next month, we hear Christmas songs again played in the radio. I have a mixed feeling about it. But I am quite excited about the imminent event as each year when Christmas season comes, we get to connect this festivity with reunion with friends and families. And we know how important the upcoming holiday to the Filipinos as the celebration has been part of our culture. We can say that this is the most celebrated event of the year because as soon as the month of September takes place, some people already start to put a Christmas decoration, start to jot down things to be bought and ultimately expecting the 13th month day to be released as early as possible. As the season is just around the corner, it makes me wonder about each passing year as it's a wonderful feeling to reminisce about those good old days. And we know how kids love the Christmas season.

Okay, what's my next plan just before the holiday season comes? And speaking of travel, I would have to say to minimize it in the meantime  since we are in the months when typhoons are more active. I really love to go out places and yet, I was thinking about the rains as this would only stale my time to enjoy the place, just like what happened to my past trip in Baguio.

This year for me promises with lots of local travel as I started the year with a bang, from Bicol to Baguio. But I have never reach the peak of my plan yet as far as traveling is concerned. My greatest obsession for this year is to visit Batanes Islands. Let's see if it pushes through, I believe though, that it would come to materialize.