It was on April 2005 when I first went to the United States. I was with my dad, and in the whole trip we only stayed in California for two months. This time, after 12 years of being a busy girl, I finally went back to the US last January to February 2017. Here was the catch: We only had 3 weeks! This was because it’s the first time both of our parents are coming with us at the same time. Before, they had to alternate on every US trip so that the other one can take care of the business at home. They cannot afford to be both away for a long period of time. Also, it’s the first time I’ll be in an overseas trip with two of my siblings. My sisters and I were excited, and at the same time, worried because we knew we will be in a time constraint. We initially planned to go to four states namely Nevada, California, Texas and Alaska. But things did not go as planned so we had to drop our Alaska trip where some of our relatives are. How did we pull of going to three states in three weeks? Here was our schedule per city/county and state:

Days 1-6: Las Vegas, Nevada


Las Vegas Strip

After our flight from the Philippines to San Francisco via Taiwan, we got on a domestic flight to Las Vegas. Imagine us having a total of three flights in just around twenty-four hours. Our main agenda here was my dad’s convention, and we patterned our trip around that. We stayed at a hotel near the Las Vegas Convention Center. We arrived there on a Sunday (Las Vegas time) so we went to the Guardian Angel Cathedral to hear mass. Most of the time, we walked around the Las Vegas Strip until midnight. We were very jet-lagged on the first few days that we always start our day at noon. We walked past the Palazzo, The Venetian, Treasure Island, and many more. During the night, we went to Planet Hollywood to watch a variety show featuring some of America’s Got Talent finalists. We also strolled around The LINQ Promenade, housing the In-N-Out Burger, Sprinkles, Gordon Ramsay’s Fish and Chips, and the High Roller Observation Wheel.

Since we were craving for Filipino food after eating pure hotel and convenience store food and Denny’s, we rode on a taxi and went to the Seafood City Market complex where we ate Jollibee and did groceries. We did our shopping at a local souvenir store and guess what, the cashier was Filipino, too. She was even from our province, Pampanga. In the hotel, one waitress in the buffet area and one receptionist were Filipinos, too. It felt like we never left the Philippines.

Originally, we planned to stay in Las Vegas for only 4-5 days. Unfortunately, on the way to California, we got lost on the freeway. We didn’t know we were going to Death Valley already, so we had to turn around and stay in Vegas for another night. By the way, we already rented an SUV at this time.

Supporting video diary created by my sister: USA 2017 Part 1: Flight to the US via Taiwan | USA 2017 Part 2: Las Vegas, Nevada

Days 7-10: Los Angeles, California

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Hollywood

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, Disneyland California

Because of what happened, we lost one day in our LA trip. On our first day here, we ate at Manila Bay Seafood Broiler in Chino Hills (We are rice people) and stayed in our mom’s former classmate for a night. The next day, we went to Universal Studios Hollywood and half of our time there, we were just in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In the evening, we stayed in a hotel in Anaheim—and yes, you’ve guessed it—we went to Disneyland and Disneyland California Adventure Park for two days. (A separate entry will be posted about the details of our theme park trips.) Time was too short because the next day, we were on our flight to Dallas-Fort Worth. I was kind of sad that we had no time to visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Hollywood sign (I just saw it from far away).

Supporting video diary created by my sister: USA 2017 Part 3: Los Angeles, California

Days 10-17: Dallas, Texas

The Sixth Floor Museum, Dallas, Texas
Fort Worth Stockyards, Texas

As you can tell, there is an overlap of Day 10 because we were already on flight. We stayed in our uncle’s house for the whole six days, which, again, wasn’t originally planned. (Yeah, my dad is so fickle-minded. I was so bummed because I’m more of a stick-to-the-plan person.) Dallas was a more quiet city compared to LA, so all we visited were few brand outlets in Uptown and malls in Downtown. We also went to The Sixth Floor Museum and Elm Street where John F. Kennedy was shot. There was an “X” on the road so you can see where he was when he was assassinated. We also went shooting at the Alpine Shooting Range and finally conquered my fear of holding a gun. I tried using a shotgun first, then the smaller hand gun. We also went to the Fort Worth Stockyards were they showed daily cattle drives, as well as rodeo shows in their Cowtown Coliseum. Together with our cousins, we spent our Saturday night in Dave and Buster’s Arlington. Too bad the Six Flags Over Texas was still closed due to the weather conditions.

On the way to San Francisco, we had a layover in Phoenix, Arizona. It was tiring but it was cheaper. We saved a lot because we were five, hopping from one state to another.

Days 17-21: San Francisco, California

Musee Mecanique, Pier 45, San Francisco, California
Golden Gate Bridge

This place is what I call our “home base” since it’s the one I am most familiar with. Almost every time our family goes to the US, we visit and stay here. Our flight destination was in Oakland, so we got to see The Oracle, the home of the Golden State Warriors. Upon arrival in SF, we went to Serramonte and ate yogurt and a light meal. We strolled around the mall, afterwhich we visited our cousin working at Stonestown Galleria. On the next days, we rode a Muni to the Ferry Building where I ate the best clam chowder I have ever tasted (Hint: In it were Manila clams!). While eating, you can see a good view of the Bay Bridge. Instead of hopping on a connecting Muni, we walked from Pier 1 all the way to Pier 39 where most establishments were, including the Sea Lion Center. We visited the Musee Mecanique, an antique coin-operade arcade, featured in the movie The Princess Diaries. We visited the Fisherman’s Wharf where we witnessed a “mini dance party” with music played by a street drummer. Of course, we can’t leave the Golden State without visiting the Golden Gate Bridge! It was better than I remembered, especially the visitors’ area wherein they had the miniature of the bridge, with a description on its architecture and history. Because we were short of time, we were not able to see the Lombard Street, Coit Tower, the Palace of Fine Arts, and the Painted Ladies. We had to head to Hercules to visit my other relatives.

Hopefully, I will go back soon and visit the other places I weren’t able to visit. It was hard to have a planned itinerary because I was travelling with my family in a short period of time. One of my sisters and I were into historic places and theme parks, but the rest were more into shopping and dining (But of course we love to eat as well). Overall, it was a fun experience and it made me look forward to something if I travel by myself [wink]!

Photos © Nikki Simbillo | Taken with Lenovo S850