Tuesday, April 15, 2014

[Travel] This is Jacksonville #1

I've fired up the purple Lenovo netbook because I had to back up some photos from my camera - I have an upcoming trip to Savannah, Georgia in a few days and I definitely need the extra megabytes of space that I could get.

Anyhoo, while I was looking through some old photos, I figured I might as well start uploading them one by one here in the blog so the miniscule number of people reading my blog can actually enjoy some of the photos I take, and not just it being saved down in a computer, being forgotten somewhere.

Most of these photos were taken during my first month in Jacksonville so these were all new to me.

First photo on the left - my employer, Deutsche Bank. They had recently expanded their operations in Jacksonville, FL and I managed to move from the Manila branch to the US. Yay!

 This photo on the left is the Cumer Museum - don't kill me if my spelling is wrong. Normally you have to pay to get in but the museum has free entrance every Tuesdays from 6pm until it closes at around 9. Great, huh? This photo was taken on a Saturday morning, while I was on my way to the Riverside Arts Market every Saturday under the overpass.

And yes, I did get to go in the museum on a Tuesday. There's a lovely garden area inside - they have an English garden and an Italian garden and it overlooks St John's River. A nice place to just chill out and relax.

Photo on the left is Tinseltown USA - the movie theater on the same street as the office and my apartment. While movies here in America cost a lot ore than Manila, my first time to watch a movie here was two weeks after I arrived. I saw Gravity and also saw a few other films here and there.

Normally I don't go to cinemas because of the cost, but it is good to treat myself every now and again.

So there you have it - a brief tour of Jacksonville for now :)

This is currently the place I love and I'll post blogs every now and again on places I've been and what I've been doing :)

Friday, April 4, 2014

[Travel] Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach Sunset Cruise Review

It's a nice and sunny day outside in Jacksonville - and I realize that I have been posting mostly about my book reviews than concentrating on my travels - so, this is one of the first that I'm posting since I moved to America nearly 6 months ago.

Hanging out at the boat deck during the cruise

One nice November weekend, my boyfriend (then friend) asked me if I wanted to do a sunset cruise in Amelia Island - and I said yes, of course. Anything for a new experience right? I do not remember how much it costs but it departs from Amelia and tours you around the nearby river areas - where you can see Fort Clinch, and parts of downtown Fernandina Beach. Mostly it tours you around the Cumberland Island area - where there were wild horses roaming around.

Wild horses, you may think? Oh yes - they're really wild. They don't have an owner, and apparently they have a shorter lifespan than normal horses. Aren't they cool?

The sunset was bloody amazing - if you check on the photo I have uploaded below, you could just imagine yourself being in an African safari - it was just that pretty! Plus the reflection of the sun in the water was just so pleasantly nice.

Wild Horses at Cumberland Island - we were lucky!
On the way back to Fernandina Beach from the cruise of Cumberland Island, it got so bloody freezing - hey, what did I expect? It was November! I thought the weather in Jacksonville would be warm (Florida = warm weather = NOT) but I was proven wrong - it was definitely really cold. Maybe because we were in the water - and that's what made it worse.

Sunset view while on the cruise - amazing!
Getting to the cruise/Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach - I do not remember which tour company we booked the cruise from but just google Amelia Island cruises and you should be able to find one or a few companies offering this service.

Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach is around 40 minutes from Jacksonville and can be reached by I-95 or by A1A. To be honest, the drive down A1A is better and more scenic - you get amazing views of the water as you drive through the coast.

Other things to do - While waiting for your cruise, you could walk around Fernandina Beach, which is a quaint little town. You could eat at some of the local restaurants and shop at some of the boutiques they have. I do like some of their kitschy souvenir shops. They could be quite overpriced but you are supporting some local stores, and not chains! You could also do a short day trip at Fort Clinch - a Florida State Park, where there is a preserved 19th century fort and a nice long boardwalk. You could also walk down the beach while there. It is a nice and tranquil place to just relax and just spend the day pondering.

I had a really wonderful time during this trip - and it was only just the beginning :)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Random Thoughts: April 1, 2014

No, no - this is not an April Fool's joke. This is just random musings when I find myself in a room all alone, with nothing much to do but ponder on the wonder of life and anything else under the sun.
I'm currently not in the mood to read, but am definitely in the mood to write.

I was looking at the blog and realized that my peak posting period was in 2009 and 2010. Back when I was looking for outlets to express myself more when the frustration of living more and more in Manila was getting to me. In 2011, I slowed down significantly when I had to live in England for a short term assignment at work.

Then I discovered traveling - and although I love doing it to bits and pieces, I realize that I haven't really been posting much about it. Blame laziness, I know, but I really should. I promised all my friends back home that I would keep in touch by posting places where I've been, and reviews of what I've seen - even pictures.

But then I've been posting more book blogs instead. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course - as this blog got a few hits here and there because of the book blog - and maybe some of my random musings here and there.

These book blogs do not really encompass my life and what I'm currently feeling though. Ever since I left Manila I have been trying to travel every single weekend - exploring new places here and there around Florida, just trying to check for festivals, or some other new thing I could do, in my own backyard.

Maybe I'm just rambling - but I feel like I've gotten my life back. This is exactly what I wanted to do.
I want to be able to have time in the evening to just stare at a blank blogger page and just ponder some thoughts. I love that I can walk home from work and not waste 4+ hours every single day trying to commute form my house to the office, as compared to my old house.

Not that there's anything wrong with my old house, of course - I just hated the stresses and the traffic that that place had.

So, there you go. Everything you may need to know. I'm very happy where I am right now, and yes, my life is back to normal - and I feel like I have so much more time and opportunities now (which I plan to utilise fully, thank you very much) that I am so content. So full. So happy. :)

And yes, you do have to step out of your comfort zone to know what you really like.. and what you want.. and discover more about you in general.

Here's to all of you having a happier life :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

[Book Review] Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

There has been a lot of buzz about Rainbow Rowell's books so I decided to jump in the bandwagon and borrowed one of her books from the library. Seeing that Fangirl is the newest book out, I decided to borrow it (and partly because the waiting list for this book was shorter than Eleanor & Park).

Fangirl revolves around Cath, who grew up with her twin and has to go to Uni. But then her twin, Wren, has told her that she doesn't want her to be her roommate and pretty much have her own college experience.

Cath was devastated and keeps to herself most of the time and create her Simon Snow fanfics (Simon Snow being their equivalent of Harry Potter - a series of books and movies and they're huge) - until Levi comes along..

So that pretty much is my own version of the book summary - seeing as I can't log in to Goodreads to get a summary using this PC I'm typing the blog in at the moment.

This book has been.... disappointing. At first I was really intrigued because of all the praise for Rainbow Rowell's books, but then I started reading and realized what a loser Cath was... and I was really turned off by her personality (ie she has none) in the first 100+ pages of the book until Raegan and Levi came along to at least help develop her.
Given her twin sister's limited appearance in the book, I find myself rooting for Wren sometimes as Cath is just too bland for my liking - I mean how can you like someone who just wants to stay in their own room and who doesn't even want to make friends? Give me a break! (I know, I know - to each their own, I'm just saying I can't relate with the main character. It took me ages to convince myself to pick the book up and give it another chance, read it until the end!)

In page 180+, the book FINALLY picks up with Levi and Cath's cute scene in Cath's dorm (FINALLY, Cath seems to have more of a personality now!)

And then it went downhill again. After finishing the book, I was still highly disappointed - I was thinking - "This was one of the greatest books for 2013? Bummer" To each their own, I guess.

For me:
1) Cath didn't really grow as a person in the book - sure, she had Levi but her resolutions about not going much out of the house/dorm and not being friendly enough to other people, and getting over Simon Snow and the obsession about the fandom wasn't really addressed at the end of the book
2) What about the other characters? What about Wren, Raegan, Levi, her dad? What happened next to them? For me they were just cameo appearances to the book but they were quite essential to Cath as a person as a whole.
3) Simon Snow - it was confusing trying to follow the mini stories within the book. I know it's fictional, and I know that it is sort of based on the Harry Potter series but how does it end? Any closures in the story?
4)  400+ pages of a story that went nowhere for me. Gaah..

Good thing I just borrowed this book from the Jacksonville Public Library - at least I did not pay any money to buy this book.

Overall Rating: 2/5.

[Freebies/In My Mailbox #2] Week of March 31st 2014

So it's another week of freebies and stuff I got for myself. 
This week, my freebies are: 
- Afar Magazine (1st out of the year) - free subscription from points on RewardSurvey.com
- Vogue April 2014 (2/12) - free one year subscription from points on RewardSurvey.com
- The Economist (2/52) - free half year  subscription from points on RewardSurvey.com
- The Last Little Blue Envelope - borrowed from Jacksonville Library. 

The only thing I bought for myself this week is Tony the Tiger - a souvenir from Jacksonville Zoo, where I went to last Sunday. Nice reminder of the pleasant time I had, and also the lovely tigers at the zoo! 
I love that zoo - all the animals look happy (except for the gorilla - she looked really, really sad) 

That's it for this week! 

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