Doing LA right

Having an authentic LA experience is no easy task. If you ever find yourself in this city, you will see there is too much to do in one day. With bumper to bumper traffic you have to do LA right otherwise it can put you in a bad mood. You must be prepared to have no plan. The trick is letting the city come alive to you.

I usually have an idea of some things I want to do. With my friend in town from Puerto Rico, it was my job to make the city feel like an old friend to him. Over time I have gathered up a few places I like visiting in LA.  I packed my new ipad mini to test out the camera, my gps and we were on our way.

First stop, Griffith Observatory. This is one of the best spots to see the city of Los Angeles. There is lots to do inside but being outside is the most rewarding.

Next we made out way to pick up a friend. She was staying in an area where there was a cool cafe and record store I knew of. We parked by her place and took a walk down the street. This gave us all a break from being in the car and a chance to relax.

For dinner, I recommended pizza. If shared, its cheaper for everyone. I knew of this place in Silverlake that made Chicago deep dish. As we waited to be seated, we placed our order so our food can cook while we wait. We ended up having a good time outside the restaurant, laughing and telling stories.

Later that night we went for a drive downtown to see the old buildings. During the day this would be a mistake, driving across town could take hours, but since it was pass 10pm, it was safe to make the drive. We got there in a few minutes.

After, Joanna mentioned her love for ice cream, lucky there was a place in Silverlake that was open pass midnight. We drove back to where we came from and made out final stop for the day.

As the driver of this trip I wanted everyone to have a good time without worrying about what to do next. It was my opportunity to share some of my favorite spots in LA. Its a city that can stress an outsider out but once you make friends and spend the day with them, the city will no longer feel like a stranger.

Road Trip: San Francisco

On our way to San Francisco I read off a sign with all the towns we were passing through. I remembered I had an aunt that lives near by. When I called her she was so excited, I couldn’t even get a word in. I introduced her to Gus and told her about our adventure camping. She fed us and let us get all cleaned up. It was a breath of fresh air to visit. I loved how happy she was to see us.
When we arrived in San Francisco we were ready to see the city. We drop our stuff at a hostel and went to go take some photos in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

After dinner we made our way to the Arcade Museum. It was fun to actually play with the vintage games. I was so excited when I saw they had a photo booth. Gus said they are a curse for couples but I reassured him my parents took a ton when they were young.

The next morning Gus woke up early (due to staying in a hostel.) He text me early in the morning and said, “I’m ready.” We were up so early nothing was open when we walked around town. We set out a quest to find china town. I had driven pass it many times but never bothered to walk the streets. Since he is in to marshal arts, this place was heaven for him. We ended up spending three hours shopping, and looking around.

When we were done I said, “My turn, lets go to hippie town.”

I finally got a t-shirt made that I’ve been talking about. “Go Indie.” It was a comment I made once on Facebook when a friend was complaining about how dumb movies are. We made our way down to Dolores Park to get a coffee. It was kinda strange to find so many people sitting at the park on a Wednesday morning, it seemed like no one had anything to do. We found the atmosphere to be relaxing.

3pm hit and it was time for the long 10 hour drive to the magical land of Portland and Seattle!!!

Travel: New York, New York

Back in 2010 I traveled to New York. I never shared the pictures or the journey until now.
Anytime you travel somewhere new, you have this idea painted out in your head of what it will be like. You gather all the stereotypes you’ve heard and develop an opinion about a place you’ve never stepping foot in.
The moment comes when you are finally there. Suddenly, the city becomes more than fancy buildings and entertainment venues. It becomes a place where real people call home. That is when travel starts to change you. Each day your opinion changes.

New York. What I didn’t expect was to enter in to a city that was very much a community. When I was on the subway, I was looking around at all the different cultures that were there. I then felt a woman looking at me, she was looking at what I was wearing, my hair, my eyes. I was the odd one! She was looking at how different I was. I suddenly became a part of the culture. I was a person in New York traveling on the subway awaiting my destination.

What I began to discover was a place where everyone seemed to be taking care of each other. It might sound strange, but New York was nice to me. When on lookers saw that my friend and I were lost they wouldn’t hesitate to help us. One girl even said, “This is my stop, I’ll take you to the place you are looking for.” We walked and talked with her and suddenly she felt like an old friend. She told us what brought her to New York and the dreams she holds.

The first place we went to was a record store. I am thankful for technology, but I still enjoy walking through a real music store. By the time I grew up and had money of my own, record stores no longer exists in my area. Buying old vinyls makes me feel like I have the only copy in the world!

Anabel and I arrived at Time Square. It was nearly 9pm and the night was just starting. There seemed to be a million things to do. Since I had my big camera with me, people smiled when I took pictures of them, which made me smile. Usually I get mean looks when I take pictures of people. I guess here in Time Square, it was okay to be a tourist.

When I got my portrait taken by a street artist, I asked if I could take a photo of him too. It was like exchanging  images. I showed him his photo, he smiled and said, “very nice.” When I received his drawing of me, the girl had long lashes and a different chin. I said, “This girl doesn’t look like me.” He answered like a man would, “I made you pretty.” I laughed and said, “Thank you for making me pretty.”

The next morning we went to see the Statue of Liberty. I began to place myself back in the late 1800’s when immigrants from all over the world came to America. The joy they must have felt when they saw Miss. Liberty for the first time. Freedom was awaiting them, a new life, hope, dreams and the possibilities of living a great life. It was surreal to see it myself.

When I looked at the sky line I figured out why New York was different than I thought. There were two towers that changed it. Changed everything. No one would have ever thought buildings would go away. This is why the city was taking care of each other, even ten years later.

I couldn’t help but imagine the streets covered in ashes, people running. What I saw on TV back in 2001 became real to me.

Construction of the One World Trade Center was still taking place. I could see the ground where the buildings once stood. I took a moment to believe what I was seeing.

I could feel the sorrow in the air but most of all hope. Things would never be the same but what was being built would bring some peace to some. The memorial center was more than just remembering 9/11, it was a place where we  could remember all the families that were directly effected by the tragedy.

That evening Anabel arranged for us to go see the Lion King on Broadway. I was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

The next day we slept in. One thing about New York is that it will take all your energy away if you let it. We decided to take it easy and walk around Central Park.

It was so relaxing to hang out with the butterflies and birds. We spent hours walking around the garden.

What makes Anabel great to travel with is that she is as spontaneous as me. We ran in to the zoo and decided to go see some New York animals.

I remember it being so hot that day. Everyone seemed to be looking for a way to cool off.

We walked around the city to grab lunch. There was still so much to see! Lucky we had a ticket for one of those tour buses who took us all over town.

We arrived at Soho. The place looked strangely familiar. I couldn’t help but think of Felicity, one of my favorite TV shows when I was in high school. There on the corner was Dean & Deluca, where Felicity worked while she was going to NYU. I loved watching her adventure in NY. Even though it was a fictional show, being here in her neighborhood made it feel real.

The last thing to do on our tourist list was visit the top of the Empire State building. I remember going through all the lines, elevators, stairs and said, “This isn’t very romantic.” haha.

Finally, our last day in New York came. We spent it once again in Central Park. After we had a nice picnic we ended up taking a long four hour nap. I guess this made us official New Yorkers or just homeless.

As we walked to a music venue I tried to take in the city and notice all its details. My world back home is so different from here.

We found Pianos, a cool music venue and enjoyed one of the local bands. There is so much to see in New York but I think the best part of traveling, are the discoveries.

Australian & New Zealand travels

A dream of mine for years was to go to Bible College in Texas.  After things didn’t work out because of finances I went to design school and studied video editing and graphic design.  Even in the midst of my new-found passion as an artist, I still never forgot my desire to go to Bible College.

After much exposure to some of Hillsong United DVD’s that documented a youth movement in Sydney, Australia, I began to do research. Turns out it was not only an amazing church but a Bible College that offered a course in TV and Media.  It was the perfect place for me.

There I met some amazing people and had some great opportunities. I volunteered for their large conferences as a camera person and assistant. The moment they found out I had some background in video editing and design I was asked to be apart of the youth video team.  There I became a faithful volunteer and later was asked to do some paid jobs for albums and weekly church services. This is my demo reel of the work I did. Things were making sense as to why God had me wait things out and go to school first.  My passion + my faith and love for Him was going to come together for my = destiny.

Almost 3 years later since I called New South Whales home, my life has changed and I have grown dramatically as a person.  I recently went back for a visit. Here is a video I edited together of some of the fun moments I had with my Australian and New Zealand Friends.

In New Zealand, it felt like time stopped. I no longer could hear the clock ticking. We came across the most amazing greenhouse at one of the museum.

When we were out getting lunch I found a little book store which had the most unique books I ever came across. If I was alone I would have spent a few hours in this used book store. Looking through all the rows of books I found a book of poems that caught my attention, I knew this would be perfect for my collection.

The best part of going back and visiting friends was seeing how much they changed and grew. I was also able to see how far I came along, and how much this place was no longer home for me.

On the last day I went to the Harbor and said good bye to the beautiful city, I knew I wouldn’t see it again for a very long time.