Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Remnants: That little shop of treasures

Remnants GM Chito Soliven and owner Remy Cabaltera
Remnants: That little shop of treasures
by rick olivares

In perhaps the last artiste’s haven in Manila, Cubao X… where intellectual rebels, indie designers, comic book geeks and gamers, rock purveyors, and the odd restaurateur find refuge, there too are the thrift shops. In the western hemisphere, these repositories are called, “pawn shops.”

It’s all just another name but as they say, the song remains the same. Here one man’s junk is another man’s gold.

In the case of one proprietor, they are remnants from the past that are in need of new homes; hence, the shop name, “Remnants,” a clever and apt play on the noun and the first name of its store owner, Remy Cabaltera.

The lady from Lanao Del Sur picked up from her late father the habit of keeping things. The wise man that he was, Remy’s father instructed her to never throw away anything outside the obvious trash. “They will be of some value some day,” he imparted. It became crystal clear when those old wartime Japanese newspapers he put aside were sold for quite a sum.

“That’s when I realized what my father had been talking about all these years about saving things,” recalls Cabaltera.

So junk, old stuff, antiques… whatever you want to call it, has become Remy’s life. She’s been in the business of re-selling things for over two decades now. Her first shop was at the old Farmer’s Market Center before it moves to its present location in along General Romulo Avenue in Cubao X (“Marikina Shoe Expo” as it was formerly named), that last bit of real estate that is a throwback to a bygone era and is sandwiched between the colossuses of gentrification known as the condominium.

“At first, I placed ads in the newspaper that I was open to buying people’s personal collections, junk etc.” said Remy. “As Remnants and the other thrift shops in Cubao X became popular, word of our stores and businesses spread by word of mouth. Now we don’t need to advertise.”

The clientele is diverse as the shops contained in the U-shaped arcade. She has celebrity and broadcast personalities who frequent her shop. Julius Babao, Cristy Fermin, Miriam Quimbao, Ronnie Ricketts, Aiza Seguerra, and Connie Sison are a few who have bought items in her shop.

There are a lot of foreigners who also visit her shop. “We had these bunch of Frenchmen come over and buy all the available local komiks,” related Chito Soliven, the store’s affable general manager. “I asked them how they will read them since they were all in Tagalog but they said they will learn and also use it to study the artwork.”

One time, a man from China flew in and went straight to Remnants from the airport, bought every single rock music vinyl album on display, and hopped on back on a plane. “He got everything – AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, the Beatles, Hendrix…”

Occasionally, there are genuine treasures sold in the shop.

“I had a customer who sold me a lot of items,” recounts Remy of a fish that got away. “It so happened that between the pages of one of the books, there was a piece of paper that had a sketch that was signed. I had a customer who was buying some furniture who immediately noticed the sketch. She asked, ‘Remy, magkano ‘to?’ I thought for a moment and then mentioned the first amount that popped into my head. I sold it for P3,500 and this customer would always always haggle for a lower price. This time she got it without any qualms. I only realized later on what I had on my hands. It was an original Ang Kiukok (the late National Artist for the Visual Arts) that was signed and dated. I think it taught me to really go through each and every item that comes to me as well as to properly appraise them.”

Another famous treasure sold in Remnants was a father clock that was given by former American President Franklin D. Roosevelt to his Philippine counterpart, Manuel Luis Quezon. There was a signed dedication on the clock that was sold for a little over P12,000.

Remy and Chito say that they usually go through bodegas of other people about twice a month. It usually picks up around January up to June when people are in need of money for their children’s schooling. “We spent a lot of hours going through dusty and moldy bodegas. But it’s all part of the fun.”

Cabaltera says that there’s been a slight drawback due to the popularity of the television reality show on the History Channel, Pawn Stars. “That made people aware of what they may have in their bodegas so the asking prices for their items has become larger in fee.”

“For some people, parting with their belongings is difficult because there’s an attached emotional value,” added Remy. “On several occasions now, I have had customers who sold me things only to buy them back because they had second thoughts about letting them go. I sold it back to them of course… at no profit. I don’t want people to say that I am holding their belongings to ransom.”

“But I’ve been lucky because through my thrift shops, I have been able to put my children through school. It remains a hobby because there is so much you learn through this. And it really makes me happy when these items find a new home. It pays to appreciate things.”

Author’s Note: Some of the items I bought from Remnants include a near mint condition copy of the first ever English language printing and edition of Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ “Love in the Time of Cholera” (1988 Albert Knopf/Doubleday) for P200 and a beaten up copy of the late Nonoy Marcelo’s Ikabod series, Dagang Sosyal that I used to have but have lost in the intervening years. Also for P150! I also have purchased a number of old Filipino komiks at Remnants.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Muggles aren't allowed on Platform 9 3/4!

I really planned on doing this when I got to Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross.

This particular area is popular with tourists and locals who all want their piece of Harry Potter history. There are standard poses such as the one below with one of the staff at the Harry Potter shop holding up the scarf then letting it go while another snaps a photo. You can avail of the official photo at the Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4 for L9.50! Yep, it's a lot. But still. Why not?

This is the original touch! I wanted to have a photo of me on the ground after smashing against the wall. The Harry Potter store staff and the crowd were laughing at this. "Totally original," they said. "Haven't had anyone do this yet."

Well, there's a method to my madness, right?

Visiting Rough Trade East!

While my introduction to music was the Beatles and then later on bands like Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, KISS, Queen, and Deep Purple to name a few, I guess I came off age, in terms of music in the 1980s when I was in high school and the New Wave era was in full swing. It was there I bought my first vinyl records and began to expand my music horizons. I eschewed the 70s and went for the anti-establishment that was punk, reggae, and ska. 

If you were a serious music fan back in those New Wave 80s then you would have heard of Rough Trade Records. At first, they were the purveyor of indie music that made the genre available to the culture-starved like me. But you still had to be a moneyed person to get the releases coming out of Rough Trade if you lived in Manila. 

Eventually, Rough Trade branched out and became their own record label. I have the complete catalogue of British Sea Power in addition to picking up music from Microdisney, The Fiery Furnaces, The Libertines, and The Strokes.

I finally made the connection the other day as I journeyed to Rough Trade East (the original in Kensington is closed). It was musical nirvana. I thought of old friends and my youth. It was an affirmation of myself as a music fan and as an indie music fan. And stepping inside the stores was like visiting an old friend.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Taking the Game of Thrones Locations Tour of Northern Ireland

My tribute to the immortal Hulk Hogan on a rock at Carrick-a-rede and Larrybane where Brien of Tarth wins he place as a part of the Kingsguard
Taking the Game of Thrones Locations Tour of Northern Ireland
by rick olivares

As a fan of Game of Thrones (both the book that I read first and the television series), I had to take this tour guaranteed a look and then some of picturesque Northern Ireland. 

While chatting with former Ateneo Women’s Volleybelle Patty Taganas-Crampton who has lived in Northern Ireland for the past two years about my trip to the United Kingdom, she suggested taking the tour (of which she hadn’t as well).

I have admired the work of Robert Boake, the series’ location manager, who recently was the recipient of an award for his work on Game of Thrones. While the series has been filmed in a number of countries – Croatia, Iceland, Malta and Morocco – the most number of set locations have been in Northern Ireland. If the Lord of the Rings showcased New Zealand to the world, Game of Thrones has painted altogether another picture of a place that in most minds in strife ridden. And I assure you it is not.

We took McComb’s Game of Thrones Tour that was slated to last a whole day for £35. It is not so bad considering you are seated comfortably in a nice coach and with a group of not more than 30 people. But for our tour, there were about 24, an even more intimate number because the bus isn’t the cramped. Furthermore, we had a cracking good time with our hilarious and awesome tour guide, Derek Gordon, who spiced his commentary about Northern Ireland and the Game of Thrones location sets with his humour.

More than the wit, Derek added to our tour with side trips to other scenic spots in Northern Ireland. Leaving Belfast, our first stop was Carrickfergus Castle, one of the earliest settlements on Northern Ireland that was later used as a base by William the Conqueror. I swear, I will never look at William the Conqueror again in the same manner (in a height and carrots-manner). You'll understand that if you take the tour.

Once we left the city confines, we traveled along the sunbaked and wind-swept east coastline that was simply breathtaking. It was a stark contrast to the rough road out of Belfast International that was some teasing scenery such as tree line that resembles the Dark Hedges and some urban decay. But what modern day city doesn’t have that? It greatly improved as we left Belfast.

We passed by Cairncastle where in the first episode of Game of Thrones, Ned Stark beheads a Night Watch deserter. We didn’t stop though for any photo opportunities as there really wasn’t much to begin with.

Larne where current Liverpool FC manager Brendan Rodgers was born and raised. The location in County Antrim is also home to the memorials for Paddy the Pigeon and SS Periot

Our second side trip was to picturesque Larne where according to Derek, current Liverpool FC manager Brendan Rodgers was born and raised. That got a huge whoop out of me and some boos from Pete Stott, a Manchester United fan from Birmingham. Derek and I kind of got on Pete in a good-natured manner that left the other tourists roaring with laughter.

Larne is beautiful for its lovely seaport that has been in operation for over a thousand years! This is the port where Scots used to land when migrating to Northern Ireland. 

The Harbour also has two memorials – one for the SS Peridot that sank just off the coast due to bad weather and another for Paddy, a pigeon that was used during the Allied landings at Normandy to carry messages. To date, Paddy is the only recipient of the Dickin Medal that is the Irish’s equivalent of the Victoria Cross!

From all that history, we moved on to another key location for Game of Thrones!

At Cushendun Cave

This one was at the Chushendun Caves where the frightening scene of Melisandre giving birth to the Shadow Creature was filmed as Davos Seaworth looked on in horror.

There are two caves here. The one that comes from the sea is where Davos and Melisandre step out. And the wider cave is where the witch gives birth to that foul creature. With the set design, it looks downright creepy but in the daylight sans props, it’s an ordinary cave in a lovely setting.

Our next stop was Carrick-a-rede and Larrybane where Brien of Tarth defeated Sir Loras to win her place as Renly Barratheon’s Kingsguard. It’s an old limestone quarry, hence, its white walls. And it offers a beautiful view of the sea and nearby Sheep Island where a farmer supposedly let his sheep graze as a means to combat poaching.

You have to be careful about walking around and taking photos because some places have a treacherous drop while some grass areas have sheep and cow dung. But luckily, the area is well maintained because of the tourists who come in on a daily basis. 

From there we drove off to lovely Ballintoy Harbour that is the set for Iron Islands’ seaport and the scene of Theon Greyjoy’s homecoming in Season Two. Obviously, the set producers had to make it look like a medieval seaport. But like everything else, it was breathtakingly beautiful.

The marker for Theon Lovejoy's scene at Balintoy Harbour

By the Harbour is Roark’s Kitchen, a traditional Irish pub. It was close to lunch and I along with the other tourists were already hungry. I just snapped some photos but we as a group repaired to the Fullerton Arms Pub and Hotel that is along the Main Street. This is where the cast and crew of Game of Thrones go for eats and drinks during breaks in their shooting schedule. The pub itself has its own Game of Thrones Room where there is a mock Iron Throne and a Map of Westeros! 

My first authentic Irish meal? Steak and Guinness Pie at £8.50! After a sumptuous lunch and a time for bonding with the rest our tour group, we proceeded to Ballycastle that is the home to Lady Catelyn Stark although we didn’t stop for any photos.

Lunch at the Fullerton Arms Pub where the cast of Game of Thrones frequently dines and drinks.

Our second to the last stop was at Giant's Causeway. As a youngster, I read about the myth  of the Irish warrior Finn MacCool who battled the Scottish giant Brenandonner. The result of their battle was Giant's Causeway. With the 40,000 basalt columns placed in near perfect symmetry, it seems that Giant's Causeway is man-made. But it is not. It is the result of an ancient volcanic eruption and since 1986, has been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

I am either Echo and the Bunnymen's Ian MacCulloch or Ralph Macchio doing Karate Kid. Take your pick.

There were hundreds of people scrambling for photo ops and selfies atop the basalt rocks. But none more beautiful and romantic than a newlywed couple’s photo op while kissing.

Our last stop was the Dark Hedges where Arya Stark escaped to following the beheading of her father, Ned Stark. The Dark Hedges is an avenue of beech trees that were planted by the Stuart family some two centuries ago. Their gnarly branches and formation make for a magnificent sight and are always the subject of many a photo essay and pictorial. Me and some friends? We reprised that famous Abbey Road crossing along the Dark Hedges! Brilliant if I may pat my own back. Hahaha. Now since this was our last stop, we had a tour group picture.

Crossing the Dark Hedges -- Abbey Road style!

The entre tour, including the side trips, has been one postcard sight for sore eyes. When you think about it, its £35 well spent. If you had gone on a personal trip it might have cost more. Sure you travel at a pace of your own. But in a group, especially one as boisterous and cool as we had – including the insightful and humorous commentary by Derek, our tour guide; it was added to the pricelessness of the trip. The trip wasn’t just a connection with a fantasy series I have loved since the book’s initial release (and to the subsequent HBO series that is even better) but it was also a trip down some of the best locations on God’s green earth.

Our tour group minus four people (who were lagging behind).

With our tour guide, Derek, Northern Ireland's resident funnyman and fellow Liverpool fan.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The inspiration and magic of Edinburgh

The inspiration and magic of Edinburgh
by rick olivares

While in the middle of my Beatles Taxi Tour of Liverpool, the line from “Penny Lane” resonated with me, “Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes.”

If much of the early songs of the Beatles were about life in the Merseyside then how much of Edinburgh was an inspiration to JK Rowling?

The celebrated author of the Harry Potter novels used to spend hours writing from the back of The Elephant House along George IV Street with a terrific view of Edinburgh Castle. Just a stone’s throw away is Candlemaker Row, with its “wizarding-sounding name,” a street that aside from the popular eatery and pub Greyfriars Bobby is home to book and comic book shops.

Edinburgh castle has obviously influenced Hogwarts School of Wizardry. And the row of coffee shops and pubs like The Elephant House, comprise Hogsmeade. Its winding and cobblestoned streets with its curio shops are Diagon Alley. Down south towards London’s King’s Cross, the East Coast line that runs all the way to Edinburgh could be the Hogwarts Express running out of platform 9 3/4. When I enter Transreal, a shop dedicated to fantasy books, I am almost surprised that the man behind the desk isn't in wizard garb.  

Sipping coffee in one of Edinburgh’s many coffee shops and walking its streets, it is easy to see and feel how Edinburgh has influenced Rowling’s world of wizards and witches. 

Outside the bustling Princes Street, the city features a slower and laid back life. Perfect for writers like Rowling and Robert Louis Stevenson (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), Walter Scott (The Lady of the Lake), and David Nicholls (One Day that was adapted into film starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway) to name a few who are looking for the ambiance to commit words to pen, paper and now, laptop. 

The city has a romantic feel to it as it is a confluence of the worlds old (the castles, medieval cemeteries, old streets) and new (the posh shops along Princes Street and beyond). As the city is home to 12 different colleges and universities, it is a perfect cauldron for inspiration for the idealistic and the intellectual. 

While coffee shops like The Elephant House are drawing tourists because of its Harry Potter connection, I wondered if the budding writers who have yet to pen their own line of books that will capture the imagination of a generation. Where have they gone? What shop do they retreat to now?

As a writer who thrives on writing about people, places, and events while embedding myself in stories as an observer, I can totally relate and appreciate how places like Edinburgh can shape one’s stories. And I suspect that in places like this, magic is always being concocted. We should consider ourselves lucky.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Abbey Road, Strawberry Fields & the Dakota: My Here, There & Everywhere Tour

Crossing Abbey Road in London

Something about that band moves me
by rick olivares

There was a time when I stayed a few blocks away from the John Lennon Memorial in Central Park, Strawberry Fields. I even lit a candle in the nearby driveway of the Dakota where he was shot and killed.

The Beatles were always a favorite of mine. I had all their vinyl albums, saw their films, and I even wore a mop top during my grade school years as a tribute to the Fab Four. The Beatles Jingle Songbook was where I first learned to play the guitar. The Beatles Anthology, both the massive tome and the CD set, remains a favorite and is prominently displayed in my collection. 

Going to Liverpool and taking the Beatles Taxi Tour was communing with my first ever favorite band. I came away emotional and like I have been handed old photo albums that contained secrets and anecdotes of people who I only knew from across the miles. It was if I was not meant to see them until such time. You know… like an inheritance.  

I went down Matthew Street not once, not twice but thrice. One for the three full days I was in Liverpool. I would stand in one corner and soak in everything. I’d watch some bands and street performers. This was rock ‘n’ roll nirvana.

Moving over to London, if there was one place I had to go it was Abbey Road. To complete the pilgrimage and cross that pedestrian lane just as the Fab Four did all those years ago. That I did this with one of my best friends in Craig Burrows made it even more special.

I have had all these bands and recording artists I would call favorites through the years and up to today. There are some who I watched not only in the United States but also in the Philippines. One indie outfit that I absolutely love, I even befriended. But at the risk of sounding sacrilegious, I only undertook one pilgrimage and it’s for the Beatles. 

And I am a happy happy man. Yeah yeah yeah!

Strawberry Fields in Central Park

Outside the Dakota where John Lennon was murdered

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Let me take you down: Taking a Beatles Taxi Tour of Liverpool

Let me take you down: Taking a Beatles Taxi Tour of Liverpool
by rick olivares

“Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes…”

Taking the two-hour and a half Daytrippers Beatles Taxi Tour of Liverpool was a treat for the heart, rubber soul, and the senses. When you travel around the streets of Liverpool while Beatles songs are playing, the tunes literally come to life. The words take on new meaning as you see the very things that John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote about in their songs.

Their songs, especially the early ones, were their life stories.

I checked out the Beatles Tours of Liverpool and there were several. I was looking at this one tour when the concierge at the Britannia Adelphi Hotel pulled out another flyer and gave a person a call. It was the Daytrippers Beatles Taxi Tour.

I set it for 12:30noon so I had ample time to explore Anfield, my first tour of the day. I was taking the Silver Tour that cost £65 and two and a half hours of tours all over the city. The flyer had a sign that said that if there were five of us, each would end up paying only £9! I prayed I wouldn’t be the only one taking the tour as I could sure save some pounds sterling.

And on time, Dave, my guide arrived at the hotel where I was the only one. The £65 better be worth it, I thought to myself because there were others that were cheaper (because they were in larger groups).

I saw his taxi with caricatures of the Beatles outside. “This is real nice, Dave. Do you mind taking my picture next to your cab?”

He obliged and that was my first picture of the tour.

Dave, a local lad, has been doing these tours for the past seven years of his life. He was a Beatles fan but not the dyed-in-the-wool type as his knowledge was passing. But when he got into this tour business, he really had to brush up on his knowledge about the Fab Four and his hometown.

The first stop was at the University of Liverpool. We parked outside the school and walked in. Next to the University is a building that is now closed down.

Dave pointed to a sign on the wall of one building that had an image of John Lennon. “This is the former Liverpool Maternity Hospital where two of the city’s most famous people were born,” said Dave. “As you can see, John Lennon is obviously one of them.”

Dave went on to talk about John’s birth by his mother Julia and their troubled family. After a few minutes, we started to walk away. Then I stopped in my tracks. “Dave, you said there are two famous Liverpudians born here. Who was the other?”

“Me,” he deadpanned. I had a laugh and we had a picture together. Famous people alert!

I knew then it was going to be a great tour.

And it was as Dave took me to the various homes of the Beatles complete with their back story; the Liverpool Art Institute where Paul McCartney went to school; Penny Lane and breaking it down to the “blue suburban skies” to the corner where the banker parked his motorcar, and the barber shop where the barber showed photographs of “every head he’s had the pleasure to know”; Strawberry Field Orphanage; the site where the Quarrymen played with Paul McCartney trying to upstage John; Eleanor Rigby’s final resting place; and lastly, Matthews Street where the world famous Cavern Club, where the Beatles performed, is located. 

Of all the places that we saw today, the one that resonated well with me was the home where John Lennon grew up with his Aunt Mimi. My favorite Beatle is and will always be Paul McCartney but John has a special place in my heart as a music fan. Maybe because he had a more difficult childhood where he learned about tragedy at a very young age. Maybe it was because he wrote from the heart about the things he held dear and near. I knew more about his hardship growing up and the situation he was in. His tragic death all the more made seeing his childhood home and his room from the outside all the more poignant. I said a prayer and offered it to the Man Above for him (the tour was more interesting for me as Dave was hardcore Catholic just like me). 

Dave was wonderful as there was really a personal touch to the tour. God knows how many times he has delivered his spiels and anecdotes but he was never bored and was very enthusiastic and passionate. He was not only polite but also very accommodating. He showed me around as one would do a friend. 

Closing out the tour, we exchanged low fives.

During our tour, we came across several other tours by his competition. Save for the one tour that is supposed to have received the official blessing out the tourism English Tourism Council, all the other guides were polite. I quickly picked up that the official tour people weren’t too keen on the competition. 

And overall, the Daytrippers Beatles Taxi Tour wasn’t simply a tour into the history of the Fab Four’s humble beginnings but also part of the history of Liverpool. And Dave readily shared his knowledge about the city and its people. It might have been pricey but in the end it was worth every penny. To top it all off, Dave dropped me off at Mathew Street where the Cavern Club is located but gave me clear directions on where to go and what to see in the City Square.

I paid the man, shook hands and gave him a manly hug. It seemed the right thing to do. And best of all, we were both smiling. 

My introduction to music was the Beatles. I was born at the height of their fame and memorized the lyrics to their songs more easily than I did my school lessons. My love for the band also introduced me to their hometown of Liverpool and I soon became a fan of the team (although it is strange that none of the Fab Four rooted for LFC as Paul was an Evertonian, Ringo an Arsenal fan because of his father while John and George had no time for the game).

I still have all their albums and remain a fan. The Beatles Anthology remains one of my favorite books ever. This tour was something a long time coming. 

My first real day in England (I arrived in the evening the day before and only went out for food and stayed inside the hotel) was one of the best of my life. I am not only staying in the hotel that once housed the passengers of the ill-fated cruise of the Titanic but also went on a tour of LFC’s home field, Anfield and the Beatles Taxi Tour. 

This was life, sports, and music history right here. 


For more infor on Daytrippers Beatles Taxi Tour, check out their website daytrippertaxitour.com or go to their Facebook Page or call Dave (07711 642 425) or Ricky (07856 318 995)

With my tour guide, Dave.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Day One of my Here, There & Everywhere Tour of the United Kingdom

My thoughts as Emirates EK019 was on its descent at Manchester International Airport? I survived the long 15-hour plus trip.

I am not a stranger to long flights. I have done this so many times before. But I hate it because I have travel sickness. So part of the trick there is to get an exit row set and preferably by the window or next to the aisle. Wasn’t able to get those seats on the first part of the flight (was in the middle seat of exit row) while on the last leg I was on the aisle. That helps when stretching or when I need to get up and walk around. 

On the way to Dubai, I struck up a friendship with Rasheed, a Pakistani who is married to a Filipina and both work in Saudi Arabia. He sat next to me and was drinking Gatorade Green Fury (the limited edition flavor with Leo Messi on the label). I asked him if he liked it and he said it’s the best flavor Gatorade has. He was pleasantly surprised that I work for Gatorade. Plus, I showed him my hand carry luggage that had the G logo on it. So we passed the time by chatting about our respective lines of work.

Once on the airplane, we were in different sections as I sat in the middle of the plane while he was all the way in the back.

Had lots of films to choose from the flight's excellent selection but I chose to watch that 1980’s film, The Outsiders starring C Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, and Matt Dillon. Also in the film were a young Diane Lane and early 80s singer, Leif Garret. I bought the book a long time ago when I was in high school and saw the film later on. It's like a who's who for young and upcoming actors. Imagine that power cast now. And it was good seeing it again although I can now see the flaws in the script, the pace, or even the acting. But still it's right out of those Casablanca type films that I love.

The food as always was excellent. Excellent service. One of the stewardesses is even a dead ringer for Scarlett Johansson! Passengers were lining up to have their pictures taken with her. I wanted too but inabot ako ng ka-torpehan.

I didn’t have to wait much for the Dubai layover. Just an hour. Sat next to a couple from Leeds who talked about football too. 

Watched X-Men: Days of Future Past for the first time as I missed it during its showing in Manila. Loved it! Thought that Bryan Singer did a great job. And the food was even better on this flight.

The sun was setting when the Emirates flight descended into England. Got to see from the window the sun going down.

While getting my passport stamped at Immigration, the Officer asked me about my trip and I said I was off to Liverpool to watch a match. And he got excited real quick that we ended up chatting for several minutes as the queue behind me wasn’t amused. Turns out he is a LFC fan (but he isn’t originally from Manchester though as he is from some other place that I couldn’t make out). He got real thrilled for me when he saw the letter where I am to avail of a hospitality package from Liverpool and Standard Chartered (Thanks, Ms. Nimii and Anne). "And a derby," he exclaimed! "Now they have to win to make it special for ya."

The one-way ticket from Manchester to Liverpool cost me £14. Took the train at Platform 2 (Heald Green, Gatley, East Didsbury, one stop whose name I didn’t get, Manchester Picadilly, and Manchester Oxford where I switched to another train that went through Warrington Centre, Widness, Liverpool South Parkway and lastly, to Liverpool Lime Street where I got off). 

People were most helpful in pointing me to the right direction (the maze of corridors and platforms). Strangely though, one of the security officers working the exchange station for the trains wasn’t sure what platform I should be on for the Liverpool Lime Street stop. Luckily, one couple who were on their way to the same destination pointed me in the right direction.

It’s about 9:20pm when I arrive in Liverpool. And my first meal on English soil? Burger King (at the train station). Haha.

The hotel where I am staying for four days in Liverpool is the Britannia Adelphi that is about a three-minute walk from the train station. 

The hotel reminds me of L’Fisher in Bacolod City. It has the same feel and ambiance to it. It has definitely seen better days but really who goes on tour to stay in a hotel? Sucks thought that there is no wifi in the room and I have to work at the lobby to make use of the internet. Walking along the corridors of the sixth floor, I can hear some of the floorboards creak. The lift is painfully slow that if a zombie were after me I would have been a meal for the bastard before the doors close shut.

Got a few hours of sleep before I went down early in the morning to use the internet. The lounge sure is quiet. 

So it’s officially Day One of my Here, There, and Everywhere Tour of the United Kingdom. Will get up early for breakfast then head to Anfield where I will take the Stadium Tour after which I’ll take one of those Beatles taxi tours. 

Check you all later.

With Rasheed at NAIA

My train tickets from Manchester to Liverpool