My Covid travels end

For the past few weeks, I have shared with you my travel to the East Coast during the time of Covid. I end this series today, sharing what particularly stood out — both the pains and pleasures — during my sojourn.

Undeniably, the sights and sounds of the historic sites, with articulate park rangers explaining the history and nuances of each place, were quite pleasurable. I wonder when we can have our own historic sites spruced up and-well manned. Calling the Department of Tourism.

Proud, and utterly grateful for the patient presence, caring and seemingly endless freeway driving on I-95, covering easily about 1,200 miles, of my kids Pia and Paolo, as they took time off to take turns amid sweltering heat to bring me to several disparate spots such as Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Kittery, Maine, Hyde Park in the Hudson Valley, Old Town Alexandria, Virginia and Colonial Williamsburg, Massachusetts, as well as the frequently visited Boston, Washington DC (best to tour at night during summer), and, of course, Manhattan.

With a great degree of excitement, it was a pleasure to indulge in my penchant for American historical trivia, as well as eagerly savoring America’s culinary delights in diet-spoiler restaurants (sorry Dr. RJ, my functional doctor) that I would highly recommend to any Covid-starved traveler, which these cities had to offer, such as clam chowder and boiled lobster in Warren’s Lobster House (Kittery, ME), onion soup and mussels in Red Onion (Woodstock, NY), homegrown maple syrup-fueled ham, sausage, eggs and pancakes in Parker’s Maple Barn (Mason, NH), Zagat-touted Peter Luger’s Brooklyn Heights (BH), NY’s best prime rib steak topped with their own distinctive sauce, and, of course, USA’s staple favorites, good-to-gobble-up on the run, McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts that practically dot all the places I visited in New England.

Americans have obviously also taken to Asian food as well, as I saw various restos offering the ubiquitous Japanese ramen noodles. Among the best I tried was in Hokkaido Santouka Harvard Square in Cambridge (MA) and Kogane Ramen (BH) for pad thai noodles and sweet and sour shrimps. Check out Lemongrass Grill, also in BH, and even Filipino food, which already has some following, like the eco-family friendly, gender-neutral themed resto called Harana Market in Woodstock.

Covid was always topmost in my mind as I anxiously embarked on the trip aboard a PAL direct flight to New York. The flight was full, as obviously others stranded by Covid were as eager as I was to do some “revenge travel.” We were graciously treated to the traditional charm of Filipino hospitality, as the flight attendants unflappably attended to the passengers’ needs, while reminding that health protocol forms would be necessary to present to health officials at JFK Airport. I wasn’t really sure what to expect as initially pre-departure RT-PCR tests would be supposedly required, but then eased a few days before my flight. Also had visions of strict distancing and full mask-on similar to what was required of all passengers during the flight. But, I was very pleasantly surprised when we arrived at JFK, as no health forms were asked and certainly no masks were apparent among the multitude waiting in line for immigration processing. It reminded me of the Ellis Island immigration scene in The Godfather: Part II.

The return trip to Manila was also relatively smooth, except for the ungodly PAL departure at 12:30 a.m. (which became 3 a.m.) and the stressful (for someone who is not too computer savvy like me) One Health Pass requirement of our very own Bureau of Quarantine, which requires you to first download the form and fill up (which is easy) and finally upload (the painful part) vax and booster certifications to secure your QR code in order to be processed upon arrival. In theory, the digital alternative should be great, but unfortunately, the OHP website was quite spotty and unstable, and securing the QR code was a real pain. I can’t help but wonder why our BoQ couldn’t make the experience more friendly, especially if we want to get our tourist arrivals back on track again.

Until next week… OBF!

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