Philly, Hey!

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time flies. One minute I’m traveling; the next I’m back in school preparing assignments and presentations. Sometimes, I truly wish there were more than 24 hours in a day.

Last month, right before I started my my second semester as a Graduate Student, I decided to do a small weekend getaway trip, with some of my girls, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I booked us a really nice hotel room in Center City at Loews Philadelphia Hotel. We had such a breathtaking view of the city. It was one of those views that reminded you of the beauty of architecture and sunlight brightening up the sky, and the serenity created by skyscraper lights. Can you tell I love cities? Because I do. I’ll admit Philadelphia is far from my favorite city but on that weekend, it definitely grew on me.

We decided to walk to our first destination. It was supposed to snow in a few hours and we wanted to enjoy walking, while we could. It wasn’t too cold so it was perfect. In the middle of Midtown Village we came across Finn McCools Ale House.  Here I discovered and had my first White Russian. I don’t know much about cocktails, and at 25 maybe I should know a little more than I do,  but wow was it strong. Luckily, I shared the drink with my friend. We left Finn’s very happy and probably a tad buzzed.

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As we walked towards the Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens we came across beautiful murals and graffiti art. Had to stop and take pictures.

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The Philadelphia Magic Gardens is a beautiful project that started in the late 1960s by Isaiah Zagar. It’s a remarkably stunning work of art that opened up to the public in 2008. At first sight, you can’t help but to look in awe at how detailed everything is. Every corner, every inch, is truly magical. We literally stayed there for about two hours just mesmerized by everything. We took so many pictures wanting to capture every moment we created there.

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It started getting colder and that was pretty much our cue to walk back towards are next destination. On the way, we stopped by Strangelove’s Bar. I’m 100% a beer girl so I was more than enthusiastic to try something new. We ended up spending about 1.5 hours just talking and enjoying our beer selection. It was a nice spot and we clearly got sucked into the vibe.

Before heading to Philly, almost everyone I talked to told me to check out the Reading Terminal Market and that’s what we did next. At this point we were starving and all we wanted was food. The place was crowded and the options to eat felt endless. We ended up separating, half of us got Philly Cheesesteaks  while the rest of us got some Soul Food at Keven Parker’s Soul Food Cafe. I devoured my food. It was absolutely mouth watering delicious. There’s no other way of putting it. We couldn’t leave the Market without getting some famous Beiler’s Donuts. The line was insane but totally worth it.

It was early, around 7PM, but it was raining, and phones were dying, so we decided to head back to the hotel to charge for a bit. The plan was to head back out for a few more bar hops, before preparing for our evening festivities, but the bed felt too good for a few of us. The rest of the group headed down to the hotel bar. Never underestimate the hotel bar! You might just end up having a pleasant time with some fancy delicious cocktail, that you keep calling by the wrong name…yep, totally me.

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Eventually, we got dressed for the night. It was an interesting one to say the least. If I had to summarize the night in one word it would be random. We spent most of our night at Time Restaurant. It was a great place divided into three sections: one for dancing, one for live music and one for simply sitting and drinking. After that we somehow ended up at Wawa. That had to be the most crowded Wawa I’ve ever seen.

The next day, before heading back to my house we had Brunch at the famous, and highly loved, Green Eggs Cafe. Beforehand, we had mimosas at Caribou Café, a Parisian bistro, to kill the 1 hr and 45min wait we had at Green Eggs. It was such a cute little French place it took everything in me to not order food.

To end our Philly adventure we took a picture with the Love sign like any other tourist. It was absolutely freezing at this point and we couldn’t wait to get back to the car.

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Philly, was a good adventure. The trip definitely warmed me up to its possibilities. Philadelphia might not have the best public transportation system, but it’s not lacking great bars and places to eat. So if you want a nice weekend getaway why not give Philly a try? I did.

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Last Day In CA

“Normality is a paved road: it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow.” – Vincent Van Gough

It was officially Monday; our last day in Los Angeles, California. We had to wake up super early to move our cars, and it was brutal. We were so tired from our hike the day before. On our search for a parking garage, by accident, we ended up driving by the famous Skid Row. It was by far the saddest thing I have ever seen in my life. All the poverty broke my heart. I was truly baffled and speechless. It was one of those experiences that made you grateful for what you have. A reminder to always give thanks for your blessings. At that moment I missed home.

We couldn’t find the right parking garage and it was already 9:00 am. We decided to just have breakfast. Of course, we couldn’t find non-meter parking (meter prices were ridiculous,) so we decided to get our food from Poppy + Rose to go. We really wish we could have ate there because it was a quaint spot; perfect for a relaxed morning with friends.

We ate our breakfast in the car and then head towards FIGat7th. I guess this is LA’s way of modernizing its downtown. Think of it as a mall. We didn’t stay long just stopped by Target, which by the way had a whole liquor area. I was pretty taken aback by that. I haven’t seen a Target with liquor in NJ.

At this point, we were wide awake and just ended up parking the car at a parking place right around the corner of the apartment. It was time to get ourselves ready for Beverly Hills.

Before heading out, we decided to find one of the Los Angeles Angel Wings, which is a part of the Global Angel Wings Project.

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We looked like total tourists and enjoyed every second of it.

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When we arrived at Beverly Hills we were in shock…talk about a total 180 from downtown LA. We parked and thought, “we’ll only stay for two hours max. What can we possibly do for a whole day here.” Yea, we spent our entire day in Beverly Hills without a single care in the world.

It was a perfect day in Beverly Hills. The weather was fantastic and the atmosphere was peaceful. First, we came across this small chocolate shop, Diane Krön Chocolatier. Damaris wanted to get some chocolate for her family. We started talking to the owner and to our surprise she was Jacqueline Kennedy’s personal chocolate connoisseur. She was an absolutely lovely woman with so much kindness. She allowed us to taste some of her delicious chocolates and nicely packaged the chocolates Damaris purchased. It was the perfect welcome to Beverly Hills.

Once we hit the main strip, we came across all the high-class expensive name brand stores that I would never shop at on a daily basis. Dior, Michael Kors, Tom Ford, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Vera Wang (wedding dress goals,) Tiffany & Co. It was all there!

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We walked in awe. Everything was beautiful and expensive. Surprisingly, we didn’t feel poor, even though we totally were compared to the riches we were surrounded by, which is probably why we didn’t go into any of the stores.

We had lunch at 90210 Pho – A Modern Vietnamese Kitchen. The food was good and prices were affordable. We had the funniest waiter who loved that we were from the East Coast. We considered doing a tour of the mansions but ended up not doing so. We walked around some more and then came across Amorino Gelato Al Naturale. Talk about tasting the softest and most delicious gelato ever!

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Before heading back to downtown LA, we drove past some of the Beverly Hill mansions and swore one day we would own one. They were spectacular! With dreams in the air, we parted ways with Beverly Hills and drove right back into reality.

We ended the night at the Ace Hotel Upstairs. It was interesting, to say the least. We didn’t stay long, even though we tried. I think it was 70’s night; not really our crowd. Just like that ended our final day in Los Angeles, California.

California was definitely a 2016 highlight. It has always been a dream of mine to visit the West Coast. I’m glad I was able to share that with some of my closest friends. We definitely learned a lot from our trip and were able to experience things we didn’t think we would anytime soon. It just goes to show that all you really need to make a dream come true is a little push to make it happen. So thank you Steph and Damaris because only by pushing each other did we make this a reality.

Last Few Days In Cali.

Time flies when you’re busy.

“Do something instead of killing time. Because time is killing you.” – Pablo Coelho

Seven months ago, I took a trip to California with two of my close friends, and since then time has been speeding; without caring for any stop sign in sight.
I never finished sharing the rest of my west coast adventures with everyone.
[Catch Up] So I figured, what better way to close 2016 than by reminiscing these next few days with my readers.

On Saturday, May 28, 2016, we woke up super excited because we were finally going to see the famous Venice Beach. We put on our cutest bathing suits ready to have our movie scene moment…you know, that scene where all you see is hot guys as you walk down the strip.

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After we ate lunch in the Los Angeles Flower District, in this small area they have closed off for food vendors (had some Salvadoran Pupusas and some fresh Horchata water,) we headed straight to Venice Beach. It took us a bit to find some parking, but when we did and got out the car, we couldn’t believe it… it was COLD! We chose the coldest day of our trip to go to the beach. Thank goodness I had my leather jacket!

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We walked the strip suffering from the cold, but enjoying our surroundings. It was a cool beach with a relaxing vibe. It was filled with all sorts of vendors and people exercising, biking, surfing, playing basketball, weightlifting; just doing all sorts of activities.

Afterward, we went into a bar to change into our night outfits, which were also a huge fail. We all wore maxi dresses and headed to Santa Monica, CA where it seemed to be even colder. When we arrived, the first thing we did was go to TJ Maxx to get Damaris a cardigan and myself a scarf. Luckily, Damaris found a decent cardigan but unfortunately, they just finished selling the last scarf. I was disappointed, scarfs are my lifesavers for any cold emergency.

We had dinner at this super chic Greek restaurant called Inotheke. The food was very delicious. It was one of those places where you wished the food portions weren’t so small because the dishes were just too good. Ye Olde King’s Head British Pub was our next stop for some drinks. We really enjoyed ourselves there to the point that we stayed till closing. Steph and Damaris played a few rounds of darts, while I mingled with the crowd. We ended our night with a stroll down the Promenade where we enjoyed some street performances since of course, all the stores were closed.

On Sunday morning we woke up starving…well at least I did. I was excited because I knew we were finally going to Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. The wait was long and felt eternal! When we were finally seated and they gave me my glass of orange juice, I literally shed a few tears from how amazing it tasted! Till this day, I have not had such an amazing freshly squeezed orange juice as I did that Sunday morning at Roscoe’s. Needless to say, the food exceeded my expectations and I ate so much I probably gained a few pounds.

We headed back to Albert’s apartment to put on our hiking gear and head to Griffith Observatory.

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The view from the observatory was absolutely stunning. Amidst all of the people, it was still peaceful to be surrounded by such beauty. 

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Ready to workout all of the food we finished eating at Roscoe’s; we headed towards the Mount Hollywood Hiking Trail.

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The journey up was incredible. I kept wanting to stop and admire all the wonderful views. Probably why it took us forever to get to the top. There’s just something about a hike that makes you appreciate all of the small things. You realize all your troubles are small compared to how vast the world is. In a world that might never lack problems, hope is the one thing that we cannot lose. 

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The sun started setting and everything seemed to be shining. It was breathtaking.

By the time we started heading down we were all exhausted. The trail is about four miles up and four miles down. After eight miles, I was ready for bed, but Steph and Damaris were craving more crêpes. You would think we went to France with all the crepes they craved throughout our trip. I was suckered into getting one too at Crêpes Sans Frontieres. The restaurant was quaint and had an awesome French vibe. I couldn’t help but love it. My anything French obsession is beyond my capabilities of self-control.

Then they were craving ice cream. You all should have seen my face. I can’t help but laugh when I think back to it now. Albert took us to Peddler’s Creamery. Here they made fresh ice cream in a unique way. It involves a bicycle and someone having to ride it, simply to produce the ice cream. Click on the link and check it out because it’s super cool. In the end, I was glad we got the ice cream. 

Finally, exhaustion dawned on everyone. It was time to call it a night.

To be continued…

Gone Girl. – A Novel

book-review-logoHave you ever read a book, or saw a movie, that completely played mind games with you? I’m sure you have a few suggestions in mind because I definitely do.

Awhile back I saw Gone Girl, the 2014 psychological thriller, directed by David Fincher. The movie starts Ben Affleck; yes I know we all have our own opinions on the man. Therefore, you can imagine my surprise when I was totally blown away by the film! The movie was great! It reminded me of how scary the human mind can be. Probably why I was never interested in studying psychology. My mind is complex enough….

Then I found out the movie was actually a book written by Gillian Flynnwho also wrote the screenplay for the movie. I Immediately took myself to Barnes and Noble and bought the book. I was super excited because, as per my previous experiences, movies never stick to the actual book….so I thought.


“Like a child, I picture opening her skull, unspooling her brain and sifting through it,
trying to catch and pin down her thoughts.” – P. 3


 

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Well, think again Tiffany! I couldn’t have been anymore wrong. The book was the movie. Of course, minus a few scenarios that I envisioned as deleted scenes unnecessary for the movie edition of the plot.

So what happened? It took me forever to finish the book. Not because it wasn’t good, but because I already knew exactly what would happen; the excitement was gone. The first section of the book dragged on! I couldn’t find the want/need to pick up the book. I carried it inside my purse for months. Eventually, I managed to get towards the second half of the book and it seemed to finally start picking up the pace! Spoiler alert: The wife is so crazy it was literally hard to stop reading! See the first half of the book, you have no idea that she’s insane. It involved a lot of exposition which, I already knew of. Once you reach the second half, it’s like “HA, I fooled you!” and all the action starts going down.

All of this still leaves me wondering, book or movie first? Just when I thought I had it all figured out. It’s a hit or miss. Maybe, don’t watch thrillers first, just read the book.

I would love to read people’s opinions on this. Thoughts?

Would I recommend the book? Absolutely! Great book and I can totally see why it was made into a motion picture.

Letter to my undergraduate self

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – e.e. Cummings

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Dear Tiffany,

I know you’re stressing. You will stress everyday for one reason or the other so do yourself a favor and stop. You’re actually stressing right now as you start taking on your first semester as a graduate student. Just take the time to enjoy the small moments like the way the campus looks filled with autumn leaves on the ground. Don’t overthink every single assignment you receive in class. Go with your gut because after two hours of over-analyzing, that’s essentially what you will end up doing.

I applaud you for your organization and time management skills because those will help you get through the crazy moments when you are drowning in school, work, internships and extra curricular activities. Don’t worry you will somehow manage to have a life because you live by your planner (and you still do at 25.) Talking about your internships, take more advantage of the networking opportunities presented to you. Build relationships and strengthen them because they will come in handy after you graduate and start job hunting. It’s not easy out there and bills start piling up. Don’t be afraid of part-time jobs even if it’s not exactly what you want at the moment. 

You won’t go to the gym but you really should. You seriously lucked out in not gaining the Freshman 15. I mean, you did gain the Freshman 5 though (no, that’s not a thing.) Go on adventures with your friends because you only get to experience college young and free once; life after gets more complex than you think.

Please please please don’t focus on love. College is not the place for it. It may seem like your life falls apart junior year but you’ll survive. Trust me when I say that in the end you become stronger from the disappointments. Don’t stop smiling because it’s your way of pushing forward during those tough times. Overall, you honestly don’t do that bad in college. You slack a bit first semester of freshman year but then you get it together after seeing your GPA. High five for staying focused on school and making it your mission to graduate with nothing less than a 3.0. You definitely learned that it’s easier to drop your GPA than bring it back up!

Enjoy your family. You never know what the future may hold…

However, my most important advice to you would be to never stop loving yourself. You lose track of that for a bit. Remember that this is your life and you matter the most in it. I love you girl and never stop reaching for those stars!

Love, yourself-

Exploring My Backyard

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” – Mark Twain

With graduate school and work being my top priorities, it feels like I don’t have time for much. However, I realized that for not having time like I used to, I have been doing quite a lot. Yes, clearly except for keeping up with this blog, which I truly apologize for.

So you may be asking yourself, what exactly have I been up to with my limited time? Well school work, of course! But also exploring my backyard. No, not my actual backyard, there’s not much there but a great space for contemplating life. What I mean is that I have been exploring New Jersey and my surroundings. I love to travel, but when you have so much going on, seeing what new adventures you may find close to home doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

I realized that for not being much of a big deal, New Jersey can be quite surprising, and with neighbors like New York and Pennsylvania can one really complain? Alright, yes, but you get my drift.

My backyard exploring began with wine tasting at the Working Dog Winery in Robbinsville, NJ.

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There are so many wineries in NJ and PA that I have no idea why I haven’t become a winery expert by now. It’s honestly the perfect thing to do on a cool Sunday afternoon with a few friends.

Where I found myself next? Well….Even though Atlantic City seems like it’s not part of NJ, well at least to me, it actually is. My best friend Shakia and I attended the 2016 Atlantic City Seafood Festival.

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As I walked in I asked myself if there was such a thing as too much seafood and beer?

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“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost” – Erol Ozan

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I had what, at that time, tasted like the best Crab Mac and Cheese ever! My taste buds were so happy they urged me to take a cup with me home. Unfortunately, the next day it wasn’t as marvelous. It must of been the hunger and moment wrapped into one.

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We came across a friendly Chowder cook-off. All proceeds went to charity so it was only right to taste ALL of the Chowders. I never had so much Chowder (corn, clam, vegetarian) in my life! I think I had enough for the next year and a half.

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To finish off our adventure at the AC Seafood Festival we did a beer tasting of New Jersey beers! It couldn’t have been anymore perfect! Never underestimate the power of a good ‘ol festival. There are tons of festivals all year around. Look up some festivals in your backyard and give it a try, you might just be pleasantly surprised.

Philadelphia Restaurant Week snuck up on me, but there was no way I was missing out. Shakia and I ended up going to Fratelli’s Italian Bistro where I had the Stuffed Cremini Mushrooms, Penne Alla Vodka, and Tiramisu for desert.

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I would give the restaurant/food a 3/4. Food and service could have been better but it was still good overall. I think I’m going to make it my personal mission to indulge in Restaurant Week every time. There are just so many restaurants! And I sure do love food!

Then I found myself creating art at ArteVino Studio in Hoboken, NJ for my friend Stephany’s birthday. This would make my fourth painting! Maybe I should open up my own studio at the rate that I’m going, but paint and wine events are so much fun. There’s a ton available all over, not only in NJ, NY or PA!

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I wasn’t really pleased with how my painting came out, but I had a great time with my friends and the experience was well worth it.

I like to think that I can do it all because time will never be just right. I don’t fear stress or being tired (my newfound life on a daily basis,) but I do fear not being able to explore and enjoy the small pleasures in life. Though I’m swamped with adulthood, I will never stop looking for my next adventure, even if it’s in my own backyard, and neither should you.

Welcome to LA

“What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.” – Buddha

It has been three months since I went to California and my life since then has completely changed.

 

It was a trip where I was able to put a lot of things in my life into perspective and remind myself that “impossible” still spells out “possible.” My trip to the West Coast played a huge factor in helping me stay determined, and continue to strive to accomplish the goals I had set for myself at that time.

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We can overcome challenges as long as we believe that it is possible.



My time in Los Angeles started with a challenge. It was a morning of revelations; realizing that what my friends and I envisioned Los Angeles to be, really wasn’t. It wasn’t a magical place where everything shines and beauty fills the streets like the sunlight fills the sky. It was a place with struggles and untold stories; a place where the sparkle of diamonds easily takes the attention away from what’s bleak and hidden.

After taking and overnight greyhound bus from San Francisco [Read about my last day] we find ourselves starring at the streets of downtown LA. It was not what we expected. The poverty was evident and it made us wonder how such a famous city got to this point. It was around 7am and the sun wasn’t out yet. We headed straight to my friend Albert’s apartment, who so generously allowed us to stay with him for the next four days. After settling in, we headed to the Grand Central Market to eat some breakfast. The market was filled with all types of delicious food! We ended up getting breakfast at the famous Eggslut. I had the best bacon, egg and cheese on a bagel I have ever tasted.

I wish that throughout our stay in LA we would of went back to try some of the other foods available at the market because I have heard some great reviews… so if you ever find yourself in downtown Los Angeles, please go get some food at the Grand Central Market. 

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After we were done eating, we picked up our rental car and parked it in a parking garage for the rest of the day. To make matters worse like if we weren’t already concerned by the poverty in the city, as we left the garage, the situation escalated when we were followed by two men. It was one of the scariest experiences I have ever encountered on a trip. Luckily, we were able to escape them but it definitely reminded us of the dangers that three girls traveling alone could easily encounter. When we arrived back to the apartment we were pretty shook and swore to stay with Albert for the rest of our stay in the city.

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Later that day we took the LA Metro to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is one of Los Angeles biggest and most known attraction’s comprised of all the Hollywood Stars. The area kind of reminded me of 42nd street in New York City because it was lively and busy. Honestly, I felt a bit star struck as I stood there and took in everything going on around me.

As we walked down the Walk of Fame and looked at all the different names on the stars we came across the TLC Chinese Theater.

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We didn’t go in but we inspected the outside and loved what we saw… a little reminder to go on and change the world.

After a few minutes of walking it dawned on us that we were hungry; it was time to get some In-N-Out Burger. This is a huge must do in the west coast.

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When we go in I see the biggest line I have ever seen at a fast food restaurant. However, they weren’t joking when they said In and Out. Regardless of the line, the food came out pretty quick and I must say that the burger and animal fries were quite delicious.

We had a rough start with the challenges we faced in the morning but by night time things definitely got better and we started seeing the city in a different light. After our burgers, we walked on the stars some more until we came across the Baja Beach Bar. We saw some great drink specials and just like that it was time to start drinking and time to start celebrating our first day in LA. I really loved this place because it had a nice relaxed vibe to it, a good beer selection and great service.

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Next we were off to Good Times at Davey Wayne’s. This bar was fun and retro with a cool 70’s theme all around. We walked in through a refrigerator door and I was sold immediately. The place was packed and it was before 10pm! That should say something, right?

We headed back to downtown LA and Mrs. Fish was our next stop. We ended up spending most of our night in this nightclub listening to an amazing live band. I had such a great time dancing and singing along to the songs that I knew. Even taught someone how to two-step. We left after the band finished performing straight to Perch Los Angeles, a French inspired rooftop bar. Perch has an incredible view of downtown Los Angeles.

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It was the beauty I was expecting to see the instant I stepped out of the Greyhound earlier that day. There’s beauty everywhere sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper to find it. 

We enjoyed the view and about an hour later walked back to Albert’s apartment. The streets of downtown LA were peaceful and in the darkness the sounds of laughter filled the skies. Before calling it a night, we went into Pellicola Pizzeria, a cute hip pizzeria that shows movies every night. The pizza was tasty and after we pleased our bellies we were happy to be safe and proud to have made it through the day.

[To Be Continued…]