Tag Archives: adventure

I longed for a warm scarf…

“Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times” – Asian Proverb

Day 2 started with homemade mimosas and extreme bewilderment as to why it was so ridiculously cold. [Read Day 1] I longed for a warm scarf and a cozy jacket. So what do I do? I purchase the fluffiest scarf I could find at Walgreens. Once I had my fluffy warm scarf, I was ready to tackle on the adventures that awaited us.

Our first stop was the Painted Ladies. We decided that it would be ideal to walk there since it was approximately only a 15 to 20min walk from where we were staying in Nob Hill. During our walk, I was just in awe by the beauty that surrounded us. There was something about the architecture in San Francisco that gave the city a modern vintage look.

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On our way we passed Japantown. Apparently, the Japantown in San Francisco is the oldest of the three remaining Japantown’s in the U.S. which, all happen to be in California. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to explore Japantown, but it was nice to learn of its existence.

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When we finally arrived to the Painted Ladies we were confused. For some odd reason we thought that the Painted Ladies was the location of the Full House (the sitcom) house. However, it’s not! The Painted Ladies is actually one of the most photographed locations in San Francisco. Right in front of the Painted Ladies is Alamo Square Park where people usually sit on its hill and enjoy the view of the beautiful colorful houses. Unfortunately, the hill was fenced up and tourists had to take their beauty shots from across the street.

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The infamous Chinatown was our next stop. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the second-largest Asian community in North America. Chinatown was filled with an abundance of culture and history. There were stories being told all over the streets through the form of art.

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By this point we were starving and wanted some food. We go on the look for some authentic Chinese food but, instead end up having Sushi at Sushi Taka, a Japanese restaurant specializing in sushi burritos and rice bowls. The irony, we skip Japantown to eat in Chinatown and end up getting Japanese food. Sushi Taka was a small spot in the corner of Kearny street and was only take-out. The line was long but we waited because that only meant that it would be worth it. All three of us order the Sushi burrito and decide to eat at the park in Portsmouth Square, known as the heart of Chinatown.

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The square was filled with pigeons, adorable Asian elderly locals, kids and your few random scattering civilians/tourists. Everything was so serene. We sat by the kid’s playground. As soon as Steph took a bite of her Sushi burrito, she saw a new world and stated that it was the best thing she has ever had. In the midst of Steph’s revelation, an elderly man decides to feed the pigeons right by where we were sitting. The pigeons flocked towards us, and as the man grinned with happiness we fled to a new bench fearing the pigeons and their hungry eyes.

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Apart from the awesome Sushi burrito, the best part of Chinatown was the dance group composed of older Asian women. It was the cutest thing ever! They were performing traditional cultural dances. If I knew what they were doing I would of joined in the dancing festivities.

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Off we go to find a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Beforehand, I do some quick research and read that there was a nice view of the Bridge in Presidio Park. Therefore, we tell our Lyft driver to take us to the park. After our awkward drive, we find ourselves in the middle of a huge hill with no idea where to go. So what do we do? No, we don’t climb the insane hill as shown above instead, like good tourists, we ask a local girl walking her dog. She points us towards Inspiration Point.

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Inspiration Point was truly inspirational; just breathtaking. From the point you can see Angel Island, Alcatraz, the Palace of Fine Arts and the East Bay.

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I am absolutely obsessed with scenic views because there is so much power in them. They hold dreams, inspirations, love, hope; they hold stories of success, failures, sacrifices, beginnings and ends. All we simply have to do is get lost in them and we are sure to discover something valuable. 

Inspiration Point and all its beauty did not have a view of the Golden Gate so our search continued. After waiting for our lost Uber driver for about a half hour, we made it to the Marina District.

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The Marina District houses the Palace of Fine Arts. The Palace was designed by Bernard R. Maybeck and the design reflects the impression of a Roman ruin. It was stunning to look at. There’s always so much meaning behind historical buildings. I always find it interesting.

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As we started walking towards Crissy Field we came across baby ducklings! Yes, it was an exciting point in our trip! We don’t see baby ducklings everyday.

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Finally! We found our view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was perfect. However, in the midst of all the perfection was the strong cold wind blowing so fiercely that my scarf didn’t feel as warm as it did in the morning. There I was again longing for a warm scarf. I sat down as the cold winds caressed my face and took the opportunity to call home. It was nice to feel home close to me as I viewed a historical landmark.

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I looked at the Bay with gratitude and thought of how perfect the moment was. I was truly and genuinely happy.

To be Continue…

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Cali, the West Coast, why not?

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” – Anonymous

I finally did it! After years of dreaming, I finally made my way to California. All I simply needed was my dream and two friend’s with the same vision.

My friend Stephany proposed the idea to me. At first, I was hesitant because I was focused on all the problems I had going on at the moment but, after a few exchange of words Steph convinced me to take a week off work. “Cali, the West Coast, why not?”
Then we reeled in our friend Damaris who was down for the cause as soon as the idea was presented to her. Soon after we were ready to start planning our trip to Los Angeles, California. In the midst of planning, Damaris had a genius idea; why limit ourselves to Los Angeles? Why not visit San Francisco too? Next thing you know using Expedia we booked an affordable flight to San Francisco and an overnight Greyhound from San Fran to LA.

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Early on Tuesday, May 24th we were at the San Francisco International Airport trying to decide how we were going to get to our Airbnb. After weighting our options, we decided to take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit,) the train. We would then get off at the stop closest to our destination in Nob Hill, the area in San Francisco where we were staying, and from there take a Lyft. The BART was definitely an experience. For starters we had no idea how to figure out the ticket machine! If it wasn’t for the local lady who kindly assisted us we would of held up the line for quite awhile. Also, traveling on a train with six suitcases (two per girl) is not as easy as it sounds. No, we didn’t overpack, we were carrying sheets and pillows for our trip to LA…I’ll explain that at a later time. When we got off at our stop Steph and Damaris struggled getting their suitcases up the stairs. It was quite hilarious because an older woman, who was struggling just as bad as Steph, offered to help her with her luggage. The lesson here is that you are never too old to be a good Samaritan. Once we all finally made it up the stairs it hit us… we were in San Francisco, California. We were in the middle of a super busy street, we couldn’t find our Lyft and it seemed that even when we did, the driver wouldn’t have a spot to load our suitcases. Luckily, our driver finds us, she looks at us and our six suitcases like we were crazy, we loaded our stuff, get cursed at by an old man driving, reminding us that we were “not in New York City,” and just like that we were off to Nob Hill.

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We have been traveling since 5Am EST and arrived to our Airbnb around 12pm PDT. We gained three extra hours and we were tired but, more than ready to venture out into the streets of San Francisco. Our first task was to find and ride a San Francisco Cable Car.

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After walking up and down a few steep hills and after waiting what seemed like forever, we finally made it into a cable car! The destination was Fisherman’s Wharf. We paid $7 for a 2min ride down a hill. I didn’t really get to enjoy the ride because it was super crowded and the lady that charged us was extremely rude (don’t work with people if you don’t like people.) However, in the end I did get the experience so it was all worth it.

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When we arrived to Fisherman’s Wharf it seemed as if it got colder and the winds became stronger. It seemed crowded but not too crowded and, the streets were clean. It was a peaceful late afternoon down at Fisherman’s Wharf.

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As we walked and looked for some food, we came across some beautiful street art by a sweet Peruvian man. We loved his work so much we each bought something! He even gave us a discount!

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We stopped to eat at Capurro’s Restaurant where they had a delicious lunch special (half a crab sandwich with a side of clam chowder soup and fries.) 

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We enjoyed our tasty beers and laughed a lot. Everything seemed perfect and it felt like we had so much time left in our day. We walked Fisherman’s Wharf and came across a lot of boats, shops (Steph got her self a San Fran hoodie) and a lot of chain restaurants we were used to seeing back home. Steph and Damaris even made a new friend.

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As we walked closer to the shore of the San Francisco Bay, we saw Ghirardelli Square from a far.

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At this point it was freezing and the wind was uncontrollable. The Bay looked like an abyss filled with unknown secrets and stories. We admired it for as long as we could and then decided to head up the hill towards Lombard Street, where San Francisco’s famous crooked street resides.

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On our 2min cable car ride down to Fisherman’s Wharf we passed Lombard Street so we figured the walk up wouldn’t be so bad.

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Wow, were we wrong! We had the most intense workout. We walked one steep hill after another. Anyone who decides to visit San Francisco, wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for a daily workout.

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The crooked street housed a beautiful scenic view of the Bay Area. It was absolutely breathtaking. This is just one of the many views in San Francisco that leave you at a lost of words. After admiring what Lombard Street had to offer it was time to head back to our Airbnb. We walked so much and up so many hills, that by the time we got back we literally couldn’t feel our legs.

Just when I thought we were calling it a day, Steph and Damaris start craving Crêpes. So out we go around the block to Crêpes ooh La La. It’s a small place and nothing flashy but wow are the Crêpes amazing! The French man was also super adorable. He had a conversation with Damaris in French and I loved every second of it… as per usual.

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I had the strawberry, banana and Nutella Crêpe. It was worth every single penny! While we were there we had an unfortunate encounter with a drug addict. This was the start of a social issue we slowly started realizing in the San Francisco area. Soon after, it was time to call it a night. We head back, put on our PJ’s and collapse.

We survived our first day in California. 

Colorful Cambridge Pt.2

“Travel far enough, you meet yourself” – David Mitchell

How is it that you can easily get consumed by everything going on in your life? It feels like in the blink of an eye so much has happened! It’s exhilarating realizing that a positive mentality will eventually bring you positive outcomes.

So what do I do with all my positivity? Clean out my bank account and book myself a trip to California! Yes, I’m broke, happy and going to Cali! But that’s a story for another day…

It has been weeks since I last wrote and I never finished my story on my trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts. [Read part one]

Ah yes, Claire, Damaris, Stephany and myself just finished our trip to Harvard University and are now headed to dinner. Claire picked a nice little spot, Grendel’s Den Restaurant and Bar located on Harvard Square. Grendel has half price hours from 5-7:30pm where most items on their menu are half priced! (yes, we caught the special!) Also, the portion’s of food served are spectacular! We were all so full. I’m not sure how we managed not to take a nap right there and then.

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Damaris had a chocolate craving so next thing you know we ended up at L.A. Burdick Chocolate Cafe, also located in Harvard Square. The place was small and chic with limited seating. Luckily, we managed to score a table while Damaris ate her chocolate cake. I was super excited because as I bought my first macaroon ever (yes, ever!) there was a French couple right next to me speaking Français! Talk about the full French experience. So as any other moment when I’m indulging in French culture, I freak out and start eavesdropping; feeling super proud of myself that I understand the couple I start saying French words like a total creep. After, my moment of excitement it was time to take a bite of my hazelnut macaroon…it was perfect.

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We continued our walk in Harvard Square and decided to have a few beers at Charlie’s Kitchen. We found outside seating by the fire and our shivers from the cold wind quickly disappeared. You don’t realize how much you miss catching up with your friends until you sit down and look back at the moment. It’s a great reminder as to why the friendship exist. Distance isn’t a problem for true friendships.

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We then find ourselves at Alden and Harlow an upscale place known for its fancy cocktails and snacks. I decided to get the Common Place cocktail (Gin, Sage, Clove Honey, Lemon, Benedictine and Egg White.) I am happy to say that I ended up getting the best cocktail out of the group!
**FYI this is a great date night place!

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We ended our night in Harvard Square at Hong Kong Restaurant which, is also a lounge and a nightclub. The night consisted of a Scorpion Bowl, a dancing bouncer and an unexpected dance battle! With exhaustion sucking our bodies dry of energy, we headed off back to the apartment pleased with our great day!

Sunday arrived and so did our departure. We were truly saddened by the end of such a refreshing weekend.

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But before leaving we had breakfast at The Friendly Toast. What an amazing breakfast! Located in Kendall Square, The Friendly Toast is a superb breakfast and brunch restaurant with a hipster vibe and a unique menu. The service was amazing and the food beyond delicious! I couldn’t have been more satisfied with everything.

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Every time I travel I discover something new wether it be about the people I’m with, the location or myself. This trip helped me discover the possibility I thought I lost. It helped me remember that, “Thinking here goes nothing could be the start of everything” – Drew Wagner
I am truly proud of Claire for taking that leap into the unknown. She made a new home for herself and seemed so happy with her new life. It was truly inspiring to see her in her element. We all need to take that leap because we might find true happiness where we least expect it.

Colorful Cambridge Pt.1

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory” – Dr. Seuss

Life is full of moments that eventually become nothing more than a memory. Memories that will bring you everything and nothing all at the same time. Memories that will bring you laughter, empowerment, lessons, sadness and maybe even tears. Memories that will make you or break you. 

About two weeks ago, I went to visit my friend Claire in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was a trip filled with great weather and company manifesting into great moments.

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My friends and I arrived Friday night and immediately were ready to tackle on the city. We were so excited to see Claire, that the tiredness we felt from our drive and long day quickly went away. Our first stop of the night was Brick and Mortar. The place had a chill atmosphere, good music and Massachusetts beer; what more could I ask for? I love trying new beers so of course I tried something I never had before… Cisco Beer made right in Massachusetts. It was super delicious. For the rest of the night we laughed and danced until the bar closed at 2am.

Now, it’s 2am and Claire insist that we head over to the Clover Food Lab. We get there and find ourselves at an organic Fast Food Place! How chic is that? Here’s the best part, it’s the only food spot open after 2am! You don’t see that in Jersey! But why would we? with a McDonalds in every corner. I love these out of the ordinary experiences because they remind me that there’s more out there than what I am usually surrounded by.

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As quick as the blink of an eye it became Saturday morning. We started our day with homemade mimosas and delicious eggs (meant to be a huge omelette but instead turned into scrambled eggs.) We joked around so much we didn’t end up leaving the apartment till 3pm. However, we were worry free; time was irrelevant.

Our first stop was the Out of the Blue Art Gallery and More. Welcomed by a huge fluffy dog, we found ourselves in a place that housed the work of local artists and musicians. Art brightens the soul and encourages the mind. Why not submerge yourself in it once in awhile?

Then our race with the sun began! We were headed to Harvard Square where the famous Ivy League school Harvard University stands. When you hear so much about a place sometimes you just don’t know what to expect. You come up with these outrages notions of what things are “supposed to look like” that at the end of the day you aren’t really sure if you believe it yourself.

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So Harvard, yea, not what I thought it was. First off, the school is practically a tourist spot. I thought that was funny. It is also the least colorful place in Cambridge! Nothing stands out. Cambridge is very bohemian and colorful and then there’s Harvard right in the middle with its preppy and chic aura. Great oxymoron.

Has anyone heard about the John Harvard statue? I certainly have not. As we approach the statue of John Harvard we see people taking pictures. We ask ourselves, “why take a picture with this statue?” Casually, we overhear that if you rub Mr. Harvard’s foot you get good luck. Okay, cool! Let’s take a picture rubbing the foot!

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For the remainder of our trip I thanked Johnny for our fabulous luck! Now, today, I sit here writing this blog and decide to do a little research on “The Boston Girl’s” good luck charm! (From the moment we planned our trip, we thought we were visiting Claire in Boston because we had no idea Cambridge was its own city. We decided to keep our original group name despite the confusion in location.) What’s the first sentence I come across? “Don’t touch John Harvard’s foot!” “But why?” I ask myself. Apparently for some ODD reason people believe that if you pee on this statue’s foot you will get good luck! WHAT?! There you have it people…peeing can somehow bring you good luck. I rather not think about how my hands touched a foot that has been continuously peed on, but instead that I did not need to pee on Johnny’s foot to be given his well wishes.

Just like that we finished our visit at Harvard and went about our day.

To be continued…

I love to eat

“People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child

I love to eat and I am not ashamed of it. I hate diets but I do enjoy a good workout! I have tried dieting once or twice but I just cannot stop myself from eating whatever I want. I rather eat, work out and continue eating! Why limit myself if I am treating my body right at the end of the day?

This past week, my best friend Linda kept sending me pictures of delicious meals she had, at different restaurants, as a part of New York Restaurant Week. Needless to say, I was jealous I couldn’t join her.

I decided to look up if Philadelphia had a Restaurant Week and to my surprise there was a Philadelphia Center City Restaurant Week January 17-22 and 24-29. I think I almost jumped for joy when I saw the webpage starring at me on my computer screen. Three-course dinners for only $35 per person at any center city restaurant provided. Next thing you know I made reservations for five (with a high-chair) at La Famiglia Ristorante.

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The restaurant was very intimate and sophisticated. The lighting was dim and there was no background music, but rather the sounds of talk and laughter. The waiters were beyond attentive. I cannot remember the last time I have received such great service. They went out of their way to make sure we were pleased with absolutely everything. It was a very pleasant experience.

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The menu consisted of Italian cuisine. Each dish was written in Italian with an English description of what it was. I had the following three courses:

Appetizer: Gnocchi Sorrentina
Homemade gnocchi with fresh mozzarella cheese, tomato and basil sauce
Entrée: Vitello Mandolese
Veal medallions stuffed with Prosciutto and mozzarella cheese served in wine sauce
Dessert: Dolce Misto
A sampling of Italian desserts: poached pear with a cranberry sauce, lemon cake with a vanilla sauce, chocolate cheesecake with a chocolate sauce

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Everything was absolutely delicious. I was not disappointed with a single thing that I ate that evening. My friends and I had an exceptional time and even the pickiest eater of the group enjoyed her plate to the fullest!

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The night was a complete success! I definitely am going to take full advantage next time Restaurant Week comes around. Like I always say, there’s nothing like a new experience so do not be afraid to try something new, even if it is food.

Cheers to a good night!

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Savannah, Georgia Pt. 3

What better way to start blogging in 2016 than to finish off an amazing adventure. My trip to Savannah, Georgia, with one of my best friends, has come to an end. [Part 1] [Part 2]

On the third day of our trip, mother nature was completely against us. It was pouring rain and there were no signs that the rain would stop anytime soon. However, we were still determined to make the most out of our experience. There was no way we were spending an entire day stuck in a hotel room.

Our first stop was the Savannah Visitor Center. We didn’t find much inside. There’s a railroad museum there but I didn’t feel like exploring trains. Who knows, I probably missed out on something really cool. So a little piece of advice: Take advantage of every opportunity, even if it doesn’t seem too exciting.

After about 10 minutes inside the center, we decided to make our way to The First African American Baptist Church in North America.

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We were ready and so excited to go on a tour of the church.

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We get there and find a sign that said that the tours were canceled for the day. We were so upset. It seemed like we couldn’t catch a break.

City Market was down the street…

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I thought the area looked stunning, glazed in rain and serenity; breathtaking even. We walked around one last time and came across this small shop.

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It was so adorable inside. All things Georgia, no literally! Peach everything but unfortunately, they didn’t ship to New Jersey. Sigh! Wine tasting though was still available!

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All the wines were absolutely delicious. I thought it was amazing that the wine bottle labels were made by local artists. Forever a sucker for art!

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Everything seemed better once we left the shop. Wine tends to do that sometimes! 😉 

We walked towards River Street

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River Street was wet and cold. We mostly just did souvenir shopping. Lunch was at the Shrimp Factory. There we had the strongest Peach Martini and struggled trying to finish it. Don’t think I’ll be having another one anytime soon! Well at least I can say I had a peach martini in Georgia, the peach state.

Entrée time!

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This was my second time having shrimp and grits and wow! DELICIOUS! I am not even over exaggerating. It was heaven to my taste buds. If only I could find someone who could make me shrimp and grits THAT good! I almost cried when it was all gone. Shakia and I entertained the idea of ordering seconds for a few minutes….it didn’t happen.

Just like that we completed our trip to Savannah, Georgia. There’s nothing more fulfilling than traveling and experiencing new things. Don’t pass up the opportunity to travel, even if it’s in the states. Sometimes we forget that there are some beautiful places in the U.S. Don’t underestimate what’s in our own backyards! 

Absolute Truth, For Beginners

Time is everything. Time is uncertain and certain, kind and unpleasant, longed for and dreaded. Life is made of moments in time and thus, time is inevitable.

I recently just finished reading, Absolute Truth, For Beginners
By Katarina West [http://katarinawest.com]

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“Life (n.) A sitcom with no audience, runs till the day you die.” – Absolute Truth, For Beginners p. 273

This book made me think a lot because I found myself connecting with the main character, a 24 year-old girl uncertain as to where her life is headed. The book starts with Elisabetta arriving at her first job, after over a year of graduating college. She has suffered the post-grad struggle, which I know so well and finally, found something to keep her feet wet, even if it’s not in her field of study, Art History.

Throughout the story, taking place in Italy, a series of events unfold intertwined with the idea of time, love, unhealthy relationships, homosexuality, lack of self love, hopelessness, despair, mental instability and ultimately forgiveness. In just a little over 300 pages I was submerged into a story that really broke my heart.

I thought of how many people, including myself, go through this long period of self-doubt and lack of self-love; swearing on everything that they are the only one’s walking on this unfortunate and long path. I know, because I find myself there at times. Then you pick up a book like  Absolute Truth, For Beginners and you’re reminded that there is someone out there walking a path much similar to yours (maybe even worse and twice as complicated.)

Each reader is different therefore, a book can get interpreted in many ways. For me, this book is a reminder. It reminded me that time is tricky, precious and rare. That life is what you make of it and that love is the hardest puzzle to ever be made…but that there’s someone out there willing to make it with you. You just have to wait for time to be on your side.


 

Absolute Truth, For Beginners
Amazon Book Page
Author’s Blog
Goodreads

*I kindly received the book for my honest review.*