Tag Archives: California

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…

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…]

Remember when I longed for a warm scarf?

“Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly” – Tony Robbins 

The sun was out, the wind was blowing and the day was still young in San Francisco, California. [Read the beginning of Day 2] We ordered a Lyft and headed straight to Mission Dolores Park located in the Mission District. Dolores Park was once a Jewish Cemetery and ironically it is one of San Francisco’s most popular parks.

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The park was filled with happy people, dogs and music. We picked a spot and just hung out for a bit looking at the scene and the clear blue sky. I only wished it wasn’t as chilly as it was but, we made the best of it. While walking out, we bumped into a few swings and of course, I took advantage. I absolutely love swings! 

After the park, we were off to explore the famous Mission District. Our first stop was Amnesia Bar. The bar was small and quaint. We sat on the stools, ordered our beers, and appreciated the live band playing Bluegrass. It wasn’t really our scene but we made the best of it.

A few minutes in and we realized how hungry we were. Our last Lyft driver recommended a Mexican Taqueria that apparently had the best tacos in San Francisco. Since we were only a few minutes away we figured it wasn’t worth ordering a ride. However, at this point the wind was becoming unbearable and we were freezing. Few seconds into the walk and all three of us were shivering, but somehow when we saw Xanath Ice Cream, Stephany and Damaris craved some. So yes, we had desert before dinner. They both ended up getting cones and I got the smallest cup available. The ice cream was really delicious so I wouldn’t say it was the worst decision made during our trip. After finishing our ice cream, we went back out into the freezing wind, not stopping until we reached El Farolito Taqueria.

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Steph, Damaris and I walked into a dark and sketchy place filled with drunk men. We stood by the door confused; I refused to eat there, even though Steph actually contemplated the thought of staying. **shakes head** Turns out we were in a bar and not the Taqueria. I was so relieved! I already craved tacos and I was extremely hungry. The line was long, the place was not that big, and it wasn’t the most sanitary. Oh well.

While waiting in line to order my two tacos and tostada, we encountered yet another man under the influence of drugs. At this point we all thought, “you’ve got to be kidding me!” Things got extremely awkward. I wondered if we could take our tacos to go, but eating outside was not an option…way too cold for that. Fortunately, after a few minutes of ranting about some girl, the man ended up leaving because they kept telling him to be quiet. Once we sat down it was all history from there. Goodbye tacos.

We were so full we didn’t think walking was possible but somehow, we were determined to do a bit of bar hoping before calling it a night. Remember when I longed for a warm scarf? Well as soon as we stepped foot outside, we all longed for a warm winter coat! It was insanely cold outside. The wind and chill was unbearable. We managed to make it to Cava 22 Bar. I was so cold I had no desire to even have a beer. Steph and Damaris ordered something to drink, but as soon as they finished we ordered an Uber to head back to Nob Hill. We fell asleep as soon as we reached our beds and wrapped ourselves with the warm blankets.

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Thursday welcomed us with a bright and sunny day. We had our morning mimosas and were ready to enjoy our last day in San Francisco. It was such a beautiful morning that we decided to walk to our first destination, the Full House, house.

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Not even five minutes into our walk and we decide to stop in a cute little coffee shop, Peet’s Coffee and Tea, for some tasty coffee. I had the Coconut Crème Javiva. I was extremely pleased with my selection as we walked and talked about our trip thus far. About 10min into our pleasant walk we came across St. Dominic’s Catholic Church.

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The church was absolutely stunning and we couldn’t pass the opportunity of checking it out. It was super peaceful inside. There wasn’t a mass going on so I took the opportunity to give thanks for the experiences and memories I was making. I also prayed for my grandfather who at the time was seriously ill. I’m not Catholic but I believe prayer is universal; it is received regardless of where it’s done.

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Finally, we reach the house of Danny Tanner and we were shocked! So everyone remembers the white house with the red door, right? Well that house no longer exist! The owners transformed the house completely [please refer to the picture above,] probably to confuse the tourists. Almost had us for a second too. I mean it’s a genius idea, but we were pretty bummed out by the transformation…[cue Full House theme song]

What ever happened to predictability?
The milk man, the paper boy, evening T.V

Everywhere you look (everywhere)
There’s a heart (there’s a heart)
A hand to hold on to….

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To be Continue…

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…