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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. 

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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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New York, NY

I lived in New York City for 13 years before I moved to New Jersey and always felt like I didn’t really know the city I was born and raised in.

A few months back I decided to get to know my city a little better…

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Thanksgiving season is upon us and I have to say that I have so much to be thankful for.  My best friend Linda is one of those people. (Check out her Fashion BlogLinda is my oldest friend. We met in the 6th grade and we have been friends ever since. Linda still lives in NY and hates tourists attractions so I practically had to drag her on this adventure with me. Needless to say, that by the end of our trip she saw NY with different eyes and realized that she also didn’t really know her city that well.

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We took a boat tour of the city using Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises. It was absolutely amazing! We snagged two seats right next to railings and became amazed by New York City (Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island) and what it has to offer.

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The Empire State Building

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The Freedom Tower

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I was ecstatic seeing all these beautiful monuments/infrastructures that make New York such a wonderful city. It reminded me why I love New York so much and why I miss being in the midst of it all.

After our tour Linda took me to China Town! I was so excited because I have never really walked the streets of China Town in NY. What a lively section! There was so much going on. Linda was walking with a mission and I was looking around all excited and bubbly (tourist moment). We went to eat at Xe Lu’a Vietnamese Restaurant. I have never had Vietnamese food and as my only Vietnamese friend I demanded that she take me to go eat some!

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WOW! My seafood noodles were beyond amazing and I practically licked my plate clean. Till this day I cannot believe she kept me in the dark for so long about Viet food!

After dinner we walked a bit and came across some really cool graffiti!

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Located on 184 Mott Street. What lifts me? Adventures like these that remind me how much there is to see even in our own backyards.

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We stopped by Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream and on our way out came across this piece of art. I thought it was absolutely beautiful and brought out the vibrance that was inside of me.

I had such a beautiful day and I am thankful for the opportunity to discover so much. Everyday we should try our best to discover something new, no matter how small it is. The world is too big and filled with experiences that are just waiting to be experienced and if we wait, those experiences will just pass us by.

“Even the dog got a gift!”

There is something about giving back that fills me up with joy especially, during the holidays. Since I was a little girl, I remember I was always giving out candy or making sure I had cards to give out to everyone in class. My poor mother not only had to worry about me but make sure she got gifts for everyone I had on my Christmas list. This year was not an exception! My giving spirit was in full effect! I wanted to make sure that I went above and beyond and gave everyone in my family what they deserved for the love and support I have gotten.

By the end of November, I had a list of everyone I was getting a gift for and what I potentially wanted to get them. I was spending like I had money to spend! And somehow I was still shopping on December 24th. (Ironically, I am not a fan of shopping it stresses me out.) I just really wanted to buy everyone everything! I kept updating my friends on my Christmas shopping and one them said, “even the dog got a gift!” That was her telling me I clearly needed to stop because I had bought enough! If it wasn’t because I only had $9 left on my card I would of continued buying gifts!

Everyone was so happy and pleased! I was filled with bliss! My family kept saying my gifts were creative and thoughtful. My mom even cried when she opened the photo-book I got her of my college graduation. I was more than satisfied when I saw the happiness and joy that filled everyone’s eyes as they opened my gifts. I couldn’t have been more grateful to be surrounded by family. I’m truly blessed.

Christmas isn’t about us but about those we care for. It’s about being surrounded by happiness, joy and most importantly love. Christmas is about giving back; about making sure that those missing their loved ones or lacking happiness and joy are finding comfort through you on such a beautiful holiday. Lets not forget that!