dear spring

Dear Spring,


It took you a while to show up this year. Winter seemed to have a need to dominate this earth but you slowly starting to peek through with your original shyness. Your rainfall has soaked the ground for the past week as you melted the snowy blanket that sheltered me from the world. You force me to smell the fresh air and break down my barriers. With winter’s hibernation you tell me that it’s time to show the world the creativity I’ve been carefully attending to for the last few months.

You give everyone around me a sort of anticipation as you tease us with your peek-a-boo sun and the little chirping bird that occasionally appears. The scholars I pass by on a regular basis with a growing anticipation to explore the muddy ground they so dearly missed when the snow covered their tracks.

You give me a new kind of hope each year and open my eyes to the world I hid from. You give me a pair of rose-coloured glasses to wear for a while so that the bitterness and harsh reality of winter can be forgotten for a bit. My gentle, flowery spring, please take your sweet time to blossom and care for this earth and its people with your nightly rainfalls that soothe me to sleep as you transition us to a burning summer.




Please also read: dear winter


Travel Blog: Day 3 – San Francisco, California

“I left my heart in San Francisco…” – Tony Bennet.

San Francisco! Not San Fran and not Frisco, believe me if you dare use those nicknames you will be pinned as a tourist in no time! San Francisco to our Northern Californians is simply, The City.

I was coming from Pleasanton, California and my cousin and I were without a car, therefore the easiest mode of transportation is to hop on the Bart which is California’s subway system for the Bay Area. For those of you coming from New York like myself, you may be used to the prices of tthebarthe regular New York City subway system. The Bart is similar but also has its differences. I’m leaving a link to the different options here, but if you’re using the Bart for a short period of time, I would recommend getting a $16 Orange ticket. Each ride is about $8, so if you need to use the transit service more often you might then want to consider getting the blue ticket which costs $45 for a $48 value. As far as what it’s like to ride on the Bart, it is very similar to a New York City subway but the seats are so much more comfortable! And… it doesn’t smell.

And so, we ended up in San Francisco and our first stop was to go to Normacnordstromdstrom. The Nordstrom in San Francisco is a great place to visit if you enjoy shopping. This particular Nordstrom was right off the Bart and on Market Street. It’s a huge store, a good 4 floors if I can remember correctly. We decided to stop by M.A.C. cosmetics because they do free make-overs for you. Of course, you may want to consider buying something after your make-over because they are trying to sell their products after all. None the less, it’s great if you’re looking for that new lipstick or eyeshadow.


With a fresh new look, we were already hungry for lunch and I was craving some authentic tropisuenoMexican food. New York has great food but authentic Mexican is lacking. California has a large Mexican or Hispanic influence so you can bet some really good Mexican food will be around. We were recommended to go to Topisueno. It’s fast service for lunch and a full-service restaurant for dinner. If you get there for lunch you walk in and look at the menu then order at the front bar, pay, grab your drink and service card and sit yourself down to wait for your food. The place is incredibly authentic, decorated beautifully, and affordable. Needless to say, it was the perfect lunch for a day in San Francisco.

We continued to walk through the City and explore our surroundings. I compare San Francisco to New York City a lot because New York City is the one I grew up near and saw the most often. San Francisco has a city vibe but people are friendly and will take the time to talk to you even if they are moving fast-paced. New York City has friendly people but not many who are willing to talk to you for a few minutes to help you find your way around. San Francisco is also clean! It still has a strong city smell but there’s not really any trash on the street. In fact, some sidewalks sparkle!

Now, my cousin and I are avid coffee drinkers and what better of a place to visit than Nespresso? We went to the one closest to Union Square at Williams-Soma. Nespresso is nespressolike Keurig but with espresso. They sell little pods with their own machines and with San Francisco being known for their coffee, this was a perfect treat for a mid-day pick-me-up! This Nespresso has a little cafe on the first floor where you can order your drinks made with a Nespresso Machine and some treats along with it as well. I ordered a chai latte with espresso. We were also offered two little macaroons as a free treat! Downstairs there is a Nespresso bar where you can taste the different types of espresso they sell. A perfect place to visit for the caffeine lovers! If you want to learn more about San Francisco and their coffee, check out Buzzfeed’s adventure with their “Espresso-A-Go-Go in San Francisco 2k15.” Also, don’t forget to stop by a Peet’s Coffee in California. Would I actually dare to say it’s better than Starbucks? Yes, yes I would.

Our next stop in the city was to finally ride a cable car! Now, I was calling them trolleys. cablecarSan Francisco does have trolleys but they are different from the cable cars. Trolleys are connected to the wires above the street and they run on those. They’re more like buses if anything and has a motor. Cable cars aren’t connected to that wire and they run on their own power-house which is not a motor but  levers controlled by the driver.  It’s a classic tourist thing to do whilst in San Francisco and can be a great experience. Our cable car actually had an interesting incident. As we were going up a steep hill the driver suddenly pulled the lever for the breaks and started ringing his bell. The cars actually drive along the same tracks the cable cars drive on so the cable cars have to give signals just like cars do. The cable car hadn’t gotten enough speed to go up the hill. The driver began to slowly let the cable car go backward down the hill and believe me, I was terrified. It was like those roller-coasters that suddenly send you backward, the only difference is this was not the original plan! Thankfully we had an amazing driver and he pushed us back up the hill with enough speed. None the less it was a pretty cool trip and a great way to see the city. If you want some laughs about cable cars our San Francisco in general, check out Eddie Izzard on San Francisco.

We got off our cable car ride at Fisherman’s Warf. It’s a beautiful neighboryankanemagicrhood with shopping, eateries, and plenty of entertainment. Fisherman’s Warf originated from the fisherman who would travel back and forth from Pier 39 making the area what it is today. It’s the perfect tourist attraction with tons of things to do and see. We were lucky enough to come across a magic show performed by Ryan Kane Magic. He is a great performer in the San Franciscan area who does a lot of his performances for San Francisco tourists. His show was out on Pier 39 for free but we left him some money because his show was absolutely amazing and we were lucky to see it. If you get the chance while in San Francisco, keep an eye out for his shows.


sealionsThat wasn’t all by Fisherman’s Warf or Pier 39. If you make your way over to some of the docks where you can see the famous Alcatraz right nearby, there will usually be a group of sea lions! That’s right, sea lions! After an earthquake in 1989, sea lions began to camp out on the docks in the winter months. Since there were so many the people in the area decided to keep them there and not bother with trying to move them. And so, the sea lions took over the pier! They are absolutely adorable and a great site to see.

scomasSoon enough it was time for dinner and lucky for me I arrived right around the time when the Dungeness Crab was in season. Scoma’s Restaurant, known for their pier to plate menu with Italian style seafood. The best seafood you’re every going to get! Of course, I ordered the Dungeness Crab on ice with the sauce to dip it in. Honestly, with crab like that, you don’t even need the sauce. A delicious meal with amazing service. Scoma’s is the place to go if you are ever within the vicinity of Fisherman’s Warf. They have plenty of other great specialties as well, including their clam chowder which I munched on for an appetizer. While in New York, seafood doesn’t ever come to me that fresh.



By the time we finished our meals, the night sky was overhead and we had to see one last thing before saying goodbye to San Francisco. We drove to the very top of Twin Peaks and there we saw all of San Francisco. I looked out to the lights, the stars on the ground. Took in a deep breath of the chilled air and thanked San Francisco for its awesome adventures. There was so much more to see but such little time. And with that, I promised to come back some day. I left my heart in San Francisco.


To read about my day 1 and day 2 of my trip to California, follow the links below!

Day 1: San Francisco

Day 2: San Francisco Bay Area

Travel Blog: Day 2 – San Francisco Bay Area, California

Traveling to the heart of Silicon Valley, when in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, you’ve got to be the typical tourist and check out the most esteemed internet companies in America! And that is exactly what we did for the first half of our day.

In the 1960’s the Silicon Valley exploded with high-tech innovation for years to come, far from what it was originally known for… prune orchards (I don’t even like prunes). The first place we visited was the Facebook Headquarters! It looked like your average fancy business office, but the street of which it was located was comically known as Hacker Way. To inquire about tours or meeting Mark Zuckerberg himself, you may want to call their number for more information,(650) 543-4800. We didn’t have the time of day to do that but we took a rad picture in front of their “Like” sign!


After Facebook HQ we took a visit to the Apple Campus. We wanted to get a sneak-peek at their new and improved Apple Campus 2 which is in the process of construction now. The new campus is said to have; an office, research, and development building comprising approximately 2.8 million square feet; a 1,000 seat corporate auditorium; a corporate fitness center; a central plant; research facilities comprising up to 600,000 square feet located east and west of Tantau Avenue between Pruneridge Ave and I-280; and associated Parking. We weren’t allowed to get a picture of it but this is an example of what it’s supposed to look like in the near future:


After Apple, we stopped by the Google Campus! This was particularly exciting for me because of the movie, The InternshipSuch a funny and inspiring film! Again, we didn’t take a tour but we did get to see those cute little bikes that they road in the film! Everything was colorful and looked like a ton of fun! The best thing about Google is that it has many different campuses so you don’t have to be in California to check it out. There are plenty of other high-tech or internet places to visit in Silicon Valley as well, you definitely have your fair share to choose from. Silicon Valley notable companies.


And then, where do these places get their interns from? Most likely Stanford University! You can bet we went there too, but to see their church in particular. The church at Stanford was built as a memorial to Senator Leland Stanford who passed away in 1893. Stanford University itself was built out of inspiration from the premature death of Stanford’s only child, Leland Jr. 2 months before his 16th birthday in 1884. The church and most of the original campus was built by 28-year-old architect Charles A. Coolidge who had used a Romanesque style with carved natural stone, massive columns, low rounded arch ways, and red tiled roofs. The cruciform design of the church also incorporated an impressive clock and bell tower with an 80-foot spire (more on the history). The church was absolutely gorgeous. Everywhere you looked, something seemed to be towering above you but not menacingly, rather invitingly. Rainbow colored stain-glassed windows shown the Californian sun and an organ sat proudly in the back as you walked in.



We did eventually stop for a lunch break, and when in Silicon Valley it is a rather suburben-esque town so it is mostly chain-food restaurants or a few mom and pop shops that are readily available if you happen to be in the area with an empty stomach.

The last place to visit on our list was the Winchester Mystery House! I was incredibly excited about this tour! To read on a more extensive history on this, please check out my other blog with the Ghost Seekers of CNY and read about the Haunted Tours. For now, I will give you a brief history. Sarah Winchester; widowed with the loss of her child and many other family members in the year of 1883 at the age of forty-four. Inherited with twenty million dollars plus an income of $1,000 a day and a grief-stricken heart, Sarah was desperate to protect herself from a believed curse that was placed on her family. She went to see an alleged medium who told her, her family was cursed by the many spirits who were killed by her Father-in-Law’s famous Winchester Rifle. The mansion is like a fanatical twisting, turning, fun-house.  It is said that the house was built this way so that Sarah could confuse the malevolent spirits that were said to be haunting her.

With that wicked legend, I was psyched to see this mansion! There are three different tours to chose from. We chose the Mansion Tour which allowed me to see the most iconic pieces of the house, but you can also choose the Grand Estate Tour which shows you absolutely EVERYTHING! Let’s not forget, there is also the Flashlight Tour which happens at night with the lights off, only guided by… you guessed it! Flashlights. I didn’t run into any ghosts on this tour but it sure was entertaining and interesting.


And that successfully concluded our day in the San Francisco Bay Area.

To catch up on the previous day, check out Day 1 of my trip in Northern California here.

Travel Blog: Day 1 – San Francisco, California

Saturday, March 11, 2017


Suddenly I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone as I tried desperately to keep to myself in a fully stuffed cabin on Southwest Airlines. I flew from New York to Oakland, California and met with my cousin, Stella and her husband, Bob. I spent my Spring Break with this lovely couple and explored the sunshine state of Northern California.

But, to get to California from New York, sometimes you have to save what you can with the flight and Southwest Airlines is the way to go. It can be a bit of an uncomfortable flight. There isn’t necessarily the first class so everyone is going to be sitting next to two other people in tight quarters. There aren’t any charger ports or screens on the back of the seats, so if you fly Southwest to save on the cash, here are some things you may want to bring: gum, headphones and iPod (or phone), book/journal, healthy snacks, a big bottle of water, neck pillow, miniature blanket, and an extra set of clothes.

Southwest also does some things differently. When buying a ticket from them, reserve the Early-Bird Check-In and anytime 24-hours before the flight, you can Check-In to reserve your seat. The earlier you reserve your seat, the more likely you are to be one of the first on the flight. The reason this is important is because when you get on you have the freedom to choose any seat. Sit near the front and on the outside so you can easily access the bathroom and be the first one to get off the plan.

As soon as I got off my flight I was bursting with adrenaline! Even though I had been up for about 12 hours. I can never seem to sleep before trips or on airplanes so I was most definitely sleep deprived but I felt as though I chugged 12 coffees for each hour I was lacking sleep. We grabbed my suitcase and hopped in the car. Oakland, California is about a half hour from San Francisco so that was our first stop. I munched on some grapes and nuts on our way there and indulged in an iced coffee to keep myself nourished and ready to go. My cousin Stella insisted we stop by a bar called, Buena Vista, before our first adventure.

If you’re in San Francisco without a car one of the easiest and most popular ways to reach the Buena Vista is by Cable Car. Any Powell & Hyde Street Cable car going towards Fisherman’s Wharf will take you directly to their doorstep on the corner of Hyde and Beach Streets. The original building was a boarding house in the year 1916 when the landlord at the time converted the first floor into a saloon. Since then the Buena Vista has been in full function and is known for their Irish Coffee. In 1952, Jack Koeppler, the owner at the time, challenged international travel writer, Stanton Delaplane to help re-create the iconic Irish Coffee which was frequently served at the Shannon Airport in Ireland. I was served a beautiful Irish Coffee by the famous Paul Nolen who has bartended at the Buena Vista for over 30 years! (Virishcoffeeideo: Buena Vista Cafe- Where Irish Coffee came to America: By Stan Linhorst)

Watching the process of making the drink was mesmerizing. First, the glass is filled with hot water to keep the drink warm. Next, the coffee is poured about a quarter of the way up and then the Irish whiskey is poured in. It’s not too much where it’s overwhelming but it’s just enough to where you can taste the whiskey. The heavy cream lightly poured over the top takes the cake! And there ya have it! An amazing Irish Coffee right in the sunshine state of California!


After I finished my drink we got back in the car and went to the Legion of Honor Fine Art Museum. I was fortunate enough to be there just in time to enjoy their Monet: The Early the thinkerYears art exhibit.  The Legion of Honor was originally built to commemorate Californian soldiers who passed away in World War I. The museum is located in Lincon Park and overlooks the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. As soon as you walk in, Rodin’s Thinker is there, pondering your visit. The museum itself is usually filled with art that dates back 4,000 years, European decorative arts and paintings, Ancient art, and one of the largest collections of prints and drawings in the country. We decided to participate in one of their audio tours which are priced at $8.00 a person. The kindly workers offered us a headset connected to a remote. We walked up to each painting, read the script on the side and typed in the number offered at the bottom of the script to listen to that specific evaluation of the painting. It’s a great way to get an artistic and historical perspective on the artwork displayed before you. The Moet exhibit was absolutely astounding and displayed Monet’s work which is rarely seen from the beginning years when he had just started his work as an artist.

Around the end of our tour, it was time for dinner and where else better than The Slanted Door right by Pier 3 and the Ferrie Building. This pier has been history’s primary portal of the city where as many as 50,000 people a day commuted by ferry. The Slanted Door is strategically placed to have a view right out to the Bay Bridge which beautifully lights up at night. They serve a mix of modern Vietnamese food and local ingredients in San Francisco.

The food at The Slanted Door is served in a means to share a traditional Vietnamese meal so it is given to you in large servings meant to share. I ordered a Bera white Moscato, off-dry, originating from Italy. We then ordered a delicious Crispy Imperial Roll as an appetizer. For our meal, we ordered Cellophane Noodles, Seared Ahi Tuna, Jasmine Rice, and Zuckerman’s Farm Asperagus.


It was an absolutely delicious, savory meal. To come to this restaurant is an absolute treat and not necessarily something you could do every day, but it is worth the one dinner while in San Francisco. Soon after our meals, we were rearing for some dessert!

I ordered an herbal blend tea and a lemon icebox cake. My cousin ordered herself the vanilla bean begets which you could dip in a chocolate sauce. We were wined and dined, absolutely spoiled! And I was absolutely exhausted!


Our day came to a close as I looked out onto the pier and across to the lighted Bay Bridge. We traveled back to my cousin’s home and rested for the next day to come full of bright and new adventures!