Posts in TRAVEL
#NYC - Your Typical Guide to Having a Somewhat Decent Time in New York City

This was my first time travelling with all content creators and I didn't know what to expect. I worried I wouldn't enjoy myself if the focus was all 'for the 'gram', but it was one of the best trips I've been on yet. It did take us awhile to get anywhere (we all needed our shots), but I fell in love with New York when I visited. Currently taking applications for Adopt-Tina-Into-NYC. Now onto the top must-eats and sees:

New York

1. Artichoke Pizza - All of me loves all of you, all your curves and all your edges. Hands down the best pizza I've had in my life. If you're lactose though, heed my warning: You will feel it coming out both ends.

Artichoke Pizza

2. Mr. Purple - Recommended by my friend Huy (@huytransal), Mr. Purple is a great rooftop bar with chill vibes. CHECK DEM VIEWS:

Mr. Purple

3. Westlight - Only reason I wanted to go here was because the rooftop bar was featured in the movie Friends with Benefits (the scene where Mila takes Justin for drinks to try and woo him to take the GQ job). It has similarities to the rooftop of the Thompson Hotel aka. go if you're feeling boujie. (Picture below does not depict actual views at Westlight, it's more similar to the above)

Westlight

4. Pietro NoLita - It's pink and cute af. Just go.

Pietro NoLita

5. Brooklyn Bridge - It doesn't take long to walk the entire bridge, but if you don't want to be hustled by people and bikers, go early.

Brooklyn Bridge

6. DUMBO - Another classic 'can't-miss-while-in-NYC' spot. Be prepared to fight for your turn in the spotlight with an ongoing engagement shoot, couples taking selfies, photographers and their dogs and everything in-between.

DUMBO

7. Follow Strangers on the Street - Okay don't actually, but we decided to follow two guys dressed as Wonder Woman to a bar and it turned out to be the best night ever. Moral of the story is New York City is the place to be spontaneous. 

Flat Iron

8. Taiyaki NYC - Is it a fish, a uni-cone, ice cream or all of the above? Just know it's good.

Taiyaki NYC

9. Sweet Moment - Not sure how I feel about intentional cold lattes, but if that's up your alley and you like cute latte art this is your place!

Sweet Moment

10. Cecconi's DUMBO - SUCH. GOOD. ITALIAN. FOOD. You also get pretty sick views of the Brooklyn Bridge if you sit on the patio so it's a win-win. 

Cecconi's Dumbo

11. SoHo - Who doesn't want to live in SoHo? I certainly do. Someone take me back to SoHo.

SoHo

12. Woops! - The. Best. Waffles. I've. Ever. Had. Ever. Second to that, the drinks are good too.

Woops

SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? TIME TO TAKE THE NEXT FLIGHT TO NYC.

#LosAngeles - Top 10 Things No One Tells You (simplyTeeeMZ Edition)

Warning: The following pictures may not correspond to the actual statements, kind of like how my captions rarely go with my pictures on Instagram.

1.  Ellen is actually nice. We did a Studio Tour at Warner Bros, and spotted Ellen coming out of her studio. She said hi and waved, and we all died a little on the inside. #PleaseAdoptMe

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2.  You can spot Kylie Jenner/Kylie Jenner's assistant Victoria at Alfred Tea Room. Our first day in LA, we spotted Victoria in line getting a drink, then as we walked out we saw her and Kylie get into a black car. #DrinkingFortwo

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3.  Hell's Kitchen is fake. A client of ours was an extra on the show, and exposed the fact that the entire audience are paid actors. So when you see people send food back on the show, it's fake. #IStillLoveYouGordonRamsey

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4.  The hobos in LA will poop on the street. We walked out of our airbnb in DTLA, and spotted a fresh pile of poop on the sidewalk, with a swarm of flies surrounding it. #Yum

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5.  Bumsan Organic Milk Bar is the best ice cream you'll ever have. It was so good we went back twice on our 3-day trip. #ThisShouldHaveBeenNumba1

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6.  You can re-enact a scene from Friends at Warner Bros Studio Tour. My friend and I got to re-enact S09E05 (The One With Phoebe's Birthday Dinner), where she was Rachel and I was Joey. The way they filmed it made it look like we were part of the actual scene - probably the highlight of my trip. #IPlayJoeyBetterThanJoey

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7. The best kbbq in the city is at Kang Ho-dong Baekjeong. We waited 2 hours just to get a seat, but it was #HELLAWORTHIT.

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8.  Anyone that gets a shot of LACMA with no one in it, clearly photo shopped it. Doesn't matter what time of day you go (6am, 3pm, 12am) there will always be at least 5 people there. #AndTheySayLATrafficIsBad

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9.  Voodoo Doughnuts are overrated. We were nice enough to buy them for our colleagues, and these hoedems didn't even eat them. When people are rejecting free glazed doughnuts, you know something just ain't adding up. #JustAPrettyFace

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10. Airbnbs in North La Brea (near West Hollywood) take you to Greece. My friend stayed here during his visit to LA, and his unit had rooftop access. The rooftop has a giant hammock, cute teal chairs and an incredible view overlooking DTLA. #Win

#Montreal - Top 5 Things to NOT Do in the City

I love visiting Montreal in the summer. The city is always jam-packed with things to do, you get a taste of Europe, and there's many cheap, good eats to choose from. Instead of telling you what TO do in the city, I'm going to tell you the top 5 things NOT to do:

  1. Do NOT go and try finding the Plateau Houses - I was expecting this, but wasn't able to find the exact location, and what I did manage to find was underwhelming. 
  2. Do NOT visit Saint Joseph's Oratory in the afternoon - You will be bombarded with lots of people. Lots.
  3. Do NOT go to Fairmount Bagel if you want sandwiches - If you are craving their smoked salmon, cream cheese bagel, you're SOL. They unfortunately don't offer sandwiches anymore :(, but you can still purchase their bagels in bulk.
  4. Do NOT get Earl Grey sorbet at Kem CoBa - It does not taste anything close to Earl Grey. The blueberry/honey soft-serve was good, but not worth the long line-up.
  5. Do NOT leave the city without going to the following places:
    1. Tommy Cafe - Definitely 'Instagrammable' and they have amazing matcha lattes.
    2. Modavie - You must get the lamb poutine, lamb cavatelli and sirloin. 
    3. Drogheria Fine - Get the gnocchi, and BUY THE SAUCE!
    4. LOV - The best avocado toast I've ever had - and only $6!
#Ballin'InBali Part II - 5 Reasons to Stay at Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua

With stunning beachfront views neighbouring the resort and state-of-the-art facilities, Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua combines French flair with warm Balinese hospitality. I didn't fully enjoy Bali until we landed on this resort, and so I'm going to lay out 5 reasons why this place has me completely obsessed. 

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1. Service

Forget everything you've ever known about good service. If you want to feel like the Queen of England, you stick to Sofitel. We were greeted with a personalized tour of the resort when we arrived and even got our own butler, Nicky. Nicky was extremely down to earth, incredibly generous and had a great sense of humour. He always seemed to know exactly where we were at all times, and even called me in the mornings to ensure I had breakfast. His friend and colleague Bayu, even tried talking to the chef to make my favourite soup and made sure we had a list of things to do in the city. Could not have been more impressed.

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2. Food

Who can say no to an endless array of options for breakfast? There's nothing better than waking up knowing each day you could have something different. The daily buffet even offers a fresh juice bar - you pick any combination of fruits and they'll juice it for you on the spot. There are also a couple options for dinner (both amazing). If you're feeling indecisive, Cucina is a great option as not only does it offer great Italian cuisine, but you can also enjoy steak and seafood. If you're craving asian food, KWEE ZEEN features a Pan Asian menu. I also heard incredible things about their Sunday brunch (even from locals up north), but unfortunately our timing didn't work out :(.

3. Club Millésime 

Club Millésime is an exclusive lounge we took advantage of when we wanted to simply unwind (aka. everyday). It's a lot quieter than the rest of the resort, and offers all day refreshments, over 200 books to choose from, and a tennis court. There's high tea in the afternoon (3-5pm) where you can enjoy tea and coffee, as well as housemade sandwiches and pastries. You can then stay there straight to cocktail hours (5:30-7:30pm) and indulge in an assortment of tapas (their potato soup is phenomenal). Sometimes we even skipped dinner because we filled ourselves up with drinks and tapas.

4. Pools

It's easy to get lost in this resort as it's fairly large, but with that comes multiple pools to relax at! The main pool area is frequented a lot by families, but has an in-water bar on the shallow end, and extends to a deep pool for swimmers. Our favourite area to chill at was the Beach Club by Sofitel - It also has its own bar in the water, is less crowded (normally only a few couples there), and you can get lunch directly there at the Toya Bar & Grill.

5. Vibes

From our gorgeous room, the view and our cozy ass bed to the beach and our traditional Balinese massage at SoSPA, we wished our 3 nights at Sofitel was 3 weeks instead. It was the last leg of our trip, but the most relaxing 4 days spent of our entire time in Bali. I wanted to visit the nearby Nusa islands (Lembongan, Penida and Ceningan), but it was so easy to unwind at the resort that we decided to stay put.

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Definitely plan to head back should we hit Bali again, but I highly recommend it to y'all if you're in the Nusa Dua area!

#Ballin'InBali Part I - 10 Things to Check Off while in Ubud

Y'all want to know how to Ubud in 4 days or less? Keep on reading for a guide of where to stuff your face at, stay, and visit (first-timer edition).

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1. Stay @ Komaneka at Monkey Forest

Located in the heart of Ubud, the Komaneka at Monkey Forest is an oasis in the midst of the city's hustle and bustle. Given there are no official cabs in Ubud, the proximity of the resort to the city's core gives easy access to the many shops, restaurants, temples, museums and galleries on Monkey Forest Road (including the actual Monkey Forest). However, the moment you step onto the resort you're transported into a tranquil oasis, surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and an abundance of exotic plants. This also means an abundance of mosquitos, so ensure you DEET yourself unless you want to be eaten alive (I couldn't be helped, they loved my foreign blood).

What sets Komaneka apart from other resorts I stayed at is the truly attentive staff and service. I felt welcome the moment I came, and even hours after I left. The staff went out of their way to assist us with planning our trip; suggesting local eats, offering to book tours for us, and ensuring we were always hydrated and looked after. At one point during dinner, a few staff were playing with one couple's kids, while the parents were eating (which I thought was adorable). Even though we stayed for only one night, the staff really made it all that much more memorable.

2. Go to Campuhan Ridge Walk for Sunrise

I didn't manage to wake up in time, but apparently sunrise is when Campuhan looks its best (and the least crowded). It's only a 15 walk from Komaneka and offers incredible views of Ubud's surrounding vegetation.

3. Make a Day Trip to Hanging Gardens of Ubud

For those that can't afford a night stay there like me, opt for a day guest pass. There are different packages available, but you can get pool access, afternoon tea, lunch and a massage (worth). Many of the resorts in Ubud offer free shuttle service, so make sure you take advantage of them!

4. Check Out Kanto Lampo Waterfall

There are many tourists here, so ensure to arrive early! There's a small entrance fee to access the waterfall, but the local guides are super nice! They'll help you down to the waterfall and even provide pose suggestions if you're stuck.

5. Then Visit Tibumana Waterfall

This waterfall is close to Kanto Lampo, but way less touristy! Locals tend to frequent this area, but I had the falls all to myself. It was quite tranquil here.

6. Hike Up Mount Batur

I unfortunately didn't get a chance to do this, so I settled for the view of the mountain instead. Locals suggest hiking up Mount Batur for sunrise, and it's an intense 2-3 hour hike but I hear the views are hella worth it.

7. Check Out Tegalalang Rice Terrace

You can't visit Ubud without seeing the Tegalalang Rice Terrace. Our local driver mentioned the fields look better in August/Fall (when I went they were recently harvested). There is an entrance fee to get in, but our driver took us to a different viewpoint where we didn't have to pay #winning.

8. Try Crispy Duck and Succulent Pig

Bebek Bengil - It was so good I forgot to take pictures. Ubud is known for its crispy duck, and this restaurant did the duck justice. Don't mind the bad reviews, mine is the only one that matters. 

Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku - The menu is small (2 items), but there's a reason it's a local favourite. My mouth waters thinking about the Nasi Campur Chicken, and it's also close to the Ubud swings (below).

Babi Guling Ibu Oka - You need to try the succulent pig here. It is phenomenal and you will not be disappointed. It's also frequented by locals, and for good reason!

If you're looking for some less local and more 'instagrammable' options, try the two places below:

9. Swing over the Ayung River

Get panoramic views of the river, a mini waterfall, rice fields and Mount Agung! I believe there are two locations for this swing: One at Zen Hideaway and another at this nearby location (of which I'm not sure of as our driver just took us here). There is an entrance fee of $25, but this was the most thrilling swing ride of my life!

10. But Just Know...

As with any dream, things are not always what they seem. Ubud is a great city to experience Balinese art, culture and its history. However, know that you will:

  1. Run into locals selling you anything and everything (including wooden dicks in many shapes and sizes) - I did not complain.
  2. Smell of burning incense (Ubud is predominately Hindu and almost everyday there's some sort of celebration)

  3. Encounter insects you never thought you'd see (like spiders the size of your fists)

  4. Need to hire a local driver (if you want to do many excursions in one day)

  5. Tune out the number of locals offering to give you a cab ride (as Ubud doesn't officially have cab service)

Other than that, you'll have a phenomenal time and will be so immersed in Balinese culture you'll even start speaking like them.

Top 5 Must-Do's in Florence & Sorrento

Having not travelled to Europe before, I didn't know what to expect. I was excited to take in the architecture, history, culture and amazing food. On the other hand, I was prepared for the worst with many people telling me to take heed of pickpocketing and theft. Our itinerary included Barcelona, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Florence and Geneva. As my heart was left in Italy, below are my top 5 things to see and do in two of my favourite cities.

Florence

1. Explore the city - I walked over 20,000 steps daily exploring Florence and felt I still had so much more to see. It's so easy to get lost; every wall, alley and building starts looking like the next, but I feel like that's the best way to truly know a city.

2. Eat your heart out - I had the best meals of my life in this city. Every single pasta dish, pizza slice and scoop of gelato I had was made with the freshest of ingredients. I normally am not a fan of coffee, cheese or wine (I know), but was in love with all three here. Yelp and I were closer than ever on this trip, and she never once let me down.

3. Go to Piazzale Michelangelo - A panoramic view of Florence, live music and arguably the best spot in town to watch the sunset. It's best to come about an hour before the sun goes down if you want to grab an open area on the stairs to enjoy the view.

4. Visit The Mall - If you're looking for deals on designer goodies, this luxury outlet 45 minutes outside of Florence is the place to be. It's the most beautiful outlet I've been to, and you can shop over 30 different brands. There's also a Gucci Caffè restaurant on the top floor of the Gucci store with an outdoor terrace offering incredible views of Tuscany.

5. Climb the Duomo - I recommend buying the all-in-one ticket (15 euros), which gives you access to see all 5 monuments in Piazza Duomo: Cupola, Bell Tower, Baptistery, the Crypt below Cathedral and Opera del Duomo Museum. Climbing to the top of the Bell Tower and the Duomo is about 900 steps altogether and is no easy feat! Being a 400 lb 95-year-old on the inside, I almost didn't make it. 

 

Sorrento 

1. Go to Raki for gelato - This place was recommended by a colleague, and it was by far one of the best gelati I had in Italy. It had the perfect texture and richness, and there's not an overabundance of flavours to choose from that you're standing there for 30 minutes trying to decide.

2. Take a day trip to Positano and Amalfi - I'll let the views speak for itself. If you decide to take a bus from Sorrento, the thrilling trip is about 30 minutes to an hour, and offers the most breathtaking views of the coastline. Warning: side effects may include nausea, dizziness and headaches due to the extreme twists and curves in the road.

...and I ran into another Toronto blogger (@cynthyeah) there I had only stalked on Instagram, and never actually met until walking past her down the Amalfi coast:

3. Visit the shops and walk along the coastline - Sorrento is a very small coastal town that you can walk from one end to the other in a mere couple hours.

4. Stay at this Airbnb solely for the balcony views - The place also has a great host, is located right in the heart of the city, and your room is cleaned every night as if you were staying in a hotel!

5. Take a day trip to Pompeii - I was so immersed in the history of this old Roman city and exploring the excavated ruins, that I didn't take a single photo of the vast archaeological site. To make it up, here are photos from Montserrat (an hour away from Barcelona):

That pretty much sums up my trip, give or take my phone being stolen in Barcelona, and me being appalled at two drinks at Starbucks costing $17 in Geneva. Would love to know what your favourite cities are in Europe!

#EastCoast - Nova Scotia & PEI Travel Diary

I explored Canada's East coast for the first time with a group of colleagues two weeks ago, and thought I'd share some of our adventures! I luckily had a designated photographer who was down to shoot me anywhere, anytime - thanks Lucy! Feel free to follow her at @lulfeng on Instagram and check out some of her amazing work!

The well-known and not so outstanding Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia

Pretty views from lunch, and a pitstop on the drive to Cape Breton 

Spotted a whale (the tiny black dot in the left picture), seals and jellyfish while whale watching, and did donuts on a navy boat during sunset - honestly the highlight of the trip

Took an hour long ferry to Prince Edward Island, and chased sunsets (and survived a mini sandstorm) at Cavendish Beach

Had Cow's Ice Cream twice (arguably PEI's best ice cream)

Breathtaking views from Charlottetown's waterfront and the downtown core 

Regrettably checked out the home of Anne of Green Gables, and finally found oysters on the last day in PEI (worth the wait)

Food Highlights:

Ryer's Lobster

The freshest seafood Nova Scotia undoubtedly has to offer.  We found this place on a whim, and they sell raw lobster, mussels, scallops and oysters, but I opted for the first two only. All you're given is a plastic bib, plastic meat remover and a paper plate, and then you simply wait for your fresh --lobster in this case-- that's been cooked, cracked and served with melted butter. If you're seafood obsessed and don't mind getting your hands dirty, this place is a must go. Let the reviews speak for itself. 

Merchantman Fresh Seafood & Oyster Bar

Located minutes away from Charlottetown's waterfront, this place has the freshest oysters I've had - and I eat a lot of oysters. The patio, staff and service were also commendable. 

That's it.

Ending off with a GIF of my struggle in getting up a random rock we encountered on the way to Peggy's Cove:

#WinterWonderland - Collab with Andrew So

I attended my annual work retreat this past weekend in the winter wonderland that is Muskoka. We were definitely spoiled this year. Weekend was filled with amazing company, food, activities, an incredible improv comedy show by Bad Dog Theatre Company (HIGHLY recommend you check out), and breathtaking views of Lake Rosseau. 

Also got a chance to experience dog sledding for the first time! The dogs were adorable, I could barely keep my excitement in. Ariel (featured below), was a pure joy and stole my heart with her tenacity and heart.

Now onto actual outfit details... Shot by my awesome friend and colleague, Andrew So. He doesn't have a website yet, so feel free to check out his Instagram!

#Turks&Caicos

I wanted to share some highlights from my trip to the gorgeous Turks and Caicos (T&C) with bae and 2 of our friends. Got back 2 days ago and already missing the Caribbean sun. I aimed to come back a different race and although I didn't quite get there, still ended up with a bronze glow that I'm hoping lasts me through the dry Canadian winter.

Even as we were landing, you can see how turquoise the water is. At this point, I was jumping in and out of my seat, not able to contain my excitement.

We stayed at the beautiful Atrium Resort (booked through Airbnb):

After we got settled in, we knew the first thing we wanted to do was hit the beach. A local recommended Flamingo Beach, which wasn't too far from the Atrium. We only had a couple hours until sunset, so we made the most of our time there. I do want to note that I have never stepped foot on such fine and soft sand than until I got to T&C. It feels like you're walking on micro-foam pillows. I hate walking, but I will walk 500 miles if it's on this sand.

T&C is known for its white sand beaches and turquoise waters, so it's no surprise that the majority of our time was spent on the beaches. If you plan on visiting, ensure Taylor Beach is one of your stops. It's a local favourite, as well as mine. The water is still, shallow and crystal clear so it's great for snorkelling, paddle boarding or simple frolicking. The last 2 pictures below are of Taylor Beach.

If you know me, you know I love paddle boarding and will jump at the opportunity every chance I get. I did a lot of paddle boarding in T&C, and I find it's a great workout, a quick way to get an allover tan, and allows you to see more of the island. Also threw in a behind-the-scenes shot ;)

Below are details of a few of my outfits:

Forever 21 White Dress (Old) // Topshop Nude Midi Dress (Similar here and here) and Forever 21 Denim Jacket // Club Monaco Black Crop Top (Old), Aritzia Babaton Antoine Shorts and Quay 'Cha Cha' Sunglasses // Forever 21 Floral Maxi Dress with Slit (Old)

It actually took multiple attempts to do the couple's yoga pose. It's harder than it looks! Also, there's a really cute dessert place called Melt worth checking out. It's a little pricey, but recommend trying at least once. Get the brownie sundae if you plan on going!

Highly recommend Bugaloo's and Somewhere Cafe for lunch. Both are situated right by the water so you get the island vibe along with a spectacular view. The tacos and fries at Somewhere are a must try!

Conch is native to T&C and there is a large abundance of it. Every restaurant you go to will have conch on the menu, offered in various ways (conch salad, conch fritters, battered conch, conch pasta etc.). Bugaloo's catches conch right from the ocean and sells the shell to tourists. If you don't mind the shell not being polished, you can find many along the shoreline of all the beaches. 

Another cool thing you can do is rent a puppy for a couple hours to socialize them at Potcake Place. It's a dog rescue charity that aims to reduce the number of homeless potcakes on the island. They give you everything you need when you take the puppy out, and all the puppies are well behaved, not to mention incredibly adorable! We had the honour of playing with Hugo, who was only 3 months old.

On our last day, we quickly visited Chalk Sound, which offers the bluest waters I have ever seen.

We spent close to a week there, and it was some much needed R&R. The island itself is quite small, so there aren't a lot of people. The locals are all very friendly, and love starting a conversation with you. If you're looking for a place to party, T&C isn't for you. There's not much to do outside of water activities, and it gets very quiet past sunset. However, there is a Fish Fry every Thursday, which is comparable to a small night market where locals and tourists alike come together for food, music and pure fun. Local restaurants and gift shops close early to set up for this event, and it's a great way to meet new people and wind down.

The food is great, but there isn't a large variety. I can sum up what I ate down to conch and jerk chicken. Needless to say, I think I've had enough conch to last me a lifetime. Other great restaurants to check out are Caico's Cafe, Coco Bistro (reserve 2 weeks in advance), and Chinson's Grill Shack (best Jamaican patties and festivals). Already drooling thinking of it..

Overall, T&C is a great place to wind down and relax if you're a beach bum like me. Don't forget to pack on that sunscreen because that Carribean sun is strong!

#DontCallItFrisco

This was my second visit to the golden city aka. baghdad by the bay aka. fog city aka. paris of the west aka. san fran aka. city by the bay aka. whatever you want to call it. I was plagued with the stomach flu the first time, so I didn't experience much of SF other than from inside my hotel room. I went for Dreamforce, but stayed the weekend for some R&R with my colleagues.

We decided to visit beautiful Sausalito, which I've decided is where I'm going to retire in 40 years. I hadn't ridden a bicycle in more than 10 years until this past weekend, but with views like this I'd do it everyday! It's no wonder even 70-year-old grandmas are ripped there. It was nice to get out of downtown SF and to not smell pee at every corner. Everything from the weather, view, people, and the food was breathtaking.

Let's not forget the painted ladies!

Zara Cropped Sweater // Urban Outfitters BDG 4-Pocket Pin-Up Shorts // Forever 21 Marled Jacket (Old) // Nike Juvenate // Aldo Bynam Aviators

The best cupcake ice cream and prettiest wall in Santana Row.

Aritzia Wilfred Free Lillian Dress // Forever 21 Marled Jacket (Old) // Browns Wishbone Settignano Booties