Brooklyn, New York

Finding unpretentious, cozy places in New York is hard, but I’ve been lucky to have experienced a few. One spot in Brooklyn is called the House of Small Wonder — a smallish greenhouse of a restaurant built around a living tree. Another place, in Manhattan, is called Hi Collar — a 30s inspired tiny bar serving up rice and eggs and siphon coffee. Stepping into these places is like time traveling in the past. They make me look up and around and enjoy the moment.

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Montréal, Canada

Summer is lovely in Montréal. My scrappy backpacking tribe and I nested in Le Plateau, a hipsterish arrondissement with tattoo parlors, jazz bars, bakeries, and cold brews. Everyone spoke French with a North American drawl that was laid back enough for me to understand well and respond in Franglais. I loved their quintessential Canadian summer look — the women so tanned and toned from running, and the men so robust and scruffy from hiking. I envied them, after temporarily leaving a place that has given me so much stress, and now arriving in a city with people actually enjoying life. So I found my zen in Montréal. All nine hours of sleep every night…and of course the trifecta: maple syrup, bourbon, and poutine. 🙂

“I’ve never been cool – and I don’t care.” – Celine Dion.

Ciudad de México Narrative

I’m excited to share the highlights of my latest adventure: Ciudad de México!

Stayed at The Red Tree House in Hipódromo neighborhood. Pretty popular among San Franciscans, New Yorkers, and digital nomads.

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Climbed three pyramids in the ancient city of Teotihuacan: Sun, Moon, and Quetzalcoatl.

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The history of Teotihuacan seemed mystical and brutal. There were stories of relentless uprisings, mysterious hieroglyphs, a secret tunnel, precious obsidian tools, and dragon idols.
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Back in the city, ate delicious street tacos topped with silky cactus… and also some ant eggs and grasshopper guacamole.
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There were superb parks, Frida Kahlo’s outfits, and unforgettable hot chocolate.
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Bon week-end, everyone!

Preview: Mexico City

“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.” –Frida Kahlo.

Paris, France

“We travel, in essence, to become young fools again–to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.” -Pico Iyer, Author.

Porto, Portugal

Bom dia! Backpacking for two weeks in the Philippines and Spain took a bit of a toll on me so I indulged in Porto in every way possible. I wined, dined, spoiled myself in a city that I grew to love while scaling its phenomenal hills and flaneuring by the Douro river. 

Fun fact: Porto was where JK Rowling lived to teach English and write Harry Potter novels! Inspired, I wrote, too, at a bar with vinho verde, passionate poetry slamming on my diary pages. There’s something magical about this city.

Madrid, Spain

Madrid had a bit of a low-key profile, and I embraced it fully. I meandered. Got lost in the old city. I also saw the major paintings by Goya, the Guernica of Picasso, the post-surrealist work of Miro. What I witnessed in that art genre was a loss of innocence, ponderings about mortality, and lots of gothic violence and human isolation. They gave me nightmares, the ghosts of my past showing up to say hello to me. 

The upside is that I got my eating mojo back! After suffering from some health issues in the Philippines, I’m so ready to eat and live the tapas life.

Barcelona, Spain

Hola! On this second week of my three-week break, I’ve come to forget the deep sea quietness of Dauin and instead fall in love in Barcelona. The Gaudis, art nouveaus, and gothics are well celebrated here. Perhaps above all, I almost wept after seeing the Picasso collection at Museu Picasso. His pre-cubist phase — the portraits, social realism, blue period — blew me away. 

“Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life.” Pablo Picasso

The Layover: Honolulu, Manila and Tokyo

I’m intense when it comes to optimizing my layovers and have been lucky to have friends who drop whatever they’re doing just to see me for a few hours. They’re the best! 

Very recently in Honolulu, Manila and Tokyo, I went antiquing for vintage-designed Japanese bowls, had chocolate ice cream at Pierre Marcolini in Ala Moana, sampled bone marrow and Hello Kitty dimsum in Manila, and ate my heart out at a delicious kushi bar in Ginza. Enjoy the pics!