Travel with Riva | Italy

If you were to tell me that I was going to Italy the same year we went to Paris, I most likely won't believe you. 2017 has been so good to us. This is truly one of the best blessings we've ever received this year. The ability to see Europe. I already mentioned before, my top 3 places are Paris, Italy and Jerusalem. So thankful that I was able to celebrate my 30th in Italia!


Italy is something else. It's a whole 'nother world. In my opinion, you can't compare Paris from Rome, Florence or Venice (I have yet to see this dreamy place!). They're in different calibers. They have their own distinctions and beauty that you just can't compare them both. But Italy is by far, my most favorite. I know it took me a long time to get to this blog. It's so hard to move on, haha. And so much happened that you just needed to attend to. You know, life right? But seriously, I'm thankful that it was that hard to get over this trip. It just means that it impacted me so much and it's forever embedded in my memory and my heart. Sounds cheesy, but ask someone who's gone to Italy, it's definitely one of their favorites.

This is going to be overwhelmingly loaded with photos. You can also watch the video that I posted 2 weeks after this trip! 



If you love history, appreciate the oldest ruins, architecture, and culture, you have to see Rome. This place is massive. I had to keep telling myself we were in this place. What you read in history books, movies, are right there in front of you. Crazy. What I love most is that these must places to see are super close to each other. You have to wear your most comfortable shoes. Whoever told you to wear your sandals, doesn't know what she's putting you into. We probably walked 10-15 miles a day in Italy. So if you don't mind dirt, blisters and calluses, then you do you. Also, I'm sure you've heard of this before, but their food there? No words. I'm forever ruined! Ha! The people too are so warm, friendly and very hospitable. We've encountered Italians who stopped what their doing just to help us. Not just gave us short answers, but even suggested routes and tips!


We usually care less to touristy places but not Rome, you have to go see it. It's history at its finest. We did the 3 hour walk tour at the Colosseo, Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. It's definitely worth it. 



The heart of Tuscany, Florence is so much different from Rome. This is the birth of Renaissance. The colors of Florence are much more vibrant and very laid-back. Just like Rome, everything is within walking distance. They also sell a lot of leather goods here. If you see one, buy it. Please learn from me, I wanted to buy something leather in Florence but thought I had more time towards the tail of our trip but I ended up not taking anything with me cuz the stores close early. Ugh, I guess one good reason to go back! Also, I'm madly obsess with their narrow streets and alleyways! Kev and I prefer going to less commercialized areas, but get lost in their streets.  



We used one of our days in Florence to go to Cinque Terre. This was a spontaneous trip that we don't regret. We had to buy our swim suits there, even our flip flops! If you happen to have an extra day to squeeze Cinque Terre, I highly recommend that you do so. If you have more time, you can also stop by the Tower of Pisa. Unfortunately our time was so short that we didn't get to. 

We went to 3 towns in Cinque. It's also recommended to buy the pass so you can hop in and out to all five cities. We went to Riomaggiore, Manarola and swam in Monterosso. There's also a trail where you can hike all the 5 towns, but sadly when we went it was closed. We didn't really want to hike anyway since our time was short, we just wanted to relax at the beach and enjoy the nice Italian beach. The water was crystal blue and moderately warm! It felt so nice to swim when the weather was so toasty! 



We spent our last full day in Italy in exploring Vatican and Trastevere. I'm sad just typing this, haha. Just uploading these photos and remembering this trip brought back all these awe feelings. Vatican as we all know is the smallest country just right next to Rome. I suggest getting the tickets ahead of time cuz you might wait an hour to get in. We didn't even get to Sistine Chapel cuz the line to St. Peter's Basilica took so long. 

Trastevere, just lil outside of Rome, right across Tiber, this quaint town is so picturesque. It's known for traditional and innovative trattorias, craft beer pubs and artisan shops. This town in spite being small is my favorite part of Rome. You see more locals than tourists, so you feel like you're getting a glimpse of their everyday life. If I could live in Italy, I'd probably live here. 


I hope you enjoyed this long post! I didn't want to split it in parts. Cuz our experience in Italy was indescribable as a whole. I'd go back to these places in a heartbeat. And go to more towns like Venice and Milan.

Oh to dream of places! Keep dreaming, and anything is possible. 

Talk soon!


Travel with Riva | London

Dear 30-yr old Riva,

Age is just a number. Still keep dreaming and doing what you love.

Love, 30-yr old Riva


Never did we imagine that we would go back to Europe again this year. I turned 30 about a month ago. This was truly the best birthday present ever. You should know by now that Kevin and I love Europe so much. The art, history, the richness of culture and the old architecture, those are what we look for when we travel. And Europe is that. 

London is a mix of old and new. We all see it in movies. You get that old classic sophistication with a nice touch of modernness to it. 

We were in London for three solid days. I say if you're going to another country apart from London, this is a good amount of time to see London unless you want to go to museums (cuz it's free!) then I suggest staying longer. 

We arrived in the morning of the 16th and basically knocked some of the touristy sights down along the Thames River. Our Airbnb was literally a block away from Shadwell station so taking the tube is the way to go for us. Plus, it's super easy! Get the Oyster Card, download the CityMapper app and you're good to go. It gets pretty crowded in the morning and afternoon but as if that'd stop us from taking public transportation. Ha!



We were lucky we still heard the bell ringing cuz it's now silent for 3-4 years for renovation. 


Straight from the airport, we just dropped off our luggages and went exploring. I thought I could have at least freshen up and change clothes, but no bueno but it's okay. We went to Big Ben, Westminster, Trafalgar Square, Oxford Circus, Carnaby Road, and Tower London and Tower Bridge. To be honest with you, our first day in London was a blur for me. I remember drinking two espressos to stay awake that day. 


Our second day includes Buckingham Palace, Green Park, Notting Hill, Bond Street, Brick Lane and Financial District. We also rode the double decker bus to Notting Hill which I highly recommend!




Notting Hill is everything you'd expect on a beautiful quaint town is. The houses and the shops are too adorable. They have nice antique stores that are a must to go to. I even saw a vintage camera store that I regrettably didn't take a photo of. 


On our last day, Kevin and I met up with his cousin, Angela, and her friend Je and explored more of this wonderful city. We went to Covent Garden, Somerset House, Saint James Park, Royal Mews and went back to Tower of London. 


The phone booths are so iconic, I cannot not take a photo. They're everywhere too! And boy oh boy, look closely, and you see some unnecessary adverts. If you see it, good job, you actually read this! *I purposely left that untouched*


Our Top 5 Memorable Experiences in London (That You Probably Should Also Try)

1. We saw a fox running in London Eye. I kid you not. We thought it was a dog but no, it was a fox. What I was gonna say is, be mindful of your surroundings. Crossing the street could be trippy if you don't look down to check where to look. LEFT is right. 

2. Fish n Chips, English Breakfast, and tea, y'all should try it. Believe the hype, it's good. Once is enough though haha. 

3. Shopping at Primark. Yo, they're not joking about this store. We went to the big one on Bond Street and it was crazy packed. They have a lot of good stuff that are really affordable. I highly recommend bringing your patience and endurance. LOL. I bought a pair of jeans for 13 euros. DUDE.

4. Of course, we tried copying their British accents. Just believe in yourself, go with it even if you suck. Can I have some wotah pleaase?

5. I already mentioned this but ride the double decker bus. If you're going to a place that has the option for you to ride the bus, go for it. Saves you money, you see the city, it has some nice views = win! Since we're talking about transportation, ride the Metro too. When Kevin and I travel, we like using their train system to get around the city. You see, learn and observe so many interesting and fascinating stuff when you're around locals. You can read their newspaper for FREE. Just take one and read it. 

If we're going back in London, I definitely would love to see Hyde Park, Harrods, The Shard, and have some tea time party. 

Can you tell based on Kev's last photo that we got hella dark? And he wore the same shirt too, ha!

Anyway, up next is what I wore in London. I'll keep you posted.

Have you been to London? What's your favorite part?

Talk soon!


Travel with Riva | Brussels and Bruges

Woah, hold on sec. I thought this is over?! I know, I know. I promise this will be a short read!

The sweetest and the friendliest people we met in our trip was in Belgium.

We only spent two days in Belgium, a day in Brussels and a day in Bruges. I knew prior to coming it's one of the smallest and most densely populated European countries. Belgians are multi-lingual. They speak English, Dutch and French. So coming here was definitely a breath of fresh air for us. Having to speak in English was a big relief and joy. Imagine, just having one person to talk to in the entire trip (I love Kevin but still, he and I both know human interaction is a must lol)? When we arrived to our AirBnb which was surprisingly in a hotel, we were greeted by their super friendly host, Eva. It felt so amazing to be able to talk to someone about what she loves about her city. She even pointed directions out on the street. The hospitality was off the charts, seriously. 

The good thing about Brussels is everything is walking distance or a bus away. And the best thing for us was our Airbnb was just right next to the Grand Place. Name itself is grand, this place is absolutely gorgeous. Our time in Brussels was the coldest and it drizzled quite a bit. It was breathtaking to see this place when the ground was shiny from the rain. 

Here's what you must try: It's a MUST to try their fries, waffles, chocolates, mussels and beer. Fries. Sorry no pictures to show (crazy right?) but everything that I mentioned is so good. I am not a big fan of mayonnaise, but mayo on fries, sure why not. But it doesn't taste weird, their mayo looks different like not that Kraft Mayo, I swear it's good. You can add grilled onions or ketchup if that's your thing but their fries is definitely good. Waffles. I'm a waffle over pancake girl. I love the crispness and the airiness of it. Again, Belgian waffle is like no other. It's lighter and slightly sweeter. It's so good. Chocolates. I mean, have you had a Belgian chocolate before? If you haven't, just go ahead and try it. It's so smooth, creamy and decadent.








Mussels or Moules is one of their popular dishes. You'll see it in most restaurants. Be careful though cuz they would haggle and convince you to eat at their restaurant and end up getting ripped off. Lastly, the Beer. Any beer connoisseur or craft beer drinker would know that Belgium offers many of the best beers in the world. Especially their sour beer. I am not a beer drinker. If I do, I like my ciders and stouts. And thanks to Kevin and Belgium, I discovered my love for Framboise. SRSLY SO GOOD. Stop by at Trader Joe's and get a bottle asap! It's like cherry juice! 

Grand Place at night

Grand Place at night

On our last day, we took an hour and half train to Bruges. Bruges was straight up picture of a fairy tale. Called as "Venice of Belgium", this small town is romantic and colorful, you see couples in love everywhere. I highly recommend doing the canal tour. It's a 30-min boat ride which takes you to the canals and experience Bruges in a whole different level. It is definitely the highlight of our Bruges trip. 

Aside from the colors of Bruges (seems like this Euro trip is truly meant for me, haha. totally digging the color palette!), we also noticed that there are bicycles everywhere. Bruges is such a small town with spiderweb alleyways, narrow streets, people bike to their destinations. Their parked bicycles are seriously eye candy. What's with the 'seriously', Riva?! I'm very serious about this seriously. (That was just an internal conversation haha)

Me: Can you stand right next it and pretend it's yours and about to ride it? Kev: Im not gonna do that.

Me: Can you stand right next it and pretend it's yours and about to ride it? Kev: Im not gonna do that.

Before I end this post, I want to share our last AirBnb cuz it was STUNNING! I wish we stayed a bit longer so we could enjoy this place. What you're about to see is a lil photoshoot we did at their rooftop. We heard church bells ringing the day we left, it was such a treat. The best AirBnb we had so far. 

Travel bug is totally real. The thing about traveling, you just want to see more places. I think one of the ways to beat it is to explore your own city. See new places, try a new coffee shop, or just window shop. Or maybe change your walking route. It totally helps! San Francisco is such a small city but it offers so many things. You just have to find those hidden gems. In case you haven't seen it, I posted our Euro trip video on Youtube. I am planning to do this on a monthly, featuring San Francisco, and its districts, what's good in the hood, would also love to feature another Creative who can take us where the coolest spots are. What do you think?

Au voir! Talk later! <3