That Thing Called Baguio Food Trip Weekend

It has been a  very hot summer in Metro Manila. And at least one day in the Summer Capital would be a delight. So, the Baguio Weekend happened.

It was not really a tourist kind of break. And apologies, I didn’t really take a lot of photos in this trip. Because we stayed in Baguio for some years for college, so it was like merely visiting “home” for the weekend. So we skipped all the tourist-y items and just went straight to the food trip. Because that’s what you do when you come home for the weekend–enjoy home-cooked meals, watch TV, eat take-home dessert in bed and squeeze in a massage.

A little warning for those who want to go to Baguio via Victory Bus Liner: get your tickets as early as possible. And by early, I mean days before, or even weeks. There are A LOT of people going to Baguio. I got our tickets for the Saturday trip three days before. We wanted to leave at midnight but the closest time with available seats was at 2 AM. There was a long queue for chance passengers when we boarded the bus. So if you don’t want the hassle, get your tickets from the bus station early. Online reservation is not yet available.

Kiwing na Kahoy Food Community at Ili-Likha Artist Village
We arrived in Baguio at around 8 in the morning. It was too early to check in our hotel, and a good breakfast after a long bus ride was a must. I stumbled upon this food place a month ago and the moment I learned it’s an artist haven (read: arts all over the place), I knew I have to go there.

I learned that it opens early, so it was the perfect place to commence the Baguio Weekend. Unfort11169994_10152973102923842_1697687131801777942_nunately (or is it fortunately?), the only food spot that was open that early was Balbacua at Urban Kamote. It boasts of organic food at very affordable prices. We ordered balbacua, of course, and longganisa with red rice. The balbacua was tasty. I would have preferred a slightly toasted longganisa, but it was fine, together with the refreshing Fresca Chia drink. They also serve this interesting coffee concoction called Bulletproof Coffee that has grass-fed butter. It was a bit bitter for my taste, but it seemed oozing with healthy goodness.

I was wishing to see blue-eyed Kawayan working10408737_10152973095668842_4601074600567719223_n on one of his masterpieces, but no, he wasn’t there. We saw lots of artworks, though. It made me remember the Ponce Suites Gallery Hotel in Davao, which was covered with Kublai’s artworks. There are other shops in this little community and they are set up strategically and artistically to look like a tree house. It’s not the safest place to be especially in a high-altitude city like Baguio, which is prone to tremors. But it is worth a try.

Ili-likha Artist Village is located at Assumption Road. From Victory Liner, walk to Lower Session Road. Stay on the right side of the road where your landmark would be the Bohemian Cafe, which was featured in That Thing Called Tadhana. It’s a long walk (we could testify), but you’re in Baguio. Walking should be fun!

North Haven Spa
Okay, sige na, burgis na kung burgis. Eh, gusto ko talagang magpa-massage because the past few weeks have been tiring. Good thing I wasn’t the only one who wanted to de-stress. And so we went to the North Haven Spa in Ferguson Road, a bit farther away from the city center. Opted for this main branch instead of the one in Casa Vallejo (Upper Session Road, which was featured, too, in That Thing Called Tadhana) because of the location. It offers a more relaxing ambiance because it’s located inside a village and a prettier view that is more like the Baguio I fell in love with. You can see the mountains from this area.

11180311_10152972750618842_4850506291217109454_nWe got there early. I actually called in advance to make a reservation, and because I am OC, yes. It turned out we got the whole spa to ourselves. We took time in choosing what treatment we would want. The friendly staff was very eager to help and recommended that we try this particular massage that I forgot the name of (sorry!). But it’s 1 hour and 45 minutes long. It was almost two hours of bliss! Which was capped off with cups of refreshing lemongrass tea.

I would have really wanted to try the Strawberry Bliss package, which involves scrub and jacuzzi (bubble bath!) but I just couldn’t at that time. Well, it’s a good reason for me to go back.

Ozark Diner
I discovered this place last year. I was curious about the dark beer cheesecake. I’ve told him about it and he was able to try the place when he was in Baguio for work. It’s fine, was what I gathered from it. Plus the location is far from the city center. So, I was actually ready to skip it. Good thing he insisted that we go here for lunch.

We got lost because Manong Taxi didn’t know where the place is. But here’s a tip, tell your cab driver that’s it’s near SLU Mary Heights Campus. It’s in Bareng Drive. The 100-peso taxi fare is worth it, I tell you. Look for this red door. But that’s not the entrance. It’s downstairs, via the side door.

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I was not that hungry when we got there, so I ordered a burrito–the most inexpensive and humongous burrito I’ve ever had. The beans are real. Hindi sila nagbibiro. We also ordered half spring chicken with biscuits, which were heavenly. I would go back for those biscuits and those spiked milkshakes (they call it “adult milkshakes”). I managed to take a sip of the Grasshopper, and I liked it. I was just wary to order one for me. Baka kasi hindi sila friends ni beans.

The location is good. But there was an ongoing construction outside, so the noise could be disturbing. It bothered me a little because diners tend to talk in loud voices. Dining out means chatting over good food so it really bothered me. Buti na lang walang nakaisip mag-date dun at mag-propose noong mga panahong maingay dun. Major bummer kapag nagkataon.

Anyway, of course, we had to order a slice of the dark beer cheesecake, but unfortunately, we had to have it to-go. No more space! I only managed to eat half of my burrito, and I was so full. I was able to taste the cake in the hotel. It was fine, nothing very fantastic about it. I still don’t like beer after eating it.

Holiday Park Hotel
There was a downpour when we were on our way to our hotel to finally check in at half past 2 in the afternoon. Checking in was a breeze because I have booked it a week ago. I chose this hotel over Veniz Hotel, which I have stayed at before, because of the location. It tends to be noisy at Hotel Veniz. The first choice was actually Baguio Holiday Villas, which I’ve stayed at last year (a bit noisy, too) but they didn’t have a room that’s good for two. I was so glad I booked Holiday Park Hotel. It is the best one in Baguio so far. It’s a bit pricey at P2,200 for a de luxe twin room, with free breakfast for two, but I love it.11036528_10152975369393842_1892662631988847053_n

I love the room. It’s spacious for two. There was already an extra pillow inside the room, I love it. The bathroom is nice and clean. Basic toiletries included; no hair dryer, though, but it’s available upon request. I have a thing for hair dryers. Dapat lahat ng hotels sa Baguio meron kasi malamig. The location is good. It’s not too far from the city center, but not in the busy part of Kisad, so it’s quiet at night. Plus, the staff is great. I would love to stay here again. And the longganisa is da bomb, by the way. Cooked just the way I like it. Free-flowing coffee, too, all day!

Mt. Cloud Bookshop+Cinematheque
We were supposed to watch some documentaries by UP Students at the Baguio Cinematheque, but it was raining. And the bed was so conducive to sleeping. We missed the 4:30 showing of the six documentaries that I am sure are worth the while (go, UPB!), but we still went to the place after resting in the hotel, on foot. I repeat, on foot! I don’t think I would do that again, but let’s just say that it’s in preparation for an upcoming major travel, practice lang. Goodness, I thought I would faint walking from Kisad Road to Lower Session to Upper Session. I used to enjoy walking up and down Session Road thrice non-stop. It’s a sign of aging, I know.

Canto at Ketchup Food Community
We’ve both been here before, but he hasn’t tried the baby back ribs and I was craving the freshest greens there was in Baguio. And so it’s Canto for dinner.

The Ketchup Community comprises of different restos. I’ve only tried Canto, so I cannot say anything about the other ones. It’s located in Romulo Drive, near the St. Joseph Church, in Pacdal Circle. I don’t know how to get there via jeepney, but the cabs are all familiar with this popular place.

11027468_10152973345153842_7827106855259876124_nAnyway, we ordered half slab of the famous lomo ribs. It’s better than that of The Pilgrim’s daw. But RUB’s is still the best. And we also had the Veggy Pizza with lots of alfalfa, arugula and basil goodness. When in Baguio, eat vegetables because you can’t go fresher than anywhere else. Skip the burgers, please. Manila has lots of those.

By the way, the Garapon Craze has invaded Baguio, too. It’s very hipster, but it’s forgivable. The Lorna Iced Tea was unforgettable. And with some jazz on the side, it’s one of the best dinners I have had.

Choco-late de Batirol
10985373_10152973371023842_7503041242537294092_nWe dropped by this little cafe near (or was it inside?) the Baguio Country Club, which I think would be perfect for breakfast or afternoon snacks because it’s actually a garden. It was dark, so I couldn’t really appreciate the ambiance. But they serve good chocolate de batirol drinks. I had the strawberry-infused one called Baguio Blend. It was good, but too strong, I wasn’t able to finish it. I would want to go back to try the Kahlua, though.

Cafe by the Ruins
11060452_10152975267303842_8952798194308259360_nTo cap off what has become a Baguio Food Trip Weekend, we had lunch at Cafe by the Ruins (which was also featured in That Thing Called Tadhana, why not?!). We ordered pinikpikan because it’s fun to enjoy torture sometimes. Hehe Good thing I’ve overcome my allergies, I can eat chicken now. It was delicious. I’ve had a cheaper version of it, and it wasn’t that delectable. Mas masarap pala talaga kapag mahal. I chose Gado-gado for salad, and boy, it was nagado (a lot, in Ilocano). It has fried tofu bits and is served with interesting peanut dressing. I would have loved to try the strawberry cake we saw from the other table or the Pavlova for dessert but I was full. My tummy was very happy about all the green goodness I’ve consumed by this time. For drinks, we ordered a strawberry milkshake and ginger fizz, which comes with a stalk of lemongrass. This established the theory na ayaw kaming lubayan ng tanglad.

It was a fun travel. Looking forward to the next one!

Officially In Love

With Pinto Art Museum, that is.

When I went there with Jel, Anna and her little Angel during my birthday month this year, I knew I would want to go back and enjoy the art pieces some more. Not that I didn’t enjoy going there the first time, I totally loved our first visit. But being the shutter bugs that we are, we snapped pictures here and there in that almost four hours that we were inside the museum.

I also wanted to try the Museum Cafe, so I was really bound to go back. It was just a question of when and with whom. Well, this time, it was sort of a spontaneous trip with Marc, whom I haven’t seen in quite a while. I told him about this cool museum and I was really glad he was willing to check it out [Thank you!].

And so, I giddily stepped inside the Pinto once again.

With a map and no abaniko from Manong Registration this time (I was kinda looking forward to holding an abaniko, actually), we started with the first gallery. I didn’t really realized that the first gallery is for housing some sort of a show (I think it changes monthly), so I was a bit disappointed when instead of the Beavis and Butthead-ish artworks at the loft area (I was excited to show that to Marc because he likes the duo), we saw art pieces that depict bicycles. He bikes, so I guess he sort of appreciated them.

At the main area, we found these:

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This reminds me of Imagine Dragons’ “Bleeding Out”.

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The first one reminds me of BenCab’s Sabel. And the other one of Les Miserables.

This trip was way faster than the first one because I was not in a snapping frenzy. In fact, I really didn’t want to bring out my camera had there been no new paintings in that first gallery. I would have been contented with just my camera phone. But, alas, Schneider was unleashed, so I managed to snap some interesting shots.

Kuya Tour Guide, the same one who snapped one of our group photos the first time, chat us up and said the museum is huge and he warned us that we’re in for a workout.

He probably sensed that we didn’t really need some touring around, so he left us in peace. [Promise, Manong, next time na punta ko, I will avail of your friendship, I mean, free service.] When we reached the bigger gallery, which, I think, is great for cocktail parties, he captured a willing audience of three young students.

I would have wanted to join the group, but I was starving by this time. It was 12 noon. We passed by the ramped gallery and I finally realized what the ramp is for. This lovely museum is wheelchair-friendly! Well, it shouldn’t really be a surprise since the museum is founded by a doctor (a neurologist to be exact), Dr. Joven Cuanang. There are even special backdoors for the PWDs. How thoughtful of them to do that!

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By the time we reached the center of the museum, where the cafe is conveniently located, we were more than ready to eat. The aroma from the kitchen caught us, actually.

10295460_10152181623028842_4849049775587341313_oI knew the Cafe is operated by Bizu, so I know it’s kinda pricey. I failed to mention this to Marc that that’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to go back–to sample their menu. We would have eaten lunch at the city center just like what we did the first time I went there, but I really wanted to try their food. We each ordered a set menu at P595++. It comes with a soup, an entree and a dessert. Marc got the lamb shanks with couscous and mine’s the spring chicken (from Abra daw) with couscous. With the one bite I had of the lamb, I thought the sauce was too strong for my palate. But I think Marc enjoyed it. The spring chicken is tender, but the thigh part was a bit dry.

Desserts were halo-halo and yema tart, which didn’t have the obligatory shots. Mine was the yema tart and it was served while I was still eating my entree. The salted caramel ice cream was melting when I finally got to it. I felt kinda cheated since I was expecting a huge tart. I should have ordered halo-halo, too. Oh, well. We can’t always have the best.

We continued our museum musing after that quite maarte lunch. It’s nice to see that most of the things in there didn’t change (well, it was only roughly three months ago, but you get what I mean); and there are some stuff I failed to notice the first time. They were some sort of happy surprise. Like this most unwelcoming receiving area.

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They were covered with words! It sure is easy art because what the artist just did was cover these things with printed words, but, wow. I spent a good while marveling at these painstaking works of art.

This particular art piece also surprise me. It’s not really a painting. It’s made with colorful threads. I really don’t know how the artist did it, but his works were so special, it has its own room. I did not recognize love the first time, I swear. 🙂

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I cannot say I am artistic enough to be able to create something that can be called a piece of art. I do crafts and they say it is sort of like arts, but that is saying too much about the stuff I create with my hands. I couldn’t help but really wonder how artists do their art pieces. Perhaps that’s why I love arts so much. They make me wonder and that’s some kind of wonderful.

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Of course, I still believe that Mother Nature is the greatest artist among them all. And in a museum, I was surprisingly enthralled by Her.

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I came across these dried stuff that turned out to be Apitong seeds [Thanks, Manong Tour Guide!] in one of the many window seats (where you can actually take a siesta or lounge while charging your gadgets). Manong Tour Guide saw me took a picture and he told me I could play with them as he picked one and let it “fly”. It immediately transported me back to my childhood summers.

And then I saw this tree from one of the many beautiful windows. It could have been a cherry tree with blossoms from a far, which reminded me of something and made my heart skip a beat (it’s D-minus 5!).

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It was Marc who discovered that the “flying seeds” were from that tree when he got in the bedroom and saw it from the huge window. We spent some time calling for the wind (you know, whistling) to see some more flying seeds. I unsuccessfully caught the flights in picture. I later on realized a video should have done the trick. Well, I’m sorry. I was enjoying it, and my mind wasn’t working full time. But, really, it was fun. I now have a great idea for an unconventional but really cool confetti. hehe

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We went inside the “Forest” room, and I can say it could be unsettling for some to enter that supposed to be “zen” room. hehe Not good for the praning. But I really like that installation art. I look forward to seeing one by Yayoi Kuzama in the future.

When we’re done with the galleries, we went outside to explore the gardens. It was refreshing to see so many shades of green below and blue above. But the dark clouds were kind of threatening, so we decided to call it a day. But before finally stepping outside the Pinto, we just had to taste the lemongrass iced tea they were selling near the exit/entrance of the museum. It was love! I had to sit down in one of the white chairs in the garden to fully enjoy it. It’s refreshing and it’s the perfect finale to end the museum musing. And at P20, it beats the horrendously overpriced tea sold at BenCab’s. I didn’t even tried it when we went there just because I thought it was so expensive (more than P100).

And that humble lemongrass iced tea is another reason to go back. 🙂

Labor Day Food Trip and Whining Sesh: In Scripts

It’s a quotable quote kind of foodie blog entry. I don’t have the memory of a tape recorder, so this is not verbatim, and I actually cannot remember everything we talked about, sa dami nun. It’s a podcast-able food trip/road trip so I’ve gotta share the story in scripts.

[Jan Marc and Marge, correct me if I got the quotes mixed up or something.]

And please don’t judge us.  The conversations may seem pretentious, but really, they’re not. And we only curse this much when we’re together, and we don’t really mean it. This is just how we have fun.

Okay. Yeah, maybe, you can judge us. Go ahead. We, too, are judgmental. 🙂

At Pi Breakfast and Pies

Jan Marc: I’ll have Eggs Benny. But I really want to try their Caramelized Spam!
Arl: Let’s tell Marge when she gets here that it’s the only food available and she should order it.

When Marge finally gets there…
Marge: I’m full, I just ate.

While eating his Eggs Benny…
Arl: So what’s an Eggs Benedict and what’s all the rave about it?
Jan Marc: I think it’s poached eggs. Then this bacon.
Marge: This is not poached eggs. Parang soft-boiled lang naman.
Jan Marc: It’s not. Kasi malambot ‘yung loob, o.
Marge: Kaya nga, soft-boiled. Arl, try it. It’s sosyal.

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That Japanese writer and Breaking Bad…
Marge: Hey, Arl, binasa ko ‘yung book nung Japanese author that you were talking about. It’s erotic!
Arl: Ano bang libro binasa mo?
Marge: “South of the Border, West of the Sun”. I was, Oh, my gahd, Arl is reading this?!
Arl: I haven’t read that! You should have started with the easy ones like “After Dark.”
Marge: In fairness, ha? Sinusunod namin ‘yung mga sinasabi mo.
Jan Marc: Yeah! I even downloaded “Breaking Bad” because of you.
Arl: Ha? I don’t even know what “Breaking Bad” is!
Jan Marc: I thought I saw a tweet from you that was about “Breaking Bad” so I downloaded it.
Arl: Baka naman I just tweeted something na may “break” at “bad”.

On the Road to Find Blacksoup Cafe (na apparently sarado)

Arl: Let’s try that Cafe Quezon. We wanted to try that the last time.
Jan Marc: Ah, really? We do?
Marge: That’s sarcastic.

At Cafe Quezon

While we’re enjoying our very refreshing frozen caffeine, we randomly whine about things…
Arl: I hate it when people use “stuffs”.
Jan Marc: And that “as per”… totally hate it! And “craving for”. Ugh.
Arl: And “Noted on this”.
Marge: We’re such whiners, ‘no?
Jan Marc: Eh, hello, s’ya si Incidental Whiny.

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On PBB and Legal Wife…
Jan Marc: Oh my gahd, my News Feed is like full of those stuff right now. Na kahit hindi naman ako nanonood, parang updated ako.
Arl: Your friends are defined by your News Feed talaga, ‘no? I unfollow friends when I couldn’t take it anymore.
Marge: One more thing I hate… “Now Watching” every freaking hour!

On the Road (Again) Looking for The Iscreamist

While we’re getting lost…
Jan Marc: Bakit kasi walang street name ‘yang mapa na ‘yan?! Don’t they know I hate fucking U-turns? They’re gonna hear from me!

Continuation of things we hate…
Marge: Do you know that Facebook posts that’s supposed to raise awareness? They’re writing things about boobs on their status? I hate that. If you want people to be aware of something, then say it.

While making a U-turn again, talking about “percentage” and the proper use of “has” and “have”…
Arl: So, what are we arguing about now?
Jan Marc: I don’t know. Marge brought it up!
Arl: Why bring something like that, Marge?
Marge: I’m sorry, grammar nazis. I don’t want to get evicted in this friendship. I don’t have other friends!

When we finally found The Iscreamist na jam-packed…
Arl: Are you sure you want to go in there? There’s a line.
Jan Marc: Marge, can you go down and check?
Marge: Why don’t YOU do that?
Arl: That’s a line! Do you wanna fall in line?
Jan Marc: Of course not! I want ice cream but I don’t wanna fall in line.
Arl: So where do we go now?
Jan Marc: We didn’t really plan this well, ‘no?

UP Naming Mahal Stroll

At the University Avenue where the sunflowers are a-bloom…
Jan Marc: They’re on hazard so I’m gonna hazard as well. Let’s take pictures.
Marge: Can we just take pictures from inside?
Arl: Let’s go down. It’s not like there are other places in Metro Manila with these much sunflowers!
Marge: Ah, really?

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Buying ice cream from Manong Sorbetero…
Jan Marc: Are you sure you don’t want some?
Arl: I don’t want.
Marge: Ayoko nang magkalkal ng pera sa bag.
Jan Marc (taking his first taste of the avocado ice cream): Hong sorrrrop! Sorrop! (imitating Kris)
So we ended up buying a cone, too.

Back in the parking lot…
Arl: So, where do we go now?
Jan Marc: Can we go to Katipunan?
Arl: What are we going to do in Katipunan?
Jan Marc: You tell me, Arl. I’ll just drive!

On the road to Commonwealth Avenue..
Jan Marc: Beep-beep, motherf*ckers!

At the parking lot of Greenstreet…
Jan Marc (to the girl taking her sweet time moving away from her car): Hey you’re being an inconvenience!

At the “Quaint” Stacy’s

I’ve been bringing in friends to Stacy’s because it’s just so pretty over there. This would be my fifth time to bring in new customers. Perhaps I should get commission or at least a free cupcake. hehe

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To finally get his caramelized spam fix, Jan Marc ordered Waikiki Omu-Rice.

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We were not really that hungry so we split a mouthful of Grilled Shrimp with Sweet Pomelo and Mixed Greens in Asian Dressing (I just copy-pasted that).

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As we enjoy the delicious food and the very warm ambiance, we tackled some serious stuff…

Marge: And the people who post hospital selfies! I hate them.
Jan Marc: The suwero shot!

Well, that’s not really part of the serious stuff… They’re more on the love and marriage kinds of topic. The kinds that single people talk about. 

Arl: You know how I really came to realize that I’m totally not ready yet for marriage? Nung naglalaba ako kanina. Na-realize kong, Oh my gahd, lalabhan ko rin ang damit n’ya?
Marge: I think you have to be really ready 100 percent before you get into marriage. When some of my work friends complain about family stuff, I go, I’m so glad I’m not in your position.
Jan Marc: I really learned a lot from my past relationship. Would you believe I’m single for almost a year now?!
Arl: The opposite of love is not hate. It’s difference. Not an original quote. I think it’s from a song.

On Being Competitive…
Arl: Kapag sinubukan natin ‘yang Sip & Gogh na ‘yan, huwag mapanghusga, ha?
Jan Marc: Hello?! Taong stick lang ang kaya kong i-drawing!
Marge: Arl, the fact that you’ve warned us about that just means you’re competitive.
Arl: Hindi ako competitive. Ayoko lang matalo.

Passing By UP Through Mang Larry
Going home, it was just me in Jan Marc’s car. We made a wrong move on the way to Edsa that made us take the UP Route. As we approach the Katipunan gate, we saw Manong and his “stop” sign…

Arl: Sabihin mo kay Mang Larry’s.
Manong Guard: Saan po kayo?
Jan Marc: Kay Mang Larry’s?!
Manong Guard (chuckling): Bawal po ang walang sticker, eh.
Arl (showing it to him): Manong, may alumni card po ako.
Manong Guard: Okay, may alumni card pala si Ma’am. Sige po.
Arl (laughing my heart out): I didn’t expect you’d fall for that!
Jan Marc: Well, I thought Mang Larry could get us in!

We were laughing all the way to Commonwealth Avenue.

You know you’ve got awesome friends when you can talk for hours about everything, from the most mundane (Facebook pet peeves, daily annoyance and such) to the most serious topics (society, marriage, etc.). And you actually quote each other as if you’re the most intelligent bunch in the world. Haha 

And when you’ve found them, you’d know they’re for keeps… no matter what. And no summer too hot, no commute too far, for a food trip with them.

Thank you, Universe, for the warmth that friends bring. It’s like the ultimate assurance that one would somehow be all right in this crazy world just as long as one has awesome friends.

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