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Friday, March 27, 2015

One of the many beautiful places I've traveled to so far is Puerto Rico. What's awesome about traveling to Puerto Rico is that you can go there without a passport if you don't have one, since it's a U.S. territory, it's close by, at least from the East Coast, generally cheap to travel to, and most importantly, incredibly beautiful with much to discover. Here we are exploring San Juan during our two day stay there back in March of 2012. We were in San Juan for only two days because the remainder of the time we visited the smaller islands Vieques and Culebra. During our brief stay in San Juan, we explored Old San Juan, visited Fort San Felipe del Morro, and lounged around at Ocean Park Beach. Of course we only saw a fraction of the things to see on the main island of Puerto Rico-there is so much more that we didn't get to see, like El Yunque rainforest or the Camuy River Cave Park. If you're looking to get away to some place warm and tropical, as I sure am wishing for right now, I would highly recommend Puerto Rico. Vieques and Culebra were also amazing, for their own reasons! I will write about our experiences on these two islands in a separate post :) stay tuned! 


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

These pictures were taken two weeks ago during my spring break when there was still snow on the ground, and before my two weeks, and counting, of sickness kicked in. Two weeks of sore throat, fevers and chills, pounding headaches, muscle soreness, you name it, I got it. I'm finally starting to feel better, but the weather, however, isn't looking up.

Eight months of little to no sunshine and it's accompanying heat is so depressing. I love the outdoors, but when winter rears it's ugly head, I'm cooped up inside my tiny apartments four walls, with no end in sight it feels like! But spring is here, although it sure doesn't feel like it! I can't wait to run, hike, bike, kayak, swim, paddle board, scuba! I'm definitely happier in the summer months, far more active, and never sick!

It's been hard to take care of myself properly with school and work, which is one of the many reasons why I'm so looking forward to graduating! One of my goals is, and has been, to further improve upon my fitness. I've had the goal to run a marathon by the time I turned 25, but this summer I tore a ligament in my left foot while doing this fitness trail at a park, and it took two months before it healed, and only a month later for me to re-tear it. My foot is definitely feeling better by this point in time, but every once in a while I'll feel a slight tinge of pain. Although I haven't achieved my marathon goal, that doesn't mean that my road to fitness has stopped. I try to work out during the week at least a bit, but I'm nowhere near the point I want to be. There is still so much work to be done, and many more goals to be achieved, like doing 10 whole push-ups! Lol. I hope that after school is done, after I've passed all the tests that I have to take, and I've finally gotten my degree, that I can focus more on my health and fitness. A healthy lifestyle is never-ending!


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Banana Republic Pants, Pullover, Earrings (old, similar here and here) | H&M Denim Shirt | Guess Trench Coat (old, similar here and here) | Anne Klein Satchel (also like these versions, here and here) | Steve Madden Pumps (old, similar here and here

I am so upset. Next to my Banana Republic pumps that I own, which are always super comfortable, these Steve Madden pumps I'm wearing are the other most comfortable pair of pumps I've ever had. I bought them in December prior to Paris because I wanted a black pair of pumps that were comfortable to go out in, but now I can't find them online!!! And it's upsetting that I can't find them because these pumps are pure magic. I've danced all night in them and my feet seriously didn't hurt one bit, not one bit! Even after walking around Paris all day in possibly the worst pair of boots known to mankind (these Ugg boots, which is seriously so disappointing because first thing you would expect from Ugg is comfort, not the most extreme discomfort your feet could ever feel), my feet were not only more comfortable in these pumps, but they also didn't hurt, at all! And as any woman knows, this is so difficult to find. I tried to find my original receipt so I could see what their name was and possibly find them on e-bay, but I can't find it! I'll just have to keep searching.

Anywho, my all time favorite looks are probably the layered looks. I admire those who can layer items so effortlessly. On a regular day, the only thing I'm layering is a sweater over scrubs...not so chic. I get inspiration from other style bloggers I follow, and my look was inspired by this Vivaluxury look. She can do no wrong, every look of hers is pieced with perfection.

My favorite part of this outfit is the absolutely beautiful color of the Banana pullover, which gives this look that perfect pop of color. Although you don't get to see the back of the pullover in my pictures, the back has this slight cutout on the back, a small, but chic detail that just gives this pullover that extra oomph. You guys probably know by now about my love affair with Banana.

The other exciting part of this shoot was, and I'm sure you guys can notice the difference in quality, the new lens my sister bought! It's the 85mm lens, and this was the first time she actually used it. It produces the most beautifully blurred background, and we are just so excited to finally have our hands on it! I've been so excited to share this shoot with you guys because the quality of these pictures is above and beyond what we've had so far, and I'm just so excited to see what more we can do with this new lens. Did I mention how excited I am? Lol. Anyway, hope you guys like this, and please let me know what you think!

Photographer: Dina

8 Tips for Paris

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I've decided to share a few of my personal tips for traveling in Paris. Of course you can find many tips for what to see, where to eat, etc., based on your personal preferences, but here's my two cents on what we'd have done differently or planned better for.

1. Buy tickets for the Louvre ahead of time. When we went, the line to get inside for ticket holders was completely empty, whereas the lines to get inside without a ticket were a several hour wait.

2. If you did not buy tickets ahead of time (shame on you) and do not want to wait 3 hours, you can also buy tickets inside of the Le Carrousel de Louvrewhich is at least an hour long wait, and then go into the nonexistent line for ticket holders and be inside within 5 minutes. Just beware, there are two lines inside of the Le Carrousel de Lourve, one for just buying the ticket, and the other line for getting inside. Of course you would be smart to wait in the line just for the ticket since it's much shorter and then you can get inside effortlessly at the actual Louvre entrance.

3. If you are interested in seeing other museums and monuments, save yourself time and money by buying a museum pass here, which includes the Louvre. We didn't know this existed before we went.

4. The Louvre website has a floor plan available. Do some research on what you'd like to see and make a plan on how you'll go about doing it. The Louvre is huge and can be confusing, so making a plan on what to see will make it that much more enjoyable to visit.

5. Eiffel Tower lines are long. And if you don't have a ticket purchased already, the wait will be even longer. You can buy tickets here ahead of time. Because of the long lines and our relatively short stay, we didn't get to go up the Eiffel Tower.

6. Besides doing some epic shopping at Galeries Lafayette, you can go all the way to the top floor which has free access to the their rooftop. Rooftop=amazing views of Paris. For free.

7. The Arc de Triomphe is not open 24 hours, unlike what we thought. It closes by 10:30pm or 11:00pm, depending on the months. If you want to see it up close and personal, get there before that time. And it costs 8 euros.

8. Cappuccinos in Paris are delicious, and strong. But also expensive. They start around 5 euros. Save money for cappuccinos.

The general theme here is that lines are long and you should buy tickets for everything ahead of time. I've talked a lot more in detail about our Paris trip throughout my previous posts, so you can find much more there if you're interested. Hope you have awesome travels!


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

In order to prepare for our trip, we watched several movies that take place in France. I watched Le Divorce on my own, and then Dominik and I watched Midnight in Paris and Chocolat together. In the opening sequence of Chocolat, we see this magical little town perched on top of a hill, and I ask him, "Is this a real town??" So we decide to google it and lo-and-behold, it IS a real town, called Flavigny. We look up on GoogleMaps how long it takes to get to Flavigny from Paris, and it's around a 3+ hour trip. We decide that it's just too far away for our quick stay and that we'll have to see it another time.

Flash forward to Sunday in Paris. Even though there's plenty we haven't done, we're itching to get out of the city. We decide we want to see Flavigny. That night we have the hotel call a car rental place and see how much a car would be for the entire day on Monday. They completely up charge us. So instead we decide that on Monday morning, we'll get a taxi to drop us off at the nearest car rental place and see how much it would cost then.

Monday morning we get to the car rental place. They have a car and it's a fair price. We take it. I'm so excited! We're on our way through the French hills, mountains, valleys, covered in light layers of snow. It all feels so magical. We listen to the radio and they play a lot of American music, but it's not censored at all. They play this French song, Fresh Prince, over and over, and we love it.

We get the directions mixed up a few times, and drive through small French farm towns, but finally arrive and see Flavigny on the horizon. I can't believe that we're actually there! High up in the mountains, perched on this hill, you see this small town, and it's just as romantic as you would think it is. On our way into the town, we see several priests who wave to us. We park in the guest parking place, and start our way around the town.

The town is silent, except for the few children who are out playing and sledding. We walk around in no direction in particular, and end up in the middle of the town, the highest point, where the church stands. Right beside the church is the house in which they filmed Chocolat. The town proudly displays a small sign that says next to the window they used in the movie, "Facade de la boutique du film Le Chocolat." I let the moment soak in. I love how movies can make you feel certain ways about places, and this movie made me fall in love with the town.

We're starving, and the only place we find that is open is this tiny restaurant in which a man and his wife work in. He tells us they're about to close, but then agrees that he can make us some crepes at the very least. I get a banana-Nutella crepe and it's the best crepe I've ever had in my life- maybe that's a prejudiced opinion since I already loved everything about Flavigny before I ever got there.

We spend perhaps two hours there, and start making our way back. We have to return the car by 8pm in order to not get charged for another day. After one last walk around Flavigny, since you can literally walk around the town in around 15 minutes or less, we get our one last glance and leave. On our drive back to Paris, we take a different route, and end up passing through this amazing town called Semur-en-AuxoisBut we don't have time to stop, so we just make our way through, completely enchanted by it.

There are so many of these small magical, enchanting towns, and I just wish we had time to see them all! If you're going to Paris, I would definitely recommend getting out of the city! You'll get to experience the French countryside which is absolutely beautiful. And although there isn't a shortage of small towns to visit, Flavigny is something straight out of the movies! :)

From Paris with Love

Monday, March 2, 2015

It's Sunday, and today we decide to finally visit the Louvre and then head towards the Notre Dame. Once again we take the Metro, but this time we are much more skilled at making our way. Once we get to the Louvre, with our tickets in hand, we are inside within 5 minutes. (I took 9 pictures inside the Louvre with my camera, which I plan on sharing at a different point in time, and several photos with my iPhone which I've shared on Instagram and Facebook :). We spent probably between 2-3 hours inside, and we barely got to see anything it feels like.

Of course our first plan of action was to see the Mona Lisa. On the way towards the Mona, there is so much art to see that it takes us at least half an hour to make it there. The Mona is surrounded by people and I am determined to get as close as possible in order to get a selfie. Afterwards, we wander around in no particular direction and browse the thousands of painting and sculptures the Louvre has to offer. Other than taking an art course while studying abroad for the summer in Florence, I'm not particularly educated on art, so we just casually perused the rooms, ooh'ing and aww'ing our way through. The one painting that stood out to me when we walked by was The Young Martyr, and it was also my favorite. We just happened to come upon it and it struck me.

If you are interested in art, I would definitely recommend researching the paintings or sculptures that interest you and making a plan on what to see before you get there. Here is an interactive floor plan which you can use to make plans on what to see and how you'll go about seeing it. After visiting the Louvre for the first time, I wish I would have done more research and planned out what I wanted to see, rather than going in blindly.

After exploring the Louvre, we decide to head towards the Notre Dame. On our way over, we stop on the bridge and take some photos. You may be wondering why there are almost no photos of us in my previous posts. It's because we didn't take any! Other than the selfies we took with our phones, we barely stopped to take pictures of ourselves, so here is a treat for you!

Upon our arrival at the Notre Dame, once again lines were out the door. We decided we didn't want to wait to get inside, and instead we roamed around the streets in that area. We loved the area surrounding the Notre Dame, and have decided that if we ever return we'd get a hotel in that area instead of near the Eiffel Tower. This was the coldest day we were there, in the low 30's, so after every 15 minutes or so we'd step inside and get a warm drink. I just couldn't shake the chills after walking around outside in the cold for a few hours.

We finished our evening with dinner at L'Alsace on Champs-Elysees. We started off with oysters, and as my main course I had these scallops with the creamiest risotto I've ever tasted in my life. Combined with the wine, I was in a food coma. But nevertheless, after dinner we made our walk a few blocks down to the Arc de Triomphe. It was around 11 or so, and we made our way through the tunnel to get underneath the Arc, but once we got out right under the Arc, there was a guard who told us that it was closed. Sadly, we didn't get to see the Arc up close.

We also didn't go up the Eiffel Tower or inside the Notre Dame because we didn't want to wait in the long lines in the cold. Nor did we see the Catacombs. So upon our return to France, we want to stay in Paris for two days just to check these things off our list. We really want to travel throughout France, primarily throughout the South of France, including Cognac, Annecy, and of course Cannes and Marseille. So many things to do and see, and so little time!

Do you guys have any other suggestions of amazing places in France? Till next time.

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