24 Hours In Paris

Notice anything new?

The talented and extra patient Rekita Nicole was the mastermind behind this re-design. I am completely obsessed. She took all of the scattered ideas I was throwing out and turned them into something so very me. I recommend her times a million if you're itching to try something new!

Now, let's talk about Paris.

After Nick left us to go meet up with his parents for a Spanish tour, Lauren and I found ourselves on a 6.5 hour train ride from Barcelona to Paris. We had realized that we'd have about 24 hours there total and despite it being a completely impractical, expensive, and out-of-the-way detour, we decided that Paris must be done.

One Harry Potter movie and nonstop stunning scenery from the French countryside (I felt like I was in the Sound of Music) later, we arrived in Paris.
After checking in to the luxurious Marriott right on the Champs-Elysee {serious Eloise moment}, the two of us navigated the metro system deftly (or something of the like) and appeared in Montmartre. We took our time browsing through souvenir shops and breathing in the sweet, sweet Parisian air.

Until finally, it was time for dinner.

For days, I had convinced Lauren that we must dine at Le Refuge des Fondue. We arrived right after it opened, and snagged quality seats. You guys, this place is a charmer. Years of scribbled messages from visitors all over the world, teeny tiny, and a good amount of quirk, just the way I like it. To get to some seats, people have to get up on chairs and step over tables and really, it's a fun place to spend an evening.

The two options are a beef broth fondue with beef and potatoes or a cheese fondue with lots of bread. Lauren and I chose the beef broth and spent a good two hours mastering our technique. But perhaps the best part... is the wine served in baby bottles.
Don't be discouraged by the surly waiter. I don't think he's a huge fan of Americans, and welp - Americans are frequent visitors, it seemed like. We even managed to befriend two fellow study abroad-ers sitting next to us - two really sweet girls - and traded them a couple of cubes of beef for a couple bites of fromage. Smart deal, yes?

Then, I managed to smash my bottle, clumsy little child that I am. The waiter was not thrilled, but we booked it out of there before he could really reprimand us.

Don't tell him I sent you.

Tummies stuffed and bodies a'waddling, the two of us wandered up, up, up to go and check out the Sacre Coeur. Beautiful church, beautiful views, and a beautiful Eiffel Tower twinkling in the distance.
Ooh, and then upon returning to our hotel, we found a nice concierge and begged him to direct us to the closest crepes.

Although overpriced, it was right across the street and deliciously paired with Nutella and Berthillon ice cream, so there are no regrets there.

The next day, he referred to us as the "dessert girls." I'll take it.

Early in the morning, I dragged Lauren out of bed and made a beeline for Laduree, which was conveniently also across the street. We filled up a goody bag full of macarons and traded bites of each one as we headed towards the metro station. My favorite is actually hidden in the following picture - it was a gorgeous aqua and fittingly named the Marie Antoinette.
At this point, I realized that the sugar overdose needed to be continued - and we used our noses to track down Angelina right after getting off at the Jardin de Tuileries stop. We grabbed a Mont Blanc and some riiiiiiiich hot chocolates and parked ourselves on a ledge between the Louvre and the Jardin, with the giant carousel and the statuesque Eiffel Tower in the distance. 

I remarked, "this is a scene straight out of an indie movie."

If an indie movie was Gossip Girl-in-Paris.
I had visited Paris two months earlier - in the beginning of January - with my family, and was already head over heels for the city. But Paris in the Spring - goodness, it's intoxicating.

Finally realizing that maybe we should fit in some "exercise" before we truly beckoned heart attacks, the two of us started a long walk. First, we wandered along the Seine and towards the Pont des Arts to check out the famous lock bridge.
Then, we continued up the riverside, checking out cool vendors and continuously mentioning how surreal it was that we were here, in Paris

As we were gabbing, we glanced up and look! The Notre Dame!

We tracked down Shakespeare & Co., a bookstore that I had desperately wanted to check out. It was just as tiny and lovely and old-book-smelling as I imagined. 
Still on a mission, we hurried along. Except, 'hurried' really meant 'slow-walked.' We meandered around the back of the Notre Dame, which I personally found to be even more stunning than the front - and then all the way to the Marais neighborhood, which I was completely charmed by.

I think we described it as reminiscent of Manhattan, but cuter, cleaner, and more charming.

Can anyone guess where I was marking as my destination?

This, of course:
Best falafel I've ever had, hands down. YUM.

I was preparing myself to be underwhelmed after all the hype around L'As Du Fallafel, but nope. It exceeded every expectation I had, and then some.

Afterwards, we found Colette and stopped inside for a quick look, but speedily realized that everything in the store was a million times over our budget.

So we made our way to the Avenue de l'Opera and tracked down Pierre Herme to pick out a few macarons to nibble on for our train and coach rides back to London and Oxford. I liked that this patisserie was much less touristy than Laduree, I appreciated the more creative flavors, and I admired how more... French... this place seemed.

But actually, contrary to what so many of my friends thought - I actually preferred Laduree. Just a tad.
Then, as the sand in our Parisian hourglass really started disappearing, we went back to the Tuileries metro stop, arrived at the hotel, grabbed our bags, made our way to the Eurostar, enjoyed a ride through the French and English countrysides - and the Chunnel - and emerged for the last time in a really, really long time - in London. 

Lauren and I familiarly went from St. Pancras to Victoria Station aboard the Oxford Tube (on which nibbling of macarons took place) and sat in silence for two hours as we took in the dark highways leading us back to our temporary home for the last time. 

A day of packing and saying goodbye to Oxford was still ahead of us.

But still. We'll always have Paris.

21 Lessons I've Learned

Top o' the mornin' to y'all, mates. Today, I am 21 and so yes, today everyone should be in a state of fear. I'll let you interpret that any way you'd like. But before I escape to go diligently learn in class among other things, I thought I'd share 21 things I've learned in my lifetime.

Are they the 21 most important things I've learned? Gosh, I hope not. But I jotted these down in twenty minutes and who knows, maybe you'll learn a thing or two today.

1 // McDonald's french fries win every french fry competition, hands down.
2 // Make your bed your most favorite place in the world - splurge on mattress tops and foamy thingies and snuggly blankets, jersey sheets (or whatever feels softest to your bare skin), and remember that you can never have too many pillows. This way, you'll never in your life end a day on a bad note.
3 // Proximity facilitates friendship; effort facilitates best friendship.
4 // The days go by slow and the years go by fast.
5 // Travel.
6 // But hold home close to your heart. Never forget where you came from,
7 // Find the beauty - it's usually where the humor is.
8 // A little bit of class, a dose of funny, a lot of kindness, and a dollop of quirk, too, and you're good to go.
9 // Education is underrated. Don't you ever take it for granted.
10 // Without the hard bits in life, the good wouldn't ever be so good.
11 // In time, everything makes sense.
12 // Take pictures. A lot of them.
13 // Defeat, failure, and disappoint build character. 
14 // There's no friend like a sister.
15 // Treat yourself right.
16 // It's okay to like or believe or say the cliche things. There's a reason they're cliche.
17 // Life's all about taking pleasure in the little things.
18 // But the big ones, too.
19 // Your parents are usually right about most things, but it doesn't hurt to make your own mistakes. Well actually, it'll probably hurt. But that's half the point anyway.
20 // Don't deprive yourself of sugar or carbs or laughter. That never ends well.
21 // Love hard and be kind. It's really all you've got.

Parcs and Recreation | Barcelona, Part III

Good morning, friends! This week is going to be especially full and lively for me - it's the week of my 21st birthday (how did it get here so quickly?! how did it get here so slowly?!), it's the week in which assignments actually start piling up, and it's going to be a week full of surprises and wrap-ups here on the ol' PC.

Get ready, get set, and... go!

We'll begin this Monday with a final post on Barcelona, the city that effortlessly captured my heart and that has yet to return it. On our third and last day there, we woke up bright and early, and started a looooong trek to Parc Guel. Somehow, we had the genius idea to walk the entire day. The pedometer measured over 25,000 steps and was flashing the number so furiously, it's like it has never seen us walk so much before (it hasn't).
I consider myself to be quite the walker, but even I found this distance to be quite excessive, as we also added La Boqueria, stops at Zara and Mango, and the Barcelona Cathedral to our itinerary as well. Nevertheless, traipsing through more authentically Spanish neighborhoods was more than worth the future podiatry bills. Fingers crossed.

Parc Guell is gorgeous. It's a residential park designed by Gaudi, who we've already established to be one heck of a masterpiece creator. I think his work - and especially Parc Guell - can be described as a blend of Dr. Seussian whimsy, Candylandian colors and playfulness, and a decent dose of a unique Spanish touch - and with amazing panoramic views of Barca.

Next, we strolled all the way back down to Las Ramblas and the island of happiness right off of it - La Boqueria.
Chocolate covered strawberries, fresh squeezed juices and smoothies (pineapple and coconut was my favorite), Iberian ham and manchego cheese, salmon croquettes and calamari, and some fun chocolates as well - we had it all. If this isn't magic, then I don't think I'd like to even wish magic to be real.

After we fully and happily stuffed ourselves to the point of combustion, Nick dropped Lauren and me off at a Zara, where we browsed contently for a bit, before deciding that we needed a quick detour to the hotel for a nice little siesta. I mean, you've got to immerse yourself in local traditions, right?

Not long after, we once again relied on our handy dandy legs to take us to see the Barcelona Cathedral. We arrived minutes after the rain stopped, and were treated to a fading rainbow, a little reminder that nothing can ever be so beautiful as nature.

Except gin & tonics, which we imbibed before hitting up Ziryab, a fusion tapas restaurant. HOLY YUM, you guys. It's a tiny little restaurant that packs a whole lotta power - starting with their famous mojito and tinto de verano.
Would you please just look at this incredible spread? The left is a trio of dips - all really tasty. Then, there's a really flavorful halloumi. To the right is a cheese platter featuring a number of amazing goat cheeses. The one in the center was my favorite - the top was caramelized and honey-like, and so very good. And then on the bottom right is quite the little showstopper - a flavor bomb of caramelized onions, an addicting glaze, and a buttery, flaky cod. Once again, holy. yum.

I then insisted that we find some ice cream to cap off the meal, because a meal without dessert is like a country with no government. Complete disorder.

I chose Amorino, a gelateria that shapes your gelato into a rose. Presentation makes perfect, man.
And then, finally, because we realized that we'd be too embarrassed to go back home without any fun bar recommendations other than our hotel bar, we stopped by Espit Chupitos, a shots bar that came highly recommended to us by mutual friends.

Embarrassingly enough, we stayed for maybe 10 minutes. Something about the dark and the music and being with the youth made us miss our elderly traveling mentality. But we did try the Harry Potter shot (on the right) and the Boy Scout, which was my top pick. They set it on fire and give you a marshmallow to roast on top of it! I tried to eat the marshmallow and leave it at that, but the bartender gave me a stern look, and I had to act my age and take the shot as well.

Super delicious. Pure sugar and fire, but I'll take what I can get.

We cheers'ed to being a fantastic traveling trio, to a most stunning and wonderful city, and to a safe journey the next day. 

With that, it was to all of Barcelona, a good night.

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