Wednesday, December 2, 2015


6 months between posts is probably a bit too long. So much has happened since June, in so many aspects of my life. Every time I've sat down to write a post it was too overwhelming and intimidating and I gave up.

But here we go! Bullet-point, style- because that's way less intimidating.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


I did it again. Promised myself to Be A Better Blogger and then did the exact opposite. The last few months have been a whirlwind (who am I kidding? Life has been a whirlwind since the minute I stepped off that plane in October), planning out Josh's visit, stressing over said visit, blissfully enjoying said visit, and of course feeling like someone had died as soon as I left him at the airport 10 days later and drove home in tears that lasted for days. There's also been the little detail of figuring out what comes next. That little, hugely significant detail has been on my mind since March and has felt pretty all consuming ever since. My Visa expires at the end of September and while it's only June, I am without a doubt certain (and have been for a while now) that I'm no where near ready to end this adventure. I miss my family and friends every day and I've now been away for countless significant milestones and events where I wanted nothing more than to hop a plane and be with the ones I love, but I know going back too soon would be a mistake. I would be lying to myself, and at the risk of sounding dramatic, setting myself up for failure and nagging feelings of regret. Which terrifies me. Would I be miserable? Certainly not. My life would be full with family and friends and love. I've been struggling with my feelings on balancing my responsibilities to those I love and my responsibilities to myself. Selflessness and selfishness. If anything, I think that in order to be the best version of myself for the ones I love, I have to be true to myself. And right now that truth is on this side of the Atlantic. Maybe I'll never feel ready to go back- but the decisions and sacrifices I've made up to this point have been more than enough to convince me to follow my instincts and stick with this crazy, unpredictable, sometimes frustrating but ultimately fulfilling experience.

Now that the intensive soul searching is out of the way, time to start the hard part- navigating and dealing with all of the French bureaucracy required to extend my stay...   ;)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Thailand/Part 1

Thailand was amazing from the moment I arrived. We stayed near Ao Nang, which is fairly touristy but provides tons of options for excursions in the area and to the neighboring islands. Krabi is a short ride away, with an amazing night market on the weekends. But let's be honest- how much else do you REALLY need when there are dozens of huts set up along the beach, some with frozen drinks and the rest with smiling ladies offering fresh fruit and scandalously cheap full body massages? ( Not much else. At all.)

(the view during breakfast each morning)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


I started this post months ago and apparently got sidetracked (big surprise). So -drum roll please- 2 months later I'm finally posting about my trip to Thailand! Or part of it anyway. Two weeks in paradise yielded tons of postcard worthy photos (and stories), which I've painstakingly sorted through multiple times trying to pick the best ones out. And still come out with tons I want to share. So I will! Without further ado....

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Last month I had the opportunity to visit Barcelona for a quick weekend getaway and it was amazing. It was my first visit to Spain, and I can't wait to go back. Nadalee, Hilary and I took the train from Paris on a Friday afternoon and arrived 6 hours later with plenty of time to settle in to our super cute AirBnb rental, explore the neighborhood, and have dinner and drinks. The weekend was a whirlwind with tons of sightseeing packed in. Our apartment was perfectly situated in the center of Barcelona- I loved the Old Town neighborhood and will definitely stay there on my next visit. We were only a few minutes walk from Las Ramblas, the Picasso museum, the beach, and so much more- yet the streets weren't packed with people and we were surprised at how quiet it was. It did get pretty noisy at night- it was Friday/Saturday and we were right above a super lively bar that seemed to stay open until daylight....- but on the second night I remembered a pair of earplugs I'd packed and slept just fine. Super easy fix and way worth it for all of the advantages of the area.

A few highlights:

After breakfast at Satan's, we walked around the quiet streets marveling at the gorgeous architecture and beautiful little details of the buildings and eventually made it to La Boqueria. Oh my god. Do not dare visit Barcelona without stopping at this market. Originating around 1217 as a meat market, it is now home to dozens of stalls offering every fruit, veggie, and delicacy Barcelona has to offer- and then some. From the official website

"fresh fish and sea food; tinned food; butchery and offal; birds; game and eggs; fruits and vegetables; herbs; delicatessen; breads and pastries; restaurants; frozen items; artisan products; charcuterie; farmers' shops; wine; and even a Greek and an Italian hand made pasta stall have joined the  consortium/maelstrom that keeps La Boqueria alive." 

It was a kind of amazing sensory overload experience nearly impossible to describe. I'd only ever seen photos of markets like this one, and was so so excited to actually be visiting one. We ate and drank our way through- and I was so thoroughly immersed that I took little to no photos. I could have spent all day there, and would have had we not planned to do a walking tour that afternoon. 

I've always kind of rolled my eyes at these tours, likening them to grade school field trips and preferring to go my own way instead of being herded around and seeing the top touristy spots of a city. So I was pleasantly surprised when the Sandeman's tour my friends had planned for turned out to be a really great way to see various neighborhoods on foot, and learn a ton about Barcelona's incredibly interesting history in the process- but without feeling like a boring school trip. Of course the quality of the tour 100% depends on the guide, but they are "free" with a tip expected at the end based on your experience. We did a 3 hour tour, learned a ton, our guide was great and the 3 hours flew by. They have guides in 18 major cities, and I definitely recommend giving them a try! I've linked to their site at the bottom of this post :)

On Sunday before heading back to Paris, we visited Parc Guell and Sagrada Familia. Both incredible, both worthy of spending hours in. We unfortunately had to carry our bags with us for these visits, so the very serious trek uphill to Parc Guell was...serious. Even with being in relatively decent shape and regularly trekking around and up and down the streets of Paris, we had to take a breather or two. But it made the view from the top that much sweeter. If you're willing to make the climb the views of the city are spectacular. 

Due to time constraints we cabbed over to Sagrada Familia, but I would have loved to have walked as the area around Parc Guell was so cute and definitely worth exploring during a future visit. It kind of reminded me of Montmartre at first glance. Sagrada Familia was well worth the wait and the price of admission (Definitely ask for the youth/student rate! I do qualify so I asked, but they don't bother to verify. Easy way to save 6-7 euros). This place was like something from a sci-fi/space-y film- I've never seen anything like it (if you're not familiar with the work of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi- give him a quick google!) Visiting in the late afternoon was perfect. With the sun going down, the light streaming in from all of the stained glass windows bathed everything in a rainbow of colors and light. So unreal, and of course seemingly impossible to photograph and do it any justice.
There was a metro stop right outside the cathedral, so when it was time to head back to Paris  it was super easy to take the metro directly to the train station.

This trip was a great little taster of Barcelona. Way too short, but long enough to have experienced enough of the city to know that I want to go back. We packed so much in to so little time and it was exhausting and I feel like I hardly have any decent photos to show for it- so obviously I'll need to go back and remedy that! Below are a few that I did manage to snap in between the flurry of touring, eating churros and drinking sangria.


Links from this post:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

12/17/2014-1/07/2015 : Home for the Holidays

I actually already wrote about my visit home, so I'll match it with some photos. These aren't terribly exciting unless you happen to know and love many of the same people as I do- in that case, check out all of their beautiful faces! How lucky was I to be able to see so many amazing people in so little time?!

Monday, February 23, 2015

12/16/2014 : Amiens, France

The day before my flight home for the holidays, I was scheduled to be 1.5 hours away in Amiens, France for boring reasons I can't remember now. Part of that whole "living legally in a foreign country" thing. Department of Labor? Insurance? It's all a blur of paperwork and administrative offices where everyone is perpetually on a coffee/cigarette break. Seriously. A lovely representative of the French bureaucratic system once told me that if things were going too quickly or smoothly, there was a problem- the longer any given process takes, the better for her job security. Right. Anyway, aside from having to strip down in a giant, freezing van for an x-ray of my chest and lungs, I spent most of the morning and afternoon waiting around in various offices being shuffled from one room to the next. Luckily, my friend Katia was scheduled on the same day and once we were finally done we were able to explore the town for a few hours.
Amiens is North of Senlis and boasts the tallest/largest cathedral (completed in 1270, just let that sink in for a second..) in France- which is land of the huge cathedrals so I guess that makes Amiens kind of a big deal. The rivers Somme and Avre plus lots of little canals run through the town so it was actually quite lovely. I had no idea of any of this before getting there so it was a great surprise! There are also several universities there, so lots of young people and plenty of stuff to do. It's only about an hour from Senlis, so definitely worth visiting again when I have more time.
So, like I said- Amiens took me by surprise, especially this mega cathedral and all of its incredibly intricate details. I've been in France long enough to have visited my fair share of cathedrals, and while I always enjoy and appreciate them- they all paled in comparison to this one. I'm not going to pretend that these photos will even begin to do it justice- Katia and I were literally speechless looking at it. And that was before we went inside!

I'm updating from Thailand, where it's nearly 3am. This morning when I was in Malaysia, I was 100% sure that today was yesterday. After more hours than I can remember spent traveling over the last few days my brain is so mixed up and all over the place- but so far it's all amazing and I can't wait to write about it and share pictures!


Odds and ends from my last few weeks in France before the holidays!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Back in France/brain jumble overflow

I've been "home" from my visit home for 3 weeks now. January is flying by. Crazy. My visit home was great, but even with 3 weeks of course I didn't manage to see everyone I wanted to see and go everywhere I wanted to go. That being said, it was lovely and (almost) felt as if I'd never left. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but there was no crazy culture shock or whatever else I may have anticipated. Maybe I wasn't gone long enough for that. 

I think returning to France was more emotionally difficult than leaving the US the first time. Of course I was excited to come back and continue my adventures- but I was also leaving home knowing that this time it's for the long haul, and I won't be back for quite a while. The first time I left was almost like a trial run, and I knew that no matter what I would be seeing my family and friends in less than 3 months for the holidays- so those goodbyes were difficult, sure, but not as intense as the second round. During lunch before my flight, Josh said I seemed a lot calmer than the last time we were having lunch before my departure. I hadn't noticed, but I guess that makes sense. I wasn't leaving for a foreign, unfamiliar land- I was returning to a place I now know well and the little life I've built here. Home. My other home. 

Adjusting seemed a little harder than before, but maybe it's just always hard. 3 weeks was more than long enough to grow re-accustomed to having a partner, to not sleeping alone, to having my someone there next to me providing comfort, warmth, security, all those things that just wrap around you like the most soothing blanket ever. Between the distinct, painfully obvious lack of that blanket, and wrapping my mind around the fact that that was going to be my reality for the rest of the year...that first week back was a rough one.  I blamed "jet-lag" for my inability to sleep for the first two weeks, but I'm sure it was a combination of those things- and all that Netflix binging wasn't helpful...

It's been interesting (in that challenging, not always fun, but definitely valuable way) sorting through my feelings/thoughts throughout this experience so far. Some things that I expected to be easy have been anything but, while other things I was so nervous about I now do without a second thought. As cliché as it sounds, I've learned and am continuing to learn a lot about myself, in a way I'm not sure I could explain without seeming long winded and cheesy. I'm pretty sure it's one of those things that's inexplicable, but if you know,  you just know. You know? ;)

I'm excited to spend 2015 traveling as much as possible- my first few months here I was settling in and learning my way around trains/metros/etc, now I'm determined to make the most of this year. Next weekend I'm going to Barcelona with Nadalee, my first trip to Spain! It will be a pretty quick trip, packed full of places and things to see and do and not nearly enough time to do them. I'll be spending nearly two weeks in Thailand next month- which doesn't even seem real yet- and who knows what comes after that! Not a bad start to 2015.
Here's to traveling and blogging and doing both consistently!