A Few Things You Should Know

Hello, hello!

Since moving to Paris at the end of August, I've definitely learned a lot about myself, about moving to a new city, and about living in Paris, so I thought I'd share some friendly advice with you.

No. 1: Invest in sneakers.

Seriously. The first week that I was here, I logged an average of 6 miles of walking per day. A week before I left for France, I bought a new pair of Adidas, and thank goodness. I honestly don't know what I would do without them; they are so comfortable. I used to wear Converse, but I recently developed shin splints, and since Converse provide me with basically no support, I probably would have suffered through the transition here if I were wearing them. 

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No. 2: Cook.

Eating out in Paris is great! There is so much incredible food here! But food in Paris is also incredibly expensive, and eating out every day can seriously take a toll on your bank account. Get to know the local shops and chain stores you can run into (hello Monoprix, Franprix, and Carrefour). Figure out how to make some quick and easy meals that maybe aren't all pasta dishes. Seriously, your wallet will thank you, and that way you'll have more to spend on nicer occasional meals and in the lavish French boutiques you will definitely see everywhere. (If you're looking for any good restaurants, I will be posting a list of some of my favorite restaurants around Paris soon!)

No. 3: The metro is your friend.

I grew up in the suburbs of Massachusetts. In the few years I spent in NorCal, my mom very rarely let me use BART without an adult and thus I had no idea how it actually worked. Since getting to Paris, I use the metro or the buses almost every single day. There are stops and stations all over Paris, so you can get where you need to be fairly easily. Tickets aren't expensive - €1.90 per ticket, unless you get a Navigo pass or metro pass. (Tip: always keep your tickets on you throughout your train journey. Occasionally, there are metro police who scan people's tickets when they are transferring lines and if someone doesn't have their ticket on them, they can get charged between €35 and €45!). 

No. 4: Stay alert!

Every city has its own pick-pocketing issues and safety announcements. When I first got to Paris, everyone told me to always hold onto my bag, never leave my phone on a table at a cafe, and not to leave anything important in my pockets. I have been in Paris since August, and truth be told, I have not had a lot of problems with pick-pocketing. However, the other day, I caught a woman on a packed train trying to steal my wallet out of my purse (which was on my lap). Being a tourist makes you an incredibly easy target to steal from, so be careful! Keep your bags closed and close to you, and be especially careful when you are in tourist-heavy areas or on a busy train/bus. 

No. 5: Do the "touristy" things.

When people come to Paris, I think a lot of them either hit all of the tourist attractions or none.  Of course, go to the Louvre, see the Eiffel Tower, all of that. But don't forget some other ones! Just because you've been to one museum in Paris does not mean you've been to them all. Palais de Tokyo is a museum that does not have any permanent works; they hold temporary exhibitions and shows frequently, from very modern and new-aged artists. On the other hand, Musée Rodin is full of Rodin's great sculpture works, along with many other great artists. Go to restaurants and parks and gardens, and sit outside (especially in the spring or early fall)! Do it all! (Tip: If you have a student visa or a French school ID, you can get into the Louvre for free). 

At a café in the 16th arrondissement.

At a café in the 16th arrondissement.

Pont de Bir-Hakeim; it was so beautiful out the day I took this photo that I didn't edit this photo at all.

Pont de Bir-Hakeim; it was so beautiful out the day I took this photo that I didn't edit this photo at all.

No. 6: Bring someone along.

Paris is, of course, a very romantic city. However, if you don't have a partner or ~significant other~, opt to bring a friend, sibling, parent (anyone you enjoy being with!) along with you. Paris can be a great city to see if you are by yourself, but I find that when I have other people around, it makes it easier and more fun to go out and do thing, and see more of the city than if I were alone. 

This list was meant to be a short, bullet-pointed list for anyone who reads this, but it quickly became a lot longer than I initially intended. These are just a few tips that I have (of many) if you visit or live in Paris at any point! 

Listen

Hello, hello!

Okay. Admittedly, for the past month or so, I've been kind of on a love-kick. That's just to say that I've been watching rom-coms, listening to love songs and re-watching my favorite (romantic) episodes of shows (New Girl, HIMYM, etc.). My music choices change all the time, but since I'm in this inexplicably love-y mood, I thought I'd whip up a playlist of some of my favorite love-related songs right now.

Sidenote: I like to give my playlists names so I can tell them apart easily. I'm in a love-y mood, hence this playlist and its subsequent name (an Ed Sheeran lyric, of course). 

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Hopefully there's someone out there who relates to my mood and likes this playlist. If you've got any suggestions for songs I should add (or remove), definitely let me know in the comment section. 

Enjoy!

You can listen to it here on Apple Music. 

xo, Mia

Travel with Mia - Bruges

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Hello, hello! Today, I am writing you from Bruges, Belgium. Actually, on the train from Bruges to Brussels, for part one of the journey back to Paris. Two friends and I decided to come to Bruges for the last weekend trip before finals and Christmas vacation. Yay! 17 days to go. 

The clock-tower in Bruges city center  

The clock-tower in Bruges city center  

We arrived on Friday night and stayed at a cute mom-and-pop bed-and-breakfast called Hotel Butler, which was about 20 minutes outside the city. We slept late and missed breakfast, and got into Bruges around noon. 

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It was foggy and a chilly -1°C (~30°F) when we got to the city, so we went into a little pub restaurant to get warm and grab lunch before exploring the cobblestone streets. 

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We got Belgian waffles from Fred's, which, interestingly enough, is actually an Australian shop. They tasted incredible, but were also incredibly difficult to eat with a fork and knife while standing on the sidewalk.

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We wandered through the Christmas market and found a game zone area for kids and adults. There were bumper cars and ducktail and several stalls for Belgian beers. 

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We also ended up in Chocolatier Dumon, where all the chocolates are homemade and are owned by the same people. Of course, this was only one of the few chocolatiers we popped into - not even counting the Choco Story chocolate museum that we also went to (bonus: a €2 voucher for hot chocolate from the Choco Jungle Cafe across the street). I even picked up a few Christmas gifts to bring home for my family. 

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We walked around all day and although we were trying not to freeze, it was still beautiful and very fun! It's a charming place to visit, I only wish we went ice skating in the town square too! The whole town was so lit up with lights and Christmas decorations, it made me even more excited for Christmas. With only a few weeks left, it was a great refresher to get me through finals and onto vacation. 'Tis the season of cold weather, hot chocolate, and festive decorations everywhere!

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Until next time...

Mia

Travel with Mia - Edinburgh

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Hello! This post is super late, but better late than never... right?

Anyway, back during the last weekend of September, I decided to fly up to Edinburgh to meet up with my sister Taylor, who lives in London,  and have a little R&R after the first full month of school in Paris. 

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I got to our Airbnb (which was right in downtown Edinburgh) on Friday night, and we went to a stand up comedy show at The Stand Comedy Club. We were of the few Americans in the audience, and yes, we did get heckled a little bit. We had a few pints and a few bags of chips, and then we went to a bar nearby to get pub snacks. 

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On Saturday, we went to breakfast at the Elephant Cafe, which is famously known as the place where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter. Afterwards, we walked around town and got up to the Edinburgh Castle (although we didn't go in because the queue was insanely long and we were enjoying the rare blue skies so much!). 

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After breakfast, we went to walk around town. We wandered in and out of cashmere shops before deciding to go on a hike up to Arthur's Seat. 

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Once we got to the top of Arthur's Seat (which was quite a workout), we saw sweeping views of the entirety of Edinburgh. It was actually breathtaking. Cold and windy, but breathtaking. I could've sat up there for hours. 

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On sunday, we went to eat at a restaurant called "Scran and Scallie". We thought it was going to be a simple pub, but it ended up being incredible. After doing some research, we figured out that the two people who started it both run Michelin-rated restaurants. We had great drinks (Whiskey Sour for Taylor, Bloody Mary for me), and we each got a sausage and mash. We also had cheesy cauliflower, a side salad, homemade bread, sticky toffee pudding, and a brownie sundae. Clearly, we were STUFFED (to say the least). 

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Finally, after walking of our intense meal, we headed to the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens and walked through, what I can only assume was the entirety of the gardens. Taylor and I climbed trees and walked through each area we could find. It's been a while since I've been out in real nature, climbing trees, so it was really refreshing to be able to breathe in crisp air and run around the gardens. Pro tip: don't bring luggage with you to the gardens. It's huge, and lugging around your belongings is a serious drag, not to mention tiring. 

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All in all, it was a great trip and a great way to get back in touch with nature. It was also great to see my sister, because I had begun to get a little bit homesick after the first month away from home. Edinburgh is quaint, and a beautiful place to visit; I only wish I could've spent a few more days there. 

Until next time!

Mia