Weekend Adventure: Paris

Crazy story: my friend actually won us this trip to Paris through an instagram contest. My flight and hers were both paid for and we were given a voucher for a one night hotel stay. It didn’t cover the entire trip, but it definitely helped. We decided George should come too and made a weekend of it. I was super excited for the opportunity to see Paris in a more relaxed light, rather than rushing around to see tourist attractions. Read on to see how we spent our weekend!




Hotel Bienvenue | We loved our stay at this hotel, even if it started out a bit rocky because of our super late check-in. All the rooms are lovely and the entire hotel has kind of a Wes Anderson vibe. I like the pink rooms best, but the view from our room on the top floor was also pretty cool. This company has a couple other well priced hotels too, like Hotel Panache and Hotel Paradis, so definitely check them out for some other options.


BOL Porridge Bar | While I might not normally choose porridge for breakfast while on holiday, this little place was really nice and within walking distance of our hotel. Porridge bars have become more of a trendy thing across Europe so I’m glad we finally gave one a try. Absolutely recommend!

After breakfast, we set out for the city center–just taking photos and enjoying the amazing architecture of Paris. We had no agenda and were in no rush, so it was a thoroughly relaxed day overall.

Palais Royal | This 17th century palace and gardens made for a lovely place to explore on a brisk January morning and is where many an instagram photo is taken. The art installations are quite nice too.


Louvre | A more obvious touristy stop, but as much as I love the Louvre, we didn’t pay to go in this time. We just walked over because we were nearby and hung out in the courtyard.

Jardin des Tuileries | Another classic French garden. On a sunny day, this is the perfect place to sit and people watch with some coffee or hot chocolate.

Angelina | Speaking of hot chocolate, Angelina’s is the best in Paris and their original Rue de Rivoli location is right outside the Tuileries gardens. We were in need of an energy boost after walking all morning, so we got some takeaway cups to bring out to the garden. One cup is more than enough to share between two people–it’s very rich!



CARBÓN | We made lunch reservations at CARBÓN knowing that we wanted to spend our afternoon in Le Marais or the Jewish quarter. The food and atmosphere were both amazing, so I was very happy with our choice. It is quite nice and fairly expensive though, just for the record. We like to eat well on holiday, but I think we make up for it by not paying to see many tourist attractions.


After a good long break for lunch, we did a bit of shopping in the medieval alleys of Le Marais and I (mostly) put the camera away because it is a crazy busy maze of streets. But I’ll tell you some of the places we visited if you’re interested.

Hippy Market | This was such a cool vintage shop with really good prices! My friend bought a couple faux fur coats while George and I just had fun rummaging around.

Merci | Just down the road from CARBÓN, this concept store is fun to browse and almost like visiting an art gallery. It can be pretty expensive, but it’s still worth a look.

Boot Café | Not sure why this is called Cordonnerie, but it is a cute spot for coffee. I wouldn’t plan on getting a seat though–it is pretty much always busy.

We ended the evening with some of the district’s famous falafel from Mi-Va-Mi that we had been looking forward to all afternoon. I can’t say which is the best falafel as this was my first time in the Jewish quarter, but Mi-Va-Mi would be pretty tough to beat!


On Sunday, we only had half a day to spend in the city as our flight back to London was pretty early in the afternoon. We decided to spend the morning in Montmartre and took an Uber from our hotel to save time. I used to think the Paris metro was great, but we had so many issues when we first arrived that we eventually gave up. Uber is pretty cheap in Paris anyway, as long as it’s not peak hours.

Sacré-Cœur | While it’s free to enter the basilica, we were dissuaded by the massive line to get in. Still, at the highest point in the city, the view from the top is beautiful! We had the uber drop us off right outside, so we wouldn’t have to walk uphill.


La Maison Rose | We really only stopped here for the photos. The café was closed anyway, though it looks really charming inside. I’m sure it would be a great place to come for tea and cakes!



Le Consulat | After walking around the art market at Place du Tertre, we made our way back to this iconic café for a quick lunch and some coffee before our flight. It wasn’t the greatest food ever, but the service was surprisingly good considering Paris is known for their rude waiters. Plus, we couldn’t come to Paris and not sit outside a café in these traditional bistro chairs!


I feel so thankful to have experienced a more relaxed side of Paris and would happily go again if it meant sitting in cafés, drinking wine and/or coffee while people watching. As long as I don’t have to wait in line to climb the Eiffel Tower, I’m all in.

Weekend Adventure: Isle of Wight


People say visiting the Isle of Wight is like seeing a little bit of everything England has to offer: white chalk coastline, thatched cottages, castles, and rolling hills. They also say its like going back in time. We found it to be charming and laid-back, which is exactly what we were looking for in a quick winter getaway. We never planned on visiting the island, but on a recent trip to Portsmouth we made a last minute decision to take the ferry over and make a weekend of it!



There seem to be an abundance of good airbnb options on the Isle of Wight, especially in winter. We booked this cottage for 2 nights so we would have all day Saturday to explore the island. It was quirky, but really cute! Its proximity to the Needles (the white chalk formations) made it the best location for us. From here, you can walk to the town of Freshwater as well as Freshwater Bay. You could probably even walk to the Needles, if you were feeling ambitious.






The Needles | The Needles are the famous white chalk rock formations off the southwest coast of the island. They are actually named for a middle pillar, called ‘Lot’s Wife,’ that collapsed in a storm in 1764. Lot’s Wife was the most needle-like pillar. The walk to the Needles landmark isn’t far from the carpark and offers a great view of Alum Bay.

Steephill Cove | This is probably the cutest cove on the island. If we ever go back, I would definitely try to stay in the lighthouse looking over the cove. There is a small café with a deck sitting right on the water, although it is only open during the summer. It was high tide when we arrived, and the waves were pretty rough, so there wasn’t really any beach for us to sit on. But it was still a lovely little cove to explore.

Freshwater Bay | This was the closest beach to our airbnb. We walked along the cliffs leading away from the bay for a while and there were a few interesting rock formations along the way.

Alum Bay | A good beach for fossil hunting with a view of the Needles. The Isle of Wight is also known as ‘Dinosaur Island’ in case you were wondering, meaning it is one of the richest places for fossil discovery in Europe.

Donkey Sanctuary | When George first suggested stopping here, I thought he was crazy. Mainly because I didn’t believe it existed. Why would there be donkeys on the Isle of Wight? Anyway, the island is so small that it ended up being on our way to stop here and I’m really glad we did. The donkeys were so friendly and admission is free!

Ventnor Botanic Garden | We only got a glimpse of the Botanic Garden while parking our car in Ventnor, but it looked so cool. And compared to the rest of England at the time, everything on the island seemed surprisingly green. Even in February, I could feel Spring.





The Best Dressed Crab | This is the place to go for fresh seafood on the Isle of Wight. Once we saw our server bringing out the seafood platter for another group, we had no trouble deciding what to order. It was a bit funny, or at least it seemed unusual to us, because it was served with mayonnaise and dressing. I asked for some melted butter, thinking that was a totally normal thing to ask for and got a blank stare in return. Perhaps only Americans like to drown their sea creatures in hot butter… Nevertheless, the food was awesome!

The Garlic Farm | This was such a cool place! I wish we had eaten a full meal at the restaurant but at the time, we were too full from our seafood lunch. Still, there were plenty of samples to try throughout the shop. FYI: the garlic beer is actually pretty tasty. Also, the staff were super helpful with explaining the different types of garlic and offering recommendations. I suggest going in the summer when the tasting experience is open.

Chocolate Apothecary | We popped into this little seaside café for some snacks and hot chocolate while waiting for our ferry to arrive. I wasn’t expecting anything more than a decent cup of hot chocolate, but it was seriously amazing! Definitely the best I’ve had in England and in such a surprising location.


Unfortunately, this was our last trip in the MINI. We are in the process of selling it now, because we wanted a more fuel efficient car. It only makes sense because of all the driving we do and the price of petrol here. Hopefully, though, we’ll be able to make even more trips this summer because of our new fuel-efficient car!

Weekend Adventure: Stockholm

Stockholm in December is a very dark place. But it’s also cozy and magical and full of life. Early in the month, George and I spent a weekend with a couple friends exploring the Scandinavian city. We were able to fit a lot into the weekend, so we made this quick guide of all the places we stopped!




& Hotel | What I loved most about this hotel was its location: right next to a metro stop, with an Urban Deli around the block and loads of shopping nearby. Of course, we booked last minute so our options were limited. But this hotel was one of the least expensive we could find with comfortable rooms and breakfast included. Book a family room for more space!

Generator Hostel | Our friends stayed here and told us it was really nice and well designed. They also have private rooms, which we considered because of how inexpensive they are. However, the nearest metro was a ten minute walk. Not a problem for most people, I know, but it did feel a bit far away from everything.

Miss Clara | Although we did not stay here, this is where I would have liked to stay. Originally a girl’s school, this boutique hotel has well-priced rooms with modern Scandinavian design. It’s also really well located near some of the best shopping streets.






Shopping was one of our main reasons for wanting to visit Stockholm. We can’t get enough of Scandinavian design, even if we aren’t willing to pay the exorbitant prices. But it’s still fun to look! Here are some of our favorites:

Grandpa | Simple and beautiful home goods, clothes, and more. Very hipster. There is one located in Södermalm and another closer to the train station.

& Other Stories | Women’s fashion, beauty products, and accessories. I loved the jewelry here and actually bought something for myself. The prices were not as bad as other stores, comparatively.

Stockholms Stadmission | This is one of the second-hand chain stores in Stockholm. They have multiple locations throughout the city and an amazing selection, if you ask me.

Granit |  Minimalist home decor and home organization.

Snickarbacken 7 | A café, shop, and art gallery in one! The shop wasn’t initially open when we arrived, so we just admired the art while sipping our coffee.




I wanted to stop in every café we passed for Fika (the Swedish tradition of gathering with friends around coffee and cake). Each one was so inviting and perfectly designed. That did not happen, however we did have some pretty amazing food in Stockholm.

Meatballs for the People | Swedish meatballs. Need I say more?

The Flying Elk | Centrally located in the old town, our meal here was surprisingly delicious and comparatively affordable. I would describe it as quality Nordic cuisine in a modern casual setting. Each of us thought we had chosen the best dish, which I suppose shows the strength and diversity of the menu. Book before you go!

Fabrique | This café has the best buns! I thought I would like cinnamon best, but I actually preferred the cardamom. Either way, with locations throughout the city it’s definitely worth a stop.

Urban Deli | While we did not have a full meal here, we stopped into the shop a few different times just to look. Picture a cross between a grocery store, restaurant, bakery, and market. We picked up saffron buns here on more than one occasion.

Pharmarium | Drinks in the main square of the Gamla Stan on the site of the first Swedish pharmacy from 1575. You know it’s good when the bartender spends a minute or two to personally explain each of your drinks.



There were seriously so many museums I wanted to see in Stockholm. Some were closed for the winter (like Carl Eldh’s atelier) while others were simply not in the direction we were going. For the most part, we ended up choosing shopping over museums, which I do not feel bad about. However, it definitely necessitates a trip back.

Vasa Museum | If you only have time for one museum, as we did, I recommend this one. It contains the only preserved 17th century ship in the world. It sank in the harbor minutes into its maiden voyage for reasons you’ll learn about if you visit the museum!

City Hall | There is a beautiful view of the city from here. For some reason, the tower is closed during the winter, so we were not able to climb it. But it’s totally free to walk around the courtyard and out to the water’s edge.

Skansen | Under normal circumstances, I’m not sure I would recommend Skansen (Stockholm’s open-air museum and zoo). But because their Christmas market was going on, I absolutely loved it. It had such a traditional feel, but there were also stalls selling products with more modern designs. Go here over the Christmas market in the old town…it was awfully small and absolutely packed with people.

Södermalm | By far the coolest neighborhood in Stockholm. We originally intended to stay here, but Airbnb turned out to be a more expensive option than hotels in the less hipster areas. Anyway, Södermalm is filled with crazy cool shops and cafés worthy of an afternoon spent wandering its streets.

Gamla Stan | The Gamla Stan or Old Town is one of the city’s main attractions with its cobblestone streets and pretty façades. It is quite touristy as evidenced by its many souvenir shops and constant influx of people (also an alarming number of 12 year olds chasing Pokémon). However, that is easily avoided by simply waking up earlier.








I am sure we’ll be back to Stockholm again before our time here is over. It is, after all, one of the cheapest places to fly from London. But also, I’d just love to see the city and archipelago during the summer. Until next time!

Weekend Adventure: Hallstatt and Salzburg

A few weeks ago, we went to a place that has been on my bucket list since we moved here: Hallstatt, Austria. George’s sister and brother in law were visiting from the States and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to see the tiny lakeside village. I think we caught the very end of the fall colors there which was also really cool to see.


Hallstatt is not only the oldest village in Austria, but probably also the most photographed. Even in the off-season, the village is full of tourists who took the ferry over the lake for a day-trip. However, because we decided to stay overnight, it felt like we had it all to ourselves. We stayed in the Seehotel Grüner Baum, which faces the lake on one side of the hotel and the market square on the other. Our room had a balcony overlooking the market square!



There is not a ton to do in Hallstatt during the day, aside from walking around and taking pictures, but it was a very peaceful place to spend a weekend. I can imagine it getting crazy in the summer, but in November, things were pretty quiet.



On our first day there, we took the funicular up to the famous salt mine for a view looking over Hallstatt and the surrounding Dachstein mountains. This area of Austria is called the Salzkammergut (salz meaning salt, in German) and salt production here has been traced back to the Bronze Age. Once at the top, we simply took in the view while sipping hot chocolate and mulled wine, but for the more adventurous, there were plenty of trails leading into the mountains. We also stopped into the gift shop to buy some salt-themed souvenirs.




The next morning, we woke up to a fog-covered lake and a forecast of rain for the rest of the day. We didn’t have set plans for the day, but in the end we decided to head to Königsee, which is actually a lake in Germany. It was about an hour’s drive from Hallstatt.

First we took a cable car up the Jenner mountain for a view from above the lake. The weather really was awful, but I think we made the most of it. The ride up the mountain in the weathered and creaky cable car was an experience in itself!



After returning to ground-level, we made our way over to the lake to see it up close. I can totally see why Königsee is so popular with German tourists; the water was so clear even on a cloudy day and the mountains surrounding the lake give it a fjord-like feel. Looking back on the trip, I do wish we had taken a boat tour across the lake. The lake is so long, that would be the only way to see all of it!

But we were all tired from walking around in the rain and decided to head back to our hotel instead. That night we ate dinner at the hotel in their lakeside restaurant. I’m sure sitting on the terrace on a summer night would be amazing, but for a fall or winter trip I would suggest eating somewhere else. The food was just not that special.


Our final day in Austria was even wetter than the previous day. We had planned to escape the rain with some shopping and sightseeing in Salzburg, but when making those plans I forgot that it was Sunday. So when we arrived in the city, everything was closed aside from a few tourist shops and cafés.


Luckily, the café I had chosen to take us that morning was open! Café Tomaselli is the oldest coffee house in Austria with origins dating back to 1700. And it was said to be a favorite of Mozarts. The experience is a little different from your average European coffee shop, so it’s good to be aware of before you go. First, a waiter will come to the table asking for your drink order, which you will pay for upon leaving the café. Next, a woman will bring an entire tray of cakes and pastries to the table and you can choose as many as you want. These must be paid for immediately. Of course, we each chose something different so we could sample them all! It definitely made our coffee stop feel more special and upscale.


This is the view from the terrace outside the modern art museum. It was so simple to get to! You just take an elevator from street level up to the museum and walk outside. We did not pay to go into the museum.

Later that day, we were able to squeeze in a couple Sound of Music stops like the Mirabell Palace and gardens, but we spent the majority of the afternoon hiding away at the Augustiner Brewery. As you pass through their delicatessen arcade on the way to the beer halls, you can pick up snacks like wienerschnitzel, pretzels, and fried radishes. We got a little of everything and found a cozy nook at the end of the hall.



While we were there enjoying our beer and snacks, it started to snow! I realize I may have been alone in my excitement, but it never snows in England so I always look forward to the possibility of snow when we travel. For me, it was the perfect way to end our trip.

Weekend Adventure: Copenhagen

Copenhagen surprised me. I had been once before just after highschool on a backpacking trip and my experience then was…interesting. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it wasn’t my favorite place either. This time, though, I loved exploring the city with George: shopping and eating our way through Copenhagen. It may even be my favorite city we’ve visited since living here…aside from London, of course!


We arrived around noon on Saturday and almost immediately set off for one of the city’s coolest neighborhoods: Norrebro. We shopped, we ate cinnamon buns, we drank coffee. All the best places are found on one street called Jægersborggade.


Next we headed to the city center to climb to the top of the Rundetaarn for some amazing views. The Rundetaarn (Round Tower) was built in 1642 with a spiral ramp so that royalty could ride to the top on horseback. At the top, there is an observatory which claims to be the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. And supposedly, on a clear day, you can see across to Sweden!



Afterward, we walked around the pedestrian area and did some more shopping. The shopping really was amazing in Copenhagen. There were so many beautiful pieces of Danish design I wanted to bring home.

For a quick snack, we got hot dogs from Torvehallerne. It is a food market, so there were lots of tasty options to consider. But for a proper meal, we had already decided to go to the meatpacking district later that night.


For the next hour or so, we hung out at the library bar across from Tivoli at the Plaza Hotel. The drinks were pretty pricey, but the Amaretto Sour was probably the best I’ve ever had. It was the perfect place to relax and talk while surrounded by floor-to-ceiling bookcases.

After leaving the library bar, we decided we still were not hungry and instead went to the Mikkeler bar to sample some local beer. It was totally packed, but we found a seat fairly quickly. I highly recommend this place!


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The next morning, we tried to get up as early as possible to see Nyhavn harbor expecting there to be tons of tourists there later in the day. Although when we got there at 9 am, we basically had the place to ourselves. Could have been the fact that it was such a dreary day!


Nonetheless, we had a great time strolling past the colorful houses and taking way too many pictures of pretty boats. For lunch we popped over to Papirøen, or Paper Island, for some delicious smørrebrød. The Danish open-face sandwiches at this street food market were so tasty. Also, the seating options here were great! Much better than any London market.



The only thing on our agenda for the rest of the day was the Design Museum. However, the Amalienborg Palace just happened to be on our way there so we opted to check it out. You can watch the changing of the guards here everyday at 12:00.


We were also able to see the Kastellet military fortess as it was just a few minutes past the Design Museum on foot. More than anything, I loved the colors here. It was a nice place to go for a walk, especially with all the leaves changing color.



When we finally made it to the Design Museum, we realized you can basically see the same designs just by going shopping. Specifically, by making a stop at both Illums Bollighus and the Royal Copenhagen store. I would give the museum a miss, because I would rather have spent that time shopping for pieces that are actually available to purchase (even if they were crazy expensive).

That night, we made reservations to have dinner at a place called Väkst. Both of our meals were amazing, not to mention surprising and (compared to other Nordic restaurants) affordable. The decor was super cool as well, centered around a greenhouse with a cozy, urban style basement. It was the perfect end to our trip and I’m so glad we got to experience some modern Nordic cuisine before heading back to London.

Scotland: The Isle of Skye

I know I am super late sharing these photos from our adventures in Scotland, but I am still just as excited looking through them now as I was when we first got back. It only makes me wish we could be up there now!

Over Easter weekend here in the UK, we actually get both the Friday and Monday off, which George and I translate into, “we need to go somewhere!” The only problem is that everyone else was apparently thinking the same thing, so flights to Europe were pretty much out of the question. I suggested camping on the Isle of Skye and George agreed!

Continue reading “Scotland: The Isle of Skye”

Carreg Cennen Castle & Tintern Abbey

These two stops were the last on an extended weekend roadtrip with my (George’s) parents. Other stops included Lyme Regis, Bath and our personal favorite, the Pembrokeshire Coast. The narrow roads that connect the Welsh countryside moonlight as a sheep safari path. February in the Brecon Beacons was exactly as it should be: damp and foggy.

Weekend Adventure: North Wales

For the past couple of weeks, two of my cousins from Michigan have been staying with us at our flat. They arrived 2 days after George and I got home from the U.S. and have been with us since the new year. During the week they have been exploring on their own, however, some of the best places in the UK can’t really be reached by public transportation. So, over the weekend we thought it would be fun to take them to one of our favorite places: Wales. Continue reading “Weekend Adventure: North Wales”

Road Trip: Luxembourg & Germany

George and I have been traveling a lot lately. We went to Bruges, Belgium a couple weeks ago to celebrate his birthday and we just got home on Monday from his sister’s wedding in Chicago. But before we left for the States, we took a road trip to Luxembourg and Germany with a couple friends. We chose Luxembourg because it was the only place within driving distance that none of us had really been before. George spent about an hour there one summer, but everything was still pretty new to him.  Continue reading “Road Trip: Luxembourg & Germany”