Posted by Anne on May 10, 2016 in All, Paris | 12 comments
You came to Paris to fall in love. You just didn’t know it when you did.
For what does the city of love and light have to offer a solo traveler?
Love, and light.
You stroll contemplatively. You have days where your only agenda is to go by a certain ice cream shop or pop in to a particular bookstore. You look up at the rows of structured buildings and admire the stretch of intricate, iron balconies placed delicately upon beige facades.
You pick one arrondissement and decide: this is your home for the next two weeks. You explore the neighborhood, find the cheapest place for wine in the evenings and cafe au lait in the mornings. The pâtissier begins to recognize you as the days pass slowly into evenings. You sit in parks and public squares and watch life and the city go by.
You dine alone for three hours, sit in a cafe with a glass or two or champagne, cherish three courses, and end with a cafe gourmand. No one rushes you. No one hassles you. You write in your journal or lose yourself in thought. And you enjoy every single minute.
I’m coming up on two years of working remotely in San Francisco. And while, yes, some of this time was spent frolicking to other countries or on my couch at home, many, many hours have been spent in search of strong coffee and even stronger wifi.
As a freelancer, I like a healthy balance between being in my own world and being surrounded by others. Routine is both my best friend and my worst enemy — I find it encourages productivity but stifles creativity. When I’m short on inspiration, sometimes it’s as simple as a walk through a new neighborhood (I love you, SF) followed by a couple of hours in a coffee shop with good vibes. I find that even changing up my seating in a familiar place can help me see things in a new light.
Finding a public space to work in offers the best of both worlds. And because there’s nothing like caffeine to fuel both productivity and creativity, for me, I find myself in the city’s best coffee shops more often than not.
When I’m on deadline, I have to prioritize the Internet connection and minimize distractions. When I’m out more to journal or generate ideas, I choose coffee quality above all else. Most days you can find me at my neighborhood go-tos, which offer a bit of both.
Posted by Anne on Apr 19, 2016 in All, Finland, Travel Eats | 8 comments
Or, Why You Should Go to Helsinki Just to Eat
As I pulled my chair in and inched my face closer to the microphone, I thought about what the Finns across from me, who happened to be the lovely people of Radio Helsinki, might ask me about why I was in Finland.
Sure enough, moments later we were live on air (my first live radio interview!) and as the hosts transitioned into English, they prompted the question I knew what coming: “What do you think of Helsinki?”
I had only just arrived that morning. When asked if I was jet-lagged, I took a giant swig from my cup of Finnish coffee for dramatic effect. It was something like 3 am in California. I squinted as I sat there inaudibly, before answering the question.
“I’ve only just arrived, but it’s my first time in the country so I’m looking forward to experiencing this place,” I reply, feeling a surge of caffeine kick in.
“What expectations did you have for the city before you came?”
Without thinking, I answer abruptly: “Not really any, to tell you the truth.”
I get the impression it isn’t the first time they’ve heard this statement. So, I continue, “But I plan to get to know Helsinki through its food. I find it to be the best way to access a new culture and get a true sense of a place.”
What I don’t mention is that I also have no clue about what Finnish food is.
Well, just for the week.
And yes, you can consider this post’s title my best attempt at a terrible, belated April Fool’s joke.
After a whirlwind visit to Ireland for Saint Patrick’s Day, where I got an intensive lesson on Irish life past and present (and by that I mean more than just multiple hours spent wearing green and cozily sipping pints — did you see it all on Snapchat?) I’ve been home for just two weeks and already, I’m heading back out there into the world again.
As many of you know, I took a long break from even uttering the word ‘travel’ after a worst nightmare came to life on the road at the end of last year. I wasn’t sure when or how I’d resume my usual manner. So, I resolved to press pause on traveling and stay home for the foreseeable future…only to then lose my apartment.
In the months that followed, I tread water daily just trying to stay afloat. And when it feels like you’re drowning, the best way to survive without panicking is…(?) to find your footing. I sought and found great comfort in re-establishing myself in a new home and rooting myself in a daily routine.
In pursuit of this balance I’ve sharpened my skills for finding adventure in my own backyard, staying curious, active, and engaged with life and culture even when I’m not traveling. Yet at some point, even the boldest routines can begin to feel stale. (Isn’t repetition what creates a routine, after all?)
Once again I find myself seeking that familiar desire to stretch to the unfamiliar, like a runner whose legs ache to hit the trail. Still, more than ever to date, I respect, need, and value my life at home.
Posted by Anne on Mar 27, 2016 in Travel | 9 comments
As I sat there, staring at the date on a calendar, feeling the gravity of a supposed “big” birthday…naturally I found myself reflecting upon the many lessons I’ve learned in thirty years.
Wisdom can be encountered in a book or summarized in a quote (and believe me, I’ve enjoyed my share of those!) but more often than not, the teachings of the world must be learned and earned through life experience. Named “the hard way” by some, I spent much of my twenties seeking out words and thoughts of others’ lives well lived, all the while seeking (and unknowingly creating) a road map for myself.
The accidental discovery of French pharmacy beauty while traveling has completely changed my skin — and my perspective.
This is the story of a travel writer (aka not beauty blogger) who like many, loves visiting Paris and goes as often as possible. It’s the story of choosing a different arrondissement for each visit and making a point to discover the neighborhood as much as possible. The mode of discovery is always the same: wandering aimlessly on Parisian streets and through alleyways (see also: flâneur) and trying (or not trying, because how very Parisian) to do so with an air of calm (read: not wide-eyed and smiling.) This latest visit is the story of an accidental French love affair…with the pharmacy.
The arrondissement in question for this visit was Saint Germain-des-Pres (6th.) I knew that I would be roaming towards Le Grand Epicerie (just do it, people) for its food and wine. I wrote down the restaurants and cafes I wanted to sit for hours in, and had a few names from new local friends as well. I had a few museums and parks to see. I’d bike by the Eiffel Tower and walk along the Seine, because…Paris! (Already failing at proposed Parisian coolness.)
Normally I would do my best to avoid any obvious area of Paris that draws in a crowd. Yet on this mildly sunny day, slowly walking against a brisk wind, a horde of people at the corner of Rue Bonaparte and Rue de Four caught my attention. Swarms of women elegantly exiting…a pharmacy? Sans health issues requiring a prescription, I popped my head in to take a closer look.