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shifting gears

Hey friends!

I want to give you a quick update on where this blog is going. For a while it’s been focused on travel, exploration, etc- which I still believe in, and won’t be quitting anytime soon. However, I’ve been balancing this blog and my running blog for a while and would rather just pick one and run with it (pun intended).

Keeping my running and travel blogs separate feels too forced, too restricted.

I always want to talk about running on this blog, but it feels like it doesn’t go well enough with travel. In hindsight, maybe I should have realized right off the bat that this meant I should focus on running.

I’ve been injured for a year and am finally getting back into the sport, and the trial of taking a year away from my passion has made me realize where my priorities lie. I am so excited to get back into this world, and I have so many exciting running-related things happening that I can’t avoid the natural evolution of this blog.

So from now on, this blog is going to be running focused.

I’ll still talk travel, and for sure healthy eating, but now it will be coming at you through the lens of a runner. I want to talk sports, endurance, athletics, but also nutrition, health, holistic living. For me travel is definitely related to of all that, so don’t worry- I’ll still try to inspire you to see the world! And maybe go for a run while you’re out there… 🙂

I am an RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) certified coach, so alongside the advice I give on this blog I also offer personal training programs with Team Run Run (you can find my profile on teamrunrun.com or click the “run” tab on this blog). I also offer one-on-one consultations in case you’re not sure running is right for you or are worried about whether or not it’s worth hiring a coach.

I’m also figuring out how to gain a nutrition coaching certification, so I can eventually offer nutrition coaching and certified advice as well. I’ll still share the food I eat and fuel with, but always with the caveat that I am not yet a certified nutritionist and therefore cannot offer any medical advice.

At the end of the day, I want to live a holistic life to as a runner, and as a traveler, while eating in a way that nourishes my body and mind. And I want to share that philosophy with you wonderful people, because it is an absolutely delightful way to live.

Featured image by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash
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ordinary people doing awesome things (interview 1)

Who doesn’t love hearing about ordinary people living awesome lives?

This post kicks off a new series highlighting people I’ve met who live the ideals of this blog- eating well, exploring the world, and getting outside through sport/adventure. We all love stories about well-known people who accomplish insanely cool things, but I’m constantly being inspired by people I’ve met who are just ordinary people, living awesome lives. I’ve begun asking around for interviews, so if you know anyone that inspires you who you think I should interview, let me know in the comments!

Let’s get started…

– – –

Isabella Taylor

is a experienced cyclist and certified yoga instructor, currently living in Brisbane, Australia. I met her at cross country camp in high school. Since we met I’ve followed her adventures through her blog and Instagram, and am so impressed and inspired by what she’s been doing with her life.

Keep reading for her thoughts on cycling, yoga, food and more!20155966_10209427401297222_587309723534585907_nGive us the basics! Who are you and what do you do?

Basically, I’m an aspiring professional road cyclist, part-time student, and I work part-time in the bike industry selling and servicing bikes at a shop. Recently, I’ve been travelling around Europe, SE Asia, and Australia which has been motivating me to do things a little differently when I get back to Portland- like pursue an education full-time, and pursue goals with bike racing.

I know you’ve taught yoga and are an avid cyclist. How does each of these sports play a role in your life?

I’ve actually let yoga slip away from my daily life within the last year or so, and I’m not too upset about that, honestly. I always struggled as a yoga teacher with the spiritual side of the practice. Other teachers seemed to stress the connection between the physical and spiritual practices, and it never felt authentic when I’d attempt the same in my own classes. It made me feel very disconnected from the community as a whole, to the point where I’ve transitioned away from practicing and teaching yoga. I’ve always been afraid to lose the label of “yoga teacher”, but I’ve learned it’s just a silly label.

21751510_10209799668683674_872706518133545486_nCycling has always been there through thick and thin. I think it’s stuck around and transformed so many times in my life because it’s always been able to teach me lessons outside of sport. Bike racing in particular has taught me to persevere through hardships, and to stop running away from pain. There were so many races where I’d think about quitting the entire time because it hurt so badly, but I’d surprise myself by ending up on the podium because I stuck it out anyway. It’s a real self-esteem transformer, because you prove to yourself that you CAN do it after believing you couldn’t. Taking that into other areas of my life has only strengthened my attachment to cycling- like sticking through college, even though it sucks sometimes.

What’s the best part about being an endurance athlete?

The best part is the feeling you get after a workout. Even if the workout was crappy and you didn’t hit a PR, or you didn’t podium in a race, you still went out there and did it which always feels great.

What’s the worst part?

It’s easy wrap up your self-worth in endurance sports. Taking forced time out of the sport has always thrown me into depressive states because I think many athletes believe it’s the most important thing in their lives. Injuries are often imminent, since endurance sports are really repetitive, so any existing muscle imbalances stay silent until it’s a full-blown injury. Especially in the day and age of social media- you’ll be in the throes of a terrible injury, then you see your mate posting pictures of how great their intervals went that day and it adds insult to injury.

When I met you, you had a small healthy eating blog. I’ve also gotten some great advice from you on where to eat in Portland. What does eating well mean to you?

Healthy eating has always waxed and waned in my life. When I wrote my health blog years ago, I was dogmatic about living a healthy lifestyle, while also struggling with a secret eating disorder. That was at a time when healthy eating was like a means of control for me, in a sense, to cope with anxiety. Nowadays, I’ve chilled out on the dogmatic and controlling ideology, and have gotten rid of the nasty eating disorder in exchange for a little more balance. Cooking for me has always been therapeutic- what’s changed is my attitude towards it. I appreciate fueling my body with tons of fruits and veggies, but now I can also indulge without feeling like the world is going to
end.

How does healthy eating tie into sport for you?

When I feel as if I’m fuelling my body with tons of nutritious whole foods, I think it feeds my soul as well. It’s hard to explain, really! It makes me feel like I’m doing the best I can to invest in my body for optimal performance on the bike, which ties into my overall happiness.

In the same vein, what is an average day of eating like for you?

It’s so different all the time, but I try to fill most of my meals with fruits and veggies the best I can. For breakfast, it’s usually some form of oats with chia seeds, berries, and peanut butter (I definitely have a love affair with peanut butter). I always take lunch with me to work, and it’s often leftovers from the night prior. A typical lunch/dinner looks like either rice or couscous with a side of beans (I’ve been really into cooking dry beans from scratch lately for protein), and some kind of veggie combination stir-fried in coconut cream curry.

What is your best piece of advice about health and nutrition that you’d like to share with others?

Michael Pollan said it best- “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” It’s perfect because it simply stresses that you shouldn’t strive for perfection.23622241_10210208470143455_482401791835690644_nLet’s talk about travel. You are currently living in Australia. Why did you decide to go there, and how did you get there?

My boyfriend has been wanting to travel the world ever since we started dating three years ago. He basically said, “well, I’m going- you can come with me, or not”. Hard to argue with that! I was so fearful before we left about leaving everything behind in the US, but it’s been almost a year now, and I’m so glad I took the chance. It’s really easy to obtain year-long working holiday visas in Australia, so we settled down here in Brisbane with jobs after three months of being broke vagabonds in Europe and SE Asia. It’s been an unintentional education of getting to know myself better through meeting and bonding with amazing people from around the world.

What is the health and fitness scene like in Brisbane?

It’s off the charts. The weather is polar opposite to the PNW, so everybody is out exercising constantly. We are headed into winter right now, and the blazing temperatures subside into 70 degrees and sunny (unthinkable in Seattle or Portland, right?!). It makes it hard not to get out and go for a ride or a run!

In life, what do you think is most important to be happy and healthy?

Balance, open-mindedness, letting go of control, but also the ability to stand your ground.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Nope! Thanks for having me, Kenaia! 🙂

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Thanks so much to Isabella for being the first interviewee! You can follow more of her awesome adventures at @isabellanais on Instagram.

Stay tuned for our next interview!

Travel, Uncategorized

Travel Diaries: Rome, Italy (part I)

I arrived in Rome 2 days after the city’s first snow in 6 years.

Safe to say, it was pretty damn cold. I was so unprepared for this I lugged my suitcase over uneven cobblestones for twenty minutes looking for my hostel (which was supposed to take one third that long), unable to use my phone to navigate because my fingers were numb and turning purple. I eventually stumbled into a coat shop and spent 70 euros (on sale from 150 euros!) on a big puffer jacket that went down to my knees and had a thick hood.

Thus prepared, I ventured back out into the cold.

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My favorite way to start exploring a new city is to spend a day just walking and see what I find. And man, Rome did not disappoint! Despite the cold, the weather was GORGEOUS, providing clear blue skies and gallons of sunlight. Everything in Rome seems to be saturated with color, like an old photograph.

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There were motorcycles, vespas everywhere. Drivers are insane here, and I quickly learned that the only way to cross the street is to just start walking and hope everyone will stop.

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Though it had stopped snowing by the time I arrived, there were remnants of the weather everywhere. It was so cold and clear that it took several days for much of what had frosted over to defrost. I have to say, though it was annoying to slip over slush and ice, it made for some beautiful pictures!

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In Paris last month I began to realize I have a knack for coming across high places and amazing viewpoints. I don’t know that there are too many hills in Rome, but I walked up what appeared to be an old castle and got to see this…

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Have you ever seen snow and palm trees in the same place at once? Me neither.

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One of the things I still can’t get over is the color that seeps through the city. Absolutely everything appears to have been brushed over with handfuls of sunlight in a million shades. Dense oranges, light golds and yellows, marigold and dusky browns… Combined with the gorgeous architecture you can find throughout the city, the effect is magical.

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I keep walking into shops and mumbling an awkward “bonjour” before my tongue remembers that was last month and now it’s “buon giorno”. In fact, I’ve answered many questions with either a blank stare and “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Italian!” or a mash of either Spanish or French.

I’ve never actually gone to a country where I don’t speak the language.

I mean, in China I had a tour group and translators, in Singapore and Iceland nearly everyone speaks English. I taught myself enough French to get by there and understand what people were saying to me… But until this trip I didn’t know any Italian save for “ciao!”

Luckily many people here speak English, and I’m finally responding to people with “grazie!” instead of “gracias”.

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So far Rome has been a lot easier to explore than Paris. Like any city, it’s easy to cross on foot in a day, and people are not as rude to you here if you don’t speak English. I’ve been asked if I’m German or if I’m Russian, but not yet if I’m American until I speak.

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I’ll write more about this beautiful city later, when I can really sit down and contemplate things. I have millions of notes in my phone.

But for now, I wanted to show you some photos of this stunningly beautiful world we live in.

Enjoy!

 

 

Travel, Uncategorized

Breakfast In Paris

Around mid-morning, French cookbook author Anne met us at a classic French boulangerie- a place that only uses sourdough, she explained, so their bread has less gluten and is healthier. “Us” meaning myself and three other lovely American tourists, who had each paid about $70 through Airbnb’s new experience feature for Anne to show us how a French breakfast is done.

Anne ordered piles of pastry and a baguette for the group, and we headed off to her place to start cooking!

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Her table was beautifully set for our little group, and we sat down to get acquainted over croissants, pain au chocolats, and pain au raisins. We sipped her homemade blood orange juice and fresh coffee, savoring each different flavor. Anne also poured us some delicious hot chocolate, which I loved dipping pieces of my croissant into.

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After the first part of our meal, Anne showed us how to make little pastry cakes- I’ve completely forgotten what they were called, but they were delicious! They remind me of making “fairy cakes” as a kid. We also learned how to make butter in France, which is actually super easy- it’s harder to find the proper ingredients in the US, though, sadly.

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On the savory side of things, we soft-boiled a few eggs, seasoned them a bit and then dipped freshly-buttered slices of brioche in them. What can I say? Delicious.

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We spend a while chatting about France and fresh produce and the different lives all of us attending lived, as we stuffed ourselves on some of the best and freshest delicacies France could offer. All in all, it was an absolutely glorious morning. Anne made sure to point out that this was not a typical French morning- but we loved it all the same.

At the end of our little adventure we climbed up to her rooftop, took a look around and posed for a quick photo.

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I’m usually not one for spending close to $100 on anything while travelling, but if you’re going to splurge, splurge on an Airbnb experience. These are local people that really know their stuff, and it’s such a cool way to get to know a city from the other side.

Thanks again to Anne for her wonderful hosting and an amazing morning.

Travel, Uncategorized

Travel Diaries: Paris in January (part 2)

Paris is gritty.

I think as tourists, as travelers, we have this idea of Paris as a light, romantic, colorful city. And it many ways it is, with its pastel shopfronts, wrought iron balconies and beautiful architecture. However, it’s still a big city, and an international hub- in other words, there’s a less-rosy side to Paris that isn’t often discussed.

Paris is a lot like New York. Lots of travelers, lots of tourists, lots of busy locals. I doubt many New Yorkers would stop at three in the afternoon for an espresso and a cigarette, as just about everyone seems to here, but basic similarities exist. If you are walking around slowly with a map during rush hour, you will get trampled. Scam artists will try to get you to stop and give them money for something. You know- same old, same old.

It’s been interesting to visit in January and see this darker, grungier side of Paris emerge. Especially with the Seine flooding, it’s a weird week to be a tourist. It seems like everything is pretty grey, the buildings dark and somber. It’s still beautiful, but much different than that fairy-tale version of Paris we all dream of.

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Despite all that, though, Paris is Paris. Watching well-dressed women stroll confidently down cobblestone streets in sensible heels, accidentally stumbling into a photographer’s way in front of the Chanel Haute Couture show (I didn’t know why there were so many photographers and well dressed people outside this one building until I Googled it later), and learning that you can sit an a cafe for an hour and just order an espresso (here, un cafe). 

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All of this is why wandering around Paris can take up so many hours. In sunlight and shadow, with all of its filth and splendor, Paris is mesmerizing. Plus, it’s easy to stumble upon ancient landmarks without even realizing it.

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I knew I was close to Sacre-Couer when I booked my hostel, but I didn’t realize how close until I had breakfast at a Parisian woman’s home nearby and we could see it from her rooftop (more on that in another post). I walked to the base of the church and admired the view for a moment, a little disappointed. I thought there’d be more than just this…

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As beautiful as that was, it didn’t seem like “the highest viewpoint in Paris”, which I’d been told Sacre-Couer was. Hm.

I ventured into the church and realized there was some kind of prayer service going on (religious folks, sorry if that’s the wrong phrase, I’m not familiar!). I stayed and walked around the church, listening to the sermon (is that the right word??) going on in French and gaping up at the impressive ceilings. The church was beautiful, and the singing and music I heard was extraordinary. I stayed and listened for some time. There were signs that instructed visitors to refrain from photography, so I don’t have pictures to show you (even though lots of dumb tourists were snapping loud selfies and recording videos. GUYS. Don’t be this kind of tourist. Who takes selfies in an active place of religious worship??), but I encourage you to look on Youtube and Google for videos and photos of the church. Just search “sacre-couer prayer service”.

After leaving the church, I felt relaxed and glad to have been inside, but… I THOUGHT YOU COULD GO UP???

I really wanted to climb to the top, but I couldn’t figure out how to get there. I started circling the church and eventually found some stairs leading into a basement with an arrow saying something like “to the top” but pointing down. Um… kay?

It had started to rain, so I carefully climbed down some damp stairs and rounded a corner, where a cranky old lady was asleep in a quiet ticket booth.

“Uh, bonjour,” I tried.

“Bonjour, mumblemumble French words.” I don’t know what she said.

“Un billet, s’il vous plait? The.. stairs? Pour… le top?” I never said I was good at French.

“Oui, oui, 6 euros.”

“Merci.” I start putting my debit card in the machine-

“NON.” The little old lady slams her hand down on the counter. “NONON MORE LOUD FRENCH.”

Pause. “Ok oui.”

I put my card in again. She shakes her head at me and hands me the ticket.

“Thank- Merci beaucoup.”

“Errghrgh.”

Alright, then. So I turn away from cranky old lady and push through a metal turnstile to begin my ascent. I’ve found it!

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Well this looks promising. I’m glad I’m small- I can’t even extend my elbows out all the way to the sides in this thing. And it’s… 300 stairs, I think? Well ok.

Up we go.

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After a dizzying walk up, I thought I was done when I saw this door. The light! I’m free!

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But actually, this only began the part of the climb that had me clambering over wet rooftops and slippery stairs. Was I supposed to be out here?

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Evidently, yes. When I made it to the top, bells started ringing. Really! The church bells chimed just as I reached the top of Sacre-Couer. HERE was the view I was looking for!

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Standing there in the rain and the cold, listening to the bells chime, surrounded by ancient stone and admiring the city was absolutely breathtaking. My legs were shaking the whole time from the height, but the experience was so, so worth it.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of Paris in January. I know I did. Thanks as always for reading!

Travel, Uncategorized

Travel Diaries: Versailles

If you are ever near Paris, the one tourist-y thing you MUST do is spend a day in Versailles.

I’ll be the first to say that the tourist-y things are usually best avoided, and I will always advocate for the hole-in-the-wall spots where you can find the locals hanging out.

HOWEVER.

Versailles. I still can’t even believe it. Maybe it was so impressive because I expected it to be so overdone, so marketed to tourists, and it wasn’t too bad. Maybe it was because I underestimated the enormity of the palace. Maybe because I had no idea of how large the surrounding park was, or how good it would feel to spend a day among old trees and clear skies, far out of the filth of the city.

Versailles is incredible.

Let me show you.

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When you arrive, you will be amazed at how mammoth the chateau itself is. Go in the winter, like I did, otherwise you’ll be surrounded by millions of tourists. In the winter, there’s hardly any line, especially if you buy your tickets online. I think there was only one person in front of me.

You’ll go through a quick security check, then you’ll be let in through the golden gate…

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The exterior of the palace is so ornate you can hardly believe it. Knowing how old it all is just amazes me. It’s all so massive, so intricately carved and put together, and it has lasted all these years…. It’s simply incredible.

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Once you can tear your eyes away from the palace’s exterior for two seconds, you’ll realize you can actually go inside. You can tour the rooms of the royals who used to live there, but you’ll probably too distracted by the ceilings to pay attention to their old bedding (though that’s pretty cool, too).

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Throughout the palace there are so many beautiful pieces of artwork. The design of the whole building, from the doorknobs to the archways, is utterly stunning.

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Wow. After seeing all that beauty, I wasn’t sure how the gardens would compare. From the window you could only see bits of them, and I didn’t have a good grasp on how far they extended. I took a moment and had some macarons from Laduree (I’ve seen Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette a few too many times) before continuing on to see what I could find.

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I got so lucky and ended up picking the most beautiful day to be there. The grounds were absolutely beautiful, and seemingly endless. I walked for several hours enjoying the fresh air and the silence. For most of my walk I was entirely alone, and it was so relaxing to be away from Paris for a while. I’m sitting in my hostel as I write this with a group of Spanish-speaking boys singing along with a guitar in the corner and the hostel employees chatting in French as they clean out the fridge, listening to the music playing over the speakers mix with the sirens wailing past every so often outside.

Versailles was a lot more peaceful and serene.

DSC04282DSC04284DSC04285DSC04288DSC04293DSC04294I walked for hours just letting the breeze and the sun wash over me. I saw TONS of runners (um, can I please have somewhere like this to run through in my backyard??) and made it out to Petite Trianon, basically Marie Antoinette’s personal mini-palace. My camera was dying about this time, and Petite Trianon was pretty similar in style to Chateau Versailles, if a little more rustic. What was really cool, though, was the network of paths, meadows and gardens behind the residence. I could have explored for longer but having been out for so long already, I didn’t make it much further than this little pavilion below.

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The pavilion and little lake, though, were gorgeous and quaint and everything you would expect from the Dauphine’s little hideaway.

Heading back to the palace, I found a beautiful fountain that I’d somehow missed the first time around- obviously a big tourist-y site because of all the people gathered around, but with the sun beginning to dip down in the sky and the light hitting it just right, it seemed magical.

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Versaille’s gardens contained so much more than I had anticipated, and even more than I managed to see despite all the time I spent there. Despite the area’s rocky history, the location itself has become and absolutely stunning place to escape city life and enjoy oneself in an enormous, beautiful park.

I couldn’t capture half the grandiosity of this place in a photograph, so I hope someday you make it out to Versailles. Definitely one of those things worth seeing. Also, for my budget travelers- I spent money to go inside the Chateau and Petite Trianon, but wandering the green spaces is free! Because of recent terrorist attacks you will have to enter the park though a gated checkpoint, where they will ask to look inside any bags you may be carrying. Other than that, though, it’s an easy attraction to make happen.

Thanks for reading, as always, and stay tuned for more Paris stories soon!

Travel, Uncategorized

Travel Diaries: Paris in January (part 1)

Who visits Paris in January?

The thing about Paris in the winter is that it’s preferable to remain indoors. A lot of people aren’t interested in strolling along the Seine when your socks are squelching every time you press them into your shoes.

That said, if you keep an eye on the forecast and pack appropriate footwear, you can have a lot of fun mixing indoor and outdoor activities in this beautiful city. Also, I’ve noticed instead of just suffering through the rain like us Pacific Northwesters, Parisians just duck under an awning and wait out the worst swells before continuing on beneath an umbrella.

Smart.

Anyways, there are dozens of book shops, cafes and museums you can visit when the weather is sub-par. Then, when the rain clears, you can meander through one of the city’s many green spaces and check out the touristy things like the Eiffel Tower and what-not. If you’re comfortable spending a little extra cash to spend time indoors during the winter (think between 10 and 15 euros per museum entry, and 3-5 euros for a coffee), you’ll be able to snag a cheaper flight, shorter lines for everything, and most likely a cheaper place to stay. Summer is the height of tourism in France, so if you can get over the weather, winter is a great time to get a feel for the real Paris.

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Part of that whole “real Paris thing?” Learn to speak a little French. I went to Musee Cluny today, and the security guard asked me something I didn’t quite get, so I said “je ne parle pas francais.” She scolded me like a kid and said (in French): “you’re in Paris, learn to speak French, no?”

The funny thing is, I understood what she was saying quite clearly. For every meal I’ve ordered so far, and for every purchase I’ve made, I’ve spoken entirely in French. I ordered “le petit dejuner et un cafe” this morning at a brasserie and bought “une chocolatine et un pain d’antan bio” while thanking waiters (merci beaucoup!) and wishing them a good evening (bonsoir). I’ve been offered selections of fruits, asked for money by beggars, and hit on by vaguely creepy men on the sidewalk. I can totally understand everything that’s being said to me, through a combination of my knowledge of French and visual context. The part I’m not great at is the speaking, because I have to think and conjugate and translate.

Anyway, the museum itself was phenomenal. I actually went to see the famous Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, which I’ve loved since I was a little kid, but the exhibition was closed for restoration this week. Still, there were many other equally beautiful tapestries, and because of the restoration my ticket was cut to a mere 6 euros.

Even more beautiful than the tapestries were these mesmerizing rooms filled with ancient stained glass windows…

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Just standing in four walls of that was unbelievable. I was in awe, especially because these were created in like the 14th century (or the 16th… I forget). Tomorrow my plan is to head to a few more museums, because after my first one today, the rain let up! I wanted to walk as much as I could while the weather wasn’t too bad, so I did…

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Just endless, endless beauty.

Eventually, I did get a little hungry, but couldn’t decide what to eat. I stumbled upon Angelina, the place whose famous chocolat chaud I’d heard was once a favorite of Coco Chanel’s.

So of course I went in, had a deliciously thick mug of chocolat chaud with a pile of rich whipped cream, and watched the rain thunder down through huge glass windows.

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Thus fueled, I continued walking. My legs were starting to ache at this point, but it’s PARIS. There is so much to see! I got a little lost trying to find my way back to the Seine (my guidepost for figuring out where I am in Paris) but meandered through this park for a while.

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I didn’t mind the grey weather so much, but I was elated when the sun came out for a few hours in the afternoon. Still wanting to really make the most of that light in the sky, I did something I didn’t even know you could do.

I climbed the Eiffel tower!

See that second ring around the base?

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Turns out there are stairs leading up to it! The line was super long for the elevator ride up, but while I was standing in it I noticed a couple walking through the tower on the other side of the base. I went over and, walking past the non-existent line right up to the ticket booth, asked for a 10$ walking ticket. When they asked for my age, they told me it was only 5 euros.

Ticket in hand, I began the dizzying climb.

I’m not wonderful with heights, so it was a little frightening…

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But, oh my god, was it worth it.

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It doesn’t get any more beautiful than that.

With that, I’d like to wish you bonsoir, and I will see you in a few days. Maybe tomorrow. It depends on what the day brings! Remember to follow my Instagram @kenaia for more photos and videos.

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I hope you enjoyed this post!