That One Time Paris Changed Everything

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This semester, Paris was definitely the place I was most looking forward to visiting. If it would have worked with my degree requirements, I would have definitely have chosen to study abroad there instead of Prague. Like nearly everyone else on the planet, I've always loved the idea of Paris and anything surrounding French culture. I've read one too many articles on how to achieve the perfect french bedhead or dress like a french girl. On a more serious note, I also appreciate France because of my love of food and culinary history and techniques. Chef's Table gave french chefs their own season, and while I definitely was not able to enjoy a french meal at a nice restaurant the mere idea of being in that environment made me feel giddy inside. 

Going into this trip I was scared, mainly for two reasons. Either I would get there, realize that Paris has been over romanticized and over hyped and be immediately dissapointed, or I would come back with visions of eclairs and pain au chocolats dancing in my head, proclaiming that Paris was the city of my dreams and that I was destined to be a parisienne, immediately annoying anyone and everyone within 10 feet of me. While the latter definitely came to fruition to some extent (I'm still thinking about the baguette I got from a local bakery and I've started one too many sentences with 'when I was in Paris...") I also came back with a increased passion and drive for all things creative.

The thing I love most about Europe, and something that is really exemplified in a city like Paris, is the amount of craftsmanship put into everything. As a self professed aesthete I need to be surrounded by beautiful, carefully thought out things to feel my best. On the surface I know that this tends to sound superficial, but I am happiest digging in the details and to be in an environment where choices were made carefully and things like beauty and pleasure are always considered of high importance. 

I've had plenty of people mock my 'aesthetic'– jokingly or not– and it pisses me off to no end. Yes, I am the girl who plates her meals in an attempt to make them look instagram ready, I will do what I have to do to find the perfect lighting for an overhead shot of my breakfast, I've spent the past year and a half working on defining my own 'branding' because it's important to me.

Despite only being there for three days, I feel like I got a really good sense and feel for Paris. I'd even dare to say that by the third day I was starting to know my way around the city— sans google maps. I saw all the little coffee shops, restaurants, and boutiques and I know that there's a million more that I didn't even catch a glimpse of. Being surrounded by all the beautiful places showed me that this it's possible to live the life I've always imagined for myself. A life surrounded by beauty and creativity.

I came back from Paris with a bit of pep in my step and a desire to recreate my short lived Parisian life. I've always known that whatever I end up doing in life has to have some creative aspect, but I've always let my imposter syndrome get the best of me. I love photography, and cooking, and writing (once in a blue moon) and creating things but there's always someone better than me, someone who get more compliments or recognition. But since coming back I've been learning to not care about other people and focus of me and honing my skills and putting them out there on display. I took the leap and finally made my photography portfolio and consolidated it with my blog (not sure if you've noticed but you're currently reading this on 'toyosioyelola.com', I have my own dot com!!!!!). I'm planning on upgrading my camera gear when I get back to the states and I'm excited to feel like I'm investing in myself. 

I'm also starting to look into how I can make the blog feel more like a real thing for me and not just a little side hobby by brainstorming content and trying to develop this into something that feels more put together and makes me proud to show off. I feel like in comparison to so many other bloggers I've followed for years that I haven't gone very far and while I know that numbers don't tell the whole story, I'd love to get to a point where I can do more collaborations and increase engagement on here. 

For the first time I'm looking at my creative hobbies and looking into how they can become a career or woking on building them out for the long term. I still have no idea what I'm doing in general, and I know that at the age of nineteen I'm not supposed to have everything figured out, but I am definitely in a place where I need to start getting serious about what I'm working towards and what I want to achieve instead of just going with whatever happens. Life is unpredictable and I could end up changing my mind a million times before graduation, but now is a prime time to roll up my sleeves and put in the work to make some of my dreams a reality. 

I've never been comfortable calling myself a creative, but there really is no denying it. while I'm not the best photographer, writer, cook, stylist, etc I place a high value on creativity and making beautiful things.

I feel like it's so cliche to say that paris changed my life, but damn it, it's true. 

merci beaucoup paris. je t'aime et je te verrai bientôt.

 

Travel Guide: Paris

It's finally here, my Paris Travel Guide. I think it took me forever to write my Paris posts but it feels like it's closing the door on my Parisian adventures. There is never enough time to explore Paris but I managed to fit a lot in my three days there. I stayed with family friends in the Canal St. Martin area which is less touristy and beautiful to walk around. The metro in Paris is very efficient (but also overwhelming!) so it's very easy to get from one side of the city to another. I opted to walk as much as possible to really get to explore all the side streets and little shops and ended up walking 20 miles in one day! If were being honest, this was over a month ago and my ankle still kinda hurts...

I won't go into as much detail about all the things on my lists since most of them are straightforward and I have plenty on here, but I will mention anything special or noteworthy and I'm always glad to answer questions in the comments.

Anyways, enough of my blabbering, let's get into what you're here for!

TO SEE AND DO

  • The Eiffel Tower

  • The Royal Palace

  • Notre Dame

  • The Lourve (free the first Sunday of every month October-March, reduced fee after 6pm on Wednesday and Friday)

  • Luxembourg Gardens

  • Rodin Museum

  • L'Arc de Triomphe (and the Champs Eylsees)

  • Pantheon

  • Sacre Coeur (and the Montmarte area)

  • The Catacombs

TO EAT AND DRINK

  • L'as du Fallafel

  • Angelina (they apparently have the best hot chocolate)

  • Le Grenier a Pain

  • Telescope

  • Holybelly

  • Holiday Cafe

  • La Buvette (they also have a restaurant in NYC and I love it!)

  • L'eclair de Genie

  • Honor

  • Cafe Craft

  • Liberte (holy smokes. the best baguette i've ever had in my life. Order la tradition and have your life changed forever)

  • Cafe Kitsune

TO SHOP

  • Merci

  • Sept Cinq

  • Fleux'

  • Longchamp (As a French brand, Longchamps are much cheaper than in the states. I got my Large Le Pliage tote for two-thirds the price)

  • Sezane 

Key:

Yellow: Coffee 

Green: Food

Blue: Things to see/do

Grey: Shopping

Photo Diary: Paris

I don't want to be that person who says "paris changed my life", but man oh man did it change my life. 

Stripes in Spring

Top: COS (wearing XS) // Shorts: Levi's // Shoes: Adidas // Sunglasses: Eye Buy Direct

After a brutal and seemingly never ending winter I'm beyond grateful to see the sun and feel warm once again. I pulled out my shorts for the first time this semester a few weeks ago which came with mixed emotions. I was ecstatic to show my legs and not freeze to death, but these levi shorts which I've been wearing every summer for the past few years are now a pinch too tight. I blame all the ciders, and trdelnik, and pasta, and... let's just say I've been eating real well while abroad. 

I refused to let such a beautiful day go to waste so I rallied up some friends to go sit in the beautiful park down the street, sip some ciders, and bask in the sun. Growing up in Texas has made me a self-professed heliophile so i'll take as much sun as I can get.

It also happened to be National Stripes Day (as declared by J.Crew, of course) so I had to wear my striped top from COS, which is becoming one of my favorite stores. I also have my eye on this striped top by them (how cute is the red collar!)

Not that the weather is one the rise, and my days left in Prague are on the decline, I'm hoping to really get out and explore some of the more hidden parts of the city. 

Travel Guide: Brussels

Brussels originally wasn't on my list of places to visit, but when my old roommates asked if I wanted to join them on this trip, I couldn't say no. It's a beautiful and walkable city and I'm already planning on going back! Brussels is also a really easy place to do with Amsterdam (only 3 hours away via bus) or Bruges if you don't want to stay in the city the whole time. 

We only took public transportation from the airport to our apartment and walked the rest of the trip (although we took ubers at night after long days of walking). It really helps that a lot of the main attractions are all very close to each other. Cost-wise I'd say Brussels comparable to New York, it's not terrible, but compared to Prague or Budapest things can be expensive. Knowing basic French will definitely come in handy (everyone I was with knew French... except for me), but at most places people will understand enough english for you to place an order.

We spent two and a half days in Brussels which is definitely enough to see all the major sites, but I feel like an extra day would have been nice so I could have gone to all the places on my list, which is exactly why I'm going back for a day!

Again, I've attached my google map at the bottom of this posts with all the places I've mentioned and more for your convenience. 

TO SEE AND DO

  • Grand Place

    • Probably one of the most beautiful squares I've ever seen. The buildings are have so much gold detail, that they seem to glow in the sun. Also very beautiful at night and close to everything!

  • Royal Palace
    • During the summer there are tours for the public. We weren't able to go inside this time, but it's still a beautiful building.
  • St. Michael's Cathedral
    • We actually stumbled across the cathedral while walking to somewhere else. I've kinds begun to tire of walking through churches after going to so many, but it's still a beautiful building worth admiring. 
  • Brussels Comic Book Museum
    • Brussels is home to Tin Tin, Smurfs, and various other comics. I loved Tin Tin as a kid and walking around the museum learning more about comics was quite enjoyable. 

TO EAT AND DRINK

  • Fritland
    • You can't go to Brussels without having fries. For under four bucks you can get a huge cone of fries with one of their amazing sauces. I recommend their samurai sauce– but ask for it on the side so you can ensure that every fry gets some love. 
  • Maison Dandoy
    • Again, you didn't go to Brussels if you don't have a waffle. This place is quite well known, but beware that if you have a large group you'll have to wait a bit to get a table.  
  • Delirium Cafe
    • I didn't get a chance to go the first time around, but it's probably the most popular bar in Brussels with an incredible amount of beers on tap and other types of drinks. 
  • Goupil Le Fol
    • Also missed this place the first time, but it was recommended to me by a friend. She says that they do really cool wine infusions which sounds right up my alley.

KEY

Blue= Things to see/do

Green= Food

Purple= Bars

photo diary: brussels

Oh Brussels, I loved you and your fries so much that I've already booked a ticket to go back. I loved being reunited with my friends from New York and getting to explore the city together. Although our large group brought me lots of stress and frustration (#solotraveler4life), I got to enjoy some of the best fries ever, delicious waffles, and relive my childhood at the comic museum.  Can't wait to see more of you in a few weeks!