EATING IN THE CITY.

One of my favorite things to do is trying new places to eat. I’m huge on aesthetics/decor when it comes to restaurants or cafes. How do I find the cute gems if it’s not a recommendation from a friend? I use Yelp! No, seriously. Yelp never really disappoints- and I use it ALL THE TIME. Who doesn’t use Yelp nowadays?

This past week I hit up 3 adorable places, one being a cafe. I thought I’d share, just in case anyone wanted to try these places out. They are all in San Francisco.

  • PALM HOUSE. (cow hollow)

What did I order? Huevos Rancheros. Worth it? Beyond worth it, so freakin’ good. Not pictured, but try the Caribbean Iced Coffee- oh my.

  • SOUVLA. (NOPA)

What did I order? Pork salad, Greek fries & a glass of Rosé. Worth it? Absolutely! This huge bowl of salad filled me up, and they were not stingy with the pork. SO DELICIOUS. It had fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, pickled red onions, and feta cheese. I’m totally going back- and the great thing is they have multiple locations in the city!

  • THE MILL. (NOPA/alamo square)

What did I order? Latte & cinnamon toast! Is it worth it? Yes, if you love a fancy latte & a place to come relax/ hang out with a friend/ do some schoolwork. They make all their loaves fresh (yum) and even have pizza night from 6-9pm every evening (which I haven’t had… yet).

Do you have any recommendations for me- not just in San Francisco, but in the Bay Area? I would also love some spots in Los Angeles (since I visit frequently)! Stay tuned for more Eating in the City posts.

xo

Studying Abroad in Paris, France.

I’ve been home for a little over a month, and I think it’s time I write my “study abroad” experience blog post. Where do I even begin?

What an incredible experience. I am SO HAPPY I took the plunge and decided to follow my dreams of studying abroad. I think I picked the BEST place to study. I fell in love with Paris, but let’s be honest- who doesn’t fall in love with the city of lights? It’s charming, the wine is amazing, and everywhere you turn it’s visually pleasing. The Parisian buildings, famous landmarks, and museums made me never want to leave.

I had picnics by the Eiffel Tower (something I’ll never forget) with wine, cheese, and baguettes, enjoyed wild nights out in Bastille with amazing friends, and enjoyed drinking coffee at my favorite cafe called Radiodays. Life in Paris for 4 months was a complete DREAM.

I found myself there. I gained my confidence back, I learned how to be independent again, and I chased adventure. For the first time in a very long time, I felt happy and free. I felt like I could accomplish anything. This is my biggest take away from studying abroad. I was able to reinvent myself, and focus completely on myself. I had just gotten out of a long term relationship, and going to Paris when I did was the best thing ever. It put a lot of things into perspective, and for the first time in years, I was single!

I made friends for life. Before going abroad, I was so nervous to meet new people. I am pretty reserved and mostly always to myself, so to my surprise I made a ton of friends. I traveled to different countries with them- and we experienced different cultures together. It was hard saying goodbye to these people, because most of them live on the East Coast! But one day, I plan on visiting them all and having a little reunion. I miss them all so much.

I finally can say I’ve been to Europe. For the longest time I’ve been itching to travel to Europe. I’d watch “House Hunters International” on HGTV, and record the episodes that were specifically in Europe. Places like Paris, London, Madrid, Milan, Prague and more were calling my name. Studying abroad in Paris meant that it was easy to travel to other surrounding countries (a huge BONUS)! So, as you all know from prior blog posts I was able to go to: Amsterdam, London, Barcelona, Nice & Cannes, Venice, Rome, Naples, and Marseille. This was me traveling on a budget and having limited money… I was so fortunate to be able to see all those beautiful cities. I cannot wait to go back and explore the places I didn’t get to visit. Now that I’ve had a little taste of traveling, I want more!

School/Fun ratio was perfect. The American Business School of Paris is where I attended for Spring semester. I took a full load (12 units), and had more than enough downtime to travel, have fun, and enjoy the city life. I had class Tuesday, Thursday and Friday’s. I loved having three day weekends; it truly was the best. I liked the school, and loved how many different nationalities went there! I got to meet all kinds of people, from all over.

If I could go back to Paris, I would in a heartbeat. I’m actually still dealing with withdrawals and coming down from my Paris high- as I call it. I hope to go back to Europe when I graduate from college next fall. I’d love to backpack for 3 months or so, but obviously that all depends on finances & where I’m at in my life. BUT- that’s the goal. I must go back! Some places I’d love to see that I didn’t? Switzerland, Greece, Germany, Belgium, Croatia, Austria, Czech Republic, Portugal,  Scotland, Ireland, Wales, should I even go on? I’d be down to go ANYWHERE!

I’d tell anyone thinking about studying abroad to DO IT. Jump in, head first. It really did change my life, and opened my eyes to a whole new world. If you have any questions, or would love some advice about Paris- I’d be happy to share my knowledge and experiences. This was a special blog post to write, I hope y’all loved it.

 

xo

ROME, ITALY.

After spending a few days in Venice, I took a train to Rome! I have to say, I had THE BEST TIME in Roma! It was so HOT, and I did so much walking- but so worth it.

Where do I even begin? So, as I said before- Italy was my SOLO-TRIP! I stayed at the yellow. It had a bar right next door, so it’s a great way to meet people! I highly recommend staying there if you want to have a good time. The bar has different theme nights, good drinks + food.

There were a couple of things I just HAD to check off my list:

  1. The Colosseum
  2.  Trevi Fountain
  3.  Spanish Steps

   

If you know me, I’m a HUGE Audrey Hepburn fan, and Roman Holiday is one of my favorite movies. Sitting on the Spanish Steps was so surreal. It was beyond beautiful. I wish I got a picture of myself sitting on the steps– but truthfully, I didn’t trust giving anyone my iPhone! That was my only lifeline (I used google maps to get everywhere! & that was my only way to stay connected with friends + family). So, when I go back to Rome, I’ll for sure get more pictures with myself in them. (i’m assuming i’ll be there with someone! ha!)

 

Now, more gorgeous pictures from Roma!

 

I loved Rome so much. I cannot wait to go back, one day.

 

xo

VENICE, ITALY.

My last adventure living in Europe was my solo-trip to ITALY! I flew into Venice & stayed a few nights. I stayed in a quiet hostel, with 2 other people in the room. It was called Dimora Il Valiero Romantico. I always book my hostels through Hostelworld, so if you’re interested take a look at their reviews & ratings.

I had the best gelato & pizza I’ve ever tasted! The gondolas were adorable (but pricey) so I didn’t take a ride on one! But if I was with a partner, or friends I totally would have!

 

I island hopped from Murano to Burano & I highly recommend you see it if you go to Venice! It was only about 20 euros to go to both islands. I definitely loved Burano more, because it was so charming with all the colorful houses (you’ll see from my pictures)! But Murano was great because they are known for their Venetian glass.

 

MURANO

 

BURANO

 

 

Venice was a magical city, and something I’m so glad I got to cross off my list of places to see. I know Venice won’t be around forever, so I’m thrilled that I got to experience it.

 

xo

SOUTH OF FRANCE: NICE & CANNES.

As my time in Europe is coming to an end, I had to make my way to the South of France. It was going to be my last trip of the semester- but I pulled the trigger and booked my flight for one last destination… which I can’t wait to blog about (stay tuned!)

My time in Nice & Cannes was amazing. I was blown away by how beautiful the ocean was! Gorgeous aqua blue waters, rustic buildings, and the cutest restaurants.

CANNES:

 

NICE:

Nice had the cutest flea market, I was dying for the pink chair. Too bad I couldn’t take it home with me!

 

The weather was nice! Most of the time I wore a sleeveless shirt. I managed to get a little bit of a tan, too!

 

 

We climbed up to see the views of Nice & the waterfall. It was so worth it! It feels really good to be able to add this to the list of places I’ve seen. My favorite part of the trip was spending time with my girlfriends. Good company, good food, and the best views- what more can a girl ask for?

 

 

xx

BARCELONA.

March 31st- April 4th I made my way to Barcelona. Originally, Spain wasn’t on my list of places I was going to see… but all of my friends kept raving about how gorgeous the city was. So, I said to myself, “why not go?”

The city truly is beautiful, I loved hearing people speaking Spanish & English. The hostel that we stayed at was called MEDITERRANEAN YOUTH HOSTEL. I highly recommend this hostel, as it’s a short metro ride to everything. The staff were very helpful and gave us a map of fun things to see/do, and even gave us recommendations of places to eat. The day we got to Barcelona I had to get some beer, paella, and tapas. We went to a place called BCN Birres i Tapes. It was so GOOD & affordable.

This trip I really wanted to relax, and not jam-pack my day with things to do. I wanted to just walk around the city, eat, and have fun. It worked out perfectly!

Here are some great shots I got in Barcelona:

 

It rained a little bit when we were there, but for the most part it was sunny & warm! I would love to go back to Spain and explore more of Barcelona, and actually make my way to Madrid, Valencia, Granada, and Ibiza.

 

 

We went to Granada Familia, Montjuïc Castle, Parc de la Ciutadella, walked along the beach, went to some clubs, and made friends at our hostel. The Gothic Quarter is also super fun to walk around! Barcelona was everything my friends told me it was, and I was not disappointed! My bloodline on my father’s side is Spanish, so it was fun being in a place where my ancestors came from.

Next trip is probably going to be my last trip, sadly. I’ve had so much fun in Europe, it’s been an absolute dream. I’m forever grateful for these memories and trips.

 

xx

VERSAILLES.

Last week I finally made my way to Versailles, on a group trip. The weather was absolutely gorgeous: 70 degrees & sunny. It was warm enough to skip the jacket & rock a sleeve-less top! I was so happy about it.

 

I was in love with all the fountains and gold detailing. Versailles is something I’ll never forget. It was incredible, I would definitely go back if I had the time.

 

Taking the RER Train to Versailles was super easy & convenient. It only took 45-50 minutes, and it goes by quickly if you’re talking to friends. If you’re in France, I highly recommend it.

 

France is just beautiful. I wish I was going to be staying longer, but it’s just not possible right now. I don’t want to dwell about the LITTLE time I have left, but appreciate the time I did have here. I got to experience so much, and meet some amazing people. I have one more trip coming up this month: Nice; the south of France! I am SO EXCITED FOR THAT.

Stay tuned for my Barcelona blog post next!

xo

 

Spring Break: London Edition.

I finally made my way to London! It was high on my list of places to see in Europe.  I was there from Wednesday morning- Saturday morning (just got home yesterday afternoon). I wish I could have spent more time there, as I didn’t exactly get to see EVERYTHING on my list. But- living in Paris, it’s super close & not that expensive to take a train ride or plane ride. The flight was less than an hour long (the quickest I’ve ever flown!) It was fantastic!

The day we arrived, unfortunately there was an attack in Westminster area. There was a shooting near the U.K. Parliament, which meant I couldn’t get close to BIG BEN. There were reporters and police everywhere, and streets were closed off. It is pretty eye-opening & scary knowing things like that can happen ANYWHERE. I just pray for those who were affected.

My overall thoughts on the city? I loved it. It was so refreshing hearing/being able to understand English! The British accent really is so charming! The shops, architecture, flowers were all so beautiful. We made our way to Notting Hill- Portobello Road Market, and we had our first English breakfast! I enjoyed every moment of it. The restaurant we went to was called The Duke of Wellington. I would recommend going if you’re in the area, it was delicious & the interior is adorable! I bought some great things from Portobello Road Market, of course.

 

 

Notting Hill houses are absolutely adorable. I loved all the different colors!

Of course we had to grab some fish & chips! We went to this place called Poppie’s in SoHo, SO GOOD.

 

Some other great shots I got in London Town:

 

The weather ended up being GORGEOUS. It was supposed to rain all weekend long, but only rained the day we got there. YES! I’d love to go back for another weekend trip, and this time make it a priority to see Stonehenge. I’d go back & eat Nando’s again (loveee), and explore more.

My favorite part of the trip? I’d have to say eating my first proper English brekkie! Also, walking around the city. I walked SO MUCH. One day I walked over 20,000 steps. ARE YOU KIDDING? Imagine how my feet felt after? OUCH. Oxford street was so much fun, as well as seeing Buckingham Palace! I enjoyed taking a lot of photos and seeing the red telephone booths.

As always, I feel very grateful for every traveling experience. Getting out of my bubble/eating new food/meeting new people has by far been my favorite thing about traveling. There’s still so much more to see.

I still have a lot more trips planned, so stay tuned….

 

 

xo

GRATITUDE POST: STUDYING ABROAD.

Today I woke up feeling so beyond grateful and happy. I can’t even put into words how much I’m loving my study abroad experience. I’ve met some incredible people!

I walked to a local cafe called Ten Belles, and I just couldn’t stop smiling. I’m so thankful to be in Europe. I’ve fallen madly in love with Paris. It took me a little while to get adjusted, but once that adjustment period passed— full on love. I’m halfway through the semester, and I don’t even want to think about going home yet. It’s bittersweet. The United States was where I was born, it’ll forever be my home. But I’m starting to think bigger— I would love to live in Europe one day.

Being able to have the opportunity to travel so much is filling my heart with so much happiness. It’s a whole new world for me, one I always wanted to explore. Now I definitely have the “travel bug”. I don’t ever want to stop exploring this beautiful world! There’s still so much I haven’t seen!

I think what makes this experience even more satisfying is knowing I did this all on my own. There’s no better feeling than being self-sufficient and completely independent. It really has been an eye-opening experience; a time to reflect on what I want in life, and to focus on myself for once. I’m a changed person coming out here, and I’ll never be the same. The amount of growth I’ve done in just a short amount of time is truly incredible.

I’m leaving for London tomorrow morning, and I am extremely excited! I am ready to hear British accents, see Big Ben, go to pubs with friends, and just explore what the city has to offer. I will take a lot of pictures, and make a whole blog post about my London trip. So stay tuned!

 

xo

A WEEKEND IN AMSTERDAM.

So this is a blog post I’m super excited to write. Amsterdam is the first place I’ve traveled to, since I arrived in Paris in late January. Where do I even begin?

Amsterdam is BEAUTIFUL. The city is charming, the canals are gorgeous, and I really enjoyed my time there. It was cold & rainy, but that didn’t bother me at all. I’m actually wanting to plan another weekend trip— when it’s a little warmer & their tulips start blooming.

So, my friends and I took a bus from Paris to Amsterdam. It wasn’t bad at all, I mean, it was the cheapest option! We stayed at a hostel called “The Train Lodge“, which was conveniently located right by the train station (Amsterdam Sloterdijk)

It is an old train, converted into a hostel. It was cheap- and did the job! I would recommend if you want to save $$$. There are three bunk beds to each cabin, and bigger rooms hold six bunk beds. The train lodge location is ONE STOP away from Amsterdam Centraal Station (where everything is) so it worked out great!

We went to the Moco Museum and saw a BANKSY x Salvator Dali exhibition (AMAZING). We went to Anne Frank’s house (of course), also to the Heineken Experience (well worth it!). We walked around for hours, and explored the city. I LOVED EVERY MOMENT.

Train Lodge.

 

 

Moco Museum.

 

 

Coffee shops!

 

Heineken Experience.

The Canals.

 

Anne Frank’s House & museum. 

 

I can’t stop saying how much I loved this city. It is worth visiting! The people spoke English, the city is super clean, and the people are nice. I can’t wait to go back! Until next time, Amsterdam.

Want to see more of my day to day & travels? Follow me on instagram: krystalinthecity

xo