Tuesday, January 09, 2018

How To See Paris in 3 Days

Paris is more than a city of lights; it's a beautiful city filled with art and culture, stuffed with fresh bread and cheese, and recognized intentionally for its fashion and business. It was at the top of our list of cities to see, even after our friends' mixed reviews. 

We snagged round-trip tickets from Atlanta for a fraction of the typical price ($565 each!) which totally made the long trip...and extra 7 hour layover...worth it. Paris offered a great first impression!

Below is a break-down of our 3-day voyage français.

Day 1
View of Paris from the hill of Sacre Coeur
  • We arrived at the airport and took the RER B train into the city with no problem. 
  • Next, we checked into our Airbnb*, just minutes from Sacre Coeur, which offered incredible views of the city.  It was the perfect way to begin our adventure in Paris!
  • That night, we wandered around the neighborhood, Montmartre, and ate a filling dinner at Khaosan, a Thai restaurant around the corner. Our server spoke English and the food was delicious! We went to bed sooner after.
Day 2
Jon took better pictures of all the monuments and statues. I think it's because he's tall.

The canals were my favorite part of all of Europe.

Me and the famous cafe
On our first full day in Paris, we walked an aching 14 miles and saw most of the city.
  • We began our day earlier than planned, waking up with the sun at 8:30am. We saw the Arc De Triomphe, perused Champs-Elysees, and walked across the Seine to Saint Germain des Pres Quarter all before noon. 
  • As every writer and philosophy guru should, I took an obligatory photo in front of Les Deux Magots, a cafe made famous by the intellectuals that used to drink its cafe (e.g. Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre). We also enjoyed walking along the canal. 
  • We stumbled off the tourist trail, in hopes of finding a more affordable cup  of cafe. We did, but it was cold. After a second look at the menu, we realized Jon had ordered a "boissons glacées" or iced drink. The server presented me with the cold drink and Jon, the espresso. I'll always wonder if he tried to play a prank on the silly Americans or if it was a mindless mistake, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.
  • With time to kill before the Louvre, we crossed the river again (on the Pont des Arts) and entered the Jewish Quarter called Le Marais. We wish we had waited to snack here! Sichuan spices and gyro meat wafted through the narrow streets of this neighborhood. 
  • Pro tip: Every Friday night the Louvre offers free admission to 18-25 year olds.
  • We took advantage of the free ticket and were so glad that we did. Had we paid, we absolutely would have gone earlier in the day as we were very tired by 7pm. We saw the Mona Lisa, which wasn't as small or overrated as others made it seem. While there was certainly a crowd around the piece, we were able to admire it undisturbed. The rest of the museum was even more impressive.
Day 3
The inside isn't nearly as impressive (Palace  of Versailles)

A view from the second level of the Eiffel Tower.

Worth the wait, but it was so cold!
  • After seeing many of the major sights in Paris proper, we took the train to Versailles, France to visit the Palace. The line for security looked daunting, but it passed quickly. An audio tour is included in the price of the ticket and helped me appreciate the inside. That said, the outside of the Palace and the Park were by far my favorite parts. 
  • We grabbed lunch (nothing worth commemorating) in town before heading back to the Christmas Market at Champs de Mars and the Eiffel Tower. 
If you wanted to truly spend only 3 day sin Paris, you could leave after the Eiffel Tower by night train, but we were glad to fall asleep in Paris one more time. Instead, we left early the next morning by train and arrived in Brussels, Belgium soon after...

* Get $40 of Airbnb credit by signing up through my referral link!

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Na zdravi

To your health!

I spent my first Christmas away from family at a pub crawl in Prague; that was the plan at least. Instead, I spent it at home. We barely made it to the strike of midnight before we stumbled into bed, where we remained until 1pm Christmas Day. Prague was still my favorite city. 

More importantly, I took a much needed break from this space (four months!) and with new and exciting things to share and a new camera (eep!), I'm back and ready to roll. 
In October we spent a weekend in West Jefferson and I was reminded how much I love these mountains
Obligatory photograph of my cat; she's still alive and well. 
Yep! I graduated college in December. cum laude!
And off we went to Paris! and Brussels! Amsterdam! Berlin! Prague!
I ate vegetarian while abroad. Our first stop, Paris, wasn't very veggie-friendly.
The beautiful Sacre Couer. We stayed in an airbnb where we could see it from a hallway window. 

Saturday, January 06, 2018

The Decline of Small Dairy in North Carolina

Being mostly vegan, I was less than enthusiastic when it was announced I'd be visiting Randy Lewis's dairy farm in Alamance County, NC this summer. I don't drink milk and had little interest in seeing where it came from, but to my surprise, I found this age-old dairy to be something special. Rooted in tradition, Ran-Lew milk is a family-owned operation and one of the few producer/processor dairies in the state.

Upon arrival, a fellow apprentice named Taylor greeted us with a handful of plastic shoe covers. Situated just left of the barn, the operation is in a small trailer, much smaller than I had imagined. Before entering the trailer, we were expected to dip both feet into a sanitation tub for food safety. Shortly after, the sixteen of us, dressed in hair nets and plastic shoe covers, were crammed in the single-wide, observing the single bottling line. Taylor, a graduate of UNC's Southern Studies program, manages the bottling plant and explained the process of their non-homogenized, low-temperature-pasteurized milk. While most milk in grocery stores are quickly processed at a high temperature of 161, Ran-Lew milk is heated at 145 for four hours. In the near future, the two hope to come across a creamer to expand the operation.

Friday, September 01, 2017

updates, but no excuses

 There are two kinds of "busy" people: busybodies and busy persons. Busybodies are infamous gossipers and busy persons can't say "no" to plans. "Don't you have enough on your plate?" people always ask me. I am a busy person, not a busy body. And though busybodies are most criticized, busy people have their own set of issues.

As the summer wraps up, I find myself looking for more things to fill my time. The problem here is I don't have as much time as I think. I have plenty of jobs to do, but looking for more is a strategy of procrastination. For example, I have an article on summer cookout sides & drink pairings to write and an infographic illustrating the economic impact of craft beer industry in North Carolina to design. I even have grant-funded farmer research to conduct. And if nothing else, I have eight books sitting on my shelf unread.

The revitalization of this blog was in part me looking for something to do this summer, but the part about "I'm going to blog strategically and profitably this time," just didn't manifest. Ramsey of BlogTyrant suggests 5 Realistic Benchmarks for Your First Year of Blogging and notes that most blogs don't see a profit for 2-3 years, like most small businesses. Blogging is a business, or rather it can be. Most importantly, it doesn't have to be.

Since deciding my blog isn't cut out for big traffic or big bucks, I've been hanging out reading about others' lives and living mine. Here are some photos from the last month.