International

TRAVEL GUIDE: 4 DAYS IN PARIS

Before we left for Paris, I had quite a few people comment on how short of a trip we’d booked. Only 4 days to go to Paris and back? The thing with travel is that you have to make it a priority if you want it to be a part of your life. So although Adam couldn’t take a full week off work in May, we didn’t use that as an excuse to not go anywhere or just go somewhere local, and instead decided to take a short and sweet trip to Paris. Spoiler: it was the one of the best trips of my life. Possibly even more so because it was short. The thrill of jetting off to Europe for just a few days. The whirlwind romance of Paris. Something about it being a shorter trip somehow removed the pressure of having to “see it all” since we knew we couldn’t and instead freed us up to just see and do the things we wanted. No lines at the Mona Lisa, no trek to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Below – exactly how we spent our 4 magical days in the City of Light.

Day One: We landed in the early afternoon due to a flight delay the night before (our only real hiccup of the trip – which cut into the things I had planned for the first day), but we made the most of it and quickly checked into our AirBnb in Le Marais neighborhood and headed out into a rainy Paris. I chose that area as its a young, hip neighborhood with a good balance of things to do alongside quiet little streets (like the Paris equivalent of New York’s West Village). Plus, when we travel we walk as much as possible and this area also made that easy to do.

The first thing we went in search of was food, naturally, and Cafe Charlot didn’t disappoint! A classic bistro feel with outside tables, lots of locals and the most delicious warm goat cheese salad I’ve ever had. Afterwards we headed to Au Petit Fer à Cheval – tucked away on a winding little street, this bar is over 100 years old and has a tiny horseshoe shaped marble bar that makes you feel like Hemingway may stumble in at any moment. If we’d had more time we likely would have popped into the library bar across the street. Next time! Afterwards, we took a stroll along the Seine in the rain until jet lag made it impossible to do anything but go get a good night’s sleep.

Day Two: We started off the first full day with a big appetite and a big agenda. First up was a coffee for Adam and a chai tea for me at Ob La Di, a hip little neighborhood spot, before exploring a few more of the back streets near our AirBnB, stopping every 10 feet to take photos of the grand double door entrances that the Marais area is known for. We had our first proper breakfast at Breizh Cafe (go early! soon after we arrived they were turning away people at the door) where galettes and crepes are on the menu. Next we headed to the nearby Picasso Museum, housed in a gorgeous building that dates back to the 1600s. We decided to skip the Louvre this trip and instead head to just a couple of “specialty museums” and I’m so happy with our decision. The smaller settings made the artwork feel more personal and you could see everything without devoting an entire afternoon to it.

After the Picasso Museum we decided to skip the metro and walk the 45 minutes or so to the Montmartre area. Of course, stopping for a nutella street crepe along the way. Once there, we climbed the famous steep steps all the way up to the Sacré Coeur for a sweeping view of the city below it. The winding streets up on the hill have a few tourist traps, but if you keep walking you’ll find some real, cobblestone gems. We’ve found, it usually simply takes being willing to walk further than the big groups of tourists. Wear comfortable shoes if Montmarte is on your agenda!

We popped into a few shops in the area including Chinemachine, a vintage store where Adam found a cool pair of boots and then stumbled past the Moulin Rouge (which didn’t exactly make me want to go in… but did make me want to watch the movie again). Then we headed to Pink Mamma to put our name in for a reservation and waited at a nearby cafe with a drink until our table was ready. It was worth the wait – this place feels like you’re eating in an Italian grandma’s house. Its 4 stories so you really feel tucked away from other diners within each room and copper pots hang from the open kitchen while there is artwork, wallpaper and plants covering the walls. The meal and drinks were 10/10 delicious and prices were really reasonable for such a hotspot.

After dinner we headed to Lulu White, a little neighborhood bar that had such a fun atmosphere. Blaring oldies and serving up absinthe cocktails, we easily lost a few hours in there before racing across town in an uber and catching the very last Eiffel Tower light show of the evening at 1AM. A perfect Paris night.

Day Three: After staying up until almost 3AM the night before, we slept in a bit and then headed to Neighbours, a bright and airy cafe nearby in the Marais. Both of our breakfasts were healthy and delicious – until we topped it off by splitting a piece of their famous grilled banana bread. SO good. SO worth it.

From breakfast we walked to the Palais Royale (where these photos were taken), passed by the Louvre, and wandered through the Jardin des Tuileries (and could have spent an entire afternoon just reading and people watching) before heading in the the Musée de l’Orangerie. Home to Monet’s famous water lilies. In stark, rounded rooms, his huge canvas panels curve around you in full panoramic. Standing in front of them was honestly breathtaking and easily one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever looked at. Don’t miss a short stop here.

After that, we wandered along the Seine all the way to the Eiffel Tower, picking up croissants, baguette sandwiches and a few sweet treats along the way. We basked in the sun and while I know it’s touristy, this was still one of my favorite things we did.

Afterwards, we headed back to our neighborhood, where we popped into Discocaso Record Shop and picked up a few vintage vinyls plus stopped into the classic Ladurée for the best macarons in the world. That night we had dinner at local spot Le Petit Marché where Adam had the duck, I had the ravioli, both of which were mouthwateringly good, and we finished off the decadent meal by splitting creme brûlée (when in Paris, non?).

Day 4: We began our last day in Paris in the Saint Germain des Pres neighborhood with breakfast at the classic Cafe de Flore. One of the oldest coffeehouses in Paris, the waiters in their crisp whites once served espresso to Picasso and Hemingway and it honestly felt like not much had changed since then. With a jar of honey, the flakiest croissants and a big pot of tea… I never wanted to leave.

Afterwards we walked to the Notre Dame (still very much standing and worth seeing from afar despite repairs and the fire damage), picked up a vintage book and a few postcards from the infamous Seine-side stands and then popped into the renowned Shakespeare & Company bookstore – there since the 1920s! I always try to buy a book – or 3 – as souvenirs and here I bought a copy of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. Only fitting.

Afterwards we crossed over the picturesque little island in the Seine called Ile de St Lois (and would have gotten ice cream at Berthillon had it not been closed on Mondays!) and wandered back to Le Marais. I did a bit of shopping, finding a great silk scarf at a vintage shop and classic stripes at Amor Luxe then we had one last meal at La Paulette before heading off to Charles de Gaulle.

It was such an incredible trip, filled with amazing food, beautiful views and memories that are only making me want to plan a return trip. Until next time Paris!

PS. A few helpful tips: almost everyone speaks English in shops and restaurants but you’ll be met with extra respect and kindness if you at the very least begin with a simple ‘Bonjour’ (good day) or ‘Bonsoir’ (good evening) and finish with a meaningful ‘merci’ (thank you). I took 4 years of French and was able to mostly order food, ask for the check,etc. in French. Even when I fumbled, we found everyone to be incredibly gracious. French are matter of fact – much like New Yorkers – but I really don’t find them to be unnecessarily rude.

Lastly, Adam and I look out for each other at all times when traveling, and never felt unsafe in Paris, but I’ve heard of a good amount of people who have been pick-pocketed there. I 100% believe it was because these people weren’t paying attention to their surroundings (for instance, don’t set your camera bag down while at the Eiffel Tower and then turn around to rummage through your purse…). So I wouldn’t let that stop you from visiting. As with everywhere you go in life – best to be aware of what’s going on around you.

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DREAMING OF PARIS IN THE SPRING + HOW I GOT THERE

I had been dreaming of this trip for a long time. The first time I went to Paris was 11 years ago. I was just 20 years only and followed my study abroad tour group with big eyes and a stomach hungry for crepes. It was an amazing few days but honestly most of it passed in a blur. As the years ticked by I would think about Paris often and how grand the city felt, thinking – just hoping someday I’d get the chance to go back.

A year ago I made a list of places I’d like to travel in 2019 and Paris sat firmly in the Spring. For 6 months I thought about it wistfully but it seemed unattainable. But then I realized – everything is unattainable until you make a plan. And so I did. Adam and I decided not to get each other Christmas presents, I took 3 whole months off from shopping and I packed my lunch every single work day so far this year. We slowly set aside our pennies instead. I combed AirBnB to find a cheap option in the neighborhood we were dying to stay in. I tracked flights religiously to find the best deal. We researched how to take the train from the airport to save on costly taxi rides. In short – we found a way to make the dream a reality.

I wanted to share all of this before I dove in to sharing the “pretty pictures” because I think blogs/Instagram often gloss over all of the realities. I see a lot of people take these extravagant trips and share this gorgeous “content” – and say nothing of what it might have taken to get there. Sure, maybe some of them are just lavishly wealthy, but I’d guess a lot of them are likely cutting the same corners as we do and have to carefully save their money too. But not a lot of people mention that. So it comes off looking/feeling like everyone but you is leading a glamorous life.

I don’t want you to feel that way when you look at our pictures from this trip. Instead I hope you feel inspired to set a big goal for yourself and then make a plan to get there. Paris lived up to every single memory and wish I had for it – and then some. And it was even sweeter knowing that we had worked hard to get there. As opposed to my last trip, I know I’ll be remembering this one in crisp detail for many years to come.

Stay tuned for the full travel guide + lots more outfits of the outfits I wore there that are perfect for spring/summer!

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A TRAVEL GUIDE TO LONDON, ENGLAND

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London

London! Where do I start? I suppose at the beginning – or in this case, a decade ago when I studied abroad there and fell in love with this place. I’ve been dying to go back ever since and getting to experience this time with Adam in tow was even better than I had imagined. I love London for a million reasons, but mainly because of the amazing mix of history alongside the modern pulse of a major international city. While I could spend years in London and still not see everything, I’ve done my best to showcase a highlight reel here in the case that you’re planning on hopping the pond yourself. And if you are.. can I come with?

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London

TOURIST SPOTS WORTH VISITING:

As someone who lives in a place where I avoid ‘tourist traps’ like the plague – London’s tourist destinations are full of such incredible history that dismissing them all together would be a mistake. You’re going to want to see Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben (although as of November 2017 was nearly completely covered in scaffolding thanks to ongoing restoration). Picadilly Circus (London’s version of Times Square) is worth walking through – if only on your way to Oxford Street shopping (locals call this ‘high street shopping’) and Trafalgar Square deserves a stop. All of this allows you to get a real sense for the heart of the city.

And if you’re a New Yorker looking for a Central Park equivalent, you’ll find it in Hyde Park. One of my favorite spots in all of London, Hype Park is an expansive bit of calm amidst an otherwise bustling city. Be sure to walk through Kensington Gardens and visit the Princess Diana Memorial and Peter Pan statue.

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to LondonThe Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London

HOW TO GET AROUND:

I usually prefer to see cities by foot, but due to the sheer scale of London, you’ll want other options. The Metro (or Tube as the Brits call it) is incredibly easy to navigate and about a million times cleaner and more organized than the NY Subway. Likewise, buses are great for flexibility and there’s the added bonus of getting to jump on a red double-decker.

And lastly, the most fun way to see the town is – hands down – by water. On our last night there, we took a boat tour of the Thames and were rewarded with a pretty incredible sunset. While you may not get quite as lucky, you’ll still get a great view of both side of the river and in half an hour will have taken in most of London’s skyline.

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to LondonThe Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London

Now for the good part – the food and drink. Once you’ve exhausted yourself from walking all over town, you’ll want to pop in somewhere for an afternoon cuppa (tea that is) or pint at the pub. Below a few of my favorites from the trip:

Biscuiteers: The cutest little Notting Hill cookie and tea shop.

Cafe Murano: I tend to think New York has some pretty great Italian, but this place gave it a run for it’s money. A small spot with beautiful interiors (and an awesome wine and craft beer list), we nearly went back for a second time in a single trip.

Churchhill Arms: A classic pub in the front, a crazy greenhouse of a Thai restaurant in the back. And the outside reads like a botanical garden gone wildly British.

Granger & Co: Our best breakfast of the trip by far. Fresh ingredients, delicious takes on the classics and located in the cutest area of Notting Hill. Get the Ricotta hotcakes and never look back.

Jazz Cafe: An otherwise simple bar up front, that opens into an awesome and intimate concert venue. We saw a jazz tribute to Van Morrison and it was one of our best nights in London.

Sketch London: Sure, it’s become Instagram fodder, but honestly it lived up to the hype. A serious feast for the eyes, ever detail of this incredible space has been considered. The main dining room is a lavish dream straight out of 1920s Paris. The bar where we got drinks was like an actual enchanted forest.

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London

And – because it wouldn’t be The Steele Maiden without a pause for cute stoops – I thought I’d share some of my favorite places for Instagram-worthy doors.

Notting Hill: Anywhere and everywhere – from the pastel lined streets to the tucked away alleys (like St. Lukes Mews shown below).

Kensington: For grand white architecture and beautiful tiled stoops

Marylebone High Street: This gem of a little street is actually where my University was located when I studied abroad – lined lots of photo-worthy storefronts.

Queen Anne’s Gate: A tucked away street along the path from Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, well worth the detail.

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London

THINGS TO DO:

You’d be hard pressed to be bored in London. And depending on your interest there’s really something for everyone. Here, a few of my personal favorites.

Daunt Books: My favorite bookshop in all of London. They organize the sections by location in the world – so aside from guidebooks to London, you would also find the work of Dickens and Austen in the ‘England’ section.

Portobello Road: You don’t have to be a fan of the movie Notting Hill to enjoy Portobello Road – this outdoor market includes amazing vintage clothing and antiques stalls on the weekends meaning you’ll likely want to carve out a few hours for wandering.

British Library: Housing everything from the Magna Carta to original works by Shakespeare to Beatles lyrics scribbled on napkins to Harry Potter tributes – if you’re a library lover this one is kind of a holy grail.

Victoria & Albert Museum: London’s museums are largely free (amazing, I know) and while I love the Tate Modern or the Natural History – the V&A is far and away my favorite. With the best historical clothing display I’ve seen anywhere in the world but lots of other rotating exhibits ranging from industrial design to classic art – even Adam liked this one.

London Eye: If you get a clear day in town, the London Eye is essentially a huge ferris wheel and offers a unique perspective to the city below.

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London

Until next time London!

The Steele Maiden: Travel Guide to London

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VISITING THE COSTWOLDS: ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE INSPIRED STYLE

The Steele Maiden: Cotswolds, England - English Countryside Inspired Style for Fall

Yesterday I styled these velvet jeggings in a way that was simple yet chic for the office or casual holiday parties – but because honestly I just can’t get enough of them and wore them multiple times on our recent travels, I’m back with a more weekend ready alternative.

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LUXE TEXTURES FOR FALL: CASHMERE, VELVET AND FAUX FUR

The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest

One of my favorite things about Fall fashion are all the luxe textures. And this outfit from Talbots I wore on our first day in Edinburgh checks off all my favorites. A classic cashmere sweater, velvet jeggings and faux fur vest. Not to mention plaid on plaid (when in Scotland.. do as the Scots do, right?).

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I like that all together it feels simple but because of the mix of rich textures it also feels super chic. It’s exactly the sort of thing I would wear to the office and then straight out afterwards for an event or holiday drinks this season. Plus, the fact that they’re separates means that you could also add any of them to a more casual look to elevate the whole thing. And can we talk about these velvet jeggings?? I know, I felt skeptical at first too but then I tried them on and proceeded to wear them on 3 separate occasions during our 10 day trip. They come in a bunch of colors but I’m loving the ivory color. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing an entirely different way to wear them.

P.S. This area in Edinburgh was called Dean Village and was truly like stepping back in time. Can’t wait to tell you more about our short but sweet time in Scotland.

Talbots Faux Fur Vest, Velveteen Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Plaid Bow Heels c/o

The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid VestThe Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest The Steele Maiden: Luxe Textures for Fall - Velvet Jeggings, Cashmere Sweater and Faux Fur Plaid Vest

Thank you to Talbots for sponsoring this post. As always all opinions are my own.

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Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.