Paris, The City of Lights.
This weekend's trip really got me feeling some type of way. Everything around me was absolutely stunning, and the only thing I wanted to do in the moment was share that beauty with the people I love. Maybe the homesickness is starting to hit, or maybe this city full of love made me feel nostalgic...either way Paris found a special place in my heart.
We arrived late Thursday night and quickly hopped on the metro and headed out towards our AirBnB located in Des Batignolles. Located in the 17th arrondissement, Des Batignolles is a very hip and trendy location many tourists don't find themselves in. A 15 minute metro ride away from the main sight-seeing in Paris, this neighborhood was really pleasant to stay in. It was filled with locals, good food, and quite a lively scene for nightlife. After tucking our stuff away in our quaint little loft we spent a little bit of time walking up and down the street near our AirBnB and talking to some of our trés chic french neighbors.
***(Again, so many of these pictures are courtesy of Jaden and Thomas)***
On Monday, I arrived in the beautiful city of Metz. Admittedly I slept through the entire bus ride there, but to make up for it, I spent the week and weekend exploring the city. Full of culture and history, Metz has so much to offer for anyone passing through. Located in northeast France, in the Lorraine region, Metz is a quaint city with such a lively culture. We got a chance to experience this culture first hand because we arrived just in time for the Mirabelle Festival.
To explain, mirabelles are small plums that are grown in this region of France, and this happened to be the final week of celebration of their harvest in the city. What does that mean for us? Concerts, parades and fun, set with the backdrop of one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever laid eyes on.
Completed in the year 1550, this cathedral is in the main square in Metz. There was something very beautiful about standing in the shadow of the grand Roman Catholic structure while listening to music from all around the world. It made for a perfect introduction to the city.
I am super excited to share with you all the news that I will be heading off to Lorraine, France this upcoming fall. A big part of the reason why I decided to go to Georgia Tech is because they as an institute have an excellent study abroad program. I decided to apply, and now my dreams are coming true. I'll be staying in Lorraine, as I previously mentioned. Lorraine is situated in the heart of Europe in eastern France along the Luxembourg and German borders. What does this mean for me? An immense amount of travel!
I am looking forward to knocking some more countries off my list. What is more exciting however is the fact that I will be able to truly immerse myself within the culture. Because this isn't just a week long trip to France, I will really be able to learn a lot about the people, history, and culture that exists within the countries I visit, and I plan on sharing all that with you all.
I will be packing up and shipping off on August 19 and I will be back in December. These upcoming months I will be packing and getting all my paperwork together. I look forward to taking some of the most exciting trips ever. As I have done in the past, I hope to catalog my trips by my itinerary and provide you all with advice on how to go about your own trips. I plan on taking plenty of pictures that depict the places I visit with the most accuracy as possible, and most importantly I envision myself proving you with all the insider trips on how to take your journeys abroad to the next level.
With much joy and happiness I look forward to sharing with you a wonderful study abroad experience.
Costa Rica was an absolutely amazing country full of adventure and excitement. Over the trip I was able to try out some amazing activities, and let me tell you there was something to do for everyone. So without further ado, my top 10 activities from Costa Rica:
1. For the thrill-seeker: Horseback Riding
A combination of entertainment and breath-taking views, horseback riding along the beach was hands-down one of my favorite activities to do. Our group of 8 decided to do this tour near Playa Tamarindo, and went with a tour company called Guti Tours. The entire session lasted about 3 hours, and included a trot (or in some cases a gallop) along the beach with a late afternoon lunch at a beachside restaurant. Our guides were hospitable and made sure all of us felt comfortable on our ride.
The final stop on our tour of the Golden Triangle was the colorful city of Jaipur in Rajasthan. Jaipur, known as the "Pink City" is one filled with a rich history of rulers, arts, and architecture. From the moment you enter the city's perimeter, you begin to see the iconic pink buildings that give the city it's name. The reason behind all the pink: in the late 1800s, when royal visitors came to visit from England, the King of Jaipur decided to paint the city pink, as pink was a color of hospitality. Since then, the city has continued this tradition of maintaining both the beautiful pink color and the standard of hospitality. The most iconic of the pink structures in Jaipur is the Hawa Mahal.
The intricate facade is located on the periphery of the City Palace. Created as a means for the women of the royal family to observe daily life and festivals from within the Palace, the Hawa Mahal has 953 windows to look out of. In present day, these windows are open to the public to look out of. As mentioned before, the Hawa Mahal is on the periphery of a much larger compound that houses the City Palace.
The City Palace is the home of the royal family of Jaipur. Parts of the palace are open for tourists to view, and there is a museum within these areas that has memorabilia from the history of the Rajput clan.
The second stop on our trip of the Golden Triangle was the city of Agra. The bustling city, located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, is the home of the Taj Mahal. We started our drive from Delhi to Agra at 6:30 in the morning to make it to Agra a little before lunch time. Our driver recommended that we use a tour guide for our trip around the Taj. If you are looking for a tour guide in the area, there are plenty of people outside of the mausoleum who will offer to guide you. Make sure you agree upon a price for your tour before you head in.
The Taj Mahal is a beautiful structure with an equally beautiful story. Constructed in the 17th century, the white marble tomb is a true testament of love by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to his wife Mumtaz Mahal.
The Taj Mahal is one of the most popular attractions in India for both locals and tourists, and is crowded most if not all days. My best tip for trying to get the most peaceful experience at the Taj is to go as early in the morning as possible. Once you get to the monument, take a minute to appreciate the attention to geometrical symmetry. Built to perfection, the Taj Mahal quite literally took my breath away.
The entire structure is made primarily from white marble sourced from Makrana, Rajasthan, and is embellished with precious and semi precious stones from several different locations. The marble is semi-translucent and gives the Taj Mahal a beautiful glow in the morning and evening light. After you spend some time exploring the Taj Mahal from the outside, make your way into the inner chamber of the Taj, where you will find the tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, side-by-side (unfortunately, no pictures are allowed in this area).
After seeing the Taj, our tour guide directed us to a Makrana marble artisan's workshop where I got a chance to learn a little more about how the precious stone inlays take place. The stone is cut into extremely small shards by hand, and then each is placed into the marble to create intricate patterns.
After our morning in Agra, we started our drive towards Jaipur, Rajasthan. Along the way, we decided to take a stop at Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri was the capital of the Mughal empire for 10 years, built by emperor Akbar. It is a truly large and astonishing city.
Made of red sandstone the entire complex is something to admire. Beware though, this tourist destination has some of the most persistent hawkers ever. But don't let this deter you, because Fatehpur is one of the most remarkable places in India.
Fatehpur Sikri is also home to one of the most beautiful mosques in the country: Jama Masjid, and it incorporates the tomb of Saikh Salim Chisti. It is widely believed that wishes made at this tomb come true. Here you can purchase strings which you tie three times to the lattice of the tomb's structure, and with each knot on the string you make a wish. If you are a couple you may share your wish with your significant other, however if you are single you must keep your wishes a secret. If your wishes come true, you are supposed to return to the Chisti and feed two people in need, however if you cannot return, you should still feed those who are in need.
Fatehpur Sikri has one more structure that is a true marvel: the Buland Darwaza. According to Unesco: "[the Buland Dawarza] with a height of 40 metres, completed in 1575 AD for commemorating the victory of Gujarat in 1572 AD. Is by far the greatest monumental structure of the Akbar’s entire reign and also one of the most perfect architectural achievements in India." Unfortunately, I could not get into the right angle to get the perfect shot of this amazing gate, so forgive my pictures, and go see it yourself!
Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to go on a tour of the Golden Triangle with my family. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, the Golden Triangle refers to the journey between three cities in northern India: Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. Quite possibly one of the most popular trips to make while visiting, the Triangle stuns everyone, foreign and local alike, with its colorful culture, delicious food, and stunning architecture.
Earlier this year, my mom informed me that we would be making a trip to India, as a somewhat goodbye trip before I headed off to college. I made it clear to her that I didn't want this trip to be the typical family visit, I wanted to see the country. And my mother planned a trip to the Golden Triangle. Our tour took a whole of 5 days. This is the first post in a 3 part series where I will explain to you the best way to cover each of the cities, starting with Delhi.
We decided to start our trip in Delhi, one of the three points of the Triangle. Delhi was convenient for us because it is the nation's capital, meaning airlines made their way in and out of the city at a higher frequency. From there we hired a car to drive us through the triangle, 2 days in Delhi, then to Agra for a day, followed by a day in Jaipur, and back to Delhi to round off our last whole day. Overall, the trip was packed to the brim, but with a skilled driver, and traveler's mindset, we made it through.
Googling "things to do in Delhi" can quite possibly be one of the most anxiety inducing activities known to man. With it's rich Mughal history, and modern day charm, Delhi has an overwhelming amount of things to see. It can also be quite scary when you read the news about all the sexual violence in the city. I just want to say Delhi was probably the highlight of my trip, and the key to making your experience the same is to have a plan. The most important thing when it comes to staying safe is having a respectable driver. Hire a prepaid taxi or book a driver that you know personally, someone that you can trust. Second, you want to have a plan for each and every single day, so you are in safe places at the right times.
My family broke it down like so:
Packing for travel to India can be difficult. The country is undoubtedly tropical, and it's terrain changes as you move from place to place. This, coupled with the cultural values of the region, can make it extremely confusing when packing. In fact, as someone who has travelled to India on several occasions, I still have a tough time deciding what to place into my suitcase.
Let's start with the essentials: underwear, it's a necessity no matter where you go. This one is pretty simple, as long as people can't see it, you're doing it right.
Next, let's talk about tops. Try to pack light, flowy materials that you can layer. Even in the "winter" months, much of India experiences a rather hot climate. To escape the heat, wearing breathable materials like cotton is a must. It's important to remember that India, although a very "forward" country, still has social traditions which it maintains, and even though I am a staunch advocate for female empowerment through dressing, I still try to respect the notion of modesty that is practiced within the society. I recommend staying away from extremely low-cut tops that show a lot of cleavage, or completely backless numbers. If you have packed your suitcase all wrong, and are looking for a quick fix, go for a shopping trip within India. The clothing meets all the criteria: cute, affordable, colorful, comfortable, and modest!
This "modesty" trend travels from shirts to bottoms. In my recent trips to India, I have seen more and more women in shorts. Most of the time these shorts are what you would consider a midi short length. I personally stay away from shorts altogether. This may be hard to believe considering I pretty much live in shorts back home, but I find that in India straying away from modesty leads to uncomfortable stares and moments. Believe it or not, I don't miss my shorts very much on these trips. I've really started to embrace the mom jean, pallazzo pant, and skirt trends. These options are comfortable for long, hot days plus they make for some really cute outfits.
SHOES AND ACCESSORIES:
When it comes to shoes, keep it simple. Don't overpack. The three sets of heels that may go with 5 of your outfits are really not worth the limited space in your suitcase. WEAR COMFORTABLE WALKING SHOES EVEN IF THEY DON'T GO WITH YOUR OUTFIT (you can crop your pictures to perfection). In India, walking is inevitable and if you don't have the right shoes, you won't be able to enjoy your trip. Stay away from light colored shoes unless you are willing to see them turn into a beautiful brown color. I packed a pair of Vans and a pair of Chacos for my last trip.
Another recommendation, pack a couple scarves. Scarves or stolls are very common within Indian culture. I find them perfect to cover up with if you are getting uncomfortable stares or if you want to cover your face in a dusty street. They also come in handy when visiting temples or mosques, which may require women to cover their heads as a sign of respect.
Accessories-wise I recommend a watch (or two). I, as extremely extra as it sounds, like to wear two watches when I travel. One watch I set to Eastern time, the other I set to local time. This helps me plan out meals and sleeping times, so that I can beat the monster that is jet lag!
Something else you don't want to forget is a cute pair of sunglasses, even during the monsoon season, the sun does not shy away!
Makeup is once again, something I recommend going simple with. Unfortunately, under the muggy heat and the smoggy air, make up seems to slide and even melt away. If you do decide to wear makeup, wear a durable primer underneath, and use setting spray on even the simplest of makeup looks. As for skincare, DO NOT GO SIMPLE HERE. The smog-filled air can leave your skin with a nasty coating which can lead to break outs. No matter how tired, take a moment to remove all your makeup, and wash your face before you head-off to bed. For me the long-haul flights left my skin dry so I made sure to moisturize every night. In the morning, even with my melatonin-rich skin (thank you Indian ancestors), I made sure to apply a coat of sunscreen to protect against the rays that never seem to hide behind clouds. Finally for this section, do not forget your favorite and strong deodorant.
Blue Ridge, a bustling town in Fanin County, GA, can only be described as picturesque. Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, the city features both the beauty of the nature and the quaintness of the town. About 2 and half hours north of Atlanta, Blue Ridge is the perfect get away for the day.
Make your way to the city as early as possible and enjoy the beautiful sights on the scenic mountain drive. Once you make your way into town, take a stop at Mercier Orchards. Although we were unable to go fruit picking, we were still able to enjoy the view and conduct a mini photo shoot in the picnic area. From what I hear, the Orchards also have a phenomenal selection of pre-made treats which you can purchase (I could smell the sugary deliciousness the moment I walked in).
After a few hours picking some peaches to take home and eating a meal at the Orchard's eatery, buckle up and take a trip to the end Aska Rd. to the tubing place across the bridge. I personally recommend this place because it is a family owned business. Not only were they extremely kind, but they also helped push my car out of a muddy slope. Needless to say with such wonderful people running the business, our trip down the river was nothing short of mesmerizing. Enjoy being surrounded by lush greenery and the calming sound of running water.
After the hour and half trip down the river. Make your way to downtown Blue Ridge. Find the signs for free parking by the train tracks. Not only is this an economical option, it is also a stunning one. The parking lot is adjacent to an abandoned train, which makes for the perfect place to take pictures( my friend Needhi took this one of me on the train, she's a youtuber and you can find her on youtube at needforhumaninteraction). You can spend some time here taking pictures like we did, or you could even take a scenic train ride through Blue Ridge. You can find the ticket office for the train if you walk along the tracks towards the shops.
Another option is walking around the downtown area and window shopping and trying the different flavors of fudge available. The stores include boutiques, wilderness outfitters, gemstone emporiums, and even quaint antique shops. After spending some time working up an appetite, make your way to one of the many restaurants in the area. We ate at Messeria, a pizza/pasta place that seemed to be popular. The food here was great and perfect for a vegetarian or vegan, but feel free to try some of the other options if you are looking for a traditional southern meal.
I decided to start making my way back home around 7 o'clock in the evening, because I didn't want to get stuck navigating the windy mountain roads in the dark, however, another popular option is renting a log cabin in the woods and spending a couple days amongst the serene wilderness.
Next time you get a chance to make a trip to Blue Ridge, go for it! It's beauty and charm will not disappoint (I brought my friend from Michigan with me, and we had a blast).
What I Wore: high top converse, vintage Tommy Hilfiger denim shorts, an American Eagle one piece swimsuit (no longer available), a striped Aeropostale shirt, a bandana, and finally a pair of sunglasses from Aeropostale!
Packing a suitcase was a skill I learned when I was just over half a decade old. Travel was, and is, such an integral part of my life, admittedly at that age it was more about going on an airplane and getting gifts from the relatives we visited (those are still things I enjoy). However, as I grew older, my perspective on travel evolved. I became enamored with understanding the history of my destination, immersing in the culture, and most importantly tasting the cuisine. And so for most of my adolescence my travels were lively and interesting, but as I came closer to the next chapter in my life, something became abundantly clear to me: I never recorded my thoughts and feelings on those journeys. So on the cusp of the new year with a big trip ahead I decided to keep a journal.
My travel journal is a place for me to record thoughts and memories as I feel them. I personally like to think of it as a time capsule that I can look back on. So without further ado, here is my travel journal and how I set it up.
I use a Moleskine Cahier's journal, with plain sheets. These notebooks retail in a pack of three for a little less than $10. I liked this notebook in particular because it was lightweight, and the perfect size for me to slip into my backpack. Alongside my notebook, I use a Pilot G2 pen in black, nothing fancy or special, just something that works.
The most important part of travel journaling for me is my accessibility to my notebook. I like to keep it with me at all times during my trips. I realized quickly on my trip to Iceland, my first trip with my travel journal, that there were moments when I felt like putting down in words what I was feeling, but I unfortunately didn't have my journal with me. I also encountered another problem: not having enough time to fully put together pages (particularly gluing in the things that I found important). After some trial and error I found a strategy that works best for me.
I like to begin by setting up my title pages on my flight/train/boat/car ride to my destination. This way I have a chance of setting up the page the way I envision my destination (it's also a fun way to pass the time on some long flights).
18 years old. Industrial Engineering major. Dog enthusiast. Aspiring Khaleesi. Foodie. Land dweller. Struggling writer. Horrid chess player. Adequate chef. Thrifting lover. Environmentalist, and yes that does mean I'm a tree hugger. vegetarian.