New York City | Winter 2020

July 22, 2020 New York, NY, USA

At the start of January, my mom and I hopped on a train to New York City and spent one night at The Dominick Hotel in SoHo. Traveling right after Christmas is one of the best times to visit the city, as it is much cheaper with the holiday season over but also still holds some of the magic of Christmas time and the start of the new year. From exploring SoHo and the myriad of funky and artsy stores to strolling the streets of Little Italy, we explored as much of the city as we could in the little time we had. 

The most enjoyable part of our stay at The Dominick was by far the beautiful view we had of the city. At night, the lights of taxis and towering skyscrapers sparkled red, green, blue, and white under the dark sky, and in the morning the sprawling buildings were enveloped in a thick white fog.  

For dinner, we ate at Il Fiorista, a Mediterranean restaurant in NoMad with dishes featuring various flowers and herbs. As a vegetarian and lover of Mediterranean cuisine, I found all of the food to be very delicious. We picked the restaurant because of its fun floral dishes but also because it was one of the few actually open for reservations that night. Thus, I was quite surprised when upon returning home, I spotted the restaurant while scrolling through the latest edition of The New Yorker, as I would have thought that a restaurant popular enough to be featured in such a print would definitely be fully booked.

Winter in Washington, DC

July 21, 2020 Washington, DC, USA

As with my last several blog posts, this one is very much overdue. I have been slowly working my way through my travels beginning in fall to the present, as I was so busy with homework and school related extracurricular activities during the academic year that I did not take the time to share these photographs at the appropriate time. Now that I have completed my series dedicated to my visit to Paris back in November, I am transitioning to the month of December. 

To celebrate my mom's birthday which is on Christmas Eve, we spent two nonconsecutive nights at two different hotels in Washington, DC. Our first stay was at The Hay Adams, a quaint and cozy hotel located in Lafayette Square and just across from the White House. On day before Christmas Eve, we checked into The Conrad, a much larger and more contemporary hotel situated in City Center.

A Night at the TWA Hotel in New York City

July 20, 2020 JFK Access Road, John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), One Idlewild Drive, Queens, NY 11430, USA

After our return flight from Paris, my mom and I stayed at the TWA Hotel for one night. The main reason for our stay was because our flight landed very late and we did not want to make the four hour drive back home in the dark after getting very minimal sleep, so being able to stay at a hotel at JFK Airport made perfect sense. But my mom had also researched the TWA and yearned to stay in the terminal-turned-hotel. After a whirlwind of a four or so day stay in Paris packed with action, it was so enjoyable to get a good night sleep without having to worry about rushing back home while also topping off our already very memorable trip by staying at such a quirky and unique hotel. 

The TWA flight center opened in 1962 and was designed by Eero Saarinen, an architect who also designed the Washington Dulles International Airport. After closing in 2001, the terminal, around two decades later, was transformed into the TWA hotel.

The rooms are fairly small, but the bed was extremely comfortable (though it may have merely been the jetlag that made it feel so wonderful). The bathroom was sizable and featured black and white tiles and Hollywood style lights lining the mirror. My favorite part about the room, however, was the view out of the massive glass window. It was so pleasant to wake up to the light and the bustling atmosphere of JKF airport out the window, and the closeness of the bed to the window made it feel almost as if I was floating above the parking lot. I believe there are some rooms from which you can see airplanes taking off, though of course they are pricier than the standard rooms.

Of course, the best part about the hotel is not the rooms, but the funky displays and retro decor all throughout the massive hotel. My mom and I, after our breakfast of two very delicious (though exorbitant) almond croissants, spent several hours getting lost in the massive terminal as we explored various rooms, taking digital photo booth pictures, and venturing outside to visit an old TWA airplane that now functions as a bar. As evidenced by the photographs below, no room went unchecked, and we made the most of each silly setup to take a bunch of comical photographs.

Paris By Night

July 19, 2020 Paris, France

To conclude my series dedicated to my travels in Paris back in November, as opposed to focusing on one specific monument or historic site as I have done with my previous posts, I wanted to create a post in which I could include the higher quality images I snapped with my camera as well as several of my iPhone shots that I felt captured the more raw and real moments. Paris by Night features my favorite photographs of the city from dusk to midnight; the pinks and oranges of the sunset above the Seine, the golden glow of the Eiffel Tower, enchanting aura of the Louvre, and shimmering Ferris Wheel lighting up the onyx sky. 

Visiting the bustling Christmas market along the Seine was a really special experience. The massive Ferris Wheel offered a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower, the sweet, festive flavor of the roasted chestnuts tasted far better than the ones sold New York City that U used to salivate over just thinking about, and booths selling mounds of chocolate, spiced drinks, and an array of cheesy concoctions filled the fair with all sorts of delicious smells. I was so awed by the festive spirit and beautiful decorations that I now have a deep desire to return to Europe during the holiday season to explore other Christmas markets. 

Palais Garnier in Paris, France

July 18, 2020 Place de l'Opéra, 75009 Paris, France

Palais Garnier, an opera house featuring 1979 seats that was constructed from 1861 to 1875 by Charles Garnier and commissioned by Napoleon III, is a must-see for anyone with an interest in theater and the opera or a simply love of art and admiration for historic buildings. To say I was blown away by the ornate ceilings and glowing chandeliers would be quite an understatement; I had never before seen such exquisite and grandiose interiors. 

The hotel my mom and I stayed in while in Paris was very close to the famed Opéra Garnier, which was very fortuitous because I have a feeling that if it had not been so close, we may not have carved out the time to make a visit. It was so wonderful to be able to see the opera house after marveling at the exhibition at the Musée d'Orsay entitled Degas at the Opera, a beautiful collection of Edgar Degas' images of the Paris Opera.

Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, France

July 17, 2020 10 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris, France

Sainte-Chapelle is chapel built in the Gothic style that was erected in 1238. The chapel was constructed to house Louis XI's collection of relics to Christ, and it now serves as a historic destination for visitors to marvel at the stunning stained glass windows. I have always found stained glass to be incredibly beautiful, and so after researching some of the more underrated historic sites in Paris, knew that I had to see the kaleidoscopic windows for myself. 

The experience of first stepping inside of the chapel is quite extraordinary. It is still and quiet and cool and damp, giving the chapel almost an otherworldly aura. The stained glass panels are massive, and the ceilings are painted in beautiful blues and reds and detailed with shimmering golden stars. The ornate, dangling chandeliers add another layer of elegance and artistry to the already breathtaking interior. If, like me, you love exploring historic sites and have a similar fondness for stained glass, Sainte-Chapelle is a must-visit.

Galeries Lafayette in Paris, France

July 16, 2020 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris, France

Since my mom and I visited Paris in mid to late November, Galeries Lafayette, the massive French department store famed for featuring the most fashionable brands and styles, was already completely bedecked for the holiday season. In the center of the store stood a massive Christmas tree decorated with colorful glass bulbs, giant flowers, and white lights. More lights dangled from the top of the ornate glass dome that encircled the top of the tree like a glowing halo. The five floors were packed with crowds of Christmas shoppers eager to get a glimpse of the giant tree and admiring the textures, fabrics, colors, and cuts of the latest looks. 

Whether you are an avid shopper or not, Galeries Lafayette is a must-visit simply for the experience. I myself am a little frugal when it comes to shopping, but as a fashion lover, I was still able to revel in the stylish winter coats, elegant dresses, and trendy accessories. One section of store was dedicated to children's toys, and so my mom and I had such an enjoyable time wandering the aisles and searching for the perfect toy for my adorable three year old cousin whom we were staying with in Paris. 

I hope you enjoy seeing these vibrant photographs from Galeries Lafayette. Along with simply sharing my photographs, I love creating travel diary type posts because they encourage me to be grateful for past experiences and they remind me of the wonders of travel. Especially during this strange time, when we have no real grasp of when life might return to some sort of normal and travels may resume, I have been able to travel vicariously by editing these photos and sharing my explorations on this blog.  

Musée d'Orsay in Paris, France

July 15, 2020 1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007 Paris, France

love art museums. Whether I am exploring the Museum of Modern Art in New York City or the Renwick Gallery in Washington DC, I am always filled with a sense of admiration for the artists whose work I am observing and a surge of inspiration to pursue my own creative endeavors. 

Musée d'Orsay is perhaps the most exquisite museum I have ever and will ever visit. The museum features stunning statues of Greco Roman figures, beautiful paintings from famed artists, and massive clock windows that overlook the Seine river.  

I was fortunate enough to visit the Degas exhibit, entitled Degas at the Opera, when I traveled to Paris in November. The hotel that my mom and I stayed in was also extremely close to the Paris Opera House, and it was incredible to be able to observe Degas' celebrated artwork and to explore the Opera house from which he drew so much inspiration.

Food Market in Paris, France

July 14, 2020 Paris, France

Back in November, at the start of my Thanksgiving break, my mom and I flew to Paris and met family visiting from London and my mom's friend from Belgium. November proved to be the perfect time to travel to Paris; it was cold but not unbearably so, we were able to find flights that were a fraction of the cost normally associated with flying to Paris, and the city was already decked out for Christmas but lacked the crowds and typical priciness of Christmas time since it was so early in the holiday season.

From taking a boat tour on the Seine and visiting the Eiffel Tower at night as the lights sparkled and flashed to exploring the wonderful Musée d'Orsay and Galeries Lafayette, we explored so much of Paris in the very little time we had. Because I took so many photographs in the city, I chose to split up the photographs into segments like I typically do with my travel related posts.

I had to start off by sharing these photographs from a beautiful outdoor food market that my mom and I chanced upon while wandering the neighborhood surrounding our hotel. It was so beautiful to see the historic Paris streets shimmering with Christmas lights hanging above the streets and lined with shops and outdoor stalls selling a myriad of French cheeses, pastas, fresh fruits, and seafood. Of course, the mere fact that my mom and I wandered into this market by accident made the experience even more special. While Paris is filled with an array of touristy destinations and activities, this market felt authentic; Parisians walked along the streets with bags of freshly baked baguettes and stopped at stalls to purchase a chunk of cheese, bunch of grapes, or handful of scallops to bring back to their apartments to cook a late dinner. 

As cliché as it may sound, roaming through the market was truly a magical experience, and one that continually fills me with a sense of joy as I reminisce on our short stay in Paris. I hope you enjoy seeing the photographs I captured while reveling in the beautiful sights and smells as I wandered through this food filled French market.

A Week of Vegan Breakfasts

July 13, 2020

Breakfast might just be my favorite meal of the day. I love fruit, am not much of a chef so I enjoy the simplicity of cooking easy recipes, and I also grew up frequently hearing the phrase breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

I am a vegetarian, but eat as a vegan while I am home. I have a strong passion for travel, and so while being vegetarian is not too tricky while exploring other countries, it has still posed a few challenges. I feel that trying to follow a vegan diet would be very difficult and would also limit my ability to immerse myself into different cultures. 

While much of the reason that I try to avoid animal products is simply because of the negative health effects, a large part of it also has to do with the environmental benefits. As I mentioned in my blog post in which I shared five simple ways to live more sustainably, reducing your meat consumption is one of the most efficient ways to reduce your carbon footprint; while going one year without paper saves 8.5 trees, going one year without beef saves 3,432 trees. I strongly encourage you check out the resources I included in the post, especially the documentary entitled What The Health.

Read This When You Don't Feel Like Running

July 11, 2020

{This is inspired a post I created a couple of years ago entitled Read This When You've Been Sitting In Bed Watching Netflix All Day}

So, you don't feel like running. 

Maybe you have been sitting at your desk all day working or laying in bed watching your favorite TV show for three hours straight. You feel sluggish and tired and know that working out would not only be good for you physically, but would probably eradicate your moody mentality too. But, you come up with a myriad of excuses as to why you should not put on your sneakers and go for a jog. 

You tell yourself, it's too hot outside or I have nowhere to run or I'll just do it tomorrow.

Here are my words of wisdom. Well, they aren't really my words. I must give credit where credit is due. Here are Nike's words of wisdom: just do it.

Bucket List Ideas for a Socially Distant Summer

July 10, 2020

Despite the loosening of restrictions in states all across the United States, it is clear that simply because the country has emerged from lockdown and its citizens are ready to return to some sort of 'normalcy' does not mean that the virus will stop spreading. This is evidenced by the haunting surge in cases, particularly in southern and western states, and the new single day record of nearly 60,000 reported cases. While it is understandable to want to have a 'normal' summer, it is important that each of us adhere to the recommendations by health officials to limit the spread of the virus. 

Following social distancing guidelines, however, does not mean that we cannot have an enjoyable and memorable summer. And so, I decided to compile a list of activities that are both fun and somewhat unique to summer. There are a plethora of projects that can be completed in a socially distant manner, but I chose to list just a few of the ideas that most excite and appeal to me. I hope this list can act as a source of inspiration for you.

1. Berry Picking