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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Interrailing Travel Diary No.5 | Paris, France


Our very last stop (sob!) on our Interrail* journey was Paris. After a total of 10 hours travelling from Austria, we made it. It was my second time in Paris and Helen's first so we were both beyond excited to get exploring.  Helen stayed for two and a half days and I stayed on four extra days; I wanted to get as much gallery-exploring in as possible for college and I absolutely love wandering around cities on my lonesome. (This post is extra-long as I spent just under a full week there.)


ACCOMMODATION 

We stayed in a quirky warehouse conversion for our final Airbnb* stay together; it was bright, had artwork displayed all along the walls and there were even bunkbeds! It was like one of those apartments you see in interior magazines. It was slightly odd to settle into at first but really enjoyable to experience. We stayed quite close to central Paris here, with a heap of Metro stations and supermarkets nearby so it was super-handy.
After I said buh-bye to Helen, I went to my final Airbnb* location situated ten minutes from the Eiffel Tower. It was a small studio apartment, on the very top floor of a building on Boulevard Garibaldi. I absolutely ADORED the place. I settled in so quickly, felt right at home and yep, daydreamed about living there. The view from the windows was unbelievable as you can see below!


DISNEYLAND 

Whilst travelling to Paris, Helen and I had somewhat of a lightbulb moment; I had never been to Disneyland in my life and it's always been a dream of mine to go since childhood. Helen suggested that we went the very next day and I genuinely could have passed out with excitement. It was a complete spur of the moment decision but a highlight of the trip for me. 

We spent an entire day there, 9am-9pm. I paid around €75 for a ticket that got us into both parks (I received a student discount so the full price was around €90, if I remember correctly). We went on a heap of rides (even me, the biggest scaredy-cat of all), walked around what I can only describe as real-life movie sets and saw a gazillion different characters walking around, from Simba to Woody.


If you're careful with spending money and feel as though you could afford to head along to Disneyland whilst you're in Paris, I say 100% go for it! It's nearly €100 for the day but I can't put into words how worth it it is. It was such a fantastic way to end our trip together and I honestly felt like a kid again. Do plan on spending the entire day there if you do go; get up early, go to the Metro on time (the station is right beside the park) and organise what rides you want to go on in advance.


CENTRE POMPIDOU

The Centre Pompidou was the main gallery I needed to visit whilst in Paris, as our college course focuses predominantly on modern art - and this gallery houses the biggest collection of it in the world. The Centre Pompidou and its surroundings are absolute heaven for an art-lover; the building itself is phenomenal and unlike anything I've ever been in before. I visited twice during my stay, as I felt I needed hours upon hours to see everything and take it in properly.

I went to the Le Corbusier and Mona Hatoum exhibitions on the first day; both were absolutely brilliant and couldn't have been any different from each other. Afterwards, I explored the general modern art exhibitions on each floor; I had millions of "pinch-me" moments when I saw certain works in the flesh: even seeing Duchamp's infamous 'Fountain' urinal piece made me smile as we had talked about it and discussed it so many times in college earlier this year. Everyone and everything is there, from my beloved Matisse, to Picasso to Pollock.


If you're going to visit, I again suggest heading early and leaving late. The restaurants inside are quite expensive so I recommend leaving, wandering around the area and finding an affordable restaurant nearby for lunch. Alike to the previous cities, I found Italian restaurants great to dine in as pasta is generally affordable and there's plenty of them scattered around the Centre Pompidou.


PALACE OF VERSAILLES

One my second-last day, I went to the Palace of Versailles. I'm a complete history nerd and I've wanted to visit there since I was a young teenager. Alike to a lot of tourist attractions in Paris, it was absolutely packed. It took 2 hours to queue up to get in, in the scorching heat. The queues wrapped around the grounds like a snake and I genuinely thought I was going to pass out. If you're a fellow anxiety-sufferer, I cannot stress enough that going here during peak season is a bad idea.

I had a generally pleasant time and I was delighted to finally see the palace in the flesh but I didn't have a thorough-enough experience looking around and enjoying my surroundings, as the crowds were just too much. Every single room, stairway and entrance was packed. It was like being in a zoo! I'd absolutely love to head back during winter, when the crowds diminish, as I didn't feel my journey out to Versailles for the day was completely worth it after unfortunately!


TO DO

There's a million and one things to do in Paris, particularly if you're with only one or two friends or by yourself. It's an incredible place to wander around, get lost in and discover exciting places. Of course, you have to see the likes of the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame if you go but don't revolve an entire day around them. I personally think the Eiffel Tower and its surroundings are quite anti-climatic and overly-busy so I only popped over for a while this time round to take some snaps. 

Notre Dame is a great place and area to visit, as a lot of other attractions are nearby, including the Louvre. One of my favourite areas to explore whilst in Paris is Le Marais; it's such an arty spot, full of shops and cafes. The street art is also incredible. around every corner - it has the perfect balance of old and new and it's brimming with young creatives.


Vintage shopping in Paris is a dream and both times I've gone, I've come back with a heap of pieces. I adored the Kilo Shops, as you basically buy pieces per kilo weight and everything is SO inexpensive. The shops are great to even just visit for a look around and they're completely different to anything we have here in Dublin. Keep an eye out for vintage cheerleading costumes, they're AMAZING.


FOOD & DRINK

We tended to eat a lot of similar meals in Paris to the previous cities and I bought a lot of food in supermarkets towards the end of my stay, to save money. Eating out can really catch you out whilst in Paris, as many places, particularly around tourist attractions are extremely dear. If you're wise, shop around for affordable spots and bring snacks with you on your wanders, you should be fine.

If you're tight for money and looking to eat decent food, look out for mussel dishes on menus that come with French fries. I ate this meal at least three times during the week, as it turned out to be the least expensive in most restaurants (working out at around €10). You literally get a giant pot of mussels plonked in front of you, with a huge bowl of fries; it's filling, it's affordable and it means you can even lounge beside the Eiffel Tower for dinner without breaking the bank.

One major tip for dining in Paris is do NOT purchase drinks at most restaurants, whether it be bottled water or Coca Cola; they're usually ridiculously overpriced (€4-5) and not worth it. Ask for tap water  instead and buy a can of Coke in a shop afterwards. It'll save you money in the long-run.

Also, breakfast-wise, I highly advise opting for omelets over pancakes, as they're healthier and will fill you up longer. I tended to eat mostly ham and cheese or mushrooms omelets, with a cup of tea or orange juice to start the day and saved the Nutella-drowned crepes for the evening!


Paris is by far one of my favourite cities and I genuinely believe I'll live there for some period of time in the future. I adore it, despite it being sometimes painfully-expensive and chock-o-block during the warmer months. It was a total dream to visit and a perfect way to end our interrailing trip. You have to plan your stay here well advance and know where you want to go; the Metro is such an easy transport system but I generally found myself walking to and from most places. It won't kill your bank account if you're clever with spending. However, if you have the extra cash left over, definitely give Mickey and Minnie Mouse a visit. 

Thanks so much for reading my interrail travel diaries this month and for following our adventures. I hope to delve into even more travel posts in the future and to bring you guys along with me exploring the world beyond. I want to thank Interrail* and Airbnb* for such an incredible opportunity. Interrailing just wouldn't have been a reality for me otherwise and it has truly been a highlight of my entire blogging career so far. Helen was a dream to travel with and I'm so glad I got to share this experience with her. For now, au revoir!


Helen's hilarious Paris vlog..


Previous interrail travel diaries: Amsterdam | Berlin | PragueGmunden

Saturday, August 22, 2015

WEEKEND WISHLIST | TOP 20 @ MISSGUIDED

Missguided are on FIRE this year; having moved to in-house design, their affordable, trend-driven and trend-setting pieces are always on my radar. Having captured the ever-lingering 90's trends over the last few years, their shift to the 1970's for 2015 was done to perfection. Between their faux suede, stripes and lace-up bodysuits, they're a brand for women of every style, on every budget. 

Having asked you guys a while back what kind of blog posts are your favourite, wishlists came out on top! I'll continue doing my general wishlist posts featuring an array of brands but I thought it'd be interesting to start focusing in on one-brand wishlists (my previous ASOS ones have gone down a storm). I thought Missguided was the ideal brand to start off with, as their current New In section is a dream. I absolutely adore doing these posts, they're one of my personal favourites. Let me know if you spot anything you fancy (remember, students get 10% off all year round) - happy shopping!












Wednesday, August 19, 2015

OOTD feat. Killstar & The Serpents Club


CLICK TO SHOP: Creep knit sweater* - Killstar | Ripped denim jacket - Missguided (similar) | Flannel shirt* - New Look (similar) Occult backpack* - Killstar | Tardy boots - Jeffrey Campbell (similar) | Necklace* - The Serpents Club | Vault hat* - UNIF (similar) | Sunglasses* - ASOS


Photography - Zak Milofsky

SHOP SAME/ SIMILAR STYLES

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Interrailing Travel Diary No.4 | Gmunden, Austria


Our second-last stop on our Interrail* trip was the beautiful lakeside town of Gmunden in Upper Austria. Helen and I both both decided that we needed to split up our city exploring and visit somewhere serene and calm on our travels. Helen spotted Gmunden on the map and after we both looked up about it online, we fell in love instantly.

If you're heading interrailing, I highly recommend finding at least one place that isn't a busy city. You'll need to recharge your batteries and being away from pollution, fumes and crowds does everyone the world of good. Gmunden was a tourist spot for mainly Austrians and Germans, we were the only English-speaking people there at the time - that we knew of. Despite this, the language barrier wasn't too tough and the townspeople were so polite and helpful. The young Austrians we did meet, mostly waitresses at bars, were more than happy to practise their English with us for a chat. I think of all the places we went, the people of Gmunden were the warmest.


ACCOMMODATION

Our Airbnb* in Gmunden was located at the top of one of the hills and despite walking in the scorching heat, up and down every day, we adored it. Our host was really lovely and helpful. The place itself was comfortable, spacious and modern. We got taxis to and from the train station with our luggage here, which cost us a mere €7 each way.


FOOD

The food in Gmunden was quite similar to Berlin but a tad more traditional. We opted for Italian on the first night, of course. I'm not used to seeing prawns with their legs and claws so admittedly had quite a scare when they arrived out on my pasta dish; I found the seafood to be quite, er, in its natural state when I ordered it here. As in, an actual whole fish - eyeballs and all - on my plate too. I'm quite a wimp when it comes to well, everything food-wise, and seeing the bones, guts and eyeballs of my food frightens me a tad. Be prepared for that if you go here, haha.

Otherwise, we dined like queens. We ate gorgeous bread rolls from the supermarkets (around 40c a pop), bought some treats in the local Spar and of course, devoured absolutely everything and anything that had Nutella on top. My sweet tooth went a bit crazy in Gmunden, I must admit.

Price-wise, everything was affordable but quite similar to Irish/ UK prices. One thing that we were unaware of was that if a basket of bread rolls is put in front of you in a restaurant, and you eat the bread, you're charged per bread roll you eat. Usually bread baskets are complimentary with meals in other countries, including Ireland, but the waitress told us that it's just the way they do it there so keep that in mind! We tended to eat most of the bread in the bread baskets in the other places we visited to fill us up, or wrapped them in tissue and took them with us (sounds scabby but if you're on a budget, there's no harm in doing it if they're going to be thrown into a bin anyway).


SWIMMING

Helen and I were absolutely living to go swimming in Gmunden's beautiful lake and we weren't disappointed when it came down to it. Gmunden has a lakeside beach-like area (with stones, not sand, ouch!), a volleyball court and a gorgeous bar serving food and drink. There were families and groups of friends around when we went but plenty of room to put our towels down, read and relax. 

The water itself was the clearest I have ever seen, it was sublime. After travelling for over a week, it was pure heaven to sit down, relax and take a few deep breaths to unwind. The heat during the day was possibly the warmest I've ever personally experienced so I found I topped up my suncream (SPF 50, of course) at least 3 times in the 2 hours we were there. Ireland has had an atrocious Summer this year so I felt like I still got my little bit of sunshine paradise swimming in Gmunden's lake.


SCHLOSS ORT

We visited the local castle, Schloss Ort, in Gmunden on our last day. The building itself was beautiful to see and walk around but there wasn't that much to look at or do otherwise. We had to pay around €4 to get in and didn't find there was much keeping us there after 20 minutes or so. There was a bar and restaurant attached to the back of the castle but we didn't stay. If you're heading here, it's worth a visit if you've an hour or two to spare for sure. The woods surrounding it are great for photos.


Gmunden was a unique and peaceful adventure for both of us and I'm delighted we decided to go somewhere 'away' from everything to break up our trip. It gave us both the energy and positive mindset to head on our next train journey to Paris, which was going to be a whopping 10 hours long (gulp!) but more on that next time..

Whilst there, we found out Gmunden is really popular in the Winter also for snow sports, which would obviously make sense seeing as how incredible the surrounding mountains are. If any of you are ski-lovers, definitely check this place out as it looks AMAZING during the Winter judging by photos we saw. Gmunden is a very special place, between the mountains, friendly swans, welcoming occupants and glorious weather, there's really not much else to say about it other than wow!


Helen's Gmunden vlog..


Previous interrail travel diaries: Amsterdam | Berlin | Prague