Saturday, December 31, 2011

I THINK: A Heartfelt Message

Last post of 2011 is finally here! If you were expecting a cute photoreel or vlog of all my 2011 highlights, you may be disappointed. Instead, I've prepared... a heartfelt message.

2011 has been a year of change for me. I left Berkeley for New York, and not long after, for London. In all the shifting, stability has become my saving grace. Stability in the form of family and friends, in the form of habits and rituals, in the form of material possessions, and perhaps most surprisingly, in the form of this blog. It's strange to think that I only launched this page a couple months ago. Back then, it was a just a simple means of promptly but holistically cataloguing my life's adventures. But as 2012 rears its head, I suppose it's time for a little self-reflection. Here are the facts: 
  1. I am 20 years old, still 5 feet tall, and still biting my nails, despite having set a new year's resolution to grow an inch and drop the nasty habit. I suppose I'll set the same resolutions this year and receive the same effect.
  2. I am staring college graduation in the face and not doing very well at remaining calm. Simultaneously, I am jittery for what lies beyond the tassel shifting from one side to the next. 
  3. As it stands, I have made a small but measurable dent on the list of places I want to go, things I want to wear, and foods I want to eat (see what I did there?). 
  4. I have learnt to live by (fine, I am still in the process of learning) the following Latin lessons: sine labore nihil, carpe diem, illegitimi non carborundum, and don't ever walk with your zipper at the back end of your bag.
  5. Lastly, and most relevant to you, I am glad to have finally found a way to document it all. The ramblings, the journeys, the stunning moments that suspend time. A catalog of life as I knew it, know it, and am still discovering it to be. 87 posts and over 12,000 views later, I can't thank you all enough for stepping along with me. Looking back through it all, 2012 is looking ever less terrifying and ever more enticing. 
Until then, may you always live on the edge of what is safe. Happy new years, everyone.

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Friday, December 30, 2011

I GO: Au Revoir, Paris! (View From The Eiffel Tower)

Yes, it's a complete and utter gimmick, but I somehow found myself forking over the admission fee and crammed into an elevator en route to the top of the Eiffel Tower. The view of Paris was magnificent. During my time there this trip, the sun rarely emerged, and Paris was a vision of drizzly gray. But from the top of the tower, Paris glittered. Literally.

As a city girl, I get strangely emotional when confronted with panoramic aerial city views. The last time I was on my rooftop in New York. The time before that on the Las Vegas Strip at sunrise. Each time, the world gets quiet. And there's just me, the limitless sky, and the city, a tame beast from that high up. The stillness is enlightening, gut-wrenchingly clarifying. The type of terrifying that makes you go "Hey Paris, so you ate my phone. I still love you."Or something like that. 

Enjoy the pictures after the jump. Next post will be on Singapore, where I currently am enjoying a nice break from the winter chills of Europe. :] 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I GO: The Tuileries Garden

Not too long ago, I told you all about my favorite spot in Paris: the Tuileries Garden. Given its central location it's almost always crawling with people, but despite that, I find the place enchanting. Especially in the winter when the trees are naked and the floor slick with mud. No sarcasm here. Really.

Enjoy the pictures after the jump! Most of them were taken at the Tuileries Garden with the last few being taken at the Louvre and elsewhere around the area.

I EAT: Cafe Des 2 Moulins (AKA Amelie's Cafe)

I'm a big fan of movies that celebrate the spirit of the cities they're shot in. While most people may find them cheesy, I like watching them right before a visit. Sort of a pump-up ritual. Before New York City? Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist or Sex & the City (duh). Before Paris? Amelie.

Which is why when my friends informed me that Amelie's cafe in the film was an actual restaurant, I insisted on dropping by for a meal. The setting is precious, but the food was only alright. Nothing spectacular but not bland or putrid, which is more than I can say for most novelty eateries. I had salmon glazed with honey and topped with sesame seeds while my friend ordered the creme brulee. Verdict? If you're an Amelie fan, make the trip. Especially since it's right around the corner from the Moulin Rouge (setting for countless overdone but justifiable tourist snapshots). 

Enjoy the pictures!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I WEAR: A Parisian Stroll

Though this recent trip to Paris was very sightseeing-heavy, I firmly believe that the best way to experience Paris is by strolling around somewhat aimlessly. On this day, my route began in Montmartre, continued to Place Vendome, traced Rue St. Honore, and culminated somewhere around the Centre Pompidou. To accomodate all the walking and simultaneously get into a romantic "I love Paris" mood, I decided to dress my Helmut Lang dress & Wolford sheer tights combo down with some ankle boots and a slouchy cardigan. Do you think it worked?

Enjoy the pictures after the jump!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I EAT: Macarons, Macarons, Macarons!

Ask anyone who knows my dietary habits and they'll tell you I'm a sucker for sweets. In fact, I tend to eat them in place of regular meals. Which is why Paris can be such a bad idea. Too many pastries, too little time. And no, the gym is not really an option.

These macarons are from Laduree and Pierre Herme. The first set from Laduree contained more traditional flavors (rose, chocolate, pistachio, etc.) while the second larger set from Pierre Herme included some strange newbies (chocolate with foie gras, white chocolate truffle, milk chocolate with passionfruit etc.). To be frank, I'd have to say I like the texture of Laduree's macarons better, but some of Pierre Herme's unconventional flavor combinations were fantastic. My favorites were the hazelnut praline, the olive oil/mandarin orange, and the chocolate/coffee/aniseed combo.

Enjoy the pictures after the jump!

I GO: Church Hopping in Paris

Despite being right behind the Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle frequently gets left out of people's "to see lists". Why on earth that is the case is beyond me. In my opinion, the "little treasure chest" is just as breathtaking as its prolific neighbor.

The chapel is small, but its size makes sense considering its purpose. Nowadays, the chapel is lit softly with dangling candelabras, offering just the right amount of light to showcase the chapel's stained glass windows despite lack of natural sunlight. I'm not Catholic, but standing there staring up at the misty colored light, it's easy to see why Rayonnant (and other French) Gothic architecture was such an effective tool for converting people to the faith.  It's one of those sights a camera just can't capture. Or at least that's true of a camera in my amateur hands. 

Enjoy the pictures after the jump! I threw in some pictures of Notre Dame as well. Because let's face it, it deserves all the hype it gets. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

I WEAR: Wandering Through Versailles

Hello from Singapore! I've just arrived and am settling in nicely into my old apartment. Wonderful trip down nostalgia lane, I'll tell you that. Can't wait to blog to you about my adventures back on this sweaty little island, but in the meantime...

I'd never been to Versailles before so I decided to take the time to make a day trip out there. If you're contemplating making the journey, stop contemplating and do it! It's just a short train ride from Paris, but save yourself a good couple of hours to wander through the estate. It's absolutely massive.

I managed to wander through the chateau, gardens, and Marie Antoinette's estate before calling it a day. The trip took about 5-6 hours, but it was well worth it. If you love the age of Rococo or French landscaped gardens at their most magnificent, Versailles is the place to be. Plus, there's a Laduree shop within the chateau. Macaron in hand, Versailles had me wanting to be Marie Antoinette herself. Minus the guillotine of course.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I EAT: Angelina (Yes, The One All The Celebs Ate At)

Since I managed to wake up early enough one morning, I decided to grab some brunch at Angelina. Aside from serving world-renowned hot chocolate and being incredibly quaint, the Rue de Rivoli location is just by the Tuileries Garden, my single favorite place in Paris.

The brunch was wonderful, filling but light. The antithesis of an American breakfast buffet. Cherry on top of it all? It came with champagne.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I GO: Paris Photowalk

Merry Christmas, everyone! I just came back from Paris yesterday and am currently in London until tonight when I will be flying home to Singapore for the rest of my winter holidays. 

Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world, because every time I visit, I do it with different priorities and always walk away wanting more. Sometimes it's for the shopping, others for the food, other times yet just to wander the cobblestoned streets and somehow "stumble" upon an architectural marvel that was actually meticulously placed for just that effect. This visit, I was focused on re-seeing most of my favorite sites; so the next few Paris posts may read like a tourist's highlight reel. But with sights like Paris', who really gives a damn?

Enjoy the pictures after the jump!

Friday, December 23, 2011

I GO: Celebrate "Technik" At The Deutsches Museum

Merry Christmas eve, everyone! It feels strange typing that since right now, it's still a couple days early. But when you all read this, it will be December 24th and I'll be on a plane en route to London where I will be for a grand total of a day. Then, it's off to Singapore. :)

On my second day in Munich, I ventured to the Deustches Museum, dedicated to engineering and technology throughout the ages. I hadn't originally planned on visiting the museum, but it was Sunday and everything else was closed (literally). Plus, it was snowing madly outside. It wasn't my favorite museum, but for 3€, it was an entertaining enough way to spend the afternoon.

This is the last Germany post, so tomorrow's post will be on my travels in France. Until then, wish me a safe flight! :] 

I EAT: Candied Fruits Galore

Having seen about a gajillion Christmas markets, I think I'm at the point where the novelty has slightly worn off. At some point, all the wares started to look the same. But the one thing I will never be sick of? The candied fruits, which are just fruits coated in hardened sugar. So simple but SO addicting. I ate my way through four satay sticks of candy grapes in the course of 10 minutes. Seriously. 

Enjoy the pictures after the jump!

I EAT: Too Much (Stereotypical) Bavarian Food

When I think of the German stereotype, pretzels, schnitzel, and beer comes to mind. So trust me, the humor of this post does not evade me. Perhaps it's a Bavarian thing, or perhaps I somehow happened to only dine at tourist traps, but this is post accurately (and somewhat hilariously) chronicles my Munich foodventures.

Enjoy the pictures after the jump! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I GO: Munich (First Snapshots)

In the Berlin vs. Munich smackdown, I'd have to say Munich wins for me. The city is just stunning! Here, for your enjoyment, are the first snapshots from my wanderings around Munich. Most of them were taken at the Englischer Garten, Munich's "Central Park" (which happens to be like 12300834x bigger than NYC's). Don't quote me on this, but I'm guessing the park's name comes from the fact that it is modeled after the 18th century surreal English landscape gardens (ex: Stourhead). During the spring, the park plays host to nude bathers, but given that it's winter, everyone was fully clothed; this was simultaneously a letdown and a relief. 

The last three pictures were taken at my hotel- the Art Hotel Munich. If you're ever in Munich, I highly suggest staying here. Its decorations are playful without being tacky, the rooms are rather spacious for the price, the staff is warm and helpful, and there's free wi-fi in all the rooms. End advertisement.

Enjoy the pictures after the jump!

I GO: Dachau In The Snow

After Nuremberg, I took another early morning train to Munich. When we arrived, it was snowing and it continued to do so intermittently for the duration of the day. Rather than exploring the city center, I ventured out of Munich proper to visit the former Dachau concentration camp. I'll let the pictures do the talking save to say that despite bringing my fingers close to frostbite (ok, I'm exaggerating), I'm glad it snowed during my visit. In a way, it provided the appropriate backdrop. 

Arbeit Matcht Frei = "Work sets you free". The infamous sign at the entrance to the former Dachau concentration camp.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I GO: Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt

And the highlight of the day in Nuremberg: the Christkindlesmarkt. When I went, it was raining and bitterly cold, but the market was worth braving the weather. Unfortunately, it made me a little lazy in the camera department so the vlog isn't quite representative of just how pretty the market was.

Hope you like it anyways!

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Monday, December 19, 2011

I EAT: Bratwursthausle in Nuremberg

Before going to Nuremberg, I googled restaurants to eat at. Everything I found kept pointing me towards the Bratwursthausle, which is very near to Hauptmarkt where the Christkindlmarkt is. From the outside, the Bratwursthausle looks like the cottage of the Seven Dwarfs and on the inside, it's every bit as rustic-looking. 

We sat right by the "kitchen" which is smack in the middle of the restaurant and were treated to the delicious smell of grilling sausages before, during, and after our meal. The "mini sausages" are traditionally grilled so that's how I ordered mine. You can pair them with a side dish, for which I selected the potato salad. But the perfect partner for the sausages are the pretzels they set down in a stuffed basket. But if you're ever there, be careful! Those babies aren't free. 

Enjoy the pictures. I'm getting hungry uploading them.

I WEAR: Nuremberg Cobblestones

I don't really own a lumpy, ugly Christmas sweater, but I figure my shirt-dress qualifies as Christmassy enough. After all, it's got wolves on the pockets. Balto = winter = Christmas. Or something like that. Anyways, short caption since there isn't much more to say about the outfit. 

Enjoy the pictures after the jump!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I GO: Guten Tag, Nuremberg!

When planning my winter trip through Germany and France, the Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt somehow emerged as the itinerary's central focus. I rarely go to Europe in the winter so I figured this was my chance to finally see a German Christmas fair. 

The Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt was every bit as charming as I thought it would be, but the town was surprisingly even more so. After Berlin, Nuremberg posed a welcome contrast. Don't get me wrong, Berlin was an interesting city to tour, but there's something about Old Town Nuremberg that filled me up with folksy warmth. The people, in my opinion, are much friendlier, and the town is delightfully picturesque. Probably all the cobblestone, "old-school" German architecture, and the presence of a wall encircling Old Town. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Enjoy the pictures after the jump!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I GO: Along The Berlin Wall

Last Berlin post! And it's probably the one you've all been waiting for. Just opposite the Ostbahnhof station is the East Side Gallery, a 1.3 km stretch of the Berlin Wall covered in murals. You always see pictures taken of the wall by day, but I decided to walk it at night (partly out of choice and partly because of poor prior planning). And my verdict? If you ever get the chance to go, make sure to walk it at night; in my opinion, the murals look much more vivid and appropriately gritty without daylight.

Enjoy the pictures after the jump!

Friday, December 16, 2011

I WEAR: Ich Bin In Berlin

Guten tag, everyone! When this pre-scheduled post becomes visible for your enjoyment, I'll be in Nuremberg. But, as you saw in my last post, I spent the day today (well, by the time you read this, yesterday) in Berlin. So as promised, here's another Berlin post. This time with better views of my outfit.

Enjoy the pictures after the jump! And before you ask, yes, I did scurry around Berlin touristing in heels. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I GO: A Day In Berlin

Hallo everyone! So in roughly 3.5 hours I will be getting on a train to Nuremberg, but I wanted to blog as I went along my trip so you guys could read these blog posts in somewhat real time. It's been a jam-packed day, because I was trying to fit in all of Berlin's sights. Though I didn't have time to see the Charlottenburg Palace, I saw most of the other places on my list. So I'd have to say: "Berlin Accomplished".

There were so many pictures, I'll split them up into several blog posts. Also, that buys me more time to prepare the subsequent posts. In the meantime, enjoy these pictures from my day in Berlin. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I THINK: Toodles, London!

At long last, I leave today for my mini winter Eurotrip. And immediately after that, I return to Singapore for the first time in years. I'll save you all the corny schbiel on the brevity of life; you've heard it all before and with better rhetoric, no less. But bear with me on this musing. 

Despite the excitement of what lies ahead and the fact that I'll be returning to London in less than a month, I find myself a twinge sad to leave. It's partly because I love this city; but more than that, it's because a third of my time here is now over. Despite all the logistical issues plaguing my move to London, studying abroad this year was (and is) the single greatest highlight of my college career. If you're anything like me, being in the same place for too long makes you restless. While at Berkeley, this led to "too many" weekend escapes. While abroad, it's embraced.

On my desktop, there is a Powerpoint file titled "THE BUCKET LIST". Contrary to the term's common definition, it is not a catalogue of all the things I plan to do before I die. Rather it is a checklist of all the places I'd like to see before my year abroad comes to an end. There are 100+ slides and counting, categorized by city and site type, accompanied by website URLs, addresses, opening times, and pictures.

The point is not that I'm a Powerpoint geek (although that is true too). The point is that the corny schbiel on the brevity of life is actually rather relevant. It is easy to fall into a routine and ignore the world beckoning from beyond one's comfort bubble. It takes much more effort to "stay hungry, stay foolish".

But it's nearly always worth it.

Can't wait to blog to you all from Germany, France, and Singapore. And keep on the lookout for that new section of the blog I promised! I'm incredibly excited to launch it. :]

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I WEAR: Mind The Gap

And we have ourselves an outfit post! Don't get too excited though, kiddies. I'm a lazy ass who hasn't done a proper outfit shoot in way too long, so this post just has better pictures from my epic London day. My blog-related promise for 2012? To find the time to put together more entertaining outfit posts.

In the meantime, enjoy the pictures after the jump!

Monday, December 12, 2011

I EAT: Winter Tea At The Haymarket Hotel

I'm a nibbler. I always tend to over-order at restaurants, because I just want to try a bit of everything. Which is probably why I love high tea so much. Everything is minute, and yet I never walk away without feeling way too full.

The afternoon tea at the Haymarket Hotel is probably one of the better ones I've had in London. Not to mention that the parlor is adorably decorated. When I went this past weekend, they were serving their winter tea selection. Which, alongside the typical smoked salmon sandwiches and scones, included such holiday highlights as chocolate log cake, apply & cinnamon crumble, walnut cake, cranberry & vanilla trifle, and mega macarons that I am almost positive were gingerbread flavored.  Fittingly delicious. 

For the full menu, you can go here. Enjoy the pictures after the jump!

I GO: The Perfect London (Tourist) Day

Happy Sunday everyone! We're well into Christmas month, and this is the first weekend of my winter break. It's crazy how fast time flies when you're not watching; a third of my year in London is already over, and I feel like there's so much still left on my London bucket list. So my friend and I decided to go tourist for the day and do "quintessential" London things such as ride the London Eye, walk through Trafalgar Square, have high tea, and watch a play. 

Despite having done all these activities at some point in my previous visits to London, it was so much fun re-doing them all again in a single day. Touristy or not, at the day's end, I felt like I'd taken full advantage of marvelous Londontown. The perfect way to bid it farewell before I leave for Germany, France, and Singapore in just three days!

Enjoy the pictures after the jump. :]

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I EAT: Zebras and Crocodiles and Scorpions... Oh My!

Yes, you read the title right. I did in fact sample all of the aforementioned "meats" (and more unorthodox dishes!) in one sitting.

I'm not the most adventurous foodie, but when I heard about Archipelago, I decided to set my absurd fear of bugs aside and venture a meal. The restaurant space is rather cramped, stuffed with a hodgepodge of artifacts alluding to exotic travel locales. But once you get over the slight cheeseball factor, the kitschy vibe is rather endearing. For example, our menus arrived (innocently enough) printed on the back of old-school travel maps.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I GO: Winter Wonderland

To celebrate the arrival of winter and the shittastic London weather that's finally rearing its ugly head, I headed on over to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Think wannabe German Christmas fair meets carnival with an ice skating rink. It's a bit cheesy and overcrowded, but if you're in the mood for some holiday spirit, it's worth the tube ride over. Especially since admission's free.

My visit got cut a little short since it started raining, but I had time to stuff some chimney cake and curry sausages down my throat before scurrying away. Mission accomplished. 

Make sure to check out the pictures after the jump!

Monday, December 5, 2011

I THINK: Planning For The Future

So it's law school application crunch time, and at long last, I am setting procrastination aside in exchange for more productive pastimes. It's a funny thing, making plans. I'm rather attached to the process, so I admittedly get flustered when too many kinks arise. 

And yet, standing here at the other end of what has got to be the most dramatically inconclusive couple of weeks,  I can't help but be thankful the universe threw me the shitton of curveballs it did. 

Get inspired. And roll with it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I GO: Cairngorms National Park (It's A Lord Of The Rings Moment)

The last of the Scotland posts is here! :( I sure did drag them out though. If you've already watched my vlog about my time in the Scottish Highlands, you know that I spent the last day at the Caingorms National Park. 

For some reason I had it in my head that I wanted to see mountains in Scotland, and at the Cairngorms National Park, mountains I got. After taking a cab up to the base camp (a little ridiculous, I know), we embarked upon a hiking trail towards the mountain's apex. There were several different trails, and I have to say I felt pretty awesome seeing that the others on our trail all had walking sticks. Juxtaposed, I had a handbag and a camera. But then again, we didn't quite finish the whole trail; so I'm just going to admit I'm the biggest nature wuss out there.

The view to and from the plateau our hike culminated in was stunning, so enjoy the pictures after the jump! They make me desperately want to go back. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I WEAR: In Inverness

I'm splitting the last two Scotland posts into this one and tomorrow's, because I felt like the content warranted it. These were all taken in the beautiful Highland "capital" of Inverness while we were exploring the Ness Islands, save for the last one which was the dramatically breathtaking sunset we saw in Drumnadrochit.

Man, those Frye boots really are my traveling staple, huh? Enjoy the pictures after the jump!

Friday, December 2, 2011

I GO: Scottish Highlands

And we're back to a Scotland post. This time it's a short vlog on the second half of my Scotland weekend- the half spent in the Highlands. 

We took a scenic train from Edinburgh and Inverness, the "capital city" of the Highlands. The plan was that Inverness would function as home base, from where we would branch out and visit other regions. But given we were only in Scotland for a weekend, it proved inconvenient since many of the places we wanted to visit were several hours away from Inverness (plus, there's limited transport service on Sundays). No regrets though, I wanted mountains and I got mountains. I've just, at some point, got to wander back to the Highlands to see Glencoe and the Isle of Skye.

Enjoy the video!

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Thursday, December 1, 2011


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