Two Days in the City of Love; What You Need to Know and Do

Of all the places I’ve traveled, Paris has to be that one city where I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to be able to see everything I wanted to in such a short period of time. Thankfully, I was able to get through most of the things I wanted to see, largely due to good preplanning, and extra time that I had built into my days.

One of the biggest tips about Paris I can give you is to wear good walking shoes. I opted for style over comfort the first day (where most of my walking came in) and I largely regretted it the next day when my feet were aching. I’m not saying to toss aside your boots and throw on your running shoes in one of the most stylish European cities, but be prepared for all of the walking you will do, because it is much more than you think it will be. Bring shoes that are better for walking several miles in, or find shoe inserts that will make for much more comfortable walking.

Another must for transportation is to purchase the 2-day (in my case) tourist metro pass. It clocked in to be my most expensive purchase (36€) but I rode the metro at least that many times while I was in Paris, since I was doing all of the major sightseeing all over the city in such a short amount of time. I would highly recommend doing this over a 10-ride pass because those will simply turn out to be more expensive in the long run if you are staying in Paris for less than a few days. Be careful not to lose the metro pass. I cannot stress this enough, as Paris’ metro tickets are less than half the size of a credit card and very easy to misplace.

As for trying to pack all of the sights in two days, here is how I went about it:

Unfortunately since I was low both on time and money, I did not get to enter some of the sites I mention. Feel free to build time into your own travels.

Friday morning, I landed at Charles de Gaulle, and made it to my Airbnb in Pantin (best described as a “suburb” right outside of Paris) by 11am. After dropping off my luggage and greeting friends, we headed towards Notre-Dame Cathedral.


After walking around it (and getting a few selfies, of course) I made my way along the Seine for quite a while towards the Louvre. If you would prefer to take the subway, I don’t doubt there are routes to take that are very quick, but the walk was fairly pleasant and a good way to see the city.


Beware of pickpockets and people trying to sell things to you outside of the Louvre and Eiffel. These are presumably two of the biggest tourists destinations in Paris, so they will do anything to try to sell you the knick-knacks that they have. Otherwise it was a pleasant environment, and there aren’t so many people as to ruin any pictures you might want to take.

After the Louvre, we made our way Tuileries Garden and down Champs-Élysées (shopping destination, tourist central) to the Arc de Triomphe. There is a small median in the middle of the street here where you can stop for a quick second to take a picture head-on, but be careful and watch for reckless drivers. You quite literally are standing in the middle of the street, and the drivers in Paris are ruthless to say the least.


Afterwards, I made a quick stop for a late lunch at a crêperie about a 10 minute walk away. There are several places you can get crepes nearby, but unless you are okay with paying higher prices for the same food that is along Champs-Élysées, I recommend walking to a place out of the way.

My next stop was to Printemps department store, also on Champs-Élysées. This may sound like a weird stop, but the view from the open-air cafe on the top floor explains it all:


As I said before, there’s a small cafe up here that sells some cheap coffee and snacks. If you plan to sit up here for a bit (I did) it’s polite to purchase something.

After this we took the subway towards the 18th arr. to see The Love Wall of Paris. It’s not well known, and it’s in a secluded location right off the subway stop but it’s definitely a sight that was on my bucket list. On this wall, the phrase “I love you” is written in every documented language known.


After this, I headed back to the Louvre to actually go inside (and pay a visit to Mona Lisa herself!) The Louvre is free on Fridays after 6pm for those under 25, so if that is you, I recommend going at this time. The price to enter isn’t hefty normally, but it’s extra money in my pocket.

Day 2

Today we started off bright and early at 8am to go see the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. It’s free to enter (all except climbing up to the top of the dome) so I highly recommend going as early as humanly possible. By the time we were leaving the crowds and lines to enter were extremely long, compared to basically just walking through the door at 830am. This is another location to be aware of scam artists, because they will block entire sidewalks so you have to talk to them. I even had one try to grab my arm in an attempt to stop me. The views both inside and outside the church are worth it though, but be prepared for a lot of stairs.


After soaking up some sunshine, we headed to go see the Moulin Rouge nightclub in Paris.


After a subway ride, we stopped in a small store and had a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower. There are several places to do so but we chose a secluded area on concrete near a pool of water.


Afterwards, many of us split off to do our own things, but some of us decided to do one of the musts of Paris: shopping. After a half an hour walk past the right side of the Eiffel in the above pic and down a side street, we took the subway to Galeries Lafayette, a large, upscale shopping mall. Even if you’re not one for shopping, come to admire the ornate detailing on the ceiling and sides of the building, or snap a good picture on the bridge connecting one portion of the mall to the other.


For dinner, we stopped in the Jewish Quarter for some falafel, and headed back to the Eiffel to see the lights show at night. Fun fact- it’s actually illegal to film this…but tell that to the several thousand people around the city doing just that at the top of each hour.

The light show is quite simple and lasts only 5 minutes at the top of each hour at night, but it’s definitely something to be seen.


After talking to some girls I met from around the world in a hostel, they were quite surprised that I had been to Paris. They had heard it was dangerous, and they weren’t quite sure if they would go anytime soon or not.

To be fair, if you’re from the States, traveling abroad is another animal entirely from traveling in our own country. Here, we are more worried about violence and bad areas; there, they are more worried about petty theft. There aren’t many violent crimes, if any, that take place in Europe, but people will not hesitate to steal a loosely carried handbag or a stray phone. As long as you keep your wits about you and aren’t causing a scene, you’ll be safe. Just keep all of your belongings put away or out of sight of passersby.

Des voyages sûrs!



We Were Staying in Paris (…and Dancing in the Streets of Barcelona)

If you’re able to shamelessly catch the songs in my blog title, this is me figuratively giving you a hug:


All kidding aside, my blog has been fairly inactive for the last month (cue me getting asked by everyone about what is going down in my life):


A few weeks ago, I got word that I am officially attending CUNY Hunter College in the fall to continue my BSN degree! I will be able to keep up a running blog in my time in NYC, and be able to give you the ins and outs of the city (Once I fully develop that on my own, of course!) Still unsure if I will be graduating with the class of 2019 or 2020, but as long as I finish my degree, that’s all that matters.


I’m still single, no worries there.

ALSO I still love french toast so all is normal here.

Now for the REAL reason behind this post:

Tonight starts my spring break, where I’ll be heading off to Paris on a 630pm flight (yay!) to stay for a few days, then flying off to Barcelona for a view of the sights, sangria, and practicing my Spanish, of course. (fun fact: they speak Catalin, which is a combination of French and Spanish. So my muddled Spanish will only help me be able to ask questions in something closer to the native language.)

Honestly, I had no intention of going abroad for spring break, but since a few of my friends study in Paris and Barcelona, I figured now would be a better time than ever to make a trip there!

(Plus, now I suppose I can see if the rain in Spain truly does fall mainly on the plain.)

I don’t have a straight itinerary of everything I’m going to do, rather a list of things I want to see. If you have any more ideas for me, drop me a message and let me know!


Eiffel Tower

Arc de Triomf

Louvre (1st arr.)-Free on Friday after 6pm, Mona Lisa!!

Le Palais Royal (1st arr.)

Notre Dame Cathedral

Sainte Chapelle

Rue Cler (7th arr.)-food shopping

Printemps Terrace (8th arr.)- good photo op, good cafe

Champs-Elysees (8th arr.)- SHOPPING

Wall of Love (18th arr.) (featured above)


Sagrada Familia (pictured below)

Park de Guell (Park Guell Candy House)

Barceloneta & Bacoa Burger Bar

Camp Nou



St Joseph la Boqueria- Food Market

Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic)

Mango/Primark- Shopping

Casa Batllo

Columbus Monument


Pics to follow soon!

¡Adéu per ara!


Why You Should Consider Day Trips; Ireland, Pt. 2

When I got to Ireland a little over two weeks ago, I was confronted with two options to consider: Spend all of my time in Dublin, or drop $50+ on a day trip to several locations across the country. For a college student, $50 is quite a bit of money to drop on something that you’re not even sure you’re going to enjoy; in this case, I was glad I took the risk.

The trip I chose was through Wild Rover Tours (10/10 would recommend!) and was a tour featuring the Cliffs of Moher and Galway, on the west side of the country.

The bottom half is my journey out; the top half was my journey back.

Although, of course, I knew I was getting a tour of the two, I didn’t expect a full tour of the countryside on the way there, along with four hours worth of culture, history, and Irish music. This was my journey.

Our morning started out with a breakfast stop at the Barack Obama Visitor’s Centre a little outside of Limerick. In Ireland, when a president of another country visits, they name a gas station or a visitor’s centre after them as tradition in one of the towns they visited.

Our drive was accompanied by sights of many ruins of castles, the one below of Bunratty Castle, left over from the Norman Invasion into Ireland.


Our drive took us through “Rocky Road Roundabout”, where the Statue of Ennis stands tall in the center. The story goes that the people around the time the statue was sculpted were jealous of how big Ennis’, shall I say, man parts were, so they ended up leaving them off of his statue.


After a little drive through the town of Ennis (where the creator of RyanAir lived!), we ended up in the town next door of Ennistimon, with it’s Irish-standard rectangular buildings and colors that match the landscape.


Just outside of Ennistimon is the An Gorta Mór, or Famine Memorial. Although the Great Potato Famine was several hundred years ago, it is still a topic that weighs heavily on the hearts of Irish folk.


A (not so) fun fact I learned from this trip was the story behind the stone walls that exist everywhere in Ireland, and can be seen behind this memorial. Because the terrain in Ireland is so rocky, it was impossible to do any kind of farming  until the rocks were moved away from the crops. Most of the walls that are still around to this day are the same walls that were put together by victims of the famine. The rock walls served no real purpose in farming, but were an efficient and savvy way to get rid of the rocks. The victims would spend their entire days moving these rocks, hoping to earn enough money or be able to bring home a little bit of food to ease the famine’s effects on their families. They stand as a solemn reminder through Ireland today of the repercussions of having an economy based solely on a few exported products.

About 15 minutes later, a rainbow appeared to my right, and stayed with us for much of the journey.


After a few more turns, we finally made it to the Cliffs of Moher! This is a sight best seen in person and not by pictures, and is truly breathtaking to see. If you are visiting in the winter or early spring months, I would HIGHLY suggest bringing a heavy coat, scarf, and gloves. It wasn’t so cold in Dublin, or in Galway, but the wind came off the coast so strongly and frigid while I was here! We were able to hike up the side of the cliffs, but I do caution you to be careful as you quite literally hike up the side, and there are no walls or railings to block you from falling over the cliff. The wind is actually strong enough to blow you over too, so it adds more risk to climbing. Since it was a little rainy outside at the time, I didn’t hike far for fear of falling.



The castle at the top of the hill is O’Brien’s Castle, which is fashioned more into an observatory you can climb up for an extra fee, to get a better view of the Cliffs. Instead, I just got a (very cold) touristy picture in front of it.


After some time in the Cliffs’ Learning Centre, and some time filing up on gifts, food, and coffee, we were back on the road to Galway!

We made a short stop along the way at The Burren, a rock formation created by lava long before the area was settled. We stopped in a more densely-formed area, but The Burren stretches along the coast for several miles on both sides.


A little while further into the drive, and we stopped to view a life-sized leprechaun’s castle that was built alongside the road. Irish people do not let anything come between their superstitious ways.

There was some rain on the window, so the picture didn’t turn out QUITE like it should have.

About a half an hour later, we finally made it into Galway!


Galway is a much smaller, but very welcoming town on the western end of Ireland, and I’m glad I got to experience it myself. Along my short walking tour, I learned about the culture of the major families that essentially “ran” Galway in the Medieval times, the biggest being the Lynch family. If you have time, read up on their backstory! They’re quite a twisted-fairytale kind of family, and their son was (literally) saved from a burning building by their pet monkey.

Unfortunately, the same son committed crimes in early adulthood, and had to be executed by his own father, since nobody wanted to be the one to kill the son of the most powerful family; hence the term “being lynched” came into existence. This is a picture of the window his son was hung from.


After some time walking around and exploring Galway, I stopped in a Butler’s Chocolate & Coffee Shop for none other than chocolate and coffee. I was told online that if I were to go to any shops in Ireland at all, this was the place to be, and they were not mistaken.


The white chocolate was a latte flavor, and was delicious. If you want the full Irish experience, go for the Bailey’s cream-filled chocolate I have there as well. It might possibly have been one of the most delicious chocolates in my life.

My coffee was a white chocolate mocha, which WAS inarguably the best latte I’ve had in my entire life. It’s nothing like the super-bland espresso versions that Starbucks has. It was sweet, but not too sweet where it was undrinkable. When I was leaving Dublin, I picked up a final (*sniff*) cup of Butler’s and that’s when I found out why they were so good; instead of using coffee syrups like Starbucks, they LITERALLY take a scoopful of Nutella-consistency white chocolate and mix it into the espresso.


After boarding the bus (and sleeping the whole way home), I made my way back to my hostel where I met up with one of my roommates for pizza and Guinness in the bar. The pizza wasn’t the greatest (I’m a spoiled Chicagoan) but I’m not a beer drinker, so I needed something to go with the Guinness. It would’ve been a sin to leave without trying it in the homeland, and the story goes “Guinness is better in Ireland!” so I did have some, but I do like my Irish Coffee much better. I have more of a sweet tooth, what can I say?

The point is, if you find yourself questioning if you should shell out that extra money for a guided trip, do it. It was one of the best decisions I made, and it opened my eyes to the possibility of doing many more of these in the future. Besides, $50 to go on a 12-hour journey across a country? You’re coming out on the other end with a bargain, really.




The (Un)luck of the Irish, and Everything in Between: Ireland, Pt.1

5 days post-Ireland, and I think it’s safe to say I’ve finally made a full recovery from the 19 hours of traveling, and all of the jetlag that added up after 4 nights of no sleep!

Since I was there for 2 full days (and then some) I’m splitting my Ireland trip into two parts; Day 1 is my time in Dublin, and Day 2 is my time across the country in Galway.

Unfortunately for this first post, only a few of the pictures will be my own. Of course, as any good tourist would, I had taken several pictures of everything I saw. Theft got the better of me though, and I found myself with my phone stolen out of my hand by a bicyclist within 5 hours of my landing in Dublin (Can I check “being scared in a foreign country” off my anti-bucket list now?). Nonetheless, Dublin was beautiful and had much to offer me, so at the very least I have the experience of being there to talk about!

I landed in Dublin at about 10am, and after some time in customs (where I’m always afraid I’ll say something wrong and get in trouble!) I made it to Usher’s Quay before 11am!

I used the Airlink 747 bus to get to Dublin. Now, whether you like public transport or prefer the solidarity of a taxi cab, the Airlink buses are the CHEAPEST and fairly efficient way to get there. I paid 10€ for a return ticket, but the bus fare one way is only 6€. Honestly, how could you go wrong, when taxi fares are at least 20€ for the same distance?


The Airlink buses have several drop-off points throughout the city, but Usher’s Quay was closest to where I wanted to be. They drop you off along the River Liffey, as you can see above.

My hostel didn’t allow check-in until 2pm, so I took this opportunity to just walk around and explore the area. I ran into the famed Temple Bar, which I believe is probably hard to find if you were actually looking for it, as I took a side street (that looked more like an alley) and walked through a few streets like this to find it.

Courtesy of

I also did some shopping in the Ilac Shopping Centre, one of Dublin’s big shopping malls, to catch up on the European fashion. It might be overcast and rainy almost everyday there, but it doesn’t do anything to hurt how fashionable the people in Dublin are!

Courtesy of

And of course, I had to get a little taste of home in a foreign country, and was pleasantly surprised with the spelling of my name on the cup:


Traditionally, my name in Ireland is spelled as Cailín, but is still pronounced as Colleen, which is just the Americanized spelling. I’m still tempted to change it to the traditional spelling, but then think of how hard it is already for people to pronounce my name as it is; unless you live in Ireland, this is just a phonetical nightmare.

After a little more walking around…and my phone getting stolen…and putting in statements with the Irish Guard (which are lovely people!) I finally committed to staying in for the rest of the night, and meeting my hostel roommates, which were also very lovely. Two were from Brazil (one a mother, one a student, neither knew each other), one was from Hamburg, Germany, and on the second night we were joined by two girls from the States (Who didn’t talk to us once) and a girl who was an Irish Citizen, but out in Dublin for work.

Second post will be up soon!


Arrived at O’Hare…

It’s 6am-most of you (in Chicago, at least) are still fast asleep, and I’ve already walked through security, picked up my standard cup of coffee, and have plopped myself in front of my gate, where I will sit for (at least) the next 3 hours.

Fun, right?

Okay, not fun, but still exciting as heck!

It’s the morning of Day 1 (which will turn into Day 2 as I fly over the Atlantic later this evening) and the nerves are kicking in, but the adrenaline rush of setting out on a new frontier alone is what makes me the travel junkie I am.

Of course, I’ll be sitting tight for quite awhile. Since I am a standby passenger on 99.9% of flights I take, my days at the airport often are full of anxiety of getting to the gate on time, sitting as close to the ticket counter as possible, and hopng that maybe, just maybe, there’s enough vacant seats that I’ll be able to finally take a deep breath as I’m handed a boarding pass with an actual seat number on it. 

Obviously, there are times when the deep breath is in frustration, because it’s the 3rd flight in a row to my destination I’m bumped off of, and I’ve already been at the airport for 9 hours (been there, done that!).

Of course, the benefits of having this status (Thanks mom!) are DEFINITELY more of a blessing than a curse.

For the (very) low price of $12, I fly virtually across the globe. My time is most definitely worth the money I save.

As I go along this trip, I will do my best to blog my days, but most likely I will be posting a lump of pictures and posts the day I come back.

I leave you now to go convert some cash into Euros!

Au revoir!


How I Packed My 5 Day Trip…Into a Backpack?

(Picture courtesy of Go-Today)

With the looming deadline of my Dublin trip (T-minus 2 days!) I figured it was about time for me to quit procrastinating on packing, and start getting my life together (ha).

Normally I am the over-packer, the person who fits two extra outfits into the suitcase because there’s room (and who knows what could happen!) and ends up buying so many souvenirs on the trip I am forced to sit on the suitcase just to yank the zippers closed.

This trip will be the first of it’s kind for many reasons: Not only is it my first time in Europe, but it’s also my first time staying in a hostel. Due to my paranoia of things getting stolen since I have no idea who the 5 other people in my room will be, I was focused this time on bringing the bare minimum of goods necessary to both not wear the same things everyday, and make it easy to lock up my luggage under the bed while I’m out exploring.


While I was packing, I divided my contents into things that I cannot lose, and things that can be replaced. All of my important items are packed into my Vera Bradley Hipster-style crossbody (Which is a godsend of a bag to bring on vacations, and has an outside pocket that fits my passport for easy access while I’m in the airport) and my replaceable items are in my Jansport backpack that I normally carry across campus at school.

The items in my purse are as follows:

  • Essentials: Passport, wallet, phone charger, backup phone batteries
  • Airplane Necessities: Earbuds, snacks, pens
  • Necessities For Where I’m Headed: Umbrella, outlet converter plugs

Overall a fairly light list, but once I’m past security at the airport, I will be purchasing water, coffee, and a few additional snacks for breakfast/dinner.

Dublin can be compared to Seattle: always misty and rainy. The umbrella is self explanatory.

Since I’m only charging my phone where I’m headed, I don’t need an outlet voltage converter (since phones & their respective chargers operate on dual voltage), but if I was bringing a curling iron or such, I would need it. Remember, wall outlets are differently shaped across the world, so if you plan to travel outside of the U.S., you must buy the adapters. The set I own can be found here, a fairly cheap set manufactured by CONAIR, that I purchased at Target, but is also sold at Walmart.

The items in my backpack are as follows:

  • My RN Exam book (Since I will be taking the test in February and need to study!)
  • A pair of jeans
  • Underwear, socks, bra
  • 3 shirts, 2 camis
  • A small makeup bag with my bare-minimum of makeup and toiletries
  • A Ziploc bag with my liquids (for airport security)
  • A bag of snack food containing: 5 granola bars, 4 bags of fruit snacks, 2 snack-size bags of almonds, a snack-pack of shelf-stable salami, and some chocolate
  • An additional Ziploc bag
  • An additional drawstring backpack

This is where my packing and airplane outfit build off of each other; I’m gone for 5 days, but since I will also be wearing leggings, a cardigan, my jacket, and a scarf on the plane, I have enough items to make outfits without being seen re-wearing something a second time.

As you can see above, my clothing is packed into Ziploc bags, rolled up. This is both to keep my clothes from any rain or insects I might come in contact with, and to conserve space while keeping everything organized.

My “snack food” bag doubles as my midday meals and/or light breakfast while I’m gone, which is a big money saver. Although I do plan on experiencing as much of the culture as possible (I’m only 2 generations removed from Ireland!) spending at least $10 each meal starts to stack up over time- this comes out to at least $150, if not more!

My snacks will account for about 4 meals, saving about $40. This may seem small, but that’s $40 more I can spend on souvenirs and clothes!

Speaking of clothes, the extra Ziploc bag and drawstring bag are for my travel home. I anticipate myself bringing home a lot more than I came there with, so I want to be prepared with something to stash it all in! Dublin is one of the more fashionable cities in Europe, so I plan to bring some of the European fashion home with me!


And there you have it! I’m finally one step closer to leaving! All that’s left is hammering out the itinerary, and boarding the planes. Maybe some Duolingo of Irish along the journey so I can remember more than just uisce, the word for water?

Buille faoi thuairim mé beidh orainn a fheiceáil!