Where to eat in Paris (and a bunch of nice photos)

I must say I much prefer Paris in the summer but ergh, let’s face it, it’s always beautiful.

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Where we stayed

In a cute studio apartment in Le Marais.

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What we did: 

Walked around the different areas of Paris, explored museums, spent some pennies at Chanel, went on a day trip to Versailles.

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Where we ate (well, where you should eat in Paris): 

Breakfast/Brunch

Season, 1 Rue Charles-François Dupuis

A really cute cafe. Expect the typical cafe foods: avocado toast, acai bowls. It’s similar to Farm Girl in that there seems to be quite a focus on health. I ordered the tumeric latte and matcha bowl (I know, super basic), but hey, it was delish.

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Ob-La-Di, 54 Rue de Saintonge

The menu isn’t exactly extensive but what they do do, they do well. That is, granola and toast. Get the tartine avocat with chimichurri sauce and pomegranates – it’s quite different. I have no idea why I ordered an iced almond latte considering it was sub-10 degrees.

Hardware Societe, 10 Rue Lamarck

An Australian cafe so you know you’re in for a treat. Amazing when you compare it to the cafes on offer (both in Paris and Europe, generally) but very similar to what you’d get at home. Excellent coffee, extra breakfast options eg. I got the pork belly and fried eggs. As if you’d find that in an otherwise typical European cafe. There’s a bit of a wait but worth it if you’re craving a taste of home. They do flat whites here.

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Wild & The Moon, 55 Rue Charlot

If your body’s full of wine, cheese and/or pastries, head here. It’s where everybody heads to detox. Think organic, cold-pressed juices and plant-based dishes. Sugar-free, fat-free, etc. etc.

Afternoon tea/snacks

Au Bouquet Saint Paul, 85 Rue Saint-Antoine

Baked. Camembert. ‘Tis all you need. Excellent service here also.

DSC02618Cafe Kitsune, 51 Galerie de Montpensier

You’ve probably seen their coffee cups all over Instagram. They do a good cofee – it’s right by the beautiful Jardin du Palais Royal so a good pit stop post-Lourve.

Laduree, 75 Av. des Champs-Élysées

It’s like tea and scones in London, it’s just gotta be done. And if you want to be extra bougie why not on the Champs Elysee, right by Louis Vuitton? Pictured: the lemon cake and raspberry and rose puff pastry.

DSC02743Angelina, 226 Rue de Rivoli

Calling all sweet tooths! This is a must – their hot chocolate is so decadent; so rich. For those who prefer something less diabetic, opt for the dark chocolate.

Au Petit Versailles du Marais, 1 Rue Tiron

A really cute pastry shop near our AirBnb. To be honest, you could eat at any patisserie and I’m sure you wouldn’t be disappointed. C’est la vie in Paree!

Dinner

Bistrot Chez France, 9 Rue Amélie

Gaspard de la Nuit, 6 Rue des Tournelles

L’As du Fallafel, 32 Rue des Rosiers 

Okay look I don’t remember too much about the above two restaurants. I mean they were delicious, I’m sure, but not exactly memorable. This last one however, L’As du Fallafel (!!!) is the absolute shit. We went here two nights in a row and both times it was packed to the rafters – both inside the actual restaurant and the takeaway queue. It’s cheap, it’s flavourful and it’s no fuss.

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Buying Chanel in Paris

Apologies in advance for the shameless gloating.

But I really, really love these earrings.

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When I knew that I was going to Paris, I knew that I had to visit the flagship store; Coco Chanel’s apartment. Like how I decided that I was to eat well on this trip, I knew that I wanted to buy something of significance, something memorable. Something iconic (to me) from an iconic store. And what’s more iconic to Paris than the Chanel store at 31 Rue Cambon?

I initially wanted to get a bag, specifically a Wallet on Chain, but I decided against that. If I am to get a bag, I wanted to get one at a milestone and one much fancier (apologies again) than a WoC. So I’m saving to get one for my 30th.

But these earrings.

Edgier than your typical CC studs, and the last one left at the store. They had to be mine.

My European beauty haul

I swear I lucked out with my colour scheme.

I say European, but I really mean London. You know, Boots, Harrods, M&S, Superdrug. Absolute heaven. I could’ve bought more, obviously, but my luggage was packed to the rafters with knits and boots and down jackets (tip: Europe in January is a crazy idea!).

And, of course, I went a little nuts at City Pharma in Paris, much to my partner’s dismay. Bioderma, Nuxe, Biafine, Homeoplasmine … oh boy was it chaotic. Go in there with a plan. Know what you want, get it, and get out.

Anywho, they aren’t pictured here (mainly because I was too lazy to go and grab them – oops!). But what is pictured:

  • Tanya Burr Cosmetics Birthday Suit Eye Palette
  • Nuxe Lip Balm
  • Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick in Stoned Rose
  • Charlotte Tilbury Brow Lift in Naomi
  • Collection Lasting Collection Concealer
  • Maison Margiela Replica fragrance in By the Fireplace
  • Rosie for Autograph Cream Eyeshadow Stick in Almond Eyes
  • Sleek Highlighting Palette in Precious Metals

What to see in Iceland (and doing my best not to go broke)

Ah, Scandinavia.

I’ve been dying to go and the only thing that was holding me back was the dollars. Oh, boy. I mean I’ve been to Switzerland, but I stayed with a friend and basically just chilled out the whole time.

If I was going to Iceland, I wanted to do everything. Eat well. See the sights. Chase the Northern Lights.

And I did all those things.

We booked most of the tours, as well as our accommodation (we stayed at Fron Hotel), via our agent at Flight Centre. Usually I book most of our things, but I thought it’d just be easier this way, what with the discounts, ease of mind. It included airport transfers also which helped. (Everything was with Garyline Iceland FYI.)

Iceland was also a lot colder than I expected. I mean I’d been to the Atacama Desert and that was cold. But this was another level. I had a beanie, scarf, two layers of gloves, thermals, a down jacket and a coat and it didn’t seem to help. I had to go and buy a fur-hooded coat and let me tell you, these things are not cheap. Thankfully I found a relatively cheap one (yep $250 is cheap at these shops). Another thing I recommend investing in is a balaclava because the wind is going to ruin your life – especially at night.

These are some of the activities we did while in Reykjavik:

Blue Lagoon

An absolute must! We went straight from the airport (they have luggage storage on site). Oh it is absolutely gorgeous and absolutely relaxing. We went in the evening as our flight didn’t land til about 3pm, but if you can, I recommend going earlier in the day so you can appreciate the spectacle. At night, it’s hard to see anything past all the steam.

There’s a bar with drinks and a bar with face masks for you to enjoy during the dip.

Free Walking Tour

I think walking tours are the best ways to explore a new city; to make an impression. Get all your tips on your first day – what to see, where to go, what to eat – whilst learning all about the history from the locals. We went with CityWalk, which is the highest rated one on TripAdvisor. I knew that Iceland was the most equal, most fair city in the world but there was so much I didn’t know – it was eye-opening. One of the tips given to us on the day was that the Hallgrimskirkja clock tower, besides being quite a vision itself, is a great vantage point. Just check it:

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Northern Lights

Duh.

The odds were in our favour but the tour guide did disclaim that the lights aren’t always prevalent and if so, we could try again another night free of charge.

But one hour into our six-hour tour … bam! There they are!

I think I was so excited that I totally forgot how cold it was and I dropped to the icy ground to stabalise my camera and did my best to capture the beauty. It was odd in that you couldn’t see the Northern Lights clearly unless you photograph it. It was sort of like a slight fog in the sky but once you snapped those frames, they’re green.

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South Coast & Jokulsarlon

This two-day tour consists of travelling “from Reykjavik along the south shore to the exceptional Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon at the edge of Vatnajokukll glacier”.

The tour consisted of my partner and I, as well as two other couples. Great that we didn’t spend too long at places and that there were other people to talk to (as well as take photos for us!).

Not since South America had I seen scenery so stunning.

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Justwhen we thought it couldn’t get any better, just as the sun was about to set, the sky turned into this gorgeous pastel pink hue. I think I must’ve taken about 2000 photos in those five minutes.

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Note, that even though the cost of accommodation (at Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon) is included, dinner is not (though the ridiculously good buffet breakfast the next morning is). Don’t skimp at the dinner – order three courses like we did because you’ve got to make the most of your time there, right?

The next day we saw a lot of seals(!) while exploring Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, which was just so blue and icy. Check out those slabs of ice at Diamond Beach! (Real name: Jokulsarlon beach, and that’s washed-up icebergs.) There’s a lot of black sand – equally at Reynisdrangar also where we went afterwards.

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Golden Circle

Not as amazing as the previous tour, but that’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable or any good (all relative, ya know?). I guess it was just more breezy and overcast this day. But in the end, it all adds to the mood.

“The Golden Circle Classic Tour takes you from Reykjavik city to Thingvellir National Park”, reads our itinerary. Þingvellir National Park is a UNESCO listed park and “home to Iceland’s largest natural lake and the place where the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia split and drift apart”.

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Oh, right. How to save money. How misleading of me.

Look, to be honest, everything is quite expensive but it’s all about where you can sacrifice/skimp, amirite? Most of the time, while travelling, that’s breakfast for me. Just a yoghurt from the supermarket will do. So a lot of the mornings I ate the Icelandic yoghurt Skyr.

Another recommendation, and this is actually a well-known Reykjavik establishment, is to eat at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. It’s been called “the world’s most successful hotdog stand” by Forbes. It’s not exactly a mind-blowingly delicious hot dog, but it is good. And it’s cheap.

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Other food places I’d recommend while in Reykjavik:

Eldur og Ís, Skólavörðustígur 2

A great place to stop, catch your breath, and warm up. They have a variety of hot chocolates on offer, from Tolberone to Nutella. They also do crepes.

Noodle Station, Laugavegur 103

Another super cheap institution. Flavourful Asian soup that’s no-fuss. Just noodles and protein.

Ostabúðin, Skólavörðustígur 8

Of course, the city is by the water so its seafood is pristine. I had the whale steak and the seafood soup. Whale is kind of like chewy steak IMO. I’m one of those travellers that likes to sample local cuisine when in that country and as much as I’m against the practice, I wanted to try a teeny amount. And the soup was just ridiculously good. Perfect to warm up with; so hearty.

Sæta Svínið Gastropub, Hafnarstræti

A gastropub that actually serves strange dishes. Like avocado fries? I mean I was seriously a bit like “hmm” when I read it on the menu, but look, like all the things we ate at the restaurant and in Iceland in general, it was delicious. Other dishes we ordered: caramelised popcorn and lobster tail.

Where to eat and where to find good coffee in London

You’re welcome.

This is the first trip since New York where I’ve actively sought out good food.

I’m kicking myself for gallivanting all over Europe, all over the “must-do cities” like Berlin, Amsterdam, Vienna, Rome, Venice and not exploring its culinary offerings properly.

But not this time.

I researched. I wrote myself a list. I starred so many places on Google Maps. I was ready.

So without further ado, here are some of my recommendations.

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Where to eat for breakfast

Dishoom, 5 Stable St

There’s a few of these around London so you’re in luck. Perfect for when it’s cold or when you’re just after a hearty meal. The house chai is to-die for.

Farm Girl, 59A Portobello Rd

For those after a health kick / a detox from all the yellow and brown-hued meals. This place serves smashed avo, smoothies, coloured lattes – all the superfoods. It’s also nested in the cute area of Notting Hill so go for a little peruse prior.

Granger and Co, Stanley Building, 7 Pancras Square

If you’re craving an Australian-style brunch and not this baked beans and eggs only business, eat here. There’s a few around London and they’re pretty fancy with their dishes – I had a soft shell crab and chorizo kim chi fried rice and an almond milk-spiced chai.

Where to eat for lunch

Borough Market, 8 Southwark St

Okay this is an obvious one. I went here the first time I was ever in London so this an exception to the “new me”. It’s great for sampling different dishes and there’s almost something for everybody. My personal favourite? The paella. That and the fresh fruit on offer (because we all know how hard that is to find in central London).

NOPI 21-22 Warwick St

Ottolenghi’s all-day brasserie with dishes designed to be shared.

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Where to eat for dinner

Strut & Cluck, 151 Commercial St

Modern Middle Eastern food – absolutely delicious. A cute little restaurant in Shoreditch with impeccable service, you need to order the labneh, smoked eggplant and lamb kofta.

Sketch, 9 Conduit St

Save your pennies because this place is expensiveeeeee. It does, however, also have the best interiors and bathroom/toilet (strange, I know, but true) of any restaurant I’ve been to. I hear they also do afternoon tea so that may be a more inexpensive way of checking the place out/ticking it off your list.

Breddos Tacos, 82 Goswell Rd, Islington

Great Mexican-style tacos and cocktails. You should try and get there early though because there is a bit of a wait – we were seated at the bench by the door. It was fine but I mean not ideal when you’ve ordered what feels like a zillion dishes.

Sheba, 136 Brick Ln

Okay I know there are a ton of Indian restaurants on Brick Lane and sometimes it can get quite daunting, what with everyone yelling their offers at you. I highly recommend this place. It was actually where we had our last dinner and boy was it memorable.

Quick Bites

Biscuiteers, 194 Kensington Park Rd

Stumbled upon this place because if it’s extremely cute exterior but BOY OH BOY we had the BEST carrot cake of our lives here! We still regularly recall the cake and would go back and order five more if possible. A definite must if you’re in the area and the service was just wonderful.

Debenhams, 334-348 Oxford St

Okay we went to use their toilet but stayed for scones and tea because honestly you just have to when in England. And it was delicious comfort food (as you’d expect).

Coffee

Trade, 47 Commercial Street

Kaffeine, 66 Great Titchfield St

Flat White, 17 Berwick St

What to pack: the travel essentials

After a few long haul flights, I think I’ve got it down pat.

Here are some things I think you’ll need when you go travelling (and to store in your carry-on if possible):

  • Passport (obviously). But I’ve been loving The Daily Edited’s travel wallet to carry it in – it has compartments for credit cards, boarding passes, as well as a detachable passport cover. Very handy.
  • Travel cards. And by that, I mean prepaid cards, transport cards (in my case I’m heading to London again so I’m bringing along the Oyster card I picked up back in 2013.) I’m going to be carrying all this in a card wallet.
  • Phone, because, duh.
  • A fragrance. Less than 100mL, obviously, and something seasonal.
  • A compact camera. I love the Sony RX100 III – I’ve had it since South America. It takes beautiful photos, has a great battery life and I particularly love the selfie mode when you can’t find anybody to take a picture of you.
  • Then some basic beauty essentials (there’s obviously a lot more where this came from but this is literally just the bare minimum): a lip colour, sunscreen and maybe something for the eyes.

Finally ticking Machu Picchu off my bucket list

Just. So. Damn. Bloody. Incredible.

I don’t want to be a cliché but it’s everything I expected, wanted, and more.

At this point we had already 1) cycled through the Atacama Desert 2) survived Death Road and 3) climbed Rainbow Mountain.

I mean, the trek up wasn’t ideal or exactly well-received, but I’m so glad I climbed my way to the top, instead of taking the bus there (which, to be 100% honest, I almost did – only because it had rained quite heavily the night earlier and I thought the stairs might be slippery; they were, but nothing ridiculous).

But first, let me tell you about the tour my friends and I went with to get there.

We did not do the Inca Trail (I really don’t expect much of myself/my fitness), so we went with the three-day Inca Jungle Tour which included downhill biking, rafting, some hiking and zip-lining. Still adventurous, but with less hiking. I highly, highly recommend it. It was so much fun.

Anyway, back to the Wonder of the World.

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We made it just in time for our 630am tour at Machu Picchu buuuuuut it was so goddamn foggy that you could not see a thing. I mean we were walking through the ruins, but I had no idea what the guide was referring to. I was just praying internally that the fog would clear and we’d be able to see something.

It took a while, and we missed our session to climb Machu Picchu Mountain (totally fine with me, I was still wrecked from the first climb at that point), but eventually, ta-da!