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Firstly, when Googling Rio de Janeiro, I seriously had NO IDEA that the literal translation was River of January. Wow. I think that’s pretty adorable.

For as long as I can remember as an adult, Rio has always pretty high on my “places to go” list, since two of my dear friends grew up there. There’s something special about visiting a city where close friends grew up, right? It makes my heart warm and fuzzy. It’s also where my boyfriend’s little sister is studying abroad for a year, so basically it’s city that will be a topic of conversation for the years to come, I’m sure. Needless to say, I was so anxious to finally discover it. It’s a big city with big avenues and big beaches (and little swimsuits), well known by its three mountains: Corcovado, Sugarloaf and Two Brothers. One thing I noticed is that pretty much any direction you look in Rio de Janeiro you’ve got some breathtaking view in the distance. The city’s distinguishable neighborhoods are easily recognizable after even only a couple of days there: Urca, Ipanema, Botafogo, Jardim Bótanico, Copacabana, Gavéa, Santa Teresa, Lapa, Centro… Each of them with their own charm and rad things to see. And holy smokes is this city colorful!

Our taste of Rio was guided by one of my best pals, we stayed in the house she grew up in (already a really great experience as a friend). We were spoiled every morning with a typical Brazilian breakfast by her precious mother who has a humongous heart, and let me tell you, the Brazilians have some delicious cheese and they eat it for breakfast. I realized then and there that Brazilians probably start their day better than any of the rest of us. Our 3 days were jam-packed with sight-seeing and strolling with blue skies and hilly views. We went downtown in Centro with Ana Clara’s mom, popping in and out of fabric stores on the ground floors of pastel-colored buildings with colonial architecture. We ate a traditional dish, moqueca, with cocktails and craft beer in a bungalow that we had all to ourselves at the Santa Teresa neighborhood’s epic Aprazível, an evening that ended with 4 of us in the back seat of a cab and 2 up front while the driver was literally WhatsApping while driving. We spent hours strolling through the botanical gardens after downing a bowl of açaí. We people watched at the Praia Ipanema and watched the humongous waves crash against swimmers of all ages there. We danced to live Brazilian music at Rio Scenarium with our families without counting how many caipirinhas we had (and I realized that I look like a dancing chicken next to Ana Clara doing the samba). We went to a Brazilian barbecue restaurant. We took the cable cars up to the top of the Sugarloaf with thousands of other tourists. We sipped coconut water out of a freshly pierced coconut while Ana Clara told us stories of her growing up in the Urca neighborhood. Our days in Rio were magical, and honestly Louis and I are already stoked to go back.

Oh, and as humans that could never be mistaken for cariocas, the most practical and stress-free mode of transportation was taxis, which was much easier with locals because they have a rad smartphone application (usually around R$20-30, or 5-7€ to get from one neighborhood to another). Final note, the portions of food are all humongous in Brazil. Keep that in mind when you order food.

For more pictures of our trip to Rio de Janeiro and Ilha Grande, check out #megxrj on Instagram.

MY FAVORITE RIO PLACES:
Aprazível* – Modern flip on traditional Brazilian restaurant in Santa Teresa
Confeitaria Colombo – Lavish setting for a coffee and cake
Feira Hippie – Artisan and everything market on Sundays in Ipanema
Felice Caffè Bar et Gelateria  – Insanely delicious homemade ice cream
Garota de Ipanema – Brazilian barbecue joint in Ipanema
Devassa – Unpretencious restaurant and microbrewery in Ipanema or Copacabana
Jardim Bôtanico – Botanical Garden and Portuguese palm tree paradise
Pão de Açúcar / Sugarloaf – Iconic mountaintops accessible by cablecar in Urca
Parque Lage – Former residence of industrialist Enrique Lage, now art school and brunch venue
Rio Scenarium* – Live music venue and restaurant in Centro
*reservation required

 

A new city (and continent) to me, one where two of my closest friends grew up: discovering Rio de Janeiro was the perfect kick off to a new year with a fuzzy heart. I tried really hard with my basic Portuguese (aka random phrases), but most of the time it came out like Spanish with a German accent. I’ll need to work on that for next time.

The thought that in the minds of those from the Southern Hemisphere, December, January and February are the warmest of months will always intrigue me. I’m sure it’s the same the other way around when Northern hemisphere folk associate June, July and August with summer heat. Funny.

We should probably all just stop taking everything so seriously.

I have a thing or two to learn about packing for a tropical vacation. I even forgot to paint my toe nails. 

Coconut water is one if the greatest beverages on the planet.

A good book and the beach is a recipe for getting a sunburn. I just finished Big Magic and boy did I like it. 

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If you’ve followed my blog or know me you probably know I get a cake every year for Louis and I’s anniversary. I mean, come on, who doesn’t want an excuse for some cake?! This bad boy was done by none other than Cat from Sugar Daze (the only place I’d ever order a cake from in Paris). This year it really hit me, holy smokes, how has 6 years gone by so fast? This cake was dedicated to my boyfriend’s acceptance of my addiction to vintage teacups and glasses. Something about traditions makes me a happy girl, I mean, if we didn’t have that, what else would we have?

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How do you visualize a year? As long as I can remember, I always feel like a year is such a long period time, until I would think about it in terms of days:, 365. Three-hundred-sixty-five days seems so short. It my head it’s a linear view, January on the left and December on the right. The night between the 31st of December and the 1st of January visually I guess was sort of a transported leap back to the beginning. Anyways, a quick detour to insert the Rent song, Seasons of Love.

2015 was a pretty rad year. It was my second year as a financially independent professional, which I’ll probably stop counting in the coming years. It was less transitional than 2014 was, and particularly sticks out in my mind, when I look back, as a year filled with familiar faces passing through: the Ying to my Yang came for a week of Parisian summer shenanigans, Mom in town for nearby adventures and exhibitions, an old roommate stopping through, a childhood friend passing through on her way home from her Peace Corps term, also two very inspirational pals came to town for what turned out to be an unexpectedly heart-wrenching weekend for the City of Light. I’m genuinely happy that I was able to take a couple of little trips: to Munich to visit one of my favorite Brazilians, to Brussels with a dear friend, to the Canary Islands for a sun-filled and much needed getaway with my lover, a weekend in London to sew my bridesmaids dress with a bride-to-be for her wedding next summer, Christmas in Bretagne with my in-law’s at a family home filled with so many memories.

Throughout the year I was able to reconnect with so many people I care about a lot, which is unfortunately not possible every year for various reasons… Is it sad to think we’re already making plans for next Christmas?! I haven’t really set out my goals for this twenty-sixteen, but I do like the idea of a theme that my friend Anne told me about. One of my main goals is to keep my head as much as possible in the present, to take full advantage of the simple moments with the people I’m surrounded by. I have a tendency to think too far into the future and let it overpower my present. I’ve also ordered a bunch of books I plan to read and keep my mind churning with podcasts. These two points will have to somehow fit into the theme I’ll define my year by.

I sure hope the years don’t increasingly seem shorter and shorter as I continue to get older… Happy New Year, folks!

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It’s been a busy time these past weeks, which seems to always be the case when the holiday season rolls in. My days are better when they start with a coffee. The weeks that fly by with celebrations and seeing friends, which is infinately nice. At the office I’ve been playing my Christmas playlist over and over which makes me even more excited about the holiday festivities next week, even though my French boyfriend always asks why we have to watch The Family Stone or the Grinch every Christmas. It just is a must…

Unrelated, but I was feeling a bit nostalgic last week and thinking about memories of my elementary and middle school self: band practice, my brother picking me up in his navy blue pick-up truck after jazz bang let out, adventures at the local country club where we’d order candy and curly fries on our parents’ tabs with the other kids in the neighborhood, endless nights of running through the local golf course sprinklers and jumping on the trampoline texting boys. I have vivid memories of long summers staying up “late” with friends watching music videos on MTV. That is, before YouTube and direct access to everything and beyond. We had to watch what felt like hundreds of them before one that we actually liked came on. You know, some Britney, Blink 182, No Doubt… the memories! I got to thinking the other day, there are few things more moving than a great music video. You know, a good song and beautiful movements and visual storytelling to make a good song even more intense. I’m a sucker for that. Sometimes I even get goosebumps or teary-eyed, not even kidding…

A couple of music videos that I find to be quite rad:
The Love Within // Bloc Party
Flesh Without Blood // Grimes
Wildest Dreams // Taylor Swift
Magic // Coldplay
I Really Like You // Carly Rae Jepsen
Hopeless Wanderer // Mumford & Songs
Countdown // Beyoncé
In A World Like This // Backstreet Boys