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So, Brussels. A city I’ve always had my eyes on. I had some weird interest in Belgium as a teenager. Maybe something about smaller cities or Flemmish men, uh hem…. But really. Even after meeting Louis we had one shared interest if we had to leave Paris: go to Brussels. Why, you ask? I don’t really know. Good beer, a smaller more spread out, less pretentious city. I find that it has a more simple charm I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s the pastel couple story buildings, the residential pockets, or the good beer everywhere. OH, and the fact that there is flea market every single day. Looking at these pictures I’m already so anxious to go back and discover more about the city and more about Belgian beer culture.

Anne and I made it out there for one weekend, I just ended up liking it even more. A short train ride from Paris, we went from city center to city center, and were immediately ready for fries and beer. Thanks to many recommendations from various travel bugs, we kicked off our 2 day trip with soft boiled eggs and tea at a fairytale café situated in the Ixelles neighborhood. Roaming the streets seemed so calm compared to Paris, with the hills and wider sidewalks with long stretches of beautiful doors before pockets of cute shops or cafés. The flea market and vintage shops were obviously up on our list, so under the blazing Spring sun we headed to the city center where I succeeded in buying too many random trinkets. Needless to say had we come by car I would have gone bonkers at the flea market. We made our way to LLB’s reco for lunch, Les Brassins, which was just amazing with the local Brasserie de la Senne on tap (Don’t forget, you pay for water in Belgium!).

Seriously, this was the longest but one of the greatest days of all time in my eyes. We were staying at the Pantone Hotel – which by the way was a great deal and location – so we relaxed a bit before hitting up the renowned Delirium Bar. It was super crowded and pub-like, as suspected for the biggest beer bar ever on a Saturday night, but a must do. I recommend the tap bar, give draft a try before opening some bottles. Marissa and her Brussels-encyclopedia-of-a-boyfriend recommended what ended up being my favorite place in Brussels (aside from the flea market): Monk. A spaghetti bar in the back of the place with an epic beer list? Yes please. So simple and so spot on. Our dishes were paired with a bottle of the delicious Avec Les Bons Voeux.

Our second and last day started with breakfast out in another suburb. The trams were so adorable, and often the old-fashioned cars, just one more thing I really enjoyed about this city, gah. We made our way to the Wiels Contemporary Art Centre (the industrial and stunning space is actually a former 1930s brewery) to check out their current exhibitions — one actually involved a moving-slowly-with-grace-quartet. It was quite impressive. Anne had knew the folks behind an awesome place called Living Room on the other side of town, so we trammed and trekked to another suburb out East. The Living Room, though. Holy moly. Located near the Parc Cinquantenaire, it’s a tasteful design and furniture store with cakes, teas a healthy and colorful lunch menu. The cherry on top, turns out we were right by the reputable Friterie Maison Antoine. I still don’t understand some of the sauces.

The end of our trip was spent at Beer Mania, a beer shop I had been eyeing, amongst the millions there probably are in that city. The guy at the shop was just the best, and told us the story about the Westvleteren beers. We indulged in a perfectly chilled Westvleteren 12. I was a happy girl. To rub it in, read more about how epic that beer is.

BRUSSELS PLACES:
Beer Mania // Beer shop
Delirium Café // Nighttime beer spot
La Mercerie // Salon de thé
Gaudron // Eatery
Les Brassins // Belgian Restaurant
Living Room // Eatery + Design and Furniture shop
Maison Dandoy // Sweetshop and Waffle Haven
Monk Bar // Restaurant, spaghetti bar + cocktails
Wiels Contemporary Art Centre // Museum

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When flying through Dallas home for the holidays last year, I knew I had to make a pit stop in Dallas to see my doll and favorite Texan, Annie, with whom I went to Uni in Paris. Depsite the super duper early morning flight after a snow storm hit Denver that previous evening, I was perky as can be and so stoked to finally go outside of the DFW airport walls.

Annie was one of my main partners in crime in Paris, the girl is passionate about good food with quality ingredients and homegirl knows her history. It was damn exceptional to finally get to her hood and see her fav’ spots. Our day was a quick one: around 9am to 4pm when had to be back at the airport. We kicked off the morning right: with coffee and breakfast tacos in the Deep Ellum neighborhood. Super wide streets bordered by brick buildings and precious storefronts and colorful street art… damn, in my eyes Dallas is incredibly charming! Downtown we made a quick pit stop so I could buy some cowboy boots (when in Rome, right?) before heading up for pie and a stroll in the Bishop Arts District. I was rather intrigued by the deserted areas with bail bond shops and supersized billboards and Texan flags blowing in the wind… it was the perfect speedy tour of Dallas. The southern draw truly brought a smile to my face. Of course, the trip couldn’t wound off better, as we headed to chill a bit at one of Annie’s favorite places, the Katy Trail Icehouse in Uptown. This magical venue is an outdoor beer garden with fried jalepeños. We sipped Deep Ellum Brewery’s IPA and chatted away until I had to head back to the airport to get my bum back to frogland. Le sigh, next time for more than just a layover, Dirty D.

All Good Café – Deep Ellum – Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner Magic
Emporium Pies - Bishop Arts District – Pie Stop
Katy Trail Icehouse - Uptown – Beer Garden Hangout/Lunch/Dinner/Late night

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One of my closest girlfriends, Ana Clara, moved to Munich with her honey for work. Naturally I just had to make it over there to see her life there one weekend. Don’t forget that Munich is freakin’ cold. A February weekend in Munich was a brave choice on my part. Going when it’s balls cold made me even more excited to pop by when the sun is out and we can stroll through the English gardens.

Back to the point: I had been to Munich before twice, once when I was studying abroad for a year in France when I was 16 for a couple of days, and again during my Bachelor’s for Oktoberfest (obvs). This time was more about actually seeing the city. I’m a lucky lady cos Ana eats sanely and loves adorable places with quality products, so every place she took me was just wonderful. Did you know that Germans are super open to vegetarians and vegans and that faux sausages exist all over the place? Even at beer festivals?! High five for the Bavarians.

Ana Clara and Yann-Yves’s close group of friends in the city were so precious and organized a traditional Bavarian brunch when I was in town, which did involve include Witbier before noon, wurst, pretzels and the works. These fine people then accompanied us to the local Starkbierfest that was that exact weekend, ha, which made for the most Bavarian day possible. If you’re planning a trip to Munich and like beer and beer culture, definitely check out if there are any small beer festivals going on, nothing like a liter of beer and pretzels and men in Lederhosen!

Strolling through the Munich streets, I was constantly in love with the pastel buildings, and the wideness of the streets and spaciousness of the interiors. Something about it was just so charming. For a city that had been basically rebuilt, even the modern buildings keep their original architecture, which I though was pretty cool. BTW, don’t jay-walk in Munich, apparently it’s a no no.

Boogie Donuts – Donuts To Go
Daddy Longlegs – Healthy/Coffee/Breakfast/Lunch/Snack
Dallmayr – Specialty Shop/Chocolates/Tea
La Taquéria – Mexican/Lunch/Dinner
Joon – European/Dinner/Bar/Cocktails
Wirthaus Hörreshof – Traditional Bavarian/Lunch/Dinner

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While in Denver over the holidays, a weekend in Santa Fe was the perfect getaway within a getaway… entre filles. With my homegirls Liz and Caroline we made the trek due south for a mini 1-night road trip. Only 6 hours from Denver, one of the sources of my mom’s inspiration and taste and a place my bestie knew pretty darn well, believe it or not, I had never been. This entire post was prepared while listening to the song “Santa Fe” from my favorite musical, Rent, on repeat by the way. Ahem.

On the drive down we saw quite a bit of diverse landscapes: blue skies, a blizzard, icey mountain roads, South Park, the Collegiate Peaks covered with hats made of fog, lonely general stores that almost looked abandoned, the Great Sand Dunes from afar, the Colorado/New Mexico border…

Santa Fe is small but filled with history and traditions and it’s own vibe. The adobe buildings bring a whole completely, uniquely and utterly adorable look to the cityscape: one with more nature and for some reason a bit more of a cozy feeling. Something about it is just as charming as fuck. Many of the details were those that inspired my mom to decorate our home, so it all seemed awkwardly familiar. Having always seen my mom in her Native American jewelry as an Arizona-born gal, the local shops had windows filled with silver adorned with stones I somehow knew the name to. Alas, it was a fun experience, and our brief spin through the town still felt so worth it to me with two of my favorite gals on the planet.

Dragon Room @ The Pink Adobe // Restaurant & Bar // Cocktails out

Pasqual’s // Restaurant // Fancy New Mexican meal

The Plaza // Main square with local jewelers and shops

Tune up café // Café // Killer breakfast burrito

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Summer is rolling out. I’m hoping this Indian summer will stick around just a few days more before the leaves fully turn and fall from their branches and the rain falls more often.

This summer Louis and I didn’t get vacation. I know, surprising being in France, the country with 5 weeks paid vacation which is often unheard of to most hardworking Americans. As I had just started my new permanent contract (paid vacation days have to be earned throughout the first year for the following year… vivement next year!) and Louis just started a new project, we had to swing through summer working full time on our mix and match schedules. We have nothing to complain about though; we are loving what we do, and this summer we took in slow, enjoyed Paris, but also hopped on the highway just a short ride to the countryside for a breath of fresh air with the in-laws whenever we could. An excuse to get out of Paris on the weekends certainly made summer feel more real.

A la campagne it feels like summer year round. Not because of the weather, but because it’s relaxing and just so beautiful. We dine even with the chills outside, with light gardlands lit and candles topping the table as soon as the sun goes down, it is as charming as ever. With the foggy mornings and flowers for every season in bloom throughout the year, it’s safe to say that the countryside is pure magic. My father-in-law’s garden was at its peak later than expected this year, so our fruit and veggie explorations were the cherry on top of a good weekend away during the Indian summer.

I suppose with age and wonderful experiences I’m realizing that summer doesn’t only consist in getting away for vacation to a beach somewhere. A weekend away in good company, delicious and quality grub in a beautifully cozy home can certainly suffice. What makes your summer feel like summer?