How to Protect Your Hair from Damage When Rocking Braids & Twists

No matter the season, a protective style, like braids, can be the perfect solution for your busy life-- as long as you maintain them and treat them right. I've been LOVING rockin' my Goddess Braids all summer long! I get compliments on them nearly everyday.

I only seldom wore braids in the past, so I consulted with my #StylistBae, Atlanta-based master stylist and owner of Amoré Salon, Shannon Henry to get tips on best practices and staple products to consider when caring for braids and twists.

If you're looking for an edgy look you can opt for cornrows or some sleek and sophisticated Goddess braids. Henry explains that to install this style, one should always "start with hair [that] has been shampooed, conditioned and blow dried. I always use a leave-in conditioner [and] any kind of oil, [like] coconut, jojoba or a pomade. This can be [used] on the hair as well as the scalp. Also important, you don't need to use a lot of oil or pomade, just enough on the finger tips while you are braiding." 

If box braids are more your style Henry suggests: "Use a spray leave-in conditioner on the scalp (near the roots) When I had [this style] I actually shampooed & conditioned my braids every two weeks in the shower, which made it much easier. It's a plus if you have a hooded dryer. I would sit under the dryer to dry my hair (braids), or just towel them very well and let [them] air dry. I applied jojoba oil by using a few drops all over and massaging my head. This keeps the scalp [and hair] clean and hydrated by removing oils, products and pollution, while refreshing the braids. Another way to revive old braids [is to] re-do them around the hairline and nape for an additional couple of weeks of wear. 

Senegalese, Marley and Havana twists have recently become widely popular. As far as difference between the styles and methods of care, Henry explains, "The difference between Senegalese, Marley and Havana twists are the size. Senegalese twists are actually very small. If you are familiar with micro braids, Senegalese twists are about the [same] size, and are twisted instead of braided. Marley and Havana twists are larger, and their names are from the [type] of the hair used." Henry doesn't recommend shampooing or conditioning Marley and Havana twists. Instead, use an astringent to cleanse the scalp and braid spray or a leave-in spray to re-hydrate the strands.

When asked what type of products are recommended for Crochet braids? Henry explains, "Depending on the type of hair you use, you can treat this [style] just like your own hair." She suggests using coconut oil, jojoba or other oils for shine. Also, perm rods and flexirods are good tools to maintain the curl or a twisted style with crochet braids.    

Overall, Henry says that maintaining braids and twists is a whole process. All of the steps and products-- hydrating (moisturizing) shampoos and conditioners, a liquid or creamy leave-in conditioner based on one's hair texture and type needs, plus light oils and pomades are all relevant to complete care. Also investing in silk or satin pillowcase to sleep on at night will help to extend a braided protective style. Henry's parting advice is not to put too much tension on the hairline and nape in order to preserve edges and avoid keeping protective styles in for longer than two months. "I do recommend getting hydration and protein treatments before and after braid services. A healthy scalp equals healthy hair," she says. "And always ask your stylist for their recommendations for maintaining your protective styles."

 

Take a look inside SASSY LITTLE THINGS...

 

 

 

When in Paris... Pt. 2: Eat, Drink, See!

Paris has been on my mind a BUNCH this past week or so. Therefore, I felt it was the perfect time to take a little stroll down memory lane and share Pt. 2 of our Paris family vacay. Although, I didn't expect to hate it there, I also wasn't expecting to love it either. I was kinda indifferent about going. To my surprise, I enjoyed my trip so immensely, that I hope to spend at least a month in the South of France next summer, with at another jaunt in Paris to take my time and catch a few more of the sights that I didn't have time to see the first time around.

If you're thinking about going, here are a few of my recommendations:

Where to Stay:

Our boutique hotel, The Hotel Latin Excelsior looks quaint and unassuming from the outside. However the rooms are modern-styled (my taste) and the housekeeping is immaculate. The walls are a bit thin, but the free coffee from the machine in the lobby, no BS, is A1. That's saying a lot from someone who doesn't drink coffee regularly (yet fancies herself as a coffee snob. Blame my first college job). The location is situated about 1 block from Sorbonne Square and 2.5 blocks from the Latin Quarter, which made the daily walk to breakfast cafes and dinner restaurants quite convenient. Although, I got a bit of a tourist vibe in the neighborhood thick of all of the bustling shops, it wasn't overwhelming; so, I honestly didn't mind. We took Uber vans whenever we needed to get to places further away. This worked to our advantage because there were 8 of us, and we took turns using the app. Each time, we "paid our fare" to whoever called, which typically equaled out to 2.50-5 Euros max per trip. If you have less of a crowd with you and prefer public transportation, the proximity to the metro train is ideal and just around the corner.

1 block over in Sorbonne Square

1 block over in Sorbonne Square

Outside of the Excelsior Latin

Outside of the Excelsior Latin

Where to Eat and Drink

So many people told us that the food wasn't really all that in Paris, but I beg to differ. We had some GREAT experiences at the following:

La Coupe d'Or had the, hands down, BEST crepes* I had the entire time I was there. It's a little on the pricy side, but was super fresh and delish. A very safe bet if you happen to be shopping at the high-end stores near rue Saint-Honoré. 

Le Paradis Du Fruit was a delightful recommendation from the staff at the Louis Vuitton store near Champs-Élysées. Their signature drink, La Vie En Rose is a refreshing blend of Vodka, fresh strawberries, mint, basil, lemon and brown sugar. I had several. I recommend selecting from the 3 Assiettes saveurs à composer menu where you get to put together a combo of your liking. The shrimp curry with rice and salad was the perfect lunch at a reasonable price after we hopped from store to store, up and down the avenue in the summer sun. 

L'Écritoire in Sorbonne Square square stays open late if you're looking for a night cap or a pleasant lunch (the salads are super-filling) with a side of ah-mazing service. It is conveniently wedged between the Hotel Excelsior and the Latin Quarter.

Café Le Dante Served up great drinks, pasta and service and atmosphere if you're wandering near Notre Dame looking for a bite and a place to rest.

RIM Café Trattoria Pizzeria was the first place I had dinner in Paris. I tend to judge unknown restaurants based on whether or not they seem to draw a crowd. This place was decently packed, and I was substantially hungry, so in we dove. My pasta was cool, but I was mildly concerned about the size of the so-called calamari in the mix. I just shoved that to the side and carried on with the get down. Overall, I was very satisfied with the choice.

Le Sainsev' is one of those "service non-stop" restaurants with a decent happy hour. The food didn't look very appetizing to me, but the drinks were cool (and cheap). 

Mark & Spencer Food  I won't go as far to call this place the Whole Foods of the neighborhood, but maybe Harry's in a Hurry. The location near us on Boulevard Saint Michele was quaint and popular. It's a good place to grab relatively healthy snacks or lunch on-the-go. They have a pretty decent wine selection too, if you're looking for something to uncork and relax with in your room at the end of the day.

La Crêperie has an amazing expresso, ice cream dessert that will send you on a caffeine and sugar high like no other. The tea service is respectable and the savory crepes, decent. Because of it's proximity to the university you can eat for the cheap then post up and bang out a few hours of work while on their free wifi. There's plenty of seats in and outdoors, so you don't have to worry about taking up needed space. Plus, European-style dining is of the lingering variety, so the staff pretty much gives you space and time to do your thing.

Whippin' work at La Crêperie

Whippin' work at La Crêperie

La Coupe d'Or

La Coupe d'Or

Cafe Le Dante

Cafe Le Dante

Go See...

What would a trip to Paris be without hitting up the Musée du Louvre? I, for one, was especially excited to see the Egyptian collection. And was completely disappointed that on the Friday we decided to go, that particular exhibit, among a couple of others, was closed. The staff explained that they do not have the manpower to keep all of the exhibits open each day. So, if you're like me and have your heart set on seeing something specific-- be on the safe side and call or check the website ahead of time.

Also, the Louvre was like a maze to me. I never could find my way to all of the African art that was available for viewing that day. I kept getting turned around and around. Plus, I substantially cut into my limited time there fumbling around trying to return my headset after I found out the Egyptian section was closed. Then I ended up losing my ticket and had to convince the staff to find me a manager to give me another. *le sigh*. Needless to say, I'll have to get back to it next summer.

Statue photos courtesy of my sister, @ChristinLeonna, who found her way to the limited collection.

Statue photos courtesy of my sister, @ChristinLeonna, who found her way to the limited collection.

If time permits, taking a day to explore the city and Castle of Versaille is well worth the trip outside of the city. And you can even get there from the metro, if need be. My family and I booked a tour of the castle grounds with Blue Bike Tours, which was a perfect way to spend the day. The guide will meet you at the train or in our case, the local market. We were late due to a fiasco that kept us up until the wee hours of the morning. However, when you get there, you can spend a bit of time putting together a picnic lunch to carry with you to the grounds. They encourage you to bring your own food, because the stops on the bike route do not really allot time to run into one of the cafes on the palace grounds. Although, you can definitely make a pit stop if you needed to, its just not advised since you're on schedule. Nevertheless, the ride was peaceful, the air was fragrant, and the grounds were beautifu. The tour takes you far around the outskirts of the castle grounds. We didn't know the outer area is public and anyone can come with their personal bikes and ride or jog the grounds. Our guide was very personable and knowledgeable, and gave us a list of suggested restaurants after the tour was over. One thing to be aware of, however-- the area towards the grounds where Marie Antoinette built her little English village has a great deal of walking, which we weren't entirely prepared for. So... FYI.  

After we returned our bikes, our tour guide led us back to the castle and escorted us through the entrance for tours. Be aware during the busy season that the castle does not seem adequately organized to handle the large groups of tours that are often scheduled at the exact same time to come in. Someone, I'm not saying who, got into a shoving match outside trying to get in. Just know that this time it wasn't me. Thank goodness I came prepared with my patience.  

The palace strut

The palace strut

The Hall of Mirrors. 

The Hall of Mirrors. 

Of course we had to make our way up to the Eiffel Tower to catch the 360 view of the city. I know the tower itself is the attraction, but to me, the birds-eye view of the city was the real treat. We spent the majority of our time going back and forth to the champagne counter, eating macaroons and soaking up the sun whilst snapping pictures and taking in the view.

Views from the Eiffel

Views from the Eiffel

Toast to the good life!

Toast to the good life!

Black_In_Paris_TheSassyNation-42.jpg

Overall, I had a beautiful time in Paris, and I look forward to making my way back next year. Some things I will do differently is to make time to see the sights that I want to see and learn more about the history of Black Paris. Like I said in Part 1 (go on over and read that, now!) I was not a part of this year's planning committee. Next year I'll be ready and armed with my own plan, which will definitely include some time in southern France. Wine Country, look out!

More views...

More views...

Share your Paris, France adventure below in the comments or on social. What do you suggest I see and do next time? Follow me on, The 'Gram for more pics and whatnot not.

Au Revoire! 

 

Oakland, Ca: The Delicious Weekend Getaway

Where to stay:

The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa

When I want to get away from family during extended stays, checking into The Claremont is the honeycomb hideout. Technically, located in the Berkeley hills, this is probably one of the only places where I’d plop down some cash in the Bay, outside of San Francisco. Plus, it is close to the Oakland-Berkeley border and San Francisco is only ten minutes away, across the Bay Bridge. Aside from the location, The Claremont is a gorgeous, vintage property with a spectacular spa — which you can lounge in for hours, even without an appointment — a heated pool, tennis courts, a classy gym, a tinge of The Shining and a view of the Bay Area that screams ‘Forget Instagram, this deserves a long stare over a brown drink.’

Bonus, The Paragon Restaurant & Bar at The Claremont is popular with upwardly mobile young people, and usually a festive place to hang out for music and drinks on the weekend.

Where to eat:

Breakfast: Mama’s Royal CaféOakland GrillBlackBerry Bistro

Because I am so much of a breakfast person, this was the hardest to narrow down. Here we go …

Mama's Royal Cafe: Egg white crab omelette 

Mama's Royal Cafe: Egg white crab omelette 

Mama’s Royal leads the pack for being the most consistently good, no matter how busy they get — and this place stays busy. I almost always get the crab, spinach and jack cheese omelet. The pancakes are surprisingly light, despite their dense appearance, which is a win in my book.

Oakland Grill has some of the best brunch specials in town and their food is always extremely fresh. My theory? The restaurant is close to the docks of the city’s Jack London Square. Plus, their mimosas are served in tall glasses and flow endlessly on weekends, and for $4.95 you really can’t help but to toss back a few.

Blackberry Bistro

Blackberry Bistro

Blackberry Bistro is still in my heart and makes the list, despite long wait times for the food to get from the kitchen to the table on busy weekends. The best of the menu is a tie between the southern plate (shrimp and grits) and the berry french toast. *Insider’s tip: Order the french toast with the Gran Marnier sauce that is usually served with the crepes. They may or may not charge you extra, but don’t let them punk you by telling you they can’t make it. Be persistent and you’ll be glad you stood your ground because it is well worth fighting for.

Lunch

Suya African-Caribbean Grill 

I found Suya thanks to the God-send that is Instagram. Their mouth-watering posts drew me in and it was love at first bite. Parking can be a bit of challenge since it's located in the downtown area. But don't let that discourage you. It's worth the fight for a parking space.

Little Shin-Shins

If you want to sit down and get cozy, by all means, pull up a chair and stay awhile at Little Shin-Shins. My family and I have been eating at this family-owned restaurant since I was in elementary school. Amazingly, the food has been consistently delicious every. single. time. When I ate meat, I lived for the szechwan chicken. But no matter what you order here, it will be awesome.

Dinner

Luka's  

If California cuisine in an unpretentious atmosphere is what you're after, Luka's is your spot. The drinks are unwatered down and they've got a taste of everything on the menu. Of everything to  choose from, that shrimp and crab louie salad is not playing a game. It's only rivaled, in my opinion, by the shrimp and grits. It's good and spicy, just the way I like it. When I first returned to the bay, Luka's was at the top of my list for places to go eat.

Enssaro Ethiopian Restaurant

 

Enssaro is another fortunate neighborhood gem I found thanks to a Tinder date I went on last year. The date itself wasn't bad (no shade to Tinder), but the food was the real winner. I'm picky af when it comes to my Ethiopian food, and Enssaro is the real deal. I mean, just look at this plate, need I say more?

Picán [CLOSED, temporarily]

Picán’s is a great example of how California, a state filled with southern transplants, does cooking below the Mason-Dixon. The ambiance and and down home cooking strikes the perfect balance between elegant and unpretentious. Decadence is the word, so leave your diet rules at home. Who can say no to crawfish mac and cheese with bourbon and chili glazed salmon? I didn’t think so.

Dessert: 

Merritt Bakery & Fenton’s Creamery

Depending on what you’re in the mood for, cake or ice cream, determines your best bet for a dessert choice. If you fancy cake, go with Merritt Bakery and be sure to order the infamous fresh strawberry. Warning, after one bite, every other strawberry shortcake you try thereafter will disappoint you. Trust me, I’ve long since given up my search for an equal. Prepare to be hooked for life. Visit their new location at the old Quickway on Grand Ave., just steps away from the Grand Lake Theater.

If it is something cold and creamy that you seek, Fenton’s is a must. The ice creamery itself has been in the same spot for well over 50 years but its roots as a dairy go back to 1894. There was a dark period of absence from 2001-2003 when the creamery suffered a major fire and closed indefinitely. But oh happy day when Fenton’s returned with full force. No matter what you have a taste for, Fenton’s probably has a flavor to match — it is truly ice cream, your way. I’ve never once gotten the slightest side-eye or a look of confusion when ordering my Rocky Road milkshake un-blended. Don’t judge me.

Where to play…

Yoshi’s Oakand & Mua

Yoshi’s, Oakland’s sushi and Jazz bar and restaurant is where grown-ups go to play. Catch a live show from local legends like Najee or Goapele or preview up and coming artists like Mara Hruby and Christin Leonna. Your best bet is to buy tickets in advance because the line starts early for each show and will sometimes sellout, especially when well-known acts are on the bill.

If you’re looking for an early night full of cocktails and conversation in an upbeat atmosphere, head to Mua’s industrial-styled bar and restaurant. There is plenty of room to flutter about and socialize upstairs and down. Or, if you’re with your significant other, there are some nice, dark corners made for cupcaking by candlelight. Sweet.

Best place to people watch…

Lake Merritt

Bring your walking shoes with you to Lake Merritt. On sunny days, it is sure to be populated with people, young and old, leisurely strolling or sprinting along. After all of the eating, drinking and hanging out around The Town, you may very well need to take a lap or two to soak up some of that good old California sunshine.

Originally published on ParlourMagazine.com

 

3 Days in Barcelona: The Getaway

When I planned my trip to Barcelona from Paris, at the time I didn’t know anyone in Europe, and I also didn‘t have any concept of how much there was to do there. And since it was my first time in Europe, I wasn’t even positive that I would enjoy it.

To my delight, so far, everything has been pretty amazing. Those four months I spent in Mexico most definitely helped me to feel at ease moving around on my own. It’s funny how even though I don’t consider myself fluent in Spanish, I’ve completely lost my inhibitions about attempting to use what I’ve learned or making mistakes. While there is definitely a difference in accents and some of the words they use in Spain, I was still able to get by rather easily.

SO my 3 days in Barcelona went something like this:

Day 1: Sleep. All the sleeping. I was so exhausted from ripping the streets in Paris all I could do when I got to my room was rest. I did manage to get myself up and out around 10:30-11 p.m. to hunt for food. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go far. Cerveceria Universitat was right across the street from my hostel, where I had a full pan of seafood paella and one large glass of sangria.

Seafood Paella

Seafood Paella

Side note: IDK what they put in the Spanish version of Sangria, but afterwards I went promptly back to my hostel and back to sleep.  

Which, by the way, this was only my second experience staying in a hostel. Of course, I selected the option to have a private room, because I’m just not that into sleeping strangers. However, I do recommend it, as most hostels have that option. What makes stay at a hostel a bit different from a hotel is that typically, there’s a lot of socializing in the common areas, which (theoretically) creates opportunities to connect with others. In a dormitory, I think it’s probably even more likely that you’ll talk to others since y’all are sharing a room. But in my case, chatting over breakfast or in the laundry room was more than enough. And yes, I made time to do my laundry while there. That’s kinda become my thing—doing laundry on the road. I was rather thankful for the time saved not having to wash by hand.

Anyhow, the hostel I stayed in was TOC Barcelona. They do have others in different countries, plus one in Madrid, if you happen to find yourself in the neighborhood. Unlike the last hostel I stayed in (which was also quite nice) this one included housekeeping daily.

Day 2: I was motivated to get out of bed on day 2 primarily because breakfast (which was included) was scheduled to be over at 11—plus I planned to go on one of those free walking tours—which also proved helpful by showing us the ropes of taking the metro. If you can navigate the subway system in NY, this one is definitely figureoutable. Just remember to push the button on the car door to open it when getting off and on in the station. Otherwise, you could miss your stop.

It costs 9.95 Euro for a 10-ride pass, which you can share with others who might be riding with you. This is great to help you move around the city. I also took a few cabs here and there using the Taxify app, but I’ll have to tell you, if you’re used to Uber or Lyft (which they don’t have), you’ll probably get frustrated with the constant app buffering as you wait for it to locate a driver. On a couple of occasions during peak hours, I just hailed a taxi on the street because no rides could be found through the app. When it’s not busy, it’s fine, your ride will come pretty quickly. If you’re in a rush, it’s better to leave space for waiting or hailing on the street.

Plaça Reial

Plaça Reial

So, to get to the Runner Bean walking tour I had to make haste about 6-8 blocks through the busy Las Ramblas section of the city. This area is packed with tourists, shops, restaurants and oddly, flower stands. There were like 2-3 on nearly each block.

I finally arrived to the Fountain where Gauldi erected his first city commissioned project. After we wandered around for 2.5 hours by foot and metro to different locations where his architecture can be found. His masterpiece, in my opinion, is the church. It. Is. MASSIVE. His plans for it were so ambitious, that it’s still unfinished. There’s supposed to be at least another 20 years of construction on it. Which is astounding, but also great that the city is still honoring his genius and carrying out his work.

CASA MILÀ / LA PEDRERA

CASA MILÀ / LA PEDRERA

PALAU GÜELL

PALAU GÜELL

My second stop of the evening was back to my hotel to shower and change and head to Barceló Raval Hotel to their 360-degree rooftop for a networking party. They typically host other events here, and it's definitely worth a stop (and a drink), just for the views alone. However, because I was still working, I was delayed for a couple of hours before I could break and go to the party. Hey… when you work online, the work has to still get done even if it means interrupting your flow midday.

Fortunately, this event, Startup my Rooftop, lasted until about 11:30. I arrived around 9-9:30 with just enough time to catch the tail end of the sunset and grab a glass of sangria. You’d think I learned my lesson from the night before—oh, but no. True to form, I was super tipsy AND starved. Normally, I don’t have a problem with a little pre-dinner cocktail. But IDK, my tolerance was either way down or the alcohol was way strong. My girl who suggested I come to Barcelona said the exact same thing, that she was way intoxicated her whole trip. In any case, they're not skimming on the alcohol here. So, you've been warned...

After the first drink, I knew I was already at my limit. And because Barcelona seems to thrive at night (mostly due to the whole mid-day siesta thing) finding a late-night bite was no problem. Plus, naturally, I made friends who were locals and happy to share pintxos (the Barcelona version of tapas) at La Tasqueta de Blai. This is us:

Day 3: After rushing by the all Las Ramblas shops the day before, I knew I wanted to do some shopping on day 3. I hit up SOUL, quaint little vintage shop and got two fab dresses and purse, plus a rack of stuff from H&M and Zara (which like Mexico, Zara is cheaper abroad than in the US). Here are some pics from the spoils below.

On my last evening, I’d heard that there was a huge beach party for the summer solstice happening near Villa Olympia, which also happened to be very close to the W Hotel. The area is a bustling portside neighborhood with lots of restaurants, perfect for dining al fresco or just wandering around soaking in the sun and catching a breeze.  So, after showering and breaking to fit in some work, I grabbed a taxi and took off in search of fireworks.

The W set up on the terrace was lovely (of course) and there was a proper view of the beach right alongside it. During the day you can pay 25 Euro for a chair and umbrella by the beach, but the terrace is only available to non-guests after 8 p.m., and the pool not at all (I suspect this might be different during the off-season).

All evening, however, I was waiting with anticipation of a huge fireworks display, which unfortunately never came. Although that was a bit of a letdown (my heart lives for fireworks) I still had a great time chatting up and drinking with a huge group of Londoner guys in town for a stag, which I learned means bachelor party. They bought food and drinks all night and we chatted about everything from travels to basketball. One very attractive (but married, booooo) guy was so happy to talk basketball since he says no one follows it in the UK, only soccer. I was more than happy to banter about Golden State, after we killed the Cavs in the finals the week prior.

I got back to my hostel around 1:30 in the morning and packed up, since I knew I was planning to sleep in before my flight to London the next day.   

Getting the metro back to the airport was my final test, which proved easier than I made it, but I got there, nonetheless. From Universitat, where I stayed the entrance to the metro is just across the street. The station to catch the Aerobus to take you to the airport was only 3 stops away. There are only two express buses that go to the airport A1 (Terminal 1) and A2 (Terminal 2). It costs 5.95 Euro to go one way on the bus, which has wifi and AC (thank gawd, ‘cause it was sweltering). And you can pay with anything less than a 20 right on the bus, no need for an advance ticket. Super convenient!

In all, my trip to Barcelona was a win—I'm excited to explore other areas, like the beach, the Gothic quarter, plus take a night time walking tour and a Paella cooking experience next time! And there will definitely be a next time.

 

When in Paris... Pt. 1

When my family told me that they were planning a trip to Europe, I can honestly say I wasn't all that excited to accompany them. Europe was not really high up on my list of places to go. Plus, I wasn't even sure they were going to commit to going. They've been known to flake out on a trip. However, once they started buying tickets and securing hotels I felt confident that they'd follow through.

Now, here's the thing about my family... they seem to enjoy the tourist scene. Me-- not so much. So, going into this trip I kinda knew what I was getting into. But since I figured it was going to be my first time, I didn't mind seeing the sites, except I wanted time to explore the city on my own, which never happened because I was inundated with a writing project, plus I just needed more time. I've learned that when I travel I like to take my time to move around and get a feel for a city, and this was no different. I definitely had a ball, nonetheless. 

Champagne toasts at the Eiffel

Champagne toasts at the Eiffel

Needless to say, I'm planning to go back-- maybe next summer. You probably can't tell from most of the pics here, which were taken on my first full day out when the weather was reasonable, but it was actually scorching hot while we were there. I didn't take nearly as many pics as I would've liked. But next time I won't have to worry about rushing to set up shots and scout locations (another post for another day).

In spite of everything, Paris was kinda dope. Here are a few things I learned on my trip:

The wifi in the airport is trash (on the phone) in Orly (and CDG too, apparently). We could never get a decent signal. Which, of course was majorly problematic when I touched down and needed to call Uber. To make matters worse, my phone was dying and I had to buy one of those European converters, then hunt for an outlet in between asking every one who looked remotely friendly about my alternate transportation option. I knew I could've caught the train, which wouldn't have been ideal, especially because of the whole low battery situation, which because I couldn't sit still long enough to get a good charge because I was busy trying to figure out the best way to get myself to the hotel (whilst constantly refreshing wifi). After getting frustrated damn near to the point of tears because though the wifi was free in most places, I still couldn't log on. Plus, shops that had a code refused to share it (because it was free everywhere else, so why should they?). Thanks to a kindness of one of my beautiful brown sisters, together we decided the path of least resistance was to grab a cab. Oh, the relief I felt speeding down the highway-- and I didn't even have to give up an arm nor a leg to pay for it like I thought I would. 30 Euros was the max.-- completely on par with Uber.

Not all French people are rude. They might seem a little unbothered or dismissive of your issues, but I found if you attempt to greet them in French and asking if they speak English, before pummeling them with your questions, most are willing to help. In fact, on my first afternoon after the hold up at the airport, I was rushing to get to a café to jump online for work. After searching online and coming up mostly empty handed, I decided it was best to hit the streets and ask an actual person who lived there. My first choice was they front desk. I mean, they’re paid to be helpful. He had a suggestion, but his instructions were vague. So, I decided to ask a girl on the street.

Andrea swooped in and saved the day!

Andrea swooped in and saved the day!

And that turned out even better than expected. She not only walked me two whole blocks around the corner, in the opposite direction from where she was headed, but we also exchanged WhatsApp info!. She told me not to be offended by the French and their ways. And that they don’t mean and anything by it. Wise words I held close to me the whole trip, which helped my perspective immensely. I mean, seriously, how could anyone deny me? ME!! Of all people?! *Grabs ahold of ego* Sorry about that. Moving on...

The Food isn't as bad as they say it is. I think we really lucked up and found some great places. I'd been forewarned that the food in Paris wasn't so great, so I'd already tempered my expectations. We only really struck out maybe once. We were looking for this French Creole spot near St. Germain that apparently closed 5 years ago. It was hot and frustrating on the street, so we just plopped down anywhere. I ended up getting a waffle with apples and caramel sauce (technically a dessert on the menu). While it wasn't the worst waffle ever, the bitter caramel made it underwhelming. I'll do a follow up here on precisely where we ate, drank and made merriment. Since the former seems to be a point of contention.

 

The wine is as good as they say it is. If you're into wine, this IS your spot. My only wish is that we had more time and could've done a trip to Bordeaux or S. France to visit some wineries. My family and I spend a lot of time in Napa Valley, so that would've been right up our alley. I wasn't a part of the planning committee, so I guess I'll have something to look forward to next time. I didn't have any bad wine. Like, at all. Not one glass. Super impressed, because I either blindly chose my wine or relied on the recommendations of waitstaff. Regardless, it definitely worked out.

Lying on my lawn at my summer home in Versaille. You know, the palace, right?

Lying on my lawn at my summer home in Versaille. You know, the palace, right?

Love (or something) is in the air. I can definitely see why Paris has earned the reputation as the city of love. It's super heavy in the air. Like, the vibe is palpable. On my cab ride from the airport, the windows were down and it literally smelled fragrant in the air. I thought I was trippin', until we were biking around the Palace of Versailles and there it was again. You do seem to find bushes of jasmine and lavender around all over town, mixed in amongst against the cityscape. Plus, the French seem to love their flower markets and window sill flower gardens, so I guess it would make sense that is smells amazing in the air.

Chasin' Sunsets

Chasin' Sunsets

Though my time was brief and I didn't take nearly as many pics as I'd hoped to, I  will come back, and maybe even pick up a couple of phrases for the next time.

Until then, cruise the 'Gram for more pics and whatnot not. Plus, stay tuned for Pt.2 Eat, Drink, Shop & See!

Au Revoire!