On this day, anybody and everybody is Irish.

“I went to America once.”

“Oh yeah, where’d you go? It’s a big country,” I said, stating the obvious in my jet-lagged state.

“VEGAS.” The eyes of my cab driver from the airport in Dublin lit up. “We went to an Irish pub,” he continued.

I try not to raise an eyebrow as I chuckle. “You came all the way from Ireland and ended up in a pub? An Irish one, no less?”

“Yes. As soon as I realized how expensive a pint was compared to back home though, I went in search of something different.”

Something different was the bar at Planet Hollywood. A bucket of Coors Lite for $10. I suppose that is quite American.

But what’s quite Irish, I wondered?

Dublin green door


read more

You came to Paris to fall in love. You just didn’t know it when you did.

For what does the city of love and light have to offer a solo traveler?

Love, and light.

Paris window

You stroll contemplatively. You have days where your only agenda is to go by a certain ice cream shop or pop in to a particular bookstore. You look up at the rows of structured buildings and admire the stretch of intricate, iron balconies placed delicately upon beige facades.

You pick one arrondissement and decide: this is your home for the next two weeks. You explore the neighborhood, find the cheapest place for wine in the evenings and cafe au lait in the mornings. The pâtissier begins to recognize you as the days pass slowly into evenings. You sit in parks and public squares and watch life and the city go by.

You dine alone for three hours, sit in a cafe with a glass or two or champagne, cherish three courses, and end with a cafe gourmand. No one rushes you. No one hassles you. You write in your journal or lose yourself in thought. And you enjoy every single minute.


read more

I’m coming up on two years of working remotely in San Francisco. And while, yes, some of this time was spent frolicking to other countries or on my couch at home, many, many hours have been spent in search of strong coffee and even stronger wifi.

As a freelancer, I like a healthy balance between being in my own world and being surrounded by others. Routine is both my best friend and my worst enemy — I find it encourages productivity but stifles creativity. When I’m short on inspiration, sometimes it’s as simple as a walk through a new neighborhood (I love you, SF) followed by a couple of hours in a coffee shop with good vibes. I find that even changing up my seating in a familiar place can help me see things in a new light.

Finding a public space to work in offers the best of both worlds. And because there’s nothing like caffeine to fuel both productivity and creativity, for me, I find myself in the city’s best coffee shops more often than not.

When I’m on deadline, I have to prioritize the Internet connection and minimize distractions. When I’m out more to journal or generate ideas, I choose coffee quality above all else. Most days you can find me at my neighborhood go-tos, which offer a bit of both.


read more

Or, Why You Should Go to Helsinki Just to Eat

As I pulled my chair in and inched my face closer to the microphone, I thought about what the Finns across from me, who happened to be the lovely people of Radio Helsinki, might ask me about why I was in Finland.

Sure enough, moments later we were live on air (my first live radio interview!) and as the hosts transitioned into English, they prompted the question I knew what coming: “What do you think of Helsinki?”

Helsinki's floating restaurant

I had only just arrived that morning. When asked if I was jet-lagged, I took a giant swig from my cup of Finnish coffee for dramatic effect. It was something like 3 am in California. I squinted as I sat there inaudibly, before answering the question.

“I’ve only just arrived, but it’s my first time in the country so I’m looking forward to experiencing this place,” I reply, feeling a surge of caffeine kick in.

“What expectations did you have for the city before you came?”

Without thinking, I answer abruptly: “Not really any, to tell you the truth.”

I get the impression it isn’t the first time they’ve heard this statement. So, I continue, “But I plan to get to know Helsinki through its food. I find it to be the best way to access a new culture and get a true sense of a place.”

What I don’t mention is that I also have no clue about what Finnish food is.


read more

Well, just for the week.

And yes, you can consider this post’s title my best attempt at a terrible, belated April Fool’s joke.

After a whirlwind visit to Ireland for Saint Patrick’s Day, where I got an intensive lesson on Irish life past and present (and by that I mean more than just multiple hours spent wearing green and cozily sipping pints — did you see it all on Snapchat?) I’ve been home for just two weeks and already, I’m heading back out there into the world again.

As many of you know, I took a long break from even uttering the word ‘travel’ after a worst nightmare came to life on the road at the end of last year. I wasn’t sure when or how I’d resume my usual manner. So, I resolved to press pause on traveling and stay home for the foreseeable future…only to then lose my apartment.

In the months that followed, I tread water daily just trying to stay afloat. And when it feels like you’re drowning, the best way to survive without panicking is…(?) to find your footing. I sought and found great comfort in re-establishing myself in a new home and rooting myself in a daily routine.

In pursuit of this balance I’ve sharpened my skills for finding adventure in my own backyard, staying curious, active, and engaged with life and culture even when I’m not traveling. Yet at some point, even the boldest routines can begin to feel stale. (Isn’t repetition what creates a routine, after all?)

Once again I find myself seeking that familiar desire to stretch to the unfamiliar, like a runner whose legs ache to hit the trail. Still, more than ever to date, I respect, need, and value my life at home.  


read more

Or any age, really.

As I sat there, staring at the date on a calendar, feeling the gravity of a supposed “big” birthday…naturally I found myself reflecting upon the many lessons I’ve learned in thirty years.

Wisdom can be encountered in a book or summarized in a quote (and believe me, I’ve enjoyed my share of those!) but more often than not, the teachings of the world must be learned and earned through life experience.  Named “the hard way” by some, I spent much of my twenties seeking out words and thoughts of others’ lives well lived, all the while seeking (and unknowingly creating) a road map for myself.


read more

The accidental discovery of French pharmacy beauty while traveling has completely changed my skin — and my perspective.

This is the story of a travel writer (aka not beauty blogger) who like many, loves visiting Paris and goes as often as possible. It’s the story of choosing a different arrondissement for each visit and making a point to discover the neighborhood as much as possible. The mode of discovery is  always the same: wandering aimlessly on Parisian streets and through alleyways (see also: flâneur) and trying (or not trying, because how very Parisian) to do so with an air of calm (read: not wide-eyed and smiling.) This latest visit is the story of an accidental French love affair…with the pharmacy.

The arrondissement in question for this visit was Saint Germain-des-Pres (6th.) I knew that I would be roaming towards Le Grand Epicerie (just do it, people) for its food and wine. I wrote down the restaurants and cafes I wanted to sit for hours in, and had a few names from new local friends as well. I had a few museums and parks to see. I’d bike by the Eiffel Tower and walk along the Seine, because…Paris! (Already failing at proposed Parisian coolness.)

Normally I would do my best to avoid any obvious area of Paris that draws in a crowd. Yet on this mildly sunny day, slowly walking against a brisk wind, a horde of people at the corner of Rue Bonaparte and Rue de Four caught my attention. Swarms of women elegantly exiting…a pharmacy? Sans health issues requiring a prescription, I popped my head in to take a closer look.


read more

Life is made up of hundreds, thousands, of little moments. Sometimes these pockets of time seem to make sense. Other times they’re random and endlessly confusing. Still there are slivers of our lives in which we feel irrefutably connected. This is a story about one of those times.

Dozens of little coincidences (which go much farther back) led me to open up an email newsletter this morning and read it through. Isn’t that how life always is, a series of sychronisms until they add up to something meaningful? I put it out of my head and went about my day.

Oddly, one of my favorite little quirks of living in San Francisco is riding the MUNI (the bus system and public transportation in SF.) It never fails to be an interesting spectacle. It is always humbling. Yet after getting ready to board a bus from Tahoe triggered a panic attack (due to parallels with what happened in Colombia,) I’ve steered clear of buses whenever possible. It was only because it was raining (and because the cafe I intended to work out of did not have wifi!) that I left for home at that precise moment. Feeling raindrops speckle on my skin like splattered paint, I decided it was time to try the bus again.

Like any good series of coincidences, this story really begins earlier in the day when I opened that email newsletter.  Perhaps it goes even farther back, to my seeking reiki healing therapy in the past few months.


read more