Yes, it’s the home of Banksy. Yes, there’s much more to it than that.

A Guide to Bristol Street Art (And More)

Of all the interests I’ve developed over the years, one I never expected to find myself enjoying so much is street art.

Most definitions make a distinction between street art and graffiti, though both are created in public spaces and often without permission. Among the differences: street art is constructive whereas graffiti is destructive, street art is about its audience whereas graffiti is about its artist. And while graffiti is often thought of as delinquent and defacing, street art is becoming prized, praised, and in some cases…sold in galleries.

I suppose what fascinates me most about street art is the manner in which it expresses the political and social issues of its environment. I’ve become more and more enthralled with street art living in San Francisco, but it all began with traveling.

Bristol Street Art


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Or, how I learned to fall in love with a completely different part of my own country.

I’m a California girl, through and through. A Northern California girl, to be specific (after ten years in Southern California, the distinction is necessary.) The more I see of the world, the more sure of that I am.

When someone asks me where I’m from whenever I’m abroad, I reply without thinking: “California.” I realize, of course, that they’re looking to hear my country, not my state.

Most expect me to reply with “the United States.” And while I’m a proud American (well, most of the time,) I really identify so much more strongly with being a Californian and San Franciscan…and I’ve never been clearer on that than now.

I’ve also never been more aware that California is a bit of a bubble. So when I had the opportunity to road trip from Alabama to San Francisco (coincidentally, not long before the election last year) I pondered where outside my home state I wanted to visit. It was time (again) for me to see more of my own country.

 

Why was I so keen on pushing past my comfort zone in other countries and on different continents, yet unwilling to explore the expanse of land just to the right of me?

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Or, a story about creating your own happy place in a foreign land.

I have this strange ritual I repeat every time I land in Paris.

I almost don’t want to tell you about it, because I am aware that it’s random and a bit odd. But it takes me right back to some of the happiest moments of my life. So, I hold onto the habits (and even come clean with them here, to you.)

After dropping off my bags where I’m staying, is to immediately head to the nearest French chain grocery store — Carrefour, Monoprix, it matters not. The red lipstick and ballet flats emerge, and calm comes over me as I take to the Parisian streets.

I then proceed to pick up the same four things: a bit of both carottes rapées and celery rémoulade salads, (I told you this was random…) a wheel of cheese (the stinkier the better,) and a bottle of French red wine that’s under 10 euros. Perhaps I also get a fresh baguette.

This is my simple ritual.

renting an apartment in paris


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What it’s like to return to a place you once disdained, and discover that you quite like it after all.

Or, How I Finally Fell in Love with Indianapolis (and where to eat there so you will too.)

 

Two years ago, heck, even two months ago…if you had told me I’d be landing on the tarmac for a work trip to Indianapolis, I’d have laughed in your face and told you you were insane.

It’s nothing against Indiana. Some of the loveliest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting have their roots in the Midwestern state. It’s just that the job I used to have, the one before all this blogging business, took me there on a semi-regular basis. And when I left said corporate career, just over four years ago, I had zero desire to ever return to the place I most associated with that part of my life. Just like so much of turning away from that path, I was certain I was leaving it in the past.

So as I stared down at the plane ticket bound for IND, I could hardly believe life had taken me back there. Travel writing might just be the most opposite pursuit from pharmaceutical sales. How did pursuing a completely different career take me to the same exact place?


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Where To Stay in (Central) London

So many choices!

It can be overwhelming to choose a spot to stay in a city as massive and diverse as London. As in any great city, there are many sides to it. Luckily, the multiple personalities of London can be experienced through its many neighborhoods. One great way to discover the city on a deeper level is to explore a single area in more depth. Choose a certain part of the city to base yourself in during your trip, and with a little wandering plus healthy curiosity…voila!

In truth I have spent most of my time in London staying with friends. Still, these are the best places I have stayed at across many of my visits, (and what I can vouch for that’s not a couch!) Coincidentally, they are all located in favorite parts of the city.

Here are my recommended places to stay, organized by neighborhood and described at different price points:


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