10 things I’ve learned in Paris

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1. What “Sortie” means. It means “Exit”. If you don’t know that, you will literally not be able to leave places. Seriously, is it so difficult to write – even in little fonts – “exit” under “sortie”?

2. If you’re looking for kind responses from the natives, initiate the interaction with a smile and a “bonjour/bonsoir”. The French are more likely to be friendly when they see that you at least make an effort (almost).

3. You can have a picnic anywhere. Literally. You don’t have to necessarily go to a park; if you have wine and cheese with you, basically anywhere is fine to just sit down and hang out. And Paris has some beautiful outdoor areas.

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La Saine (top left), Jardin des Plantes (top right), Jardin du Luxembourg (bottom left), Jardin des Tuileries (bottom right)

4. If there is ever a place where the weather is at its most unreliable, that place is Paris. Man, I thought New York weather was weird. At least it was somewhat consistent with the seasons. In Paris, there are no specific seasons. In 20 days that I’ve stayed there, I think I’ve lived through all the seasons. Sometimes on the same day! The day may start out shiny and warm, but it may end with a monsoon. So do yourself a favor and do not part with your umbrella.

5. Speaking of umbrellas, being a former New Yorker and a native Istanbullu, I was used to just buying one if it happens to start raining. It would be cheap and EVERYWHERE. So I thought the case would be the same in Paris. Aaand it’s not. They don’t sell it everywhere and it’s expensive. And the ones they sell on the newstands are huge! Once it stops raining, you wouldn’t know what to do with it. So bring your own, and don’t leave home without it.

6. It’s not OK to lose yourself in the city and wander around if you don’t know the area. I was trying to find Moulin Rouge, and I think that was the most scared I felt during my trip to Paris. After I found the famous landmark, I didn’t even stop to take pictures. I thought “ok, that’s done” and jumped at the nearest Metro. I might be slightly exaggerating, but there was a guy following me and he was creepy as hell!

7. While getting lost in an unknown neighbourhood (or a neighbourhood with a reputation) is scary, Paris actually is pretty cool if you just sightsee by walking around and getting lost (in the better neighbourhoods and with a map… don’t find yourself in the bad part of town). You can find the cutest streets. And it’s a flat city – no hills or anything – so it’s easy on the feet (except for Butte Montmartre. Oh, those stairs!).

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8. I skipped to go up the Eiffel, and I would do it again. Not worth those line and the ticket price, in my opinion. The views from the tops of Notre Dame and Sacre Ceour are gorgeous and apparently the view from the new building Tour Montparnasse is the best view in town. At least, you can see the Eiffel Tower from all the others, which is pretty much it in the Paris skyline.

9. Food is pretty expensive, so if you’re on a budget like me, try not to eat every meal at a restaurant. I bought bread & cheese from Carrefour (super cheap & super delicious) so I made sandwiches on the go for either breakfast or lunch to consume at the numerous parks & gardens. If I was particularly lazy, croissant from the bakeries and sandwiches from Monoprix would do the trick. So when I wanted to splurge, I would have money for it, and I would just do it for dinner or something. And if you really want decent food on the cheap side, go to Quartier Latin near Saint Michel. Dozens of restaurants with prix-fixe lunch menus. You can get an entree, a main course and a dessert for like 10 Euros.

10. It’s just pretty. Just go, even if you don’t like anything French, go see Paris at least once.

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Hawkers = Home

Many say the best way to get perspective on a country is through its taxi drivers. They are the all seeing eyes and ears of any nation. Though I’ve had my fair share of colourful cabbies (there was one who sang Waltzing Matilda and waxed lyrical about British colonisation throughout our half an hour journey), this post is not about them. This one’s about the humble hawker centre.

If you’ve never been to Singapore, hawker centres are a little piece of foodie heaven. Whatever your poison, be it seafood, pasta, chicken wings or noodles, they’ve got it! These are not quaint little restaurants with romantic ambiance. These places are laid out in a noisy, oily, rambunctious circle of little stores. Think of a grubbier high school canteen with better food and a slimmer chance of people chucking food at you (no promises). They even have the Antony Bourdain seal of approval.

nom, nom, nom!

nom, nom, nom! photo courtesy of the straits times

Now hawker centres are no easy undertaking. A simple visit could result in you waddling away, stuffed to the gills with your body weight in edibles. So here’s a simple instructional to make sure you come out of your first experience with your BMI intact.

  1. There is strength in numbers.
so much food, so little time

so much food, so little time

This is definitely a time where the more the merrier. Hawker centres are a great place to eat family style where everyone gets to pick whatever catches their fancy. The more people you bring, the more options you have. A budget of $10-$12SGD per person should more than feed a group of 4 or more (if you get seafood, it could be a little more). Great time to make a couple of new friends at the hostel and take them over.

 

  1. The fanciest places doesn’t mean the best food

Yup, this is one those instances that make social media invaluable. The best hawker centres are not the ones that are the poshest or the ones that are raved about in guidebooks. Not that they are all wrong. Places like Newton Circus, Makkansutra at the Esplanade and Lau Pa Sat have good food; they’re just not very good on your wallet. It may seem like all food is the same but there are subtle differences and there are some places that are just better than. So ask the locals at your hostel or hotel or be a child of the 21st Century and just Google it!

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Of Concepts and Content…

The Ranch and some of its inhabitants

The Ranch and some of its inhabitants

Hello again!

As Ece mentioned in her post, we lived in a little place called The Ranch. As the name suggests, its one of those eccentric places that only exists in NY.

After spending 3 months in NYC, the lease at my first place (a room with a lovely view of the opposing building that I rented from a lady who looked astounding like my mother. I know, it was so odd!) So back I went to Criag’s List, to hopefully find a sublet with someone who scored at least a 5 or below on the creeper scale.

Enter Craig’s List Ad 437895.

Visiting the place with a friend, I loved the co-op feel of the place and decided to move in on the spot. It might also have helped that they gave me ice cream and chocolate syrup to welcome me. I’m such a sucker for ice cream.

Our Alter Egos!

Our Alter Egos!

When I moved in, we had 3 other roommates: a Greek artist, a Korean exchange student and an editor at BroBible.com. Just a snippet of our eclectic gang.

The Ranch rapidly became home, and we went through a multitude of adventures: surviving both Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, introducing Bubble Tea to a Frenchman, arguing the origins of Tzatziki, hunting down an organic turkey for our Italian Thanksgiving chef, among others.

 

eh?

eh?

Pillow Fight @ Washington Square Park. Beware the angry roommates!

Pillow Fight @ Washington Square Park. Beware the angry roommates!

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losing at Yahtzeeeeeee

 

we went looking for Shepard Fairley and found Flushing ;)

We went looking for Shepard Fairley and found Flushing 😉

This blog is a reflection of the people that we are, a concept board of everything that we’re interested in. You’ll see us wax lyrical about travel, book reviews, cool projects that we think are worth looking at, etc. So make with it what you will and leave us comments and reviews.

OFF WE GO!