Kept On Ice

After seven years of hoping and plotting and wishing and scheming, I finally made it to the Icehotel in northern Sweden. A hotel consisting of mostly ice.

You didn’t hear me.

A HOTEL OF MOSTLY ICE!

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Our room.

They have cold rooms and warm rooms, but what’s the point of going if you’re not gonna spend at least one night in a cold room? We spent one night in a cold room and one night in a warm room. In the cold room, you’re basically sleeping on a slab of ice. A SLAB OF ICE! I don’t know why that was enticing to me…but it was! And you can’t deny that this hotel is sexy as f*ck. I mean, look at this bed/block of ice! I could do a music video here…if I were a musician. Oooh, Beyonce should do a music video here! Can you imagine?!

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The hotel provides you with an extreme weather sleeping bag, which doesn’t seem like enough, but it was definitely warm and toasty. And obviously, you sleep in your thermals and stuff–don’t be stripping down in the cold rooms, y’all. It ain’t that sexy. Wait ’til you get to the warm room for all that.

The temps inside the hotel are around 22 degrees. It’s cold, but you’re so taken with the novelty of the experience that it just doesn’t seem that uncomfortable. Also, the hotel provides you with your necessary outer layers (kinda like a snow suit). I brought some wool blend thermals and socks, and I was never too cold.

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The hotel bar

They serve you drinks in glasses made of only ice, too. And when you’re done drinking, you’re supposed to go outside and throw them at the side of the hotel. Can confirm that it’s good fun.

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You can’t get into your rooms until six pm, because the ice rooms and art rooms are open to the public for tours until then. And you have to leave your room early in the morning, too, because of the tours. Also, there are shared bathrooms (when you’re staying in the cold rooms), which I didn’t think I’d willingly subject myself to anymore after my study abroad days, but it was worth it for this experience!

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The chapel. People get married here!
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Don’t walk on these stairs! They’re just an art installment.
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yeah, it was pretty chilly outside

During the days, we went dog sledding and snowmobile-ing. There were only about four hours of daylight each day. We were also able to see the northern lights (aurora borealis) on our last night, and they were majestic. I’ve always had an obsession with the night sky, and these lights were breathtaking in person. Perhaps me compulsively taking any and all astronomy classes in college was leading me to that very moment!

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Oh, and by the way, if you’re thinking of flying to the arctic circle, it’s a lot cheaper to go in February–probably because it’s cold as hell–but it’s one hundred percent worth the extra layers!

Okay, I’ve gotta go figure out how to insert myself back into real life now.

À la prochaine !

The City That Never Sleeps & Pilates

This past weekend we went to New York on a whim. I love New York, but it’s not a city for introverts like me long-term. A short trip is perfect, though, and I love dressing up in glam clothes and pretending like I’m a native New Yorker. It’s one of the few times my (faux) fur jacket and (faux) leather pants make it out of my closet. You can be anyone you want in New York! I choose to channel Tracee Ellis Ross. And Rihanna.

The city was even crazier because of Fashion Week, but I don’t know–maybe it’s always like that. I’ve certainly never seen it calm! Part of its appeal, I guess. Mostly all we did was walk around, eat, take pictures, eat, and walk around. I finally got to dine at Balthazar, which is a French restaurant that’s been on my list for a while. It was magnifique and worth its spot. New York is filled with French restaurants, and I have about twenty-three on my bucket list. That’s gonna take more than a weekend, though!

Back at home, I went to Pilates this evening. It was fun, but I don’t understand why Pilates classes have to be so extortionate. Like gimme a break–a girl’s just trying to lift her ass and cinch her waist.  I bought the most beautiful yoga mat a few weeks ago.

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Look at that red! I live. This mat was the subject of much controversy among my group of friends. A couple of them thought the price was ridiculous for a yoga mat and so I shouldn’t get it, and a couple of them thought the price was just right for something so stunning. Guess which friends I listened to.

Yep.

You guessed it!

Alright, it’s late and I still have to watch an episode of Barbie in French. I read this article a while ago that said things you learn right before you fall asleep, you are more likely to remember. I need all the help I can get.

À plus !

Aloha

My best friend’s birthday was Christmas day. Eight of us planned a trip to Maui to celebrate. I don’t necessarily care for tropical vacations (give me a snowy hill and a snowboard, please), but I love Hawaii. It’s so, so, so beautiful. Everywhere you look there’s just jaw-dropping scenery. I’ve been walking around with my mouth open for twenty-four hours. Hawaii really is paradise. That was extremely cliché. When I was a kid, I always thought I’d be a really cool adult who always said really cool things, but…nope.

Yesterday we went snorkeling. The water, the fish–everything was in technicolor. How are all the colors so bright here?! We also went whale watching. A whale jumped out of the water like ten feet in front of me. I thought my heart would explode out of my chest it was pounding so hard! To see a living thing so enormous that it looks like it could swallow you whole is pretty thrilling.

Guys, I’m not going to lie to you–I felt really close to nature yesterday. Like so close that I felt mad guilt for wanting to eat seafood. And then mad guilt for actually eating seafood. And now I feel mad guilt for telling you that I had the best scallops and ahi of my life last night. But I’m eating fruit this morning to hopefully mitigate some of this contrition I feel! There’s a line in a Fiona Apple song that I love that says, “Can’t take a good day without a bad one/don’t feel just to smile til I’ve had one…” and I never feel her more on that than when I’m doing things like sitting in paradise making myself feel guilty.

Today there are no scheduled plans except to find shaved ice and food trucks and maybe float on my back in this glorious salt water and watch the clouds pass by overhead with all of these jerks that I love so much. I guess I can withstand a little guilt for a day like that.

A hui hou!

WTF, Paris. Still Love You, Tho.

Bonjour!

Today is our last full day in Paris. The time has gone by too fast.

But, guys… Saturday? Madness. The majority of the Paris rioters usually convene around the Champs-Élysées, which is in the eighth arrondissement. Our hotel is also in the eighth arrondissement. I had no idea the extent of these riots. I mean, look at this:

I was marginally worried that they would decide to come into the hotel and start rioting, but the staff told us not to worry about that, that they wouldn’t. And the staff didn’t seem to be too worried about it, so I tried to put it out of my mind and just enjoy the hotel.

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I also had a facial, which was lovely and my skin looked great afterward, but–I was also bankrupt afterward. Ah, well. It kept my mind off being possibly dragged from the hotel by rioters and beaten to death in the streets!

On Sunday everything was calm again. The streets were clean and people were out strolling to bakeries and such. Kinda like nothing had ever happened, which was a complete mindfuck. But midday, I decided to go out and re-join the city, too.

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Ladurée

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Yesterday, we went to the Christmas market in Tuileries Garden and the catacombs. I also found a New Year’s Eve dress, and I can’t wait to tell everyone on New Year’s Eve that my dress is from Paris. I mean… It’s from Zara, but Zara in Paris. Gonna be pretty insufferable, I must warn you.

Today I went out in search of a home decor item that I could bring back and look at every day (and also tell all my visitors that it’s Parisian), and I found it. I’ll show it to you later after I’ve had a chance to take some really good pictures of it!

Alright–I’ve only got about 18 hours left to enjoy the best city in the world.

À bientôt !

C’est Moi

Guys, I’m so tired.

I’m out here going to bed at four in the morning, dancing on balconies, waking up at six-thirty to try to take pretty pictures of the sunrise. Basically living my life like a thirteen-year-old on summer break forgetting that, of all my friends, I was the one who needed the most sleep when I was thirteen. I’ve got about two full days in me without sleep before a meltdown is imminent. But, like…having a meltdown in Paris? A French meltdown?! I can’t even be mad at that.

I’ve got things to do and see, so I can’t have a meltdown. That’s why I took a nap a few hours ago that I’m just waking up from, and I feel brand new. But maybe I’ll go to bed by midnight tonight, just in case.

Maybe.

Today we went to take a look at the Ritz Carlton because we were curious if we’d chosen the prettiest hotel in Paris. The Ritz was opulent and glamorous and luxurious. But I still think the Four Seasons is prettier–more modern decor, which I like. We may go to the Mandarin Oriental tomorrow to see what their hotel looks like during Christmas. I’m dying to know. But across the board, I can say the French know how to do Christmas. I’m in awe of every single Christmas setup I see here. I couldn’t even begin to think up, let alone create, some of this stuff. It’s stunning.

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I also went to a few pharmacies today. A pharmacy in France is where they sell a bunch of skin care products. I mean–french moisturizers? I felt like I had won the lottery, kids. While I was in the second pharmacie I visited, another customer asked me what products I use and what my French skin care regimen was.

Let me repeat that.

Another customer asked me what products I use and what my French skin care regimen was.

A tourist thought I was French. A tourist thought that my skin looks like it’s on a French skin care regimen.

OOOMMMMMGGGGG. Day made. Call Macron and ask him to sign my citizenship papers. I’ve met the necessary criteria.

Later, I was reunited with my loyal and steadfast friend:

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Yesterday I went to Hermès just to bear witness to some extravagant French luxury.  Saw a handbag for thirty thousand dollars and was, like…

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Alright, I’m on my way to eat dinner. It’s 9:30pm. I’m sooooo fucking French.

Bisous !

Paris, Je t’adore

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We made it to Paris tonight! I was tired and dirty when we landed, which would have sent me running to my hotel immediately for a shower and a nap under normal circumstances, but… I’M IN PARIS! THERE WILL BE NO SLEEP! But, don’t worry–there will be showers.

It’s a little rainy and cloudy right now, but I’m going out to sing in the streets, take pictures, and somehow pretend to be Parisian while I’m doing those things. Gonna fool all the natives. That’s my goal. We’ll see how long I can go before I’m found out. I’ve got a big day planned tomorrow, so I hope it stops raining. But, if not, I’ll just get wet! Alright, kids, Paris beckons.

Maybe if I have the energy tomorrow night, I’ll come back here with some pictures.

Bisous !

October

Life Tip: Do not binge-watch The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix, then go to a haunted house, then re-watch Paranormal Activity if you ever want to sleep again. I made that mistake yesterday. Still awake. Still a wreck.

Every October it becomes clear to me that I’m still the same eight-year-old who confidently and defiantly claimed that “scary movies/stories/haunted houses don’t scare me anymore” and the same eight-year-old who begged to sleep in her mom’s bed afterward. This is who I am. I’ll never change.

But it’s October, and haunted houses and horror movies are mandatory. I don’t make the rules. You know what else happens in October? The silly debate over whether candy corn is disgusting or not. And I think we can all agree that candy corn is disgusting–but in a wholly delicious way and if you don’t like it, you’re probably a serial killer or some other kind of horrible person, and I will be suspicious of you until the end of time.

If you live in/near Atlanta, you should check out Netherworld Haunted House. I go almost every year, and every time it’s still so f#$king terrifying! I mean–I’m a chicken so it doesn’t take much, but still. Highly recommend! Also watch The Haunting of Hill House, because it is phenomenal.

This Friday I’m going to Six Flags for Fright Fest and then maybe another scary movie, so I’ve stocked my place with enough wine to put a horse to sleep. And marshmallows. And candy corn. Like I said before, I don’t make the rules.