Wednesday, March 15, 2017


I've finally made the move from Blogger to Wordpress.

Since I'll be figuring out a redesign before I move to Paris, I decided to change platforms for better layout and design. Blogger has been great to me for years, but it's time to start something new!

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Vienna's Secession continues to carry legacy of expressing and supporting artistic freedom

On our first afternoon in Vienna, Steph and I walked from lunch at the Naschmarkt down the street to explore. Upon spotting Secession, I insisted on stopping in immediately before going further. 

I had researched and presented on Secession two years ago for a literature and history course I was taking at Salve Regina University while I was working at the Pell Center. The only specific details I could recall from memory were 
  • the name of the building's architect, Josef Maria Olbrich 
  • the building served as a center for artistic expression in Vienna
  • the building houses Gustav Klimt's Beethoven Frieze

Secession's facade is impressive in pictures, but I didn't realize how large the building was until we saw it in person. I couldn't get a great picture of the golden dome on the roof without having to cross the street—even then, the pictures still failed to capture all of the unique architectural elements in one image. 

Klimt's frieze, located in the lower-level of Secession, is inspired by Richard Wagner's interpretation of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony—each panel of the frieze represents the mankind's journey to find happiness. 

The brilliant, metallic gold present in the frieze lends a magical quality to the whole experience of being in the room and making sense of the piece.

Academic pictures of the frieze do not do it justice—it's such a moving artwork to see in person and there's no need to be an artist to see the layers of meticulous technique Klimt used to imbue as much life into the frieze as possible.

In addition to the Beethoven Frieze, museum visitors can learn the history of Secession and the artistic community that initiated it. Ver Sacrum, the magazine of Secession from 1898-1903, featured jugendstil art and literature from all over Europe.

Steph and I came back to Secession the following evening for the exhibition opening of Echo of a Mirror Fragment by Viennese artist and resident Svenja Deininger

Deininger's artwork was inspired by the architecture of the Secession, which ranges from delicate, floral elements visible on the building facade to minimal, clean lines that are present throughout the structure:
[...] the new paintings echo this contrast by juxtaposing straight lines reminiscent of architectural blue-prints with more organic elements: rounded shapes, wavy lines and curves, in which, despite their fragmentary character, there is even a faint suggestion of figurative representation.

What makes Secession special is the intimacy of the space and its progressive spirit that continues to thrive through its preservation and encouraged innovation by the artists showcased there. I would be happy to come back again to see what other exhibitions will bring to support Secession's mission.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sissi's Corner

After 3 years, it only made sense that my first stop in Paris was shopping in Le Marais. 

I did some research on the best consignment shops to check out and found Sissi's Corner on a list in Time Out Paris. Located around the corner from Place des Vosges and a short walk from Bastille, it's a quintessential dépôt-vente tucked in Le Marais.

It may be a small space, but take the time to look at every coat rack and shelf at least twice to make sure you don't miss anything that you would regret not buying. In some ways, Sissi's Corner reminded me of consignment shops in southern Rhode Island, except the inventory at Sissi's Corner is filled with a mini arsenal of French designer brands and mid-priced labels in remarkable near-perfect condition. 

It's easy to lose your excitement over shopping when you work in retail. I typically avoid going into a corporate store without the intention of buying, because if I purchase nothing or waste a salesperson's time, it negatively impacts the store's foot traffic-conversion and (possible) sales commission.  I enjoyed speaking with Sissi and learning the history and details about the store, like how the vintage Yves Saint Laurent framed piece in the dressing room is quite rare. 

I bought a vintage Joseph Tricot knit sweater and an Isabel Marant military jacket. I almost walked away from the jacket and wanted to think about it in case I found something else, but I'm glad Sissi convinced me to buy it. The jacket itself is a dream with its infinite number of pockets and removable shearling lining—it also turns out the jacket was a best-seller and is hard to find. 


The next time I come to Paris, I'm definitely bringing a bigger suitcase. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

How to Spend 72 Hours in Vienna

An intellectual visit to Austria's capital 

I spoke to a few friends who have visited Vienna before to get an idea of what to expect—they all unanimously said that it was a beautiful city, but there wasn't much to do beyond a few days.

My expectations were lowered, only to discover that Vienna has so much to offer the curious visitor. The Austro-Hungarian Empire may be long gone, but traces of Vienna's historical opulence survive in the city's urban architecture and artistic circles.

Steph and I were ambitious in our sightseeing while we were in Vienna—we covered a lot of ground during the three days and two nights we stayed despite the cold and the snow.

Getting There

I took the CAT train from the airport and it was very easy to figure out. It arrives every half an hour and takes 16 minutes to reach the city center via Landstrasse. I bought a 72-hour Vienna pass for all public transportation so that I didn't have to worry about constantly buying tickets throughout my stay. With that being said, we ended up walking to most places and probably could have gotten away with the 48-hour pass instead.

Where to Stay

We booked our stay at Wombats City Hostel by the Naschmarkt. We booked our room on the top floor that offered an amazing view of the Naschmarkt and the main street by the hostel, Linke Wienzeile. Two buildings by city architect Otto Wagner—The Majolikahaus at 40 Linke Wienzeile and 38 Linke Wienzeile, which stands out with gold accents—are prime examples of art nouveau or jugendstil.

Sightseeing Checklist

Many of the attractions in Vienna suit a variety of different people. We didn't make it a number of popular attractions recommended by —Belvedere Palace, Schonbrunn Palace, Prater, etc.—but we felt accomplished in taking our time and enjoying what we did visit.

This just means we need to come back to Vienna in the summer to check out the palace gardens and outdoor parks.



Kunsthistorisches Museum

Hofburg, Sisi Museum, Kaiserappartements


Freud Museum


Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

Similar to how writers and artists would congregate at cafes in Paris, cafes also have a historical significance and cultural relevance in Viennese culture. The cafe is a place to read the newspaper and drink your morning coffee or enjoy a midday beer with schnitzel and linger until the early evening. Regardless of how old-fashioned or modern a cafe is, the most important thing is that you experience what it feels like to take your time and enjoy the moment.

Cafe Sperl

Cafe Dreschler


Sunday, January 29, 2017

What to Pack for a Winter Week in Europe

It may be crazy, but for my six-day trip to Vienna and Paris, I decided to stick to carry-on luggage.

I kept my wardrobe simple and made sure to pack essentials that would be light and useful for the trip. I'm not even bothering to bring my laptop, which is just as well, because it's better to pay attention to focus on where to go and what to do instead of focusing on finding a WiFi connection at the hostel.

The Packing List


1 cardigan sweater
2 pullover sweaters
2 flannel shirts
2 pairs of jeans
1 black dress
2 sweater dresses
2 black cotton long-sleeve shirts


1 pair of black boots
1 black clutch w/ built-in iPhone charger
1 reusable tote
Toiletries (liquids repackaged in small travel bottles)


2 two-prong adapters
1 three-prong adapter
1 photocopy of passport
KIND bar snacks

Worst case scenario, my return flight back to the States allows me to have two checked bags and a carry-on, so I could buy a suitcase in Paris to bring back whatever I end up buying...