What I Thought I needed

I like rainy days because they don’t carry any weight to them
It seems that the earth can just take a break and be
without any expectations but to grow and nurture itself
The flowers are blooming the way I imagine myself.
Slowly- with a great silent effort, and then? All at once.

“It makes me sad to think about how long I let myself suffer with the things that I have been through before I chose self care”

– you were doing what you thought you needed.


Today’s theme?

Compartmentalization.
What a word, safety net, and horrid space.

For me? My go-to, certified A+, one way street to a coping mechanism that is a full proof and easy way to make sure you can walk through hell with a smile on your face.
Put whatever happened in a box, seal it with a kiss, DON’T talk about it and NEVER look at it again. And there you go, you’re happy all the time because it just. doesn’t. exist.

I’m on a bit of a self journey at the moment (… isn’t life one big self journey…)  and that’s why I want to talk about what we can recognize in ourselves as methods of coping that we mask as healing.

“It makes me sad to think about how long I let myself suffer with the things that I have been through before I chose self care”

I thought I was saving myself. Now I realize that there’s a lot of grief and loss in my life that has never gone away. It feels like a breath of fresh air to say that. To recognize that it’s okay, but what I thought was self care… well it wasn’t. I’m not even sure I know what I’ve learned from this yet other than that I need to not do it.

What is self care to me now? I don’t know if I have the answer to that yet.
Right now it comes in baby steps. I get more sleep, do yoga, I (try to) say no when I don’t have time to see people, I eat ice cream more than once a month, I take myself on walks and sit with trees, and most importantly I give myself permission to feel and do my best not to apologize for taking the time I need to do that.
OH.. and I cry. A lot. Not just about sad, but when I feel joy as well.

This isn’t a self help blog. I’m not here to teach you how to practice self care, or tell  you that you compartmentalize or cope in certain ways. Because that would imply that I know what I’m doing or that I think the way I live is the way that others should.

What I’d love to start is a conversation. How do you see self care? How do you implement it into your busy life? What are ways in which you have learned from dealing with HARD, earth shattering shit. How do you recognize when you’re dealing with something in an unhealthy way? What do you do about it?

I think the ways in which we cope are undeniably human. I want to know more about it. I want it to be something we aren’t scared to talk about.
Share with me?

With Love,

Kolina

Keep fighting, Stop Struggling: The Miles Levin Story

On the path of others
Are resting places
Places in the sun
where they can meet.
But this is your path
And it is now.
Now, that you must not fail
weep,
If you can.
But do not complain
The way chose you-
And you must be thankful.
–Dan Hammarakjold

Something beautiful I wanted to share.

With sunshine & love,

Kolina


*** Image from an unknown source, please email me at withlovekolina@gmail.com if you know the artist so I can give proper credit.

The Things I’m not Sorry for Anymore

Today is International Women’s Day and I am thankful. Thankful for the women I am surrounded by, for of the women that I look up too, that I am able to call myself a woman.

As I get older, I become more aware of the impact that strong, mindful, and powerfully independent women have had over my ‘becoming’. These influences have washed over me in ways that I am still realizing as I reflect on the people in my life.

In this noticing, I am starting to see all of the ‘sorry’s’. All of the things that were part of growing up as a girl that I was ashamed of or uncomfortable with.  All of the times I have slouched my shoulders, stood in the back, because maybe then I would be a little smaller, a little less bold. A little less stepping on someone’s toes, a little more status quo.

So last year I wrote this: 

I really wanted to whisper that I was sorry.
I swear it was burning against my lips
as I fought to bite it back and swallow it whole.
Why couldn’t I say it this time?
Because I swear I’m trying to change my thinking.
With every neuron in my weary brain I’m trying
to retrain the part of me
that as a woman
was taught that vulnerability is a burden.

So as a result of the woman in my life, what am I no longer apologizing for?
(This should probably read: what am I working towards not apologizing for. Big (baby) steps.)

A multitude of thanks to my closest friends, who are deeply in tune with themselves:

  • I am learning to not be sorry for having deep emotion. I am not sorry that my tears make you uncomfortable or that my past experiences have made me intolerant to ignorance or that I find your joke offensive.
  • I won’t apologize for pursuing my passions, even if they don’t take me on a direct path or an easy route. This journey is mine and I will live it boldly.

Thanks to the women I met at the Women’s March & the feminists around me who are fighting the good fight:

  • They have taught me that I am not sorry for being loud. For stating my opinion. I will unapologetically argue why misogynist views are incorrect. I will not apologize for why I am angry, or frustrated or heartbroken by the way that things still are.
  • On the other hand I will not apologize for celebrating. For over- emphasizing the importance of recognizing the strong women around us. I’m not sorry if you’re tired of hearing it.

To the poets, the fearless writers who bare their souls for the world to see, and for my friends who have led by example:

  • I’m not going to apologize that the statement, “are there any men here who can lift something for me?” makes me angry.
  • Never again will I apologize for not giving my body to someone just because they asked.. or didn’t. It is mine and no one else’s and I owe a lot to the women who have taught me this invaluable lesson.
  • I will be wild. I will be messy. I will be raw.
  • I will grow my body hair if I want to because if it grows there, that is where it belongs. (This is hard. Society please stop making this such a vulnerable thing.)
  • I will not be ashamed of my body. Clothed or naked: it is my home.

To my Mother and Grandmother, for showing me what it means to be a woman:

  • I will not apologize for demanding respect or to be heard.
  • I will not apologize for the biological factors that make me woman. I’m not sorry for the way hormones effect my emotions, or that I’m in pain because I have a period or that one day I will expect the utmost respect for the body that has birthed a child.
  • I will not apologize that I am a leader and that, unfortunately, parts of the world and certain demographics within it do not see a woman occupying that role. I was fortunate enough to be raised by strong women who taught me this is what I could be.

I don’t think I can finish off this blog without mentioning that I can fearlessly type all of these words because of my privilege. Feminism, point blank, is easier (and safer!) for the cis- white- heterosexual female, for the woman who was born into a safe socio-economical space, and for the ones with access to education and the foundation to succeed. (I’m talking food, and water and the ability to not have to work 3 jobs while supporting a family, access to health care, support networks etc.)  There are women around me and in all parts of the world who are doing feminism and living unapologetically far better than I, with 700 systemically embedded obstacles in their way. I am at a loss for words for their courage and stamina. For their strength and perseverance.

Remember:

“If your feminism doesn’t include women of colour, queer women, trans women, fat women, poor women, elderly women, disabled women, homeless women, sex workers, etc. then who is it even for?”

With love for of my beautiful- dazzling – courageous -strong- sisters,

Kolina

Love Month

February rolls around and there are are a few types of people:

  1. You love valentines day and everything, I mean everything  is pink. Right down to the little red hearts you draw in your agenda.
  2. You hate valentines day with a burning passion and tend to gravitate towards ignoring the fact that pink, a wretched colour, even exists.
  3. Wait.. it’s valentines day??

I feel like as I’ve gotten older, random holidays that pop up throughout the year hold more meaning for me. You could care about them.. or you could not. Truth be told though, you’re probably going to be having way more fun if you’re the one participating. I didn’t really think like this until I learned what it’s like to be unable to join in. The year I got hit by that car, was the year all of my friends went all out for Halloween. This sounds silly but after halloween came and went and I was still bedridden, the thought occurred to me that  I might never get another halloween. Suddenly it seemed stupid that given the choice to have fun with it or pass, I had always decided that it was too childish for me. Now the only thing that seemed childish was how I chose to use my perspective. I know this seems drastic.. missing one halloween doesn’t seem like a big deal. But I missed out on many aspects of my life because of this accident. Some parts I still miss out on even now, two years later. If I didn’t learn to appreciate the things I can in my life from this experience then that would be very, very drastic.

This year love month came around and it got me thinking about what it means to have a day to celebrate love. Valentines day for me always seemed very family centred. My mom still writes my sister and I valentines day cards. I still have a teddy bear on my shelf with a heart written ” I love you, love Oma”. I’ve put more effort into the cards I’ve written for friends than I ever did for any crush.

So what does celebrating love on this day actually mean? I think it can mean a lot of things. Love to me has always been multifaceted. I think it exists as one entity that can be expressed in a multitude of ways. This, in and of itself, is why I do not think having a day to celebrate love is lame. We’ve all heard it: “you should be celebrating love evverrryday, not just on valentines day.” Yes. Yes you should. But if everyone took this day to sit down and extra appreciate what love actually exists as in their lives, then maybe it will feel ever more present on days that are not February 14th.

Things that I think we should all have ~ F E E L I N G S ~ for :

  • Ourselves!! Self looooooovvveee!! When’s the last time we all took a good hard sit down and said “hey body!!! Yeah I mean you, you beautiful thing that has taken care of me for my entire life–  I’m gonna start listening to what you actually want!” Personal care is a journey I’m still working on. I’m slowly starting to learn about what it means to listen when your body & mind ask for something.
  • The earth!! I think this one is so forgotten. We all need to be showing gratitude for the foundation that governs our every step. February has sported some wonderfully snowy days so far. Catch those snowflakes!! This includes looking at lifestyle changes that can help us be kinder to our environment. 
  • Friends and family!! These people in your life that love you and nurture you are important!
  • A significant other who recognizes the universes that you hold inside you!!! You don’t have time for mediocre and if thats all they can give you that then I’m sorry but a love month can become a goodbye month pretty damn easily. ( See bullet #1 & listening to what your mind and body want)
  •  Art. Read some poetry, some fictional work, watch a film, go to a museum, a dance show, play some new music. I am always searching for the human condition in it’s purest and most expressive form.
  • Show some lovin’ to your furry friends!! They’re there for you when no one else is! (Maybe cut meat out of your diet once a week?? Shameless plant based plug? Maybe. But animals need love too!)
  • Just caring about humans in general. Don’t engage in negativity. Ditch the stigmas you carry, the biases, the misconceptions. If you don’t get something learn about it. I have big feelings about not. making. others. feel. lesser.

Mostly I think that love involves expressive gratitude. What are you thankful for? Lead each day with the things that you are appreciative of, and you will find that love for those things, places, or people will flow quite freely. These are all things I’ve been trying to get better at working into my life. I really think reflecting is a great way to learn and make subtle, important changes.


An end note with a personal opinion:

I often see posts that look a lot like this circulating on valentines day:

You don’t have a valentine on valentines day? Well some people don’t have a mom on mothers day or a dad on father’s day so shut the f*ck up”

My human experience has included these two things:

  1. I have not had a dad on father’s day since I was about 15 years old.  
  2. I have been valentine-less for the previous 21 valentine days. 

I know how much it sucks to scroll through social media, on both of these days. Do you know how shitty it is to look through hundreds of pictures of people golfing on July 21st know that will never be me and my dad? I also know what it feels like to be totally fine on both of these days because I don’t have a dad on any day and I am happy for those people that get to spend time with their fathers. I also didn’t have a love on any other day.  I would be lying though, if I said it has never sucked to wonder what it’s like to be posting a picture of someone you are so in love with on a day meant for cherishing them. So it troubles me to see this post floating around, making people who may quite possibly feel as though they will never find love, feel even worse about themselves.  Wanting to find a person, does not mean you don’t feel bad for someone who has experienced loss. The two do not equate each other.

If you are lonely on valentines day and want to express that loneliness on valentines day that is okay. If you are not lonely on valentines day that is also okay. If you feel like you want to extend love into other areas of your life because you reckon you should give it back to the universe that is also okay. If you have a significant other that you want to celebrate on valentines day, that is wonderful and very ok. If you have lost a parent and are sad that you cannot show them the love you wish you could on this day that is okay (and for that I am so very sorry – because I know).

But could I please ask this: That we all be very aware and respectful of others & their personal feelings, all days. Especially on days when some of us might be a little lonelier. 

(And if there are lonely people in our lives maybe we just need to show them a little more love, not a little more apathy)

With the most love to everyone this month,

Kolina

When was the last time wonder wasn’t foreign?

It sits in the way that people hang their heads and keep on walking without looking up. In the very way that we don’t look at stars in the city anymore because we can’t really see them.

When was the last time I actually looked at the stars?

It hangs over me in a way that is inscrutable.
When did I stop noticing trees.. When did I realize that I actively needed to start? 

Once a close friend to me asked if I’d ever realized how many shades of green I’m taking in at when I look at trees. What a question. It changed my entire perspective. It was like someone had told me I could wear glasses to see detail after living with blurry vision.

It’s nonsensical to me. At what point in our lives do we lose the wonder? Because I don’t  understand why other people aren’t running outside with me every night to catch a glimpse of the sun putting itself to bed before we say hello to the moon.

When was the last time you looked at the moon? I mean really acknowledged it’s magnitude. 

As humans we get really comfortable when we have routine. What becomes normal to us seems to lose its touch.  Then we get uncomfortable– we need new– we need exciting. Something to spark our interest and make us feel giddy again.
What if monotony didn’t define us, but gave us a platform to which we could see the value in everyday astonishment?

I know we eat everyday out of habit but when was the last time you really savoured your food?

I feel as though experiencing awe in the minute, tiny detail this world has to offer is a choice. However, the more we make that choice the more it comes naturally — until you’re looking around and smiling for no reason other than the fact that the sky seems a bit clearer than yesterday. What I’m curious to know though, is how it got to the point where it needs to be an active choice in the first place.

Did we lose it because we got to busy? Or is it because wonder isn’t valued in daily practice? Perhaps it’s just because we forget to notice. How can we make sure we do?

When was the last time you noticed what fresh air feels like coming into your lungs?
When was the last time you thanked your body for taking care of you?
When was the last time you thought about how powerful it is to be a human with autonomous choice?

Wonder should not be foreign to you. Don’t let it be unknowable or unfathomable.

Because the only part that’s inscrutable is that we don’t see it when it’s right in front of us.

With love,

Kolina

via Daily Prompt: Inscrutable

It was Romantic

Recently, I took the train to Toronto and immediately felt nostalgic. The sun was rising like a bright orange globe hanging over Hamilton and glimmering just.. ‘so’ through the windows.  This was the first time I’d been on a train since I returned home from galavanting through Europe with my family this summer. I felt that old familiar ache you get in your chest when you’re ‘happysad’:

happysad
/ˈhapē/ /sad/
adjective: your gut is clenching because you’re just so giddy and every experience is flashing past your eyes as if it’s just happened. But your heart is also sinking because it won’t happen like that again.

It was wonderfully peaceful, being on the train, and made me reflect on how lucky I am to have had that time to travel with my family– a gift that not many get to experience.

On the way home I stumbled upon the poem “Dead Poets” , by Lang Leav. The story goes that a young girl pledges her life to the poetry that lives among the shelves of an old library. They are filled with authors that have now passed. The poets are sad for her as she doesn’t realize she will now relive heartache as it happens to her throughout her life.  She ends the poem concluding that “poets are among the damned… having hands that do not know what they seek”.

I resonate with this. It seems that people who experience hardship somehow make beauty out of their lives. It’s incredible to me and I want to do the same. However, this hardship can become a safety blanket. A warm space to crawl under when the world seems a bit smaller and darker.

There seems to be some preconceived notion- through media, books & films that the main character must overcome great sorrow, heartache and hardship to make the story riveting. There was a big part of me that romanticized hardship as a child. I used to put so much weight into yearning for a tragic beauty. For a life that threw me around, beat me up, and spit me out a strong independent women who could take on anything. Realistically, that’s exactly what I got, but is it romantic? 

Much of my poetry is quite sad, or reflects on hardship that I have experienced or witnessed. Sometimes I wonder what I would write about if those events where not part of my life. What will I write about when I get to a point in my life when there is no sad or heartbreaking poetry left? Why is poetry better when it’s sad? Would I be the person I am today had I not been able to persevere? Probably not. 

I started a new book the other month and in the beginning I wrote “I want to fill this with book with happiness.” A harder feat than I expected considering I spend a great amount my time during the day actively seeking out good. Why is it easier to dwell on the bad, rather than zero in on the good? It seems to me though that we need more celebration of happiness. To make a choice to consciously know it, see it, feel it and remember it.

I want to romanticize happiness. 

Perhaps if poets are meant to re-experience as they create their art, they can then relive the good as well.

Wishing you all a lot of good & a lot light this Monday morning.

With Love,

Kolina

 

 

Places Love Exists (Europe Edition)

For about as long as I can remember I have been showered with love. I am so unbelievably lucky to have grown up in a family that said “I love you” more than necessary (you can never say it enough).  I’ve always inherently known that love exists. Love is important. Love is a powerful emotion that guides passion, and caring, and changes the way we interact and give to those around us. However, what took me some time to appreciate is the multitude of ways in which love manifests itself around us. In fact, is has become a huge fascination of mine to search for it everywhere. So in little notes and scribbles I have acquired lists of places where I think love exists. Here is the Europe edition.

  • On a ferry boat in Greece where a father pretends to be a choo-choo train for his little boy up and down the isles.
  • The families on the streets of Paris. Both mom and dad cuddle and play with their children before they brace for the night ahead.  A heartbreaking form of love.
  • A teenage girl walking down the street holding her father’s hand.
  • The driver who skyped his Canadian friend on our way to the airport in Athens
    • Also, the way this taxi driver so absolutely adored his life.
  • A woman walking past me in Florence on the phone, pep talking her friend.
    • “You got to give it all you got and if that doesn’t work you are going to try something else. You can do this.”
  • The strangers on the street who helped my family get me to the hospital in Greece who then texted AND emailed us to see how we were doing.
    • We were no longer in their country anymore and they were still checking in.
  • The man in Italy who thanked me profusely for buying a single pen from him at his merchant stand. He clearly used this shop as a main source of income.
    • He apologized so many times for not being able to speak english. I wish I could have apologized to him for not being able to speak Italian.
  • My aunt who I have only seen a few times in my life, hugging me and crying as we drove away from her house in Nürnberg, Germany.
  • The family on the pier at Fuschl am See, Austria.
    • “Papa, Mama, Komm!”
  • An old folks home that was having an afternoon dance in Munich, Germany.
    • We stood in the streets, watching through an open door, as a room was filled with moving feet and laughter
  • The way my heart felt when I walked into a room and was embraced by friends that I had not seen for years in Schwabach, Germany.
  • The way thousands of voices sound when they gather arm in arm and sing a song called “Wahre Freundschaft” (true friendship) while the sun is setting on a field in Romania.
    • Also, the way culture has a way of embracing your identity and binding two people together in forever friendship.
    • Also, the act preserving a culture.
  • Le mur des je t’aime, or the wall of “I love you’s” in Montmatre, Paris.
    • I sat at watched as couples young and old, kids with their parents, and friends kissed and posed for selfies in front of the wall that has ‘I love you’ written in 250 languages.

I think the take away here is that it’s everywhere and its all-encompassing. In the past I have often tried to decide which forms of love were more important or unimportant to me. I didn’t give romantic love any sort of value until I experienced it. I know the earth shattering reality of what it means to share love with friends and family while they are still alive, because I know loss. There is heartbreaking love. There is love for places. Love for strangers. Love for humanity. There is SELF LOVE.  I’ve learned it’s all so very important and the ways in which love is present in your life changes. It’s easy miss out on the beauty of one form just because you’re too busy looking for a different one.

Most importantly though (here comes the cheese) … give love. everywhere. always. to everyone (including yourself). no matter what.

With Love,

Kolina

Heartbreak in Paris

I haven’t written in a while.

Half the time I think about writing something and I forget before I have the chance to do so  OR  I write it all down and think better of it. I’m back and forth between this blogging thing because everyday my brain whispers and shouts some thoughts on publicly sharing my writing:

“no one really cares what you’re thinking”

“maybe someone feels the same way you do.. how will you know if you don’t write it?”

“you’re not doing this for others you’re doing it for YOU”

“everyone’s a writer these days what makes you any different”  also “so WHAT if everyone’s a writer it doesn’t mean you CAN’T do it too” 

“don’t be pretentious” 

“but… it makes my heart happy” 

So today this last little whisper was victorious. These days it rarely seems to win. And in realizing this I’ve made note that maybe I should listen to it more often… but that’s for another blog post. Today I want to write about Paris.

I have written and drooled and dreamed and fallen head over heels for the romantic, mystical wonders that this historical city has to offer. But today I want to talk about the Paris that broke my heart.

Because you see, poverty always seems to hit me right in the centre of my gut. I want to talk about it today because I feel like everyone talks about Paris the way I have in my previous posts. It’s enlightening and enchanting AND I -can’t -believe -how -many -people- I -met AND the food- that- I- ate AND the way the Eiffel tower glistened..just so.. right against the skyline.

But no one talks about the Paris at the end of the metro line. No one talks about the poverty. Or maybe they do and I’m just not listening. Or maybe you can only walk past hundreds and HUNDREDS of men, women and children refugees literally living on the street before you start to question your right to even be in the country you are travelling through.

Let me ask myself this for the 700th time. What right do I have to be travelling for fun, when there are people who do not even have a roof over their heads. The idea that I was just hopping from country to country while those around me didn’t have food to eat was something I had a hard time wrapping my head around during my travels this summer.

“but there are homeless people at home too and you still live there”
why is this so shocking to you? you’re shocked when you see it at home too.”
” what if all of the money I had spent on a plane ticket to get here had been given to people that need it…” 

I hope with my entire existence that I never become apathetic in the face of poverty.

I felt hopeless. Stupid. Uneducated. Naive.
“why didn’t you pay more attention in french class, you can’t even communicate when they ask you something”
“Do they even speak french?”
“why aren’t you DOING something for these people”
“when was the last time you even looked into the refugee crisis, you barely know anything about it” 

When I was 17 I worked with an incredibly impoverished community in Kentucky.  At the time it shocked me to my very core that in such a rich country, there were people who can’t afford to live in proper homes. It made me question what poverty means. The different forms in which poverty presents itself. Why is homelessness so ignored?  Why had I made it to 17 (the age at which most of us have already been accepted to university) and had NEVER been exposed to this type of poverty?

That was five years ago and the issue just seems to get more complicated. Obviously. (I just don’t know how else to put it.) Right now I don’t see any other semi- kinda sorta- “solution” other than to educate myself. It’s the only thing I’ve been able to come up with that may give me some sort of direction. Some sort of path to follow towards the route that may lead to a more just world, a safer place to call home for everyone. This path will most likely lead me to a great deal of dead ends before it leads me anywhere of greater significance. But thats important too.

Most days I just feel really small. The more I learn the more poverty and the issue of homelessness just becomes more convoluted and intertwined. So wrapped up into the way our societies function that I can’t even begin to fathom an end point. That’s not to say I don’t believe in the power of humanity.  I really think we have the opportunity to make a difference.  I just don’t feel like I have any sort of answer and the problem is a whole lot more catastrophic than when I was 14 and thought you could change the world with a middle school fundraiser raffle draw.

I recently attended a talk by Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese who founded “Save the Mothers” . Her advice to those embarking on a journey of global health was to build yourself the biggest toolkit possible. Become an expert and learn everything there is to know about your field of study.  So I’m just going to keep pushing, keep learning, keep observing and searching for the right direction to take. Because right now I am small, but maybe one day, if I work hard enough, I’ll be able to do something with the small amount of knowledge that I’ve had the privilege to acquire.

Paris is awe inspiring and wonderful in all it’s glory. But it is also tear jerking and heartbreaking and a shocking reminder that poverty exists even in the most beautiful places. I don’t think that should be ignored.

I wanted to write about this because it’s all in the way you see it. Recently I changed the heading to my blog. It reads, “This is the way I see the world, and the way I don’t”.

I saw a dad return to his wife and daughter to set up shop for the night. Their bed a small patchwork blanket laid out on a concrete bridge.
I heard a mother rock her baby to sleep while busy tourists chatter and clamber past.
I was walking down a street filled with men, showering in the street fountain because they had. nothing. else.
I passed by the mattresses and piles of clothing. The attempts at making a home out of the streets.

Paris, this is what I saw.

With love,

Kolina

Two little feet and a bunch of Parisian streets (An Amateurs’s Guide to walking the City)

I’m quickly learning that the best way to discover these European cities is on my own two feet. For this post I recommend you pack some water, a good pair of running shoes folks, and as Kelsey would call them “Emergency Granola Bars”.

I went on a free walking tour throughout the city with Sandeman Walking Tours . These run 3x a day everyday and you tip your tour guide at the end rather than paying up front. Generally speaking these types of tours are better. You avoid the 70 year old guide that has recited the same information so often they can’t be bothered to care anymore. Instead you get someone in their 20s with real love for meeting people, starting conversation and providing historical and CURRENT information about the city & people that live within it. 

If you’re looking to wander around the city for a bit, a good place to start is St. Michel Fountain. This is right near île de la Cité which is the 1st arrondissement  (so very central). In the area near the fountain you will find a ton of food. If you’re facing St. Michel cross the street to your left. If you continue down the side street there are vendors from everywhere, not just parisien food. If you walk away from the fountain (so facing the other way) and turn right you can head towards île de la Cité and there you’ll find Notre Dame. The line up is always huge so don’t be discouraged. It’s free to go inside, it’s just a security check and moves relatively quickly. 


If you’re facing Notre Dame and take the side street to your left in your opposite direction you will pass Paris’s oldest hospital (on right once you’re walking) and then once you continue you will come across a massive flower market. It runs everyday, except on Saturdays it is pet market. With the market on your right you are also facing St.Chapelle chapel which is the church with the most extensive collection of stained glass windows. It is said to be very beautiful inside. 

If you walk through the flower market and turn left you will be headed down a street that will take you towards Point Neuf and then you can follow it this way to the Louvre. Behind the Louvre there are massive gardens and if you walk through those and turn right you will come to a carnival area and turning right through there will take you to the art institute which is a very busy and populated area of Paris you might like to walk around in. 


If you are looking for a different feel, I suggest you take the metro out to the Montmartre district. This is your classic French city with winding cobblestone streets, quaint little cafes, artists set up in the square and music playing. Go there and plan to spend the day. From there you can take all the steps up to sacre coeur for the most beautiful view of paris you will ever see. Again, the line up to enter the basilica looks long. But it’s free to enter and you don’t actually wait that long. You can easily spend plenty of time wandering through this district, checking out the art and little shops and galleries that line the streets. At the base of Montmartre there is a wall called “Le mur des je t’aime” meaning “The Wall of Love” where “I love you” is written in 250+ languages. Sit there for a while and watch families, lovers, old married couples hug and kiss each other while the pose for a picture. It’s absolutely beautiful. 



With Love,

Kolina