apartment shopping à Paris

I can’t seem to hold back when diving into a fun project.  My latest one for our trip to Paris is the great ‘where to stay?’ debate.  Like described here we decided to rent an apartment in Paris using a website called airbnb.com.  So far I’ve picked a few of the ‘neighborhoods’ (or arrondissements) that I like, or are somewhat familiar with, or are fairly close to metro and fun locations, or a combination of all of those.  After searching apartments that looked good based on our geographical search requirements, I quickly learned that there were a couple of ‘deal breakers’ in our portfolio for deciding on an apartment.  For instance, if the apartment allowed smoking it was immediately nixed from the candidates.  The same immediate denial of the apartment as a candidate choice occurred if the apartment allowed pets (Brett is allergic to cats) or offered only a pull out couch for sleeping…I decided that if we were going to skip out on the possibility of a hotel that at least we could sleep on a real bed for a week 🙂  The site offers pictures of the apartment (sometimes by an actual airbnb photographer) as well as a map where the apartment is situated.  I eventually started eliminating apartments that didn’t show a picture of the kitchen, or the bathroom, or the bed.  🙂  At least with a hotel I can march myself to the front desk and ask for a new room but I don’t think that will be an option if we pay for an airbnb lodging!

parischoisesLooking at some of these apartments has left Brett and I with the question, “where do they put all of their stuff?!”  🙂  Many of these apartments are smaller than 30 m2 (approximately less than 300 ft2) and include everything needed for living!  I’ve decided that I could live in such a small place but that I’d have a hard time getting rid of all of the things that I keep around me (read…all of those things that I have and can’t get rid of and may or may not actually use but for some reason feel attached to sentimentally)  🙂

We started by finding an apartment that we liked a lot and tried to book it.  A few hours later we received a message that the place wasn’t actually available during our dates so we tried to book another one.  After waiting an entire 24 hours (the host has 24 hours to respond to your request) we learned that our 2nd apartment choice wasn’t available either.  So Brett suggested a more brute force approach and in the next few hours that followed I messaged about 30 candidate apartment hosts.  🙂  We are currently ‘preapproved’ for about a dozen of our choices.  I’m waiting til the end of the day, saving the apartment locations who have confirmed availability during our stay on a google map, and Brett and I will decide tonight.  🙂  WooT!  🙂

Paris on the Brain

I have a confession….I have been spending FAR more time lately thinking about Paris then about my research.  I know!  I know!  Its spring break you say!  Take a break!  But, that is not what spring break is to most graduate students…if anything it is a great week where the campus is almost empty and there are no classes and fewer meetings to get in the way of making actual research progress.  But this trip to Paris is just a month away and I just can’t stop thinking about it!  I’ve been searching airbnb.com  for fun and cheap places to stay while ‘the city of light.’  I’ve found copies of RER maps (think metra) and Metro maps (think the L) and have found that I remember exactly how to get from the airport to Paris.  🙂  I’ve looked at prices to visit my beloved city of Compiègne which is about an hour train ride from Paris.  I’ve contemplated making lists of all the great tourist attractions and how we could group them into different days of our trip.  I’ve daydreamed of grabbing a baguette (pas trop cuit) and some cheese (gotta love that stinky fromage) or a crêpe and having a lovely stroll along the Seine.  The last time I was in Paris was in 2008.  I remember crazy nights out in Paris and then catching the first train back to Compiègne in the morning.  I remember weekends spent there when someone came to visit….excursions filled with bars, museums, nose piercing, salsa dancing, crepe eating, crappy hostels, site seeing, the list goes on and on.  I cannot wait for this trip!  Brett has never been to Europe and I intend to help make this trip to Paris fantastic for the both of us!

More to come on booking our Paris vacation!  🙂


Holidays, Michigan, Illini games, and Holiday cards

We haven’t talked a lot about our winter break!  (mostly I think because I (Mallory) want to forget that HUGE chunks of it spent studying ever happened haha!)  We will post more pictures soon but these are two that seemed fitting 🙂  The first is Brett and KJ in their pjs with pups in their laps 🙂 and the other is when Brett and I went to the St. Louis Symphony’s playing of the Pirates of the Caribbean with my dad and brother.  The music was soooo good!  We’ll post more pictures of the rest of break soon  🙂

After returning to Champaign and after my qualifying exam, Brett and I had a great trip to Michigan with the pups to finish our Winter Break 2012-2013.  Here are a few pictures (from my phone!  the resolution continues to amaze me)  from the trip which included walking on the beach (seeing how much Caya loves the water (though is frightened slightly by waves) which I learned while hiking with a friend in TN), visiting a casino just to spend most of our time in the Kid Zone (read, arcade…why gamble for real when you can play AWESOME games and then win tickets to get cool prizes?!?!?!), yummy dinners out (shown here with one of our awesome wins from the arcade), and much more.  🙂  More pictures to come!


Click here to watch a movie!  — walking on the beach

A few weeks back from break Brett and I were able to take advantage of my dad’s season tickets to the Illini Basketball games!  🙂  The game wasn’t the greatest (we lost to Northwestern?!) but we had a lot of fun!  Go ILLINI!!!


Finally done (for the time being, hurumph!) with that pesky qualifying exam, I worked hard over the weekend to finish sending out holiday cards and then ran out of them before finishing!  🙂  I quickly drove around town looking for cards to no avail.  Que the Internet-to-the-Rescue!  More cards were quickly ordered 🙂  Just proves that you really can by anything at anytime on the internet!  So some of those cards will be a tad bit later than desired (seeing as its mid to late January and all haha) but better late than never.  Sending out holiday cards is still one of those ‘adult’ like tasks that I really enjoy.  I so love getting everybody else’s cards and reading about what their lives have been like for the past year.  For some of those people, I know everything that has happened before even opening the envelope since we stay in touch but for others it has been a while and the card is a nice and endearing way to see that we’re all thinking of one another.

What do you all think about holiday cards?  An archaic tradition or something to keep going strong?  🙂