sailing on

jardin des tuileries

I woke up realizing I left Paris four years ago. Four years. A (college) lifetime. Has much changed? After several solo trips abroad, my first job, and making my first apartment into a home, I feel like many things have changed. Yet many of the realizations I had that summer are still the same. Still confident yet terrified. Still alone but not lonely. Still a firm believer in the kindness of strangers. 

Since then, I’ve kept the Paris dream alive by visiting every year and taking several French classes to improve my language skills. While I still don’t know what’s next, I’m still optimistic as ever. 

locally grown

dc greens - lesley siu

Growing up: signing up to volunteer as your birthday activity. I spent the evening volunteering with a nonprofit at their local urban farm. It’s interesting getting into the weeds (literally) of food access and education in DC. I will also be at farmers markets throughout the summer to help low-income community members access fresh produce. With all of the conflict and negativity in the world right now, how could I sit at home waiting for change? I’m looking forward to continuing to take action in my community. Baby steps.

room for a birthday celebration

columbia room dc - lesley siu

For my birthday this year, I went to Columbia Room for drinks with a few friends. Tucked away in Blagden Alley, the cocktail bar has a nice punch garden perfect for enjoying the outdoors before the summer heat really sinks in. The drink list is aptly named “This is Not a Wine List” with cocktails inspired by wines. 

columbia room punch garden dc - lesley siu

Complete with Georgetown Cupcakes (thank you, Claire!) and a quick dinner at Le Diplomate, my birthday was low key and enjoyable. My goals for this year include volunteering more in my community, acing taking the GMAT, and traveling to at least three new countries. Easy, right? 

16 places I traveled to in 2016

In terms of travel, 2015 was tough to beat. This year included traveling to Africa for work, planning a group trip to Peru, and returning to Paris on my annual another solo trip. A new job even led to a few opportunities for business travel. Five continents, seven countries, and 40 flights later, 2016 was quite an adventure.

1. Tokyo

“Hey mom, do you want to go to Japan in three days?” It was her first trip outside of the U.S. and Canada! We ate a lot of ramen and sushi as soon as we got there.

tokyo ramen

2. Kyoto

Beautiful temples, the bamboo park, Fushimi Inari Shrine, and my squad at the Arashiyama Monkey Park. Kyoto is my favorite city in Japan.

arashiyama bamboo park

arashiyama bamboo park

3. Hakone

Hello, Mount Fuji! What a view from the Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train) en route to Hakone’s hot springs.

mt. fuji - lesley siu

4. Chicago

Is your first trip to the windy city complete without this picture?

chicago - lesley siu

5. Honolulu

My annual trip to the homeland included a quick hike to Manoa Falls.

manoa falls - lesley siu

6. Malawi

A visit to the “warm heart of Africa” and fulfilling my professional goal of Snapchatting traveling abroad for work. Here’s the 5:30 a.m. sunrise at Lake Malawi.

lake malawi

7. Amsterdam

When you have a long layover here, you go into the city on a quest for stroopwafels.

amsterdam - lesley siu

8. Las Vegas

My favorite part was renting a car and driving out to Red Rock Canyon.

las vegas red rock canyon - places traveled 2016

9. Lima

The ceviche and sunshine make up for a terrifying non-taxi experience and having to purchase a new flight to Cusco (note to self: never fly Copa Airlines again).

lima peru - lesley siu

10. Cusco

We took a cooking class and made pisco sours, walked around the Maras salt mines, wandered through the markets, and met the best driver, César.

pisco sours - lesley siu

maras salt mines - lesley siu

11. Aguas Calientes

Pro tip: take the bus up to Machu Picchu. Always take the bus.

peru machu picchu -- places traveled 2016

12. New York

I always stop by Maison Kayser for a little taste of Paris, even on a 24-hour trip to NYC to shoot a video.

maison kayser new york - lesley siu

13. Paris

Then I actually went to Paris, because, you know… It’s Paris. Galeries Lafayette was dressed up for Christmas!

galeries lafayette - lesley siu

14. London

Crossed the Tower Bridge and another thing off my London bucket list.

london tower bridge - lesley siu

15. Oxford

I’ve missed the history and charm and studying in the UK.

oxford - lesley siu

16. Austin

A conference, UX class, and coffee at Dominican Joe.

dominican joe austin - lesley siu

 

Cheers to more adventures in 2017! Where should I go next?

hosting afternoon tea

afternoon_tea

What to do when you return from Paris and London? Invite your closest friends over for “a casual yet proper afternoon tea.”

**It helps if your friends are incredibly talented in cooking and baking.**

We had homemade treats including scones, palmiers, and a Pinterest-worthy pink champagne cake. Add dainty cucumber sandwiches a variety of the finest Twinings tea, and you have the perfect afternoon staying in and catching up.

tea party

I scored the three-tiered stand at Miss Pixie’s the morning before the event. Fate.

hosting an afternoon tea party

homemade chocolate chip scones

afternoon tea party

video: a week in peru

Peru is a beautiful country with wonderful people and amazing food. I traveled through the country last week with a few friends. My favorite moments: hiking at Machu Picchu, taking a cooking class in Cusco, and eating all of the ceviche in Lima.

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