Olivia’s Top Three: Arts, Crafts and Coffee


Welcome to a new summer series! This summer I’m exploring Western New York (again) and each Friday I’ll be sharing my top three picks for weekend activities in the area. 


First on my list this weekend is Public Espresso (priorities, right?). I started following this coffee place a while ago on Instagram, and everything they serve looks amazing. They also offer treats from a variety of area bakeries, including my very favorite Elm Street. It’s located in the Hotel Lafayette in Buffalo. One thing that they recommend is the uber-trendy cold brew, which I would like to start making at home.


While I’m enjoying coffee, the Boyfriend–who I guess is now the fiance? Weird. Maybe I’ll just call him Rick, which is his name. 

…anyway, he loves biking and renewable energy, and wants to participate in the Buffalo World Naked Bike Ride. This is an event where people ride bikes around the city wearing little to no clothing, ostensibly to show their support for not being dependent on oil, etc. This is 100 percent not my style, but I am young and foolish so I will go and watch. Photos to come…maybe.


Lastly, the Roycroft Campus is a centerpiece of East Aurora and a National Historic Landmark (I think). It’s now offering tablet tours, which are slightly cheaper than guided tours and self-paced, and I’d like to try one this weekend. I’m looking forward to learning more about what the Roycroft actually is.

(What I know: it’s a really pretty and architecturally fascinating part of town; Elbert Hubbard and his wife died in the Lusitania sinking; Elbert was pretty quotable and his words appear on a lot of the trash cans around town. What I think: it’s the home of a commune that was the beginning of the Arts and Crafts movement, an important phase in America that has nothing to do with paint and glitter glue.)


Relevant: Billy and Pat.

Also: follow me on Twitter and Insta for regular updates about my adventures.

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The Louvre Recap

There are three main art museums in Paris: the Louvre, which houses “very old art” (the technical term), including some superfamous statues and the world’s most overrated painting; the Musee D’Orsay, which has “medium old” art, like impressionists; and the Pompidou Center, which has modern art and deserves a post of its own…let me just say that it was built as a work of modern art itself, so all the pipes and whatnot are on the outside. This defies typical building convention, and, surprise surprise, apparently it is difficult to maintain.

easter island head louvre

The Boyfriend and I hit up the Louvre on free day, which is the first Sunday of every month, and I expected it to be kind of a nightmare crowd-wise, but it was not. Here’s my supersecret tips to navigating the Louvre, especially if you have limited time:

1. Go on free day. Save that money! The crowds aren’t that bad!

architecture louvre pyramid

2. Start at the Place de la Concorde by the other end of the Tuileries. Even in January, it was nice to wander down through the gardens toward the museum.

But beware the pigeon man. Steer clear. No one needs 5000 birds surrounding them.

I just liked the old/new contrast in this gate.

I just liked the old/new contrast in this gate.

3. Spend the money you would have used on admission on food at the Paul food cart, outside by the arch. It’s so good. We had these apricot and creme anglaise pastries and my life will never be the same, and I had a coffee which I ordered in French so it ended up being something that translated to “white American,” which turns out means an Americano with milk. 

jardins de tuileries

4. After you finish your amazing French food, head off to the left. Do not go to the pyramid, however tempting it may be. Instead, go down the stairs that look like a subway stop and into the mall that’s underneath the museum.

Yep, it’s a little weird to have a mall underneath a museum, but convenient!

Pro tip: free wifi at the Apple store (and Starbucks…but really? Starbucks in Paris?).

Take your DaVinci code photos by the inverted pyramid and head inside through your newfound secret mall entrance, where you should immediately get a map. 

louvre pyramid

5. Do not plan to see everything. You are setting yourself up to fail. Instead, pick a couple of pieces or periods that you’d like to see and head there first, and that way everything else you encounter will be a nice bonus.

louvre statue

6. The Mona Lisa. Ahhhh.

It’s always crowded.

It’s always crowded by tall people taking innumerable photos at the very front.

It’s surprisingly small.

Instead, turn around and take in the pleasantly large painting on the wall behind you, which is my favorite in the whole Louvre. It depicts the Wedding at Cana, where Jesus did his first miracle.

This is the best shot I have of it, unfortunately.

This is the best shot I have of it, unfortunately.

7. Most of all, enjoy yourself! After the museum, it was getting dark outside so we had a nice sunset stroll along the Seine as we walked up to the Eiffel Tower. 

the seine at sunset

Gratuitous Eiffel Tower shot. You're welcome.

Gratuitous Eiffel Tower shot. You’re welcome.

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Glasgow Cathedral + Necropolis

The thing I love most while traveling (okay…besides food!) is finding great attractions that are also free. For someone living on the Tesco Metro three-pound meal deal, a free museum or tour can feel like a huge win.

Glasgow Cathedral and the adjacent necropolis both fit the bill.

glasgow cathedralI’ve wanted to go to Scotland for years, and ended up choosing Glasgow because it was a cheap city through which to book a split ticket–both the Boyfriend and I wanted to fly into somewhere else and depart from Paris. It was fittingly gloomy and rainy most of the time we were there, but I loved it anyway. See the piper on the steps of the 13th-century cathedral? How cool is that?!

inside glasgow cathedralThe inside of the cathedral is absolutely enormous. It is still an active worship space; there was even a list on a bulletin board of who was to bring coffee next Sunday. 

glasgow cathedral windowI later learned that clear glass instead of stained class was quite the fad for a time; it was simple and pretty, but more importantly it was easy to make and allowed more light into dark churches.

glasgow cathedral scotlandThere are two levels to the cathedral; make sure that you visit them both! The main nave is pretty, but the basement looks like Hogwarts!

It’s also called St. Mungo’s, which I thought was just the hospital in Harry Potter before I learned that he was an actual saint

glasgow necropolisOverlooking the cathedral is this GIGANTIC statue of John Knox. Of all people. The necropolis behind the cathedral is nice for a walk, even in the rain, despite the fact that it’s a graveyard. There are also great views of the city from the top of the hill. Enjoy a few more photographs below!

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Trip in Review: Travel Thursday

I feel as if I’ve barely been able to process my last trip! In case you missed it on Twitter and Instagram, here’s a rough rundown of what happened:

Old and new in Paris

Old and new in Paris

December 28: Get ready to leave. Boyfriend realizes he’s forgotten his passport. A seven-hour roadtrip later, he’s got it and we can head to New York (big shoutout to both of our dads for driving us around two states!). 

Glasgow Cathedral

Glasgow Cathedral

December 29: Aer Lingus calls to let us know that our evening flight is already delayed and would we like to switch? Leave on earlier flight. 

Sometime in the middle of the night: Layover in Dublin, after which we get on the smallest plane in Europe.

Sunset on the Seine

Sunset on the Seine

December 30: Explore Glasgow.

Along the waterfront in Glasgow

Along the waterfront in Glasgow

December 31: Boyfriend proposes at midnight on what locals call the “Squinty Bridge.” Happy New Year!!! :) 

A "love-lock" bridge in Paris.

A “love-lock” bridge in Paris.

January 1: Train from Scotland to England.

New Year's Eve in Glasgow

New Year’s Eve in Glasgow

January 2-3: London.

London Parliament

London Parliament

January 4-5: Paris with the Boyfriend.

An exhibit at the Pompidou Center, the modern art museum in Paris.

An exhibit at the Pompidou Center, the modern art museum in Paris.

January 6-12:  Class in theology in the City of Light. Theology + travel=basically my favorite things in the universe. 

Old and new...again in Paris.

Old and new…again in Paris.

Charlie Hebdo happens.

…and now I’m back in NEPA, enjoying the family and strong coffee for a little longer before I head back to NYC, work, and school. 


Linking up with Travel Tuesday + Treat Yo Self Thursday. 


Treasure Tromp
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The Official NYC Bucket List



I can’t believe I probably only have seven short months left in the Greatest City in the World. Although I’m ready to move out (spending entirely too much money to share an apartment with four to six other people is getting old fast), I know there’s so much more to take advantage of, and over the next few months I hope to get a whole lot crossed off of my bucket list.

Here’s what I want to see, do, and eat in the next semester and a half:

  • The third part of the High Line. I did the first two earlier this fall with Allie, and the third segment was opened just a couple of weeks after we went!
  • The 9/11 memorial.
  • Dylan’s Candy Bar
  • Serendipity’s frozen hot chocolate
  • Max Brenner’s chocolate world
  • A rooftop bar
  • The United Nations
  • The Guggenheim, one of the only major museums I have yet to visit here
  • The Cloisters
  • St. John the Divine
  • Grimaldi’s pizzeria
  • All of the places in this Buzzfeed article
  • Go ice-skating. I like to ice-skate, but I have never gotten the chance to go here!

Stay tuned!!!

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