Guided

Natural History Museum

I love natural history museums. They are shrines to intellectual curiosity and the beauty of our natural universe, housed in giant buildings where nerds like me who are afraid of weather can view all sorts of wonders without venturing into the great and terrifying outdoors. Natural history museums are my favorite type of museum, and London’s got a great one. There are all the usual and very cool suspects—dinosaurs and gemstones and stuffed birds and taxidermied mammals (though, these could probably use a bit of updating) and old anatomical prints and exhibits on bugs and bacteria. There is also an entrance that is an escalator ride through space.

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Barber & Parlour

For whatever reason, there seems to be an uncommonly large number of barber shops that also serve coffee in London. Barber & Parlour takes that a giant leap further—it is a barber shop, a nail/eyebrow/henna parlour, a kitchen/coffee shop, a beauty and home goods store, and a cinema all in one big warehouse space. Were it not for all the other people around and the fact that this place has operating hours, this would be an agoraphobe’s paradise—you could probably spend your entire life in here quite comfortably if you were so inclined. Of course, that would make you kind of insane, but to each their own.

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Conservatory Archives

To call Conservatory Archives a plant shop seems, somehow, not quite enough. It is, strictly speaking, a shop that sells plants, sure. But it somehow feels like something more—maybe because its owners purportedly have plans of expanding to vintage furniture and coffee (there’s already an old leather armchair sitting in the corner). Having seen the space primarily in photographs on Instagram, I was surprised by how small the space is—just two little rooms, jammed floor to ceiling with greenery. With my giant winter coat on, I was afraid I would knock things over as I walked around. Maybe that’s on purpose. In the middle of East London, it still feels a little bit wild. 

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Martello Hall

Hackney’s Martello Hall was probably my favorite restaurant/bar that we visited in London. It’s a gorgeous little-bit-of-everything with a working space, kitchen, and small courtyard on the ground floor and a cozy cocktail room above. The main eating hall and work-space works on a hot-desk system—customers can pay £10 a day or £25 a month for unlimited coffee and wi-fi on weekdays from 9-5. 

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New Year, Still Me

Though I appreciate the idea of having a specific time in which to reflect on the year past and plan for the year forward, I don't like to think about New Year's Resolutions as sudden, big life changes. The whole "New Year, new me" mentality just doesn't seem useful. Sustainable change is usually slow and steady and kind of boring. Plus, I'm wary of big, year-long commitments! When i was younger, I used to joke that my only New Year's Resolution was not to kill myself that year, because that seemed to be the only thing entirely, and consistently, within my control. I was also pretty depressed. But, I digress. WIthout further ado, my goal for the next year is a continuation of my goal for my past year and a goal I will likely be striving towards for the rest of my life: Think better and live better. Here's how I plan on doing it.

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Kew Gardens

The first thing you notice about Kew Gardens is that it is huge. I mean, truly gigantic. I went here very naively, expecting a single greenhouse, and I found at least three huge greenhouses, a palace, two restaurants, some art galleries, teepees (?), and a treetop walkway. And that’s all in addition to the sprawling garden grounds. Apparently this place employs something like 750 people, which is a shit-ton. It also apparently has its own police force, and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We were here for a few hours, and we barely scratched the surface in terms of what Kew Gardens has to offer. 

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Museo del Novecento

I like to take my time with art, so massive, tourist-trap art museums stress me out—I’ve been to Paris twice, now, and I’ve still never stepped foot inside the Lourve. The Museo del Novecento is, gratefully, not that. Rather, it is a relatively small museum of twentieth-century Italian art located right next to the Milano Duomo. In addition to housing the very best view of the Duomo in the city, it contains works from the likes of Picasso, Modigliani, Kandinsky, and Matisse in a rare, crowd-free setting.

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Navigli

Once upon a time, Milan was a city of water—way back in the twelfth century, a network of canals (maybe designed by Leonardo Da Vinci?) were built all over the city in order to connect the central Duomo to nearby lakes. Most of the canals have since been filled to make roads, but two, Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese, still exist. 

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San Bernardino alle Ossa

Just a few blocks behind the Milan Duomo, is a much smaller, less-travelled church. It is not particularly notable on the outside. It’s even a bit hard to find, with just one small sign indicating that there might be something interesting around. Inside, it’s a different story—because this church houses an ossuary-chapel that just happens to be decorated in thousands of human bones. 

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Mag Cafe

I stumbled into Mag Café in the middle of the day while looking for a coffee, so I can’t comment on the food or cocktails here, but I immediately fell in love with the atmosphere. The space is a bit dark, but it is filled to the brim with character and heavily decorated with antique furniture. Located right off of the Naviglio Grande, Mag Café would not be out of place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn or in 1933.

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da oTTo

One of the best examples of Milan's New World charm is the mid-century modern (a term I have recently learned while furniture shopping) paradise, oTTo. It's nestled deep in Milan's Chinatown and is a third-wave coffee shop, bar, brunch spot, and work space. They also hold regular events and workshops. If I lived in Milan, I like to think that this would be my go-to spot, but if I'm being honest, I'm probably not cool enough.

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So I guess I'm doing this

I've been thinking about making a website/blog for months (years?) now, and I've always talked myself out of it. But, here I am. Don't tell my boss(es) this is what I've been doing with my Saturday instead of working. I'm not 100% sure what this is going to be so far--a compilation of some honest oversharing, travel guides, and photography projects, I suppose. How big a portion each of these components will take--who knows. It's an adventure!

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