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Department Stores and Shopping Arcades

Le Bon Marché, September 2011
Wikimedia Commons 
I love visiting both Paris and London and I've been to both quite a few times before. There's one kind of place that I love to visit when I'm in either city. They are those grand department stores, like Harrods and Galleries La Fayette. It reminds me of a time gone by. There is so much history, but at the same time history is still being made in those places too. Consumers go in there day in day out, everyday still. In class last week I learned about the history of those places and retail shopping in the broader sense and I wanted to tell you all about that.

Have you ever been to one of Paris' shopping arcades? A shopping arcade is a straight covered passage that runs from one street to the next. You can find them all over Paris and other European cities. There is one in the Hague that I often visit, I love how beautiful it is. Shops are lined on both sides and lighting has been provided ever since they have been introduced in the 19th century. I personally think they are beautiful and well worth a visit. I learned last week that those shopping arcades are the predecessors to shopping malls and department stores all over the world.

The oldest shopping arcade in Europe is actually not in Paris, but in Brussels. It's called Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, but you can find similar structures in Paris. The oldest covered passage in Paris is Passage des Panoramas. It was opened in 1800 when the streets of Paris were still narrow, dark, muddy and crowded. Not exactly a good place for shopping at one's leisure. The passages or shopping arcades provided a save place to shop. Lighting made it inviting, a place away from criminality and coldness outside. The stores in the Arcades were different then the shops we know today. There were no fixed prices, no windows that lured customers in. The tradition back then was that as soon as you entered a shop, you were expected to buy an item. The passages were the beginning of a change in Paris it's street plan.  A few decades later, in 1848, Haussmann began his great renovation of Paris and grand boulevards were introduced.

With the introduction of shopping arcades, shopping changed from a necessary activity into a pleasurable one. It became an activity that was enjoyed by females in their free time. And after Haussmann's renovation of Paris, another place to shop was introduced: department stores. Boulevards all over town became more attractive and space opened up to built department stores along those boulevards. Lots of them still exist now, and not just in Paris, but all over Europe. A few including: Le Bon Marche, Printemps, Galleries La Fayette, Selfridges, Harrods, Liberty, House of Fraser.

People were lured into department stores by beautiful display windows. Those displays conveyed a new world, a fantasy world, that gave a different meaning to certain items and the whole experience of shopping. Something you see in the extreme in shopping malls nowadays. It was all a means to strategize a way of turning a passant into a consumer and make sure that consumer didn't leave the building without something in their hands. Nowadays I sometimes feel like all we do is consume, like everything is an item that we can simply buy and that has become part of our identity. It's fascinating to learn about how that all started.

My favourite department stores, I've been lucky enough to visit visited include: Liberty, Harrods and Galleries La Fayette. But these few are still high on my list:

Selfridges is a tv show I haven't seen yet, but it sounds like it's a show that would be interesting to see in light of this topic. I think it's time to watch the first episode. Do you know more about this topic and do you like to shop in these places too? Let me know what you think in the comments.

My Return Ticket 2.0: A Fresh Start

I've always considered September as more of a beginning than January. September marks the beginning of the academic year, in January I'm just sad that Christmas is over. Right now, is when we or I at least truly start over. New books, classes, stationary, everything reorganized. I want to use this time of the year to turn a leaf in my blogging journey too. I'd like to introduce a new chapter of My Return Ticket to you.

Somehow we have made it to the end of summer. I've already had my first classes of the year yesterday. The start of a new academic year and the fact that it's September makes me want to start afresh with everything. Including this blog. I bet you are surprised to see me here after almost two months of absence. It has been absolutely ages, but I'm happy to welcome this place back to life. And I'm ready for a change, hopefully so are you.

You know this was not always the plan. I had lovely visions of spending my free time over summer writing on here all day every day. Making the most of that free time that summer usually brings to really make something of this blog. And I really wanted to. But I kept overthinking and rethinking everything that I and this blog stand for and I was afraid to start. Now we are a month later and classes have started up again. I don't even know if I still have the time to make something of this blog now.

You know what I find the most difficult thing about blogging? Sticking to your own voice and not comparing yourself to others. I follow so many amazing blogs with great writing and/or photography that I wish mine was more like. But they are not me and I am not them and this is not their blog, it's mine. We are all unique and that unique voice is what makes you as a writer stand out. I'm not anyone else and nor should I be. I think that is one of the greatest lessons I learned when thinking about all this, this summer. I know that I'm not someone that can make the ordinary look beautiful with beautiful writing or amazing, dreamy photography like so many other bloggers do. Instead I think I'm good at finding those extraordinary places and moments. I'm good at navigating the world, finding what is worth it. But I'm too straight forward to write lyrically about everyday life, not to mean that I joint enjoy small moments of joy of course. So instead of writing about my daily life as I've been doing lately, I want to take this place into a different direction. I want to become a travel blogger, the real kind.

I have no idea how this blog is going to develop, I don't even have any kind of plan or editorial calendar yet. I'm not even sure there is even going to be one. What I do know is that from now on I should write about something that I'm passionate about. Show the world what I can do, who I am. Hopefully someday this blog will fit on my resume as something that I'm proud of.

I'm dearly sorry for this long ramble that you probably don't even understand half of (so do I by the way). I feel like this has been a hurdle I needed to take that is now out there. I can move on and really start writing again now. I think I just needed to get my intentions out there in the world. I'm glad they are out there now.

101 things in 1001 days

Source: Design Darling

I came across a '101 things in 1001 days' list I made in 2011 in my mail drafts recently and thought it would be fun to create a new one  again. I love the timeline of this list: it's just long enough to dream a little about all that is possible, but it's realistic enough at the same time, that you are likely to finish at least a couple of them. I plan on having a few regular update posts about how I'm doing with the list. It might just be the perfect way to start having some more adventures and to get myself out there. It might even get me a few blogging opportunities too. You never know. If you decide to make your own, I'd love to read them.

This list has been inspired by Mackenzie Horan.

STARTS JULY 21, 2016
ENDS APRIL 28, 2019


1. Come up with 101 things (July, 2016)
2. Put 5 euros into saving for every goal accomplished

University & Blogging

3. Graduate from university
4. Study abroad
5. Find a mentor
6. Change jobs
7. Invest in a formal wardrobe
8. Fulfill an internship
9. Write a guest post for a blogger I admire
10. Have a blog that I'm proud of to put on my resume
11. Make 5 blogger friends (0/5)
12. Meet a blogger in real life
13. Feature a guest blogger on my blog
14. Establish a blogging routine
15. Find my blogging 'why'
16. Reach 1000 followers on twitter (885/1000)
17. Write at least 15 blog posts per month for a whole year
18. Teach my readers some Dutch
19. Interview another blogger
20. Find a way to incorporate geography into my blog
21. Learn some basic HTML and CSS skills
22. Do an outfit post
23. Learn Photoshop
24. Go to a bloggers event


25. Visit Iceland
26. Road trip through America
27. Travel on my own to another country
28. Travel to Barcelona
29. See the Northern Lights
30. Climb King Arthur's seat in Edinburgh
31. Rent an Airbnb
32. Visit Montreal
33. Go to a German Christmas market
34. Visit a French market and pick up a bunch of flowers
35. Visit the French Riviera
36. Visit Monaco
37. Visit Marrakech

Family & Friends

38. Have a spa day with my mum/best friend
39. Host a dinner party
40. Do something epic for my parents 25th year of marriage
41. Treat the pup to 10 new toys (0/10)
42. Go on a trip with just my brother
43. Road trip with my best friends somewhere
44. Take my grandparents on a day trip somewhere
45. Send July christmas cards to my best friends
46. Take the pup to the beach


47. Go on 10 dates (0/10)
48. Go on 10 self-dates (0/10)
49. Go to bed by 10pm for a week
50. Wake up at 6am for a week
51. Start a recipe journal
52. Volunteer as a summer camp counselor
53. Read 5 classics (0/5)
54. Watch 5 classic movies (0/5)
55. Read 5 non-fiction books (0/5)
56. Donate blood
57. Unplug completely for 24 hours
58. Write in a journal everyday for a month
59. Learn how to tell a story
60. Be a vegetarian for two months
61. Keep a food diary for a month
62. Improve my body image
63. Learn to take risks and make my own choices
64. Learn how to cook for one using cookbooks
65. Read 50 new books (0/50)
66. Have my wisdom teeth removed
67. Try five new to me foods
68. Add 10 picture frames to my studio (0/10)
69. Set up a new library account and rent a book to read each week


70. Make a local bucket list
71. Try 20 new restaurants in Utrecht (0/20)
72. Spend an afternoon at a Botanical Garden
73. Visit the Anne Frank house
74. Have a staycation in Utrecht
75. Tick everything off my local bucket list
76. Visit 10 museums (0/10)

Just for fun

77. Write a fictional story
78. Dance in the rain
79. Go stargazing
80. Carve my initials in a tree
81. Get a new year's kiss
82. Go paragliding
83. Take a photo everyday for a month
84. Run a 5k
85. Watch 20 documentaries (0/20)
86. Watch everyday of the Rio Olympics in 2016
87. Read all the Harry Potter books (0/7)
88. Identify 100 things that make me happy
89. Learn how to play tennis
90. Have a weekend without plans
91. Go apple picking
92. Go strawberry picking
93. See all the Harry Potter movies (0/8)
94. Read Pride and Prejudice
95. Buy a pretty basket for on my bicycle
96. Take a surfing lesson
97. Prepare a meal using ingredients from a farmer's market
98. Make a playlist for every season (0/4)
99. Knit a sweater
100. Learn how to French braid
101. Set up a new library account and rent a book to read each week

Let me know what you think in the comments. What would you put on your list?

The Best Beach Reads

I love reading. It's my way to escape. I read whenever I can and I never leave the house without a book. I think my greatest accomplishment to date is that I got my best friend back into reading. I'm always recommending books to her and other friends and family and usually they even like my choices. I'm not very good at writing reviews, I tend to get a bit too gushy, but recommending I can do. This is a list of all the best reads I think would be perfect for summer. Most of them will make you laugh out loud and squeal with cuteness.

Amazing fiction I've actually read and loved:

Who's that Girl - Mhairi Mcfarlane (a funny novel about online shaming and a famous actor that I absolutely loved)

The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance - Kirsty Greenwood (If you love vintage clothing this will be perfect)

Girl Against the Universe - Paula Stokes (YA, tennis, sweet love interest and a great portrayal of mental health problems)

Summer Skin - Kirsty Eagar (If there's one book you should pick up from the list, it's this one and it's set in college)

Me before You & After You - Jojo Moyes (You should read these before watching the movie)

The Day we Disappeared - Lucy Robinson (An amazing twist I didn't see coming, it will keep you gripped)

Throne of Glass series - Sarah J. Maas (Another YA. Let me tell you, the series grows better with the book and you won't be able to put it away)

The Fixer - Jennifer Lynn Barnes (I remember reading this on one of the hottest days of summer last year and I literary couldn't stop, a great YA thriller and the second book just got released)

Every Last Word - Tamara Ireland Stone (Another great example of a YA about mental health problems)

The Start of Me and You - Emery Lord (Perfect YA summertime read, Max and Paige are probably my favourite couple ever)

It's Summertime

 The problem I've found with taking a break from blog writing, is that it's so hard to get back to a writing routine. I've been saying to myself to get back into it, but it's just not been working. Every time I sit down to write, I just can't seem to get the words on paper. And then I get distracted by other blogs, get a little jealous of their writing style, and it just starts to gets worse. It's just like playing a sports isn't it? When you fail to continue working out and take a break, it's like you need to start building your stamina all over again and looking over at other sporters who are way better than you isn't going to help at all.

But let's catch you up about what has been going on lately, alright?

The last month of the school year has been a blur of deadlines, exams, meetings with friends and weekends away. And then at the end of the month I've been following the news on Brexit too. It's a bit too crazy to think about it, I find. A country wanting it's own borders back in a world of globalization. It sounds pretty unthinkable to me. I don't want to say too much about it, because I don't think I'm invested enough to know much about it. However, I had been hoping for Remain and it's been interesting to follow the discussion before and afterwards.

Looking back on the past few weeks, I'm happy I called an hiatus on the blog. I couldn't have juggled any more activities than I already had right now. Busy weeks, followed by busy weekends have made it a fun, but tiring few weeks. My weekends included participating in the national student championships with five matches in two days, fourth place as a result, three goals by my own making, pizza, great company and two awesome parties. Another weekend was spent being taught how to become a summer counselor with real kids to practice on.

I don't think I've talked about it on here yet, but my summer plans include volunteering as a summer camp counselor for three weeks. It starts in a few hours and if I'm completely honest, I'm nervous as hell. What if I can't do it? I worry about not being a natural leader and creating chaos, but despite all, I hope it will be fun too.

Everything uni-related has been wrapped up last week and now summer can start. I had a whole plan of spending the first week of my summer break working on the blog, drafting blog posts ahead of time for when I would be away and just generally chilling. That didn't work out due to a writer's block following my hiatus. I left it behind now though I think: I've written three blog posts today, which are set to be scheduled over time.

I'm pretty excited to be working as a counselor at the summer camp for kids despite my nerves. I sincerely hope it will be fine and that I will learn fast. Other plans on my summer to-do list include: a road trip with my best friend and a city trip to London and I hope to be spending the rest of my time watching the Olympics (and maybe working some more too).

Tell me about your summer plans in the comments below, I'd love to know!

10 Budgeting Travel Rules I live by

I wanted to write about a few budget travel tips I have accumulated over the years. I love traveling, but obviously I'm a student and I have to watch my money. I don't have an endless budget, but I have always prioritized travel as an important way to develop and learn about other cultures. Budget travel has gotten me to see most of Europe over the last couple of years and you can do that too.

As a student your financial situation can be precarious. Most students have study debts and have to be careful with their finances. I'm the same as any other student, keeping a side job just to get everything paid for. Any savings I have left, I put towards traveling, but I am careful about what I want to spent it on. I'm not going to splurge on an expensive flight to the other side of the world and instead would rather keep some savings and pick out a shorter distance flight to a country in Europe.

1. One of the most important things to budget on in my opinion is accommodation. I don't need a fancy hotel. I'm just as fine bunking with other travelers in a dorm room. I spent two weeks last summer inter railing through Europe with a friend and we stayed anywhere from dorm rooms to camp sides and did that for about 15 euros a night. A place to sleep is just a place to sleep.

2. Getting the basics of a trip well organized, can save you a lot of money. Booking flights at the right time, bunking with other people, using other cheap transport modes and just a simple thing as doing research can save you a lot of money. I know Ryanair for example always has some cheap deals flying from Eindhoven. I always make sure I'll check their website first. If you want to go really cheap you can also use companies such as Bla Bla Car or take the bus.

3. Another tip would be not to go out for dinner every single night. I love food shopping in another country and I love finding a place for a picnic. It can be just as much fun to eat your dinner under the night sky or during a sunset. During the day it's also a good idea to pack your own snacks, that way you can save a lot of money, instead of splurging on cake and/or lunch every single day.

4. If you do decide to go out for dinner, I'd suggest looking for restaurants in the quieter areas of the city. It's often cheaper, more local and better than the restaurants you can find in touristic spots or on main squares.

5. I always make sure I bring my own travel guide and source the internet for must sees. It can be tempting to try anything and everything and feel like you have to visit the expensive touristic sights. If you do your research, it might be that you can find a cheap alternative and you might realise the sight wasn't even worth it. I also often keep in mind that when the outside of a building is beautiful, it isn't necessarily true that the inside will be just as beautiful. I always ask myself if I really want to pay to visit the inside or if I'm just as fine with admiring it from afar.

6. Remember why you travel. It's important to know what drives your travel. What are your must sees and what makes you happy? For me that thing is to get lost and get to know the true culture of a certain city of place. I love just wandering around with my little guide and I get proper giddy when I discover a hidden square or beautiful street. That's what I travel for and it doesn't even cost me any money to do that. For others it might be something different, but it's great to keep that in mind as it can be something to focus on and make your experience in the city or other side unique.

7. Free walking tours are a great invention to get to know a city in a unique and cheap way.

8. Don't forego any of your must do's, because you will regret it and don't feel like you have to visit something, just because everyone else is doing it.

9. The cheapest way to discover a city is on foot. Take your time. Why rush undergrounds when you're here to discover new things?

10. One last tip is to never go for the cheapest option, always go for the cheaper option. You don't want to end up ill from bad food you've eaten and you don't want to regret not doing something because you wanted to save money. Go for something that is cheaper and think carefully about what you do, but never go for the worst and cheapest option, because I find that it won't make your trip enjoyable. There are some things you don't want to compromise. You're on holiday after all and you're allowed to live a little.

I hope you enjoyed this post and you will keep these things in mind. Do you have any tips you have that I can use in the future too?

Stop and Pause

When your world moves too fast and you lose yourself in the chaos, introduce yourself to each colour of the sunset. Reacquiant yourself with the world around your feet. Thank the air that surrounds you with every breath you take. Find yourself in the appreciation of life.

- Christy Ann Martine

I'm going on an undefined blogging hiatus. It might just be a couple of days or weeks, it might be a month or more. I'm sorry to any frequent readers who have been following my blog. I lost my inspiration and mindset to blog over the last few weeks and I feel like a couple of weeks to refocus and refresh would do me good. Uni life has been mental and if there's is one thing I've realized over the past few weeks, is that it's impossible for me to create anything when I'm feeling stressed. I have so many things on my mind that I can't focus and with course work completely packed over the next month, I don't think I will have that much time. There is no space besides course work and classes at the moment, no free time to do what I want. I even spent my weekend working.  

The fact is that I don't want to pressure myself in writing on here at the moment, especially when it's stressing me out. My course is my number one priority. For now that deserves my focus and after this period is over, I will hopefully be able to tackle this blog again. It might be that there will be an odd post, but it might also not be. I hope I will come back feeling refreshed with new ideas.

All the best wishes and see you soon.

PS. There will still be another post scheduled for Wednesday, but after that it's going to be a radio silence from this side.

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