Break 1 – Paris

Moulin Rouge; Paris, France | Alyssa's Abroad Perspective -

Valentine’s Day weekend in Paris—what a time to visit the City of Love as a solo traveler!

After strolling through the streets at sunset and stopping for a satisfying pizza at Bianca, a cozy and casual café/bar, I arrived at the Moulin Rouge.  Though also a tourist destination, this iconic attraction draws much less of a crowd than the Eiffel Tower, yet is an equally entertaining spot to people watch and snap photos after dark.

I stayed at Adveniat Youth Hostel, a Christian hostel, though very hotel-esque.  Lobby-only wifi was constricting, but considering I booked a 6-person dorm room and got a double room with an ensuite all to myself for the duration of my trip, I wasn’t complaining.


Hidden Paris

I began the next day in search of Rue Crémieux, a rainbow streak of homes slid among the streets of cream and navy Haussmann architecture.

Not difficult to find, but seemingly a different world, the little row of houses was quiet and quaint, more like the country than the giant, French metropolis.

From here, a short walk lead to the Coulée verte René-Dumont, or the Promenade Plantée, a railroad track-turned-green space on the east side of Paris.  Though I was blessed with wonderful weather for my entire trip, I appreciated the sun a little bit more while wandering down the path, which was surprisingly lush and green for winter.

To finish the morning, I revisited the artisanal boutiques of l’Île Saint-Louis and the bustling streets of Le Marais, a neighborhood north of the island, where I stayed with my mom and aunts on my first trip to the city.  Solo travel comes with amazing individual experiences, but I’ll always associate Paris with the special time I got to spend with my family.


Destination Locations


Paix, Amour, Paris,


Week 5 – Recap

Singles Awareness Day, better known as Valentine’s Day, is basically everyday in Madrid.  Because the economy is bad, many young Spaniards live in the family home until their 30s, forcing them to engage in their romantic acts while out in the city.  Between daily public displays of affection and the commercial nature of the holiday, Valentine’s Day generally goes ignored in Spain.  Nonetheless, I wasn’t going to pass up an excuse to eat good chocolate with good friends.  Because that’s what Valentine’s Day is really about.

As a celebration of the end of my first class, and a consolation for the weeks of difficult classes to come, a few friends and I got together for an American movie night.  Brownies in hand, the five of us sat squished on the European-sized couch to watch “P.S. I Love You.”   The film was, coincidentally, dually appropriate.  Not only was it a sappy Valentine’s Day movie, but it is also about a girl who meets her true love while studying abroad.  As I get older, romantic comedies seem much more “rom” than they are “com.”  Though I don’t have any intentions to find my soul mate in Spain, the movie preached that one never knows what one will find while traveling.  It showed that in the end, no matter who or what you loved, the love for adventure, exploration, and life will carry you on.


Paz, Amor, Madrid