Solo Female Travel: Insights and Tips

woman in garden reading under trees statue of a queen

There is no shame in women going places alone and enjoying their thoughts in Paris. I’ve often noticed women of all ages sitting alone at sidewalk cafes, lingering over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine in the late afternoon while contemplating life, or resting under a tree in a park or garden with a good book. On my first trip to Paris, my boss hosted a small, late dinner at Brasserie Lipp. Around 11:00 p.m. a dignified older woman who looked close to eighty walked in...

A Day in Madrid: El Rastro and La Latina neighborhood

archway steps street hill stone buildings

European open-air flea markets hold a special allure. They offer the tantalizing promise of discovery among objects once held dear and abandoned as families dissolved, tastes changed, or new technologies emerged. They illuminate the old ways and values of a culture; which, being from a young and often rootless country, we Americans often romanticize. I happened upon my first open-air flea market, El Rastro, years ago during my first trip to Madrid. The largest flea market in Spain and perhaps in all of Europe is held every Sunday and...

Vegan and Gluten-free: Paris

vegan gluten free restaurant interior Paris

You may think it would be miserable to visit Paris as a vegan with gluten sensitivity. However, I have successfully navigated the culinary gem with this lifestyle, staying true to my values and not getting sick while enjoying amazing food. In recent years, restaurants catering to these foods have been opening regularly in Paris. Although it takes time to research the options, it is time well spent to reduce frustration and missteps. Here are 5 tips for planning a delicious vegan and gluten-free vacation in Paris, though they apply...

Aligning Expectations

fountain Ferris wheel Louvre museum cloudy sky

I’ve discovered that, for me, the key to planning enjoyable and meaningful travel experiences is beginning with realistic expectations. There are many reasons to travel, styles and personalities of travelers, experiences each person wishes to have, and perhaps different physical needs. Acknowledging these factors and aligning my expectations allows me greater focus when planning an itinerary. I’ve learned to tailor the experience based upon who will be on the trip, our various needs, capabilities, and desires. Aligning expectations enables me to appreciate each experience for what it is meant...

Slow travel: A Nap in Paris

Slow travel: A nap in Paris ©ruedevarenne.com

Last summer, as we prepared for our fall trip to Paris, we decided to put the slow travel philosophy into practice. For the past couple of years, I’ve been reading and listening to podcasts about the slow living movement. It encompasses elements of mindfulness, inspiring you to be selective about how you spend your time, to take life at a more leisurely pace, and to focus on the present moment. Slow living leads to a less cluttered mind and feeling more connected to your life. A natural outgrowth, the slow travel...

Chocolatería San Ginés

Chocolatería San Ginés, Madrid ©ruedevarenne.com

Tucked in a pedestrian passage off of the Puerta del Sol and attached to Iglesia San Ginés, the Chocolatería San Ginés has served chocolate con churros since 1894. This interpretation may not be what many are used to, but the combination is divine. The hot chocolate is similar to a rich, dark pudding; rather than a beverage, it’s used as a dipping sauce for the long pieces of golden fried dough. The churros, an unembellished close relative of Mexican churros, are crisp on the outside and doughy on the...

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