Weekend Travel

Kate Allen headshot
Kate Allen
March 10, 2024

Bonjour tout le monde! What a whirlwind of a month.

After a beautiful few weeks of staying local to the South of France, I decided to pick up on my travel in the month of February. 

Paris, France

On February 2nd, I departed for Paris from the Nice Ville train station. A few weeks prior, some new friends and I decided that our first trip just had to be to Paris. We booked our TGV tickets and arranged an Airbnb for the weekend. We made loose plans, but wanted to keep the days open to explore and sightsee. 

While I was on the train, I found myself a little shocked at the distance. For some reason, I was expecting it to be a two or three hour ride, but it was actually almost seven hours! We arrived at around 5pm on Friday, and took a taxi to our Airbnb. 

It was a bit of a difference for me to travel to such a big city after living in Nice for a month. Paris is HUGE!!! It is also much colder, more crowded, and there are more English speakers. I had been to Paris before when I was much younger, but this felt like an entirely new experience. We went to the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and drank hot chocolate at Carette, as typical tourists do. It was a great first trip. 

eiffel tower friends
the louvre
eiffel tower at night
painting at the louvre


Marrakech, Morocco 

The following weekend, I made my way to the Nice airport at four in the morning to depart for Marrakech. I was so excited to hop on a plane after staying in France for a month. I met a girl from the IES Abroad program in the customs line, which was such a nice surprise. Since we all take different classes, it has been challenging to meet all of the students in the program. She was traveling to Marrakech too!

I visited Marrakech in the summer of 2022 when I was studying in Spain, and it became my favorite travel location ever. I was more than happy to go back with two of my best friends from home. 

Over the weekend, we walked throughout the Médina, saw the Bahia palace, and soaked up the desert sun. I love traditional Moroccan food, especially the breakfast. It was also fascinating to observe the French influence in Morocco. Most people in Marrakech spoke Arabic, French, English, and Spanish – so impressive!

art in the Medina
bahia palace
orange tree

London, England

London was a pleasant surprise. I am not sure why, but I didn’t anticipate enjoying London at all. I think that I had some preconceived ideas about the weather and the culture that made me hesitant. We took an EasyJet flight to London Gatwick, and then took the Gatwick Express up to central London. Their public transportation system is so easy to navigate!

On my first day in London, I went to the Tyler Childers concert. My friend and I purchased our tickets in November, so we had been looking forward to it for several months. It lived up to the expectations! I am so tempted to see him again in the United States when I return home.

During the rest of the weekend, we “tubed” (is that a verb???) around the big city and took a bike tour that started in Hyde Park and spanned the London Eye/Parliament, and much more. On our last day, we strolled through Notting Hill and picked out our favorite pastel row-houses. It was fun, but I was ready to get back to the warmth of Nice for a few days. 

tyler childers concert
notting hill


Reykjavik, Iceland

In the last weekend of February, I flew to Iceland! I arrived on a Friday afternoon, and took a rental car to my Airbnb, which was a camping pod in Borgarnes, an hour north of Reykjavik. The camping pods were a part of the Fossatún Country Hotel, home to the Troll waterfalls. It was unlike any place I had ever seen before. The skies were so clear and the scenery was incredible. It was so refreshing to drive down the highway, with beautiful glaciers on one side and the glistening Atlantic on the other. 

camping pods

On the third day in Iceland, I drove to Reykjavik and checked into my hotel there. I had been doing some Instagram research on places to eat in Reykjavik, and my first stop was obviously Sandholt Bakery. I also asked the hotel concierge for some recommendations, and they directed me to Posthus Food Hall, which has several different restaurants to choose from. It was so good that I went back the second night too!


This weekend was filled with delicious food, walks throughout nature, and reflecting on the action-packed month that had passed. 


The general consensus of my month was that while I love exploring new places, it gets incredibly tiring. I definitely need to stay put for a few weeks… which is perfect because I have a few visitors coming in the month of March! I am so excited to stay in Nice and show my best friends around. I feel so lucky to have loved ones that want to see where I am living for a few months.

P.S.  A few tips for weekend travel…

Take the tram or train to the airport. I am guilty of just calling an Uber out of convenience, but the cost really adds up! You can take the train to the Nice St. Augustin station and then the tram to the airport, or just catch the tram all the way from Nice to the airport terminals. 

For those not yet abroad: plan these trips in advance! I highly recommend either booking trips before you arrive or in the first month of studying abroad. Contrary to popular belief, these travel expenses do not get any cheaper upon arrival. Coordinate with friends and family to plan out the majority of your travel early on. 

Budget ample time on either end of your flights. Some airlines are less reliable than others and it is important to make time for yourself so you don’t miss any school obligations. Don’t learn this the hard way!


That’s all for now! Au revoir!


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Kate Allen

Hi! My name is Kate Allen and I am a third year at the University of Virginia, studying Foreign Affairs and Global Commerce. I love to read, cook, take photos, and explore. 

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