A Tour of Manhattan, Paris, and Barcelona (Isla & the Happily Ever After Edition)

Over the past few years, I created two of my favorite posts—Une Visite de Paris ~ Anna & the French Kiss Edition and A Tour of San Francisco ~ Lola & the Boy Next Door Edition—as I visited Paris and San Francisco and photographed the places Stephanie Perkins mentions in her books. This year I had the unique opportunity of visiting Manhattan, Paris, and Barcelona…so I knew I needed to complete the trilogy by bringing Isla and the Happily Ever After along and finding the “Right Way” by following along in her footsteps. Without futher ado, I present, Isla and the Happily Ever After: A Book Tour.

“The traffic lights glow yellow on the wet asphalt. I point the way, and we run across Amsterdam Avenue.” (page 9)

“When we were juniors, I caught him and his girlfriend making out in an elevator. It wasn’t even at school. It was inside BHV, this massive department store.” (page 17)


“I’m not sure where I want to live, but soon I’ll be applying to both la Sorbonne here in Paris and Columbia back in New York.” (page 22)

“You know those crazy holiday department-store displays that people actually wait I line to see? She does them for Bergdorf Goodman.” (page 50)

“‘I’m on my way to Album,’ he continues, referring to a nearby comics shop.” (page 52)

“The colossal white dome of the Panthéon appears before us, illuminated like a beacon.” (page 56)

“He turns contemplative as we trek up the rue Saint-Jacques.” (page 57)

“The real Notre-Dame is ahead of us, gigantic and humbling and its reflection shimmers in the dark river below.” (page 63)

“Josh gestures toward a bench in the cathedral’s small park, and I reply by moving toward it.” (page 64)


“We cross another bridge, the Pont d’Arcole, onto the Right bamk.” (page 66)


“The Centre Pomidou is the modern-art museum, a huge box of a building that looks as if it’s been turned inside out. Its inner structure is exposed and color-coded: green popes or plumbing; blue for heating and cooling; yellow for electricity; and red for safety. The bold primary colors clash with the the noble gray elegance of the rest of the city.” (page 79)

“I pop off my heels on the steps of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, a church across from the Panthéon, and release a pained hiss of relief.” (page 99)


“The illustrations are in black ink, and I recognize locations from all across the city: the rose window and spires of la Sainte-Chapelle, the hedge maze inside le Jardin des Plantes, a wall of human skulls and femurs insides les Catacombes, a caged bird in the le Marché aux Fleurs, the opulent exterior of le Palais Garnier—the phantom’s famous opera house.” (page 112)



“My bloodstream courses with euphoria as he hurries me toward the Arénes de Lutéce, an amphitheater long abandoned by the Romans. Once, it was immense and crowded and used for gladiatorial combat. Now, it’s smallish and empty and parklike. It’s only a few blocks away from our school, but it’s wholly concealed behind its surrounding apartments. No matter how many times I visit, I’m always still surprised to find an entire ancient arena hidden back here.” (page 130)


“Two hours later, we exit the Barceona Sants railway station. The neighborhood is urban and sort of…grubby.” (page 155)


“Our cabbie pulls over on Passeig de Grácia, a large thoroughfare where every shop is emblazoned with an expensive name. Dolce & Gabbana. Salvatore Ferragamo. Yves Saint Laurent. But amid this luxury shines an actual jewel: Casa Milá, aka La Pedrera.” (page 160)

“Josh guides me below a neon-green cross, the sheltered entrance of a farmácia.” (page 162)


“We’re standing across the street from Casa Batlló, anther Gaudí masterpiece. The surfaces covered in ceramic-shard mosaics—aqua and cobalt, rust ad gold—in rough, skinlike patterns. And it has another spectacular rooftop, an animalistic arch of metallic tiles that’s curved like the back of a mighty dragon.” (page 164)


“Sagrada Família is next. The map easily leads us to the closest transit station, The métro is an unaccented metro, but apart form that, it’s identical to its brethren in Paris.” (165)


“Gaudí started work in this church in the late nineteenth century, but it won’t be finished for at least another decade. It stretches a twice as high as the tallest cathedrals of France. It looks like a fantasyland castle—wet sand dripped through fingers, both sharp and soft. Bright construction lights are everywhere, and workers are tinkering around its massive spires in dangerously tall cranes.” (page 165)

“We finally chance upon a long hill with several grouped sets of stairs and escalators. Escalators. I’ve never seen them outside like this, sandwiched between residential apartments and souvenir shops. But despite these promising signs…the street is still deserted.” (page 168)

“We’re not just at the top of the final hill. We’re at the top of Barcelona.” (page 169)


“Parc Guell. In the far distance, we can see the turrets and sculptures that Gaudí designed for this park—and its accompanying crowds.” (page 170)


“We pass Gaudí sculptures, Gaudí buildings, Gaudí’s famous lizard fountain, but they barely earn a glance as we whiz by.” (page 175)

“Kurt and I exit the Denfert-Rochereau métro station.” (page 232)


“The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the mot European-looking structures in Manhattan. As Josh leads me toward the entrance, it feels as if we’ve time-traveled back to October. Back to Paris. The white facade the gargantuan columns, the long steps.” (page 244)


“Several yards away—closer to the cathedral’s legendary carved doorways—Anna and St. Clair are standing on top of Point Zéro.” (page 313)


I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of Isla and the Happily Ever After!

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