Friday, 29 April 2016

1st Anniversary

Today is my blogs First Birthday!

It is hard to believe that is has been 12 months since I first put pen to paper.
Do you know what my first reaction after re-reading my first post was? Disbelief! 
A couple of years ago I started to make some changes in my life, I wanted to slow down and regain focus of who I am and what is important in my life. I achieved most of it and I consider it a great accomplishment. 
What I was not able to do is slow down.  Perhaps I best give up on that idea. I have even more responsibilities, more ideas and great plans for the future. And I enrolled in college. Yes, college, my friends. There are now 2 college students in my household. I may be asking my kid to help me with homework.
This blog started as an outlet for me to share all the little things that I have learned, that may be helpful to others. Writing it actually helped me to stay focused, continue to learn and have fun doing it.
I still cannot take a decent picture but I am not giving up.
It has been a wonderful year, full of learning, growing and making new friends.

Thank you to all of you that have visited and commented. 


Tuesday, 26 April 2016

How to Easily Organize Your Paris Trip 

As I was trying to organize my internet bookmarks I came across the folder titled “Paris”. I was about to delete it but thought that I will share my trip planning tips with you. After all, I have spent many hours trying to plan as much as possible before hitting the French soil. Perhaps this will save you some time.

I went to Paris with my family a couple years ago. The trip was basically a 3 day stop over before going elsewhere.  My kids are far apart in age so I was faced with a difficult task of choosing places to see that would hold an interest of adults and kids alike.
I am very glad to say that it was a success and the fact that I have planned the itinerary and purchased some tickets pre-trip allowed us to enjoy Paris so much more.

I used for my accommodation. The earlier you book, the better prices you will get, even for the summer there were quite good deals at around 140 euros per night for a hotel room.
Paris is divided into Arrondissements and the rule of the thumb is (at least that is what I heard), the lower the number of Arrondissement the closer to the main points of interest you are. If you stay closer to the Periferique the cheaper the accommodation will be. I enjoy late evening stroll after dinner or having an ice cream so taking metro very late in the evening to go to outer limits of the city never appealed to me. For that reason, I try to stay as close to the center as possible. In Paris though it seems the center is everywhereJ). We stayed near Rome station just a few minutes away from Champs Elysees.

One of the attractions that I did not get tickets for was Eiffel Tower. And I am glad I did not as on the day I have planned to go the weather was not the greatest, cloudy with occasional drizzle. 
Had we purchased out date and time designated tickets I do not think the experience would be the same. We went the following day just before an opening of the Ticket Booths. The wait was about 45 min to buy tickets and another 30 min for the second elevator to go all the way to the top.

Not bad at all since we went in August.

Get your tickets to Louvre: Enter via Passage Richelieu to avoid line ups.

If your time is limited and only plan on spending 1 day in Louvre, have a look at exhibits and choose 3 or 4 of an interest to you. Getting from one to another will take you through others anyway.

Check the floor plans here
We have visited Medieval Louvre,  Greek and Roman Antiquities, Egyptian Antiquities and Napoleon’s Apartments.

Here are some websites that I had a look at while planning my trip. Some offer the same passes, but it is worth to have a comparison.

Consider getting Paris Pass – it includes a use of public transportation. Does NOT include Eiffel Tower admission to 3rd level and up.

This website gives a great breakdown of admission prices and transportation costs, so you can determine if it is worth buying for you.

When purchasing transportation tickets or passes in Paris, the distance you go (or the zones within which you travel) can make a big difference in price. If you have a pretty firm idea of what areas are you going to be you can save up quite a bit. I actually used single tickets as we traveled to furthest destination and walked between attractions.

As for transportation, I bought all my transportation tickets + visite pass cards - at the train station at the airport. There is RER B train (walk 3 min from terminal) and you can get tickets from the machines or there are cashiers - which I preferred to use. There is a weekly pass, that goes from Mon- Sun, but they only sell it till Wednesday for a current week, it is the best option financially. You need a small photo 3cm x2.5 to affix to the card - if you choose this option, bring photos with you. this is a very handy map to have, I had no other and found my way around Paris without difficulty. They give free maps at the station, but too small for my eyes. Print this one instead.
I know that when using metro one does not see as much as on surface routes, however due to shortness of our stay, this was the fastest way to get around.
When using single tickets make sure to keep them safe, as you will need them to get out of the metro and train station.

There is an app now that you can use for finding your way

A very useful site to help navigate around Paris on public transportation

On Trip Advisor you will find great tips on how to get from the airport to your hotel.

There are many tours worth considering, depending on your budget and availability of time. I have used Viator for other destinations and was happy with services received.

Love locks 

My itinerary included:

  • Montmartre and Basilique du Sacré-Coeur – free entrance and a wonderful walk in the hilly neighborhood, full of little stores and cafes.
  • Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysees – free if you decide not to get to the top of the Arc and can resist very many shops on the boulevardJ)
  • Eiffel Tower – pre-book if you are not an early bird. Lines are very long later in the day min 2 hours. Have your lunch there and enjoy the amazing view.
  • Notre Dame Cathedral – pre-book
  • River Seine - Taking the boat was really enjoyable experience after a long day.
  • Louvre – pre-book
  • Paris Sewer Museum – o yeah! Better believe it.
  • We also spent one evening strolling around Montparnasse and had dinner there.

Enjoying the boat ride

Looking back I am amazed how much we have managed to cram in and there was no mutiny.

Top 3 according to kids:
Eiffel Tower,
Arc de Triomphe

Personally, I found Sewer Museum fascinating.

Hope this helps. We did not have enough time for a hop on/off bus, but it looked like a great thing to do.

Have a lovely trip.