October 15, 2011

Paris: Day 1 The Flight and Arrival

The long awaited post is finally here. After going through 2,500+ pictures and barely finishing the edits I have now been able to spend some time on the blog with the updates. First of all I would just like to say that Paris was an absolutely beautiful city and while it was overwhelming at times I had the best time of my life. As you will see through the upcoming photos there is so much that the city offers to a variety of people. I encourage all of you who read this blog to go out and experience Paris once in your life.

I like to use my blog as a reference for other travelers to use and by doing so I will post my own experiences along with a variety of tips that helped me out along the way. So with that being said I would like to start by going over the pre travel essentials.

     1. Booking your flight. I went through so many different websites to find a great price for these tickets and I ended up coming across a website called Studentuniverse.com. This website offered the best deal I could find for students that are traveling anywhere in the world. We booked our flight through this website and flew on American Airlines at a total cost of $850.00 per ticket with taxes and surcharges already included (remind you this was a 2 week vacation).

     2. Book your hotel room. Paris can be an expensive city and the average hotel room is going to be around $120-$150 per night so plan for that. We booked our hotel through Hotels.com and received a rate of $130.00 per night. The hotel had great reviews on nearly every website we went to and I will discuss more of that in a moment.

     3. Get your passport. The ticket and hotel will do you no good if you can't even fly out there because you don't have your travel passport. Total cost on passports were $320.00.

     4. Pack Light! I mean extremely light. For a 2 week vacation I packed 2 pairs of pants and 3 shirts, along with a nice dress shirt. Paris is the fashion capitol of the world and you will most likely buy more clothes while you are there. Get some really comfortable shoes to walk in because you will be walking a lot more than you are probably used to. Preferably not tennis shoes as these are a good indicator of a tourist to pickpockets.

     5. Walk the walk and talk the talk. One major problems many Americans have is that they are unwilling to adapt to a different culture. You will get 10 times better service and treatment if you take the time to learn a little about the culture and the language. More times than not people will switch to English (if they know it) if they pick up on an accent. Overall you are in their country so you should be more than willing to learn their ways.

     6. Dress the part. While other websites will tell you that many people in Paris dress in blacks, whites and creams with no bright colors this is almost certainly a lie. Many younger people in Paris wear bright colors yet still stay very fashionable. They typically say that pickpockets will be attracted to those who stick out, so try to blend in as best as possible by having a good fashion sense.

     7. Lastly, just have fun. Don’t spend your time worrying about pickpockets or even seeing every place you have on your itinerary. The fact is that Paris is simply too big of a city to see while on a vacation. In the 2 weeks we were there we experienced Paris much more in depth simply by throwing out the itinerary and getting hopelessly lost in the crowd. If you happen to run into some trouble don’t let it ruin your vacation. The point of traveling is to create an experience so if you get robbed or ruin your nice shoes just go simply take it with a grain of salt. All problems can be fixed and you will look back on it one day and have a great story to tell. Chances are if you use common sense while you are in the big touristy areas you will avoid your chances of getting swindled.

The 18 hour flight to Paris was incredible as we stopped in Dallas, Texas, Madrid, and Spain along the way. One thing many people fail to do is really take in the beauty of the world below the plane on their flight. Here is a picture above Dallas, Texas. 

Madrid was a beautiful city and extremely mountainous. We enjoyed our complimentary bottles of wine on the flight out and picked up some delicious Kinder Eggs in the Madrid airport. If you ever make a stop in Madrid it is by far one of the most confusing airports of all time. Here is a picture from the plane of Madrid.

Here is the outside of the Hotel we stayed at. Hotel Du Home Moderne. Absolutely beautiful hotel close to the Metro and local Parisian restaurants. We booked through Hotels.com which allowed us to cancel the hotel in advance, an option many sites do not offer their customers.

The patio area for morning coffee. One thing you should never do in my opinion is order breakfast from your hotel. If you want an authentic french breakfast go to a cafe and order a crepe with a cafe creme. Virtually the same price you will pay at the hotel with much much more flavor.

The view from our hotel room window. The hotel rooms are small in Paris so this is another reminder not to over pack. Also Paris is known to be very conseritive with their energy use. The room lights are powered only by your hotel room key in most hotels. Some hotels may not have air conditioning either. Our hotel came with air conditioning, power inverter available at the desk and a blow dryer. Make sure you are checking your hotel for the options you will need. Never assume they will include all the same amenities as hotels in the United States.

 One of my favorite experiences in Paris was riding the Metro. Its always so lively with a variety of people coming and going. As a tip if you have an iPad or iPhone/ Droid you absolutely MUST download the app called Paris Travel Guide Offline by cityscouter. This app really saved us so much time and energy. Its an app that does not require internet connection and includes, a huge list of places to see, eat and explore while in Paris. Also it has a currency converter and complete Metro map and map of the city making it easy for anyone to get around without a hassle.

Sortie = Exit just an FYI :)

The occasional entertainer will be on the Metro playing anything from saxophones to singing. Once in a while a random drunk will stumble onto the train and start shouting at everyone in french but they are harmless for the most part. Here is a picture of a talented sax player on the train. Feel free to give a euro or two if you enjoy the music.

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