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Travel the Fabulous France - Tips and suggestions

July 05, 2017





Fabulous France, no sooner than I started typing my experience I am searching words and description, In less than three minutes I am lost in the dream of my trip "The Fabulous France". I am lost in the beautiful architecture, those narrow streets, those charming people who speak English with a French accent, those mouth-watering food, those mindblowing streetside artists, the happening vibe of France.

It's one such beautiful place where I wish to get my parents one day.

For details regarding Visa, visit the official website for Schengen visa. Visa requirement change in accordance with your passport.


Places we Visited: Cannes, Paris and Versailles Palace in France

Tips and Guide for your trip: 

Before booking your tickets:
1) Travel off season
     a) Accommodations can be found at a cheaper cost.                                                                                    
     b) Less crowded tourist attraction.
     c) Less pricey tickets.
2) If you are planning to visit multiple cities, prefer an open jaw ticket. In our itinerary, we flew into
   Nice and flew out of Paris.
3) Do get a rough idea of what you want to do in France, places you want to visit etc,.
Packing for your trip:
1) Travel light, take minimal clothes
2) Invest in a universal adapter
3) Download Google offline maps
4) Invest in a portable power bank
5) Europeans are always to the best of their attire. Pack cool clothes instead of casual clothes like
    shorts etc,.
6) Do carry a good walking shoe.
7) Of course, your camera to capture the moments.
Booking your hotel:
1) Prefer to book your hotels at the city center, it will help you save time and commute to the tourist
    attractions before and after a long day.
Apps to download:
1) Google maps, with offline downloaded
2) Yelp, to search for the nearest and the best-rated restaurants
3) Visiting museums and major attractions without an audio guide is a total waste. At the same time
     you need not spend for an audio guide, Rick Steves, audio guide this will save you a lot of  
     Euros.Visit the website to download your podcasts. It's free and it suffices the basic requirements.
4) You can download Paris metro app, but Google map will guide you with the exact time when your next train will arrive at the station
5) Take advantage of being under the age of 26, with concession tickets at museums on entry tickets.
    To know details about the concessional and free entry dates for various museums visit the official
    website here
6) If you are traveling on a budget, explore street food and cafe like crepes
7) You will find great Italian combo breakfasts with Croissant, bread, coffee, juice, and crepes for 12
     Euros (in 2017)

Little about French culture:
1) In France, French is the National language. People do speak English and are always helpful to the    
    tourist. In my personal experience when I went for shopping, the shop keepers were very friendly
    and helped me out though they were not fluent in English.2) There is a concept of personalized 
    Pizza. French people, they do not share their Pizzas. Also, ask the waiter if sharing is accepted at 
    their restaurant.3) Service at the restaurant is generally slow. They give you ample time to relax  
    and order, enjoy and eat, sit back and pay. If you are in a hurry request for a quick service.4) Tips,
    generally at 15%added to the bill. If you are pleased with the service go ahead and add a
    little more.
5) This was a little strange to me. Most of the restaurants do not serve water. You need to ask for a
    glass of water, also do not expect tap water to be served. Its mineral water and you will be charged 
    around 6 Euros. After the initial experience, We purchasing water  bottle from a convenient / 
    grocery store which costs (1 liter) 1 Euro.
6) If you are traveling to rural France. Ensure you be at the restaurant for lunch before 2.00 PM and 
    dinner before 8.00 PM. Do check for Business hours on Yelp. 

Getting around places and little about the museum passes:
Touristic cities are well connected with public transport. We suggest traveling by public transport. Renting a car will be a pain from driving to parking. We rented a car in Cannes while the rest of the places we visited traveling in public transport.

Commuting between cities: A great way to commute between cities is again train, airports are outside city center while train stations are in the heart of the city. Unlike the train, flights have a restriction on the number of bags that you can carry.

Commuting in Paris: 




Walking is the best way to explore the city. At the same time, it requires a lot of energy. The best alternative to walking is riding a bicycle. Renting a bicycle and getting around got simpler and easy with Velib. They rent around 23,600 bicycles around the city. Visit their official website for registration and renting http://en.velib.paris.fr
Paris Metro well connects the city and is greatly reliable with regards to the timing. There are various passes that you can purchase based on the number of days you are planning to spend in Paris. To visit the website of official Paris tourist website about the metro pass click here. For the official website of the Paris Metro visit the link here.

Options in the Metro Pass:

Type Pros Cons
Paris Visite Pass -        starts from 12,85 Euros 1) You can select the package based on the number of days you will stay in Paris                                             2) All Zones (1 - 5 close to suburb) and all transit (including  Ile-de-France bus line etc) Absolutely nothing
Book of 10 t+ tickets 1) value Ideal if you want to commute within city 1) Not applicable for Airport, Versailles Palace                                                              2) No bus and RER
Transport Versailles 1) One-way ticket costs 4 Euros 1) Only one-way ticket
Transport Disneyland Paris 1) One-way ticket costs 8,40 Euros 1) Only one-way ticket

Our suggestion:
Opt for the Paris Visite Pass based on your estimated days of stay as it promises unlimited transportation between the tourist attraction, from the airport and back to the Versailles Palace and back, to the Disneyland and back.

We were in Paris for a week and we chose a five-day pass of 70,30 Euros. Taking advantage of the unlimited travel we visited famous restaurants and eateries of Paris at the end of a long day to reward our taste buds.

A little about the Musem passes:

 Most of the museum in France offers free days. Check if you travel to Paris is aligned with the free day offered by the museums.

To visit the official website of Paris tourism to know about the passes click here. Paris museum pass comes in three categories based on the number of days as mentioned below:


2 Days - 48 Euros
4 Days - 62 Euros
6 Days - 74 Euros

Our suggestion:
In two days, one can practically visit two museums doing justice to it. If you end up buying tickets at the counter you will save a fortune. We personally find the museum passes are expensive. The only advantage of this pass is one when you purchase a three day pass you will be able to cover a handful of museums (You must be a "museum lover" to visit museums for three consecutive days). The other advantage is it offers "skip the line" access. Also, we noticed that during peak summer and tourist hours even the museum pass line is crowded with a wait time of more than an hour.

Summing up, decide how many museums you want to visit and the time you want to spend on there. Total the cost of the tickets at the counter and the cost of the museum. Do the math take a decision and execute it. Happy visit.

We visited the Louvre Museum and the Musée de l'Orangerie. Hence, did not purchase the pass.


A little about the Paris Passlib Pass:

The is an amazing combo pass to the Paris metro (only Zone 1 - 3 ), museum, monuments, with add-on option to the Eifel tower. If you want to visit the official website of the Paris tourism for pass details pls visit the link here.

2 Days - 109 Euros
3 Days - 129 Euros
5 Days - 155 Euros

My Math for not choosing the Paris Passlib pass:

Places I wanted to Visit Cost Expeted time to spend
Louvre Museum  15 1 day
Musée de l'Orangerie  9 day
Eiffel Tower  17 3hrs including wait time
Versailles Palace 27 day
Total 68


Since we climbed up the Eifel tower we decided not to climb on top of other monuments/attractions to view Paris's skyline / panoramic view


So the total expenditure on site seeing was 68 Euros per head while the three-day pass was 129 Euros.
Three days pass comes with transport pass as well but does not include commute to the airport since it did not make a great saving for us on a five-day trip.

Hence we opted to purchase a five days pass (All zones, unlimited) for  70.30 Euros and visit the museums/monuments which we wanted to visit for 68 Euros per head. Hence the total expenditure on travel plus the entry tickets was  138.30 Euros.

Decide on the passes to purchase based on the prioritizing the places you want to visit. 

In my next article on Fabulous France, I will share my experience at various points of interests.


Los Angeles - Two day vacation

June 27, 2017




Day one: We reached Los Angeles International Airport at 5.00 AM after picking up the rental car we headed to the Beverly Hills. The shops had not opened for the day, the road was clear from traffic. We just drove through the streets. We were not keen on doing shopping or on taking a chance to see any film starts. So we checked this place first on our list

Empty roads of Beverly Hills
 After a drive through Beverly Hills we went to Santa Monica Mountain National Recreational Area viewpoint we observed the most famous Hollywood sign.

Hollywood sign
It was still early in the morning around 7.30 and the day was still cloudy. If you want a clear picture I suggest you visit in the latter part of the day. You will also need good zoom lenses for a clear picture.

You cannot get close to the sign or hike up to the hill is not allowed. However, there are people who do the same. I found this blog by Mr. Hansome Jimmy at http://www.hollywoodsigntrip.com he gives a detailed trail may and video of his hike.

Then we headed towards the next interesting location, Hollywood Walk of Fame. We stopped at Starbucks for breakfast and coffee.

Walk of Fame

Next, we headed to Self Realization Fellowship center founded by Paramhansa Yogananda, 3880 San Rafael Avenue and got a tour by a Saint at the center. The place was very peaceful and relaxing.

Temple of Leaves, it is believed when you stand under the tree, falling leave indicates Guru's blessings



Next, we headed to visit Bradbury Building architectural landmark located at 304 South Broadway at West 3rd Street in downtown. Many movies are shot in this building. Do visit the building for its unique European touch.


Next, after lunch, we headed to the California Science Center which had lots of interesting science and space exhibits.  



                             

                                                                                                                                                                 
                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                  


The Science Center was overwhelming with information and interesting facts. There is also a science lab where kids can learn through experiment. After the visit, we headed to the hotel for Rest and dinner.

Day two: It was time for us to hit the world famous Universal Studios.

If you want to make the most of your visit here there is only one secret, get your day ahead start and pre-book your tickets online.

Reaching early will ensure you a parking spot, beating the crowd for the famous rides, pre-booked tickets ensure early entry to the park at 9.00 AM which otherwise its 10.00 AM. You will need one full day to spend your time here. Even if you decide to spend two days at Universal Studios you will not be disappointed. We, however, spent one day. Entry to all rides and exhibits are included in the entry fee.




We reached the park at 8.45AM there were two parking lots that were already filled up, after parking the car followed by security we headed straight to the Harry Potter ride by around 9.30 AM, We still had a wait time of 30 minutes.  We enjoyed this ride most of all.

We hope the same goes with most of the people who visit the studio.  After enjoying all the rides we decided to go once again on the Harry Potter ride, the time was around 3.30 PM and the wait time was 2hours 15 min, So we skipped the ride and exited the park.

Next, we headed to Forest Lawn Memorial Park at 1712 S Glendale Ave, Glendale, to visit the memorial of Yoga Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda.

The memorial is not in a prominent location, it's inside a building with several other memorials. We took help of security to locate the memorial.



After the visit, we headed to the Santa Monica Beach, the day was a great bright and sunny, water was cold. After dinner around the beach we, headed to the hotel and crashed around 9.00 PM .

Next day morning we started early for the long drive to Las Vegas via Death valley National Park


Itinerary West Coast road trip - Seattle to San Diego

June 16, 2017



In this section, I am going to cover about a road trip from Seattle to San Diego through the beautiful West coast, considered to be the most scenic drive of the USA. 

Things to consider before booking your ticket:
1) Duration of the vacation
2) Am I booking the flight and car rental as a multi-stop or round trip? 
3) Will I be jet lagged on reaching Seattle

The itinerary below is customized for the number of days of vacation you are interested in taking, The trip works out well with multi-stop ticket (Fly into Washington state and fly out of California State )However, for the readers who decide a round trip ticket with shorter vacation, your suggestion can be found in the Last column in the below tabular column of Notes.

The landscape:
In the suggested itinerary, you will visit through famous National parks of the USA, breathtaking waterfalls, hike a volcanic mountain tube, a beautiful coastal area with jaw-dropping sunset and sunrise to enjoy.


StatesFamous National Parks
WashingtonMt. Rainer, Olympic National.
OregonCrater Lake.
CaliforniaRedwood, Channel Island.



Vacation durationFour daysOne weekOne and half weekTwo weekTwo and Half weekNotes
Day One:                     Early morning,Land in SeattleLand in SeattleLand in SeattleLand in SeattleLand in SeattlePick the rental car and head to Seattle downtown.

Explore downtown. Book hotel in Tacoma for the night.Explore downtown. Book hotel in Tacoma for the night.Explore downtown. Book hotel in Tacoma for the night.Explore downtown. Book hotel in Tacoma for the night.Explore downtown. Book hotel in Tacoma for the night.If you will be jet lagged end your day early.
Day Two: Start early, one and half hour drive timeDrive to Mt. Rainier National Park.Drive to Olympic National ParkDrive to Olympic National ParkDrive to Olympic National ParkDrive to Olympic National ParkNote for Four days round trip ticket readers: Drive the scenic loop in Mt. Rainier National park

Explore the park.Explore, Olympic National ParkExplore, Olympic National ParkExplore, Olympic National ParkExplore, Olympic National Park

Day Three:Start early, head towards, Oregon. Drive time four hours.Explore, Olympic National ParkExplore, Olympic National ParkExplore, Olympic National ParkExplore, Olympic National Park


Explore Columbia River George National Scenic Area and return to Portland downtown for the night.Go for a hike.Go for a hike.Explore, Olympic National Park in the evening head towards Mt. Rainier National Park for the night. Book hotel in Olympia. Drive time three hours.Explore, Olympic National Park and head towards Mt. Rainier National Park for the night. Book hotel in the park.

Day FourExplore Portland downtown and garden of your choice.Drive Highway 101 and reach Thor’s well, drive time eight-hour driveIn the morning, drive Drive to Cannon beach, drive time four-hoursDrive to Mt. Rainier National park. Drive time two hours. Drive the scenic loop in Mt. Rainier National park.Drive the scenic loop in Mt. Rainier National park.Note for Four days round trip ticket readers: Start Heading back to Seattle by 4.30 PM for the late night flight scheduled after 10.00 PM and return rental at the airport location.

Explore Portland downtown and garden of your choice.  Take the late night flight back home from Portland.Enjoy the coastal area and stay around Thor’s well for the night.Stay along the coast for the night.Stay in and around the park for the nightStay in and around the park for the night

Day Five:

Start early, head towards Crater Lake National Park, drive time four hours.In the morning head towards Columbia River George National Scenic Area. Drive time two and half hours.Drive to Ape Cave, for lava tube hike in Mt. St Helens. Drive time three hoursApe Cave hike in Mt. St HelensNote for One week round trip ticket readers: Skip Crater Lake National Park and do as directed in Day six


Explore the park and stay around the area for the night.Head towards Portland. Book hotel in this area for the night.Drive to Cannon beach for sunset, and stay for the night Drive time three and half hour.Drive to Cannon beach, and stay for the night four-hour drive

Day Six

Head towards Columbia River George National Scenic Area, drive time five hours drive.Explore downtown, the garden of your choice, brewery.Enjoy the coastal area and head towards Columbia River George National Scenic Area. Drive time two and half hoursEnjoy the coastal area and head towards Columbia River George National Scenic Area. Book hotel in this area for night stay.Note for One week round trip ticket readers: Follow day seven


Enjoy the scenic drive. Stay in the area or drive to downtown for the night stay.Drive and stay in Albany/ Salem for the night. Drive time one and half hour.Book hotel in this area for night stay.Start early and head to Portland.

Day Seven

Start early, explore downtown, gardens, brewery. Take Late night flight back home from Portland.Head towards to Thor’s well, drive time two and half hours.                  Next head towards Redwood National Forest along Highway 101.        Stay in an appropriate location on the way if you want or reach Redwood National Forest.Start early and head to Portland. Explore Portland downtown, gardens, brewery. Drive time to downtown, thirty minutes. Explore Portland downtown, gardens, brewery.Note for One week round trip ticket readers: Start Heading back to Seattle by 4.30 PM for the late night flight scheduled after 10.00 PM and return rental at the airport location.




In the evening drive and stay in Albany/ Salem for the night stay. Drive time one hour. Drive and stay in Albany / Salem for the night stay.

Day Eight


Explore the National Park.In the morning, start early and drive to Thor’s well, drive time two and half hours.Drive to Thor’s well, drive time two and half hours. Next head towards Crater Lake National Forest.





Head towards Redwood National Forest along Highway 101. Drive time six hours.


Day Nine


Morning Drive towards San Francisco. Along Highway 101. Drive time Seven Hours.Start Early and explore the National ParkStart Early and explore National Park and head towards Oregon CaveNote for One and half week round trip ticket readers: Start early in the morning and head to Napa Valley for wine tasting. Drive time five hours.



Break the drive in between if required

Head towards Redwood National Forest

Day Ten


Explore San FranciscoStart early and head towards Napa Valley Along Highway 101 for wine tasting. Drive time five HoursStart Early and explore National ParkNote for One and half week round trip ticket readers: Visit the Oregon Caves National Monument along Highway 199. Drive time two hours. After the visit, continue driving near Mt.St Helens area for staying the night.





Stay in the park for the night

Day Eleven


Explore San Francisco and head to the airport for the journey back homeHead towards San FranciscoStart early and head towards Napa Valley Along Highway 101, for wine tasting. Drive time five HoursNote for One and half week round trip ticket readers: Start early and hike the ape cave (lava tube) at Mt. St Helens. Start driving back to Seattle for the late night flight back home. Drive time three and half hours.




Explore San Francisco


Day Twelve



Drive towards Los Angeles, Stay in an appropriate location on the way if you want or reach Los AngelesHead towards San Francisco, explore the city.Note for two weeks round trip ticket readers: Start heading back towards Oregon early in the morning. drive up to Grand Pass in Oregon. Drive time seven hours




Explore Los Angeles


Day Thirteen




Drive towards Los Angeles, Stay in an appropriate location on the way if you want or reach Los AngelesNote for two weeks round trip ticket readers: Visit the Oregon Caves National Monument along Highway 199.




Explore Los Angeles and head to airport for journey back homeExplore Los Angeles

Day Fourteen




Explore Los Angeles

Day Fifteen




Explore Los Angeles

Day Sixteen




Explore Los Angeles, and drive towards San Diego

Day Seventeen




Book late night flight out from San Diego to back home.


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