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Comments and Tips from our Trip- Paris, Kandersteg, Venice

Comments and Tips from our Trip- Paris, Kandersteg, Venice

Old Jul 23rd, 2006, 04:52 AM
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Comments and Tips from our Trip- Paris, Kandersteg, Venice

First, thanks to so many of you for all your great information. It was so much fun and helpful to read this forum while planning my trip. This was a 10 day mom-daughter (13) trip- a celebration of her bat mitzvah. Fortunately, everything, including flights, checkin and security, went really smoothly, through out the trip. Our luggage: two rolling bags (one medium, one small) , a carryon and her backpack.

I thought I’d just share some of my miscellaneous observations/comments/tips/hilights and humor, rather than give you the day by day.

Pre-Trip:
-We color copied and laminated our passport face pages
-We copied the credit cards, and jotted down the international 800 numbers they gave us when we notified them of our foreign plans
-Sigh, my carry-on broke at the Detroit airport! Tip- shop around even in the emergency- my first store was $150, and I found a good carryon at the PGA store on sale for $15!
-I pulled the cities I needed from Rick Steves and rebound them, together with blank pages for journaling, in a smaller binder.
-I picked up 300euro at the currency exchange and took an ATM debit card
-I bought the disposable CVS video recorder and gave it to my daughter. She had a blast throughout the trip, narrating her ‘blog’. If I were traveling with multiple kids, I’d get one for each child to create there own travel video.
-I attached my travel wallet (a nylon thing) to my purse with a length of chain/safety pinned. That way even when I took out my wallet, it stayed connected to the purse and I hoped it might slow down a pick pocket).
-First stop at each hotel, I put the passports in an envelope with 1 credit card (the AmEx), the credit card copies and our tickets, and put it in the hotel safe. The idea was that even if my wallet disappeared, I’d still have one card I didn’t have to cancel. The copies of the passports were enough for us to walk around with.

PARIS
-It was a bit of trek to get to the Air France bus to Montparnasse, but there were plenty of moving sidewalks and it was an easy way to get into town.

-We stayed at Hotel Central in Montparnasse- inexpensive (98euro), air conditioning, near 3 metros. Clean and adequate for our purposes.

-We were there for the last game of the world cup- the town was in full fever- and glued (every café, sourvenir stand, etc) to TV- we stopped to look at some T-shirts- and were given a red-white-blue face-paint stick to decorate ourselves!

-My tired teenager was generally not a museum goer, and pretty jet-lagged. I hadn’t anticipated that her energy level wouldn’t match mine in the first days- so we made adjustments. The Batobus (from just past the Eiffel Tower) with a 2 day pass, came in handy.

-We did Metro, Bus, Batobus and Feet. Metro Clues: It took a bit to realize that the ticket machine doesn’t take bills, just coin. Around the corner from the ticket machine was a change machine. There is a kind of roller, that you use to scroll on the screen, and then you can choose your language for instructions- we bought the carnet- as we were in for only 2 ½ days. It worked out fine. The down side of the Metro for us is that it was grimier, and hot. Sometimes however, it was just the best route and faster than the busses.

-Absolute Paris highlights: SEGWAY tour. It is worth the $! Fun, not difficult, unique and a nice way to get around on hot days and see a bunch. We did the day tour and it was a blast. Next: Ille St. Louis- Berthillion ice cream and shops.

-Shopping: sales were everywhere and it was a bit overwhelming. One day was daughter’s choice day- so that was: seeing Opera Garnier and shopping- Pimkie (in Gallerie Lafayette Montparnasse) (cheap and trendy) and Mango (Ave. de Capuchines)- some great sale tops.

KANDERSTEG: We took the TGV (nice and speedy) to Bern and went by local train to Kandersteg- a small town in a valley- with wonderful hiking all around. Awesome hikes! My 13 year old never expected that she could climb to 2000meters, above the tree line- but we did and she loved it!

-Hotel Victoria Ritter- I’ve stayed there before- lovely, relaxed, friendly, gourmet dinners, Casi, the owner knows every trail around and is very helpful.

-Hotels have discount cards for the chair lifts and cable cars- handy, as those were pricey.
-Take money with you on hikes- way up there, there are ‘huttehs’ where you can buy cold drinks, etc..- easier to carry money. Also, you can refill your water bottles up there, so there’s less to carry.

VENICE
Yes, it is crowded around St. Marks and the Rialto, but true to everyone’s postings- it is still nice and enjoyable many places.

Hotel: Locanda Al Leon. Much like Paris, reasonably priced, clean, airconditioned and well located for us, one quiet Calle (alley) past the Bridge of Sighs/Dodges Palace (Calle del Albanese), just before the Danieli hotel.

-Rendetore Festival- kind of like being in Times Square on New Years eve! The entire basis was filled with decorated boats and well lubricated celebrants. The streets were packed! Fireworks started a little after 11 and went on for about an hour. The other neat thing was a light show on Sunday night, where they projected all sorts of color images on the Dodges Palace, the tower, and parts of the square for about ½ hr. It was beautiful.

-We bought a 72 hour vaporetto pass outside the train station- it worked perfectly, and when we left, we had about 8 hours left- so we gave them to some newly arrived student travelers to use.

-Walking was a very good way to get around.
-The Traghetto was a nice cheap way to satisfy my daughters interest in being in a gondola.

Wishing you all wonderful trips!




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Old Jul 23rd, 2006, 08:26 AM
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ilana,
Glad you had a wonderful trip. Thankyou for mentioning Kandersteg, we will be there for two weeks next June.
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Old Jul 24th, 2006, 01:28 PM
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ronkala- Please let me know if you want information about Kandersteg- it was my second trip there and I love it. you can email me [email protected] with questions, or if you do, I'll send you a link to my photos from there.
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Old Jul 24th, 2006, 02:58 PM
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Great report, Ilana. What a wonderful way to celebrate a bat mitzvah.

What hikes did you do at Kandersteg? I've hiked most of them myself, but I'm curious in particular what your daughter enjoyed. We were there last summer but didn't hike because of bad weather; we'll go back next summer, 13-year-old daughter included, and try again.
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Old Jul 24th, 2006, 05:19 PM
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Hi Enzian- The best hike was oscienensee (sp?). We took the chair lift up (I've hiked up to the restaurant and it isn't worth the 1.5 hrs. Between the chair lift and the restaurant, there's a turn off for the trail to Heuberg. You climb for about an hour, then you are up on the ridge, above the tree line, overlooking the lake- it is spectacular! There's an option to turn off and go higher or head down to the huttehs. Going down you work your way down, around the lake and back to the restaurant by the lake.

The gastertaal (sp, again- still jetlagged), along the river is also really nice and an easy hike. We took the cable car up to the Almenalp, and just wandered around the trails up there.
If the weather had cooperated, we were going to do the tobagan run, but it rained and they closed it. I've done it and its fun- though watch your fingers when you get off the 'sleds'- people tend to smash into you from behind.
Kandersteg was my daughters favorite part of trip!

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Old Jul 25th, 2006, 07:39 AM
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Good Morning Ilana,
My only question would have pertained to alternate ways to get up to the lake. DW will not use the chairlift so I'm glad to see we can walk up even though it will take some time.

We will be staying at an apartment starting June 6 which we located by using Untours. I have quite a bit of information about that area which I got from the Kandersteg tourism office.

Thankyou again for your help.

ronk
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Old Jul 25th, 2006, 12:03 PM
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Ronk- There are at least two ways to walk up that I know. One is the wanderweg (trail) and the other is more road/trail combo. I know a lot of people aren't big on the chair lifts- I love 'em!
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Old Jul 25th, 2006, 01:34 PM
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ronk- I suggest bribing your wife with something. That is one bear of a trail hiking up there. You'd better be in really good shape. That is a gorgeous place, and I highly suggest having lunch at the restaurant. It's a great place to watch people and the food was excellent. Really funny watching the cows mingling with people at the beach, lol.
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Old Jul 25th, 2006, 01:53 PM
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Even the road up to Oeschinensee is very steep---I think it's about 2.5 km and climbs 1500 feet in that distance----in other words, it climbs at roughly the same grade as a hiking trail, 1000' per mile. We walked it several times last summer; we were staying at the lake and would walk down to town for tennis, internet, swimming, etc. But we were in Switzerland to hike, and that was our hike on those (rainy) days.

The chair lift is very user-friendly, as chairlifts go; it is pretty slow, and never gets very far off the ground. You might see if she would reconsider, after looking at it.
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Old Jul 25th, 2006, 02:06 PM
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I have a fear of heights and I loved that chairlift. It really doesn't go that high from the ground. It is so beautiful at the top, I would love to go back and do it again.
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Old Jul 25th, 2006, 05:53 PM
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I thank all of you for your information.
Years ago she finally agreed to try the Ferris wheel at a county fair and nearly panicked when it made its stops. She did ok though with the small cable car at the San Diego zoo. Hopefully she will be ok once she sees the chairlift.
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 09:23 AM
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I wouldn't necessariy trust a ferris wheel that a carnie (sorry if any of you are carnies) put up in a small fair. Those guys look like they have other things on their minds besides safety.

Really, I fully trust that chairlift and it just skims mostly.
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 09:29 AM
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Thanks for the informative report, Ilana. Good info and tips.
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