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Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome - Sept 2010

Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome - Sept 2010

Sep 19th, 2010, 02:47 AM
  #1  
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Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome - Sept 2010

Let me begin by saying that this was the trip of my life time. I did exactly what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted - this is what was most important for me.

Second, thank you to everybody here. I followed a lot of the ideas and tips here and it was just fabulous! Especially heartfelt thanks to Franco, whose advice for all the Italian cities was wonderful!

So, I spent the 5th-11th in Paris, the 12th in Venice, the 12th-15th in Florence, and the 15th-18th in Rome, from where I flew back to London.


I am a bit short on time at the moment but I will try and finish this soon.

Some basics before the actual trip report:

I'm 24, was travelling solo. For the 2 weeks prior to the trip, I was in constant arguments with parts of my family who were not happy about my going alone. I'm from Pakistan, and the culture is very different from the US/Europe. My taking a solo trip would be unthinkable for most of my female peers. My mother was very supportive, but my dad was freaking out. Not because he is conservative, but because he is an extremely anxious person (anxiety as a disease, I mean).

But I stuck to my guns. I did promise to keep in touch with my parents constantly to try and make them a bit less anxious.

I have no interest whatsoever in night life. I don't drink or dance, so I never see the point of going clubbing, to bars, etc. This will give you an idea of why the trip went as it did.

This was to some extent a budget trip. So there were many things I couldn't do.

Outline of itinerary:

5th Sept - Eurostar, reaching Paris around 1:30pm.

11th Sept - overnight train to Venice.

12th Sept - evening train to Florence, reaching there at 7:30pm.

15th Sept - train to Rome in the morning

18th Sept - flight to London at 5:50pm.


Coming up soon - Paris
sam86 is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 02:55 AM
  #2  
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Oh, forgot to add a few more points:

HOTELS

Paris - Hotel de la Herse d'Or, Rue Saint-Antoine

Venice - none, day trip.

Florence - Bed and Bed Cassia, Via Cassia

Rome - Hotel Julia, Via Rasella

All of these were budget hotels, and were exactly that - budget hotels. Except the Bed and Bed Cassia - more info on this later.



What did I reserve/book before hand?

Because I require a visa to travel in the EU, and have to apply for it months in advance, I booked all my travel tickets in advance, including trains. I also reserved my hotels. All of this was done by early August.

I also booked the Roma Pass for Rome, reserved a ticket for the Vatican, the Galleria Borghese, the Uffizi, and the Accademia.

I will say that there is no problem buying train tickets at the stations. All the info is easily available in English and the information desk personnel are helpful.


What passes did I buy when I got there?

Paris Museum Pass

Batobus 5 day pass

Carnet of bus/metro tickets. These are t+ tickets. What that means is that you can use the same tickets more than once within (I think) 90 mins of first use. So for example, I use a t+ ticket on a bus. Then I want to get on the metro. I can use the same ticket, as long as it is within 90 minutes from my first use of the ticket.

I hope this makes sense. I did not know this before I went and learnt it when I was waiting for a bus and read a notice at the bus stop! So, I hope this helps anyone heading to Paris soon!
sam86 is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 05:36 AM
  #3  
tod
 
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Sam86 - I am reading your report with great interest. First of all I have never heard of the Ticket t+ - Please tell me what you asked for when purchasing. We bought our usual NAVIGO passes for the whole week and made excellent use of them. But, before we could start using the Navigo on a Monday morning, we had ordinary carnet of 10 tickets.
Looking forward to more...
tod is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 02:34 PM
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Looking forward to hearing more of your impressions . . .
ellenem is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 04:44 PM
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The t+ tickets are the standard ones you buy in any metro station. They include transfers within 90 minutes from metro to metro or to RER, from bus to bus, but not from bus to metro or metro to bus.

From the ratp website:

"The following types of connections are possible with this ticket:

metro/metro
metro/RER and RER/RER within Paris
bus/bus (including between the RATP and OPTILE networks), bus/tram and tram/tram for 90 minutes between the first and last validation
Please note: it is not possible to make metro/bus, metro/tram, RER/bus and RER/tram connections using the same t+ ticket."
http://www.ratp.info/touristes/index...r&cat=ticket-t
Nikki is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 05:34 PM
  #6  
 
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Sam86! So glad you had a great trip! Greatly looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip.
KayDoll is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 05:42 PM
  #7  
 
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Also can't wait to read your report, Sam, and am glad to hear you had a great time!
jmct714 is offline  
Sep 20th, 2010, 03:23 PM
  #8  
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Tod - Nikki explains it well = )

Ok, so here goes nothing = )

DAY 1

September 5th 2010

I had spent the two previous weeks fighting tooth and nail with my family over this trip. And the day had finally arrived.

I set off at 8:30am for Borough Station to take the tube to St Pancras International for the Eurostar to Paris. Imagine my consternation when Borough Station was closed due to staff shortages! Never fear - I caught a bus to London Bridge instead and took the tube form there.

Checking in for the Eurostar train took all of 5 minutes, despite my Pakistani passport. The train itself was a disappointment in some ways - the carpets looked filthy, but at least the seats were comfortable. I settled down comfortably, especially since the seat next to me was empty.


Arriving in Paris, at the Gare du Nord, I bought a carnet of tickets (for anyone who wants this info - the machines near the Metro turnstiles are less busy than the one close to the Eurostar exit and machines have info in English).

The Paris Metro was the first underground system I had ever used - 3 years ago. Muscle memory kicked in and I hopped on the train to the Bastille. On the ride, I compared the train to London's underground, and marvelled at how good looking French men are.

After a few minutes of being a bit lost after exiting the Metro, I found my hotel, dumped my luggage and poked around the room a bit. For the life of me, I couldn't find the shower anywhere in the room or on my floor. Finally I resigned myself to asking what seemed to be a rather idiotic question - where is the shower? - at the front desk. I learnt that it was on the 2nd floor (another was on the 6th). My philosophical response to this was that I wasn't there for luxury.



My exploration of Paris started with some entirely aimless wandering about the Rue Saint-Antoine area. I ended up at the Place des Vosges and ate a gallete at the Cafe Nectarine and watched people bask in the blazing sunshine. It was a Sunday and all of Paris was out enjoying the day.

I decided to head to central Paris. But on my way back to the Rue Saint-Antoine, I got stuck in a Jewish wedding. Stuck as in stuck in the middle of the crowd waiting for the bride's car to drive up and her to get out of the car. After a bit, I gave up trying to get out of the crowd and just stood to watch. The bride looked pretty and confident and everyone cheered and had lovely smiles on their faces.


I walked down the Rue Siant-Antoine, past St Paul's Church, and along the river to Pont Louis Philippe, crossing it to get to Notre Dame. On the way, I spotted Berthillon's with a long queue. After taking a photo of said queue, I quickly joined it.

There were two Americans in front of me (man and woman) who were having a rather loud conversation. The guy said that someone must've paid the people to stand in line at the shop and that it was (according to him) common practice. The woman, who seemed just an acquaintance, made some noncommittal noise. Two seconds later, the man suggested they leave, and off they went. Good for me, their loss. If only they could've tasted my chocolate ice cream.


I got to Notre Dame and just sat there, enjoying the sunlight, watching people. You will notice as I write more about this trip that this is one of my favourite past times. Two young girls were posing for photos. One was dressed in what looked like a vintage, fluffy pink blouse. Very amusing to watch them.

By the time the sun went down, I was tired and hungry. I headed back to the hotel, grabbing dinner on my way, and ate it curled up in my cosy hotel room bed watching Hollywood movies in French.
sam86 is offline  
Sep 20th, 2010, 03:46 PM
  #9  
 
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sam, I'm SO happy you stuck to your guns. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained", as my Mom often quoted.

Looking forward to your first impressions of my three favorite cities in the world... Venice, Florence and Rome.
sarge56 is offline  
Sep 20th, 2010, 03:51 PM
  #10  
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DAY 2

September 6th, 2010

I had planned for the Paris leg of my trip to be relaxing before the whirlwind week in Italy. It was also meant to be a recovery from months of writing a Master's thesis and the 2 week battle over the trip.

So, I woke up late on my first full day in Paris. I had nothing planned and after some consideration, decided to head for the Louvre. After a quick stop for a baguette and a cafe near the museum, I set off to take a look at the Pyramid. The line was impossibly long, so I decided to head to the Musee de Orangerie to get the Paris Museum Pass (to get in through the Richelieu Passage) and to see the Monets.


On my long, lovely walk down the Seine, there were two attempts to rob me, both close to the Place de la Concorde. Both times, young women, dressed like the average person, would walk straight toward me, suddenly bend, and seem to pick up a gold band ring off the floor and ask me if it was mine. I wasn't wearing any jewellery at all, so I just walked on. But I saw them doing this to other people as well.

It wasn't hard to see the trick if you were watching the woman approach or if you had been watching the sidewalk. I was watching the sidewalk and there had been no ring there. And I saw the ring slip out of both women's sleeves. Be aware.


I walked through the Place de la Concorde and into the Jardin Tuilleries. I sat by the basin for a while before going into the museum. The Monet's were lovely. Except for the part where people kept posing in front of them, blocking everyone else's view.


Afterward, I took the bus to the Louvre and spent the rest of the afternoon there. I left as it was closing. I love the place but it is so exhausting and overwhelming when you've been there for a little while. I took a bus and somehow ended up at Notre Dame again. I walked down the Pont D'Arcole and picked the restaurant that had Creme Brulee (my favourite dessert) on its menu. Spaghetti Bolognese caught my eye too.

After quite a nice meal, I headed back tot he hotel to watch The A-Team in French - I thought it was hilarious to see those guys spitting out French instead of their regular slang.
sam86 is offline  
Sep 20th, 2010, 06:09 PM
  #11  
 
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I'm really enjoying your report. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Nikki is offline  
Sep 20th, 2010, 06:20 PM
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Thank you, Sam. This is all such wonderful information, plus you write very, very well! Merci!
mitzi_girl is offline  
Sep 20th, 2010, 09:37 PM
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Nice report Sam, I am glad you made the trip despite family opposition. I buckled down to family pressures when I was a young woman growing up in India - not for travel, but for a number of other things - and I regret that now, years and years later. One has to follow one's dreams..
Suja is offline  
Sep 21st, 2010, 03:36 AM
  #14  
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Thank you everyone! I'm sorry it is a bit rushed, I'm actually moving back to Pakistan in a couple of days so I'm in the middle of packing everything up!


DAY 3

7th September, 2010

I started the day at a patisserie called Miss Manon, on the Rue Saint Antoine. A rather delicious apple filled brioche and coffee later, I headed to Saint Chapelle. I had heard and read a great deal about it here, and had not seen it on my last trip, so I was very much looking forward to it.

The Paris Museum Pass was a BLESSING here. The line was long and I just walked straight past and joined the much shorter and faster moving line for reserved and pass entrance.

In the lower section of the chapel, I'll admit to being a tad disappointed. I had been expecting grandeur such as to knock me off my feet. What was all the fuss about? Five minutes later, I noticed that people were going up and down some stairs near the entrance. So I headed up to investigate.

The minute my head emerged out of the staircase and into the upper chamber of the chapel. I literally gasped audibly. It is stunningly beautiful. And this was when the central windows were not visible due to restoration work. I spent a good 30-45 minutes just marvelling at the place.


After that, the Palais de Justice was just plain and I left quickly. I decided to head to set off in search of Shakespeare and Company.

I'm a serious book worm, and I had wanted to find the shop when I first went to Paris, but just did not have the time then. This time, I found it easily enough. I browsed, sat at the typewriter, read a little bit sitting next to the window. Couldn't resist buying 2 books and a book bag before I left. I was in love with the place, it just somehow made me feel that when I was in there, all was right with the world.


I headed to Notre Dame and joined the long but fast moving line to go inside. It was as awe inspiring as the first time I had gone. The towers were closed that day for some reason unfortunately, so I sat on a bench on the Pont du Notre Dame for a while, reading my paper in the sunshine.

Lunch was a crepe at a random restaurant in the Latin Quarter. I decided to head to the Eiffel Tour next. The lines were too long for me to even want to brave queuing to go up, so I opted to head toward Trocadero and wait for the Tour to light up. On the way I curled up on a bench to watch the clouds float by, It was a lovely early evening, beautiful sky and I took a ton of photos.

While I waited for darkness, I ate a panini and a crepe and people watched. Finally, the lights went on. I enjoyed the view for a while before taking a bus to St Germain. After getting a bit lost, I finally ended up at a stop that had buses that headed toward the Bastille.
sam86 is offline  
Sep 21st, 2010, 03:36 AM
  #15  
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Oh, P.S., if you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask = )
sam86 is offline  
Sep 21st, 2010, 10:19 AM
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Sam86 .. great report. I am heading to Paris on the 30th, so reading your report is really getting me excited and in the mood. Can't wait to read the rest.
Barb is offline  
Sep 21st, 2010, 02:32 PM
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sam, lovely report from an interesting perspective.

looking forward to more!
annhig is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2010, 08:11 PM
  #18  
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Thank you!

Unfortunately, I'm moving back to Pakistan today so I will be MIA for a while = / But I hope to be back soon-ish! = D
sam86 is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2010, 10:23 AM
  #19  
 
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have a good trip!
annhig is offline  
Sep 28th, 2010, 09:03 AM
  #20  
 
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Oh please come back and write soon. I'm very much enjoying your perspective and I'm also very interested in the Italy portion of your trip.
HunyBadger is offline  

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