Travel agent vs DIY

Old Feb 8th, 2014, 01:05 PM
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First off.. I LIKE the hoho buses.. but would NEVER choose to include them in a winter visit. The good thing about the hohos are they make it very easy to get from tourist site to tourist site,, you don't have to think about it or plan a route.. you simply sit on bus and get on and off when you want.. for that reason a two day pass is the wisest ( since you can't cover all the routes AND get off and visit many sites in one day.. plus two day pass is only 3-4 euros more then one day pass)
But.. the real bonus is that the hoho buses give you a unique view of the neiborhoods as you drive through them.. unfortunately the top open level is open to wind , rain and cold.. in december it would be reasonable to assume you would encounter one if not all three of those weather conditions. Sitting inside the lower level is not very nice.. might as well be in regular bus really.

So.. that said, as suggested there is something RS has suggested ( and others of course) that is good advise.
Public bus number 69.. hits a ton of sites.. cost is 1.70 each leg.. or you can get a carnet of tickets for 13.70( ten one way tickets sold at this discount price) or a one day moblis.. all of these options are much cheaper then the ho ho bus for even one day!

You agent has suggested hotels that pay her commission.. this is not totally unfair of course but it means there are cheaper and better hotels available..Citidines. is just a chain.. wouldn't bother.. but I have heard some good things about the Relais, but its certainly would not be on my budget .. i tend to keep to places under 150 euros a night.. prefer under 120 really.. and this july got a room for 99 euros.. with a/c too.. I like to suss out the deals.

I honestly think you should just let TA help you buy your airline tickets. Book your own hotel. Take a taxi from airport into Paris.
Then do your own thing.. it is up to YOU to dedide what you want to see.. I hate modern art so would never include it in my visit.. but others would feeel terrible if they missed a visit to the Pomidou .. no one can plan your days as well as you can. At your age.. even with anxiety issues ( my son has them too) you are capable of just perusing travel forums and lists of "to dos" in Paris and at least figure out what sites sound interesting to you!

Ativan can make a flight bearable. .talk to your doctor.

I also happen to think Rick Steves guide books are ideal for someone like you.. they are not fussy.. they are funny and lighthearted . and nice and basic.. great for a first timer. I would ignore some of his penchants ( he seems to love the 7th,, boring residential area to me and not that central,, but then he does seem to cater to the over 35 crowd)

Another option is to take a RS Paris City Tour.. they are 8 days long and include Versailles etc.. they also give you lots of free time and teach you travel skills as you go.. they are small groups of 15-25 max.. so not overwhelming.. they are however not cheap.. so once again is it worth $$$ for ease .. up to you to decide.
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Old Feb 8th, 2014, 01:12 PM
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I echo Gretchen's concerns. What happened to your quest for Monet? For Monet, The Orangerie museum will delight you as will Musee d'Orsay which was once a grand train station and has a most impressive impressionist display! If Monet's home in Giverny is open I would think that would be a day trip destination? By sending you on two day trips, I think your ta underestimates all that Paris has to offer. Trust me you will not be bored with 7 days in Paris. The architecture, the bridges, a cruise on the Seine, the rotisserried chickens, a cheese tour with A Taste of Paris, macaroons, chocolate shops!

A fun read for a single girl would be Paris My Sweet by Amy Thomas. I'm really glad you've reconsidered Paris again! Mary
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Old Feb 8th, 2014, 01:37 PM
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I do not at all discount the HOHO bus-for one day. Not to Sunday--don't let your TA book it for you. You can just show up.
I am going to maybe suggest you investigate a total tour --just for Paris. You might feel more comfortable--you are young. A Rick Steves tour of Paris could be a really good possibility--I will say UP FRONT, I don't know. I would NOT book one from your TA.
BUT hear me (all you fodorites) a tour could be a good answer to her anxiety, give her some people to go around with, and maybe really give value for the dollar.
This is just a suggestion, and for a young person who has not been to Europe before, I think has merit.
Look at Rick Steves tours--do not pay any attention to the naysayers. 'o)
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Old Feb 8th, 2014, 01:38 PM
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Just an addendum. I think your TA is not your best service from what has been suggested. You need to look further or DIY.
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Old Feb 8th, 2014, 02:18 PM
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Well, my opinion of that travel agent just went straight out the door.

<<Café Du Marche will be your favorite and ‘go to’ restaurant.>>

For 20+ years I stayed in hotels in that neighborhood (7ème arrondissement - which I do not recommend by the way) - and the Café du Marché is the singular most repulsive restaurant I've ever been to in all of France. They don't have a kitchen - they have an abbatoir. Really, it is truly disgusting beyond belief. The waiters run around in dirty, blood-smeared aprons and throw your food on your table. The only reason I ever visited more than once was that I sometimes traveled with people who were Rick Steves enthusiasts, and he loves the Café du Marché, and they wanted to try it. I didn't order a thing, but the filthy waiters and disgusting kitchen were still well in evidence.

For a first trip to Paris, I wouldn't stay at either the Relais Bosquet or the Tourville Eiffel. The 7th arrondissement, though I'm fond of it, is fairly far removed from the main sites I think you'll be wanting to see. There's decent bus transportation from there, but really, you probably want to be in the 4th, 5th, or 6th arrondissements, near the river. Citadines appears to be in the 6th, but isn't that like an aparthotel? If so, I'd make sure there is a staffed front desk where you can get questions answered.

DUMP the TA like a hot potato and find another or join a tour or just keep working with us here.

Now, about flying. I hear you. Despite having been fortunate enough to make hundreds of overseas trips, I have developed a really scary (sometimes) aversion to air travel, despite knowing it's irrational. I have been known to get absolutely whacked over middling turbulence. BUT, first, there are a good number of great websites to help you overcome that fear. Second, and maybe my biggest tip is: If you can swing it, find a flight on Air France's Air Bus 380. You don't even know you're in the air - it's that big and smooth (and the cabin attendants are wonderful, and the food and wine are great). As a last resort, get a prescription for something like Ambien (never done that myself, and probably never will, but plenty of people do).

The HOHO bus is a good overview of the city, but it's slow and the wait between stops can be annoying. I would use that for one day only. Regular city bus #69 will sail you by many of the city's major attractions for under 2 euros. Look into Paris Greeters, natives of the city who will give you free tours of things that interest you (I believe a small donation to the organization itself is encouraged, and maybe you'll buy your greeter a baguette or something).

I don't see that your interest in the Impressionists has been addressed. You'll be amazed at how much of it there is in Paris, in the Musée d'Orsay, the Orangerie, and the Marmottan for starters. A day trip to have lunch at La Maison Fournaise (ask that TA if she's ever even heard of it) and the rest of the day at Giverny would probably interest you far more than any of the options she's proposed. And you absolutely don't want to me making two long daytrips out of the city on a first, short trip. You do that after you've been 5-10 times.

May I reiterate: DUMP the travel agent! Sounds like she's read a couple of Rick Steve's guidebooks and that's about it.
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Old Feb 8th, 2014, 04:39 PM
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The advice very much depends on what type of mental illness. The way you are talking abuot it I assume it is not simple anxiety or depression.

In that case - Ambien is the worst thing possible - what are people thinking of? And I would work with your therapist on how best to handle a variety of situations that you might find stressful.

I still don;t think that controls if you need a TA o rnot. But I would definitely stay in a larger hotel with a concierge and a 24 hour front desk (in Paris many smaller hotels are simply locked at night - those planning on staying our past midnight are given keys). I would also want a hotel that has a restaurant in case you feel like dining in - the hotel or your room.

I often travel solo before or after business trips - and I always get this kind of hotel - since when traveling alone (and I am not fearful) you may just have different needs. So fof hotel I would want a central location so you can walk to some sights (although the Metro is very easy) and will room service, bar and concierge to provide guidance when needed.
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Old Feb 8th, 2014, 04:47 PM
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Hey, Lois. Just get off. You don't get a get out of jail free card because someone else messed up.
Sunday, I hope you will continue working on this trip, but really, maybe a tour would be a good solution for you. You are very young, and it could give you the confidence to do another trip in the future--a lot of other places--and on your own,.
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Old Feb 8th, 2014, 05:04 PM
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Sunday, The Orangerie was my favorite and not that big. I spent a lot of time in the gift shop there though. Great books and everything Monet. I actually walked from our apartment in the 2nd, got turned around a bit but just head to the river and you get your bearings. My husband has a bad hip and he wanted to relax so off I went and I enjoyed it immensely but I hope you can find someone to go with you. It is nice to travel with a friend.
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Old Feb 8th, 2014, 07:22 PM
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There was a woman, on these boards last year, who wanted to go Spain on her honeymoon and engaged a travel agent who gave her abysmal advice. If you want to engage a TA, I would ask at least the following, in this case Paris:

1. When was the last time you were in Paris?
2. Did you stay in the hotels you are recommending?
3. How many times have been to Paris?
4. What do you usually do when you go to Paris?
5. And then at least one question that requires on the ground experience. My friend said I should see the Cluny Museum, how far is that from the 7th?

I am sure others would have other questions.
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Old Feb 8th, 2014, 07:42 PM
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If you like Monet, you might traipse out to the Marmottan. Its lower level is wall-to-wall Monets.
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Old Feb 8th, 2014, 11:39 PM
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Hi sundaymorning,

I’m another one who doesn’t think that you need a travel agent – or even a tour. I don’t think you need a day-by-day itinerary because you never know what the weather will be like on “Day #3” or what you’ll feel like (you may wake up feeling exhausted with the delayed effects of jet lag plus two days of walking). So, instead, you can prioritize the things you want to see, then group them together by geography. When you wake up, you can decide which group you want to do that day.

Here are some examples, including gardens and expressionists:

* Orangerie Museum, Orsay Museam, Tuileries gardens
* Discover the Latin Quarter, Luxembourg gardens
* Discover the Islands (Ile st. Louis, Cite), the quais, and Notre Dame
* Discover the Marias, Pl. des Vosges, and the Carnavalet Museum
* Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars gardens, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Champs Elysees.
* Excursion to Giverny

You can get a good idea of what to see and where the sights are located by looking at a map in one of your guidebooks.

Have fun as you plan!

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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 01:26 AM
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I think there are are two issues here:

(1) Deciding when to stay where, how long, and booking travel/hotels

(2) Deciding what to do in each place you're staying at.

(1) is what the internet has made so much easier, and has dried up commissions for travel agents; it sounds as though you've got the overall choices down to reasonable alternatives, and booking travel/hotels shouldn't be a major problem.

(2) is, from the sound of it, what you're worried about: choosing your options and maybe grouping them on a map so you can see what's practicable in any given period of time. A travel agent, like any of us, could help you with the grouping of sights and maybe prioritising them, but only you can know whether what's on offer in London appeals to you enough to take time away from Paris - and I honestly don't think either any of us or a travel agent can take that decision for you.
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 03:04 AM
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Great OP says they have "mental illness" and now we are recommending Ambien for the flight. This is one of the strangest threads yet on this forum.>>

i am not the person who mentioned ambien, but this is actually what was posted on the subject of medication;

<<Ativan can make a flight bearable. .talk to your doctor.>>

<<As a last resort, get a prescription for something like Ambien (never done that myself, and probably never will, but plenty of people do).>>

ie - get advice from your doctor. no recommendations at all.
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 05:14 AM
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Uhhhhh--I'm getting stressed reading these posts and I'm not the OP!

On SundayMorning, I so want you to GO! I don't care HOW you go! I want so badly for you to feel PRESENT somewhere. That's what travel can offer. A great taste, a visual, a smell can make life seem REAL when it's doesn't seem that way.

I repeat:
Just book a hotel so you put your toes in the water.
Just book a flight so you convince yourself you can do this.

You have a year to decide whether or not to take the damn HopOn. You have a year to decide "Shuttle or taxi".

You don't have to plan one darn day trip until you get there.

Just book the trip and give yourself the thrill of exploring what you might want to do when you get there.

And (wink, wink) just report back when you've booked the hotel and the flight so we know how you are doing.
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 05:46 AM
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The last post is great advice for just about anyone at anytime going anywhere.
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 06:12 AM
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Thanks so much guys. The responses have been really helpful. Most of you have been just absolutely wonderful.

I think I'm gonna go it alone and try my own thing and just come back for advice from helpful people like you guys.

I'm very excited and now I feel like I can do this.
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 06:18 AM
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 07:04 AM
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Gee Lois, just go away. I didn't recommend Ambien. I mentioned a prescription as one of several things to consider with regard to fear of flying, and made it abundantly clear that I'd never used it and never would. Obviously, a doctor's visit would be involved for any prescription.

So glad to hear the OP is up for planning this trip now!
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 07:14 AM
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I am excited for you, too!

You can take this trip one small step at a time by first deciding on the dates you will be traveling and then focusing on a hotel and flight. You can get many suggestions for hotels here, (or in guidebooks) if you like.

Later, you can start to think about what you might like to do once you are there. I think Rick Steves books are very helpful for a first time traveler. He gives information explaining what the major sites are to see and you can then decide if they interest you are not. He has walking tours of the major museums (I liked his Louvre tour) and of some of the neighborhoods of Paris. You can do as much or as little as you like. After all, this is your trip!
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Old Feb 9th, 2014, 08:00 AM
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Rick Steves is to travel writing what Barry Manilow is to rock n' roll.
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