thanks again to those who had helped me with my trip planning, itinerary, providing me with help, advice, and necessary information to ensure a smooth trip to Europe. Although it was a short duration, it was a very beautiful and memorable experience for me bc I got engaged at the top of the Eiffel Tower!=) It was a long 1st full day touring Paris having visited Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle, Conciergerie, Orsay, and then finally last stop the Eiffel AND having to wait 1hr in the cold to get on the elevator going up. I was a bit hesitant to go all the way up to the top and wanted to just go up to 2nd level, however, my fiance wanted to go all the way up. So as unwilling as I was, i thought that since we came all the way to Paris, might as well. After we got up, it was so nerve-wrecking that I was walking sideways along the walls while he was standing at the edge looking down and taking pics. Then he called me over and proposed. I started bawling and immediately, all my fear of height was gone. I felt I could roll down the stairs going down. haha The next day, despite galaries lafayette being closed, everything and everywhere was just as amazing and exciting to see. The only negative was that the trip was too short. Also, despite shortening my itinerary drastically and skipping Versaille, I think it was for the better bc we could'nt have enjoyed our trip had we jampacked our schedule trying to see everything in 3 days. We will definitely go back next year, I promise! =) Another thing, nothing can beat 2.67 Euro for a good bottle of beaujolais nouveau!! Staying at a hotel for short stay vs renting an airbnb is the way to go bc u have everything cleaned and renewed for u after a long day outside, and the free yummy breakfast included! =) Buying water and drinks at the supermarket is also the way to go =) Oh wait, another prob we ran into was many popular restaurants being closed on weekends so it took us awhile to look for a good one. All in all, great 1st trip to Paris. Now Rome, sigh it started being very chaotic bc on the day of our departure to Rome, the Paris RER was experiencing problems midway and dropped us off to catch the bus at La plaine (a suburban area) The prob was too many ppl and too little buses so many ppl missed their flights. I had a 1:25 flight and it was already 12:15ish. Thankfully, many people realized that it would be better to share a cab ride. We finally got to the airport at 1:00 and our plane was boarding but thankfully, we were allowed to check-in and board right away. Again, when we got to Rome, we were 1 min away from missing the Leonardo express trying to buy a ticket bc the machines didn't accept my magnetic cc (note: many places in Paris accepted my american magnetic stripe cc while Rome didn't) and would've had to wait another 30 mins had I not remembered that tabacchis sold them also, so we just made it too. Close call but were on schedule. We stayed by Termini and the pros: bc it was main stop all metros, buses, airport shuttle stopped there so the most convenient spot ever. con: the area wasn't too close and as pretty as the main city historic center. Despite that, overall i was just extremely amazed and fascinated by Rome's classical architecture. The underground tour of the colosseum was also well worth it bc the guide took us to areas that regular visitors were not allowed and educated us in great detail about everything. Vatican city was a little more modernized, but still maintained its historical elements. Experiencing the Vatican, Sistine chapel, and St.Peter's basilica were all astonishing and a lifetime must-do. (and if possible, attend the mass bc it makes one feel so holy by the surroundings) The food in Rome were also excellent bc I got to go to all the restaurants I planned. Only prob in Rome: many more street scammers lurking around tourist spots than Paris but no pickpockets. And, ppl and cars go at the same time in most historical areas, it lacks a traffic system. =)
@ Stella JMG
Its great you were able to enjoy your trip with the limited time you had. I felt the same way about getting around Paris.
but i do have a couple questions that you brought up in some of your other posts.
Q1. How did you fair with the luggage you choose? did you like what you choose or would you do it differently.
Q2. DO yo think you had scheduled enough down time each day?
Q3 If you had to do the trip over again, what would you do differently, if any.
Q4 On your next trip, do you think you learned alot to be able to make better(?) decisions?
hi ray! yes, although i didnt encounter that many problems due to the help ive gotten on this forum, i did learn about some things in terms of traveling to Europe. 1: travel light bc there are so much walking and public transportation u don't want to pack or carry too much. 2: invest in at least 2 good pair of walking shoes 1 for warm winter walking and 1 for hot weather, bc 1 pair is just not enough (my extremely comfortable boots with fur inside got a little too warm at times esp in Rome where it was almost 60 degrees, and unfortunately i didn't bring another pair =( also, no matter how comfortable a pair of shoes are it will eventually tire out your legs/feet bc they got used to the shape so changing into another pair the next day would've definitely helped. Esp in Rome bc the metro is only surrounding the outskirt of the historical center so theres ALOT of walking, whereas in Paris, there's a metro on every 2 blocks almost. 3: don't jampack the itinerary or schedule because the day never goes as planned, although a general or vague idea of which places to visit is helpful as a guide and starting point. 4: always ask the people about local supermarkets bc their prices for bottle water/drinks/wines are like 1/3 of the price they would serve at restaurants/cafes. 5: it is so easy to get dehydrated while touring so remember to bring a bottle of water. note*: its ok and should ask for tap water in Paris while in Rome they try to make u pay for bottled water i think its bc tap water is not served since everywhere there's a water fountain. 6: bring some snacks during the day from the market bc sometimes u r so busy touring you miss regular eating times and by the time you realize it should be lunchtime or dinnertime, u r starving. 7: although many ppl advise to just wander around and go into any random restaurants/cafe and it will be good bc its Paris/Rome, it is not true. so do some research and pick a couple choices for each area/district in case 1 doesn't work out, esp if its a short stay. On the 1st night we were jetlagged and hungry by dinnertime and tried to go to the only 1 restaurant I researched in the neighborhood only to find that it was closed, then we stumbled upon a random cute looking cafe to dine and the food was edible but not good.
Congratulations on your engagement! Given the location, I'm sure this will be a most memorable occasion for both of you. I smiled a bit when I read about your reaction.
It's good to hear that your trip went well for the most part. I'm sure you learned a lot on this trip, and the lessons will be applied to future trips (perhaps a honeymoon!).
Regarding the Leonardo Express, missing one is not a big deal as there will be another one along in 20 minutes or so. It's good to hear that you didn't get nicked with a fine for not validating your tickets.
I was interested to read your comments about the ticket kiosks not accepting your magnetic stripe credit card. When I was in Florence in June, I found that the kiosks would accept both types of cards but my purchase was processed using the "Chip & PIN" part as that's the type of card I was using. However, other travellers using mag. stripe cards were still able to buy tickets. It would seem that the inexorable conversion towards "C & P" technology is continuing.
Be sure not to let your guard down in Paris, as there ARE pickpockets and scammers there. I suspect that some of them move to "warmer climates" at this time of year, so that may be why you encountered more in Rome.
I'd also be interested to see your answers to the questions that Ray mentioned. How did the luggage work out getting on and off trains?
Time to start planning the next trip!
8: take the metro/public transport everywhere bc its convenient and a cheaper option than taxis, even from/to airport. 9: pickpockets was nowhere to be found but i dont know if it was because of the weather/low season, but aggressive street hustlers were everywhere at tourist spots in Rome forcing ppl to buy roses and help take pictures, so just be stern and don't comply and they will leave you alone. 10: every so often sit down on a bench/cafe and take a break/enjoy the scenery, your legs will thank you esp if having to troop up towers and neverending flights of stairs. 11: museum pass for paris is useful to bypass many lines but don't know why it doesnt include the eiffel (ironically, that was really the only time i had to wait on line this trip). 12: unlimited metropasses are not very useful bc if you dont go to more than 2 places in a day, which most ppl might not bc even 2 places can take a whole day or when a few places are in the same area one can walk to them, the unlimited passes/visit passes aren't worth it. 13: visit Vatican museum 1st if going in the morning bc most ppl are waiting hours on the line to go to St.Peters basilica in the morning, and there are no lines in late afternoons. 14: Paris its ok to have your american magnetic stripe cc and less euros bc most places accept, whereas in Rome must have euros. euro coins very important bc most machines take coins and not bills. 15: MUST JOIN THIS FORUM TO PREPARE for 1st trip to europe bc had I not, I would've missed my flight to Rome, have trouble for not keeping my ticket for Paris RER each time and not able to exit turnstile, not knowing to look at timetable schedule for trains to time it perfectly to/from airport, get fined for not validating my leonardo express tickets in Rome, stumble upon many bad restaurants, not purchase any guidebooks they are EXTREMELY helpful, waste a lot of time trying to get to places and finding the corresponding metrostops, waited on many lines to get into places, not realize the effects of jetlag and proceed and not succeed with my initial ambitious itinerary hahah, not know some customs and norms of Europe to ensure my smooth trip, and much much more. THANK YOU ricksteve and everyone who had helped me here!! <3
thank u ken for keeping up with my posts!! and ray!! yes, i hope my previous posts answered most of ray's questions but definitely this was a pretty awesome, exciting, sometimes nerve-wrecking and mind-boggling 1st trip to Europe. Because although i was mostly prepared for many aspects of the trip due to the advice and help from here, there were times I would panick (like almost missing my flight which was unexpected emergency and missing the leonardo express, etc) and for some reason, i wasn't as worried for pickpockets and thieves once I got there maybe i was too mesmerized by my surroundings but i was diligent and fundament to turning down alot of scammers. (If i wasn't prepared to realize they were scammers I might've fell into their traps). Oh, such as the petition scam children I forgot to mention I met in Paris near the Louvre. I was opening up my daily crossbody bag to get my map out when one of them stopped my fiance to ask if he spoke English. Immediately, having one tight hand on my bag, I said NO and pulled him away when he started responding. Had I not read about that here, I would've been distracted with my bag OPEN and started listening and responding to her as well. *phew =) Also, the rose scammers near the Spanish steps in Rome, they were soo aggressive poking at us with the rose stems asking us to buy it and then offering it for free while we were walking away. I proceeded to scream that I was allergic to flowers and they left right away. hahah
yes, and about the ticket kiosks not accepting my magnetic stripe, i actually inserted it into the slot and then it kept asking me for the chip n pin code so that's when I realized it wanted that type of card. thankfully, the tabacchis were everywhere! =) if you had not told me about them I wouldve been late to catch the train =) and also, the validation step, if I hadn't known I might've been fined bc a guy started checking and punching tickets midway on the train. thank u ken!!
I cant wait to go back next year and plan a trip to Venice. i hear that place is one of the most beautiful in the world =)
@ Stella JMG,
what you experienced in France/Paris was what i did too. I havent been to Rome, yet, but expect to do so in a few years and would expect to experience the same fun/issues as you did. I agree about restaurante. Just because youre in Paris, doenst mean you cant have so-so/lousy food. But im willing to try some places and that can be lead to bad choice too. Its funny that people plan on doing/eating/seeing so much and when time flys by, they realize they missed a meal or two(2) or the next thing to do. That is the major reason ive lost weight on my two (2) trips. I know im hungry, but seeing/doing/expereiencing the awsome things overthere, overcomes my hunger Its also, the reason i now "eat when conveient and close to meal time" planning when traveling.
I was curious as to your outcome because of the many? questions you asked before your trip and if any of the answers provided helped. I know that the first trip is the biggest and most worrysome do to the unkown factor. But after af few days of setteling in, you get a feel for things and how they work in each city.
Many if not most of your first time traveling hints are what i experienced too. IE bringing 2 pairs of shoes to swap every day.
in the end, its great you were able to enjoy and learn from your first trip. I think you will find the next trip easier and you way more prepared.
Congratulations Stella and thank you for the valuable info. I am going to London, Paris and Rome for the first time in September.
I have 3 days in Paris and thank you for validating my decision not to try to squeeze in Versailles. I hope to be able to see Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle, Rodin Museum, Luxembourg Gardens and the Lourve in those 3 days and still be able to enjoy just being in Paris. Does that seem likely?
The food topic in Paris worries me a bit. I have very simplistic tastes food wise and really just want to have the " best croissant " I've ever had. Can I just nibble on a good baguette on a park bench or will I feel guilty for not taking advantage of the fabulous dining possibilities in Paris?
In Rome, I am staying right next to the Forum. The ancient rome area just seemed so... well... historic and peaceful. I'm sure I will get my fair share amount of walking in but I was thinking that if I take transportation to the farthest point ( spanish steps or vatican city ) and then walk my way back towards the hotel during the course of the day it would be fine. Does that sound right ?
Did you happen to use RS's trick to get from Sistine Chapel directly to St Peters or did you go back to the front entrance? I am kinda nervous about the mass amount of people ruining the Louvre and Vatican Museum experiences. I tend to get flustered and just wanna get away from people which I know is something I'll have to deal with in Rome for sure. Did the crowds take away from your experience?
I am planning on flying budget airlines from Paris to Rome and then Naples to London so I am a little concerned about my carry-on fitting their requirements since my trip is 19 days. But hey, I have months to learn how to wash clothes in the sink so I'm sure I will under-pack.
Do me a favor and honeymoon in Costa Rica ? And write a trip report :) It looks like such an awesome vacation destination with the beaches right next to the rainforest but I am too afraid to pull the trigger.
Thanks again for your post.
Tim: As to your Paris itinerary, I would skip the Rodin Museum, and instead go to the Musee D'Orsay. Altho Rodiin museum is interesting, it is quite limited. The Orsay has a lot of different artists, and the building itself is awesome. But be sure to budget enough time to get a good flavor of what it holds. Peter