Tag: Vacation


Paris arrondissements 17-20

17
November

In this post, I’ll give you a bit of information on arrondissements 17 through 20. If you missed the previous posts, you can find information on arrondissements 1-16 below.

Arrondissement 17 – Batignolles-Monceau

The 17th Arrondissement is directly north of the Arc de Triomphe and is slightly off the beaten path. In this arrondissement, you will find The Palais des Congrès, a large convention center located in the western part of the arrondissement.

The north-eastern end, known as Batignolles has a bit more grungy bohemian feel and lots of bars and bistros which are popular with “BoBos” (short for bohemian-bourgeois aka “hipsters”). If you head up the Avenue de Clichy, you will find an area where artists such as Pissarro, Renoir, and Degas (known today as the Impressionists) used to live and socialize.

Arrondissement 18 – Butte-Montmartre

The 18th arrondissement has a village-like feel but is often inundated with tourists. Popular sites to visit in this arrondissement are the Sacré-Coeur basilica http://www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/us/index.html and the Moulin Rouge, which is near the border of the 9th arrondissement. http://www.moulinrouge.fr/ Just a short walk from the Sacré-Coeur you will find Place du Tertre, this plaza was the centre of the flourishing artist community of the early 1900’s. Today you will still find many artists sketching portraits of tourists.

Basilique du Sacré-Cœur

Sacré-Coeur Basilica

The closest Metro stop to the Sacre Coeur is “Abbesses” off of the 12 line.

The closest Metro stop to the Moulin Rouge is “Blanche” off of the #2 line.

Arrondissement 19 – Buttes-Chaumont

In the 19th arrondissement you will find the Buttes-Chaumont, a lush green oasis away from the crowds. The park features several cliffs and bridges, a grotto that includes a man made waterfall, a lake, and several Chinese & English gardens. You will also find the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, the largest science museum in Europe, the museum draws millions of visitors annually. http://www.cite-sciences.fr/en/cite-des-sciences

Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Arrondissement 20 – Ménilmontant

In the 20th arrondissement, you will find a variety of nightclubs and cafes, from punk rock to world music. You will find lots of little cafés to have a beer priced far less than nightclubs in the area. The Bagnolet is the area south of the Père Lachaise Cemetery and the Ménilmontant is the area north of the cemetery. The Père Lachaise Cemetery is the final resting place of several famous people, including Jim Morrison of the Doors, Édith Piaf, artist Camille Pissarro, composers Frédéric Chopin and Gioacchino Rossini and Oscar Wilde to name a few. The cemetery has a virtual tour you can take if you want more info http://www.pere-lachaise.com/perelachaise.php?lang=en

Pere Lachaise cemetery

Pere Lachaise Cemetery

The closest Metro stop to the Père Lachaise Cemetery is the Père Lachaise stop off of the 2 or 3 train, or the Philippe Auguste off of line #2.

Each of the twenty arrondissements have their own special places. For more information on all the arrondissements of Paris please read the other blog posts below. Also be sure to check back for more on Paris and Rome after our next trip in late December.

A great site to book rooms in Paris or around the world is Airbnb.com http://www.airbnb.com/tell-a-friend?airef=xvvoz18e89zz5

I hope you have been inspired to plan a trip! Thanks for reading.


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Arrondissements of Paris 13-16

18
October

As promised here is part four of our series on the arrondissements of Paris. I’ll give you a bit of information on arrondissements 13-16 in this post. If you missed the previous post you can find information on arrondissements 1-12 below.

13th Arrondissement- Gobelins

The 13th arrondissement is home to Paris’ Chinatown, which is located in the southeast area of the arrondissement. This area is locally called la petite Asie. Here you will find “Les frères Tang” on avenue de Choisy. The Tang brothers have the biggest Chinese grocery in Paris, occupying several multi-story barrack-like buildings tucked into the Olympic housing project. This arrondissement is also home to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. This National Library holds collections of historic documents of French and International origin including 5,000 Greek manuscripts. Visitors can buy a day pass to explore the library.

Tang Freres

Tang Frères

14th Arrondissement- Observatoire

The 14th arrondissement is where you will find most of the Montparnasse district. Montparnasse became famous at the beginning of the 20th century as Paris’ artistic circles migrated to this district. A few of the artists who gathered in Montparnasse were Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Ernest Miller Hemingway, Diego Rivera, and Salvador Dalí. Today, it is best known for its skyscraper, the Tour Montparnasse. You will find a shopping area and observation deck on the 56th floor with some of the best views of Paris. In this arrondissement you will also find The Catacombs of Paris, an underground ossuary that holds the remains of about 6 million people and fills a renovated section of caverns and tunnels. http://www.carrieres.explographies.com/indexus.htm

The Catacombs of Paris or Catacombes de Paris

The Catacombs of Paris

15th Arrondissement- Vaugirard

The 15th arrondissement is the largest arrondissement of central Paris. The area remains heavily residential. This area isn’t home to a great deal of tourist attractions. A couple areas of interest are Tapovan Paris . This ayurvedic centre offers both treatment and professional training in various ayurvedic-healing arts such as, yoga, reiki, ayurvedic massage, and reflexology. Or if you are looking for family fun you can check out Europe’s largest water park “Aqua Boulevard” http://www.aquaboulevard.fr/aquaboulevard.html#/parcAquatique

Aquaboulevard Paris

Aquaboulevard

16th Arrondissement- Passy

The 16th arrondissement includes several museums between the Place du Trocadero and the Place d’Iéna. The Palais de Chaillot, also named Trocadero, houses many interesting museums, and a walk from here to the Eiffel tower across the Seine river is one of the best sightseeing walking tours in Paris. This arrondissement is home to a large number of diplomatic embassies and is also the location of the famous Avenue Foch, the widest street in Paris and home to many of the City’s wealthy foreign residents. This arrondissement has long been known as one of French high society’s favorite places of residence, comparable to New York’s Upper East Side or London’s Kensington. This arrondissement along with the 8th, 7th, and 6th arrondissements are collectively referred to as Paris Ouest.

The Trocadéro, site of the Palais de Chaillot

The Trocadéro, site of the Palais de Chaillot

I will have the final part of the series on arrondissements 17-20 posted soon. Thanks again for reading the blog! IF you have specific questions please feel free to comment and I will do my best to answer them. You can also share this post or any on our site by using the share buttons below.


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Los Cabos – Cabo San Lucas & San José del Cabo, Mexico

14
September

If you’re looking for a quick getaway from Los Angeles, Los Cabos just might be the place for you at just about 2.5 hours away from LA. Flights from Los Angeles in October range from $389 to $600 depending on the day of the week you fly. Remember that mid-week flights are usually cheaper than flights that originate on Friday or Sunday. Flights from New York during the same period range from $498 to over $700. These rates were found using www.kayak.com. One of the cool features on kayak.com is the price alert option, which allows you to set up alerts for any destination. The site will email you daily or weekly when the price changes and also allows you to set a max price.

Los Cabos Mexico International Airport (SJD) is located about 7 miles from San Jose and 29 miles from San Lucas. I would suggest taking a shuttle or renting a car for your stay since cabs tend to be fairly expensive. One thing to remember though is that the roads can be dangerous, so drive cautiously. I would suggest fully inspecting your rental car and purchase insurance just to be on the safe side. There are several car rental agencies at or near the airport: Thrifty, Budget, and Hertz, just to name a few. You can reserve online, and a representative from the rental company will meet you at the terminal.

We chose to stay in San José del Cabo, which was closer to the airport, and I felt a little more my speed than Cabo San Lucas. If you do prefer bar crawls and clubbing till the early morning hours, I would suggest Cabo San Lucas. There are several beautiful beachfront hotels to choose from in Cabo. There is something to fit just about any budget. We chose Royal Solaris, an all-inclusive resort with 5 restaurants, 4 bars and about 400 guest rooms. http://www.clubsolaris.com/v4/ The rate for the hotel was about $150 per night for all-inclusive double occupancy. If you like to do a lot of exploring and eating and drinking at different locations then the all-inclusive option may not be best for you. However, it is easy to spend over $100 a day on food and alcohol while on vacation, so that’s something you should factor in when making your decision.

There are a few things that I suggest you check out in Los Cabos. First would be the tequila tasting. I’m not a huge tequila fan myself, but it was a lot of fun…especially after the 4th free sample! There are several shops that will offer you free tequila samples; they have the next sample filled by the time you are putting down the one in your hand. Needless to say, I took a bottle home with me. The following site has maps available of the entire Cabo area http://www.loscabosguide.com/maps/maps.htm

Another fun thing to do is snorkel. There are several places that you can rent gear from on the beach and snorkel, or you can take a snorkel tour from most hotels. We rented equipment on the beach for about $10 each. We chose to take the hour and a half drive to “Todos Santos,” an artist community North of Cabo and home to the Hotel California. Todos Santos has lots of local art you can purchase much cheaper than you would in Cabo San Lucas. There are also several little authentic Mexican dining options here: http://www.todossantos.cc/

Todos Santos

The streets of Todos Santos

Lastly, The Buccaneer Queen pirate ship in San Lucas is definitely a unique experience. http://buccaneerloscabos.com/ We were lucky enough to meet the owner at a whole in the wall bar in Cabo. They offer 3 tours to chose from: snorkeling, whale watching, or Sunset cruises on a 96-foot pirate ship. Price range from $49.50 – $78 for adults and $28.50 – $44 for kids ages 5-11. Lunch and open bar included. Discounts available at http://www.cabosanlucastours.net/

*SALE this week (1/18/12) on Royal Solaris through Livingsocial.com Four-($769) or Five-Night ($949) All-Inclusive Stay for Two Adults and Two Children Under 12 in a Deluxe Room, April 15 through June 30 or August 15 through December 22, 2012*http://www.livingsocial.com/escapes/225962-all-inclusive-baja-resort?msdc_id=4-los-angeles

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or anything to add, please feel free to comment below.

 

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2 comments » | Mexico, Quick getaways, Travel

A few days in Vegas…

29
August
A quick trip to Vegas can get real expensive real quick. On our recent trip we decided to see if we could enjoy the city without breaking the bank. I thought this might be difficult since we were planning to stay there for several days and it’s easy to spend a lot of money there.


On this trip we decided to fly, since we were flying mid week and returning on Saturday. Flights on Friday or Sunday tend to be the most expensive, so if you are trying to save some money it is best to avoid those days.


For our hotel I used priceline to bid on a room. I know this may sound risky since you don’t know what you are actually getting until you pay, but if you pick a higher star rating you really can’t go wrong. If you want to get an example of what priceline considers a 3, 4 or 5 star hotel just browse their regular hotel page at http://travelc.priceline.com/hotels/ once you have decided what star level you are interested in you can select the area or areas you would like to stay in. I suggest narrowing it down to one or two areas and increasing as needed if your bid is not accepted. Priceline will show you the median retail price for the star rating and area you selected, I suggest starting your bid at 40% of the median price. Remember that taxes and fees are not included in the price you are bidding so make sure you do not bid more than you want to pay. If you bid is not accepted priceline will want you to increase the bid by at least $20 or $25, there is a way around this. Close the window and go back to the site to bid again.


On this stay we booked a room at Vdara. The hotel is a 5 star resort with no casino, so no smoke filled common areas. The room was spacious with a great view. We requested a high floor upon check in. One thing to remember is that many of the 4 or 5 star hotels will charge you a non-refundable resort fee when you check in. Resort fees range from $15-$20 plus applicable tax. The fee usually covers wireless Internet, use of pools, etc.


Vdara

Vdara Bedroom

If you plan to see a show while in Vegas there are lots of websites that offer discounted tickets or seating upgrades to shows that haven’t quite sold out. Some sites I’ve used have been http://www.vegastickets.com/ and http://www.tix4tonight.com/. Tix 4 tonight has a few booths set up around Vegas that sell tickets for the same night.


Last but certainly not least…dining. I was able to find some great deals for dining on http://www.restaurant.com/ they currently have most of the restaurants at Mandalay Bay and THEhotel. There are also some at the Palms and various other locations. We chose Mix at THEhotel. The atmosphere was great, with a sleek white dining area and unbeatable strip view from the 64th floor.  Ask the hostess to be seated on the Southern strip side for the best view. If the weather is nice you can also request to be seated outside on the terrace for an even better view. The food was amazing and the service was great! The restaurant has received a couple Michelin stars and the AAA Four Diamond Award two years in a row. After dinner we went over to the bar for a glass of champagne on the balcony (drinks average about $16 each but the view makes it worth it). Another place we loved is “Pizzeria” hidden on the third floor of the Cosmopolitan hotel. You can get a huge slice from $3.50 – $5 or a whole pie for around $25. The place is a bit hard to find, located down a long hallway with no signage in front.


I suggest signing up for every slot club card you can get. You can get several comps or reduced priced items. Also check your phone for deals on Yelp or Foursquare. We got a couple buy one get one free drink tickets for checking in at Ballys Casino.
Another deal we got grabbed before our trip was an hour massage at La Riva Spa. https://livingsocial.com/redeem_invite/29021279-adamag?ref=lnk offers vary on livingsocial but you can log in and check what they are currently offering in your city or a city you plan on visiting soon. Make sure you reserve in advance though, we were lucky enough to have them squeeze in our appointments during our stay.


I hope this will help you plan your next trip to Vegas or give you some inspiration to plan your next trip. As always feel free to post any comments or travel related questions you may have!


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