Closer to Home

Some times when we travel I think people lose sight of whats important. I Think the spirit of travel can happen any where, it can be found right in your own home town, it can be in the corner coffee shop, it can be any where.
Sometimes I think we need to look closer to home to find those interesting , and different things in life that make you say  “Hmmm I never knew that”.
I think that is something that people need to look at ojprofijt All rights reservedr consider when the say I wish I could travel, or I wish I had enough money to do that. May be that is true that we need to spend some money to travel, but at the end of the day, you need to get yourself into the mindset of traveling and in to the spirit of traveling.
An example that I like to point to is a couple of years ago, Suzanne and I were in Amsterdam, and we were with my sister and her Fiance, and we had made plans to go to the Ann Frank Museum. We asked one of the locals, that in our mind should have known where the museum was. Well we asked him how to get there and to our surprise at the time he didn’t know how to get there, because he had never been there. He explained to us that he had lived there for some time but he had never been to the Museum before, so there for never knew where it was. The point here is that people live all of their lives in places that are already interesting, they just need to seek them out and enjoy them.
If people want to travel and if they wan to do new things, like travel and have some adventures, like they read in books or see on TV, they need to start a little closer to home, and pick those gems out of an other wise mundane life that they lead and try to focus on them and see what comes of their efforts.

Call to Arms: History on a Paris Wall

This is a great piece of history.

Travel Tips in France and Further

No 1 Rue Royale in Paris don’t miss this lonely little historical snippet 

no 1 rue Royale

French and Foreigner alike walk quickly past this little blue “vitrine” glass box which contains the only witness left in Paris to the commencement of one of the worst eras in France’s history 100 years ago.

On 1st August  in 1914, Germany  declared war on Russia. That same day the French government which was in an “Entente Cordiale”  with Russia and had promised to come to its aid if attacked by Germany,  declared its own military order to mobilize over 3 million Frenchmen as soldiers immediately.

Posters calling men to arms were stuck on village walls all over France.

Call to Arms in rue Royale today protected in glass Call to Arms in rue Royale today protected in glass

The very first poster to go up was on 1 August 1914 in rue Royale near Place de la Concorde in Paris.

The remarkable thing is that this poster is still in…

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Operation Hotel Part I – the search for the right Accommodation

A very short walk from the hotel

When planing to travel especially when you are on a budget one of the biggest costs is going to be on accommodations. The types of considerations that are made also depend on the circumstances of the traveler. For example if you are a young person or you are the only one traveling, then surly a hostel or other similar accommodation would be perfectly suitable for your trip. However if you are a little older and, shall we say, have a few miles packed on then a more comfortable  accommodation would be the order of the day.
For my family and I we wanted to find a good balance for our money. Another factor for us with this trip was the fact that there were three of us traveling rather than just two. A fact of traveling is the more of you there are, the more expensive it is going to be. So what do you do? You make darn sure that the hotel you’re  going to stay at is exactly what you are looking for.

The search for the right hotel was exhausting, but really worth the effort in the end. If your like me you don’t like to spend money on junk. What we did was we took a hard look at what our travel abilities actually were, especially when we were traveling with a 16 year old girl.
We wanted a hotels that were  close to the sites, but yet not overly touristy sections of the cities we were going to visit. We were looking for places that would accommodate three people in a room, as well as include breakfasts in the cost of the room. We looked at accessibility from transportation hubs in and out of the city, and different forms of transportation that would be most cost effective.

We literally read hundreds of reviews on expedia.ca and tripadvisor.ca. and narrowed our search from there.
We did have some criteria in mind when we started looking. We wanted  to be close to what we wanted to see, so a central location was key for us. Included breakfasts were a must and descent restaurants within walking distance. We wanted WiFi and our own restroom, It is not uncommon to have shared restrooms in some of the hotels in Paris.

In Paris we settled on Hotel Astrid, It was a beautiful little boutique hotel situated right down the street from The Arc de Triomphe in historic part of Paris…then again what part of Paris isn’t historic. The room was small, but well kept, It was really a double room with three single beds. However it suited our purposes, the beds were comfortable and there was a very adequate restroom.
On one of the evenings the street below was a little loud due to the fact that there was Football game being watched in the cafe that was below. However, being a soccer fan, this was not an issue for me. We just got up and closed the window and everything was fine.
The breakfast was well appointed with juice, coffee and  tea. There was all manner of breads croissants, spreads, fruit, cold cuts and cereal…we did not start the day hungry to say the least.

View from Hotel Astrid

Two steps out the door, to the left there was little cafe,  L’ Arc Cafe Paris, This little place had a well rounded menu from pasta to fine french fair, My wife Suzanne found a new  favorite in the Beef Bourguignon, she had it two nights in a row! The hotel was well located by two cafes, a pastry shop and corner store that had a great selection of beer, wine and spirits.

One major thing that can make or break a hotel stay is the staff that works at the hotel. On this occasion for this hotel the staff were absolutely wonderful. From arranging our stay to assisting with taxis, they all went above the call of duty. When were leaving the hotel we had to check out early to catch a flight to Rome. The night clerk prepared some coffee juice and Croissants prior to the normal times that breakfast was served, and he verified our taxi to ensure that it would arrive on time to take us to Orly airport. To top it off they all spoke english very well so it made the stay that much more comfortable.

This is just part one of Operation Hotel, I will be posting the next portion in a little while so please stay tuned.

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Paris the CIty of Light – The Arrival

Paris is known as a city that doesn’t sleep, there is an ebb and flow to Paris that can be a little daunting to the novice traveler. Hopefully my post will help some of you ( if there are any readers, that is) in some of your travels down the road, should you ever find yourself travelling in Paris.  
We booked our air passage with Air Transat, and arrived in Paris at around 10am on Sept 30th. The flight was approximately 7 hours long and landed at Terminal 3, Charles De Gaulle airport just outside of Paris. We had already booked a stay Hotel Astrid in Paris, however we had not booked transport from the airport to the hotel. 
We had done some research prior to our trip to determine what mode of transport would best suit our needs. My wife and I discovered that there were 3 main methods of transport that would get us into the heart of Paris. 
Taxi – this method was the almost the most expensive, however it appeared to be fairly quick. approx 45.00 euros 
Subway – subway was the cheapest and the fastest, however with security concerns and and commuter crowds and us trying to weave our way in and out of subway cars with suitcases,  this didn’t seem to be a method that we wanted to take.  
Airfrance – Les Cars – this mode of transport is a dedicated bus route between both of the Paris airports. It runs continuously between the Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports on 4 lines and starts at 0530 with a run every half hour or so. Each line has about 2 stops that are in the heart of paris at various locations. 16.20 euro per person one way. Total cost for us was about 48.00 
We opted for Les Cars, at 16.20 euro, one way, this method  seemed most economical for our purposes and one of the stops was on the same street as our hotel. It seemed easy enough …
When we reached CDG airport in France it wasn’t as straight forward as it seemed online. We arrived at terminal 3 of CDG.. The posted signs, and from what indications were on the CDG website Les Cars had a pick up point at terminal 3,  however the posted signs at terminal 3 were not very helpfully as to what the pick up location was. Turns out the Les Cars pick up point was located at terminal 1 so we had to make our way over to Terminal 1. The trek to terminal one was a bit of a walk. We asked for directions at an information desk and they pointed us into the direction of the Les Cars ticket booth. 
Once we figured out where the stop was, we had to purchase tickets. This is where a costly mistake was made by yours truly. I ended up purchasing the wrong tickets for the wrong bus line. It was a 37.00 euro mistake. The tickets were purchased from an automated machine so they could not be readily returned. Once I determined that tickets could be purchased directly from the driver things went a little better. 
Once we got on the bus the trip form the Airport to the hotel to took about an hour, mostly because the traffic was not bad at all, we arrived after rush hour traffic. There were not many travellers on the bus so it was not crowded, and a relatively pleasant ride. We arrived at our stop that was on the same street as our hotel, so that was helpful, it was a short walk from the stop to the hotel.     
In hind sight, when we left our hotel at the end of our stay, we had the hotel staff arrange a taxi to Orly airport. If I had to chose between the Les Cars  and the taxi, at possibly a higher price, I would chose the taxi because of convenience especially when traveling with more than 2 people.  The taxi brought us directly to departures terminal.