Sunday, January 22, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

10 Free things to do in Paris

I've been to Paris a bunch of time, but I haven't been in a while. I have a feeling that things haven't changed much though. This article has 10 free things to do in Paris. Here is a short summary of things that I have actually done. 

Take a walking tour of the cityOne of the things I like the most about Paris is that it is a walking city. There are tons of neighborhoods to get lost in and lots of shops to stumble upon, not to mention the cafes. Many streets and neighborhoods have passageways between streets that you probably wouldn't find on a map. It's those kinds of things that make Paris so charming. Also, the Metro (subway) is super convenient once you get used to it (but it's not free).

Learn something new at a the Musée Carnavalet - I'm not one for museums and actually I have never been inside the Louvre, which is free every first Sunday of the month. I have been to other Paris museums though and all of them are wonderful. 

Hear live music and get a bird's eye view of the city at Sacré-Coeur - One of the things you have to do in Paris is go to area/neighborhood of Montmartre and see the Sacre-Coeur. It will be the gigantic white church that looks like a wedding cake up on the hill. It's as obvious as the Eiffel Tower in that you can see if from just about anywhere. It was in the movie Amelie. This area is one of my favorite in all of Paris even though it's very touristy. There are artists of all kinds there and tons of cafes and shops. One of my favorite memories of being up there is having a Grand Marnier and sugar crepe right on the street. Also the famous Moulin Rouge is not too far, if that is appealing to you. 

Do the Avenue des Champs-Èlysées stroll - This is the famous street and shopping area that leads directly to the Arc de Triomphe from Place de la Concorde, which is just west of the Louvre. It is definitely worth walking along even if you don't buy anything. 

Get spiritual at the Notre Dame Cathedral - This gothic cathedral is pretty awesome and if you know anything about the history and architecture, you will be very impressed. Also, just a short walk across the bridge Pont d'Arcole is the Hotel de Ville (City Hall) which should look really familiar if you have been to the Las Vegas Paris Hotel. 

Spend time outdoors in the city's many parks and gardens

Picnic at the Eiffel Tower - I have never been up the Eiffel Tower in Paris either, but the gardens and area around it are just magnificent with people just hanging out. One of the things I appreciated when I was at the Eiffel Tower is how old it is and looks. It's very impressive.

Take in the music scene - We were in Paris one summer during their national music festival and there are venues and gigs all of the country. I think Lenny Cravitz was headlining that year at Place de la Bastille.

Sample wines at Taillevent

Nosh on couscous

Article: 10 free things to do in Paris, France

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Saving money in Japan

This is an article that names 5 things to help you save money in Japan. I would add a couple of more tips to it though. This is their 5 things:
1. Don't take the taxis-They are like private limos
2. Get a Japanese rail pass-Train tickets are super expensive and the JR pass will save you a ton.
3. Eat at convenience stores-enough said, they have more than just chips and candy
4. Walk everywhere-duh
5. See the free things-There are some government buildings that have observation decks and are free.

This is what I would add:
1. Get a metro pass-It will save you money and time not spent of fumbling at a ticket kiosk. In Tokyo you can get it along with an airport shuttle ticket (website) and it's a really good deal. There is also another pass in conjunction with the airport express train (website). These passes and JR passes are only available to foreigners and the JR pass must be purchased outside of Japan. The others can be purchased in Japan but you need to show your passport.
2. Vending machines-In Japan, everything is in a vending machine. Some (if not most) aren't in English though. But they are cheap ways to get a cold drink or snack.

Article: 10 Free Things to Do in London

10 Free Things to Do in London

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When a nonstop flight is not nonstop

Article: overseas flights to avoid if you don't want to make a fuel stop

This a very interesting read about transatlantic flights making fuel stops even though they are "nonstop" flights. The flights are mainly from Europe to the US east coast. In the winter, they encounter heavy headwinds on the westbound leg and have to make stops in Canada or Iceland.