Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ten Tips for Paris on a Budget

Please give a warm welcome to Leah from who is guest blogging on JNSQ this week! Just want to take a second to let readers know that AnyTrip is giving away several trips to Paris, and you still have time to participate! Just Like them on Facebook to enter! Good luck and thanks to AnyTrip for these great tips!

© flickr Moyan Brenn
The allure of the City of Lights can put a big hurt on your pocketbook if you are not careful, so check out these tips for how to have a blast without breaking the bank.

Cheap accommodations – Hostels are fine if you are just looking for a place to grab a shower and snooze but if you want to savor the atmosphere of a Paris neighborhood, check out weekly apartment rates or room rentals where you can cook and hang close to home to keep your out of pocket expenses low.

Learn the language – Don’t aspire to speak French like a native, but valiant efforts to address locals with articulate French phrases give you a chance of not being pegged as an uncouth tourist and therefore avoid the price gouging that goes with the label. Of course, learning how to understand their response is the second part of the equation…

Hit the outdoor markets before closing – Any good bargain hunter knows that vendors drop their prices drastically when it is time to pack up, so if you can refrain from shopping until closing time, you will be surprised how much more you’ll have for less money.

© Flickr Dimitry B.
Museum Pass – Even though there are many free museums to enjoy in Paris, the ones you write home about have hefty entrance fees so a Paris Museum Pass is your golden ticket to unlimited access to all 60 museums -- ideal for repeated visits so you can soak up your favorites.

Paris Visite Pass – Spare yourself the trauma of Paris’ notoriously wicked traffic by hopping aboard their excellent metro system with a Parise Visite Pass. The traveler’s card entitles you to unlimited rides for a single price for a set amount of time – but note the passes are divided into zones so city-wide excursions require multiple passes. What’s really cool is that the pass automatically qualifies you for discounts in stores, restaurants, and sightseeing venues as well as the many seasonal events.

Cheap dining - Learning to eat cheap in Paris requires a bit of discipline but with fortitude you can indulge decadent food fantasies without facing sticker shock. The street vendors have rock bottom prices for crepes and pizzas while the cost of sit-down restaurants like Chartier, Chez Gladines and Au Petit Grec comes as a pleasant surprise.

Luggage and bags – Keeping track of your stuff is tough enough when you travel, but Paris is notorious for pick pockets and purse snatchers, so arrange your attire so you carry your valuables close to your body and just have purses and bags to carry incidental items. Simple but sturdy luggage with locking zippers is the best idea; anything too flashy just makes a juicy target.

© Flickr Aitor Escauriaza
Stay away from tourist traps – As in any popular destination, everything from food to souvenirs cost more the closer you are to the main attractions. By setting a firm resolution not to be tempted by the obvious bait, you’ll find your spending money will stretch much further.

Ask for advice - It is surprising how people love to share their insider knowledge of bargains, so by asking the right question at the right time you could well land a sweet deal. Be alert for opportunists, but don’t be shy about relying on the kindness of strangers.

Buy your own booze – Drinking cocktails and buying bottles of wine with dinner can jack up the bottom line in no time. By keeping your own supply tucked in a handy flask you can catch a buzz for a fraction of the price.

Friday, September 9, 2011

What if we stopped talking about the weather?

You: Wow! Summer = over.
Me: Uh-huh.
You: Already?
Me: Yes.
You: It's like, what???
Me: I know.
You: But? Seriously, it's crazy.
Me: Mmm-hmm. Indeed.
You: Yeah, like, just yesterday it was so warm.
Me: Imma about to shove my fingers up your nostrils until I touch the part of your brain that is making you act so retarded and POKE the SHIT out of it. Fair warning.
You: But like, it's so cold out?

(you know what comes next)

Yep. It was a great summer. Full of beauty and love and RAIN and friends and food and RAIN and bike rides and picnics and cold breezes and RAIN. Did I mention rain? One thing I'm tired of hearing is this whole, wow it's so cold & crappy out schtick. I just got back from vacay myself. The change from swimming in 80 degree aqua waters and basking in the golden rays of sun from a clear blue sky so gorgeous you start believing in God, to the gray skies of Paris in its dirty, honking, frowning, black-wearing glory is obvious enough without you telling me about it every 10 seconds. (Le sigh, I miss me some aqua waters and infinity pools.)

Don't get me wrong, I love talking about the weather with you... actually. You didn't get me wrong. It's more boring than the chitchat I had with my dentist about why her gear gets clogged. (Have you ever wished someone would give you knock out gas more?)

I feel like giving Paris one big collective bitch-slap into reality, because if my last 6yrs here are any sign of the times, I can tell you this:

1) Summers are full of rain god dammit. Rain, rain, glorious rain. This isn't London, but just get the net already, it's not f@%#ing Ibiza either. You will have rain at least 45% of every month. Can we get on with our lives and discuss something more interesting now?

2) There is the occasional sunny day. It will strike when you've finally put away your sandals and picnic basket. Yes, God is laughing at you. They are rare and beautiful and they happen once every two weeks or so. So don't put away the sandals, just ... don't plan picnics either. They need to be spontaneous, and uncomplicated. You could follow in the footsteps of my friend Richard (bless him) who just brings random food from his fridge that everyone's afraid to eat -- it certainly gave us something better to talk about than the weather, it was flat out awesome lol.

3) Then there are those 2 days every July when the sun decides it wants you-kababs and needs to cook your ass until it's sizzling and you actually wish for death to not be so hot anymore. Cold showers are a solution, or your local public piscine is another. You know what doesn't help you cool off? Flappin' yer gums about how damn hot you are.

If I permit myself to make these comments, it's because I used to live in Wisconsin. I can't really imagine weather more detestably cold or hot than in that state. We have it *great* over here in Paris. That is all.

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