Preparing For France 5/2023

You needed James Bond to get a train during this time.

My last trip to France was a challenge. It occurred during a holiday season train strike.

Understandably, it was not a welcoming time for tourists.

Since the allure of French castles have been calling to me have made arrangements once again for travel. Booking this far in advance have found fares and hotels reasonable – $850 Air France out of Atlanta, and French hotels ranging from $60-$100., (I go for limited stars with good location, and no hostels this trip).

Clos Lucé Castle – Leonardo da Vinci residence during his time in France

Expedia is my forever source, and receive no financial benefits for this endorsement. However, I do have a wee bit of their stock and it’s expensive. Their service is impeccable, and was even during the Pandemic.

In booking hotels I searched the maps associated with the hotel listing and found a helpful little man in the right corner. Clicking on this fella I dragged him to the hotel site. Here a feed of the area appeared with the activity of people, cars, and bikes. What a find! I now have a visual to align with the hotel area.

Love that little yellow guy.

Next in my search was castle tickets. While many have not begun to sell tickets for 2023, some have, and again in using Expedia received the best fares, plus points for decreasing cost on future travel. I do not use Expedia exclusively for these purchases, and in perusing other sites, as well as travel blogs have found much information. Those who write blogs are very helpful, and respond quickly to emails.

Another French Beauty

The final piece of my research is learning French. While high school French from 48 years ago – my gosh is it that long ago,? – helped, need to “freshen up,” so nightly have been doing Babble for $39/3 months. After 4 nights am into verb conjugation, however, they seem to make a game out of learning which helps learn these dreaded pieces of the French language. Mrs. Goldberg would be proud.

A trip gives one something to look forward to. We all need that.

Plan one!

European 101: Basics For Americans

Photo by Pixabay on

I am a Europhile. Unsure of the spelling, but you get the jest. I love the place and while they aren’t feeling the same with our current government, they are cordial, well most of them. And be ready for their opinions..

Here’s a few things to know when you visit:

  • The first floor in Europe is “0,” the second floor is 1.
  • When you enter a hotel room put the room card in the plastic holder next to the door. It turns on the lights.
  • Keep hydrated.
  • Take trains.
  • Ask a millennial. They know English. Recently got scammed by a senior in a train station so watch out for those old ladies and men. I can say this I am one, a senior that is..
  • Smile.
  • Take pictures of street signs rather than writing them on a piece of paper.
  • Bring an umbrella.
  • Wear your clothes to the airport, it lessens the luggage weight.
  • Have coins available for the bathroom.
  • Get GPS on your phone. European Sim cards are cheap, usually about $20 and are available in airport kiosks, and vending machines. I like going to the kiosk and having service but you can do it yourself. Remember to store your American Sim card safely.
  • Know the exchange rate.
  • Use ATMs for currency exchange and do this transaction in daylight.
  • Bring an empty water bottle with you through airport security, refill.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. Those stone streets are killers.
  • Bring a listing of phrases in the native tongue. Learn hello, thank you, and I’m sorry. Even if they throw the book at you as was done to me in a Spanish train station let it go. We all have bad days. 🙂
  • Make eye contact. It helps.
  • Layer clothing. In Brugge this year I brought what I thought was appropriate clothing. It was May and frigid. Finding a clothing store was not easy and luckily the train station had one. Tights and a hoodie embroidered, “New York City Original,” was purchased. Not the souvenir sweat shirt I expected but it was the warmest.
  • Go with the flow.
  • And let me close with that.. traveling is a learning experience and fascinating to meet folks of different lands and tongues.

Sculpture Outside a Portugal Rest Area. Isn’t it great.