“D’ou etes vous?” (“Where are you from?”)
They proceed to remark on Mexico’s rich culture, the Aztecs, the Mayans, the great artists, the music. Sometimes they tell us that it’s their dream to visit the tropical areas and the pyramids. Sometimes they mention the cartels, and shake their head, in sorrow-‘such bad news for Mexico.’
Now, I’m not saying that this will be the same experience for all Mexican’s or Mexican American’s or Chicano’s or Latino’s. This is just two Latinas experiences in France. If we count Salma Hayek, it would be three Latinas. (She’s married to a French man and had a “Chevalier” bestowed on her by the President Sarkozy of France).
The adventure in a vacation destination often begins before one steps on the plane. The word really is what it means : An unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.
Reading travel guides, researching the metro, sites to see, planning day trips are the positive side of the “adventure” definition. It’s my favorite thing to do.
This book by Karen Henrich is filled with tips, links, and insider information- a bargain at 2.99 for Kindle or Free on Kindle PRIME lending library.
My travel pal and I have a great place to stay for a week, thanks to her timeshare option, in northern France. It’s the other 22 days that are the ‘not so positive’ side of the adventure.
Yes, I’ve heard it all about starting early, especially from a TripAdvisor poster, who replied to my request for assistance on lodging options, with a snarky, chastising comment. The other comments were helpful and options offered were B & B’s, hostels, and apartment hotels with the websites listed.
We aren’t too picky but we do need two different sleep areas: twin beds or bed and sofa bed, preferably in Arrondissements 1-14, with elevator if beyond the 2nd floor, non-smoking and no more than 800 Euros per week (that’s $1,000 USD).
Searching for an apartment on line has been the hazardous part of this adventure. You have to know the nomenclature for your search:
Footage is listed as 23 m2. That is square meters or approximately 230 square feet.
Kitchens can be hot plates and a tea kettle.
Lofts, that have a bed, often have a 4 to 5 foot clearance. Roll out of bed, don’t stand up.
Historical buildings are beautiful but don’t expect elevators.
Sofa’s are usually futons. I have to think twice about sleeping on a thin futon for days.
No Linen means you have to fork over 20-50 Euros each for bed sheets and towels.
No util means you pay for gas, light, water.
Ground floor does not mean the 1st floor. So the second floor is the 3rd “American” floor.
Excludes agency fee. These fees range from $200 to $350, by credit or Paypal prior to arrival.
And off the top, it is rare to find air conditioning.
This is what they do in Paris instead. (Fine with me).
There are hundreds of property sites online. I have perused 50. Only a handful made it on my “best last minute search list.” *
These are ‘best’ because of the ease of use, photos, map locater, and pertinent info on the page without having to click through to others, plus Euro converter, a ‘my favorites’ list to refer too and some have a free protection plan. Many of these sites also search for other locales:
- http://www.housetrip.com for those who “enjoy space, authenticity, safety.”
- http://www.lovingapartments.com for the “stylish but affordable stay.” A little too steep for us.
- http://www.morningcroissant.com for the ‘travel smart, travel authentic’ types. Good for college aged.
- http://www.parisautrement.com for those who want to search by “Your affinities: soul of an artist, business, passionate about history, romantic…” Very nice-unfortunately nothing left within budget.
- http://www.tripadvisor.com/vacationrentals for “trusted rentals.” A vast selection.
- http://www.homeaway.com My favorite “Let’s Stay Together.” Great search set-up.
*Please note: I have not used 4 of these sites nor am I affiliated with any of them. I’ve used VRBO and HomeAway before and they were fine. With any travel sites, check out reviews from a couple of sources before you make a decision.
Although I’ve been blessed to be able to travel to France for a month I have been lacking in adequate preparation. How serendipitous, for me, that the Traveling Latina placed this on her blog the other day.
In my travels, and through trial and error, I became well acquainted with seven of these 10 items.
I’m debating on “Emergency Cab Fare.” It’s not about having cab fare but I don’t know about putting 20 Euros in my sock. I rarely wear socks. How about my bra instead?
“Make use of Hotel Safe.” Well, that one’s debatable. I’ve read yes, then no, and back and forth. I use the safe and never had a problem.
One of the most handy, which I hope I will not need, is designating an “Emergency Meeting Spot.”
That would have been very helpful at the Louvre a few years ago. My mom slipped by my sister and went her own way. We spent 5 hours there, when we had allotted 3 hours to see the highlights.
Because she’s over 79, with limited eyesight, and diabetes, we were worried. We had to send security staff to find her 10 minutes to closing.
When she strolled out she insisted she was not lost, she was enjoying. She has the right attitude, but the rest of us missed getting to the Musee d’ Orsay before it closed.
I’d venture to say that the “Emergency Meeting Spot” should not be a crowded area-leaves out Eiffel and Champs Elysees. How about just meeting back at the apartment or hotel.
“Information About Your Accounts & Will.” Oh, dang, now I have to tell the kids where the living trust is and my account access numbers.
I’m sure they’ll read my Will and see what’s in store for them, before I pass on to the last great travel site.
And, I do not plan to “Purchase Evacuation Insurance” for a remote location because as third World as I have traveled is tent camping. But I do think this is excellent advice.
My friend and traveling sister is Amada, my writing group leader, award winning childrens book author, and traveler extraordinaire. She has a tip too:
#11: Write down emergency phone numbers, passport/visa number, medications, health insurance providers, and any serious allergies on an index card. Trade with your travel partner.
This info can go on the back of this free card.
#12: And lastly, from a site I cannot remember, but it’s not my idea to claim, is carry a business card from the hotel where you are staying. If you get turned around, dazed, confused, or just plain tired of walking you can hand the card to a taxi cab driver. He/she can zip you back to your temporary home.
And don’t forget that you have the equivalent of $20 in your shoe or bra for the trip back.
Let me know if you have any emergency tips for traveling. The more the better.