(with pictures from France)
I'm not sure how to start to write about Paris, which hubby and I experienced for a very short 4 days with our 2 young ladies and niece. While visiting Paris, we found that it was also impossible not to compare it with Germany which we had visited the summer of 2008.
Now before people think that we travel because we are filthy-rich or are sponsored by whoever or whatever, nothing is further from the truth than that. Holidaying in Europe for families with grown children can be affordable if this is taken into budget (of the children already working, as well) and planned meticulously.
For instance, we take advantage of MATTA fair promotions and avoid packaged tours like the plague, we stay in budget hotels which we book on-line, and travel on buses and subways using discounted tickets.
EURAIL passes are cost-effective if you intend to travel
extensively by train within or across a few countries. Car rental is expensive, about RM500 equivalent per 24 hrs. but we hired one to tour the French Alps around Grenoble. Saying that it was worth it certainly does not do the Alps justice. Being amidst the beauty of the Alps is worth much much more than the car-rental.
We do not normally enter museums or buildings of interest unless we have ample time and the entrance is free-of-charge! We just take in the atmosphere, marvel at the architecture and pose for photographs outside.
The only time we paid an entrance fee was when we visited the Vatican, in Italy. That was because our accomodation then was courtesy of my brother and sister-in-law who couldn't make use of their RCA International (a vacation club) reservation that year. Nope, we didn't see the Pope (hey that rhymes). But there were paintings, sculptures and frescos galore to admire.
Off course food in Europe is very expensive once you do the conversions but the portions are huge and very filling for Asians and typically 2 girls prefer to share 1 portion.
Where we had crepes and coffee. Well, hardly time to take a foto before the crepes were all gone!
Halal joints are easy to find but just be wary because we came across restaurants in Paris with halal certificates on display but which also serve pork chops!
We pack bottles of water in our luggage from Malaysia, thus saving the RM5 or so equivalent per small bottle if we buy there. Tap water is drinkable in Western Euro, so we fill the bottles up with tap water when our supply is finished. Bringing along empty bottles in our hand-bags is also useful when having to freshen up, if you know what I mean (wink, wink).
And by the way, we also buy chocolates from the KLIA Duty-free to take with us on our sightseeing trips. They are cheaper than those in Europe and also tanpa was-was. Great for snacking and for the energy boost.
Walking from the station to the point of interest we are visiting is unavoidable, when we're travelling on a budget. Even changing lines in the subway involve walking up and down long stretches of corridors and stairways. It's best to make sure that people in the party are somewhat fit before the journey, to be able to do this.
Anyway, the amicable summer climate and the long daylight hours make it really pleasant to walk from place to place.
Otherwise you can make use of the hop-on hop-off buses, but we have never used this mode of transport before, I think because of the limited time periods and restricted routes and such.
For us, European vacations are never for shopping. We buy a Made In A Third-World Country t-shirt or two for ourselves, also some similarly-made stationery and key-chains and that's it. Additionally, on our return trip, we buy more chocolates at the KLIA duty-free before collecting our luggage and these become additional souvenirs for friend and relatives. If we fly MAS, I'd buy those little packs of duty-free perfumes and lipsticks as gifts and off course for myself, too.
I find that travelling with the family bonds us together. Yeah we argue on what sights to see, which route to take blah, blah but at the end of the day, we are all richer for the experience.
Well like I said, I didn't how to begin telling about the Paris trip, but this posting had turned out to be more on tips for travelling to Europe. Sorry. Maybe I'll put up some pictures next time (Done).
For impressions of Paris and other places in Europe, why not make the trip and find out for yourselves! Bon Voyage!