Saturday, 13 June 2009

Europe Get-Away

(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!


aj said...

paghih! beh nye!

mamasita said...

Hooi Zendra..macam glossy brochure lah you punya entry! Punyalah smooth and full of expert advice.

Kak Teh said...

zendra, Paris certainly has a certain charm. I just love sitting and having tea and crepe while watching the world go by. You must do that in Paris, kalau tidak tak sah.

Zendra said...

aj, ajak-ajaklah ayah n ibu. kite jalan iran nak?

Zendra said...

mamasita, i tak reti nak cerita kisah perjalanan - day 1, day 2 and so on. Apa lagi kalau nak describe keindahan tempat2 yang kitorang lawat, terus kelu. Well, ini je yang mampu. GLAD YOU LIKED IT, YEY!!!

Zendra said...

Yes we did Kak Teh. Coffee and crepes. Tak dapat bersantai lama because we had to rush to the Chateau Versailles. Don't worry, one day insya Allah I'll be able to do just that - watch the boys who watch the girls who watch the boys who watch the girls.... go by

Kak Teh said...

zendra, i was also at Chateau Versailles - can you imagine, just a few weeks apart or else we could have met up. There were too many people - and the queues were all so long.

It is such a magnificient place.

Zendra said...

Kak Teh, haha cheapskates like me n family just toured the magnificent gardens - we must have walked miles. We promised our lil girl that we'll see the interior only if and when she studies in France, insya Allah. Bagi motivasi sikit.

DrSam said...

Your beautiful trip to Paghih, with family members really inspired me. Alas, I have to wait another few more years until my kids are all grown up, strong enough to carry my bags - then I will follow your step.

Good tips too.

masterwordsmith said...

Hi Zendra

Aiyo I love Paris!!! Been there twice..first time with a girlfriend and second time with hubby and the latter was the most memorable experience of my life...So romantico and unforgettable!!!

Of all the European cities/towns I have visited, Paris, Vienna and Venice are my that order :-).

I totally agree with you that one can travel with a limited budget as long as we plan and take advantage of great offers and do enough research.

Am glad you had a wonderful time with your loved one.

Take care and here's wishing you and yours more exciting and memorable trips like this one ...


Zendra said...

Still time to further strengthen that back of yours Doc. But with opportunities available to you kiddos nowadays, I'm sure you wouldn't have to travel on a shoe-string budget like us.


Zendra said...

Eh masterwordsmith ni, ingat hang dah tidoq. Yeah I'd like to make a second visit one day, this time with a little bit more french to make myself more readily understood. Off course English is widely spoken there, but they are really charmed when they see us struggling with our bon jours and au revoir.

Saya... said...

Nice trip you had!

I love the alps. When my Austrian friends took us to the mountains in 2004..lah dah lupa nama tempat tu PTSD punya pasal...hehe...could HEAR the Alps when we up in there...that 'sound' despite the silence.

The sound of the Alps.

Makan memang mahal giler lah...heheh the last time we went, long trip, bawa segala condiments and masak in the aprtment...kat luar minum kopi je and enjoy the cakes kalau pi europe...mati wooooo!

Zendra said...

Yup Saya, we all had a thoroughly enjoyable time despite it being a very short trip. The best part was discovering things on our own, no guide nor even a friend, only my 3rd son had been to Paris in December. He hopped over from UK where he is studying.

Anonymous said...

some relatives (not mine...hehe) yang tag along the last time (yearssss ago) shopped like no tomorrow...orang nak tgk sights, depa nak shop shop point going kalau nak hang out kat mall je kan? might as well pi KLCC...hehe


mekyam said...

agree with your travel philosophy, zee. that's the way to do it for those with the wits to wing it.

for those who've never travelled before or much, perhaps the package tour, as hectic as they can be, is not such a bad option. :D

Zendra said...

Saya, hehe so quick to say not your relatives.... tentu depa loaded boleh shopping-mopping. I only shop in Bandung, HCMC, this side of Golok .... places like that lah..... macam kereta low cc - a little goes a long way, easy maintenance. My hubby is so lucky :0

Zendra said...

Yeah you're right mekyam. Some friends have told me they've made lasting friendships with fellow travellers on package tours. So..

As for my little party, I guess our herd mentality not so well-developed lah.

Anonymous said...

yooooo glad to see you enjoying life n living. keep it up and travel as much as possible-lah. been to the Alps, Palus or Wolf in French if am not wrong and flew back by chopper !. was a regular traveller/work related visits while i was with Shell.
presently having many Frenchy at my longhouse, interesting characters plus pretty fussy/demanding but managed to tame them all hahaha,,,,sampai tak nak balik !.
tonight all house guests are ladies, macam running a girls hostel pulak.
loves Paris too,,,,,many sweet memories-lah. hehehe.


Zendra said...

Yo Capt. lama tak nampak. Wah French girls at the Longhouse? Your marketing arm reaches far and wide lah.
We had a tremendous time in Paris, though a bit short to take in everything, but any longer - kita pulang pokai.

BTW, Capt. girls hostel tak boleh pakai male warden tau. Nanti warden kena gang-r*pe, naya! hahaha

Capt's Longhouse said...

Paris est la ville la plus belle du monde et les Parisiens ont un savoir vivre incomparable !. yaaaa
Te souviens tu du pilote fou sur la moto neige dans les Alps ?. On est plus en securite sur mon ile, avec mon chien et mon serpent.
A bientot !!!! hahaha


Zendra said...

Mak oii Capt. ni, CAYA LAH! Saya terjemah ok?

"Paris bandaraya tercantik di seluruh dunia dan dalam ilmu makanan - memang tiada tandingan! Ingat ke kepada seorang pilot gila yang memandu moto-salji di Alps? Sesiapa pun lebih selamat di pulau saya bersama anjing dan ular peliharaan saya. Selamat jalan!!!"

Avez-vous des accidents sur le motor de neige ?

Capt's Longhouse said...


Jangan terkejut monyet yaaa hahaha !!,,,boleh lah tu but its more like,,,, "Paris is the most beautiful city in the world and the people have an incredible lifestyle. Do you remember the crazy pilot on his snow mobil in the Alps ?. I'm safe in security on my island with my dog and pet snake !"
Well I nearly fell off the mountain slope that night but there was an accident that killed 2guys the very next day yoooo.
,,,,living dangerously-kan.

M'cam my French ?,,,boleh tahan kan,,dah mula guna dgn my customers plus also speaking/learning Spainish/Italian/German/Japanese/Finish yaaaaaa.

jgn main main no play play hahaha.


Zendra said...

Apalah, lifestyle dia kata food knowledge.

I just visited your blog Capt., votre Français est très bon! You should have helped interpret for the submarine purchase-lah!

Me just came back from Banda Aceh and learnt one Acehnese word - "ke'eng".
A prize for the first person to give me the correct meaning. Indonesians are disqualified from taking part.

Capt's Longhouse said...

kupang ?,,,duit yoooo

Capt's Longhouse said...

ke'eng,,,pedas yaaaa !!


Zendra said...

OK Capt since u're the real deal and not an anonymous imposter u get the prize. Plz go back to your lair to collect it OK? hehe