This “fyi” post is a little different. It doesn’t specifically talk about an awesome deal but it could save you some money and time, which essentially means money because time is money.
Our Paritaly trip was 10 days long but really, it was only eight days if you count the flying. So, for a quick trip like this, I had spent many months planning in advance to make the most of our vacation. In fact, I planned it down to the hour! BUT!! I only did that so I could realistically see how much we could really do in each day. This way, I could prioritize and separate the definitely don’t miss it from the eh, we’ll come back next time to see that.
Even with all that planning, there are things we didn’t know about until we were physically there! So here’s a rundown of some helpful tips if you plan to visit Paris/Italy.
- If you have a non-European Union (EU) passport, be sure to get in the correct customs & immigration line, the long line. If you find yourself accidentally in the European Union Passport line like us, notify an airport worker and he’ll let you go to the front of the non-EU line. Sweet!! Now I can’t guarantee that’s what they always do but do make sure you’re in the correct line.
- Buy a carnet of metro tickets if you plan to get on a metro at least six times. They are individual tickets and are very, very small (smaller than a stick of gum!) so keep them somewhere safe. You’ll need them to exit the metro station.
- The metro is very similar to the one in Boston and NY. Know the last stop of each train to know which platform to get on.
- Wear scarves. You’ll fit in and look good.
- Women, wear striped tops. You’ll look like a local.
- If you visit Sacre Coeur, take the stairs to the left of the monument (when you are at the bottom, facing the church). Next to the stairs is a tram, which I think you have to pay. It’s called Funiculaire Gare Haute. This route is safe and usually free from the pushy vendors. Save yourself from the experience I had.
- Macarons from Laduree are “crunchier” (like wafers) than the ones at Lenotre. We preferred the ones from Laduree!
- Visit the Louvre in the afternoon and you won’t have to wait long to get in. Also, this museum is a beast so preview the exhibits/floorplan so you make the most of your time there. Your feet will thank you.
- If you visit Versailles, the little cafe in the gardens offer affordable sandwiches, pizzas, and pastas.
- Don’t ever get off the train until you’ve reached your final destination…otherwise, this happens.
- If you don’t have assigned seats on your train tickets, validate your ticket at the yellow machines you see on the platforms before you get on! Otherwise, be ready to pay a fine.
- Research if there are any planned/scheduled airport/train strikes. Apparently, these happen quite often, causing you to make unexpected changes to your vacation plans.
- Get familiar with the city. Look at a map and memorize it. This will be helpful for figuring out which bus to take. As far as I know, there is no fold-up bus map.
- If you’re in Italy for three days and plan to hit up at least two main points of interest (like the Colosseum or Galleria Borghese), get the Roma Pass. Transit (bus, metro, certain railway lines) and the first two sites you visit are complimentary. All other sites you visited will be discounted.
- “Prego” has multiple meanings. Don’t be confuse if you hear it all the time. It’s like the American “ok” or “yeah”
- At some restaurants, they charge you if you eat the bread in the basket they bring out…this ain’t no Cheesecake Factory!
- Rome can be HOT! Freeze some waterbottles overnight and enjoy ice cold water the next day!
- Visit the Vatican Musuem and Sistine Chapel in the afternoon. Practically no line wait!
- Buy your Cinque Terre Card (5 euros) at the La Spezia station. When you arrive at Riomaggiore, you’ll bypass the long queue of those who waited to buy theirs.
- There’s a fantastic little market right next to Trevi fountain where you can buy water, groceries, and ready-made sandwiches and pasta salads at really reasonable prices.
- To get to Piazzale Michangelo in Florence, take Bus 12 and Bus 13 on the way back. Pay attention to the stops as the marquee in the bus seems to lag by one stop.
- If you wait to cross the roads, you’ll be as ancient as the ruins in the Roman Forum. The cars/busses/taxies/scooters don’t really stop so when you see an opportunity, a safe one of course, go for it!