On my incredible first visit to Paris, France-home of amazing places like the Louvre Museum, the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, I dined on rich french cuisine, enjoyed croissants and Expresso in the quiet, sweet early morn. I ventured out to Little Africa and took in the wares of many cultures. I hope you enjoy my blog on this amazing destination. Do visit Old Gay Paris' in the very near future! Happy Travels!
Where to Stay in Paris
When selecting hotel lodging in Paris, Francis, research the Arrondissements in the surrounding areas of your hotel. An arrondissement is the specific area or neighborhood where you hotel is located and will tell you if your hotel is located in an upscale or shabby chic community. You can also find out things like the crime rate? Are there businesses in the area or is it mostly residential? Answering these questions will help you choose the right place. As always, read at least 3 recent travel reviews (5 is better) on a reputable site (Trip Advisor, Hotels.com or Expedia). Remember, what is 4 or 5 Star in America, is not the same as 4 or 5 stars in another country.
During my visit to Paris, we stayed at two hotels. Our first night was at a good old fashioned Holiday Inn Express in Vélizy-Villacoublay, France located about 2o minutes from Charles De Gaulle Airport. Moderately priced at $120 Euros, the cost included a full breakfast that was truly something to write home about. Fresh fruit, gourmet coffee, boiled eggs, sparkling water (the good kind), fresh squeezed OJ, carved meats and of course those delicious croissants that Paris is so famous for were all on the buffet menu. The rooms were what I call "Paris small," but VERY clean and neat. The customer service was superb. The only downside is the distance from the airport and to the city but for a temporary stay, this place was perfect. If I had more time and was renting a car, I would've stayed here much longer just for the breakfast and the hospitality.
The longer part of our stay we were booked at the Hotel Ampere which was just minutes from the Lourve Museum. This is a great place for first time visitors and those who will soon return like myself! Hotel Ampere is in a safe neighborhood with tons of eateries and shops. It is elegant, clean and upscale. The rooms have robes, slippers, refrigerators, cable TV and complimentary tea and tea pots. Hotel Ampere is central to all the places you want to visit in Paris. The hotel rooms are spacious and well appointed. There is a daily buffet style breakfast. They have an open seating bar and a lovely sitting room just off a quaint garden. The staff are polite and knowledgeable and speak fluent english. I highly recommend this property.
I typically book my hotel lodging through discount web sites like Hotels.com, Expedia.com and others. A super cool tip I want to share on this blog is a relatively new airline called, "Wow Air," which has great prices for trips to Europe and abroad. I got 3 round trip tickets in premium seating for under $2k on Wow Airlines!!!! I had a long layover in Iceland which was awesome. Next time, I'll book extra time in Iceland. Watch my blog for an incredible update on this best kept international destination....
Getting Around in Paris
The trains are the cheapest way to get around. They also have buses, just like the U.S. But for a more personal experience, I highly recommend using either Uber or let the hotel concierge book you a car. The cars driven by Uber drivers are mostly new, some are even luxurious and the drivers know the city. Do note that some Uber drivers do not speak English but they do understand enough to get you where you need to go.
Making Your Money Work in France
I was shocked by the exchange rate for U.S. dollars into Euros. I went to the bank prior to going to Europe and was offered $175 in Euros for $400 U.S. dollars. Needless to say, I put my money back in my pocket. I found out that the exchange rate was much better in France. I also saved a considerate amount by using my debit card to pay for purchases instead of cash. When I needed cash, I took it off my debit card from the ATM. They also had currency exchange places in the city which offered a decent rate for American dollars to Euros as well.
Dining in Paris
Food is very good in Paris! Surprisingly, small corner markets and little eateries offer inexpensive, fresh pre-packaged meals, food to order and daily made sandwiches that are typically delicious. If you're eating on a budget in Paris, these places are your best friend.
Mealtime is an important time in France. You frequently see families out walking together looking for a good place to eat during dinner hours. Parisians often dress up a little for dinner and some places require a suit jacket or collared shirt for entry. It won't hurt to call the restaurant and find out if they have a dress code or if you need reservations.
I found a fabulous little diner in Paris called Breakfast in America that serves a hearty American breakfast at a wonderful price. A full breakfast with juice and coffee was $10-$12 plus gratuity. The place was clean and neat, had good customer service and had a juke box with rock and roll hits for your listening pleasure while you get your grub on.
Places to Go in Paris
Do your research before visiting the major Tourist Destinations in Paris. Even popular places like the Lourve Museum have unexpected closures on non-traditional holidays. Do check before you book your your flight to make sure you'll be able to visit your fav spots. Ground transportation was covered earlier in this blog. Getting to key tourists spots is fairly easy because everybody is going. Touropia.com and Parispass.com offer package deals for multiple destinations. Be sure to read the fine print on these web sites. Also keep in mind that their offices may not have people you can call and ask questions after you purchase your tickets. I can't emphasize reading the fine print enough.
Be sure to bring clothes you can layer and bring comfortable walking shoes. Paris is a walking town and biking and walking is the Paris way. But for Americans or other out of town visitors, ground transportation with a group may be the best bet until you learn your way around.
Watch my Travel Blog for more tips about international and U.S. travel. I spend a lot of time researching the best hotel properties and airlines so that my followers can have the most wonderful experience possible! Bonjour!
Ifalade TaShia Asanti, Creator/Producer-Where I Go @ officialtashiaasanti.com
Brazil is a must do destination for all who love education, culture, amazing food and incredible scenery. My trip was nothing short of a dream.
Getting to Brazil
I highly suggest working with a travel agent. Zen Biz Travel is my number one service when I book group trips or need a professional to handle the details. Laurence Pinckney is professional, courteous and VERY experienced. Whether its a family vacation or a family reunion--he will make sure you and your group have a great time.
I flew on TAM Airlines. The price was competitive and the trip was good. Brazil does require visas for certain parts of the country. Be sure to do your homework so your papers and passport is in order. There is also the cruise option for certain ports in Brazil. But this is a destination that you need time in to truly get the most of the experience. I recommend flying.
Lodging in Bahia
As always, do your research and read the reviews. At least 3 current reviews on a reputable web site like Trip Advisor.com. Bahia has incredible beachfront hotels at very affordable prices. Also remember, 4 star in Brazil is different from 4 star in the U.S. Read the reviews and select a property who has the amenities that are most important to you.
I stayed at the Grande Hotel Da Barra. It was a lovely hotel with many rooms having a direct view of the beach. The price includes a daily breakfast buffet with delicious foods, pastries, egg dishes, meats, fresh fruit, Brazilian coffee, juice and tea. The service was impeccable and the people were so warm and police. We also had local transportation to tourist sites for shopping. When I traveled there Carnival was just about to start. I was able to see Brazilians practicing for the parade in their fabulous world renowned costumes.
There was a pool on site and a working elevator. There was a concierge (English was limited). who was happy to try to help us with all our requests. The room was spacious and clean. Our room had a balcony for early morning meditation and ocean gazing.
Stores, restaurants and great shopping were within walking distance of this hotel. As with any big city, night time does bring out some safety issues. Proceed as you would if you were in New York or any other metropolitan city during the night. A word about leaving your balcony door open at night--Brazil has a generous offering of harmless lizards. I did find one in my purse one morning after sleeping with the door open all night. Smile. I released her with love and a brief yelp. LOL.
Where to Eat in Bahia
The food in Bahia is farm to table fresh. Brazil has a wealthy of culinary experts who cater to every palate. The group I traveled with was primary vegetarian. We were fortunate to have a great choices for delicious Brazilian fanfare! One of my favorites was Grão de Bico. They serve traditional food without the meat. Coconut rice, black beans, fried plantains, green salad, fresh fruit and a variety of cooked vegetables seasoned to perfection. Bahia also has a staple of buffets that serve numerous vegetarian and vegan dishes. Ask locals for their recommendation. Bring pants that expand because the food is to die for in this country!
Ground Transportation in Bahia
Our travel guide booked us a van for local touring. It was a Mercedes Benz tour van with good air conditioning which is VERY important in Bahia. I highly recommend going with a group and traveling during the day with a small group of people for safety reasons. Taxi or private cars should be booked through the hotel.
Destinations in Bahia
Our itinerary was historic. If you can find someone who really knows Bahia to take the trip with you or get a local tour guide who speaks good English to take you around, that is the best way to see the many beautiful sites in this country. Our group did some off grid stops that were simply incredible.
The Afro Brazilian Museum is a must see. We also visited the School for Capoeira Studies where this ancient martial art was born and the masters are trained. We went to the Steven Biko Institute and met a brilliant group of young scholars who are in law school. We visited Terriero De Cobre and Terriero Casa De Blanca, two of the oldest and most distinguished Candomble religious communities in Bahia. We were able to attend several festivals for the Orixa which is an indigenous spiritual ceremony to honor the Gods of the Yoruba.
We also visited some of the beautiful ancient churches in Bahia including Igreja Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia which is one of the oldest. Do take the church tour while in Bahia. The artwork and architecture is like nothing you've ever seen. The link below is a guide to the most popular churches in Bahia.
Making Your Money Work in Bahia
The U.S. dollar still gives you more money in Brazilian dollars. So you can shop your little heart out and still have a few pennies to take home. Banks give excellent exchange rates in Bahia but there are also small checking cashing places where you can exchange your dollars at a better rate. Ask the hotel front desk or talk to a local for good recommendations.
TaShia's Bahia Tips & Wisdom
Bahia has invisible little bugs the locals call Mimi's that bite. You feel a sudden pinch and soon thereafter see a bump on your body that itches pretty bad. I highly suggest you bring insect repellent and wear long sleeve and long leg pants at night. Don't wear perfume as its like a magnet the Mimi's and other insects.
If you're traveling Coach on the plane, do wear lose clothes and remember to get up and walk every few hours. Also remove your shoes and let your feet relax while you are up in the air to avoid water retention.
Link to Grande Hotel Da Barra
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SHORT LIST OF MY INCREDIBLE DESTINATIONS
Grande Barra Hotel-Salvador De Bahia, Brazil
La Concha Renaissance Hotel-San Juan, Puerto Rico
Mayfair Hotel-London, England
Holland America Cruises-St. Lucas, BVI
Carnival Cruises-St. Martin, BVI
Carnival Cruises-Falmouth, Jamaica
Ritz Carlton-St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
Grand Sol Mar Resort-Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Fairmont Hotel-Kona, Hawaii
Ritz Carlton Hotel-Marina Del Rey, California
These are just some of my amazing destinations! Invite me to your resort, golf club, hotel, bed & breakfast inn, retreat center, city, state or country and I will not only write a blog here on my web site where thousands visit everyday to get my travel advice--I will publish your article in one of the many newspapers or magazines I write for and post my reviews on social media. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for info on how to bring me to your destination. Where I Go....the people follow. Start reaping the benefits of my press and publicity today!!!!
In the Wind--Ifalade TaShia Asanti
where i go, TaShia's travel Blog
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