Where Worlds Intersect

There are tons of movies in the English-speaking language that depicts Paris as the city of lights. Illustrating how the streets that are lined with lights and love is in the air.

Being in Paris, I can see that there is possibly love in the air, because there were love birds all around the city and a couple was formed in our group. However, the streets are not lit up as I’ve seen in the movies.

In the Woody Allen movie, “Midnight in Paris” the streets surrounding the Arc De Triompe is filled with lights after dark, However, this was not the case when I visited the Arc.

The view from the Arc is absolutely amazing. The hike up the staircase is vigorous and treacherous, and exhaustion, but all worth it once you have reached the top.

One can see all the streets that intersect at the worlds largest intersection, as well as a great view of the city of Paris and the Eiffel tower.

Inside the Arc, one can read up on the history as well as visit a gift shop that is really inexpensive, compared to souvenir shops throughout the city.

Sure I visited the Arc during the day, but I was able to see there were no lights on the trees surrounding it. There was also no lights when I drove past it while riding in a taxi one late night.

A sight for sore eyes, whether night or day. If you visit Paris, this is a must stop.

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Bonjour, Welcome to the Future


copyright Maggie Blakemore

Since Paris is 7 hours away from my home town, when we touched down in the city, it was like being in the future and feeling like a whole day has been lost. After a little wait for our TNCIS program director, we were off for a fantastic adventure.

The first night in a new city is always the most adventurous evening. Sure you may be tired and run down from the travel to arrive to the place, but you seek adventure and excitement.

The first night in Paris was one of the best nights in Paris. The Eiffel Tower is even more amazing in person. The food is more than expected, as far as cost, but less than expected as far as flavor.

After the first night in Paris, I was in love with the city of lights/love, but exhausted from all the walking. It may be just my imagination, but everything seems uphill. We stayed in the Montmartre area, so everything may have actually been down hill from there.

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Leaving Home

Just before embarking on a new journey, there are a few things that must be done before leaving home.

Go to your local post office and fill out a form to stop the delivery of your mail during the duration of your trip.

Turn off your water heater. This was something that I was kinda of afraid to do since it initials working with my hands, which I’m not good at doing unless its creative work.

Unplug all major appliances. You may want to leave the fridge on if there is meat in the freezer.

Turn off your central air and heat unit. Have someone turn it on a day before you arrive home.

Have the newspaper company stop your papers for the duration of your trip. I requested for my paper to be stopped weeks ago, with no luck. Now I have to get someone to pick up the papers.

If you are going to be gone longer than a week, you will need someone to maintain your lawn.

Also make sure to set the automatic lights.


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A Hostel Change/ Caulaincourt

courtesy of hostels.com

Our group has changed the hostel in which it will be staying while in Paris. We will say Aloha (goodbye) to the Aloha Hotel before we get a chance to say hello.

Now we will be staying at the Hotel Caulaincourt, which the website describes as charming. It is further away from the Eiffel tower however next to Montmarte and le Sacré-Coeur and walking distance to the Moulin Rouge.

Reviewed as basic and clean with a friendly staff.

WiFi is available in the common area.

Free continental buffet breakfast that is said to include croissants and juices.

There are also maps available for free, which can come in handy when taking the train to the city center. The train metro is said to be about a few minutes walk from the hostel.

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Amsterdam Vondelpark

courtesy of stayokay.com

Located in the middle of Vondelpark and about  45 minutes away from the town center, Amsterdam Vondelpark is described to be a nice basic hostel.

According to reviews it is said to be clean with friendly staff. However there have been some nights of loud music waking all guest on accident.

Linens for the bed are provided however there are no towels. Towels can be purchased at the front desk at €4.50 per towel.

There is said to be a supermarket close by just in case there is anything that you need during your stay.

In the mornings there is a breakfast buffet that is said to have several types of meats and cheeses along with boiled eggs, breads, and much more for a hearty, healthy meal. In the evenings, one can enjoy a beer or wine in the bar.

Categories: Abroad, Amsterdam, Before, Hotels, Netherlands | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Phone Home

I have the Android HTC, EVO phone through Sprint. Each month after taxes and insurance I pay over $100 to have all the features that I think I need. As I prepared for my trip to Europe, I contacted Sprint to include an international calling and data plan on my phone.

This is impossible, because my phone is not a worldmode phone, which would allow me to be able to use the phone in may different countries. Also Sprint does not offer the International Data Pack for the European countries that I will travel, which are Belgium, France, and The Netherlands.

This really sucks because I feel lost without my phone. I like to text, use the GPS, browse the web, send pictures, and on rare occasions, I like to use my phone to talk to people. According to Sprint, I will only be able to use my phone for wireless internet. It would be wishful thinking to assume that there will be an abundance of Hot Spots for me to use my phone to send messages.

There are international prepaid phones that can be purchased to use for traveling abroad.  Sprint provided me with the number for BrightRoam. This company offers several different worldwide phones and data packages can be added to the phone. The cost for a text message is 49 cents for outgoing messages, while incoming is free. This can become expensive if not careful.

Since I usually pay no mind to the amount of text messages that I send, I have decided to take my phone and contact anyone that I will need via Skype, whenever  WiFi is available.

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Cash that Cost

Traveling is an adventure that is great and should be enjoyed by all. However, the cost of the travel is not so much an adventure.

Traveling to a different country is just down right expensive. First, just getting there is going to cost a pretty penny. Once you arrive you have to pay for a place to stay. Unless you have family and friends, who are willing to put you up for a while, you will pay for a hotel. Of course you will want to visit all the sites possible, eat all the foreign cuisine, and spend time doing what people of the country do, just to get a feel of life in this foreign country.

Yesterday, I called to let my bank, First Tennessee, to let them know when and where I will be traveling through the month of June. This is so they will not stop my credit cards when they notice items being purchased in Europe. The customer service representative informed me that when using my debit card in Europe, there are two options.

1. Debit: Using my pin for a transaction will cost conversion price of 1% of the total purchase.

2. Credit: Using the card without the pin number will cost a conversion price of 3% of the total purchase.  

I was unable to purchase Euros while on the phone, so I had to go into my local branch.

While in the bank, I spoke with two ladies, who let me know that the exchange rate of American dollars to Euros changes frequently throughout the day. I though that the price changed daily. To order Euro it is only a $7.00 charge and shipping fee of anything les than $300.00. $17.00 dollars don’t seem like a bad deal, but carrying cash makes me extremely nervous.

So which is better, bringing cash that you have to be super careful not to lose or have stolen, or spending up to 3% more than you intended? My plan is to be cheap and not make many purchases; I’m already losing money because of the price of the Euro.

Categories: Abroad, Amsterdam, Brussels, Netherlands, Paris, Travel Plans | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

A Summer in Greece

I had a chance to speak with a fellow student at Vol State, who traveled with TnCIS last summer to Greece. Below, you can check out what she had to say about her journey to a new place. You can also check out the sound and slide of her trip.

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It’s Like Riding a Bike

Several years have passed since I last rode a bicycle, but legend says that you never forget.

Bicycling in Amsterdam is a Dutch experience that I am looking forward to. With such a large city and huge population, a convenient way to maneuver traffic is on two wheels.

Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world, that offers several paths, storage garages, and racks for bikes. One just needs to remember to lock up the bike, because the city is also known for the theft of bicycles.

There are several different types of bikes available to ride and these bikes can be rented at bicycle shops throughout Amsterdam.

When biking in Amsterdam, one needs to know where to bike, so always watch for the signs. Also the traffic is to the right, so stay with the flow of traffic. As long as I can remember to keep my hands on the handle bars and give the right away, then I should be fine on a bike.

Before heading off on your excursion, check the route planner to ensure you will be on the right path.

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Dinner and a Show

The Moulin Rouge, not the Nicole Kidman movie, but the actual venue in Paris, is a place at one time or another, everyone has heard a little something about. If your like me, you’ve heard of it, but your just not quite sure of what it is.

The famous cabaret has been open for 120 years. From the inside one can be dazzled by the  authentic frescos columns with original posters of the artists who have performed on the stage of the cabaret.

When I think of it, I think of burlesque dancers and a room full of smoke while someone plays music from the early 20th century. While in fact its smoke free in the theater, hall, entrance, and cabaret.

On my visit to Paris, I hope to at least be able to visit the building itself, if I’m unable to watch a show. I would really like to see the Freerie show that has 80 artist including 60 girls that has been recruited world-wide, with thousands of costumes and feathers with sequins and rhinestone made in the most famous Parisian workshops.

The only thing that may stop me, is the price for tickets. The minimum price for a ticket for a show with no beverages is 95 Euros. The price for dinner and a show ranges from 175 to 200 Euro. There is absolutely no photography allowed in the theater and elegant attire is required to attend.

If the Moulin Rouge itself is too expensive, they have recently purchased a club.

Previously “Place Blanche,” currently “La Machine du Moulin Rouge” a club that offers three atmosphere, just opened after being renovated.

La Machine du Moulin Rouge atmosphere consist of:
The Champagne Bar (Bubble Bar) – A place to unwind after work.
The Central – Venue which can hold 800 people for concerts.
The Chaufferie – Dance floor and smoking machinery to seduce clubbers.


Categories: Abroad, Before, Entertainment | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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