One of the purposes of this blog is to teach people that travel doesn’t have to be expensive. My last trip is a prime example of this. At the end of this entry, I have included a breakdown of all my expenses where you can see that I did all the following for just over $600 a person! If you just want to see the numbers, scroll down to the end.
I took my son on a trip to Paris and Venice during his winter break. Since he had to go to his dad’s for visitation at the end of the week, we couldn’t spend the full vacation time away. We departed Detroit on Saturday, February 13, 2016 and returned on Thursday, February 18, 2016. Obviously, we spent two days traveling which left us with only four days to see sites. Freddy met up with us in Paris since he flew in from Toronto.
The upside to traveling off-season was that there were no crowds. Oh, it was so much more pleasant than the sardine effect my son and I experienced in Italy just last July. The downside was the weather. We were lucky that temperatures were in the 50s during the day, however, there were times when it rained and at night it became breezy and a bit chilly. In my opinion, it was still worth it to avoid the crowds.
Here is a day-by-day breakdown of our trip.
Sunday, February 14
We arrived in Paris. My son and I took a rapid train to Paris’ Gare du Nord and from there we took the subway to Montmartre and Sacre Coeur.
We were overcome with jet lag so after lunch, we decided to head out to Bauvais where we were planning to spend the night since our Ryanair flight to Venice was leaving out of that airport early the next morning. When we arrived at Gare du Nord, we had to wait a very long time in line to purchase our tickets. So long that we missed our train by just minutes which caused us to wait around for another two hours for the next train. Gare du Nord is a hell hole to be stuck in. There is nowhere to sit, very few places to eat, and getting from point A to point B can be a challenge since many areas are accessed only with a valid train ticket. While we were waiting, Freddy phoned that he had landed in Paris and that he was headed to Gare du Nord. Minutes before the train departed, Freddy boarded the coach we were in and we were off.
When we arrived at Beauvais, we were not able to check into our hotel since the office was closed between the hours of one and five. So with our carryons in tow we set out to explore the Beauvais Cathedral.
We had worked up quite an appetite since it was 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time, but at this hour of the day (4:00 p.m. local time)no restaurant was serving food. We were beyond starved. We settled for a fast food, kebob restaurant which turned out to be fantastic. At that point we were able to check into our hotel where we took a two hour, much needed nap. When we woke up, we went out for dinner at a nearby pub.
Monday, February 15
We left the hotel early and walked to the bus stop to catch the bus to the Beauvais Airport. From there we were flying Ryanair to Treviso. The flight left on time and by 12:30, we were in Treviso where Ryanair had a direct bus waiting to take us Venice. When we arrived in Venice, we walked to our hotel. It took us about an hour, but it was free and the vaporetto (Venice public transport boats) would have taken as long. This allowed us to see a lot of Venice that we wouldn’t have seen had we taken a vaporetto. After we checked in, we set out to explore. What joy it was to have Venice all to ourselves.
Tuesday, February 16
We were able to explore San Marco with no wait in line whatsoever.
We then hopped on a vaporetto to explore Murano where we had a wonderful lunch.
We had planned to take a gondola ride, but by the time we returned to Piazza San Marco, it was cold, wet, and windy. We decided that we would be miserable if we had attempted it. Instead we collected our carryons and set out to the train station in Venice to travel to Treviso where our flight back to Paris was leaving early the next day.
Wednesday, February 17
The most efficient way to get from the Beauvais airport to Paris city center is via direct bus from the Beauvais airport. The ride was just over an hour long. Since we were spending the night near Charles de Gaule, and Beauvais is a good distance from there, we had no choice put to pull along our carryons with us all day.
The bus stopped rather close to the Arc de Triomphe, so that was our first stop of the day.
From there, we took the subway to the Eiffel Tower. Again, there was no line at all to enter. We purchased the tickets to go all the way to the top. My advice is to save your money and your time. The view from the second viewing platform isn’t much better than that at the first only there was a long wait for the elevators to go up. I cannot imagine how crowded it would be in the summer. Coming down from the summit was another long wait in a crowded area where people thought nothing of cutting in line. We didn’t linger, yet the total time to ascend, take in the view, and descend took almost three hours.
Our next stop was the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Again, there was no wait to enter. They wouldn’t allow us to take our suitcases in, so since I had already been there on previous trips to Paris, Freddy took my son through while I waited outside with the bags.
After dinner in the Latin Quarter, we went back to the Eiffel Tower so my son could see it at night.
From there we went to the Louvre. Although it was closed, we were able to see I.M. Pei’s famous glass pyramid before getting back on a train to spend the night near the Charles de Gaule airport.
It was a quick four-day trip, but overall I was pleased that I was able to show my son Paris and an uncrowded Venice for just $607. He will cherish the memory for a lifetime.
Here is a breakdown of my expenses for my son and me. The items I paid cash for, I cannot account for what they were; mostly bus fare, taxis, coffee, a beer stop, toilet entry, etc…