Saturday, June 30, 2012
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Dates: April 16-22, 2012
Exchange: 100 USD= 311 PLN
- Transport in Warsaw (1.80x2=3.60)
- Polski bus ticket to Lublin (21)
- Transport in Lublin (1.40x5= 7)
- Sunglasses (42.90)
- Earrings (11.18)
- Subway 6” Turkey (9.40)
- Hot salami and cheese sandwich (7)
- Ice Cream (4.50)
- Museum of Religious Art (5)
- Night Club Entrance (10)
- Taxi (total 19, 23= 42, my part=14)
- Groceries, incl. alcohol (173.44)
What I did: Compared the “Old Town” in two Polish cities, took some sacrilegious photos at Lublin’s Museum of Religious Art, danced the night away… twice, stocked up on goodies to take back to Ukraine.
- Exchange rates vary wildly, and banks are usually your best bet. Looking at the difference between the buying and selling price of a currency gives an idea of how much the service is pocketing.
- I spent over a third of my budget on treats to bring home to Ukraine. That money definately could have been spent at restaraunts, on activities, or on visiting another city. On the other hand, if you are planning to go to Ukraine after Poland... bring treats.
- The Lublin Jazz Festival was going on while I was there. If you'll be in Poland in April, consider checking it out.
- Ukrainian friends are the best kind to have. They let you stay with them, they cook for you, and they buy you drinks.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Dates: April 6-8, 2012
Exchange: 100 USD= 88.6 CHF
- Transport to Geneva Center (3.40)
- One day hostel membership (6)
- Soda from machine (2.50)
- Groceries (17.50)
- Hostel locker fee (2)
- H&M handbag (29.90)
- Grande Starbucks Caramel Macchiato (7.60)
- St. Peter’s Museum (4)
- Airport locker (7)
- Airport pastry (2)
What I did: relaxed by Lake Geneva, took a self-guided tour of Old Town, investigated the ancient foundations of a city landmark, gate crashed an Easter Saturday Service.
The first day, I arrived mid-day at Geneva Airport and took the RER train to the city center. I had a little trouble figuring out the train and ticket situation at the automated kiosk (I blame massive sleep deprivation), but there was a nice railway representative who came to help at the first sign of confused hesitation. For your information, every train leaving the airport on tracks one to four goes to the center. You need to buy a “city ticket,” which is good for an hour and goes anywhere in “zone 10,” which covers almost all of Geneva proper. If you need to get to the suburbs for any reason, it will cost a little extra. Transportation was not an issue the rest of the trip, as the tourism bureau provides hotels and hostels with free fare cards for their guests, which are valid until the end of their stay.
On day two, I ate my fill of cereal and tartine (toast with toppings, essentially) at the free continental breakfast bar, and used the hostels free Wi-Fi to plan my day. The Geneva Tourism Bureau has a free iPhone app you can download with maps, a tour, plus restaurant and entertainment recommendations—all available offline. If you connect to a wireless network, you can use GPS to help you follow the tour and find things to do around you.
I walked downtown along the lake and got to watch swans build their nests. I had decided to try the tour of Old Town included on the app, as I didn’t see any other free tour options. However, as soon as I started off, it began to rain and I had to backtrack to get my umbrella from the day-use locker I had rented at the hostel (2 CHF). To both my delight and dismay, I spotted an H&M on the way. I went in “just to see,” but ended up falling in love with everything. I could leave without buying the best little handbag for spring and summer (29.90 CHF). I had planned to use the cash for a nice meal, but I do not regret my decision. Everyone needs a souvenir, right?
When I managed to extract myself, I got my umbrella, changed into boots… and decided to have a little break. I had seen a Starbucks near the quay, so I made a sandwich, ate it on the way, and settled down for a little taste of home. The appallingly high price of a Grande Caramel Macchiato (7.60 CHF) did not occur to me until later in the day.
Finally, I got around to doing the tour. The nice thing was I could stop and start again whenever I wanted. The disappointing thing was almost everything else about the tour. It was hard to stay on course as not all streets are marked and some construction has taken place since the last time it was updated. Also, there is absolutely no commentary about the sights included on the tour, although you can navigate back to the “Discover Geneva” part of the app to read about a few, and some places have their own info placards. I did see plenty of cool spots though, and decided to take a long stop to visit the archaeological museum at the Church of Saint Peter.
Museums are not generally my favorite places to visit, but this one is pretty cool as it shows how the area around Saint Peter’s has changed after two millennia of habitation. The church itself has existed in various stages since the fourth century, and you can see the old baptismal founts, crypt, and the exquisite floor of the bishop’s receiving room circa 1300. Included in the admission price is an audio guide, which could easily result in information inundation, but it is worth it to learn more about the parts that interest you or don’t have accompanying placards. I made a complete tour of the museum in one and a half hours, but there is plenty to interest for a longer visit, and it is small enough for a shorter trip, too.
After the tour, I took my things from the hostel and stashed them at the airport. Then I backtracked to Old Town for an Easter Saturday service at Eglise St. Germain. It was great to get a taste of local culture and some free food. I even got an Easter egg.
I spent my second night at the Geneva Airport, which I absolutely do not recommend. There were few (uncomfortable) seats, outlets were hard to find (not located near seats), and I witnessed police roughing up a possibly homeless guy. Sleeping in airports isn't always miserable, though, and can be a decent way to save on acommodation. More on this later.
All in all, I really enjoyed Geneva and will definately return. It's a beautiful, historical and multicultural city with something for every kind of traveller. Take away points to consider:
- You only need to purchase a one-way "city ticket" to get from the airport to the city center.
- Download the Geneva City Application on your smartphone.
- Don't buy Starbucks here unless you really like overpaying for coffee.
- If you go into an H&M, you risk not be able to get out without buying something.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
Sorry to have neglected updating for a week and for leaving off on such a sour note. Really, I have been enjoying Paris very much, which is why I’ve had so little time to run down to the local park that has free wifi.
In the time that this blog has been idle, I have:
Watched four football matches
Visited the Louvre
Eaten six or seven ice creams
Toured the city by bicycle
Visited three Chateux
Toured Chartres Cathedral
Cut my hair
Purchased zero souvenirs
Walked ???? kilometers
I have also discovered that my innate charm appeals to a wide range of Parisians, as last night, I was catcalled by an eight-year-old while having an after dinner walk with my friend.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
It’s a common mistake for students of French to use the auxiliary verb être (to be) instead of avoir (to have), when translating phrases like “I’m finished” and “I’m full.” This has humorous consequences.
If you were to say “Je suis fini” to a waiter, you would have just told him/her that you are (metaphorically) dead. If your waiter is a true Parisian, they will laugh at you in the face before taking your plate away.
Just to be clear, this has not happened to me. I say as little as possible to waiters here, as they are frequently (with many exceptions, of course) THE absolute rudest people possible. I’m not sure if this is a cause or a condition of the fact that tipping is not compulsory in France.
Now, what if you’re at your new French boyfriend’s house for dinner and his mother is a terrible cook? You want to be polite, so you take a few bites, smile widely, and coo “Je suis pleine.” Hopefully, his Catholic grandma is not there too, because you just told the whole room that you are pregnant.
I say all this to get to my nearly unrelated point that approximately one out of every four twenty-something, Parisian women I see is pregnant. By the size of their bellies, I’d say it was either a very cold November, or an extra festive Christmas.
This gave me an idea.
In my constant quest not to be propositioned, I have been wearing a ring on my left hand and scowling enough to make my face stick. This does not work. The predator has a keen eye, and zero inhibitions.
So, I decided to start acting pregnant—patting my belly a lot, wearing the front of my pants low, and always keeping some air in my lungs. You’d think that if it wasn’t an indication of couple-hood, pregnancy would at least decrease desirability.
I realized when I was pulled over by two male ambulance drivers this afternoon that this does not work any better. The only (very irritating) solution is to keep one of my male trip companions around whenever I leave the hostel. A single girl (or even group of girls) will always be viewed as a potential pick-up.