Sunday, 8 April 2012

Paris & Barcelona Part 2 of 2

Day 6 22/3/2012 (Thursday)
Woke up early as we need to go to airport for Barcelona.
The hotel called for taxi n we left at 7.30am.

We took Easyjet to Barcelona, only about 1hr flight. We took a cab to the hotel, along the way everything is totally different from Paris. I mean in South East Asia, if you go to Singapore or Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur or Siem Reap you can spot some similarities but Paris and Barcelona...I can't spot any similarity even though they share same continent.

On the way to hotel, we passed by Sagrada Familia with its hordes of tourists...WOW! Turned up our hotel just 5 to 10 minutes walk to the Church.

We reached the hotel and after checking in just as per Adagio, first order of business SAMAK with samak soap

Our hotel ie apartment is in Eixample is bigger (2 bedrooms instead of bedroom when we were in Paris), cheaper and much nicer in every aspect as compared to Adagio. We stayed at Apartaments Restaurant Hispanos 7 Suiza


We rested, unpacked, checked out the TV and later once everything settled walked to nearby supermarket and checked out Sagrada Familia. Wow! awesome!

It was getting dark and we went back to the apartment.

Day 6 expenses:
- Taxi from hotel to Charles De Gaulle Airport 75 euro (the hotel took 23 euro n the balance of 52 euro paid to the taxi driver)
- Breakfast on Easyjet - Starbucks coffee 2.50 euro; shortbread 1.50 euro
- Taxi from airport to Eixample 48 euro
- Grocery 7.33 euro (2kg oranges 1.85 euro, strawberry 4.29 euro, detergent 1.19 euro)
- Travel voucher from the hotel to purchase hop on and hop off bus ticket 12 euro per person

Day 7 23/3/2012 (Friday)
Woke up early and walked to Sagrada Familia. We then bought hop on n hop off bus ticket right in front of Sagrada 20 euro/pax

Same as Paris just hop n off as you like. We reached Park Guell and I suggested to everyone that we should hop off and visit the park. My sisters looked at the hill that we have to climb and she decided to hop on back to the bus! I proceeded on my own, hop on and off to explore the followings and occasionally just sat in the bus to enjoy Barcelona sights.

Parc Guell
Catalunya Square
Las Ramblas
Port Vell

I missed the bus as it stopped operating at 7pm. So decided to take a metro back. again reached home at about 10pm or so and my nephew complained why I always came back late...

Day 7 expenses:
- Grocery 5.56 euro (baguette 0.68 euro, milk 1.25 euro, yoghurt 0.89 euro, orange juice 1.75 euro, oreo 0.99 euro)
- Turistic bus hop on n hop off ticket 20 euro/pax
- Drinks 2 euro (coke n bottled water)
- Souvenirs 50 euro
- Tibidabo funicular ticket 7.50 euro (and donated 1 euro to another tourist that did not have small change)
- Falafel + fries 8 euro
- Metro ticket 2 euro
- Orange juice 0.91 euro

Got home and asked my sisters what they wanted to do tomorrow. No suggestions so I suggested Las Ramblas n Port Vell and Montjuic as I think they may enjoy it.

Day 8 24/3/2012 (Saturday)
We walked to Sagrada Familia again. We thought of visiting Sagrada mercat (market) as we spotted it yesterday from the hop on and hop off bus. My nephew spotted playground in front of the Church and decided to enjoy himself first. Meanwhile my sister took the opportunity to snap photos of the church.

Once everyone happy we decided to walk and look for the mercat, after a while we couldn't find the place n both kids started to throw tantrum. and the mother was stressed out.So decided to take a taxi to Las Ramblas.

We reached Las Ramblas n while strolling, my sis (the 2 kids' mum) broke down, I guess it was just too much for her. She spent thousands of ringgit for the trip n unable to enjoy herself, the kids being kids whined and cried and she had to follow their schedule n I guess being harassed she couldn't be nice to us other adults n I couldn't take that sort of crap n we had a row the night before. Anyway after a while she calmed down and started to enjoy the place.

What we did:
Strolled along Las Ramblas
few halal restaurants along Las Ramblas n we had lunch at one of them.

La Boquera

While walking, my nephew and I got separated from my sisters. We proceeded to Port Vell n my nephew started to enjoy the sights. Hours later we received a text message from his mom who frantically been looking for him. Hello! I love him too and will never let anything happen to him.

Port Vell -
We took a boat ride around the harbour

After the boat ride they were tired and decided to go back. I continued with my exploration.

Discovered many wonderful sights and enjoyed Gothic Quarter Barcelona.
While exploring I stopped by for coffee n cupcake n few hours later coffee n churros.

Again took metro back to hotel.

Day 8 expenses:
- Taxi from Sagrada Familia to Las Ramblas 6 euro
- telescope coin 1 euro
- boat ride 23 euro (6.50 euro/adult, 2.60 euro/child)Las Golondrinas
- La Boquera drinks 2 euro; calzone; fruits
- memory & art game trencadis de gaudi 8 euro
- football jersey 40 euro
- cupcake 1.50 euro
- coffee 2 euro
- churros & coffee
- Metro ticket 2 euro

Day 9 25/3/2012 (Sunday)
End of Barcelona visit. We left the hotel when it was still dark at 7.30am.

Reached Paris to another apartment. This time right at the centre of Latin quarter and the most expensive apartment (compared to the earlier 2). Location is superb! minutes to all the major attractions.

Checked in, unpacked, samak, had lunch. Everyone fell asleep. I woke up and asked the rest if they want to walk and check out the neighbourhood, after all it is our last night in Paris. They declined as they were tired. Wanted to shop but shops close on Sunday! I proceeded on my own, started with Latin quarter, then went to Marais neighbourhood.

Latin quarter
Centre Georges Pompidou

Day 9 Barcelona expenses
- Taxi from hotel to airport 48 euro
- Breakfast at airport 2.80 euro (2 croissant at 1.40 euro/pc)
- bought easyjet toys for my nephews 13 euro x 2
- Airport bag 2 units at 1 euro each
- Airport last minute souvenir 32.90 euro(choc 15.60 euro, cookie 6.50 euro + 6 euro x 2)
- Airport buy - kit kat 5.70 euro, bottled water 1.20 euro

Day 9 Paris expenses
- Taxi from airport to hotel 62 euros
- drinks x 2, 4.50 euro (coke n bottled water)

Day 10 26/3/2012 (Monday)
End of Paris visit. Our flight was in the evening, so we packed n checked out at 12noon, stored our things at the hotel luggage room. The 2 kids decided to stay at lobby with my eldest sis while my youngest sis explored nearby shops. I took a taxi to Sothy's salon at 128 Faubourg St Honore. Ha ha can't believe I'm at the very address that is shown on my skincare tube! Caught by surprise on the price, product that costs RM773 in M'sia is only 158 euro (RM632), another that costs RM412 in M'sia, sells for 57.30 euro (RM229.20), another costs RM362 in M'sia n in Paris 41 euro (RM164) and I can go on and on and on top of that I received free products due to the amount spent n plenty of samples n I enjoy VAT refund of 184 euro. Basically I spent a nett of 1,256 euro n enjoy products worth 1,587 euro. I'm happy!!

Took a cab back to hotel and packed my newly bought purchases n off to airport.

On the way to airport, we passed by La Chapelle at 19th arrondisement. Wow! almost the whole stretch of the street line up with halal shops (restaurants n butcher shops)...hmm too late to discover for this trip ..Maybe next time.

Excerpt from on this stretch of road:

La Chapelle Orientation and Transport
La Chapelle is relatively tiny in comparison to other Paris neighborhoods, located northeast of the Seine in the district known to locals as the 19th arrondissement. The Bassin de la Villette and the Canal St. Martin run to the east with Gare du Nord just southwest. Montmartre is not too far away to the northwest.

Main Streets Around La Chapelle: Rue du Faubourg St. Denis, Boulevard de la Chapelle, Rue de Cail

Getting There: The neighborhood is best served by metro stop La Chapelle on line 2 or Gare du Nord


We reached the airport and plenty of time to browse about. Not as many shops as KLIA or Bangkok or Amsterdam but I still managed to buy something. Bought perfume for myself n my bf. also bought him a box of Laduree macaroon.

Boarded a plane to Amsterdam n same thing again when we reached Amsterdam we only had 1 hour to pass tru immigration and to walk to departure gate.

Finally on the plane and this time it was much easier to sleep. I woke 2 or 3 times but had a nice sleep throughout the journey.

Day 10 expenses
- taxi from hotel to Sothy's 15 euro x 2
- taxi from hotel to airport 75 euros (bad jam)
- Sothy's skincare (by credit card) 1,440 euro); VAT refund 184.20 euro (after deduction of 3 euro commission)
- Perfume (by credit card at airport):
- CK obsession for men 49 euro
- CK sheer beauty 67.40 euro
- Laduree macaroon

Day 11 27/3/12 (Tuesday)
Reached KLIA at about 3pm. My sis's hubby picked us up. End of a holiday...

Day 11 expenses
Souvenir 15yr Glenfiddich RM218 x 2

TOTAL SPENT (excluding hotel n flight):
Cash = 722.14 euro (RM2,888.56)
Credit card: RM5,924.80

Total spent = RM8,813.36 + flight KLM 3,065 + Easyjet RM590 + hotel RM1,726
TOTAL EXPENSES: RM14,194.36 (excluding preparation like clothes, bags etc). I guess if I don't spend my money at Sothy's it only cost me less than 10k. But, I use Sothy's, so better to buy cheaper products in Paris than buy here in M'sia in the near future and spend more money.

Hmm....not bad...

I prefer relaxing holiday as I feel our trip was quite rush but we don't have a month or 2 months to spend in Europe so I guess it is still better than tour group holiday...

Holiday with family is good I would say, but family being family somehow you tend to create some tension when you spent lots of time together and when fatigue, stress kicked in it is so easy to explode amongst family members as compared to amongst friends. But good thing about family, you fight, you made up and everything is ok again. With friends you may not see them again after the holiday :-)

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Paris & Barcelona Part 1 of 2

Salam all,

I just got back from Paris & Barcelona last Tuesday (27/3/2012) I was there for 11D/9N with my sisters and a 5yr old nephew and a 1yr old niece. It was a free n easy holiday. We booked our flight tru KLM way back in August 2011 when they had a promotion and booked our accommodation vide

The preparation took us a long time ie since August 2011, since then, we slowly gathered information tru internet as well as travel books. of course we slowly saved money and started buying things for the trip such as clothing, food etc.

We took lots of photos but they are for private collection. So videos n pictures links that I posted here are from those published in the internet from other tourists.

Flight KL-Paris-KL RM3065/pax

Sim card RM80 to RM120

Taxi from airport to hotel to airport RM160 x 2 (RM106/pax) 18/3/2012 & 26/3/2012

Accommodation Paris 18/3 to 22/3 (4n) RM2778 (RM926/pax)

Accommodation Paris (1n) 25 march RM886/nite (RM300/pax)

Transport in Paris - on foot n metro/bus/train/trams.

- mobilis card unlimited travel for 1 day in 2 to 6 zones (RM24 to RM68) or

-paris visit unlimited travel n museum discount 1/2/3/5day RM35/ RM58/ RM79/ RM114


Eiffel tower - RM53/pax (cheaper with discount card)

Museums (about 8 euro/museum) - RM330/pax (use museum card bole dpt discount on tickets, 2d/4d - RM129/RM194) cheaper with discount card

River cruise RM40 (cheaper with discount card)

Versailles RM60 (cheaper with discount card)

Chartres, train fare RM55 x 2

Loire Valley train fare RM138 to RM231 x 2

TOTAL PARIS: RM2,518 (6D/5N)

22/3/12 - 25/3/12 (4D/3N)

Flight to/fro Barcelona RM1768 (RM590/pax)

Taxi from airport to hotel to airport RM141 x 2 (RM94/pax) 22/3/12 & 25/3/12

Accommodation Barcelona RM1500 4d/3n (RM500/pax)

Costa Brava & Girona day tour RM384/pax
Montserat / Royal Basilica RM704 (234/pax)


Food RM120/day/pax x 8days = RM960

TOTAL ESTIMATE: 8,345 (on the high side, can be cheaper if cut down on paid tours n some museums, for estimate purpose assume go to all museums. also museum entrants consider full fare n also with discount card)
exclude souvenir but include transport, hotel n food n phone n tours.

Pre-trip expenses:

RETURN FLIGHT KL-Paris-KL (KLM)bought in August 2011
- RM3,065/adult
- RM2,743 (5yr old)
- RM179 (1yr old)

RETURN FLIGHT Paris-Barcelona-Paris (Easyjet) bought on 29/2/2012
3 Adults + child = Euro 91.98 x 4 = RM371.94 x 4pax
Infant = euro 48 (RM194.070)
luggage = euro 28 x 3pc = RM113.179 x 3pcs + 14 euro (additional pc)
credit card fee + admin fee = euro 15.57 (RM62.9375)
total: euro 529.49 for 4pax + 1 infant

Travel books:
1) Europe on a shoestring (lonely planet) RM110.20
2) Discover Europe (lonely planet) RM106.40
3) Best of Europe 2012 (Rick Steves') RM103.60
4) France (lonely planet) RM105.30
5) Discover France (lonely planet) RM97.50
6) Let's go Paris (The student travel guide) RM77.90
7) Paris everything you ever wanted to know (not for parents) RM49.90
8) Easy learning french phrasebook (Collins) RM39.90
9) French phrase book & dictionary (Berlitz) RM24.90
10)French phrasebook & dictionary (Collins) RM24.90
11)German phrasebook & dictionary (Collins) RM24.90
12)German phrase book & dictionary (BBC Active) RM29.00

Clothing n shoes:

1) Trench coat from Topshop abt RM300++
2) coat from uniqlo abt RM400
3) 2 cardigans from uniqlo abt RM300 or so
4) long sleeves t-shirts from uniqlo abt RM30 each. I bought abt 7 or more
5) 2 hoodie sweatshirt from China (my bf bought for me)
6) glove n hat from uniqlo
7) few new shirts n blouses
8) 2 pairs of shoes

1) Brahim
2) Precooked Biryani from Cold Storage
3) Maggie instant noodles
4) Sambal ikan bilis (from my sis's friends) RM20
5) Sardine (canned)

Medium Pierre Cardin bag RM290.

Day 1 17/3/2012 (Saturday)
Had KFC dinner at KLIA. Flight to Amsterdam at 23.45. Everything on schedule. Didn't sleep well for obvious reason (crampy n tight space n vertical position of course) but not as bad, still manage to sleep for few hours. Meals were not bad.

Accommodation Paris at Adagio Paris Tour Eiffel from 18/3 to 22/3 (4n) RM2778 (RM926/pax)

Day 2 18/3/2012 (Sunday)
Arrived Amsterdam and we had 1 hour to rush to the gate for Paris flight and we still had to pass tru immigration. Boy! What a process, long distance (from arrival gate to departure gate) and the immigration officer took their sweet time to do the process. I rushed with my nephew first while my sis struggled to carry her 1yr old daughter and the other elderly sister struggled to keep up. We reached the gate panting and I informed the stewardess to wait for the other 3. We were the last to board the plane. Everyone was thirsty when we boarded the plane and the steward n stewardess were kind enough to offer my nephew a drink before we took off. It took about 1hr to reach Paris.

Taxi to hotel, 71 euro (including additional charge for 4th person n 1 euro for each piece of luggage).

Our apartment hotel is at Adagio Paris Tour Eiffel at 15th arrondisement, about 20min walk to Eiffel Tower. The apartment is big by Paris standard but still small by M'sia standard.

We reached the hotel at about 11am or so, after we rested n had lunch we wanted to go out but it rained! We ended up resting n sleeping in the hotel. I went out with my nephew to enjoy Eiffel Tower view n Seine River view when the rain stopped.

Lunch n dinner - our stock from M'sia.

oooh! First order of business before we started using pots, pans, plates, bowls, cutlery provided by the hotel..SAMAK!! My sister brought samak soap n very easily everything cleansed as per islamic ritual.

We slept n woke up early due to jet lag.

Day 3 19/3/2012 (Monday)
We walked along Seine River bank to Eiffel Tower, it was enjoyable stroll but my sisters n nephew complained it was a long walk! We reached Eiffel Tower n my nephew whined that he wanted to climb Eiffel Tower, we wished we can oblige but the line was just too long. We had lunch at Parc du Champ de Mars. Guess what? Nasi Biryani n sambal ikan bilis!

My nephew started throwing tantrum as he couldn't climb Eiffel Tower, so we had to skip exploring around Eiffel Tower and took 'Les Cars Rouges hop on n hop off bus' to pacify him. Cost us 26 euro/pax for 2 days.

The bus took us around the major attractions in Paris, we just sat in the bus as my nephew preferred to sit in the bus rather than walking n soon after he started to whine he wanted to go home!

We took the bus back to Eiffel Tower and walked back to the apartment. He was happy when we reached the apartment.

After my niece went to sleep, my sis n I walked to Eiffel Tower to view its light. very nice.

Day 3 expenses:
- Hop on hop off ticket 26 euro/pax
- hot choc 4 euro x 2 at Iolanda 105 Quai Branly 75015 Paris

- toy for my nephew 4.50 euro
- grocery from monoprix supermarket 17.25 euro (fruit juices x 3bottles (1.84 euro x 2 + 1.77 euro), bread x 2packets (0.61 euro + 1.64 euro), 4 muffins 2.63 euro, brinjal 0.43 euro, carrot 0.16 euro, 2kg oranges 1.99 euro, broccoli 2.90 euro, coke 0.42 euro, mushroom 1.02 euro)

Day 4 20/3/2012 (Tuesday)
Woke up early but got a bad flu n cough and it was raining! We had to stay in, in the morning. When the rain stop we decided to take a cab to the Louvre.

It was closed! So, just just snapped pictures outside the museum. Then I walked around looking for Les Cars Rouges bus stop but gave up and informed the rest that maybe we just walked along Seine River bank to Notre Dame. Along the way, we witnessed the famous Paris scam - someone tried to snatch a tourist's bag (earlier the a girl pretend to ask for donation from me but distracted when her friend who was trying to steal from another tourist was shouted at by the lady tourist n she ran over to help her friend), thankfully they didn't manage to get anything from me or the earlier target.

My sis was tired carrying my niece n we stopped at Seine River bank to rest and slowly walked to Notre Dame.

Along the way, we stopped at Pont de l'Archevêché 'Lovers bridge' where lovers placed padlocks here to symbolize their everlasting love. We had our lunch here. Another Brahim fare!

We walked further and found Marché aux Fleurs (flower market)and few other beautiful buildings and finally Notre Dame!

Walked further and many pictures later, we stopped to rest as my niece was asleep n I found Berthilon kiosk (Many consider Berthillon to be the best ice cream of Paris and maybe of France) n bought their sorbet n ice cream...hmm nothing to shout about. I prefer Baskin-Robbins or Häagen-Dazs

Around the corner we found Notre Dame.

Near Notre Dame, my nephew wanted to pee, we asked for direction but we couldn't understand french n we were lost looking for toilet! My sister gave up n wanted to ask her son to pee in front of Notre Dame! I told her keep looking or you may caused unnecessary friction as the Christians may think we (both my sisters wear heads carves)are trying to insult Christians by peeing at their church! Thankfully we found the toilet within Notre Dame compound...phew!!!

After snapping pictures, we found playground at Square de l'Ile de France just next to Notre Dame and my nephew was happy to play with the other little tourists.

After playing, my nephew was tired, poor boy! He wanted to ride a boat and we found batobus nearby Notre Dame. We took the boat (also hop on n hop off service) and he was very happy. My sisters n nephew were tired and proceeded to Eiffel Tower to go home while I continued with my sightseeing around River Seine vicinity - Musee D'Orsay, Hotel Deville etc. Then took Batobus and stopped at Champs-Elysées, explored the surrounding area and by the time decided to start shopping, the shops closed!

Decided to walk home. Walked passed Eiffel Tower. Beautiful!! Everyone was asleep when I reached home.

Day 4 expenses:
- Taxi from hotel to Louvre 15 euro
- music box from flower market 15 euro
- Hop on hop off batobus ticket 15 euro/adult, 7 euro/child
- orange juice 3 euro
- mineral water 3 euro
- disney toys (from Champs-Elysées store)for my nephew n niece 28 euro + 8.90 euro

Day 5 21/3/2012 (Wednesday)
We thought of exploring outside Paris i.e. either Versailles or Chartres or Giverny, called travel agent and he asked us to go to his office at San Augustine Road to make payment, when we reached there he told us it was too late to venture outside. We decided to walk around the area (St Germaine & Latin Quarter). After a while, the
rest of the group wanted to go home while I continued with my exploration. Stopped for vegetarian falafel at:

Maoz Vegetarian
Rue Xavier Privas
8 Rue Xavier Privas
75005 Paris, France
01 43 26 36 00

After my falafel break I decided to proceed to Monmarte.

I kept on walking downhill and reached Rue des Martyrs. Nice quaint neighbourhood. Spotted a nice little designer patisserie called Sebastien Gaudard patisserie Des Martyrs. Bought meringue, macaroon n lemon tarts. Very nice. Got back and googled. Hmm he's quite a famous pastry chef in Paris! Address 22, rue des Martyrs 75009 Paris.

By the time I left the patisserie, it was quite late and I couldn't get a taxi, so decided to take a metro. Stopped at Place de la Concorde and explored the area and walked home. Another late night.

Day 5 expenses:
- Taxi from hotel to quai des Grands Augustins near Boulevard St-Michel 15.50 euro
- Scarf from Etam 14.95 euro
- Souvenirs from Latin Quarter 90 euro
- falafel & fries
- Taxi from quai des Grands Augustins to Sacre Coure 27 euro (bad jam)
- Metro ticket 1.60 euro
- Tartelette citron 4,10€ x 2; Kugelhopf 2€; the macaroon € 1.35; Meringue
- Taxi from Eiffel Tower to hotel 6.20 Euro (meter read about 3 euro but min taxi fare is 6.20 euro); had to take cab, too tired to finish my journey for the day.

Day 6 22/3/2012 (Thursday)
Woke up early as we need to go to airport for Barcelona.

to be continued.....