Travelling with the fam (family) has its pros and cons, but with my family it’s always pros. My fam and I typically do some sort of travel together once a year and it’s nothing short of amazing. What’s your experience with traveling with your family and would you do it again? Why or why not?
This blog post will lay out part one of my trip to Europe, how I got my flight tickets for free and why traveling with my family was so dope.
Europe is full of history and mystery, and these two things get my nerd wheel turning. My cousin we will call “K” and I always talked about visiting Europe and what we needed to see once we got there. Of course, we wanted to see the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Buckingham Palace but the timing had to be perfect. K is a busy mother and wife, but when it comes to travel she gets it poppin’. I also invited a soror to join us on this trip and it worked out perfectly.
Earlier the following year, I secured a Chase Sapphire Preferred card because it was rumored to be a great card for traveling purposes. I spent $3,000 in three months and was rewarded with 50,000 points to use toward travel. With this card, cardholders receive 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Dope, right? When K finally decided on dates for Europe I scoured the net for flight deals and boom, there it was. Flights out of John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Paris for about $500.00 (which came out to about 50,000) was the perfect price so I secured them. K and I decided that it should be a multi-city tour and we would fly into Paris, spend a few days there and then take the Eurostar from Paris into London. The plan was that once we land in Paris, we would meet up at the Eiffel Tower and hit the ground running from there.
Now that you have the background, let me explain how all of this went down. To get from Baltimore to JFK I took the Amtrak from Baltimore’s Penn Station to NYC’s Penn Station for about $90.00 round trip. It’s about a 3-hour ride but you get there quite quickly if you ask me. Once I got to NYC, I walked across the street to the shuttle stop to take me to JFK. Be very mindful about doing this because traffic into and out of the city could make you late resulting to you missing your flight. So be sure to allow your self an extra hour of travel time. I flew with Delta Airlines and the flight was maybe eight hours, I slept most of the way and the flight wasn’t that bad. My family flew from another airport and they reached Paris before I did. The plan was for my soror and I to get to the hotel, unpack and meet up with my family a little later.
Bienvenue à Paris
Once in Paris, I couldn’t help but quickly notice all of the different brands of vehicles I have never seen before. There wasn’t many Hondas, Fords, and Nissans but yet little weird symbols of brands that I had never heard of. Our hotel was about 40 minutes from the airport and I slept most of the way because the jetlag was already kicking in. When we got close to the hotel my soror woke me up and I wish she hadn’t, the way the French drive is like something out of a movie. We got to our hotel “Eiffel Segur Paris” located in the 15th Arr, about a half a mile walk from the Eiffel Tower. The hotel rooms in Paris are mad small and this was no exception. The staff was very nice and told us we could leave our luggage there until it was time to check in while we hit the city. I grabbed a change of clothes out of my suitcase, a banana and we were ready for Paris!
On our walk to the Eiffel Tower, I noticed lots of little produce stands and restaurants on almost every corner and I loved that! What I did not love was all of the smoking. I mean everyone was lighting up, and it rather annoying. The closer we got to the Eiffel Tower the more excited I got and once we were there, it was SELFIE time. I must have taken 50 selfies as I approached the tower and about another 200 when I got the chance to go inside of it. Yes, you can go inside the tower, but it is very crowded in there and your selfies may not be so great.
On the Travel Channel, I would often catch an episode of the infamous Catacombs of Paris. So it was my personal mission to be sure I checked out this attraction for myself. I booked a tour for the Catacombs and I am very happy I did. The line for that sucker was around the block and going with a small group was more personal and we got to skip the line. If this is a tour you would like to check out be sure to where SNEAKERS and bring a jacket. It was chilly down there and wet so prep accordingly. The tour was about an hour and our tour guide was great. I learned about the true purpose of the Catacombs and that back in the day, the rich and prestigious would throw parties down there. Betcha didn’t know that.
The Palace of Versailles
Pictures of this place here does not do it justice! My family and I took an Uber from Paris to the Chateau of Versailles and this place is huge. The grounds and the gate screams royalty, history, importance, and monarchs. When we arrived, we noticed a very long line from the palace to the street. We later found out that the line was for those wanting to go into the palace, and the waiting time was about two and a half hours. Naw, bruh we weren’t waiting that long and just toured the garden instead. The garden of the Chateau is jaw droppingly beautiful. From the manicured lawn, to the fountains, to the many mazes of endless shrubbery designed by André Le Nôtre it was a lot to take in. If this is an activity you would like to partake in grab a map, comfortable walking shoes, and some water because the gardens is massive. After about two hours of walking the grounds we ended up in the gift shop on our way out. Since this is a Chateau of royalty, many of the keep sakes in the gift shop is royalty themed. From the beautiful china, pens, and books. I won’t tell yall how much I spent in the gift shop, but just know I brought back some of that beautiful china lol.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about Paris:
• Hotel Rooms are small
• There is heavy smoking in Paris
• The Euro ways heavier than the USD. Meaning that one Euro could cost you 1.2 USD
• Carry change incase you have to use the restroom, some bathrooms require you to pay to use
Check back next month for part two of my trip to Europe with my family as we ventured into London.