Paris Destinations: Discovering the darker side of the city

When you think of Paris, you can always associate it with culture, art, and fashion but did you know that the City of Lights also has some macabre sights. Explore Paris beyond all the glitter and look into the city’s grisly history and underground wonders.

Les Catacombes

The Catacombs paris
Beneath the streets of Paris is one of the most popular dark destinations in France, The Catacombs. This is not for the faint of heart. The stairs leading to the underground tunnels can easily trigger claustrophobia. During the late 18th century, the underground tunnels were used to house exhumed bodies from the cemeteries of Paris. The bones of the dead were arranged after several decades so they will look more organized. If you want to explore this, be ready for the really long lines.

Musee Dupuytren

Musee Dupuytren

This museum gives you an insight to the most frightening illnesses known to our species. The wax models of human anatomy and other specimens can be traced back as early the 1800s. You can see brains in big jars or tumors that are very detailed that even you cannot imagine how can they even grow there.

La Conciergerie

La Conciergerie

You might be amazed by the beautiful arches of this old palace but remember that beneath the floor you are walking on are the dungeons that witnessed the bloodiest history of France. It was a blood-soaked part of the country’s history. Thousands were executed during the French Revolution and those who awaited their death sentence were imprisoned at the La Conciergerie.

Cemeteries

Parisian cemeteries
You might be surprised with how many travelers flock to Parisian cemeteries. Amid the crowd you will also find artists, lovers, and other curious souls. Do some research and you will find where Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Samuel Beckett, Charles Baudelaire, or Oscar Wilde are resting.

Why Travel Insurance is a Must

Many people avoid buying travel insurance, either because they can’t be bothered or they see it as a waste of money. However, insurance for your travels can end up saving you loads of money, and if you shop around carefully, you could find yourself getting annual cover for around £1 per month.

  1. You’re covered if anything happens

Although it’s not likely that anything will happen to you if you take the necessary precautions, you are never in control of your flight getting cancelled, your belongings getting stolen or that horrible feeling when you realise that your luggage isn’t going to make it off the plane. You should never think that you won’t encounter any problems while on your holiday. If nothing happens to you, then you can thank you lucky stars. If it does, you’ve been sensible enough to get insurance and cover yourself against mishaps.

Travel Insurance

  1. You’ll have peace of mind

Who wants to go on holiday with the worry of losing hundreds of pounds if something goes wrong? With the right travel insurance, you can rest assured that even if something does happen, you’re covered and will be reimbursed for the money that you’ve lost out on. This will allow you to enjoy your holiday and quality time with loved ones, without having that niggling voice in the back of your mind.

  1. You can’t predict illness or accidents

If something terrible happens while you’re in another country and you have to get rushed off to hospital, you could find yourself paying thousands of pounds just to get treated for your injuries or illnesses. To think that you could have saved yourself all that trouble by taking out an insurance policy will haunt you for the rest of your life, and you’ll never travel without it again!

  1. You don’t have to pay a lot and get the best insurance

While many people are tempted to go for the ‘best’ policies, which covers medical insurance up to £10 million and lost baggage up to £2 million, these aren’t necessarily the most ideal options. Medical insurance is pretty much never going to cost you that much in any case, and your lost baggage is unlikely to be worth more than a few hundred pounds. Go for a cheaper policy which covers everything you need rather than opting for a more expensive policy just for the sake of it.

DIY at Home – Money Saving Tips

It’s a well known fact that hiring professional help for home improvements or small renovations can make a serious dent in your wallet. It’s a catch 22, as often we spend a lot of time within the home, so want it looking its best, but the cost implications can be a little off putting. This doesn’t have to be the case, there are some great ways to utilise what you have around you and improve your home on a modest budget. CNM Online; a leading heating and washroom specialist, have shared their top ideas for sprucing up your abode without breaking the bank.

Plan

Plan! Before you start any work, make sure you’ve got a clear plan of what you want. This is the same for any purchases you may need to make, ensure you’ve got measurements and know exactly what you’re looking for. The last thing you want is to either have to decorate more than once, or repurchase things as they don’t fit.

shop-around

Shop Around! You can’t just go for the first bits and pieces you see, even if they are exactly what you’re looking for, you’ve got to be resourceful. Large home stores and supermarkets often won’t have the best prices. Take down the name and brand of the products you like and get yourself onto google. Internet shopping is a great way to save money.

Thrifty

Be Thrifty! You may be able to repurpose instead of replacing some items around the home. Again, the internet is your best friend here. Get yourself onto Pinterest for some inspiration and ‘how to’ guides. You might not need to replace your kitchen table, you may be able to just paint it. You can sometimes find real gems on the freebie or bargain pages too, so make sure you’re checking them regularly.

HELP

HELP! You shouldn’t always do it completely by yourself. There may be some jobs which are a little out of your current skill set, but before you pay mega bucks and hire a professional, put the word out about what you need doing. Facebook is great for this, as you may have lost touch with an old family friend who is a jack of all trades, and doesn’t mind putting a few shelves up in return for a cooked dinner and nice bottle of wine. You’ll be surprised with how generous people can be, and you could save a packet.

Don’t Rush

Don’t Rush! If you’re in a rush, you’re almost always likely to spend more money. Try to give yourself a realistic timeframe for things to be completed in, and do it in stages. We aren’t saying to half decorate then leave it for 6 months, but you don’t have to have completely transformed your home within a few weeks. Take it a room at a time, and have a clear list of things you need and what you’re wanting to achieve.

Understanding Roof Pitch and Its Overall Importance

Handling roof installations and repairs isn’t for the faint of heart. But even if you’re going to let a licensed roofer take care of your needs, that doesn’t mean that you get to ignore the process entirely. There are still some terms and procedures that you should understand. This is because if you don’t know anything about the roof, you could be getting the wrong estimate…and not know it at all. When it comes to most homeowners, they want to absolutely know that the repairs they’re requesting are the ones that they actually need. Contractors want to bill honestly, because they want you to tell all of your friends about the incredible service that you received.

Roof Pitch

So what do you really need to understand? Roof pitch. No, we’re not saying that your roof has a song or anything like that. We’re talking about the measurement of your roof’s overall slope. It’s the number of inches for the vertical rise over the horizontal “run”. So if you have a 4/12 roof, it means that the roof rises 4″ for every 12 inches it runs. The run is usually always going to be about a foot long. If you can get to the top of your roof, then you can just take the measurements. But if you can’t get to the top of the roof, you can take the measurements you need from the end of the rafters. Either way, you should get similar results. Continue reading “Understanding Roof Pitch and Its Overall Importance”

South Africa is a Great Idea for an Early Fall Holiday

Out of travel ideas? Wondering where you should take your next holiday? If you’re online looking for ideas, you really can’t go wrong with a holiday to South Africa. It’s a great country that has a rich history, and there’s plenty for you to do. Let’s take a look at why South Africa is so interesting.

South Africa

Right now, South Africa is experiencing a nice spring/summer type of season, where there’s a bit of rain but still plenty of sun. For holidaymakers in the UK, this would be an excellent time to view South Africa. The weather is mild and you’ll be able to wear plenty of loose, light clothing. Want to go swimming in September? South Africa should definitely be on your list.

Did you know that the country has 11 official languages? This is a diverse place where many groups all home. If you think that Italy is the only place in the world that can do wine aside from Greece, you might be pleasantly surprised by South Africa’s native wine selections.

There are direct flights from the UK to South Africa, and there are usually good deals around this time of year for travel to the African country. Worried that this is a poor country with no infrastructure? That’s not true at all. If you’re traveling to Cape Town or Johannesburg, you’ll find that you’ll see many of the same amenities that you’d enjoy back in your hometown, if not a few more.

Cape Town
South Africa is a country divided into 9 different provinces, much the way Canada is divided into different regions. If you’re going to Johannesburg, you’ll be going to the Gauteng province. If you’re going to Cape Town, you’ll head to the Western Cape province. By the way, Cape Town is where the South African Parliament is located. Continue reading “South Africa is a Great Idea for an Early Fall Holiday”

5 Common Repairs that Save You Money and Protect Your Home

As the season turns to fall, homeowners across the country are thinking more about how to protect their homes. We’re honestly glad to see that the trend is moving in this direction. When credit seemed to be more ample, it was difficult to have people actually take this seriously. But now that they can’t just get loans quickly, they have to take care of the property as it stands. But we’re not here to condemn anyone; we just want you to understand how important it is to take care of these problems before they get out of hand.

Let’s get down to business!

1. Walls

wall cracks
It’s a good idea to check your walls for cracks and other signs that the wall may be buckling or bending. This is an issue with the drywall. If it wasn’t properly installed at the beginning, it will start to sag and fall to pieces. Weaknesses in the wall can and will otherwise weaken the structure of your home. Over time, this leads to disaster.

2. Floors

Cracks in the floor

Broken floorboards? Cracks in the floor? Like with the walls, cracks in the floors invite in other problems. Be sure that you seal cracks and patch holes. Cleaning your floors regularly is the key to keeping them looking their best.

3. Windows

fixing windows cracks
The spaces around windows can warp and cracks can appear, letting out the cold air and warm heat that you pay good money for! Instead of letting the heat escape from your home, take the time to seal up these cracks right away. You might look at a hole and think that it’s really too small to do any damage. The truth is that the hole can always get bigger over time. With everything on your plate, you might not see the hole growing slowly but surely over time. This means that more and more of your heating and cooling are going out of the home instead of circulating around the home. This is a big waste of money and can really hurt your budget in the long run. Continue reading “5 Common Repairs that Save You Money and Protect Your Home”

Top Destinations: New York City, New York

One of the most popular destinations in the United States is New York City. Our family will be making its first trip to the Big Apple in August 2015, and we have plenty of information to share if you plan on going soon. We have spent almost 30 hours researching what each of the 5 burrows has to offer. However, part of this research was finding the best hotel and car rental deals, as well as building an itinerary designed pack everything into the 3 days we will be in NYC.

The Roosevelt Island Tramway

The Roosevelt Island Tramway
This is something the Mrs. just found a couple nights ago, and it’s definitely on our list of things to do in New York City. Since our hotel is situated in the upper east side of Manhattan, we are not far away from this little tourist attraction. Our research revealed that the cost for this aerial trip to Roosevelt Island is $2.75 per person. Once you are on the island, you can hop on the bus (for free) and see everything the island has to offer.

Based on what we’ve read, the ride is all of about 5 minutes, but it’s the perfect amount of time to see New York City from the air, without spending an excessive amount of money renting a 30 minute helicopter tour.

Yankees vs. Red Sox

Yankees vs. Red Sox
When sports fans are asked about the biggest rivalries in any sport, the New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox matchup is always at the top of the list. Since our son is a huge Yankees fan and hasn’t ever seen them play, the time we took our trip to New York City depended on when the Red Sox came to town.

Since we will all be experiencing Yankees Stadium for the first time, there is no sense in purchasing $500 worth of tickets. It’s going to be an exciting event regardless, so we purchased some bleacher seats for $150 all-in. Keep in mind; we purchased them 4 months in advance, which helped with the cost.

Patsies Italian Restaurant

Patsies Italian Restaurant
We all have to eat, and even if you are not a big fan of Italian food, this is a must see restaurant. Our research told us that it’s the place Frank Sinatra used to go for several decades. Apparently at one point, Patsies renovated the restaurant back to what it looked like in those days, so you can experience what he experienced.

The Normal Appeal

Those are just a few things that caught our attention, outside of everything else we will be seeing. We are seriously considering the helicopter tour, just because the experience of flying around the Statue of Liberty has to be breath-taking. Add in other places like; Central Park, the High Line (a walkway 30 feet above street level), trying to get tickets to the Jimmy Fallon Show, the Nike Store, little Italy, the Empire State Building, and the 9/11 World Trade Center Memorial; we are going to be busy, but the experience will be one for the ages.

Thailand: The Land of Smiles

Being one of the most popular countries to visit in Southeast Asia, Thailand draws in more than 26 million visitors each year just in the capital alone. From the picturesque beaches in the south to the lush green mountains in north and everything in between, Thailand truly has something to offer any type of traveler.

Where should you go?

Thailand has three major regions that tend to draw in the most crowds, each one extremely different than the other. Depending on your interests and the amount of time you have in the country will draw you to certain areas. Just be careful though, Thailand has been known to turn two-week vacations into yearlong stays.

Bangkok

Bangkok

With the majority of people flying in through Bangkok, chances are you will end up there for at least a few days, if not the entire trip. Filled with clubs, rooftop bars, floating markets and high-class malls, your time here is sure to be anything but boring. With an excellent transportation system it makes it extremely easy to get around the city either by sky train, bus or taxi. If you’re planning to visit Bangkok, get ready for a city that never sleeps and something to offer for everyone!

Phuket

Phuket

Phuket is a beach lover’s paradise as well as a party animals paradise. Whether you want to stay in the very crowded Patong and hit the famous Bangla Road to see some ladyboys or take a day trip to another island, the choices are truly endless. With zoos, shooting ranges, water parks and Jet Ski rentals at nearly every beach, Phuket is also a great destination for a family vacation.

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai

If Bangkok and Phuket were just a little too much for you, you may want to head up north to Chiang Mai. With a much slower pace and relaxed atmosphere, it’s a great place to simply relax and see what the city has to offer. Rent a motorbike and explore the magnificent temples during the day and then head to the night markets and pick up a pair of samurai pants that you’ll guaranteed never want to take off. Chiang Mai is also known for their great elephant nature camps where you can swim and bathe with elephants for two days!

As you can see, the wide range of things to do and places to see in Thailand is something that makes it so incredible. Anywhere you end up is sure to not only be your new favorite spot but somewhere you will want to keep coming back to for years to come.

Paris – for better and for worse

The City of Light, Paris, is not always easy to handle. You may fall in love with it in an instant but it takes you a good while to learn loving it. It is like any relationship, after the ecstatic first weeks comes the everyday life and its cons.

City of Light ParisThe first seven days in Paris are a feast for all senses: baguettes, garçons, boulevards, Notre Dame, Tour Eiffel, Palais Royal, croissants, cinéma, hôtels particuliers, crêpes, Camembert, jardins, Renoir, bateaux-mouches, Edith Piaf. And all this crusted with the posh French nasal sounds which makes you think you are in heaven.

After the honeymoon

It is like a fairytale till the moment you start to live here. Then you have to get serious, to settle down as they say. You start getting attached: you open a bank account, you get all those cards for metro, libraries and museums, you find your favourite supermarket and the staff start to recognise you. Now you discover all those small things that drive you crazy: The thing is, in Paris you don’t just go and buy a monthly metro ticket or open a bank account. You honestly need at least half a dozen of certificates about your identity, logging, student status etc. Then you fill out a form and post it to some excluded office with a zip code you cannot locate in the outskirts of Ile de France. Then you wait for a month because nothing is as long and wearing as French bureaucracy, well, except for the Italian.

French bureaucracy

On the second stage you realise your habits are not at all like those of your newly-wedded metropolis. It does not understand the sanctity of rye bread and keeps providing you with baguettes naively believing that there is nothing better. It provides you with baguettes not only for breakfast but also for lunch and for dinner which makes you seriously doubt the supposed variety of French cuisine. Continue reading “Paris – for better and for worse”

Cracking Krakow

Mysterious corridors, delicious cheese cake in Kazimierz and green bike routes. Having visited all the must sees in Krakow, it’s time to taste this very European city from within.

We can get all necessary information about Krakow’s traditional top places to see from the information points. Here you have some tips for visiting interesting places in that southern Polish city that are rarely mentioned in guides. “Incredible in Krakow are some paths in the centre of the city overgrown with grass. Lots of people, even those living in Krakow, have no bloody idea about them. There is one, totally overgrown and green. It’s got a green bump made of stones in the middle.” says Piotr Lewicki, architect.

First of all: Kazimierz

kazimierz krakow
No matter if you are either Erasmus student in Krakow or three-day visitor, Kazimierz – the old Jewish district – is a must see. Beginning the day with perfect latte and delicious cheesecake at Alchemia, would be a good start to the scratched and gloomy, but extremely fashionable, artistic and vibrant district. It is here where Krakow’s bohemia meets. Nearby Alchemia you’ll find an incredible café called Les Coloures, wallpapered with posters from French movies and musicals. But the best time to go to Nowy Square is on Saturday morning. You will be amused by a market smelling of fresh fruits, vegetables and old books. From there it’s not far to the picturesque Podgórze, another interesting district, with an architectonic ally intriguing church and a mysterious mound. It’s here to say that in Kraków there are four peculiar hills, mainly prehistoric and artificially made, some of them even by the Celts. If you want to have a perfect overview of Krakow – those are the best places.

Sacrum meets profanum

krakow
Kraków is a typical medieval city, with streets situated perpendicularly and parallel to the biggest and most beautiful market square in Europe. As a city left untouched during World War II, Kraków is now full of monuments. Thus the city is a great monument of European culture. Not only the medieval history is evident: in Nowa Huta, a district built in socrealistic style you can have a back-to-communism trip, visiting places, clubs and even the typical flats of those times. The really interesting fact is that in Krakow sacrum meets profanum in a very special way. There are about 120 churches with great history and about 500 clubs and pubs in the neighbourhood. It is lively and crowded with thousands of students. As we are in the old centre, it’s worth dropping in to Café Camelot for excellent cherry liquor and to go and see fabulous Camelot Cabaret on St. Thomas’ Street afterwards. If you are lucky enough you may also be allowed to see Krakow from the St.Mary’s Church tower. Going around the market square, you should go for another liquor in Bunkier Sztuki. But there is one place that shouldn’t be missed in any case: Massolit Books, a marvellous library-café, where you can sink into reading books all day long. Bored with English-language books? Then just go around the corner and find PUNKT. You will love those old cinema chairs you can buy there! Continue reading “Cracking Krakow”