Enter the Tourist Zone

Teesha's Trip 553I think you see them in every big city that is a tourist destination: those open-topped, double decker, hop-on, hop-off tourist buses with their passengers hanging over the sides to see what there is to see. Yes, they are very touristy, but are they any good? Interesting? Worth the money?

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I think yes to all of the above. One time I was traveling with a friend who is a resident of Washington DC. She wasn’t too sure of the idea of spending the day touring on a hop-on, hop-off bus. She said that they laughed at the eager-eyed tourist as they were driven through the streets of their city. When the day was over, she said she wouldn’t laugh at them any more. It is a good way to see the great sites of the city that you are visiting.

Picture this, you are in an exciting new city that you have dreamed of visiting. The sun is shining (not too hot, just perfect),  you are on the top deck, you have your ear buds in and are listening to the commentary as the bus rolls past the sites of the city: Eiffel Tower, Arch de Triomphe,  down the Champs Elysees, Louvre, Notre Dame.

It’s not cheap, but neither is it expensive. Think of it as being in the DIY section of travel products.

My tip: know the layout of the city before you get there. Know the sites that you want to really visit and explore and those that are more of a photo stop. This is the day to make sure that you get the photo stops in. You might not have time to really explore the sites that you have traveled so far to see. Save them for tomorrow when you can use cheaper mass transit. Today is for relaxing and enjoying the unique view that you get from the top deck of the bus.

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What are your thoughts? Do you like the hop-on, hop-off buses? Too touristy for you? Too costly?

The road to Villefranche-sur-Mer

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After 12 years, I had managed to convince my husband to give Europe another try. We had an overnight flight from San Francisco and after changing planes at Charles de Gaulle we finally landed at Nice, France. After clearing immigration and customs, we exited the airport, found bus #99 and boarded it for the ride to the main Nice train station. I remember being a little worried that we wouldn’t get on the right train and a very helpful French woman (who didn’t speak English) tried to help us. I need not to have worried. It was easy to find the right train and after a short ride, we disembarked in Villefranche-sur-Mer. The picture above was taken that first morning as we walked from the train station to the Welcome Hotel where we had reservations. As we walked down the road in the morning sunshine with the occasional glimpses of the sparkling Mediterranean, I thought, “I cannot believe this! It is so beautiful. Just fantastic!”

That’s what travel is all about: the unexpected. Unexpected is not always good, but most the time it is fantastic.