Author Topic: Europe Trip - Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo/Nice, Paris  (Read 2537 times)

Online dvol

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Europe Trip - Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo/Nice, Paris
« on: July 17, 2018, 11:51:24 AM »
As per request I will post all 4 parts of my trip report here and link to it in the individual forums.

Part 1 - Rome


This trip was booked spur of the moment (at least for me) about 2 weeks before we flew. I usually book my long trips months in advance. Being that I needed 4 seats in J on the same flight I was very limited in my options so I booked KLM: JFK-AMS-FCO through Flying Blue. I believe it was about ~60k + $250 per person (factor in that I transferred these points from Amex and received the 25% bonus so in effect it was really ~48k p/p).

Although it was a 777 with a 2-2-2 configuration I was pleasantly surprised by the comfortability and general condition of the seats and the business class cabin in general. The service was great and our FA couldn't have been more pleasant and helpful.





We ordered the kosher meal and while the appetizer portion was frozen solid:


The main was decent enough and did the job.


We landed a few minutes late in AMS and were strolling leisurely towards the lounge when we realized there was an enormous line by passport control. Thankfully the guards kept walking along the line and announcing "flights boarding before XX:XX time can come to this line" and after just 5 minutes we were directed to the much shorter so-called family line. This also meant we did not have to clear immigration in FCO airport which worked out very well since we had a tour scheduled shortly after we landed.

We stopped into the not too impressive KLM lounge for exactly 5 minutes (no time for pics) then had to walk what felt like the entire airport to get to our connecting gate. The flight was just over an hour and was the European "ghetto business" class where the middle seat of each business class row was skipped.

There is no UberX in Rome, only UberBlack or UberVan so we opted to take a regular taxi to our hotel, the Palazzo Naiadi (formerly the Boscolo Rome) which was a set rate of I think 50 or 55 euro and we managed to fit 4 people and 6 suitcases into one car. This was only possible because I had exchanged some Euro back in NY since the taxis do not accept credit cards.

We arrived to our hotel about 2PM, checked in and went straight to the Great Synagogue to meet David Walden from Rome for Jews for our 3 o'clock tour of the Jewish Ghetto. He had a bunch of groups going out at that time and luckily our tour was with David himself, and it was just the 4 of us with 1 other couple. The price was 250 Euro per couple, cash only.

The hotel was beautiful and the rooms were decent sized, especially for Europe. This was booked using 45k Marriot points(=15K SPG) + $110 per night and it was pretty centrally located, not more than a 10 minute taxi ride from almost everything we did.

Back to the tour:

David is very colorful and a great storyteller. We thoroughly enjoyed our semi-private tour with him and would highly recommend it to anyone. I won't walk you through the entire tour as there is enough info out there about all of these places, but here are some highlights, some of which I can name and some I haven't the faintest idea of:

The Great Synagogue:







In the streets of the ghetto:





The locals enjoying the scene:



Horsing around with David:



Our tour ended about 6:30 and we had some drinks at Bar Toto including their famous iced tea made with frozen lemonade. We then headed to Bella Carne for dinner down the street.

I'm not 100% sure if they offered non-Glatt meat as well, but as far as I could tell most (if not all) of the menu was Glatt. The food was very tasty while not blowing us away.

We had a 5 hour private tour scheduled for the next day at 1:30PM of the Vatican and Colosseum so we just went straight back to our hotel after dinner.

While I had inquired with both David and Micaela from Jewish Roma about Jewish tours of the Vatican and Colosseum, I was told that they did not do private tours in June and July as it is their busiest season. While we would have greatly preferred that, we chose a non-Jewish tour instead that did offer private tours.

After much research and finding that a lot of companies no longer had availability being high season and last minute, I booked through romeprivateguides.com and I have to say our guide was great (forgot her name), very informative and spoke English very well. The cost for the 5 hour tour was 546 Euro (350 for the tour and 49 entrance fees per person x 4). This included everything besides the taxi from the Vatican to the Colosseum.

Our tour started at the entrance to Vatican City at 1:30 and our guide was great about taking us only where we wanted to go and skipping what we didn't want to see. We also got to skip the enormous line circling the streets since we had booked the tour. I do have to say that our guide said something about making a reservation for 4 Euro and skipping the line as well. But I do recommend a guide since we saw all these other tourists wandering around looking completely lost and having no idea what they were seeing or where to go (audioguides and all- it's still confusing).

Once we finished Vatican city we hopped an Uber to the colosseum. We found it very fascinating and again really appreciated having a tour guide. She kept us enthralled and we were actually surprised when the 5 hours was up. I doubt this would have been the case if we were part of a much larger tour group and so that is the main reason we chose to do only a private tour.

None of us had really eaten yet that day besides for some snacks and we were starving by the time the tour was done. We took another Uber back to the Ghetto and went to Alice Pizza. They serve by weight and not slice and the pizza was incredible.



We then headed back to our hotel, had some drinks, freshened up and went back to the ghetto for dinner (like I said, just a short cab ride from our hotel).

This time we went to Su-Ghetto and I for one was too exhausted to remember what I ate but the food was very good and nobody went to sleep hungry.

The next morning we checked out at about 11 and had the hotel hold our suitcases so we could do some more touring on our last day. We walked from our hotel to the Trevi Fountain (about 15 minutes) and shopped for some trinkets in all the tourist traps along the way. The streets were packed and the sun was BAKING but it was a nice colorful and enjoyable stroll. All of the really expensive designer stores are in the blocks near the Trevi Fountain and we enjoyed browsing and even picked up a few things. Because the dollar is doing pretty ok against the Euro right now (I believe it was 1.16) we were able to get some great deals and still get the 12% tax refund as well.

By the time we were done we had to run back to our hotel, pick up our luggage and run to make our 6:15PM train to Venice. I had booked Treno Italo since it was cheaper for that day than Trenitalia although the timings were very similar. I booked the first class seats and the entire ride took about 4 hours. It was actually very enjoyable and the views were out of this world.



Next up:
Venice

Offline sam28

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Re: Europe Trip - Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo/Nice, Paris
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2018, 12:39:15 PM »
Wow nice and to the point  keep it coming

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Re: Europe Trip - Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo/Nice, Paris
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2018, 01:45:26 PM »
Part 2 - Venice

Our train arrived about 10:15PM into Venezia St. Lucia station. There was lots of thunder and lightning but the rain hadn't started (yet). When you walk out of the train, the ferry station is right ahead of you as well as some water taxis. While the Carnival Palace is only about 10 minutes by foot we weren't going to shlep with all of our luggage and with the skies threatening to open up. We inquired with one of the water taxis who quoted us 60 euro and when we asked how long the ride was (knowing full well it was about 3 minutes) he told us "about 20-25 minutes" by boat. He would have taken us around the entire Venice ALLLLLLLL the way to our hotel to justify the price. We then went to the ferry station and were instructed to take ferry 5.2 to the Tre Archi stop. The cost was 7.50 Euro per person for a one way ticket (they also sell 12 and 24 hour tickets) and it took about 10 minutes since they made some other stops first.

By the time we got to our stop the rain was coming down so hard we could barely see in front of us. We called the hotel and they sent out a bellboy with 4 umbrellas (the hotel is literally a few feet from the ferry stop).

Check-in was uneventful and we were shown right to our rooms. From what I've read and heard from other people, this hotel is one of the nicer, luxury hotels in Venice. While it's small (I think about 70 rooms) and the rooms are tiny (we had booked a deluxe which wasn't even the smallest room) it was very comfortable and the service was terrific. They provide manual keys for the room doors upon request and have a manual door in the lobby as well. They have a beautiful garden out back which we really enjoyed on Shabbos afternoon and a little bar downstairs where they make amazing cocktails.

By the time we went to sleep it was after midnight but we wanted to explore Venice on Friday so we woke up early. Our room had breakfast included (I think it may be included with all the rooms) and we had some fruit and coffee before we left. They have a selection of juices, pastries, yogurt, fruit, coffee, etc.

The hotel is located in a very quiet area about 5-10 minute walk from the Jewish Ghetto, and a good 30-45 minute walk from San Marco Square depending on your pace. We walked out in the morning and the heat was once again stifling. We walked into the Jewish Ghetto where the young Chabad guy immediately asked if anyone in our group wanted to put tefillin:



We then went into this little shop right near the Jewish museum that sold all kinds of Jewish artifacts, most made of Murano glass. We picked up this gorgeous menorah for 100 Euro, made by the shopowner's sister who wrapped it really well for us:



We then took the tour offered by the Jewish museum. I forgot the cost, but to be honest I think this could have been skipped. The tour guide took us the 2 out of 3 synagogues that were not operational at the moment and told us a little bit about the Jewish history in Venice.

We passed the kosher bakery on our way out and stopped into Gam Gam Goodies for a slice of pizza and grilled veg wrap which were both delicious.

We then continued on our way towards San Marcos Square. It probably took us over an hour as we kept stopping at all the shops and also as I may have mentioned  - it was HOT - so we took our time walking. We also stopped into Frulala for a smoothie along the way.

Once we got to the square we first went to the Doge's Palace. Unfortunately I hadn't pre-booked any of the tours and the Secret Itineraries tour is usually sold out a week or 2 in advance so we just bought regular tickets and paid 5 Euro each to rent their audioguide (be aware they require some sort of ID as a guarantee such as driver's license, passport, etc. and won't rent you an audioguide without one).

We enjoyed seeing the palace and the audioguide was very decent and informative. We went down to see the prisons of course:



Once done we sat down for a quick drink in the square which is this huge open area with tons of shops, restaurants and high-end designer stores. We decided to take one of the famous gondola rides and while it was pretty expensive (maybe 80 euro?) it was really very enjoyable and lasted about 40 minutes. Our gondolier thought it was funny to rock the boat when he saw I was....apprehensive about being on the water, but even with that I still enjoyed it.





After the gondola ride we did some more shopping in the square and by the time we were done we had to run back to our hotel for Shabbos. We made a mistake here and instead of just paying the water taxi 60 Euro we decided to take the ferry again. But the first 5.2 ferry was full and the next ferry was a 5.1 and even though I told them exactly where I had to go and which stop the guy there basically pushed us onto the 5.1 ferry and told us it goes to the same stop. Spoiler alert: it doesn't. While it doesn't stop that much farther from our hotel than the 5.2 ferry it took us forever to get there. By forever I mean probably 30-40 minutes. We made it back to our hotel just in the nick of time. The ferry cost us 30 euro (7.50 x 4) and for another 30 we could have just taken the taxi straight to our hotel in probably less than half the time.

When I booked this trip I had emailed Chabad in Venice right away about reserving a table at either Gam Gam or the gallery for Shabbos but unfortunately both were full. I was told I was put on a waiting list but not to rely on it since that was also extremely full and we were not interested in attending the communal meals as I heard it gets incredibly crowded. We ended up booking meals at Ghimmel Garden which is also located in the Jewish Ghetto.

The food was decent but not what I would call heimish, such as I heard Chabad serves. Their tables are outdoors and they had a large NCSY group eating indoors as well. Friday night there was a bottle of wine, 2 challah and some salads on our table when we got there. The first course was some sort of meat over maybe lentils (don't quote me on this, I'm having a hard time recalling) and the main was some kind of meat stew with a side while dessert was a simple slice of pie. The only drinks we could get was water as apparently soft drinks need to be arranged for beforehand which no one had mentioned to us.

Shabbos morning our meal started with the same wine, challahs, and dips. First course was a pasta arrabiata which was pretty good and the main was a choice of chicken bottoms with a side or curry chicken. We took the chicken bottoms and well....it was a chicken bottom  :-\. Dessert was a fruit cup.

Once we finished our meal we spent an hour or 2 strolling around Venice again and seeing some of the spots we had missed on Friday. We then went back to the hotel, enjoyed the outdoor garden and went back to our room to rest until motzei shabbos.

By the time we left the hotel about an hour after shabbos was over it had started thundering again so instead of going to Gam Gam Goodies for pizza like we had planned which has no seating we went back to Ghimmel Gardens. Although we sat down outside under their tent when we arrived, by the time we gave in our order it started raining so hard the entire tent almost blew away and we ran inside. Their motzei shabbos menu is basically only pizza, no pasta or anything else off their regular menu and they were only open for about 2 hours in total. The pizza was decent, but I have to say I enjoyed Gam Gam Goodie's food on Friday more.

We had planned to check out the casino in Venice after but with the rain we just headed back to our hotel and packed up. We had scheduled a water taxi for the next morning to take us to VCE airport for our flight to Nice. The concierge scheduled it for us and was 120 euro. There is a ferry of sorts that goes to the airport as well but with that many suitcases we weren't going to go through that hassle.

In the morning the taxi was there exactly on time and we headed to the airport. It was beautiful outside and the perfect farewell to Venice:



Next up:
Nice/Monte Carlo
« Last Edit: July 17, 2018, 02:51:07 PM by dvol »

Online Yehudaa

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Re: Europe Trip - Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo/Nice, Paris
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2018, 02:21:45 PM »
Nice TR.

We then took the tour offered by the Jewish museum. I forgot the cost, but to be honest I think this could have been skipped. The tour guide took us the 2 out of 3 synagogues that were not operational at the moment and told us a little bit about the Jewish history in Venice.

When I did that tour a few months ago I thought it was great. I think it's the only way to get into the unused synagogues, which were beautiful and definitely worth it IMHO. If I remember correctly, they took us into 3 of them.

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Re: Europe Trip - Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo/Nice, Paris
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2018, 02:45:55 PM »
Nice TR.

When I did that tour a few months ago I thought it was great. I think it's the only way to get into the unused synagogues, which were beautiful and definitely worth it IMHO. If I remember correctly, they took us into 3 of them.


I'm sure many people enjoy this tour, I think we were just tired and our tour guide was sort of rambling (an older woman who I think mentioned she wasn't Jewish- I could be wrong). The synagogues were gorgeous but we had just come from Rome and seen the Great Synagogue so it was sort of like...been there done that lol.

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Re: Europe Trip - Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo/Nice, Paris
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2018, 02:47:00 PM »
I'm sure many people enjoy this tour, I think we were just tired and our tour guide was sort of rambling (an older woman who I think mentioned she wasn't Jewish- I could be wrong). The synagogues were gorgeous but we had just come from Rome and seen the Great Synagogue so it was sort of like...been there done that lol.
Fair enough.

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Re: Europe Trip - Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo/Nice, Paris
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2018, 03:05:33 PM »
Nice TR, beautiful menorah.
I was the Best,still the Best, and will always be the Best.
Pele Good,Maradona Better, George Best.

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Re: Europe Trip - Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo/Nice, Paris
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2018, 04:02:56 PM »
Part 3: Monte Carlo/Nice

We arrived to Venice Airport about 2 hours before our flight to Nice which was recommended by our hotel. The concierge told us that sometimes the security lines were incredibly long and sometimes they were really short, and to err on the side of caution. Luckily ours was really short and we headed to the Marco Polo Club lounge where we were given access with our Priority Pass cards (2 guests free per card and between the 4 of us we had 3-4 cards). The lounge was nice and comfy and we sat around until boarding. I had booked us on EasyJet since that is the only nonstop flight to Nice from Venice and I believe they only fly that route every second day. It was a little over 100 euro per person to book the fare that included 1 free suitcase, FastTrack boarding and seat assignments. The luggage allowance with EasyJet is collective per reservation. So 4 people that were allowed 1 suitcase up to 50 lbs. each meant we could have a total of 200 lbs.  and 4 bags between all of us regardless of how much each suitcase weighed on its own. We had to pay for 2 extra suitcase at 50 lbs. each so that means we had an allowance of 6 suitcases and 300 lbs in total.

We had to take a shuttle to board the plane which was suffocating but the flight was quick, pleasant and uneventful and we landed in Nice a little before 1PM. I had scheduled a large van to take us to our hotel and the driver met us at the luggage carousel. I booked with suntransfers.com and the cost was $227 roundtrip with the ride to our hotel being about 40 minutes each way. 

Check-in at the hotel was a bit hectic as it was pretty full but the front desk was very helpful and offered to show us each of the rooms she gave us as an option. We ended up choosing one with a balcony even though our view of the ocean wasn't great since we were on the second floor, but the room was very spacious, especially according to the other hotel rooms we had seen in Europe. We had some lunch that we had brought along and then went down to use the pool. The Meridian is the only hotel in Monte Carlo that has a private beach with access allowed only for their guests. That was one of the main reasons we chose this hotel versus the Fairmont which is more centrally located, however we didn't end up going to the beach even once. We used the pool for a few hours which was great, as both of their pools were saltwater and the water was extremely warm (even a bit TOO warm for me). We tried to order a drink for about an hour and a half until the waitress actually got to us and overall I did feel like the service was a bit on the slow side.

The beach:



We wanted to get to Nice for dinner since there are no kosher options in Monte Carlo. We hadn't rented a car anywhere in Europe since I feel sometimes its just too much of a hassle and I'd rather pay a little more for a cab than have to worry about parking and driving and rentals and all that. However, I will say that Monte Carlo was a pain in the a** without a car since there is no Uber there. At all. The only ways to get around besides renting a car is by walking, train, bus, or regular taxi which was extremely expensive and once again didn't accept credit cards. We decided to take the train to Nice since I had heard how easy and accessible it was and most people used it.

Unfortunately, the Meridian is about a 20 minute walk to the nearest train station so we ended up waiting for a bus to take us to the train station and had to wait forever, and we realized that we should have walked or taken a cab to the station. The ticket office and tourist information office inside the station was closed by the time we got there. After a few minutes of confusion about what tickets to buy and where to wait for the train we asked someone standing on one of the platforms who spoke English and she directed us to one of the kiosks where we bought 2 tickets for about 4 Euro each and waited for the train to Nice. The train has 2 levels and we sat upstairs to see the view which was absolutely stunning.

We had arranged to meet a friend who was staying in Nice for dinner and they picked us up at the train station. They had rented a car, and we drove to Meat Bar for dinner which is near the Promenade des Anglais. The food was good and we enjoyed our waiter who was an elderly gentleman by the name of Rafi I believe. The only 2 pictures I remembered to snap were both of schnitzel dishes and I can't say I can recall what else we ordered.

Shnitzel platter:


Shnitzel salad:


The friends we were with decided to join us in Monte Carlo so we all drove back in their car. On the way back, once we were in Monte Carlo we were stopped randomly by some cops doing passport control. They had us shut the car, we all had to give them our passports and they asked each of us where we born, what we did for a living and what we were doing there. After about 10 minutes they let us pass.

After that we of course had to check out the famous Monte Carlo casino. They charge 17 Euro entrance fee but I believe that goes towards your playing money. I didn't end up going in since a migraine had just hit, but the rest of the group did and they said while it was beautiful it was also incredibly small with just a few tables and slots inside. They were also invited into the high rollers/private room where people were playing blackjack and the minimum was 1,000 euros per hand. I ended up taking a cab back to the hotel on my own and they charged 15 euro for the 5 minute ride. The others walked home after they were done playing, and it was about a 10-15 minute walk.

The next morning by the time we headed out was probably about 11 and we walked to the only Starbucks in Monte Carlo, which is right next to the Fairmont so again about a 10-15 minute walk. After we were done we walked all the way down to the docks to see the yachts parked there (mind-blowing!) and then we kept walking until we finally reached the Palace. As far as i can tell, when Prince Rainier is in town there is no access to the palace, but that wasn't the case now so we bought tickets to see the Palace and the Prince's collection of cars and wandered through the gardens.

The view on our walk up to the castle:



The castle:



Once inside an audio guide is included in the price of the ticket, but again as in Venice you need to leave a form of ID behind as a guarantee. Once done touring the castle it's about a 10-15 minute walk all the way down the mountain to see the prince's collection of luxury cars. I'm not a major fan of cars, but for those that are this would be incredible as it was interesting even for me. Even more interesting was the fact that they had their air conditioning on blast and I could barely get myself to leave once we were done.

During the day we had called our hotel to see if they had any boat rentals available for us as we had noticed some on the pier the day that we had arrived. After some confusion and the concierges reserving 4 different boats for us at 4 different locations, we finally had a boat leaving from the beach behind our hotel at 7PM.

By the time we got back it was about 6:30 and we headed straight to the pier. The cost was 400 euro per hour and we had it reserved for 1 hour, but with the condition that we would be able to extend it once on the water if we felt like it. I will say that it is expensive but we ended up splitting it between 6 people so it wasn't terrible and it was amazing. I personally do not do well with boats. They make me nauseous, I get dizzy and the motion sickness usually kicks in the minute I see water. However, I will say that I had an amazing time on this boat ride and think it was money well spent.



The captain stopped near the caves so we could take a swim, although I stayed on the boat. This happened to be the only point where I got seasick as once the motor stopped the boat started shaking with the waves and it was all I could do not to throw up. But look at that water



We ended up extending the boat for an 1.5 hours first then a full 2 hours so it was a total of 800 euros plus I think $75 US tip for the driver/captain.

For our next day in Monte Carlo we decided to take the train to Cannes and then to Nice. We didn't take along our swimming stuff and to be honest there wasn't much to do there except swim, especially in Cannes. The train took about an hour and once we arrived we found the kosher falafel/bagel store called Rouvi. We made it there about 2:45PM and they closed at 3 for lunch so we got some chicken nuggets and fries, a falafel and some bagels and it was all very good. After that we just strolled the boardwalk, checked out the yachts and had a drink near the water and then took the train back to Nice. We at one point were so confused that we boarded the wrong train which was apparently going to Paris and managed to race off just in the nick of time. We then went onto the NEXT wrong train which we had been told by 3 different people did go to Nice, but apparently it was the express train which is the not what we had purchased tickets for. Luckily no one came around asked for our tickets and instead of about 7-8 stops to get to Nice we only had 2. I'm just happy we didnt' end up in a different country.

Once in Nice we just strolled around and walked the Promenade. We were pretty exhausted by that point or we would have checked out some more things. At about 7:30 we headed to Le Dauphin Bleu for dinner where the food was quite good. Since Nice is in France and not in Monaco, there is UberX there and we decided to just take a cab back to our hotel which came out to about $60 I believe. Well worth it.

We had a 12PM flight to Paris the next morning so we headed back to our hotel and packed up.

Next up: Paris.


Offline marduk

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Re: Europe Trip - Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo/Nice, Paris
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2018, 09:19:40 PM »
Great adventure man, loving the photos.

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Re: Europe Trip - Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo/Nice, Paris
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2018, 10:57:51 AM »
Nice report, beautiful pic of the water in Venice. Thanks for writing up about S of France - not so much about it here!

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Re: Europe Trip - Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo/Nice, Paris
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2018, 12:26:52 PM »
Part 4: Paris

I had booked us a 12PM flight from NCE-CDG (9K Flying Blue miles) on Wednesday and in hindsight that was probably our biggest mistake of the trip. We should have flown to Paris the night before or at the very least taken an early morning flight so that we had the entire day there.

Once again the flight was uneventful and by the time we landed and got into an Uber it was about 2:30. We had originally booked 2 rooms at the Hotel de Berri which is a new category 7 Luxury Collection hotel by SPG near the Champs de Elysees. It was scheduled to open on July 5 and our one night in Paris was on July 11. Unbeknownst to us, at some point after our booking the hotel pushed off the opening to July 20 and effectively left us without a place to say. We were not notified by SPG or by the property itself, but a few days before we left on our trip, a friend I had mentioned it to, told me they were in Paris and heard the hotel pushed off their opening.

I logged onto the SPG account and while the rooms were still there, a quick Google search showed that the hotel was indeed not yet open during our stay. I called SPG in a huff and the first rep I spoke to couldn't really care less and told me she can book me into the same room category in a different hotel as long as it had rewards available. Luckily quite a few hotels were still available and after speaking to a supervisor I got us booked into the Prince de Galles Hotel which is also a category 7 LC hotel near the Champs de Elysees. We had booked a deluxe room in the Hotel de Berri which was 31.5K points per room (instead of 30K for a standard room) and they agreed to book me into an art deco room with a balcony which was a category above that in the Prince de Galles. I kept requesting a further upgrade due to the situation and was told only the "relocation team" could help me with that and they promised to call me within a day or 2. I never ended up hearing from them but one of our 2 rooms was upgraded to a slightly larger room with a better view. They couldn't upgrade the second room but I did manage to get a free breakfast for that room out of the manager at check-in. In reality I didn't really care much since it was just one night but it was more the principle of the matter  ;D

When we checked in the manager nearly had a heart attack that we were only staying for 1 night and I couldn't have agreed with him more.

The hotel is adjacent to the Four Seasons Hotel and is absolutely beautiful. The lobby is very luxurious and the service was great as well. Being that we only had 2 suitcases (the other couple had 4) we decided to take our luggage with us to the room instead of waiting for the bell boy and let me tell you, we could barely get the elevator door to close; it was miniscule.

The hotel has 8 floors and luckily we were on the top. The room which is already an "upgrade" was tiny as well but again being that it was 1 night it didn't really bother me and in general I had gotten used to the hotel room sizes in Europe by then already. Our balcony was the width of the entire room though and surprisingly quite large while the bathroom was pretty big as well and just screamt luxury with a marble bathtub and a separate shower - it was almost as big as the room itself.

Our view:



Complimentary macaroons and water delivered to us after check-in:



After freshening up we left the hotel about 4 o'clock and headed towards the Eiffel Tower where I had pre-purchased tickets online for a 5PM entrance. Although many people had warned us about the heat in Paris it had rained on and off earlier so the weather was quite refreshing and perfect for a walk which was about 20 minutes from our hotel.

The obligatory Eiffel Tower picture:



As we were waiting to pass the security line into the ET, we noticed a small group of people being ushered in through a side entrance. It turned out to be Donald Trump Jr. and his new girlfriend along with their security posse  8)

The tickets I had were to take us up to the 1st and 2nd floor. While you can buy tickets to go up to the summit, they were sold out for about a month online when I had checked and it didn't bother me in the least as I enjoy heights about as much as I enjoy boats lol.

The views:

(was a bit cloudy)




The elevator takes you straight up to the second floor where you can of course see the view, there's a little cafe and souvenir shop. Then you can walk or take the elevator down to the first floor where there's a restaurant, another little cafe and a "glass" floor so you can see through to the bottom. They also showed some kind of movie about the history of the Eiffel Tower which I didn't watch but looked interesting. We ended up having to wait like 20 minutes to get down to the bottom from here since the stairs going down were closed for some reason and the elevators were so full we had to wait for the 3rd one to arrive. That was full too but I'm from NY and if there's one thing I know, it's how to push onto a crowded elevator - or subway car  ;)

After we were done we walked back to the hotel and changed for dinner. I had made reservations at Kavod and we were running a little late so we took an Uber there. Can I just preface this by saying WOOOOOOW. We had eaten out in Rome, Venice and in Nice but nothing could compare to the meal we had here in Paris. From the appetizers to the mains to the desserts, everything just blew us away.

Our table post appetizers:



The mains were terrific as well, but wow these desserts. A mango gazpacho I still dream about:





I don't remember what else we had, but there were 6 desserts for 4 people and we had to taste some of everything:



By the time we finished dinner it was about 11PM and we started walking back to the hotel. We ended up walking down the Champs de Elysees until our hotel and from there we could see the Arc de Triomphe so we decided to stroll all the way there and snap some pics. All the shops were closed by that point besides for some restaurants and cafes and the streets so after that we just walked back to our hotel and passed out.

The next morning we checked out and had the hotel hold our luggage which they gladly did. I went to the concierge and told her we have only a few hours, what is the one place she recommend we go if we've already been to the Eiffel Tower and she said of course the Louvre. We were able to buy tickets directly from her (21Euro p/p instead of I believe 17 online) and the bell captain told us there were 2 ways 2 get there if we wanted to walk which was about 40 minutes. We could walk along the river, or the Champs de Elysees and either one is just a straight path to the Louvre.

We started out walking down the Champs de Elysees and we saw all the seats being set up and roads being prepared for closure due to the upcoming Bastille Day Parade which was the next day. We ended up going off route and passed some beautiful streets and shops and it took us about an hour to get to the Louvre. It was of course jam-packed and because we were in a rush we sadly only got to see very little of it. I for one found it fascinating and could have spent many more hours there but now I have a reason to go back.

At least we got to see the Mona Lisa:



After the Louvre we hopped a cab to L'Inte Caffe and again the food was amazing:

Insane bruschetta:



Fettucine alfredo with  mushrooms (and had one with salmon as well)


Risotto:



We were too full for dessert and took an Uber back to the hotel. The hotel gave us access to the fitness lounge downstairs where they had a beautiful shower and we were able to change before heading to the airport. I had remembered that I wanted to pick up some chocolates before we left and the owner of L'Inte had recommended Damyel so we made a quick stop at one of their locations on our way to the airport. I hadn't known that they only sold pareve chocolate but we picked up a few gift boxes to take home and while I'm not a fan of dark chocolate so I didn't taste it, my family loved them.

We had a flight booked on AF nonstop to JFK at 7:10PM. I had managed to find a flight with the 787 Dreamliner and business was about 80K Flying blue points (transferred from Amex with 25% bonus) + about $300 fuel. Once you check in and go through security you have to take a shuttle to your letter terminal and we were in L. As far as I understood it, each of these terminals has a separate Air France lounge. Terminal L was a bit run down and most of it was boarded up and under construction. The lounge was enormous with a nap room, a "spa" a large beverage station and pastries, cold and hot food, etc. However when you actually looked, the glasses were dirty, the juice machines were out of order and there were many flies. When you walked in I thought it was a gorgeous lounge but by the time I left I was kind of put off. It can definitely use some maintenace and upkeep.

This plane has a 1-2-1 configuration and we had the 2 middle seats:





The seats are very comfortable with lots of space



The appetizer portion of the kosher meal was once again entirely frozen:



The main was a sea bass which I skipped (I don't eat fish) but I had the rice and veg it came with and that was decent:



About an hour before landing they also offered another portion which I think was a snack type of meal with a roll but I didn't take it as I was ahalf asleep. Overall the flight was very pleasant and comfortable and although I always say I can't sleep on planes I managed to do so on this one.

So there you have it: All 4 parts of my Europe trip. What I thought would be just a short trip report ended up being a few pages long but I hope this info helps someone else as I always love reading other trip reports when I plan my own trips and most of my inspiration comes from these pages

Online dvol

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Re: Europe Trip - Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo/Nice, Paris
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2018, 12:28:24 PM »
Nice report, beautiful pic of the water in Venice. Thanks for writing up about S of France - not so much about it here!

I know, I had quite a few questions I was wondering about before my trip :).

I believe in Cannes there is old town which is very nice but honestly we were tired of walking at that point so we didn't really explore Cannes or Nice. I did really enjoy Monte Carlo though, but beware that prices there for everything are crazy.

Offline ludmila

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Re: Europe Trip - Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo/Nice, Paris
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2018, 10:27:39 PM »
Nice TR, great pictures, thank you.
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Offline davidmal

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Re: Europe Trip - Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo/Nice, Paris
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2018, 05:12:58 PM »
Awesome
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Re: Europe Trip - Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo/Nice, Paris
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2018, 08:41:48 AM »
Such a big help!
I'm going to Italy next week!
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