Sunday, June 24, 2007

More French lessons with Coco

I met with Coco again for our 4th tutoring session. She had euro money (the real thing) so that I could see and feel the currency and practice giving money and receiving change. In a previous lesson with Numbers, I became slow when the numbers were over one hundred. But we both agreed that it will be unlikely that I pay cash for something that cost that much, and VISA will take care of the math for me.

We practiced making change. She would say a price in French and I had to give her the bills and coins. At first I gave exact change, and then we practiced giving larger bills and checking that the change back was correct. I would stare at the amounts, try to remember the "price" that she originally gave me, work the math, and then tell her if it was correct or not. As I stared at the money trying to gather my thoughts, I could hear my mom and aunt saying "What's wrong, can't you make change?" My end response is normally "Merci" (thank you) with a smile and a hope that perhaps the French storekeepers are better at euro/French math than I am. Heaven help us all if any one is in a hurry.

The currency is interesting. "Euro" is the amount similar to the dollar and Centime is the equivalent to the penny. Other countries call it a "cent" but it is centime in France (sent teem). Cent is 100 in French, so I will stick with the practice in using the correct word, centime.

The bills are all colored. I guess this is in case you don't notice the big number on both sides. The amount is also in the upper left hand corner and is printed partially on the front and partially on the back. If you hold the bill up to the light, you can see the whole amount. It's also interesting that the larger the amount, the larger the size of the paper. This probably helps those who don't notice the number, nor the color. Paper denominations appear to be the same as the US dollar. Coins are a little different. They have a 1 and 2 Euro coin. The centimes are in amounts of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50. Note that the coin is a 20 and not 25, like our quarter. Anyway, see these links if you want to see the currency:

Paris Pass

I ordered our "Paris Pass" today. The good news is that it is a really great price and includes the majority of the sights that we will see. I especially like the "queue-jumping" part (see the list below). The bad news is that I ordered them too late to have them mailed to the house. BUT the "more good news" is that we need to pick them up at Hard Rock Cafe Paris, which is a must see for Kalen. I bought the four day pass so we will most likely use them Tuesday - Friday.

FREE entry to over 60 of the best tourist attractions in Paris
FREE Metro travel and public transport within Paris
Queue-Jumping rights at the busiest Paris tourist attractions
And a range of exclusive discounts, deals and freebies

Friday, June 15, 2007

EuroStar Tickets Arrive

The EuroStar tickets arrived today. I purchased them from Rick Steves' website and there are a few extras included such as maps and a CD of travel tips. I have one place for all of the info and tickets, etc that are starting to come in, so hopefully I won't be in a panic at departure time. The tickets came via UPS, so they were here a few days after ordering them.

I checked the tickets to make sure that everything was perfect. London to Paris: We are on Coach 4, seats 75 and 76. This is a window and an aisle. The Paris to London seats are 51 and 52 on Coach 3 and the seats are on window and aisle also. Cool.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Paris, France - EuroStar

Figuring out how to book the EuroStar was quite interesting. I finally went through Rick Steves website to order the tickets. I wanted to make sure to get them early because the Tour de France is moving from England to Belgium on Monday also. Interesting that the under 26 crowd receives a youth discount, so I was able to save some money on the ticket. Round trip for two of us was $600. The train takes us from London directly to Paris. Both stations have easy access from our hotels.

EuroStar From London to Paris
Economy, 2nd class; 1 adult, 1 youth
[09:09 AM-12:56 PM] 7/9/07, train 9012
London Waterloo to Paris Nord, Seat

EuroStar Paris Nord to London Waterloo
Economy, 2nd class; 1 adult, 1 youth
[12:58 PM-02:57 PM] 7/15/07, train 9079
Paris Nord to London Waterloo, Seat

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Scottsdale, Arizona - French Lessons with Coco

I've wanted to go to Paris since my 9th grade French class. It has always been a magical city in my mind. I understand more than I can speak but there has been an improvement during my French lessons with Coco. I met Coco (Colette) at Scottsdale Community College where she taught two levels of French. She is very approachable and provides an atmosphere where you can work on your speaking with encouraging corrections. I took two semesters of her Level 1 class, and then moved to the Level 2 class for a few more semesters. On Saturdays in June she tutors me at her house so I can focus on vocabulary that I may need for travel and conversation. I listen to podcasts and CDs during the week to help with the process. French lessons continue throughout June for five sessions. Hopefully the effort will result in a few real French conversations.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Paris, France - Hotel selection is complete

The hotels have been selected. I couldn't get a spot at the hotel where Ginan, Kalen and I stayed in London in 2006 (Lime Tree) but they suggested the Windermere. I saved the link on the blog, so you can get an idea of what it is like. I'll have more info once I arrive.

The hotel in Paris was a little more difficult to find, because I didn't know the city. I've been studying maps, and of course there is my favorite resource, Rick Steves. The Internet and email made this a lot easier than it might have been. We are going to be in Paris for Bastille Day weekend, and as soon as I saw one photo of fire works behind the Eiffel Tower I knew that I wanted to be in that area. I found "Hotel de Londres Eiffel" and it looks like a great place. (The photo is from their website. I'll add my own when I can.) Some of the hotels don't have air conditioning, so I needed to be careful about that. I think that we will be happy with both choices.

So, I arrive in London on Friday morning, July 6. I'll check in and have the day to myself. The Tour de France is starting in London this year, and Friday is the day for the Opening Ceremonies. I'm going to try to get to Trafalgar Square for that event. Kalen will finish his internship with a dinner on Friday night, and then meet me at the hotel on Saturday. We'll spend the weekend in London and on Monday go to Paris. We stay in Paris until the following Sunday, and return to the Windermere for a few more days.