Paris and Barcelona Trip Report!
I just returned from a great trip to Paris and Barcelona with a friend. This was not a points trip at all, as I’m new to this hobby and couldn’t wait for enough points to post before traveling! My friend and I both needed a vacation, and both wanted to see Paris. I’m by no means a pro at finding flights, but I read up as much as I could on using tools like the ITA matrix and began to search for flights to book our trip. While searching I came across a website called www.europeandestinations.com. It turned out I couldn’t piece together a better deal than we found in a hotel/flight package on a random website. I think if we had been willing to wait or time our trip differently we may have saved more piecing it together ourselves, but I still feel like we got a good deal based on the prices I found. So we went ahead and booked our trip through europeandestinations.com. While our original intent was to visit Paris, we found for just a couple hundred dollars more we could spend five nights in Paris and then three nights in Barcelona after a short flight from Paris ORLY. I was a little nervous about booking through a random site, but everything went perfectly and we were very happy with our resulting trip!
I will be writing this trip report up in segments covering the flights, hotels, attractions and even some of the dumb things I did. Stay tuned as more will follow!
Flying To Paris –
This trip was my first international flight in almost ten years. We started out with a short flight to Atlanta, on which my friend and I both scored a confirmed upgrade a day out! As a Silver Medallion on Delta, I’ve only ever been upgraded last minute at the gate – so that was a welcome surprise. Started the trip out right!
The flight to Paris – Charles De Gaulle (CDG) from Atlanta on Air France was not as nice. Even though we had selected a window seat and the seat next to it we somehow wound up in the middle of the plane. We were also luckily seated right next to a sick woman who refused to cover her mouth or turn her head when she coughed/sneezed. Many travel bloggers post about flying business class. It always seemed odd to me to use double the miles to fly somewhere instead of flying economy and then later taking a second trip. I COMPLETELY understand after this flight and am so glad my long flight to Japan will be business class! Our seats were incredibly uncomfortable. There was enough leg room which was surprising but the seat itself was very very hard. Our flight left Atlanta at 8:45pm and landed at CDG around 11am (six hour time difference). My friend slept about an hour and a half and I slept about a half hour of the entire flight. Not quite how were were hoping to start out.
On the Air France flight they served the first meal shortly after takeoff. It’s nice that they do serve meals, and as I typically only fly domestic flights I was not used to it. I was worried before the trip it would be entirely like domestic economy and absolutely miserable. The chicken meal option I selected was decent, and I enjoyed the complimentary beer/wine option the international flight provided as well.
The on-board entertainment was fine, I watched the Life of Pi. Halfway through the unit glitched and I had to fast forward from the beginning to get back to where I was. Shortly before landing they served a small breakfast as well. The entire flight went pretty smoothly and we landed on time. After about 45 minutes in line to get through immigration we were ready to head into Paris!
It was at this point I had my first conversation using my (terrible) high school level French. I was really proud of myself, but I must have had a horrified look on my face when the guy started speaking French very quickly because he soon after switched to English. I went the whole conversation in French and then my friend pointed out I ended with “Thank you!”. Opps!
Upon arrival we took the RER B from the airport to Denfert-Rochereau and then walked to our hotel, Hotel Cardinal Rive Gauche. The RER trip into Paris cost us €9,50 each (about $25 for the two of us) and my Citi Hilton Reserve Card worked fine in the machine. We had no Euros on us upon arrival, and planned to find an ATM once we got into Paris. This worked out pretty well as we found a BNP Paribas right on the way to our hotel. We were looking for BNP Paribas in specific since they do not charge any withdrawal fees for Bank of America customers.
Much more to come on the hotel, Paris and Spain – stay tuned!