Monthly Archives: July 2016

Bus by fairbrandi

Transport around Florence

Florence is one of the best destinations in Europe for travellers seeking heaps of culture, great food and pleasant temperatures. Millions pass through this small city every year and getting around has never been easier, with options including public buses, trams, taxis, cars and of course affordable bike rental. You can get from one end of the city to another in no time at all, allowing you to take part in copious amounts of gelato eating and sightseeing in Michelangelo’s playground.

Buses

Public transport is widely used in Florence by locals and foreigners alike. The main line is run by ATAF (the buses are either orange or the newer models are a deep purple and white colour). A single ticket is valid for 90 minutes and there are a variety of options you can choose from. Purchase your tickets from authorised sales points (tobacconists, bars, newsagents: anyone with ‘ATAF’ stickers on their shop windows). You can also buy tickets and maps from the ATAF booth in Piazza Stazione (on the left as you exit the station). Call the ProntoAtaf hotline toll-free within Italy (800 424500) or obtain more information online at www.ataf.net.

Mini bus by Rob MarsonTravelling by bus in Florence can be a frustrating experience. Diverted routes are common, meaning that your journey can often take longer than it should. Rush hour sees most buses packed to the gunnels, and bus services don’t run overnight. Nor are there any specific night buses, but they will occasionally run until late at night if there’s a special city-sponsored event on.

On the plus side, there are plenty buses around, with air conditioning in the summer, and wheelchair accessibility. More and more bus stops now have real-time displays of arrival times, and you can now buy your tickets via SMS on your mobile. Just send a text saying ‘ATAF’ to 4880105 before getting on the bus. The cost of the ticket is 1.20€ plus the cost of the text message, which will vary according to the operator.

When it comes to tickets, if you’re going to be a regular users of the buses, opt for the ‘Carta Agile’. This is a discounted bulk ticket which allows 10 trips for 10€ or 20 trips for 20€. Instead of stamping the card at the machine, you will swipe it in front to start your trip.

Outside of Florence the bus lines are CAP, FlorentiaBus, Lazzi and Sita (now called BusItalia).

Trams

tram by xlibberFlorence only has one electric tram line, the T1, which runs from its own station on Via Alamanni (close to the Santa Maria Novella train station) to the suburbs of Scandicci. Calling in at 14 different stops along the way, an end-to-end journey takes around 25 minutes, operating from 05:30 to midnight every day.

The tram is a frequent, reliable service, and is definitely the easiest way to reach Scandicci. Within the city centre, it stops off at Cascine, Florence’s largest park. You can expect to pay the same for the tram as you would on the bus. The T1 doesn’t operate at night, however – the last tram leaves at midnight.

Taxis

Florence is an unusual city in that it’s not customary to flag down a taxi in the street. Instead, you will need to either find a taxi rank or book ahead (taxis do tend to arrive quickly after you’ve called). There are two major taxi companies in the city – Taxi Radio (tel 055 4499/4390) and Taxi Socota (tel 055 4242 or 055 4798).

Rates tend to be quite confusing, and the best thing to do is confirm the price with the driver as soon as you get into the cab. Bear in mind that there’s a baggage supplement too (currently 1€ per suitcase).

Renting a bike

Navigating Florence by bike is a great way to get to know the city up close, as well as save money on parking and get a little exercise at the same time. There several bike rental options scattered across the city.

Bike by delicategeniusSponsored by the municipality of Florence, the ‘Mille e una Bici’ service was set up to promote the use of bikes by the city’s population. You can pick up a rental bike at various locations, including the central railway station, Campo di Marte and Rifredi railway stations and Piazza Ghiberti. To hire a bike for a whole costs a reasonable 10€.

Private bike hire companies are also to be found, of course. Try Alinari Rental, offering bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles, or ‘Florence by Bike’, renting out both bicycles and scooters.

Take the tourist bus

As in many cities, an ideal way to cover lots of ground with minimal hassle is to jump on the city sightseeing bus. These open top buses take you round the city’s most important monuments, and provide you with multi-lingual audio guides so you can hear a little history along the way. Hop on and hop off as many times as you like, depending on which sights take your fancy.

City Sightseeing Firenze is the operator of the Florence City Sightseeing tours, and clients of GowithOh automatically receive a discount to the service.

Activities & tours in Florence to book online


All Tours & Activities in Florence

Parking in Florence

While public transport is usually a much better option for getting around Florence, there are several parking zones dotted around the historical city centre. Be careful not to drive into town during the ZTL hours (every day apart from Sunday until 19:30). The official website with all the parking information is http://www.firenzeparcheggi.it/.

If you drive along the Arno River, you can park anywhere you see a ‘blue line’/pay parking area – just park and find a machine nearby to buy the ticket. Remember to display it on your windshield.

Shopping in Berlin: the essentials in the German capital

Although Berlin has never been considered as one of the fashion capitals in Europe, the German capital keeps treasures in its larger streets for shopping. The design, marking an alternative clothing style is an innovation that characterises this city makes it an unusual place to shop. Would you like to find out what are the main places for shopping Berlin?

shopping en BerlinIt’s important to note that in Berlin there are many areas where you can go shopping, as there are no specific shopping complexes. The city remains divided because of its recent history: less than 30 years ago was divided in two and therefore the main parts of interest are divided into East and West.

Therefore, when you access Berlin from the highway, it is easy to be confused with the signs for the first exit towards the center where you can go shopping in Berlin. The road is divided in two opposite directions, all towards the centre: one refers to the Mitte district and the other one to the Charlottenburg district.

Whether in Mitte or Charlottenburg, we suggest that you get lost in its streets and go shopping when on a trip to the German capital. Berlin Shopping is an experience worth living so you can mix with the city inhabitants.

The main shopping areas in Berlin

Alexanderplatz

alexanderplatzThe most important commercial district in Berlin Mitte is Alexanderplatz. The square itself is one of the worst examples of overbuilding in Germany, but has always been a meeting place for young Berliners.

After the unification of the city, shops and clothes shops began to appear. Also, there is the Galeria Kaufhof and several large shopping centres such as the Alexa.

Hackescher Market

Hackescher MarktThe second commercial center of the city Hackescher Markt which was created recently, can be found nor far from Alexanderplatz. In the area, in addition to the many cafes there are also many stores, chains or premium brands, particularly regarding the young fashion and luxury fashion.

Fridrichstasse

Quartier 206The last shopping street in the east is the famous Fridrichstrasse. It is known as the 5th Avenue of Berlin for its many shops, houses, offices and cafes. It is the most representative commercial area of the city, as this avenue that has the charm of the imperial history and nineteenth century Berlin.

The most important fashion brands in Germany are located In Fridrichstrasse. Also, you can access the Lafayette Galleries which were designed by Jean Nouvel, and the opulent architecture in black and white marble from the nearby Department store Quartier 206.

Kurfürstendamm

The “Ku’damm” avenue is the ultimate shopping destination in Berlin and is considered one of the most important in Germany. The boulevard is 3.5 km long and stretches from Breitscheidplatz with the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Charlottenburg until Rathenauplatz in Grunewald, where the West Berlin districts begin.

Ku'dammAround Breitscheidplatz, there are many boutiques and shops. In the side streets like Fasanenstrasse, you can visit the most luxurious shopping areas of the city, where there are business and cafes in the historic buildings.

Among the Memorial Church and Adenauerplatz there are many fashion name brands, Lagerfeld for Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent. Furthermore, in Tauentzienstraße, directly in Wittenbergplatz, are the famous department stores Kaufhaus des Westens, known as KaDeWe with seven floors and where you can purchase luxury items.

Schloßstraße

SchloßstraßeThe last major commercial area is located in Berlin’s Steglitz district, south of Berlin. The shopping street is the Schloßstraße (The Steglitz Mix) and is a little tourist place, so we recommend you go if you want to mingle with real Berliners during your day of Berlin shopping.

Here you can also see the famous Titania Palast building, where the first edition of the Berlinale took place.

Even today Berlin has many treasures to be discovered by tourists. Among them are the areas that are excellent for shopping in Berlin. In addition to adding items to dress up your wardrobe it will also be a great opportunity to mingle with Berliners. Not only that, but you can dive deeper into the old downtown areas that once divided Berlin.

Do you already know which of these areas you’ll start your shopping in Berlin? We would like you to share your experiences and tips with other travelers!

currywurst by Accidental Hedonist

Food in Berlin

Berlin has long been a melting pot of culture, brought to boil through its convenient location right in the middle of Europe. That ‘melting pot’ has never been more evident than through Berlin’s beautiful affair with gastronomy – a mixture of styles and influences from across the world. Don’t worry, though, as despite what the analogy implies, Berlin’s proverbial pot has all but melted and the varieties of food to experience in the city has never been greater.

Not your typical German menu

Currywurst by mucksterLike much of German cuisine, Berlin’s traditional fare has a tendency to be filling rather than fussy. Two strong examples of this are Würzfleisch – roasted and spiced meat covered in gravy and cheese and served with bread – and Eisbein, a roasted pig knuckle served with sauerkraut. However, due to Berlin’s incredibly multi-cultural make-up the city has adopted the foods of dozens of nations, and what is traditional in Berlin is now not so clear cut.

Many might argue that the Döner kebab, a snack of Turkish origin, is now as Berliner as the Brandenburg Gate. In fact, it has been reported that it was here in Berlin where the modern-style Döner kebab was first invented. Another peculiar dish specific to Berlin is the Currywurst. Consisting of boiled, then fried pork sausage, drizzled in ketchup and dusted with curry powder, we appreciate the end result doesn’t sound overly satisfying. However, it will surprise you, as this snack has fans all over the world and has become an institution in itself within Berlin. (It even has its own museum in the city!)

Berlin also proudly holds the title of having the most Michelin-starred restaurants in all of Germany. With a grand total of 13 restaurants currently holding this prestige title, when it comes to food, the city outshines its more opulent cousins Munich and Hamburg. The creative ambience that has ushered in so many artists of all kinds over the years is evidently rubbing off on Berlin’s food scene, making the city a true culinary powerhouse.

With so many restaurants to choose from, here are some of our favourites.

6 restaurants worth visiting in the city

The Bird – A lively New York style steakhouse

The Bird is a bar that presents a serious dichotomy. The food couldn’t be less Berlin – as an American-style diner – but the atmosphere, curiously, couldn’t be more Berlin. The amazing steaks and burgers (arguably the best in Berlin) and the Bird’s fair prices attract a clientele from all corners of the city’s society, with the multilingual staff and the cosy ambience keeping them there.Döner Kebab by add1sun

Hasir – where the Döner was first invented

This Kreuzberg institution is worthy of a visit for one thing alone – it is where the Döner kebab as we know it today was first invented. The fresh ingredients and authentic flavours have meant this place has remained a favourite for kebab lovers in Berlin for the last 40 years.

Curry 66 – the spiciest Currywurst in all of Berlin!

This renowned Friedrichshain restaurant is a hotspot in more ways than one. Serving arguably the spiciest Currywurst in town, this diner is always full of fans of the famous dish, if not for the exceptionally charismatic workers who will make you feel at home. The food here really is delicious, although we recommend you start at the bottom of the scale when it comes to the sauces…

Sauvage – something out of the ordinary

Sauvage is a restaurant with a difference, serving only food that aligns perfectly with the diet of Paleolithic man (the first restaurant in the world to do so). Don’t worry, though, as the food isn’t served in the same fashion that cavemen may have enjoyed, but in an exclusive setting where the creative menu and calming ambience work together perfectly to create a dining experience like no other.

pork knuckle by numeniaZum Schusterjungen – traditional Berlin

This typical Berliner restaurant has been serving up traditional food in Prenzlauer Berg for over 90 years. The typical alt-Berliner (old Berlin) style food they serve is as hearty and satisfying as you would expect. A great rustic Berliner atmosphere makes this a quint-essential Berliner Küche and a must on any visit.

Mani – for a little bit of luxury

This restaurant, situated inside the hotel of the same name in Berlin Mitte, offers diners affordable luxury. With an exquisite set-up you can eat fare from all over the globe, exquisitely prepared and fabulously presented. What’s more the amazing food is sold at reasonable prices that won’t leave your wallet empty.

We hope this guide has given you the basics as to what to expect from Berlin’s dynamic food scene. Most importantly, though, be bold with your choices, and don’t be afraid to try something new. After all, that is what Berlin’s all about.

Tram by joefutrelle

Transport around Amsterdam

Given the huge range of transport options to choose from, travelling through Amsterdam is a breeze. Bicycles are the most popular way of getting around (locals say there are more bikes than people in Amsterdam), but trams, buses and the metro system are options too. On the 9292 website you can plan your journey down to the finest detail, whether you want to take the bus, tram, metro, train or even the ferry. Make sure you download their mobile app or visit their mobile website and you’ll be navigating Amsterdam’s streets in no time.

Tram

Tram by Generaal GibsonThe tram system in Amsterdam is one of the largest in Europe. GVB (Gemeentevervoersbedrijf) is the official tram operator, running 16 tram lines traversing the city. Trams run daily from 06:00 to 00:30 (see map of all tram stops across the city). The ‘I Amsterdam’ card gives you unlimited use of GVB transport, which includes trams, buses and the metro, as well as several discounts and free access to attractions across the city. The card costs 42€ a day, 52€ for two days and for three days you’ll pay 62€. You can buy the card at several places, including the tourist information office at Stationsplein 10 and at Ticketshop at Leidseplein. 

Another possible payment option is a PT Smart Card (in Dutch known as an ‘OV Chipkaart’). You can use this electronic card with a built-in chip for Amsterdam trams, buses, metro and trains, which makes getting around the city pretty convenient. Before getting on board, you check in by holding your card up to the screen at the gate, and the same goes before you get off. GVB provides PT Smart Cards for tourists, ranging from one to seven days. A card for one day costs 7.50€ and rates for more days start from 12€ for two days to 32€ for seven days. You don’t need to top up this PT Smart Card with credit, because the fares include unlimited travel within the relevant time period.

If you’d rather explore the city on foot, and don’t plan to use public transport very much, you can buy an anonymous PT Smart Card for 7.50€ at supermarkets and ‘Bruna’ (book shops), which is valid for four to five years. Before you can use this card, top it up with credit at several service points across the city. You should bear in mind that you always have to check in and check out before you board and get off the vehicle. Otherwise, you would have to pay the full boarding rate, which is pretty pricey. If you want more information about the PT Smart Card, take a look at the OV-Chipkaart website.

If you intend to use the tram just once or twice during your stay, you can also buy a single-use disposable ticket direct from the tram driver.

Bus

Bus stop by yozzaGVB operates 55 bus lines in Amsterdam, with buses running from 06:00 till 00:30 every day. Night buses run from 00:30 until 07:00. You’ll see Amsterdam’s main bus station when you walk out of Central Station (a train station) heading towards the city centre. Bus timetables are on display at every bus stop in the city.

Metro

Because Amsterdam’s a relatively small city, only four metro lines operate across it. Even though the metro is a fast and convenient way of travelling, in Amsterdam it’s more useful when you want to travel to the outlying districts rather than around the city centre. The metro runs from 06:00 till 12:30 and has a total of 52 metro stops.

Bicycle

Riding a bike is often thought of as a typical Dutch activity, and in Amsterdam the stereotype is certainly very much in evidence. If you fancy seeing the city on two wheels, you’ll find plenty of bike rental places all over the city. Rates vary per company, but an average bike rental costs 10€ per day, depending on the type of model you want to hire.

Taxi

In October 2012 new taxi standards were put in place by the municipality of Amsterdam, meaning that taxi drivers must be registered members of an Approved Taxi Organisation. You’ll be able to spot these legit taxis by their black colour, roof light with a unique number and blue license plate.

A taxi ride consists of three parts: a connection fee, the price per kilometre and a price for the duration of the trip. The maximum connection fee is 2.83€, the maximum rate per kilometre is 2.08€ and you pay 0.34€ per minute for the maximum time rate. You can either hail a cab in the street or find one at one of the 60 official taxi sites in the city (marked with blue signs saying ‘P-taxi’).

Ferry

ferry by David SpenderThe ferry takes you on a boat trip over Lake IJ for free and transports you to various locations, like the IJplein (square near the IJ). The lake separates the heart of Amsterdam from Amsterdam-North and you can find the ferries right behind the Central Station. If you’re worried about getting seasick, you’ll be pleased to know the trip takes just five minutes. The ferries run every day, every quarter hour. You can plan your ferry ride at the official website of GVB.

Food in Paris

As one of the most food-loving cities in the world, it’s easy to understand why many visitors to Paris go for food-inspired holidays. Whether travellers go for the opportunity to munch on fresh French favourites like the buttery pain au chocolat, garlic-infused snails or the more sophisticated take on a sandwich, the Croque Monsieur, Paris is deliciously tempting.

Many restaurants in Paris don’t open every day of the week, so check opening times of restaurants on your must-visit list to avoid disappointment.

French food products and snacks

mm stuff by roboppyThere are plenty of artisan food shops in Paris worth a look without even having to go for a sit-down meal.

For freshly baked goods, Maison Kayser is a favourite Parisian boulangerie. Serving baguettes and other freshly baked breads, sandwiches, cupcakes and petit fours, it’s too tempting not to stop for a snack. The colourful, modern and totally indulgent La Pâtisserie des Rêves is for the sweet-toothed only, overflowing with everything from macaroons to seasonal gateaux.

Chocolate-lovers must make a stop at Debauve & Gallais, which has been around since 1800. The founder Debauve designed the disc-shaped chocolates called ‘Pistoles de Marie Antoinette’, to administer the Queen more palatable medicine disguised in chocolate. You can still buy them to this day, minus the medicine, of course.

Le Rustique cheese fondue - sherry soaking by cookiepediachefWine-lovers will have a ball in Paris, roving from one wine bar to another. If you’re looking to buy some to take home, the traditional Ryst-Dupeyron has been in operation since 1905. The shop has almost 100 vintages of Armagnac alone, with some dating back to the 1800s.

Wine’s not quite the same without cheese, and the House of Cheese at Androuet will sate your appetite, selling an impressive selection of handcrafted and farm cheeses. There are plenty of butchers across the city too, who sell their own pâtés and other potted meats. Maison Guyard is an especially popular charcuterie located on rue de Verneuil.

Markets

A more time-effective way to sample France’s favourite foods is to do so all under one roof. Galeries Lafayette sells a range of gourmet and traditional French foods, complete with tasting bars and deli counters. Le Marche d’Aligre operates every day except Monday and can be found near Bastille. As well as French food products, there’s a strong influence from north Africa foods too.

Café culture

Paris is famous for its café culture, and there’s no shortage of options for all-day cafés to stop for a petit noir (espresso) or more substantial meal. Le Bonaparte is where all the Parisians go and can be found at Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, one of the most famous areas for cafés and people watching. The café’s rich brown interior feels very traditional, while the pavement seating is good for watching street musicians.

Croissant et cafe au lait by Christine RondeauLes Deux Magots is found near Le Bonaparte and its famous patrons include Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso. It’s still an institution for café culture today and is increasingly a stop on the tourist trail.

Café des 2 Moulins found fame in the film Amélie, and is located in the Blanche neighbourhood. It’s a typical local café today and a great stop before experiencing the street market outside.

Le Coutume Café is an industrial style space with all the mod-cons of the coffee-making world, as it also supplies restaurants and hotels across the city with freshly roasted beans. It’s popular for breakfast or lunch as well.

La Caféothèque gets rave reviews from coffee buffs, who give high praise to the daily roasted coffee beans imported from small coffee growers from across the world.

Fine dining

Paris is brimming with Michelin-starred restaurants including scores with a hefty 3-star accolade. Many people flock to Paris for a three Michelin star dining experience and if you’re one of them, make sure you budget at least 250€ per head and make a reservation well in advance.

Le Meurice (23) by sunday driverThe three Michelin starred Le Meurice has a menu full of French favourites, such as fricasseed snails with wild garlic, while the interior provides a combination of original 18th-century features and modern Philippe Starck creations.

Ledoyen is one of the oldest restaurants in the city, dating back to the 1700s, and is also the proud owner of three Michelin stars. Cuisine includes classic and more modern favourites, including the infamous spaghetti with white ham and truffles.

L’Astrance on Rue Beethoven is another Paris institution that is Michelin-starred to the hilt and has been featured as one of the world’s top 50 restaurants seven years in a row by San Pellegrino. Chef Pascal Barbot’s signature dish of a galette of raw mushrooms, verjus marinated foie gras with hazelnut oil and lemon confit is globally famous.

There’s also a current wave of more trendy, not yet Michelin-starred fine dining experiences in Paris. Spring, a restaurant by American chef Daniel Rose located in a 17th-century Les Halles house, is bringing internationally inspired flavours to the Paris dining scene, while Les Tablettes has a starched, ultra-modern interior that moves away from the more traditional Parisian glamour found elsewhere.

Intimate dining

Jeanne A (Paris) by Meg ZimbeckEven if a restaurant is not Michelin-starred in Paris, there are plenty of cosy and more wallet-friendly options for excellent cuisine. Huitrerie Regis is a little off the beaten track in the backstreets of Saint Germain des Pres and is especially known for its fresh oysters. Thoumiux is an all-day brasserie on rue Saint-Dominique with soft globe lighting and a la carte prices from 10€.

Ribouldingue is an unassuming-looking restaurant in the Latin Quarter with very traditional French flavours like white kidneys and ewe’s cheese. Also a famous wine bar, Le Rubis, on a backstreet near the Louvre, serves typical bistro meals like beef bourguignon, for reasonable prices.

Brasserie de l’Ile St-Louis is another traditional and charming Parisian favourite, with great views of the Notre Dame from its terrace. Over in the Marais neighbourhood, a slight more quirky bistro option less frequented by tourists is Le Taxi Jaune.

International cuisine

Boqueria - Dish by ZagatBuzzWhile the French have a love affair with their own traditional French flavours, there’s an increasing number of quality restaurants offering international cuisine.

Chez l’Ami Jean is widely cited as the best restaurant for Basque cuisine in Paris and the cosy location on rue Malar makes for an intimate meal. Restaurant Afghani, near Montmartre, is another favourite for local foodies looking for the more exotic flavours of Afghanistan.

404 is a Moroccan restaurant with a stunning interior matched by typical Moroccan flavours on rue des Gravilliers. Le Chari is an African restaurant near Place de la Republique, and the soulful African adornments accompany cuisine that makes you feel far away.

Candelaria is more of a bar than a restaurant, but serves cheap and cheerful tacos and tostadas that patrons rave about. Yam’Tcha has Asian-inspired menus served inside a traditional wooden-beamed Les Halles building. Le Lac de l’Ouest on rue Volta is one of the best Chinese restaurants in the city, a fact reinforced by its stable of regular Chinese patrons.

Proper sushi is hard to find in Paris, making Sushiya a rare discovery. Found on rue Pradier, many regulars bring their own alcohol to accompany their meal – another uncommon practice elsewhere in the city.

Finally, you can’t go far wrong with Italian food, wherever in the world you may be. Caffé del Cioppi is a tiny Italian trattoria on rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine that never disappoints, while Procopio Angelo on rue Juliette Dodu is packed with traditional Tuscan favourites.

Transport around Paris

Between the Metro system, buses, good old-fashioned walking and the romantic French ideal of cycling (with a basket for your baguettes of course), getting around Paris is a breeze.

Metro

Paris metro sign by FlickrDelusionsThe Metro (Metropolitan Railway) subway system in Paris is by far one of the easiest and quickest ways to get around. It runs from 05:30 until 00:45 Sunday to Thursday and until about 01:45 on Friday and Saturday. The Metro system is perfect for exploring the most central areas of Paris, with 300 stations covering a 10km² swathe of central Paris. The 16 lines are number and colour-coded so you can get almost anywhere by interchanging at the right stations. Take a Metro map with you to keep on track. Trains come every two to 10 minutes.

While many tourists buy Paris Visite cards from travel agents before they go to Paris (10.55€ per day or 33.70€ for five days for zones 1 to 3), it is more cost-effective to buy tickets from the station when you’re there. You’re likely to spend the majority of your time in zone 1, where a single fare costs 1.70€, or a packet of 10 single tickets (called a ‘carnet’) costs 13.30€. Alternatively, unlimited travel for a day in zones 1 to 2 costs 6.60€ on a ‘Ticket Mobilis’. Weekly passes are also available in the form of plastic contactless cards, but only run from Monday to Sunday (i.e. you can’t buy them to commence mid-week). They are reasonably priced, with a week-long pass for zones 1 to 2 costing 19.80€.

RER

The RER (Regional Express Network) is another rail system with five lines (RER A to E), connecting the suburbs with central Paris. With fewer stops and the ability to use it interchangeably with the Metro, it can be a useful option for visitors to travel between larger stations in Paris more quickly, or to travel slightly further out of the central Paris zones. If you stay within zones 1 and 2, you can travel on the same ticket as you’d use on the Metro. Outside of these zones you’ll need another ticket, priced according to the stations you’ll be travelling between. Fares range between 1.70€ and 11.00€ for a single journey, depending on how far you’re travelling. The RER runs on a schedule, with trains approximately every 15 minutes between 05:00 and midnight.

Bus

Bus Parisien by wirewipingA network of buses connect Paris well and any bus can also be used interchangeably with the Metro and RER. Many prefer to take the Metro to avoid heavy traffic, particularly in rush hour. Most bus stops these days have electronic displays and maps to help you find your way; tourist offices across the city also offer free bus route maps. A combination of day and ‘Noctilien’ night buses means Paris can be travelled efficiently at any time of day. Tickets and fares are the same as the ones used on the Metro.

Bicycle

As is the trend in many cities at the moment, Paris has its own bike-sharing system complete with 20,000 bicycles available for casual hire. Vélib has 1,800 bike stations across the city and you’re never further than 300 metres away from one. A one-day ticket costs a mere 1.70€ or a 7-day ticket 8€ and tickets can be bought on the day or online in advance. To take your bike, just walk up to any bike terminal, follow the on-screen instructions at the terminals there and your bike will be released. All Vélib bicycles come with a handy basket on the front too. Very Parisian! Note bicycles are not allowed on the Metro, except on line 1 on Sundays. The RER does allow bicycles outside of peak travel times.

Taxi

Paris has thousands of taxis zipping around, identifiable by the white light on top that says ‘Taxi Parisien’. You can flag them down or queue at a smattering of taxis ranks across the city. The starting fare is 2.10€, increasing by a rate of approximately 0.80€ per kilometre from 10:00 to 17:00 Monday to Saturday. Outside of these times the rate is closer to 1.10€ per kilometre. Taxis mostly take a maximum of three passengers, as insurance reasons makes taking a fourth difficult. You can also pre-order a taxi by calling the Paris central taxi switchboard on 01 4530 3030.

River

Paris Breaks by Batobus by AndyRobertsPhotosFor more scenic journeys, it’s possible to travel via boat on the Seine with a company called  Batobus. With a network of major stops including Champs-Élysées, the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, it can incorporate an interesting mode of transport to your travel plans. A day pass costs 12€ and a 3-day pass costs 17€; you can hop on and off of boats as much as you want to during that time. Boats run every 15 to 30 minutes between 10:00 and 21:30 in summer and 10:30 until 16:30 in winter.

Foot

With most of the main sights of Paris contained within a relatively small area, getting around by foot is easy and helps you experience more of the city. Either collect a map from a tourist office or your hotel and find your own way around, or take advantage of one of the city’s many walking tour operators.

Shopping in Paris: the essentials in the French capital

Remember the famous scene of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman shopping on Rodeo Drive in Las Vegas? How could you forget it! If there is a city in Europe that can mimic this famous scene, that place is Paris. Would you like to find out why? In this article you will learn also what the main areas for shopping in Paris are.

paris shoppingParis receives has many nicknames: it’s known as the City of Lights as it’s the birthplace of the enlightened thoughts of Europe during the French Revolution; the City of Love for its magical atmosphere and romantic because millions of couples have fallen in love; and the city of fashion, for the many brands and upscale boutiques are concentrated in it.

Not only the boutiques make Paris a city famous for fashion, the fashion week in Europe is also hosted there annually. Next to Milan, Paris one of the few European cities where the fashion sense is highly developed. You cannot leave Paris without having gone shopping, and we assure you that you will make a complete 180 degree turn to what you usually find in your closet.

Want to know where you should go for a fantastic day of shopping in Paris? Here we’ll show you!

Main areas for shopping in Paris

Champs Elysées

There is a famous song by Joe Dassin that says: “Il ya tout ce que vous voulez aux Champs Elysées” (there is anything you want on the Champs Elysees). This majestic avenue more than 1km from the centre of Paris is one of the main streets for shopping in all of Europe.

champs elysees louis vuittonJust walking down it, you will understand why it is a must see for places to go shopping in Paris. Crowned at its top by the Arc de Triomphe and ending with the Louvre’s
gardens, Tuileries and Place de la Concorde, the Champs Elysées will blow you away from beginning to end.

You can find big brands like Prada, Dolce Gabbana or even a 3 storey Louis Vuitton building. Curiously, you should know that to access this brand, you have to make a separate line of a museum: there is even a security guard who sets the guidelines for the people who may or may not enter!
Also, you will find not only boutiques and luxury brands, but there are also many banks (like BNP) located on this avenue; culture has not escaped the Champs Elysées: you will find several cinemas and a large Virgin store where you can buy CDs or books.

Galleries La Fayette

la fayette parisThe ultimate expression of luxury as far as fashion and accessories for women are concerned, he is in the famous Galleries Lafayette. This is a place full of elegance and good taste, where you can also see their spectacular showcases.

To get to the Galleries Lafayette, you can go to the metro stop Opera. You can also arrive quickly with the L12 in the station Saint Lazare.

Chatelet

One of the favorite areas for Parisians to go shopping in Paris is at the shopping centre called the Chatelet, in the Marais district (1st Arrondissement). It can be accessed from the same metro station, or is only a few meters from the Pompidou Centre.

Here you will find brands such as Zara, Bershka and Mango, as well as many grocery stores. It is also a place of leisure because there are theaters and several restaurants there too.

La Défense

La Defense is the most famous business district of Paris, and can be recognised easily him from the Arc de Triomphe: its tall skyscrapers mean that it is unmistakable to the city skyline.

la defense parisIn La Defense, which you can reach by metro L1 or RER A (red), you can get lost in a big shopping complex, one of the main places for shopping for the inhabitants of the outskirts of the city (or what is known as the banlieue). Not only are the shops for everyone in the metro and train station, but there is a shopping center that can be reached from outside.

In the La Defense shopping centre you’ll find the same brands as in Châtelet, being divided into 3 floors with restaurants and cinemas.

Marché aux Puces

marche aux pucesYou cannot leave Paris without getting to know one of its most popular markets: The Flea Market. This open-air market takes place every Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and is very close to the metro station de Marcadet-Poissoniers.

This is a very special place in the French capital where you will see another side of the city. It’s not so famous for the products sold there, but by the prices you’ll find there. There are several stands with shoes reduced by over 25% compared to shop prices.

In Paris, it’s impossible not to feel like a Hollywood star when you go shopping. What did you think of this walk through the main shopping areas in Paris? Did you already know about any of them? Tell us about your experience and leave your recommendations for other travelers!

Lo shopping a Barcellona: i 5 posti imperdibili per gli acquisti nella capitale catalana

Barcelona és bona si la bossa sona”. (Barcellona è meglio con le tasche piene).

Questo detto popolare ha proprio ragione! La città catalana, in effetti, è ideale per uscire a fare shopping a Barcellona. Non solo per la varietà dell’offerta, ma anche perché le principali aree commerciali sono anche le più turistiche e le più interessanti. Scopri insieme a noi dove andare a fare shopping a Barcellona!

shopping en BarcelonaBarcellona, come saprai, è anche sinonimo di design. L’idiosincrasia dei suoi negozi riflette la volontà di sbandierare il design e l’originalità, così come avviene con le facciate moderniste dei suoi palazzi. Perché fare shopping a Barcellona significa anche perdersi tra i palazzi della zona modernista della città, come per esempio il Paseo de Gracia, o passeggiare attraverso la storia medievale della città, come accade nel Barrio Gotico.

Se hai già preparato la tua lista della spesa per uscire a fare acquisti per Barcellona, adesso devi soltanto segnarti quali sono le zone d’interesse secondo quello che hai bisogno di comprare, o in base alle zone più vicine alla tua casa vacanze. Se sei pronto, prepara il portafogli, ed esci a fare shopping a Barcellona!

Le principali zone dello shopping a Barcellona

Portal de l’Àngel

Se esiste una zona per eccellenza per fare shopping a Barcellona, questa è il Portal de l’Àngel. Rappresenta il centro nevralgico dei negozi della città. Per arrivare al Portal de l’Àngel, potrai prendere come punto di riferimento Plaza Cataluña (linee L1 e L3 della metro di Barcellona): è la strada parallela alle Ramblas sulla sinistra, con Plaza Cataluña alle spalle.

shopping en BarcelonaPortal de l’Àngel è l’accesso principale al Barrio Gotico di Barcellona. Per questo, questa strada sarà piena di amanti dello shopping e di turisti. Da qui si arriva facilmente alla Cattedrale di Barcellona o alla Plaza Sant Jaume, dove si trova la sede del Comune.

Nel Portal de l’Àngel troverai le principali marche di abbigliamento come per esempio Zara, Pull&Bear, H&M, ma anche il centro commerciale Corte Inglés, con quattro piani dedicati esclusivamente a marche di abbigliamento di alta categoria, e un negozio ufficiale del FC Barcelona. Potrai sbizzarrirti facendo shopping a Barcellona!

Inoltre, in uno dei vicoli che attraversano il Portal de l’Àngel, troverai l’antico rifugio dei modernisti a Barcellona: il Ristorante Els 4 Gats. All’inizio del XX secolo, gli artisti del modernismo di Barcellona erano soliti recarvici e scambiare due chiacchiere sulla situazione politica e sociale della città. Tra di essi, non possiamo non nominare Antoni Gaudí o Santiago Rusiñol, o addirittura Pablo Picasso, che vi si recava a volte durante la sua permanenza a Barcellona.

Calle Pelayo

Sempre partendo da Plaza Cataluña, e mantenendoci in prossimità del Portal de l’Àngel, troviamo calle Pelayo, un’altra delle zone più importanti per fare acquisti a Barcellona. La caratteristica di questa strada è che è un viale che collega Plaza Universitat con le Ramblas.

shopping en BarcelonaAnche qui potrai fare compere acquistando le principali marche di abbigliamento della capitale catalana, come per esempio Mango, Zara, Pull&Bear o TopShop. Tradizionalmente, anche i residenti vi si recavano per fare shopping a Barcellona, e più concretamente per comprare le scarpe, vista la grande quantità di negozi di scarpe che c’erano: pochi di essi sono sopravvissuti.

Parallelamente, sempre in calle Pelayo, potrai acquistare anche prodotti di cultura nel centro commerciale El Triangle o Fnac. Questo palazzo separa Plaza Cataluña da Calle Pelayo e consta di 3 piani dove potrai comprare libri, musica o entrate per i concerti.

Paseo de Gracia

Se quello che vuoi è fare acquisti di un certo livello nella capitale catalana, il Paseo de Gracia è il posto che fa per te. Il grande viale di Barcellona, che potrebbe essere considerato una riproduzione in piccolo degli Champs Elysées di Parigi, è un altro centro nevralgico dello shopping di Barcellona: vi si trova la Borsa di Barcellona e boutique di alto standing.

shopping en BarcelonaPaseo de Gracia è quindi una combinazione tra il meglio del design di Barcellona, che ritroviamo nelle facciate dei suoi palazzi, tipo Casa Batlló e la Pedrera, entrambe di Antoni Gaudí, così come la Casa Amatller di Josep Puig i Cadafalch.

In questo grande viale, potrai acquistare articoli di marche esclusive come per esempio Bottega Veneta, Loui Vuitton, Tiffany’s o Prada. Inoltre potrai comprare articoli di decorazione presso Lladrò, nella parte superiore del Paseo de Gracia.

Maremágnum

Per tutti quelli che amano il mare e che quindi vogliano fare i loro acquisti con la vista al mare di Barcellona, quale miglior posto per farlo se non il centro commerciale Maremagnum. Potrai accedervi venendo direttamente dalle Ramblas e attraversando il ponte del porto.

shopping en BarcelonaLa particolarità di questo centro commerciale è che è l’unico ad essere aperto di domenica in tutta l’area metropolitana di Barcellona. Le marche di abbigliamento che vi troverai sono le stesse di calle Pelayo o del Portal de l’Àngel, ma con servizio operativo sette giorni su sette, e con caffetterie e ristoranti proprio nello stesso centro.

El Mercat de la Boquería

shopping en BarcelonaNon puoi andartene da Barcellona senza aver fatto acquisti nel famoso Mercato della Boqueria, sulle Ramblas. Situato nel quartiere del Raval, si trova a pochi passi dalla stazione della metro Liceu (L3).

La caratteristica principale di questo mercato, considerato il più grande (in estensione) di Spagna, è che vi potrai comprare prodotti tipici della capitale catalana. Vi troverai salumerie, pescherie e altri negozi di alimentazione che non passeranno inosservati neanche ai tuoi occhi.

È vero o no, quindi, che Barcellona è meglio con le tasche piene? Ovvio che si! Speriamo che questa guida per le zone più importante dello shopping a Barcellona ti sia piaciuta. Sicuramente avrai molti aneddoti da raccontarci quando le avrai viste, e speriamo proprio che ci racconterai presto al tua esperienza!

Les transports à Barcelone

Le métro

Metro sign by CyberslayerPour la plupart des gens, le métro est le moyen le plus pratique pour se déplacer dans la ville. C’est aussi le plus facile puisqu’il n’y a qu’une seule zone et les tarifs ne changent pas selon les heures de pointe. Le réseau du métro de Barcelone couvre 123 kilomètres et dispose de 165 arrêts répartis sur 8 lignes. Il y a 33 connections et 9 d’entre elles sont également reliées au réseau ferroviaire.

Les métros circulent du lundi au jeudi, les dimanches et pendant les vacances de 05:00 à minuit, les vendredis et jours fériés de 05:00 à 02:00 et le 24 décembre de 05:00 à 23:00. Les samedis, le jour de l’an, le 24 juin, le 15 août et le 24 septembre, le métro circule 24h/24. Le ticket de la TMB vous permet aussi de vous déplacer en bus, en bus de nuit, avec la RENFE et avec certains trains FGC ; les prix varient selon le nombre de voyages que vous effectuez et non selon le temps pendant lequel vous vous déplacez. Le meilleur ticket pour les touristes est le T-10, de dix voyages pour 9,80€, utilisable durant 3 mois et transmissible d’une personne à l’autre.

Le bus

Le bus est aussi un autre moyen de transport très utilisé dans la capitale. En effet, il existe plus de 750 bus et 2 000 arrêts dans Barcelone que des milliers de résidents et de touristes utilisent tours les jours. Les bus sont une bonne option si vous voyagez avec une poussette ou si vous avez besoin d’un accès facile en fauteuil roulant. A cause du trafic assez dense, ce n’est pas le moyen le plus rapide pour se déplacer, surtout dans les quartiers centraux. Cependant, c’est un autre moyen de transport pas cher. Il existe aussi un service de bus de nuit appelé Nit Bus, qui fonctionne entre 22:00 et 06:00 selon les itinéraires. Autrement, vous pouvez aussi profiter du service Tibibus qui vous emmène de la Plaça Catalunya au Tibidabo et inversement.

Vous pouvez également utiliser votre ticket pour le métro, le bus de nuit, la RENFE et certains trains FGC.

Le train

Renfe UME Barcelona Airport by GemiTuxBarcelone est très bien desservie par le service ferroviaire qui vous emmène dans différents endroits de la ville et au-delà. Les trains fonctionnent tout le temps, ils sont propres et surtout pratiques. Ils vous permettent de vous déplacer localement aux alentours de Barcelone, mais aussi dans le reste de la Catalogne et nationalement jusqu’à certaines villes comme Madrid ou Valence.

Vous trouverez des stations dans toute la ville et accessibles par le métro – certains trains passent tout droit à travers le réseau urbain, traversant les principaux arrêts de la ville et reliés aux mêmes stations de métro. Il y a 9 arrêts principaux : Catalunya, Sants, Passeig de Gràcia, Arc de Triomf, Espanya, Clot-Aragó, Sant Andreu Arenal, Sant Andreu Comptal et França.

Pour plus d’informations à propos des lignes, des horaires et des prix, veuillez visiter le site internet officiel de la RENFE.

Le taxi

Cela vous prendra peu de temps avant de trouver un taxi dans Barcelone. Vous pouvez monter dans un taxi en l’appelant d’un signe de la main ou en attendant devant une station de taxis que vous trouverez au niveau des aéroports et des arrêts principaux de transports en commun, tout comme à côté de nombreuses attractions touristiques et d’hôtels. Même s’ils sont plus confortables, les taxis ne sont pas ce qu’il y a de plus économique pour se déplacer dans Barcelone – surtout à cause du trafic.

Le tram

Barcelona tram by Daniel SparingBien que ce ne soit pas un moyen de transport qui nous vient tout de suite à l’esprit, le tram peut s’avérer pratique pour se déplacer dans Barcelone. Confortable et rarement plein, le tram et ses 6 lignes couvrent des zones où le métro ne va pas. Le tram est ouvert du dimanche au jeudi de 05:00 à minuit et les vendredis et samedis de 05:00 à 02:00. Les tickets sont aussi utilisables pour le métro, le bus, le bus de nuit, la RENFE et certains trains FGC.

Le vélo

L’un des meilleurs moyens de transport à Barcelone est le vélo, surtout grâce aux kilomètres et kilomètres de pistes cyclables, de parcs et d’espaces ouverts. Et si vous ne disposez pas de votre propre vélo, alors pourquoi ne pas en louer un ? Vous aurez un très grand choix concernant la location de vélo ; les prix commencent à 15€ par jour. L’une des loueurs de vélos les plus populaires de Barcelone est www.barcelonarentabike.com. En plus, si vous réservez avec nous, vous aurez droit à un bon de réduction sur tous les vélos!

Le parking

Venir en voiture à Barcelone est assez commun – surtout si vous venez de France. Bien qu’avoir une voiture peut s’avérer assez avantageux, c’est un cauchemar quand il s’agit de se garer et cela fini toujours pas devenir plus stressant que d’emprunter les transports en commun.

Il y a des parkings souterrains dans lesquels il est préférable de se garer afin de ne pas risquer de se prendre une amende ou de se faire emmener son véhicule à la fourrière. Cela dit, il y a de nombreux parkings souterrains à travers la ville, et certains sont ouverts 24h/24 – cherchez simplement les panneaux P ! Cependant, comme beaucoup de parkings centraux, vous devrez payer pour ce privilège. Donc si vous êtes à Barcelone pour quelques jours ou plus, cela revient vite très cher.

Transport around Barcelona

Metro

Barcelona Metro by papalarsFor most people, the metro is the most convenient way of getting around the city. It’s also probably the easiest since it has no zones and no peak/off-peak times or fares. The metro network covers a total of 123 kilometres and has 165 stations across eight different lines. There are 33 connecting stations, nine of which are also linked to the rail system.

Metro trains run Monday to Thursday, Sundays and public holidays from 05:00 to midnight; Friday and bank holiday evenings from 05:00am to 02:00am; 24th December from 05.00 to 23:00. On Saturdays and New Year’s Eve, 24th June, 15th August and 24th September there’s a 24-hour service. The combined TMB tickets allow access to the bus, night bus, RENFE, and some FGC trains; prices vary on how many journeys you require over what amount of time. The best ticket for tourists is a T10 which is 10 journeys for 9.80€ which is valid for three months and can be shared.

Bus

Another popular form of transport in the city is the bus. In fact, there are over 750 buses and 2000 stops in Barcelona, which thousands of citizens and tourists use every day. The buses are a great option if you’re travelling with prams or need easy wheel chair access. Due to the heavy traffic, it is not the quickest way to get around, especially in the central districts but it is relatively cheap. There’s also a night bus service called the Nit Bus, which runs from 22:00 to 06:00 depending on the route. Separately, there is a service called Tibibus that takes you all the way to Tibidabo from Plaça Catalunya.

Running times vary according to the bus route. Most services begin at 04:25 and end at 23:00 and the average frequency is between 20 and 30 minutes at weekends. You can also use your ticket on the metro, night bus, RENFE, and some FGC trains.

Train

Renfe UME Barcelona Airport by GemiTuxBarcelona has a wealth of train services that can take you across the city and even further afield. The trains are often are efficient, clean and above all convenient to use. They also cater for all your travel needs, with options to travel locally around the outskirts of Barcelona, around the rest of Catalunya, and also nationally to cities such as Madrid and Valencia.

The train stations are dotted around the city and are all easily accessible from the metro – some go right into the urban network, crossing the main points in the city and coinciding with the same stops as the metro. There are nine major stations: Catalunya, Sants, Passeig de Gràcia, Arc de Triomf, Espanya, Clot-Aragó, Sant Andreu Arenal, Sant Andreu Comptal and França.

For further information on lines, timetables and prices go to the official RENFE website.

Taxis

It won’t take you long to spot a taxi in Barcelona. Just hail one down by waving or head to a taxi rank, which you’ll find outside all the airports and stations, as well as many tourist attractions and hotels. Although more comfortable, taxis aren’t the cheapest way to get around Barcelona – especially with all the traffic.

Tram

Barcelona tram by Daniel SparingAlthough not a form of transport that immediately springs to mind, the tram can be great way of getting around Barcelona. It’s comfortable, rarely busy and its six lines are largely in parts of the city that aren’t covered by the metro. It’s open Sunday to Thursday from 05.00 until midnight and Friday and Saturday from 05.00 until 02.00. Tickets can be used interchangeably, on the metro, bus, night bus, RENFE, and some FGC trains.

Cycling

One of the best methods of transport in Barcelona is the bike, especially since there are miles and miles of bike lanes, parks and open spaces. And if you don’t have your own bike, then renting one could be perfect. You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to rental companies and prices start from around 15€ a day per bike. One of the most popular rental companies is www.barcelonarentabike.com and better still, now you’ve booked with us you get a discount voucher on all of its bikes!

Parking

A popular way to come to Barcelona is to drive – especially if you’re coming from France. Although having a car will have certain advantages, it is a nightmare when it comes to parking and usually results in being a much more stressful option than public transport.

There are very specific and somewhat restricted above-ground parking zones that you have to adhere to avoid the hefty fines that are frequently given out and the risk of having your car towed. That being said, there are lots of underground car parks across the city, and some are even open 24 hours – just look for the P sign! However like all central car parks, you have to pay for the luxury, so if you are in the city for a few days or longer, it will very quickly add up.