Friday, March 30, 2012

Paris Arc de Triomphe Tour


Arc de Triomphe is recognized as the most famous iconic status, apart from the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Your trip to Paris won't be completed without visiting the Arc de Triomphe, which was built during the era of Emperor Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate France's soldiers from the Napoleonic wars.

As the Arc de Triomphe is situated in the center of the busiest roundabout in Paris downtown, you can get to the Arc de Triomphe by accessing through the underpass from the Champs Elysées. DO NOT TRY TO CROSS THE BUSY ROUNDABOUT! The vehicles won't stop for pedestrians whoever try crossing the roundabout.

You can roam around the ground level of the Arc de Triomphe since it's free for everyone. However, if you want to see the beautiful city lights in Paris downtown, you can access to the top level, which is also known as observation deck of the Arc de Triomphe. There is a very limited mobility to access to the top level of the Arc de Triomphe. You need to climb 284 steps on the spiral stair. It's highly recommended to wear sports shoe or comfortable flat shoe.

When you plan to get to the ground level of the Arc de Triomphe, you don't have to walk on the spiral stair again. You can access the elevator, which is located opposite the gift shop on the top level. This elevator is operated by a staff to take visitors from the top level to the ground level only.

Arc de Triomphe is open from 10am to 10pm every day. You can purchase ticket to the top level (observation deck) at the ticket booth on ground level of the Arc de Triomphe. 



Arc de Triomphe was taken from the busy street of Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe was taken from busy street of Avenue des Champs-Elysees




A close up look of Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France
Close up Arc de Triomphe




Walk underpass at the end block of building of Avenue des Champs-Elysees  to cross the busy roundabout in Paris, France
Walk underpass at the end block of shop building of Avenue des Champs-Elysees in order to cross the busy roundabout.




The basement of Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France
The basement of Arc de Triomphe




Ticket booth at the ground floor of Arc de Triomphe to access the top level in Paris, France
Ticket booth at ground floor of Arc de Triomphe to access to the top level




The sign at the top level of Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France





The ground level of Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France
The ground level of Arc de Triomphe  (Double click to enlarge the picture)




Walk on 284 steps of the spiral stair to the top level of Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France
Walk 284 steps of the spiral stair in order to get to the top of Arc de Triomphe




The model of Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France
The model of Arc de Triomphe




The busy nightlife of Avenue des Champs-Elysees was taken from the observation deck of Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France
The busy nightlife of Avenue des Champs-Elysees was taken from the observation deck of Arc de Triomphe




The shimmering lights of Paris downtown was taken from different angle at the observation deck of Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France
The shimmering lights of Paris downtown from different angle, was taken from the top floor of Arc de Triomphe  (Double click to enlarge the picture)


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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Paris Eiffel Tower Tour


Eiffel Tower is the most famous icon which becomes the top list to do for every tourist in Paris, France. However, visiting Eiffel Tower isn't as easy as you thought. Paris is always overcrowded with tourists at most of the famous attraction sites throughout the year. Most of the time, you have to queue in a very long line for hours before you are able to get into the attraction sites.

In order to avoid wasting your time standing in a long queue at Eiffel Tour, you can either purchase online ticket from the official website or participate the local tour. Without reserving ticket in advance, you won't be able to get into fast lane which is reserved for tour group only.   

Eiffel Tower opens at 9:30am every day thus you need to get to Eiffel Tower ticket counter by 8:30am and begin to queue in line if you need to get ticket on the spot. Normally, the big crowd of visitors and tour groups  begin to form in a long line, from the moment the Eiffel Tower starts the daily operation hours.

Otherwise, you can purchase online ticket to Eiffel Tower in advance, from this official website here. However, the ticket reservation can be booked up to three months ahead with the list of visiting hours to choose. You need to purchase online ticket soonest possible before tickets are sold out immediately. 

If you intend to visit 2nd floor and top floor of the Eiffel Tour, you should purchase online ticket in advance or get the ticket at the counter early in the morning before the crowd of people starts to get there. DO NOT plan to purchase ticket to top floor at last minute from the 2nd floor of Eiffel Tower as the ticketing line is normally long and very crowded with visitors.




Beautiful Eiffel Tower was taken in the daytime in Paris, France
Beautiful Eiffel Tower was taken in sunny afternoon.




Eiffel Tower was taken early in the morning in Paris, France
Eiffel Tower was taken early in the morning.



A close up look of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
Close up Eiffel Tower



Close up look at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France






The Eiffel Tower was taken from the ground level in Paris, France





Top view of Paris downtown from the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
Top view of Paris downtown from Eiffel Tower

 
Top view of Paris downtown in different angle from the observation deck of Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
Top view of Paris downtown in different angle from Eiffel Tower
 


Top view of Paris downtown from the observation deck of Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
Top view of Paris downtown from Eiffel Tower from different angle

 

Top view of Paris downtown from different angle from the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
Top view of Paris downtown from Eiffel Tower different angle


 
Top view of Paris downtown from Eiffel Tower in different angle in Paris, France
Top view of Paris downtown from Eiffel Tower in different angle



Also, the Eiffel Tower blinks at 9pm and 10pm every day. As the Eiffel Tower management plans to save energy thus, the Eiffel Tower blinks for 5 minutes only at 9pm and 10 pm respectively. Here is a short video clip:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Paris The Phantom of the Opera


If you are a fan of the most famous musical play, The Phantom of the Opera then, you should make a visit to Le Palais Garnier Opera House which also known as Opera National de Paris in the middle of Paris downtown, France. The Phantom of the Opera is actually based on a novel written by French writer Gaston Leroux which eventually adapted into a musical play by Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1986. The scenes of theatre set design of The Phantom of the Opera musical play is inspired and adapted from Le Palais Garnier Opera House. The Palais Garnier is recognized as the most famous opera house in the world, a symbol of Paris like Notre Dame cathedral and the Louvre.
 
Le Palais Garnier Opera House is very stunning with beautiful structure, which is well worth to visit during your trip to Paris, France. You will be very amazed with the detailed artwork and statues until you can't stop taking pictures at every angle inside the opera house. You don't have to be necessarily to attend an opera show but you just need to purchase a ticket, to visit the opera house. You are free to roam around and be able to visit The Grand Staircase, Grand Foyer and the auditorium. However, you might not be able to visit the main auditorium if there is a rehearsal going on.


The Phantom of the Opera



Le Palais Garnier Opera House opens every day from 10am to 5pm (last admission at 4:30pm). For more details of Le Palais Garnier Opera House, please visit this official link.  

It is not necessarily to purchase ticket online if you intend to visit the opera house only. You can purchase the ticket for visiting on the spot at the opera house. However, if you wish to watch the opera / musical show, I would suggest you to book the ticket online to avoid disappointment. Most of the time, the tickets for opera / musical shows will be sold out like hot cakes.




Front view of Le Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris, France
Front view of Le Palais Garnier Opera House



Rear view of Le Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris, France
Rear view of Le Palais Garnier Opera House



Waiting area nearby the ticket booth of Le Palais Garnier in Paris, France
This is the waiting area which you could find it nearby the ticket booth of Le Palais Garnier



The first stairway leading to the main area of The Grand Staircase of Le Palais Garnier in Paris, France
This is the first stairway leading to the main area of The Grand Staircase


A huge candle stand at The Grand Staircase of Le Palais Garnier in Paris, France




The Grand Staircase of Le Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris, France
The Grand Staircase is the main section to visit after getting through the ticket entrance



The Grand Staircase of Le Palais Garnier Opera House is built in marble of various colours in Paris, France
Double click to enlarge this picture.



The Amphitheatre of Le Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris, France




This ceiling is decorated with Greek mythology at Le Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris, France
This ceiling is decorated with Greek mythology



This ceiling uses axial symmetry which portrays Greek mythology and decorates with a central chandelier in Le Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris, France
Double click to enlarge this picture



The Grand Foyer of Le Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris, France
The Grand Foyer



The Grand Foyer of Le Palais Garnier Opera House is decorated with sparkling gold colour in Paris, France
Double click to enlarge this picture




Rich with gold decoration at The Grand Foyer of Le Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris, France
Rich with gold decoration at The Grand Foyer
 



The Auditorium hosted the most popular musical play, The Phantom of the Opera in Le Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris, France
The Auditorium which hosted the most popular musical play, The Phantom of the Opera



Marc Chagall's ceiling design with the grand chandelier in the middle of the auditorium in Le Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris, France
Marc Chagall's ceiling design with the grand chandelier in middle of the auditorium



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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Food Guideline in France and Italy


Finding a place to eat in France and Italy can turn into culture shock if this is your first visit to Europe. I experienced some culture shock while dining in restaurants in Paris, France and Italy but then, I began to accept their culture. 

When you dine at an overcrowded restaurant in the United States, the restaurant operator will ensure to serve your food in 10-15 minutes, which means you would be able to finish your meals from appetizer, main dishes to dessert in a restaurant in an hour. If the food requires longer time to prepare, the waiter will inform you ahead. Thus, you will be given options to wait for the food or to order other food. As the waiters/waitresses depend on tipping as part of their wages (salaries), they are trained to provide effective and efficient customer service. When the waiters/waitresses are able to satisfy their customers with their services, the customers will eventually tip more to the waiters/waitresses.

Unfortunately, this scenario is totally different in Europe region, especially in France and Italy which are highly visited by tourists. Before making your final decision to dine in the restaurant, it's highly advisable to inquire about the cover charge fee from the restaurant operator. It is a common practice for the restaurant operator to include cover charge fee (based on number of persons) in the receipt. No matter how long you stay in a restaurant, just for a cup of coffee or for your meals, there will be cover charge fee included in the receipt. Please remember that the cover charge fee doesn't consider as tipping for the service. You still need to tip the waiter/waitress between 10%-15%, in cash even though the cover charge fee has been included. 

If you intend to avoid paying cover charge fee, it's recommended to walk around the small alleys and check out restaurants and their pricing, which aren't situated along the main streets or near the tourist attraction areas. These type of restaurants might waive off the cover charge fee to pull more crowds. In order to stay safe, it's best to ask and reconfirm about the cover charge fee before making your final decision.

The customer service in a restaurant in Europe is extremely slow even though the restaurant isn't full and crowded. It is part of their culture to take their sweet time to prepare and serve your meals. I had been to a few restaurants in Paris, France and Italy and experienced the same problem. Believe me! Although we ordered simple meals like spaghetti, the restaurant operator could take about 45 minutes to serve you. At the end, we took at least 1 1/2 hours to finish our simple meals at every restaurant before we could continue our walk. If you want to save your time in order to visit more places, you can have some snacks like, pizza. Pizza isn't considered as a proper meal but it's more like a snack in Europe which is why, you can find many small vendors along the streets, selling pizza and ice-cream.

As when you dine in a restaurant, the waiter/waitress will serve you some bread to be dipped with olive oil while waiting for your dishes. Unfortunately, the bread with olive oil doesn't come free of charge. It's automatically added to your receipt. Whether you like it or not, it's better to finish it when it's served. Besides, water doesn't come free in Europe as well. DO NOT assume that water is free as you are used to enjoy in the United States or some parts of Asia regions. When you ask for water, the waiter/waitress will bring a bottle of branded water which could cost you about 10 Euro per bottle.Thus, it's best to enquire the price first before ordering water, soft drink, liquor and wine in Europe.


The famous icon, Eiffel Tower in Paris, France


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lourve Museum & the Secret Entrance

Musée du Louvre (in English, the Louvre Museum) is one of the largest and most visited museum in the world. Lourve Museum is situated on the Right Bank of the Seine in Paris, France. You can find all kinds of arts, paintings, antiquities and sculptures from Middle East, Egypt, Greek, Etruria, Rome, France, Italy, Spain, Northern Europe, Asia, Oceania and America are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet) in the Lourve. 

Lourve Museum opens every day, except Tuesday and certain holidays, from 9am to 6pm. However, it is always crowded with visitors and tourists, especially on weekends and peak seasons . You are able to see the long queue from the main entrance of the glass pyramid of the Lourve since early in the mornings. To avoid the hassle problem, there is a secret passage leading to the Lourve, which is not emphasized in the official brochure and the website of the Lourve. 


A huge crowd of visitors flock to the Lourve Museum since early in the morning in Paris, France
A huge crowd of visitors flock to the Lourve Museum since early in the morning.


Standing in front of the main entrance of Lourve Museum


I managed to escape from standing in the long queue, by getting through this secret entrance. To use this secret entrance, you must purchase the ticket in advance. You can purchase the ticket from kiosks (within the surrounding of the Lourve) or via online on the Lourve website. Once you have the ticket, you need to walk towards the North direction of the Lourve. At this time, you have left the glass pyramid of the Lourve and you will be able to see some blocks of shop buildings across the street. Walk along the row of Lourve buildings (facing behind) and search for the entrance of Passage Richelieu. As you walk into the entrance of Passage Richelieu, you will find some velvet ropes on brass poles with the entrance sign to the Lourve for tour groups and reservation. Even though this secret passage is reserved for tour groups but, you are allowed to get into the Lourve from this entrance provided, you have the ticket entrance.

The Lourve Museum has implemented some strict regulations for the visitors. Thus, you must read and abide the regulations before visiting the exhibition halls. All these crucial regulations apply to all museums and churches in Europe:
  • No flash photography or any type of lighting equipment is allowed. Some museums and churches prohibit visitors to take photographs and videos. You need to enquire at the ticket counters or staff in-charged.
  • No running, shouting, speaking loudly and touching any exhibited products
  • Eating, drinking and smoking is prohibited in the exhibition halls and churches.

Convertible elevator moves around the spiral stair in Lourve Museum in Paris, France
Convertible elevator moves around the spiral stair



Huge crowds at the Lourve Museum in Paris, France





Inside the Lourve Museum in Paris, France
Inside the Lourve Museum


Beautiful art design on the ceiling in Lourve Museum in Paris, France
Beautiful art design on the ceiling


Beautiful ceiling art design in Lourve Museum in Paris, France
Beautiful art design on the ceiling


Venus de Milo in Lourve Museum in Paris, France
Venus de Milo


Lion art on the bricks in Lourve Museum in Paris, France



The consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I in Lourve Museum in Paris, France
The consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I


The statues at Lourve Museum in Paris, France



Ceiling art design with rich gold in colour in Lourve Museum in Paris, France



Egyptian coffin in Lourve Museum in Paris, France
Egyptian coffin

Colossal Statue of Ramesses II in Lourve Museum in Paris, France
Colossal Statue of Ramesses II


Egyptian Antique in Lourve Museum in Paris, France
Egyptian Antique


The famous Mona Lisa in Lourve Museum in Paris, France
It is very difficult situation to take picture of Mona Lisa in a huge crowd of visitors



The Winged Victory of Samothrace in Lourve Museum in Paris, France
The Winged Victory of Samothrace


The Dying Slave by Michelangelo in Lourve Museum in Paris, France
The Dying Slave by Michelangelo


Psyche and Cupid in Lourve Museum in Paris, France
Psyche and Cupid


The original fortress still intact at the basement in Museum Lourve in Paris, France
The original fortress is still intact in the basement of Museum Lourve


Flying horse sculpture at Lourve Museum in Paris, France



Killing sea animal sculpture at Lourve Museum in Paris, France



Another flying horse sculpture in Lourve Museum in Paris, France



Dogs sculpture at Lourve Museum in Paris, France



Art sculpture at Lourve Museum in Paris, France



Green sculpture at Lourve Museum in Paris, France



Art sketching of the sculpture at Lourve Museum in Paris, France



Beautiful art design on the ceiling at Lourve Museum in Paris, France
Beautiful art design on the ceiling
 

Near Eastern Antique in Lourve Museum in Paris, France
Near Eastern Antique


Two giant Near Eastern Antiques in Lourve Museum in Paris, France
Near Eastern Antique


Video clip of my Lourve Museum trip:


(NOTE: For better video quality, change to 720p HD, next to audio mode)


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