Cafe Marly at the Louvre in Paris

Cafe Marly at the Louvre in Paris
Relax with a glass of wine at Cafe Marly overlooking the pyramid entrance to the Louvre.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Paris Budget Dining Tips

There’s no need to spend a lot of money in Paris to have good food. Of course it helps when the euro is weaker than the dollar, but there are all kinds of fabulous foods to be had inexpensively all over Paris.

Eat at a neighborhood restaurant or bistro. The menu, with prices, is posted in the window. Never order anything whose price is not known in advance. If you see selon grosseur (sometimes abbreviated as s/g), this means that you’re paying by weight, which can be extremely expensive. Avoid restaurants and bistros with English menus.

Delis and food stores can provide cheap and wonderful meals. Buy some cheese, bread, wine and other snacks and have a picnic in one of Paris’s great parks.

Lunch, even at the most expensive restaurants listed in this guide, always has a lower fixed price. So, have lunch as your main meal.

Large department stores frequently have supermarkets (in the basement) and restaurants that have reasonably priced food.

Street vendors generally sell inexpensive and terrific food.

For the cost of a cup of coffee or a drink, you can linger at a café and watch the world pass you by for as long as you want.

(Photo courtesy of Aux Trois Petits Cochons Restaurant in Paris)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rent an apartment in Europe

On great way to truly experience life in a European city is to rent an apartment. They're usually less expensive and larger than a hotel room. If I didn't have to check out hotels, I would always stay in an apartment. Many come with a washer/dryer combination that allows you to pack less. There are many apartments for rent on the internet. One of my favorite rental agencies in Paris is Paris Left Bank Rentals. Check it out at

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Does it matter that Sarah Palin has rarely traveled outside of the US?

(Photo courtesy of J. Medkeff)
While McCain, Obama and Biden have traveled extensively outside the US, Sarah Palin has (according to the governor's Alaska spokeswoman) traveled only once outside of the US and Canada. In July 2007 she visited Alaskan National Guard troops in Kuwait and Iraq (with a stop in Germany). Palin first received a passport in 2006. Source:

Hotel Jazz Barcelona

This modern hotel has a great location between La Rambla and the Eixample neighborhood, perfect for taking in the main sights of Barcelona. Rooms are clean, comfortable and quiet. There's a rooftop pool and an elegant bar. Highly recommended. Info: 3 Pelai. Tel. 935529697. V, MC. Bar, pool, satellite TV, A/C, telephone, minibar, hairdryer, in-room safe, WiFi. Metro: Universitat. Prices begin at 122 euros.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The dollar is getting stronger!

The 15-nation euro continues to decline in value. This is certainly good news for those of us who are traveling to Europe. For the latest conversion rate or to convert a foreign currency to dollars, visit

Friday, September 5, 2008

Favorite Barcelona Tapas

We just returned from Barcelona where we checked out some great tapas bars. Head to the Drassanes metro stop at the southern end of La Rambla. All these eateries are near each other. Many are closed on Sunday.

Txikiteo at 7 Carrer de Josep Anselm Clavé. Take a look at the tapas on the long bar and take your pick with a glass of txakolí (a light and fruity Basque wine) while admiring the rustic stone, brick and timber walls. Sit at the bar. It’s more fun. Ask about the frequent specials (like a glass of wine and three tapas for €3).

Bodega la Plata at 28 Carrer de la Mercè. People have been coming here to sit at tiny tables or stand at the marble-topped bar since the 1920s. It has a beautiful terrazzo floor and Mediterranean-tile walls. Try the house specialty: sardinas (deep-fried sardines, head and all) and a small glass of the house wine served from barrels along the wall. (Some of you may need more to drink before you can stomach the sardine heads!)

Across the street is Tasca el Corral (the place with the cured meats and onions and garlic hanging from the ceiling). This is the place to share a bottle of sidra (alcoholic cider). Try it, but be careful: It’s stronger than it tastes. Notice how the waiter usually pours your drink with a grand gesture.

Las Cuevas del Sorte at number 2 Carrer d’en Gignàs. This funky bar with cave-like décor is just the place to have a glass of cava (Spanish sparkling wine). You’ve had lots to drink by now, so head (no pun intended) to the fantastic tiled restrooms here.

In the Poble Sec section of Barcelona (Metro: Paral.lel), you'll find Quimet y Quimet. You can stand around the stainless-steel counter and munch on a large selection of small sandwiches (montaditos) at this friendly, family-owned bar. The walls are completely covered with wine bottles and cans of specialty foods. Info: 25 Poeta Cabanyes. Tel. 934423142. Closed Sun.

Paris and Chocolate

If you're interested in Paris and food (especially desserts), visit the blog of pastry chef David Lebovitz, author of Room For Dessert, Ripe For Dessert, The Great Book of Chocolate and The Perfect Scoop. I highly recommend it!

Paris Budget Hotel

I get a lot of requests for a recommendation for "cheap sleeps" in Paris. A new hostel has opened in the 13th arrondissement (south of the Latin Quarter). Oops! features bright wallpaper, hardwood floors and stark Scandinavian furniture. The price is about $50 per night for a private double room (even less for dorm space). See

Europe Made Easy

Welcome to my new blog. I've replaced the old message board and now all travel updates will be posted here.