You will most likely be spending most of your time either walking or on public transportation when getting around. For walking, a good pair of walking shoes for the day and a change into something comfortable for the evening. Even if you don't walk everywhere, just going to the museums and palaces involves a great deal of standing on stone, tile or cement floors and it can be hard on your feet. I actually ordered a pair of Rockport walking shoes (from Zappos ) that were delivered just days before we left. The prevailing wisdom is that you need to purchase your shoes well in advance and thoroughly break them in before your trip. The fact that I bought high-quality shoes in exactly my size worked out very well because I did not even get a single blister.


For public transportation we each purchased an Oyster card that was good for a week. We got the pass for only zones 1 and 2, but got a single-day extension from Heathrow (on the Piccadilly line) to get us into the city. This was a good tip from our B&B hosts as the rail line does not advertise that you can purchased these cards just for specific zones. The Oyster card is good because it allows you free access to the excellent Tube train system (the fastest and cheapest way to get around) and the equally excellent double-decker bus service (best for sight-seeing) around London.

If you want to take a trip outside of your zones, just purchase a day pass for the train that you need. Just be sure NOT to use your Oyster card when on any of these trains outside of the purchased zones, but only use the ticket you purchased for the day. Otherwise the system will render your Oyster card invalid, until you go to a ticket counter and pay a fee for the trip outside the zone. You will need to explain that you mistakenly used the Oyster card for a zone that should have been used with the one-day pass outside of the zone. It can be a hassle if you realize that you Oyster card does not work and you are at a station with no ticket office or if you are in a hurry to make a connection and the card is not working.
The best map of London, including the tube stations and the bus stops are the little folding maps that you can only purchase in the underground Tube stations from the little vending machines.


When we first arrived in Paris, we just took a taxi to our hotel. This was nice because we don't speak French and it was an easy way to get to the hotel. We just wrote the name and address of hotel on a 3x5 card and handed it to the cab driver at the EuroStar station. In fact the only taxi rides that we took on our trip were getting to the Paris hotel and back.


We purchased a 10-pack of tickets that are good on the Underground trains and the Paris buses (buy them in any underground station). We ended up just using the buses in Paris, because everything was so close to our hotel on the Left Bank. Just hop on the bus, slide one of the bus passes into the slot to get it stamped and you are good for one leg of your journey. In fact we only used a single 10-pack because we spent most days walking as far as we could to our destination, while taking numerous side-trips and shopping diversions. Then when we were totally exhausted, we would just find the nearest bus stop and take the bus back to our hotel. We were lucky because the Luxembourg Gardens area has so many buses that go to that area.
There are numerous water taxis, some are more for just a single tourist-type trip up and back on the Seine, but the Batobus is a true water taxi. With the Batobus you purchase a pass for 11 Euros (2006) and it is good for unlimited journeys for the day from the Jardin des Plantes to the Eiffel Tower with 6 additional stops in-between. Just jump off anywhere that interests you, walk through the city for an hour or so, then wander back to the river and pickup the Batobusn again perhaps at a different location; Repeat and enjoy.

Home   Next