Wednesday Postcard: Pont Alexandre III in Paris

Bonjour! This week’s carte postale features a watercolor rendering of the Pont Alexandre III in Paris.

During my first visit to Paris in the summer of 1995, I recall taking a break at a food stand located near the base of the Eiffel Tower. I ordered a saucisson-beurre baguette and an Orangina.

As I ate, I examined the handful of Paris postcards I had just bought from nearby vendors. The food stand owner noticed and asked me where I was from. “California,” I told him.

With raised eyebrows, he pointed to a Los Angeles postcard that was taped near the cash register. I shook my head and said, “I’m closer to San Francisco.” He then gave me his business card and asked me if I could send him a postcard from San Francisco.

A man after my own heart! As a fellow collector of postcards, I was naturally happy to oblige.

Shortly after New Year’s, I was pleasantly surprised to receive this beautiful postcard from him featuring the Pont Alexandre III and the Eiffel Tower. It was so thoughtful!

Pont Alexandre III

  • The bridge was built for the World Fair that was held in Paris in 1900
  • It was named after the Russian Tsar, Alexander III by the French government to celebrate Russian-French alliance
  • It connects Les Invalides on the Left Bank of the Seine River to the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais on the Right Bank
  • With its cherubs, winged horses, lamps, and pillars topped with gilded sculptures, the Pont Alexandre III is considered one of the most beautiful bridges in Paris

For more information:

Paris Tourist Info – Pont Alexandre III

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, à bientôt!

Wednesday Postcard: Le Pont Neuf in Paris

Paris at night Le Pont Neuf and La Conciergerie

photo: J-M Charles

Bonjour! This week’s carte postale features le Pont Neuf in Paris. I bought the postcard during my first trip to France in 1995.

  • Le Pont Neuf (“the new bridge”) was constructed between 1578 and 1607, making it the oldest bridge over the Seine River in Paris
  • The bridge has five arches that connect the Ile de la Cité to the left bank (Rive Gauche) and seven arches that connect the Ile de la Cité to the right bank (Rive Droite)
  • Restoration of the bridge began in 1994 and completed in 2007 in time for its 400th anniversary

The postcard also features the Conciergerie, the medieval palace that was converted to a Palace of Justice and then a prison during the French Revolution.

For more information:

Pont Neuf – Paris Tourist Office

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, à bientôt!

Wednesday Postcard Bonjour Darlene

Good Vibes Only at the Seaside Town of Capitola

In Capitola, California, a seaside town about 76 miles/ 122 km south of San Francisco on the coast of Monterey Bay, you can imagine you’re somewhere in the Mediterranean! Look at these colorful houses!

I’d love to learn how to Stand Up Paddleboard, like this girl on the creek

This picture was taken from the Capitola Wharf. The colorful houses are on the left.

Only a few steps away from the beach, you’ll find boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants in Capitola Village. For example:

You can feast on the freshest seafood! Enjoy outdoor patio seating while you have lunch at Zelda’s On the Beach:

fried calamari and fries

A trip to a seaside town wouldn’t be complete without some saltwater taffy. I like maple bacon flavor! Pick your favorites from the over 70 flavors at Carousel Taffy & Treats:

Remember your day trip to Capitola and pick up some souvenirs from the cute shops in Capitola Village, like this shirt from Capitola Reef:

Positive message: Good Vibes Only

… or this postcard from a boutique called Sea Level (which the shop owner confirmed was located at actual sea level!):

I can’t get enough of the colorful houses! Here’s another look:

Tell me in the comments below: What’s your favorite seafood? What’s your favorite saltwater taffy flavor?

Les mouchoirs en papier

The last time I’d seen toilet paper in pastel shades, like pink, light blue, and light green here in the U.S. was in the ’80s!

In the U.S., we have many brands of toilet paper, but…

…they come in one color!

So when I noticed most bathrooms in France had pink toilet paper, I couldn’t believe it. How pretty and luxurious, I thought! Talk about La vie en rose!

Les mouchoirs en papier

Another popular personal paper product in France is the mouchoir en papier (literally, paper handkerchief). Considered even more hygienic than cloth, it makes sense that carrying a pack of disposable facial tissues is de rigueur. At stores, they practically give them away!

While wandering around Montmartre, I remember feeling the familiar but annoying sensation of mucus beading in my nostrils. I thought, Oh no, I did not travel all this way to have my selfies ruined by an unsightly crusty boogie. I need Kleenex, stat!

At Supermarché G20, they sold packs of 15 mouchoirs for 0,79€ (about $0.91). Yes, that’s the total price for 15 packs of tissue! Three-ply and 10 tissues per pack! Great deal, right? But guess what? I didn’t get them. Why not? Because at the time, I thought, “I only need one pack, not 15!” And besides, tissue paper implies illness or crying and sadness and somehow I feared carrying a pack of 15 mouchoirs would attract illness or crying and sadness. And again, I did not travel all this way to…well, you get the picture. Clearly, with this logic, I was delirious.

As with many things in life, hindsight is 20/20 (or, as I like to say, 50/50). It’s a little thing, but I regret not buying that 15-pack of mouchoirs. In retrospect, the pocket tissues would’ve made great souvenirs. As an everyday item, I would’ve been reminded of my trip each time I used them. They’re light and wouldn’t have taken up much room in my rolling carry-on bag.

I went to CVS the other day and I saw individual packs of tissues for sale near the register.

pocket facial tissues from CVS Pharmacy

But guess what? I didn’t get them. I got an 8-pack instead! They may not have come from France, but I’m reminded of my trip each time I use them.

Travel Tips

I don’t travel as often as I’d like, but when the opportunity arises, I like to do my homework first! Before I visit a place, I consult travel blogs, listen to family and friends’ vacation stories, and find inspiration from the dozens of colorful and FOMO-inducing postcards they send me.

Over the years, I have also received some fantastic travel advice, including:

  • Always keep your wits about you
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Do talk to strangers

Reflecting on my recent trip to France, I’d say things went smoothly overall. Of course, there are some things I would have done differently or wish I had known beforehand.  Live and learn, right?

So, here are a few of my suggestions to save time, money, and energy, based on lessons learned:

9 general travel tips

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  • Print out your boarding pass. Even though you may have your boarding pass with a QR code on your phone, stop by a kiosk and print out your boarding pass – just in case the boarding pass on your phone doesn’t work. It defeats the purpose of going paperless, I know, but taking 5 minutes to print it out could save you 15 minutes at the gate. Besides, the printed pass makes a nice bookmark or souvenir to stick in your scrapbook

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  • When you arrive at your destination, your phone will automatically switch to the local phone provider. To be sure you’re on the network, turn your phone off, then turn it back on after about 15 minutes. (Check your cell phone provider’s roaming and data plans before your trip.)
  • Read the signs. Forgive me for stating the obvious. But I let my eagerness get the best of me when I hopped on an express (non-stop) train by mistake and missed my stop. (I wrote about it here.)

  • Withdraw cash in the local currency from an ATM that is either attached to a physical bank or at least has a major-bank name on it. (Avoid the ones that look generic.) Fortunately, major airports in large cities have major-bank ATMs. You will get the best exchange rate from these ATMs and you’ll avoid extra fees. (Check your bank’s fee schedule before your trip.)
  • Bring a hat. Not only does it provide shade, it saves you precious styling-time and covers up a bad-hair day, if needed. Hats always look good in pictures
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These clementines from Spain were individually wrapped – so cute!

  • Pick up 1-2 pieces of fresh fruit from a local grocer before sightseeing. When you’re waiting in a long line, taking a break on a bench, or people-watching, you’ll have a light and nutritious snack to quell the hunger pangs
  • Bring a point-and-shoot or disposable camera. You can’t rely on your phone to be functional at all times, which brings me to my next tip –
  • Bring a portable, fully-charged power bank
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I’m reminded of my trip each time I use these items (which is every day!)

  • Get souvenirs from the local drugstore. Toiletries are economical, don’t take up much space in your suitcase, and best of all, they won’t collect dust

9 Paris travel tips

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The card is reloadable for 10 years

  • Get a Navigo Découverte weekly travel pass for unlimited rides on most of the transport networks (More info here)
  • Take a city bus during weekday commute hours to experience life as a local. Plus you’ll get to see everyday things that tour buses don’t show
  • Get your postcards from Montmartre souvenir shops. Some vendors sell 12 postcards for 2€
  • If you can wait, also pick up a travel adapter at the Montmartre souvenir shops. Most of them sell adapters for a mere 3€

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  • At the Place du Tertre in Montmartre, forgo the sketch or painted portrait by an artist and get a silhouette done instead. It only takes 2 minutes, costs 10€, and it’s less cumbersome
  • Skip the coffee shop, go to a Supermarché G20 instead. You can charge your phone and other electronics at a window counter seat. You can also get an espresso for only 1€. (I wrote about it here.)
  • Start at the Louvre in the morning, then walk east to Notre Dame. (Not the other way around like I did!) Because there is just so much to take in at the Louvre, it’s better to start there when you’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
  • Visit the Shakespeare and Company bookshop (skip the Café), but buy from one of the many bouquinistes along the Seine. Get books instead of magnets, postcards, or padlocks. (I wrote about them here.)
  • Padlocks are no longer allowed on the Pont des Arts bridge (below) so consider another way to celebrate your everlasting love. Maybe a musician can serenade you! (Watch my video clips here.)

no love locks

Last, but not least…

I want to share the following travel tip, which reminded me to be present and enjoy the fleeting moments. I coined it the ACRO-nym:

be Alert and Cautious, yet Relaxed and Open!

Got a favorite travel tip? Share it in the comment box below!

Happy and safe travels! 🚘🚉🛫🛳🚲🛶