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Host Bonjour

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About Host Bonjour

  • Rank
    Cruise Critic Host

About Me

  • Location
    NYC region
  • Interests
    Travel, film, mixed media painting, photography
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Love mew places, some old favorites & going home.
  1. Host Bonjour

    Eurostar luggage

    Great advice, absolutely make a phone call, I don’t think enough people realize this is an option. My sister recently traveled to India with her three young children and more importantly a husband that had just had serious back surgery; he wasn’t quite recovered yet but they were going! She called Qatar Airways and they arranged everything from when they arrived at the airport to security, gates etc. Obviously it still has to be thorough but she they were assisted. She was so relieved and said everything went well. If they did this here at JFK, I reckon they’ll do it at the Eurostar. Good luck, enjoy your trip and let us know how it goes
  2. You can also check out the National Expresswhich is the British bus system. You can purchase tickets to take the coach from Heathrow into London, Victoria Station. Tickets are sold in the airport, online and at the kiosk outside. Think i bought mine outside at the kiosk then walked up up to the where the coach was, they put my bags underneath and I had a comfy ride into the city. The Paddington Express is a great option but it’s not always easy with luggage so unless you travel quite light, think of booking one of the private cars recommended widely on this board or take the National Express. Uber has been greatly restricted in London so I’m not quite sure how well that’s going now...probably ok but I’d choose another option. Luckily, there are several! 😊
  3. Hi! Glad you received helpful replies here on the Britain/Western Europe board. I’d have moved this to the France board for you but our new boards are still in the growing pain stages although for the most part, without issue. Everyone is, as evidenced here, always so very helpful! In no time things will be on track and the change will have been forgotten. The best and most irreplaceable part of these boards are all of you. As long as there is some place for you to post, and there will be, a minor glitch can’t stop this mighty forum. 😎
  4. Host Bonjour

    Which area of Sydney would you recommend

    Go out to Bondi Beach and also, if you haven’t done so and are so inclined, visit a vineyard and try the famed Aussie Shiraz or something else new. I mean, that’s not truly Sydney but the Blue Mountains take you outside too. Also, you can pop over to Manly if you didn’t do that. And the Tauranga Zoo which is quite a nice zoo with great views and of course, many animals not common in other hemispheres! Another place that was quite fascinating was the Quarantine station; think Ellis Island except more so for the convicts than the immigrants. It was haunting and also presented stunning landscapes and vistas to accompany the dramatic history. All of the above easily accessible by Sydney Transit, or a tour van etc. and highly recommended. I’m glad I had enough time in Sydney to do the things you did plus all of these things. Sydney is that great a place to be! And CBD, Downtown, Old Town, Historic Center, almost everywhere and on different continents I’ve heard all of these terms used, probably because so many people have migrated and terms get adopted and integrated into the lingo in many places, though not universally of course. It’s part of the fun (or frustration depending upon the day!) of travel and discovery to learn new words, habits, foods, anything that is unfamiliar and different. And then, one day you find yourself using the term holiday instead of vacation or you arrive home and continue to say grazie or merci for a day or two, well then you know you have truly become a citizen of the world. People will now begin asking what YOU mean when you use a certain term, lol 😜 So much fun 😊
  5. Host Bonjour

    Photos From Greenland

    Something we don’t see too often - photos of Greemland! Would love to hear a bit more about the photos and the adventure - probably you’ve done an extensive report. Maybe a few thoughts, impressions or even some captions if you get some time. The photos are spectacular and spark so much curiosity around a place few of us might get to visit! But no pressure at all...truly 😎 Thanks so much for posting, we appreciate it! 😊
  6. Host Bonjour

    Need Paris hotel advice

    Thanks very much <<merci>> to both cruisinrg and BrooklinNorth for following up with reports about their hotels and trip details! Always great to get feedback from our wonderful members after they’re back home as it provides helpful, current information to other travelers getting ready for their upcoming visits. Your contributions (everyone’s!!) are the essence of what keep our message boards great and our community outstanding. Thanks as always 😎😊
  7. Bonjour tous les monde and merci Madame Rodriguez for visiting with us today. It’s always great to get news directly from the source and especially from niche lines like PONANT; I’ve noticed an increased interest in this type of cruising experience on the boards I help moderate. Without question any improvement on environmental impact is a win! I’m curios about all the itineraries (!!) but especially the Paris Match option. Almost nothing ever improved my café visits in Paris than sitting with an issue of Paris Match so it must make the cruise itineraries incredible too (as does the addition of so many wonderful French partners - Ladurée; Veuve; Fragonnard...oh so nice!) would you please highlight some more about what way Paris Match accentuates the experience? I look forward to hearing more about that and all about PONANT here during your visit. Again, thank you - I’m always all about anything all French - especially if it’s travel related. And sumptuous ;) Cheers!
  8. Host Bonjour

    London countryside tours

    It depends upon your interests! None would be a disappointment and each has something distinctive about it, as well as the obvious history, charm, beauty, architecture. Neither are they too far from London. So...are you perhaps curious about Oxford University, not the only thing about Oxford but certainly something notable as well as the many acclaimed alumni, professors and students. Or maybe a fan of Shakespeare and the RSC might be keen on visiting Stratford upon Avon but again, that’s not all there is. The Cotswolds villages are a variety - each has something different but they all generally share one thing - stone - from the area with which most buildings were built. And they look like they’re from storybooks and movies, imperfect as some might be with a slanted wall or roof that didn’t quite settle right but which now only adds to the charm...plus, it’s still standing so, goof or no goof? If you were meaning Bibury and Burford, I went to those two....I don’t have words. So glad I was there. If you did mean Bilbury...I’m sorry for the mixup. Cotswold Eagle will likely set things right. I was also at Fairford, Lechlede and Cirencester but it wasn’t an organized tour. And I’d honestly be glad if I were at Oxford or Stratford too but maybe that’s because I saw these villages? I’d read a wee bit on these places’ history before deciding in order to make the best, most worthwhile choice so that you enjoy your tour. :)
  9. Host Bonjour

    What is going on in Saint Petersburg?

    Different country but...well, you may see some parallels without me going too far off topic and getting myself into trouble here :eek: On a very small toor in China (7 of us plus guide & driver) our van was pulled over by a traffic controller- the individual standing on a podium in a roundabout- in a huge intersection in Guangzhou. I don’t recall feeling too concerned- not as much as when we went through immigration (it was a land tour after Hong Kong) when officers began yelling at other travelers arriving off the same boat we were on. The traffic man was only concerned with the driver and guide and their papers - guess it was apparent we were not Chinese - and that it was an officially sanctioned government tour. This went on though for 45 minutes and in China, itineraries are strict (as in many places for many reasons!!) but I don’t know, many traffic person provides a paper that says “they’re late because I delayed them” because we didn’t have further trouble and our itinerary remained the same. Obviously making it harder is being unable to understand what was happening while it was going on. Best we could do was observe outside the van around us - which I still recall was fascinating- and talk amongst ourselves quietly so as to not make anything worse. As far as changing our itinerary went, I was the one that managed that. Got the driver and guide to stop at a jewelry factory that was NOT on the tour - no more “friendship” stores! They both seemed kind of nervous (I understand why now much better than I did when I was there) but we visited and purchased quickly. Our guide took risks talking about China that I suppose some guides won’t take in certain countries. When I got home, I dove into books that were incredible and further gave me insight into 20th century China. It helped put the traffic stop into perspective as well as - oh lots of things. We don’t do politics here, but it can and does inform our experience. So basically what I’m saying is, it is what it is. Just like the weather, we don’t always know what we will get and with countries that have long, complex histories past and present - one must always be aware of that past and present. It’s not always without complications. Hopefully not many and not serious - but it’s always helpful to be informed and aware of what was and what is. I’m so sorry for the unpleasant tour experience. Maybe eventually it will make for a great story to tell people of “that time in St Petersburg” although for now I understand the disappointment. Perhaps plan on seeing some fabulous Russian art exhibits when you can - I always do. Last year there was a great one when I was in Houston and even my 5 year old niece became enthralled with it - I was sure we were going to need to leave but no, she was pointing to Tsars and Tsarinas asking me to tell her about them. Plus, the jewels were kinda nice :D The upside? You were in St Petersburg!!!
  10. Host Bonjour

    "Free" walking tours in Rome

    I’ve used the DK guides, they’re spectacular because they’re in color, magazine-like pages (thus a bit heavy for carrying along on the trip) with great photos, diagrams etc and cover more of the past/present detail. They’re very organized and so they make it quite possible to plan out your own DIY tour based on your own time and interests. You can always patch together a list of places here for a possible walking tour, whether it’s 1-2 or 3 days and get feedback on whether or not it’s too ambitious or doable based on the pace you’d like to take etc. I did my own walking this way by spiltting Rome into sections and then essentially covering each area on foot each day which worked quite well except for the Vatican - I didn’t get past the style committee (Austrians in lederhosen were turned away too :eek:) and refused to return another day as it would have been off my itinerary. It was enough to be in St Peters Square. Best part of going it on your own is being able to stop and go anytime you like for food/drink, photos, read about what’s in front of you or skip something or go back to something, linger....flexibility! I dilly-dallied in The Forum, never expected to be so captivated by it; likewise the Pantheon - think I freeloaded or eavesdropped on some descriptions whilst inside and then just sort of marveled for however long it was, made pictures. Even Palazzo Venezia is am imposing structure- it’s not so easy to photograph really because there’s not really a great, safe place to stand but it’s so recognizable from films and so I unexpectedly lingered there a bit. All of these places grabbed me more than the Coliseum - neat but I was....”oh - it’s smaller than I thought” and I felt wrong to think that because, wow, quite a feat to build it! Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is, sometimes we get surprised by what excites us and what’s less exciting (?) so it’s often great to have the freedom to do it yourself and be open to whatever happens, the wonderful surprises. Have a lovely time in Rome...whatever you decide, it will absolutely be lovely!! :cool:
  11. Host Bonjour

    Safety in Paris

    The target of a pickpocket or petty criminal in ANY city flush with tourists is the distracted or careless visitor. A person is as likely to be caught off guard in a very busy American city (on mass transit or in a bustling plaza or street) as they would be likewise in many popular European capitols. It’s always upon each individual to mind their valuables whenever in crowded places but ESPECIALLY when visiting somewhere new as of course will be necessary to look around more in order to navigate. This doesn’t mean you are an automatic victim - it just means while you’re looking for which street to go to, you also take notice of people around you - but don’t we all do this anyway, except maybe just quicker in familiar places? So in unfamiliar places the only difference is taking a bit more time to notice surroundings which we have mostly, because it’s holiday time. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t feel more secure in Paris than I did in my home city, NYC. Paris always seemed to have no shortage of police, gendarme or soldiers in camo with big guns out in the open (took a bit of getting used to the big guns!) and so I thought “ok, they’re serious here!) and although the scams near Norte Dame were notorious- someone appproaches you for something- well, that they were notorious was helpful because one knew what was to be expected. Now we have big guns on display in my city too but the world has changed. There are cameras and searches and announcements about left bags in every big place, Paris has been through what we have been through and their security is like ours. So I guess the thing is, if you will come to NYC, you can go to Paris. They even have shared intelligence on how to do this right because....well, it’s obvious. Not to stop pickpockets- that’s just common sense. We have many threads on the boards - check the Italy board - on particular wallets or money/passport holders that are slashproof worth a view. It’s also just always savvy to have copies of your passport and any other important docs on your phone or tablet as it can help with obtaining replacements. We understand having concerns about things not going well on a trip but overall, safety issues aren’t high on the list of problems. Every year France generally ranks number 1,2 or 3 as the most visited place in the world as a majority stop in Paris. If things weren’t going well, those numbers would tank. Feel good about your upcoming visit and enjoy every minute of beautiful, unforgettable Paris. Everything will be ok.
  12. Host Bonjour

    Kangaroo boxing?

    Thank you for the kind words sailco :) I couldn’t agree more about our community - I’ve been thrilled to be part of these boards for so many years, first on our sister site Independent Traveler, but I always sort of popping in here, wayyyyy back in our earliest days in the ‘90s! I felt so fortunate to simply BE in Australia (NZ same trip) and so it’s sort of the gift that keeps on giving to learn that I’d had a rare treat seeing what I saw among the Roos. I was too thrilled to just simply be among them in this wondrous place. These are the wonderful things that can and do happen when we go places. By showing up, often without anything more than basic expectations (or none) we get the opportunities to witness something truly amazing. I’ve had some wonderful experiences in amazing places (the opportunity to attend the full, closed rehearsal of Luciano Pavarotti & a stellar guest list of singing talent in Modena, Italy!) but never did I know in advance any of these things would occur. Oh and the rehearsal was free :D The experience was priceless, of course. You just never know, so you just have to go :cool:
  13. Host Bonjour

    Kangaroo boxing?

    Whilst on my Blue Mountains visit, we were wandering (not off unaccompanied) in an area that was inhabited by kangaroos that absolutely did not care there were a few of us quietly among them. Mums with younger ones - are they still joeys if they are bigger but out of the pouch? Anyway, obviously it’s a rather hypnotic or transcendent type of experience observing these animals not so familiar in our hemisphere and certainly not being in <<their home>> the forest, I’m visiting from Brooklyn having dwelled in NYC my whole life (our critters are....different) when all of a sudden...... the loudest, most guttural, startling groan pierced the silence and off in a safe distance were two very large kangaroos kicking the stuffing out of each other!! It was alarming and curious at the same time because now we are actually in a nature show, not watching one on tv. The Roos lean back on their tails to use them for balance and from which to pull back their feet/paws (??) and hurl them onto each other, much like rams thrust their horns into each other in that strong and forceful way. It was from this point on that I could only imagine this was likely where the term kangaroo boxing had originated. I’m not sure it’s how I’d describe it if I hadn’t ever heard the term because it doesn’t otherwise resemble boxing, nor does it likely have the origins...well...nature gives Roos their purpose for their actions. Was never quite sure what purpose boxing as sport served but anyway. We remained until the kangaroos settled down a bit which was fine as this was truly fascinating and it was also just really wonderful to observe the other Roos just lounging or hopping and doing Roo things. So if you hear that piercing groan....it’s on. Otherwise, staged kangaroo boxing just isn’t happening - they seem just way to chill. Also, I think these species of Roos, known to be particularly chill but then again....city person here. In the Blue Mountains, there were cockatoos flying overhead - where I come from, pigeons. So my wildlife chops, well I’m trying now that I have easier access to forests, nature 😉 (But I still have access to the city! :eek: I didn’t realize the kanga kicking was rare!
  14. Host Bonjour

    Sydney Full Day and Half Day Tours

    Taking a round trip on the Sydney ferry will suit quite well as an incredible ride in the harbour. If the idea is to be simply enjoy the beauty of being out on that teal/emerald colored water in the sun and breezes, this is all you need. Take a round trip to Manly Beach or Tauranga Zoo...head back to Sydney Quay when ready as the ferries operate regularly. As for Blue Mountain tours, I had a full day tour and thoroughly loved it but I was in Sydney longer and it did help make the drive more worth it although it was very worth it on its own merits, in fact I ought to have stayed overnight had I known it was an option. There are different tour options and different providers and it’s difficult to suggest one over another since Individual interests and preferences vary. In this instance it’s worth checking out what type of itinerary the companies offer, check their reviews (honestly google can be helpful in situations like this!) and then see what suits your interests/time/budget the most. In no way can you make a wrong choice with your itinerary....as I stated, the Blue Mountains are phenomenal and I can’t think of any time anyone posted here that didn’t also love their time there. You will too.
  15. Not sure if this helps as I do understand the question but it is a money question...my great South Island friends (retired farmers, world travelers) and their South Island friends that I met in Dunedin feel Doubtful Sound is far and away the better experience. I chime in with this only because many folks also add on land visits to their cruises or they return later for a longer visit...this is a place that would certainly beckon many travelers back for more. It’s typically not the one offered, I know and it’s more out of the way but this is likely part of the reason why the locals feel this way. To me they simply said it was the more beautiful, breathtaking experience. Everything they took me to or sent me to was....so I’m inclined to believe them. When they visited here I did my best to reciprocate but there’s really no comparing Brooklyn or Manhattan or Newport, RI to New Zealand. For me, these places are my heart and soul but I’m first to admit they don’t compare in jaw dropping vistas like NZ does....ok maybe somethings in the city do, just in a very different, sometimes surprising way ;) (But oh that skyline...) Whatever you do, have a wonderful journey. :cool:
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