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tclowe

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About tclowe

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    Cool Cruiser

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    San Francisco, CA usa
  1. Our favorite budget items during our Paris trip were crepes to go, a bowl of french onion soup, or even a plate of yummy escargot (you can dip the free bread in the tasty broth after finishing all the snails). Also, in addition to eating at a few french restaurants, we actually enjoyed eating at the Chinese restaurant near our hotel - prices were right, portions were decent, faster service, fewer smoking patrons, and kid-friendly staff. Enjoy your time in Paris.
  2. tclowe

    Iceland Airlines

    Thanks everyone for your input! I think I will book with Iceland Air. Their schedule from San Francisco to Copenhagen is the best for us (shortest flight time, one of the cheaper air, and we get a free stopover). I was going to spend two days in Legoland in Copenhagen as well as 3 days in Copenhagen prior to getting on our Baltic cruise. But visiting Iceland sounds more exciting! We are taking our 2 year old and 7 year old with us, so Legoland was an option. After reading your posts, I went to Iceland Airline website and tripadvisors.com, Blue Lagoon sounds like a neat excursion, in addition to the city's geothermal pools. Now, we need to think about hotel stay in Iceland. Decisions, Decisions! Thanks again. Cynthia
  3. Has anyone flown on this airline recently? We were thinking of taking this airline from San Francisco to Copenhagen with a stopover in Iceland. The price and time slots are perfect for our baltic cruise next summer. Don't hear much about this airline so wondering if it is safe, does it have seat assignment, and should we wait a couple of months for better prices? Thanks for any help. Cynthia
  4. We had hired our driver through our hotel tour desk. I believe the drive was around 2 hours. We were picked up pretty early because I wanted to get there as soon as the cable cars opened (9:00am). I had read that early morning is the best because a lot less tourist and vendors to hassle you. Boy, it was fantastic to be one of the few on top of the wall. It was a little nippy because we were there mid-November. (thank goodness for the new Northface Jacket and Gore-tex gloves from a stall in China). We had the wall to ourselves for about 20 minutes. My 3 year old son was climbing up and down the steps (big steps, those sentry guards thousands of years ago must have been very tall) and running around inside the protected sentry post (like a little maze of 3 or 4 rooms). We chose to not hire an English-speaking guide because we would have to pay for a bigger car since the comfortable 4 door sedan only fitted 3 + 1 small child and the driver. The guide would have been a tight fit. Although while on the wall, we saw a couple of other tourist with English guide. The tour desk could have easily provide us with a driver and guide for a higher price. We don't speak Mandarin even though we are Chinese (only speak cantonese). Instead, we had to use mime to convey our needs to the driver. We had only hired him to take us to see the Mutianyu section and drive us back to the city and drop us off at the Forbidden City. We had a great time exploring on our own. It felt weird to see everyone look like us but we were 100% Americanized and couldn't communicate through language with the people in Beijing. My husband and I still laugh about how we had to look for restaurants that had English menus or pictures of dishes taped to the restaurant walls/windows so we can order our food. Another fun thing to do is have peking duck at this famous restaurant near the Forbidden City. Called Qianmen Quanjude Restaurant on 32 Qianmen Dajie. Their specialty was the peking duck and the chef slices the duck in front of you on a table and it is served on a nice platter and the rest of the duck meat is combined to make another dish. Then you are presented with a certificate indicating that you were served duck number _______ from this restaurant. I guess all their ducks are numbered here! The waitresses speak English and you can request an English menu. This is a fancy restaurant so don't expect food stall prices. Have a wonderful time and you can ask more questions. Cynthia
  5. Hi, we were in China two years ago. We enjoyed the Mutianyu section of the wall. Even though it is a little further away than Badaling, the road is easy to travel (we hired a driver with a very comfortable sedan for 1/2 day to take us to the Wall). Worth every penny because his car was very clean and he was safe driver. The Mutianyu section is a little less rundown, definitely less tourist than Badaling, but very picturesque. They have a cable car lift that will pull you most of the way up and you just climb a few steps to get to the top. The sentry posts along this section of the wall were fairly close so you can take great pictures of the wall with the curving wall and sentry post in the background. The steps are steep at Badaling. Plus, they have lots of hawkers selling t-shirts and junk along the Wall (sort of sad). The vendors at Mutianyu are along the base of the Wall near the exit of the cable car or along the steps leading to the cable car. No one to bother you while you are experiencing the majestic views of the Wall at Mutianyu. It is clean and so beautiful early in the morning at Mutianyu (we got there around 9:10am). Have a good time.
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