Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Get Your Medieval On...

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Sometimes, there’s nothing better than waking up in a 13th-century building and imagining how many people have woken up, celebrated, or walked the halls of the very same place — and it doesn’t hurt to get to imagine it while still enjoy modern conveniences like air-conditioning and Wi-Fi. And if you don’t want to stay in a crumbling piece of history, you don’t have to — and you can still get a taste of history. There are tons of preserved medieval towns and villages that have newer– even sleek and modern — hotels.

Hotel Athena: Siena, Italy
Inside the historic walls of Siena, the 100-room Hotel Athena is a classic, upscale property within walking distance of several restaurants and historic sites, including the Siena Cathedral and Biblioteca Piccolomini. Piazza del Campo, Siena’s main square and the site of the famous haven’t-changed-much-since-the-middle-ages Palio horse races, can be reached within 10 minutes by foot. The hotel’s rooftop terrace overlooks the historic buildings of the area and has a bar serving cocktails and snacks. There is a free breakfast buffet with hot and cold items and an elegant restaurant serving regional cuisine. There’s no pool or fitness center at the hotel, but rooms are simple and clean and have free Wi-Fi.

Ayre Hotel Oviedo: Oviedo, Spain
Ayre Hotel Oviedo is a one-of-a-kind four-pearl property that was converted from a soccer stadium into a bold and stylish hotel. So, it isn’t exactly a 6th-century castle on the hill, but it is a great example of modern living within ancient space. Prices are low for what you get in the spacious rooms: modern furniture, chromotherapy headboards, free Wi-Fi, and flat-screen TVs — but expect to pay extra for breakfast, garage parking, and access to the whirlpool and sauna in the spa. El Bistro restaurant serves homestyle lunch and dinner while the chic bar area attracts locals and guests for cocktails. There are six event rooms and a full business center. The location above a mall with restaurants is a nice perk, but the main highlight is that the beautiful, preserved medieval city center of Oviedo is just a 20-minute walk away.

Adler Thermae Spa & Relax Resort: Bagno Vignoni, Italy
Part of a small luxury hotel chain originating in the Italian Alps, the Adler Thermae Spa and Relax Resort is a relaxing retreat nestled in Bagno Vignoni, a small thermal village about an hour southeast of Siena, and it’s just a five-minute walk to the ancient village. It’s also 20 minutes to Montalcino, home of Brunello wine, and it’s a 30-minute drive to Montepulciano. This resort makes the most of its natural setting, offering indoor and outdoor thermal pools and serving locally-grown food, but its modern decor sets it apart from other properties in Tuscany; some like the sleek look, while others wish it were more authentic. Rooms are spacious and offer soaking tubs in modern bathrooms and scenic balconies. There are all sorts of amenities for a relaxing or active escape, with miles of hiking and biking trails, along with bike rentals, and a kid’s club with supervised activities for children.
Hotel Palazzo del Capitano Exclusive Wellness & Relias: San Quirico d’Orcia, Italy
The 22-room Hotel Palazzo del Capitano is an exclusive upscale property set within the grounds of an ancient medieval palace within the idyllic medieval Tuscan village of San Quirico d’Orcia. Tucked away in the narrow streets and stone walls of a 15th-century mansion property, Hotel Palazzo del Capitano offers visitors an almost surreal feeling of traveling through time. Olive trees and fragrant plants create a relaxing, lush environment while rustic Tuscan decor blends with luxurious style. Filling out the small spa and wellness facility are hot tubs, caves, and various body treatments. Al Vecchio Forno trattoria serves creative Tuscan cuisine and offers vino from its wine cellar. The pedestrian-only area means cars must be left outside the palace walls, but porters are available to help with luggage. This is ideal for anyone looking to escape the touristy vibe and have an authentic Tuscan experience.

Hotel Italia: Siena, Italy 
Renovated in 2010 in a contemporary vintage style, the 65-room Hotel Italia is a top pick among Siena’s mid-range options — and the price is often budget-friendly. Although there’s no on-site restaurant or pool, the hotel has worked out a deal with its upscale sister property, Hotel Garden, where guests can indulge in half-board meals and free use of the pool. While located within walking distance to most Siena attractions and many restaurants and bars, the hotel is about a 25-minute walk from Piazza Il Campo. Some may find the property’s location off a busy road to be noisy — just like in a modern city! (Well, maybe not exactly.)

Grand Hotel Stockholm: Stockholm, Sweden
The historic Grand Hotel is one of Stockholm‘s grand dames, complete with gilded accents and a high-profile clientele. Located in Norrmalm, the main borough of Stockholm’s city center, it is a quick 10-minute walk to the city’s famous medieval area, Galma Stan — one of the best-preserved medieval spots in Europe. Built in 1874, and situated right on the water, the hotel boasts spectacular harbor views, and a great location near multiple museums and tourist attractions. Stately rooms have flat-screen TVs with premium channels, and some come with extras like separate deep soaking tubs and balconies. But be sure to upgrade to at least a Classic or Superior Room (215 or 270 square feet, respectively): Single Rooms are teensy-tiny by American standards, measuring around 160 square feet.

Hotel Posta Marcucci: Bagno Vignoni, Italy
The 36-room Hotel Posta Marcucci is a small, family-owned hotel that provides a cozy, intimate way to enjoy the thermal springs of Bagno Vignoni. The hotel has its own thermal pools, which hotel guests and non-guests can use, and also a private indoor area for hotel guests only. The facilities date back to the 1950s, and the property has a slightly vintage, homelike atmosphere, with the advantage of a modern spa and meeting rooms. There are only 36 rooms — simple, no-frills spaces with flat-screen TVs and minibars — but they provide a great value for enjoying the surrounding village. On the walls are photos of notable hotel guests, including filmmaker Federico Fellini, while the landmark medieval pool has been visited by Saint Catherine of Siena and Lorenzo the Magnificent.

Alexander Palme: Chianciano, Italy
The three-story, estate-style Hotel Alexander Palme sits on a hill within the center of southern Tuscany’s medieval spa town of Chianciano. An easy five-minute walk down to the town square (though there’s a slightly steep incline on the way back) makes it an ideal base for those who want to be in the middle of the area’s restaurants, bars, and shops. Families may want a more kid-friendly hotel; Alexander Palme — with plenty of garden seating and its proximity to spas — is often best-suited to couples. The cuisine and overall level of service have received mix reviews, so guests may want to check out other hotels in the area before booking.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sneaky sneaky!!! Hotel Charges to Watch Out For!

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No one likes being nickel-and-dimed — especially not by hotels. After you’ve already shelled out major bucks for your vacation, charging for extras like Wi-Fi can feel like adding insult to injury. Some fees are just plain OBNOXIOUS, such as the ones noted below:
1. Air-conditioning: This is just sneaky. Of course you’re going to pony up for air-conditioning on a hot day — no one wants to try to sleep in the sweltering heat. But once you’ve checked into your room and you’re drenched in sweat from lugging your bags in the hot sun, finding out it’s going to cost you to cool down is seriously cringe-inducing. Watch out for this at the Samsara Cliff Resort & Spa in Negril, Jamaica.
2. Mini-fridges: At the GHT Oasis Park and Spa in Lloret de Mar, Spain, guests must pay extra to use their mini-fridges. Have some leftovers you want later and trying to avoid food poisoning? That’ll be about four euros a day, please. Or a tummy ache — your choice.
3. Safes: This just feels wrong to us. You shouldn’t have to pay extra money to protect your items from theft on vacation — in your own room! Though this seems especially common in European hotels, we’ve seen this around the world — at the Michelangelo Hotel on the Amalfi Coast (it’s a whopping 10 euros here), VIK Arena Blanca in the D.R, and Bally’s in Las Vegas, just to name a few.
4. Clean Pool Towels: if the hotel has a pool, one can assume the guests are going to need clean towels to dry off. So why not charge for them? That’s what they decided to do at Hotel Playadulce in Aguadulce, Spain. Pool towels are advertised as free, but in fact you have to put down a deposit to use them, and then pay to swap them for clean ones. Better be willing to hold on to your damp, smelly towel if you’re on a budget.
5. Electricity: Who would have thought that you’d have to pay extra to turn the lights on? This is not the 19th century, people. We’re personally not fans of showering in the dark, ourselves. At Morritt’s Tortuga Club & Resort in Grand Cayman, each room has its own electricity meter, and guests have to pay for exactly what they use during their stay!
6. Linens: Staying at an apartment-style property might mean sacrificing a few typical hotel features — like a pool, sure. Daily housekeeping, OK — we can make do with weekly. But it should never, ever mean sacrificing sheets and bath towels. The apartments at the Residence Rivamare Ugento come with them, but if you want to actually use them — and we assume you don’t want to sleep on a bare mattress, or air dry in the shower — you may have to pay extra for the privilege, here.
7. Toilet Paper: Free toilet paper in a hotel room that you’ve paid for should be a basic human right. But at some hotels in Brazil, like the King Albergue Hostel in Rio de Janeiro, you’ll have to cough up a few bucks to wipe your derriere. And no, we’re not kidding.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Part Four - Dalmatian Adventure

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October 16: We drove to Plitvitse Lakes, absolutely fascinating system comprised of hundreds of waterfalls.

The lakes are all interconnected and follow the water flow. They are separated by natural dams of travertine, which is deposited by the action of moss, algae, and bacteria. The particularly sensitive travertine barriers are the result of an interplay between water, air and plants. The encrusted plants and bacteria accumulate on top of each other, forming travertine barriers which grow at the rate of about 1 cm (0.4 in) per year.


Tip. Never take a large group tours. It will take you hours to go around the lakes, most likely you will not cover much and you will be constantly in the crowd of people. Instead either do what we did , hiring local tour guide, or hike around the lake yourself.

In the evening we arrived to Zagreb. We stayed in Westin, which is most business like hotel during our trip. Even though it is missing the charm of all other hotels we stayed during our vacation, it is centrally located and clean.

Our restaurant, Stari Fijaker 900, we quickly found from TripAdvisor . It was not far from our hotel, has a good selection of Croatian dishes, provides excellent service and was very reasonably priced.

Zagreb was the cheapest place we visited during this trip. For example, our breakfast in the bakery across the street from Westin was 30 kunas (about $5): 2 coffees, a crousant and sandwich and 2 delicious pastries.

October 17
In the morning we met an excellent private tour guide, Nives. She gave such a wonderful introduction to Zagreb, showed untountouristy cobbled streets, a farmer market along with major landmarks.
Zagreb is our favorite among all the towns and cities we visited during our vacation. It does not have a feeling of the city with touristy traps. If you see the crowd it will not be tourists, but rather students who go to school.

We had lunch in the random place in the narrow cobbled street next to the farmers market.

We will definitely come back to Zagreb as we liked it very much!

In the evening we took 2 hour train to Ljubljana and stayed at te Vander Resort Hotel, right in the middle of a pedestrian zone. It is probably the most contemporary hotel we ever stayed.

October 18: On our last day of active touring we took a small group tour around Slovenia. There were 8 tourists in the minibus and a driver/guide. Well, it was rather a driver who drove us through the half of the country bringing us to beautiful Lake Bled, Lake Bled castle, unusual Predjama castle carved into the cave, and to famous 20 km long Postojna Cave caves.

Tip. If you travel to Slovenia and visit all these places either hire a good private tour guide or use audio guides or bring guides in electronic format to read about all the artifacts and interesting things you can see. Many of these places don't have descriptions next to artifacts.

When you go to the caves never take a large group tour without an audio guide. Large groups don't stop at more than 3 places. Having an audio guide would allow you to listen about many other places along the route. If you are more adventurous and have some time I would recommend taking a private tour guide.

In the evening we dined at Valvasor restaurant in Ljubljana.  Great blend of European cuisine; the duck, trout and soups were very delicious.

We didn't spend too much time in Ljubljana.  Our perception from the city was that it is small, cute and very pedestrian and bicycle friendly with a lot of students.

Tip. Even though I don't see Ljubljana to be worth of a couple of hours of exploring,  I think it can be a great base to travel around Slovenia as the whole country is very tiny.

At the midnight we took the night train to Germany to fly back to the USA on October 20.
Our sleeper car was comfortable enough.

Tip. If you take a midnight train from Ljubljana be aware that the railroad station building is closed after 10 pm and there is a little information on train arrivals.

Tip. When taking trains in Europe make sure there are no strikes. If there is one make sure you understand what your alternatives are. When we arrived to Munich to change the train our next train was canceled because of strike. Fortunately there were 2 alternative trains arriving a little bit later than planned. In Germany don't rely only on the Deutsche Bahn employee at the information desk. Go to the ticket counter as they have more information and have better means to help you.

October 20: Flying home 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Part Three - Dalmatian Adventure

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October 13: We took a day trip to the Pelješac Peninsula and Korčula Island. Our private tour guide was Ivo, he and Stephan (the guide for our Dubrovnik tour) are owners of the tour company in Dubrovnik we use and highly recommend them.

Tip. Because we saw the beautiful Bay of Kotor and Tara River canyon, Korčula and Pelješac were not that impressive. Having said that, if you are in Dubrovnik it is definitely worth a day trip as they are still nice and have wonderful wineries. 

You can drive yourself as the roads are fairy simple; if you do so, we recommend looking at the Korčula ferry schedule as this is the only mode of transportation to and from.

The biggest attraction at Pelješac peninsula, in the town of Ston, is the wall that protected it in Medieval times; supposedly it is the largest wall after Great Wall of China.

Along our way, we visited a local winery with the best olive oil I ever tasted in my life.

In the evening we had a dinner in Kopun, a good restaurant in Old Town. The restaurant boasts its main specialty as castrated rooster. Whether one is brave enough to try such a dish is purely subjective; the food comes highly recommended at a good value. 

October 14: In the morning we picked up a rental car and drove first to Split then to Trogir and finally to Zadar, covering approximately 400 km.
It is a very easy drive with one lane roads the first 150 km and a modern highway making up the rest of the drive.

Tip. Some people may disagree, however I would recommend skipping Split and/or spending a few hours there. After seeing Dubrovnik, the overall aesthetics are not as appealing, primarily the beaches and sea. 

Most tours in Split center around the Diocletian palace, which is kept preserved for more than 1500 years. 

Trogir is a cute sea town next to Split and if you have time I would rather recommend spending time there vs. Split.

The highlight of our day was Zadar. In the vicinity of several blocks, one can see remnants from the Roman times to the Venetian Republic, from the Austro-Hungarian rule to the Italian occupation between the two World Wars, from the civil war in 1991-95 to the present time.

Our tour guide, Ivitsa, was super knowledgeable and a very proud native of Zadar. At the end of the tour he brought us to the place "Greetings to the Sun"- plates on the ground are charged from the sun during the day and light up during the night.

In the late evening we arrived to one of the best spa resorts in Adriatic, the Falkensteiner Ladera Spa, which is approximately 20 minutes from Zadar.

When entering the resort complex the guard asked our names and directed where to drive. At the door of the main building the concierge was waiting for us outside versed with our names and made sure that the check in process was fast and smooth.  We knew from the first moment that this truly was 5 star resort.

The fashionable modern design, breathtaking panoramic location, and the most beautiful wellness world in Croatia ensure that this is the top holiday and spa hotel in the country.

October 15: We spent one full day of doing absolutely nothing at the Falkensteiner Ladera- our day was filled with enjoying the amenities, food and soaking up the relaxing atmosphere.  

Tip. If you stay at Falkensteiner Ladera, try their famous Turkish Hammam. You can read details about this fantastic treatment here: http://www.falkensteiner.com/en/hotel/iadera/wellness/hammam#site

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Part Two- Dalmatian Adventure

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Bay of Kotor

October 11

After Dubrovnik, we headed to Kotor and Budva in Montenegro. We had Hrvoje as our tour guide/driver for thesenext two days.
Tip. If you want to explore Kotor and Budva by your own it is not that hard. You can easily rent a car and drive. The roads are simple and easy to navigate; just be aware that these are mountainous roads and mostly have only one lane in each direction.

Kotor Bay, which is the longest fjord in Southern Europe is absolutely stunning! I would highly recommend a visit while vacationing in Croatia. 

Tip. Crime and pickpocketing is very rare and we felt absolutely safe. Our Dubrovnik friends mentioned that they were not afraid to leave a wallet in the car as nobody would break in. 

In Kotor we asked our tour guide to bring to show us where the locals are/hang out. He mentioned a place by the name of FK Bokelj, but warned us about the restaurant's "aesthetics".  We insisted anyway and were rewarded with the best food we ate during our entire trip! FK Bokelj caters to the fans of the local football club FK Bokelj and patrons gather to drink beer, watch football and enjoy life. Everything was super fresh and had a flavor of homemade dishes, from fresh soups and salad made from garden vegetables to various meat dishes.

When we returned back to Dubrovnik we had a dinner in a small fast food restaurant called Barba, located in the heart of Old Town. The octopus burger was so good! The prices are cheap, the service is good.  

October 12

Enroute to Tara River

It was the day when we got the most stamps in our passports. We went to the most stunning place during our trip, Tara River in Montenegro. It is the largest canyon in Europe and the views are absolutely fantastic.  It is about a 3 hours drive from Dubrovnik, crossing through Bosnia and Montenegro, however the beauty and majestic views were worth the road trip. 

Starting our Jeep Tour

Tip. You can rent a car and drive to Tara River yourself. However for driving through the canyon I would highly recommend hiring a local tour guide. The roads at the canyon are very dangerous to maneuver. Hrvoje drove us to Tara River and we had Stan, a local guide, who drove us through the canyon.

Tip. If time allows you can stay 2 days in Tara River. It is perfect for the Jeep Tour that we took, water rafting, hiking, and very cool zip lining over the canyon.

On the way back to Dubrovnik we asked to bring us to the restaurant on the Bosnian side, right next to Dubrovnik,  where locals eat. The name of this restaurant Drijen. It is inexpensive place with good food. Compared to many restaurants in Dubrovnik, Drijen was much better in quality and value! 

For next 2 nights we stayed at the Hilton Imperial, right next to Pile Gate. If you can afford it, I would highly recommend this wonderful hotel. Very quiet, spacious rooms, super centrally located, great service, the best breakfast we ate during our trip! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Part One- Dalmatian Adventure

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Thousands of kilometers, 5 countries, traveled by plane, car and trains - it was an amazing Dalmatian adventure! We wanted to share our personal reviews for all of our intriguing destinations, tours taken, hotels visited, restaurants frequented, and various means of transportation used during our trip!

October 9: We landed at Dubrovnik airport in the afternoon; the very first 2 things we needed to do was to find a shuttle that went straight to Dubrovnik Old Town and an ATM to get cash. The airport is very small and the aforementioned was very easy to find.

Tip: The best way to get to Old Town (in our opinion) is to take a shuttle run by the Atlas company; the cost is about 70 kunas ($11 USD) per person and takes approximately 40 minutes.  The shuttle buses come quite frequently and we waited no more than 10-15 minutes to board it. Another alternative was a taxi, however, a taxi would not be that much faster and cost at least twice as much. In our case we needed to go to Pile Gate (one of the gates to Dubrovnik Old Town) and it was the first Atlas bus stop.

Tip: If you don't plan on staying in the vicinity of Old Town, you might or might not need a rental car. It is very difficult to find a parking spot next to Old Town.

Our first accommodation was Miro Aparthotel...
Tip: If you book an aparthotel in Dubrovnik, make sure to ask them where exactly it is located. Their official address is NOT always where you will stay!

Miro Aparthotel has many managed apartments situated around Old Town. Our apartment was right next to the main square in the end of Stradun Street, the main street in the Old Town. It was super clean, had 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and could easily accommodate 4-5 people. Two things that should be noted- 1. It is just one block from the main square,  so during the night it can be very noisy as there are some restaurants where musicians perform until until midnight. 2. There was no full size mirror (something for the ladies to consider).

Tip: Dubrovnik Old Town is very touristy and there are crowds of people wandering around pretty much from early April through the end of October. If you don't like crowds and/or you are traveling with children, it may be a good idea to stay in Lapad (about 20 minutes by bus or taxi from Old Town); lapad has some lovely beaches so one might be interested in taking a dip in the sea after a long day of sightseeing in Old Town.

Tip: The beaches, specifically the sand,  differ greatly from the beaches/sand of the Caribbean.  They are mostly comprised of pebbles and rocks so bring your water shoes if you plan going into the water! 

The first night we decided to follow the advice of Miro's manager and went to Posat, the restaurant next to Pile Gate. Despite the dishes being more than average (ie carpaccho), I would advise against going to that particular restaurant. They simply overcharged us and misrepresented many of the charges. 

Tip: Restaurants are prohibited to bring tap water to clients after it rains as some mud can get into the system. If there are no rains it is absolutely safe to drink tap water.
Also, we recommend using TripAdvisor to select restaurants. After our snafu at Posat, we guided ourselves via the recommendations from past diners and had no further problems.  In some places we did however rely on advice from our local tour guides whom we fully trusted and must say, we loved their choices! 

October 10: For next 4 days, we hired private tour guides from our partners in Dubrovnik. They are all natives and know every single corner in and out. We enjoyed having their company and got very valuable tips and advice about Dubrovnik and other surroundings.

During our first day touring Dubrovnik, we went through narrow medieval streets, visited a synagogue, heard various fascinating stories from the time the Romans lived there to the flourishing times of the Dubrovnik Republic that stayed independent for more than 300 years to the time of 1991-95 war in the former Yugoslavia when the Yugoslavian army sieged Dubrovnik for months killing many innocent people, visited Mount Srd with its stunning views of Dubrovnik and drove to Cavtat, founded by the Romans and now remains a sleepy, small sea town with a luxurious feel.

Tip: We found the best ice cream in Croatia in Cavtat.

Tip: If you ever want to have a picnic in Dubrovnik go to the top of Mount Srd. All of Dubrovnik will be at your feet. Also, while in Dubrovnik, one might want to visit the place where Games of Throne was shot.

We took a bus from Pile gate in the evening at went to Lapad. There are some very family friendly hotels and pedestrian zones in this area. While it may not have the uber luxurious feel of some Old Town areas, the surroundings were warm, cozy and safe.

For dinner, we ate at Bueno, a recommendation from one of our tour guides. It is frequented by locals and had pretty good food! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Parisian Chic

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How to greet someone:
Start off on the right foot by greeting people with "bonjour". It's not only polite to do when you're introduced directly to someone, but also when you go into a shop, when you're first approached by a waiter at a restaurant, even when entering an elevator. While this may seem a little much, it's an important way to ingratiate yourself with the locals -- and, in return, you'll receive much better service or attention. 
In the evening, you should technically say "bonsoir" though the start time of saying this is somewhat fuzzy. It's typically said as evening starts to fall, but in summer that ends up being rather late. Still, some others start saying bonsoir as soon as they leave work; a safe bet is to begin using that salutation around 7 p.m. If you say bonjour during the evening, it's better than nothing, but you might be quickly tagged as a foreigner.

Do's and Don't's:
Do exchange la bise (a light kiss on each cheek) in social situations between women; it's also okay between men and women. 

Do not greet another man with a kiss if you're a man; shake hands instead. Men normally don't give each other la bise unless they are very, very good friends or family; even then it's rare.
Do let the French person take the lead with cheek kissing, in order to avoid awkwardly misplaced lips or a shuffle of heads. You should also follow suit with the number of kisses exchanged. The general norm in Paris calls for just one kiss on each cheek, but some groups of friends have their own customs. Additionally, some regions around France follow different rules.
Do shake hands when being introduced to a formal business contact, shop owner, or concierge, unless otherwise approached by them to give you la bise.
What to wear:
 To fit in with locals, it's best to leave behind any sweatpants, baseball caps, flip-flops and white sneakers. Parisians are generally quite stylish, but that doesn't necessarily mean extravagant haute couture outfits -- instead, think casual chic. You'll likely see Parisian women wearing some combinations of skinny jeans, an up-and-coming designer top, Converse, or ballerina flats. Parisians also love their trenchcoats and blazers, and wearing a long scarf will also help you blend in.
Fanny-packs or large colorful backpacks are a dead giveaway for tourists; if the latter is necessary, keep it more on the discreet side. Another option is to pick up a very Parisian Longchamp bag, a nice leather purse, or a chic bag designed for men. Lastly, while you might be tempted to purchase a beret while you're here, unless you're planning on playing petanque with elderly gentleman, you should save it for back home.

How to walk and talk:
Parisians walk with a purpose, but that doesn't equate to a race through the streets; rather, they walk at a steady but determined pace. It's good form to walk on the right side of the sidewalk (this also applies to escalators), but on busy streets it can be a bit of a free-for-all. If you need to look at your map, "pull over" and consult it to the side of the road instead of in the middle of the sidewalk: This will save you from the evil stares, huffs or nudges of your fellow pedestrians.
Contrary to some stereotypes of Mediterraneans, Parisians are very soft speakers. Speaking loudly in public is frowned upon, but it can also make you stand out as a tourist and thus lead to unwanted attention, particularly from pickpockets.