Monday, July 6, 2015

Bad Engines…a review of Icelandair Customer Service and Vayama

So in planning my Paris trip, I did some extensive research on flights.  I started with the big dogs - Air France and Delta.  Expensive as each seat was $1700 roundtrip.  Then I started looking into budget air travel.  I came across Icelandair.   

They have a reputation of being low cost and budget international travel trying to make headway into the US market because unvacationned (its a word to me) Americans want to see Iceland in their pursuit of all things European.

Anyhoo, we booked on Icelandair (two tickets with them was like one ticket with AirFrance).  We booked through a low cost budget travel engine Vayama which we found through Kayak.  I regret all of the previous actions because they were serious mistakes.

When talking to IA, you couldn't upgrade through a third party (i.e. Vayama).  We had these exchanges a couple times through twitter in the year leading up to travel.   Every time they were like:


Anyhoo....
Cut to ten days before travel and I get an ominous email stating the following:

Dear passenger, please note your upcoming flight on Icelandair could be influenced by a potential employee strike at Keflavik Airport from May 31-June 1, 2015.
Currently your flights will depart as scheduled. If you wish to change your upcoming reservation to another date, or cancel with full refund, please contact Icelandair. Thank you for your patience as we await further news and information to share with you.


Yeah I was like this at first:


Needless to say I called IA and Vayama to see what was up.  Vayama was  "we haven't been told of strike" and IA was like "we aren't striking".  To both I say:



It just make you want to drop from all the drama.

But then I got my game face on


 Between not getting emails, not reading reservation notes, not doing their due diligence, I can honestly not recommend any of these companies to your good service and money.  While I felt like was being bandied about, I was trying keep myself together.  I am sure my calls will make great training material in years ahead for Vayama (use my voice, you pay me).

We all work hard.  I am diligent and determined which in this instance, I refused...REFUSED to be taken in by people who literally couldn't read to the end of screen or a company who couldn't just take over the reservations.  I feel bad about labor disputes because clearly someone is not getting heard but not make a true mass notification is just bad business.  To leave thousands without travel plans is wrong.

Lesson learned.  Take note.  Don't need your crap.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Shopping in Paris

So I saved the best of Paris for last….SHOPPING.

I think if you come here, everyone gets the bug.



From books to everything else, I would suggest that you be strategic in your shopping experience

Souvenirs - go to a grocery store.  From soap, salt, and chocolate - for people that are a lower priority in terms of shopping - you can get a lot here rather than bits and pieces.  

Handbags - Printemp, Longchamp, Louis Vuitton (don't go to 101 Champs d'Elysee - find another one).

Don't buy from street vendor - its not worth being scammed.  


Momarte

On our final day here, I scheduled a tour with Chris from City Free Tour.

It was a great investment.







Chris lead us through Mount of Matyrs (before it was called Mount of Mars).  Well worth the time.  

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Champs D'Elysee

We slept in today and instead of finding breakfast near us, we crossed the river to find Angelina.   I have heard mixed reviews of the place.  Listen, it is expensive so I may have told my husband that he could get a croissant and a coffee and that's it.   Considering the bill was 30 euros for coffee, hot chocolate and two croissants, yeah that's it.  It was pleasant and filled with ladies who wanted to enjoy the same luxurious items.




Next we hopped on metro to Etoile, also known as the Arc D'Triomphe.  Once we got there, AA realized that he didn't have his pass (seriously the first rule of touring is keep track of your shit).  So I snuck in - don't worry the police looked at me and then just kept on.1/



Massive in size.  We then took ourselves down the most famous street in Paris.  The only thing of note was that we stopped in the most famous McDonalds.  Nothing to right home about

Notes
1/  Turns out he did have that damn pass.  Good grief

Resources
Museum Pass
Rick Steves Walk


Monday, June 29, 2015

Musee d'Orsay

After the debacle that was the Grand Mosque, we walked ten minutes passed the Luxemborg Gardens to the RER station to take a direct train to Musee d'Orsay.

As much as I scheduled this museum  as a "yeah we went"  I was pleasantly surprised at the level of details in the architecture and paintings that I found pleasing and really could have walked around for more time than we allotted.





Tips
Museum Pass - seriously just send me back.  

Resources
Rick Steves Audio Guide and Tour
Museum Pass

Friday, June 26, 2015

Napoleon, Rodin, Lunch, and Courtyards…OH MY

Today,

We slept in.  We leisurely walked over to see Napoleon's shrine in Les Invalides.  That's it.  I know its a museum dedicated to the military strength of France.  No we just want to see a megalomanic.  Seriously that's all.  After security, you walk straight into the south entrance (again, these people should just send me back because I loved this damn pass).  The Emperor and members of his family and closets advisors are enshrined here and its huge.



Next we walked over to the Musee de Rodin.  Now this is what I wanted to see!   The Thinker, The Gates of Hell, The Kiss….swooning all over again.




We had a discussion after our visit on Facebook because the museum mansion - where the interior exhibits are housed, was closed to the public and instead, we got to see the plaster casts.  I was pissed but in the end, I enjoyed my visit.

After Attractive Al dragged me away…he did because I would have stayed all day, we headed to the Grand Mosque of Paris.  Its Thursday so we won't truly be disturbing anyone's prayers by walking through their courtyard.   See Sonia's explanation below:



I didn't find that quiet reflection as we were ushered into the tea salon where we were given two choices - drink tea at 2 euros or eat for 70 euros.  After 30 minutes baking in the sun, I forced my hand and left.  Not doing that again.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Musee de Louvre

Never been.  Its a shame until today.


After we walked the streets of Paris…I may have shopped too, we walked across the Pont Neuf to the Musee de Louvre.  Once the City Palace of Kings, it is now the finest collection of art (I would say up until the Impressionists).   Again, we did the Rick Steve's audio tour because one we would be lost and two, we want to see the high points.  We stuck to the Denton Wing and kept things moving.

Because we went on a Wednesday afternoon, the crowds had waned and its open late today.  Score for us!  Me, I wanted to see some DaVinci (good job Francis for keeping him as the artist in residence), the Raft of the Medusa, the coronation of Napoleon, Venus de Milo, and Winged Victory.  Yes we saw the Mona Lisa and yes she's incredibly small.





Tips:

  • Museum Pass
  • Go after lunch
  • Wednesday is the day for late closing with the last tickets allowed by 7 pm.  
  • Its huge, either spend a day here or like us, pick a tour and follow it.  
  • Watch your shit.  No seriously, there are pick pockets galore outside and inside the Lourve and people bump into like its nobody's business.  

Resources:
Rick Steves Audio Tour and Map
Museum Pass