Travelling Around Tallinn

Travelling around Tallinn was one of the most difficult I have ever encountered around Europe in a tourist’s perspective. Not only was the journeys difficult, tickets were also confusing to obtain.  There were also only a number of modes of transport you can use as metro and trains are non existent in the city.

Walking- If fit the capital is small enough to walk around ,most of the attractions within the city are very close together, so walking is very convenient.

Bus –  The Buses in Tallinn was very cheap however, you can buy your tickets before you board from some machines situated in some stations, however this can be very difficult to find as there is not many around.  It is also possible to buy your ticket from the driver however this can be very difficult when the bus is full.

Trams- Similar to buses this vehicle is easy for locals but somewhat difficult for tourists. Reason being is that you have to buy tickets before boarding, usually done online which for tourists could be somewhat daunting. There are not many machines around and there is no way to purchase from the tram operators.

Taxi’s- Cheap compared to other countries around Europe but still expensive compared to the other forms of transport in the capital.

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Travelling Around Rovaniemi

Travelling around Rovaniemi is not too difficult. There are only a few ways to get around the various attractions some more expensive than others.

Walking-  Within the city centre walking around is somewhat easy as points of interests and hotels aren’t too far from each other, the only difficulty may come from the snow (if travelling in winter). However from the city centre to the more outer attractions such as the Santa Claus village it would be a much longer and a little more difficult.

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Rent a Car – Probably the easiest and more convenient way to get around, nearly all the attractions and hotels have car parks. Traffic is also none existent here in Rovaniemi, however the only difficulty may come from snow and ice a dangerous feat for those not used to the driving conditions. There are collection points and companies near the airport.

Bus – I did not use the normal public buses so I know very little about them, however I did use the special tourist bus called the ‘Santa Express’ which travels to and from the airport, the city centre and all major attractions in Rovaniemi. The express bus only had limited times, I believe for when flights arrive or depart. It is easy to use but these buses can get very busy.

Tours – Probably the best way to get to and from your artic activities is a pickup/drop off which is usually included in any tours and activities you book. These are very convenient as all you’ll need to do is see your driver in the reception area and they’ll take you to the location you need, this way you can never be late as your driver will probably be your guide.

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Travelling Around Helsinki

The Finnish capital Helsinki has an integrated public transport system where tickets are valid on all mode of transports whether trams, metro and buses. It  had the easiest transport system I have taken from the airport to a city as a tourist.

Walking – If you are fit enough and have the ability to walk around for long distances, then I believe walking around the city is the best way to get around. Take stops in a few places for rest and you should be fine for a whole day.

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Trams – For those unable to walk then I’d say trams are the best mode of transport to use within the city. They come often and are easy to use but remember to purchase your ticket before getting on. One thing to remember is that like any public transport around the world you can expect busy periods where the trams get very full.

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Trains – Better for longer distances like the airport, or other regions. Again very easy, just buy your ticket ahead of boarding. There are no barriers but ticket inspectors and for passenger comfort there are power outlets, small tables, bins and lots of luggage space.

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Metro – I didn’t really have the chance to ride these as walking and trams were sufficient to get around the place. I did notice that the Metro doesn’t cover a lot of destinations. The Helsinki metro is the worlds northernmost metro system.

 

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Bus – As trams were already a brilliant way to travel, I didn’t really have the chance to try their buses.

 

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Back to “Two countries, three capitals”

 

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Reference

https://www.hsl.fi/en/information/how-use-public-transport/planning-journey

Review: Emirates Airlines

The Airline

Emirates airline is the flag carrier of the middle east nation of the ‘United Arab Emirates’ and is known to be one of the most prestigious airlines in the world with numerous awards most recently being trip advisors ‘Best Airline of 2017’.

Brief

I am most passionate about this airline (I don’t work for this company) due to the many different services I have received throughout many years of flying with the airline. I usually fly Emirates when I to go to the Philippines (usually yearly) and although I could get cheaper flights elsewhere and use staff travel through the airline I work with, I always opt to fly with Emirates.

Please click on each chapter:

  1. Emirates at the Airport.
  2. Emirates Business Class Lounge
  3. Emirates Flight London > Dubai
  4. Emirates Flight Dubai > Manila

Conclusion

In overall conclusion Emirates deserves their prestigious reputation. Whether economy or business they have opted to compete at the highest level and resist the changing market to go cheap on their service and products. All my flights throughout the years have been consistent with very few to little flaws.

Back to Airline List

Reference

Emirates.com

Photos

Buisness class (https://www.flickr.com/photos/45236612@N00/3867029487/)

 

 

 

How do you travel?

Do you buy cheap airfares or pay the price for the experience?

There is now the popular arguments between family, friends and even oneself on whether to travel cheaply or pay more for the added perks on flights. We know there are two types of carriers, “standard or premium airliners” which we recognize as flag carriers and even somewhat being the symbol of aviation in its country, secondly the increasing popularity of “budget or low cost airlines” the companies giving passengers very cheap tickets for bare necessities (no thrills as its known). I work for an airline and I know that the battle of the skies is difficult for every carrier out there. Its simple the more passengers the higher profitability which will also illustrate its reputation. Wealthy carriers are consistently advertising, upgrading seats, product and services, lowering prices also comes to the equation but only to an extent and with unfavourable consequences. Budget airlines spend less which enables them to lower tickets, this results in no food (buy on-board), less legroom (more row of sellable seats), undesirable airports and many more. Standard and budget airliners are now far apart on the service it offers, for us as passengers there is now a huge choice and it is something that divides opinions. So what is your method in flying?

Budget/ Low cost Airlines (Flying Cheaply)

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Advantages

Spend less money (more for the holiday itself)

One of two reasons I believe people travel with budget low cost airlines, is the price. There are many people who believe that air transport is only a small part of the holiday and would rather spend more on hotels and activities than a simple flight. Furthermore if the flight is only 1-2 hours there is no real effect on sitting in a budget airline than that of a more luxurious one.

Only pay for what you need

There is plenty of aspects on a standard airline company that an individual traveller doesn’t desire, such as insurance, food and even baggage weight. This is something budget airliners capitalises on and gives passengers the choice to pay for only the services you require, which is popular amongst many youthful travellers who aren’t swayed by insurance protection or seat choices, this is normally known in aviation as ‘no thrills’ flights.

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Disadvantages

Less Comfort

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Everybody has heard the saying that ‘you get what you pay for’, which is true when it comes to spending on flights. Easily seen when you book economy, business and first class within a single carrier and somewhat true when choosing between standard and budget flights. Cheap airlines usually only incorporate the essentials (the product required by law) which are very basic seats, a stowage and a toilet (no thrills as they call it). Take note low cost airlines have also been looking at the possibility of charging to use toilets but were unsuccessful due to various laws. Leg space is also affected and many (not all) budget carriers give the bare minimum required by the law, in order to increase the number of rows which will fit more people

No Baggage Allowance

If you know about aircrafts, you would know that weight is a big issue. The heavier the plane the more expensive fuel it uses resulting in higher costs, reason why many airliners are strict on baggage weight. Cheaper budget airlines do not give complimentary baggage weight as these need to be purchased, usually at a high cost.

Undesirable Airports

Getting away from huge costs and taxes reputable airports demand are something low cost carriers prefer to get away from. This enables them to avoid charges such as parking and facilities, overall lowering ticket prices to sell to customers. However although very attractable to customers at first (due to prices), these airports may be further and somewhat difficult to get to, resulting in further costs and unnecessary journeys to and from the airport.

Less protection

Many have experienced the undesirable event of delays, cancellations, overbooking, missing a flight and even damaged luggage’s. Many budget carriers do not include protection for these in your ticket bill, and again would require to purchase if you want one, some being very expensive.

Standard/ Premium Airlines (Pay for the experience)

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Advantages

Better products, comfier and more convenient

Standard or more premium airlines attract their customers for the product and service they offer. Leg space and recline are usually the simple advantages from budget to premium airliners, however the seats itself could be more comfier (leather, foam, ect). Long-haul flights (on standard/ premium flights) usually have IFEs (In-Flight Entertainment) which budget carriers do not equip themselves with due to its initial and running costs. Simpler products such as storage, tables and arm rests are also usually enhanced (depending on airline carrier) and probably the most important in the modern world are charging points which are now being increasingly introduced in all tiers on these airline companies. Furthermore these airlines also lend blankets and pillows for extra comfort something that low cost carriers do not.

Meals and giveaways

Depending on the journey and duration of flight the airline would offer complimentary meals, it could be breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack depending on the time of the flight. Two meals may be offered for longer long-haul flights depending on the carrier. Amenity kits are sometimes offered on standard airlines but on budget carriers food and amenities must be purchased.

However take note that even premium/ standard carriers are starting to roll out a buy on board system (buy your meals) on short haul routes this is a model that may increasingly be popular and even the norm in the future.

Higher Standards

For premium and standard carriers, their brand is most precious, to attract customers means to give customers the best they can give. Usually the products on more expensive carriers are steadier and more robust, generally made from better quality materials. Inflight meals are also of better quality than what you can get in low cost carriers as their budgets for these would be paid for in the ticket prices. Furthermore Staff appearance (uniforms) are usually better and more fashionable than that of budget carriers and their training are far better which would results in better customer service.

Standard Baggage

Depending on the airline you travel with, there will be complimentary baggage weight for you to use (usually 20kg-40kg), this is something that is not included in cheaper carriers and thus an advantage for premium and standard airliners.

Choice of classes

If money is not a big barrier for you, standard airliners offer different classes and tiers, these have different products, services and food, something that budget airlines don’t offer. Depending on your standard of life, to be able to choose your tier and how much money you want to spend is another advantage over cheaper airlines with only one standard cabin and layout.

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Disadvantages

More expensive

Probably the only big disadvantage of standard and premium airlines, is the cost of their tickets. Usually double or sometimes triple of that on a budget airline the price is usually the big reason why many turn away from high end carriers.

Overall

There are positives and negatives flying both budget/ low cost and standard/ premium airlines, it just depends on the type of traveller and travel you are or having.

On a personal view, I am content to fly with both low-cost and standard airline companies for shorthaul flights but would edge more in favour for expensive carriers for long-haul flights as long as I am happy with the service I can get.

I wouldn’t mind flying budget/ low cost for Journeys less than 2 hours (short-haul) such as domestic routes or flights to neighbouring countries. These routes are too short for me to care about the service I receive as I usually just fall asleep for the duration of the flight without needing to eat, drink or entertain myself. My only disadvantage would be the airports I may likely be arriving or departing from as it may be too far and inconvenient for my target destination. However if the price difference from budget to standard are not too great then I would spend that bit more for the extra perks.

On longer (long-haul) flights I would pay the price for the extra service and comfort provided by standard/premium carriers. This is because travelling to the likes of Dubai which is 8hrs or Hong Kong 13hrs (from London), is just way too long for no thrills. Simple aspects such as blankets, pillows and meals would benefit largely in a long flight, likewise a big advantage are the IFEs (In Flight Entertainment) which would largely entertain anyone for many hours. Furthermore to be able to eliminate the fuss of further spending before , during and after the flight (on long journeys) would make travels so much better knowing everything is paid for in advance and all you need to think about is the holiday ahead.

So in conclusion, the most important aspect of the flight for me is the experience and not the money I spend as I’ve always seen the flight as a part of your holiday (the beginning). However if there is very little to no difference on the flight experience I am choosing from, then why should I spend just for the sake of a brand.

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Peru Rail

Brief

Peru Rail is a railway operator that services locals, tourists and freight. It was founded by a Peruvian entrepreneur and a British company  in 1999. Mainly operating in the southern region such as Cusco, Arequipa and Puno20180319_042142

Cost

I only know the price to Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo, and it is quiet expensive and ranges from £60 – £100 (even more) depending on time and how busy it is.

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Experience

Peru rail is ha20180319_034403.jpgnds down one of the best rail transport I have ever experienced. The old carriages with the river and mountain scenery was like no other I have done before. Furthermore their service was delightful and goes well with the vacation ambience.

Our first and onwards journey was at 05:05am from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. It is advised to arrive at the station as early as 30 minutes before the train departure where the train station and ticket office officially opens as well.

Remember your baggage does have a size limit of 157cm/ 62 inches (height, 20180319_035509.jpglength and width) and a weight limit of 5kg. However for those travelling from far and who do not have a hotel or hostel to leave your baggage, there is a free bag drop at Ollantaytambo station. Although it is not always manned and you may need to get attention to get someone to attend the facility and take your baggage. Another thing to remember is your passport, because upon entering the boarding area and train, the attendants require both tickets and passport.

In the station (rail side) there is a small basic café, the train was already parked and there is plenty taking pictures with the train. There is not too much security and safety precautions at the platform and plenty of tourists walk along the rails.

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The carriages are divided between local and tourist passengers, which sounds wrong but with good intentions. Local passengers carry huge amounts of baggage and I believe their carriages would be plain and basic. On the other hand the tourists carriages are designed for the extra experience, the walls are covered with Peruvian artwork (wallpaper) whilst the table has a map of the Inca trail. Furthermore the tourist carriage has enhanced seats and a sunroof window for extra views of the mountains ahead.

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All train tickets have allocated seats and not a free for all or first come first serve basis. Some seats are facing the direction of the journey and some facing rearwards, there are also 4 grouped communal seats and the standard 2 grouped seats. My experience for my onward journey was a 4 grouped forward facing communal seat which can be either awkward facing other people or good in meeting other travellers, for me it was more positive as we got to meet two other young travellers which we conversed throughout the trip. The carriage was not too congested and I say my onwards experience was positive.

During the journey there is audio with Peruvian music and facts of Machu Picchu. There is also complimentary snacks and drinks which mimics that of an airline and heavier food to purchase if you want. On my onward journey we were given cookies and I chose to have mango juice but there were choices of various juices, water, tea and coffee.

The journey (Onwards) took over 2 hours and you can just disembark and go on your way.

Returning I took the 15:20 journey back to Ollantaytambo. Everything was definitely a bit more complicated than my onward journey. Firstly finding the station was difficult as it was not the same place I arrived (disembarked) from but a 5 minute walk up the hill. There were also much more people taking trains at this time and the station was very congested. Furthermore identifying your train is confusing as there is always one small screen with many similar numbers and times, the language barrier was also a problem. I found tourists helping each other rather than asking the attendants or relying on the info board all through till entering the train.

Returning I had a 4 grouped communal rearward facing seat, which for me was a bit uncomfortable as the guy opposite me on this route kept hitting my legs with no care at all. The snacks we were given returning was better though with some Inca corn which was actually very nice. Again I had mango juice but my brother had tea which was not a good idea as this journey was a little bit wobbly.

Overall Peru Rail’s journey to Machu Picchu was an amazing experience. Everything was just out of the ordinary from the train to the scenery. Its something I probably will remember for some time to come and I don’t think many would come close to the experience ive had.

 

Reference:

Perurail.com

 

Travelling to Machu Picchu

How to get there

Machu Picchu is one of the most difficult place to reach and the reason for strong planning and research before travelling. Firstly getting to the country Peru is the first hurdle. Remember Cusco is the nearest airport to Machu Picchu but only a handful of international flights actually fly here. So Lima is usually the entry point to the country itself and a flight connection to Cusco is usually the norm as taking bus would take too long. After reaching Cuzco the journey still isn’t over as there is still a mission to get to Aguas Calientes the nearest village to Machu Picchu. There are various options to get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes but 2 popular methods are by doing a 4 day trek called the ‘Inca trail’ and the other is by commuting to a town called Ollantaytambo then taking train to Aguas Calientes.

Inca Trail

First method is the world famous ‘Inca Trail’. Now I don’t know too much about this as I didn’t do this method but from what I am told it is a 4 day walking journey from either Cusco or Ollantaytambo. The Inca trail is for the adventurous travellers and this method of reaching Machu Picchu is definitely the more scenic way.

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Commute

The other method to get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes is by commuting. It is important to remember that there is no direct trains from Cusco straight to Aguas Calientes and a stopover at Ollantaytambo is inevitable, making the travel to Machu Pichu a 2 phase journey.

The Cusco to Ollantaytambo trip (about 1.5-2 hours) can be done in various ways with the easiest being a private taxi which I could imagine to be expensive. Another way is by taking what is called the shared taxi which is usually a van (sometimes a car) that takes a bunch of travellers to Ollantaytambo at once. The positive with shared taxis is that it is very cheap at only 10 soles or 20 soles for a smaller car. The bad is that there is no timetable and the journey only starts when the van is full, which is not good for people on a tight schedule. Other ways to get to Ollantaytambo is by bus but this could prove to be too complicated for travellers as there is a couple of changes.

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Once at Ollantaytambo the next phase can begin and its much simpler than the first phase. All you need is to buy a train ticket at one of the 2 operating companies Peru Rail or Inca Rail (the more luxurious option). The train journey takes about 2-3 hours and depending on your operator includes a complimentary drinks and a snack. (Peru Rail will discussed on a separate blog) Please note that there is a baggage size and a 5kg weight limit.

One thing I didn’t mention is that Peru rail and Inca rail do offer complete transport from Cusco to Machu Picchu but a higher cost is expected. They will arrange their own bus to and from Cusco and Ollantaytambo.

After arriving at Aguas Calientes another short bus ride is required to get to Machu Picchu itself. There is only one official bus ride and it is quiet pricey. The only other way is to hike 1.5 hours up to the location. However I highly advise to take a ride up as there is plenty of walking at the site itself.

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Once the bus drops you off at the entrance of the Machu Pichu site, your journey is done. You have arrived at one of the greatest places in the world to visit, all there is to do now is to enjoy.

Next: The Machu Picchu Experience

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The Machu Pichu experience…

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Travelling around Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a modern city with up to date transportation just like other large cities around the world. The city includes undergrounds, trains, buses and taxis, most often used was the MTR which serves stations very near to all the points of interests in Hong Kong.

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Sheung Wan Station

Hong Kong’s rail, subway service or “MTR” serves various routes within Hong Kong and even across mainline china, it also offers connections to and from the international airport (airport express). Just like the London Underground’s Oyster card, Hong Kong has the Octopus Card, and you can use this to top up credit to use on journeys from one place to another. MTR offers Tourist Octopus Card which can be bought at any station, and if there is value still left on the card, the remaining value can be refunded at the airport. The MTR railway network has 10 commuter lines and connects nearly all of Hong Kong. It is comfortable and reliable, I have not experienced any delays. Part of the MTR company the Hong Kong buses looked packed and was difficult to understand so as a tourists I opted not to take them.

Taxis is difficult at times, they operate just like any other taxis around the world but has extra charge for the number of luggage’s and other conditions. Furthermore the language barrier is a little tough as all my experiences in communicating with the drivers have not been easy. However unlike other taxis around the world I think that the drivers are relatively friendly, honest and safe. There was no funny games such as no change for notes (all change was received to the penny). I have used Hong Kong’s taxis and have not had a problem in the slightest, all drivers have been very fast though.

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Tsuen Wan

As Hong Kong was also a territory of Britain in the past, driving is also on the left. So renting a car wouldn’t be too difficult to do. Just keep in mind other road user’s attitudes can differ.

Reference

http://www.mtr.com.hk/en/customer/services/our_network_introduction.html

Travelling around Cebu

Transport in Cebu city mimics that of Manila, however if you want to escape the city and go to the Cebu countryside it could be a little more difficult. The most popular way for tourist to get around is by hotel transports, taxi or rented vehicles.

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Jeepneys in Cebu have a different appearance than the ones in Manila but still have their colourful artwork and design. Usually they are cheap at 7pesos per person, however for tourists this form of transport can be very dangerous and difficult to find your way around. Unless you familiar or know a local that can accompany you in Cebu ,I advise against using a Jeepney.

The majority of hotels in Cebu do have complimentary hour

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ly drop-off and pick-up transports to the main shopping centres in the city such as the Ayala centre, SM Cebu city and the IT park. Marco Polo is one that has this service and this is a convenient way for hotel guests to get around without needing to find a taxi, I personally find these very convenient however working your shopping or touring plans around the hourly pickups or drop offs can be annoying. Furthermore the services only operate around 8-12 hours a day with the first services being around 7am and last being 9pm (depending on hotels). The vans are very comfortable and air-conditioned and from my memory have about 12-15 seats maybe even more. I’ve never experienced the vans being full and any passengers being left behind.

Taxis in the city are convenient for point to point travel, there are plenty of taxi bays and it is very easy to just get one off the streets. They are affordable and can prevent you from going through the stresses and dangers of other modes of transport in the city. They are safe but there may be a few drivers in the city that takes advantages of tourists so just a bit of common sense is required. Other than those few who do cheat there are many that are genuinely friendly and happy to just take you on your journey.

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Cebu Taxi

There is also a mode of transportation called “Habal habal” where one just gets on the back of someone’s motorcycle, this is illegal and very dangerous, some have no helmets and this is not an approved way of transportation. This form of transportation is still used by locals in Cebu.

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Habal habal

To travel outside Cebu city and into the countryside, mountains and beaches, is a bit more difficult. There are bus services to various points of interest such as Moalboal (where the canyons are situated) or Oslob (where the whales sharks are) however I have never honestly used these, so I wont be able to tell you about them. Obviously if you have entered a tour/ trip they would be more likely to arrange your transportation with/without extra fees, they may be a private car, van or an accompanied bus ride. However if nothing has been planned, I advise to rent a car and driver from one of the many companies that do so, these drivers can drive you to any destination of your choosing, they wait for you wherever you wonder, but it is good manners to just give them a bit of money to eat or invite them to eat with you. They are very friendly and act as a tour guide as well, they will also protect and look after you (your own personal chauffeur for the day).You can also pick the vehicle of your choosing whether a 5 seater Toyota Yaris or a 12 seater Grandia for bigger groups. To rent a car it will cost around 5k pesos for the whole day(£70) with the driver but depending on the vehicle you choose.

I’d say travelling in Cebu is fairly easy, it is very tourist focused.

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Travelling around Paris

Paris use comparable modes of transport as London, the Metro or RER Réseau Express Régionale (Regional Express Network) are Paris’s equivalent of the London Underground/ Overground and are very similar by approach. A one day travel card can be purchased from the many machines in nearly all the stations.  RER connects central  Paris with the outer regions and is the easiest way to and from the airport, it has 5 lines RER A,B,C,D and E. The Metro or Metropolitan on the other hand has 16 lines. In my experience the train systems are quick and convenient and relatively cheap, it gets you from A to B in ordinary fashion and although most of the times there are no seats, it is not as busy as other countries I have been to. On the plus side there is plenty performers or buskers inside the trains, it is something different and although the locals careless about them it is good for tourism.

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There are buses and taxis however I mostly just used their Metro or RER because like London many points of interests are not far from stations. So I cannot really write about them.

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Alternatively if you are fit enough walking around parts of Paris is not such a bad idea, as long as you know where your going and can navigate the city is not far apart.

Overall for me roaming the city was easy to do just by using the rail systems and by walking. However if you have a bit more money to spend then taxi’s would be your obvious choice for comfort.

Reference

Photos

metro map (https://www.flickr.com/photos/deepakg/6148932631)