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Travel tips and thoughts from 12 days in Paris and London

After 12 days in London and Paris, I return feeling even more positive to the U.S.

Europe faces too much — Brexit, the yellow jackets, hard times in Germany, especially in Germany’s car biz and just too much stifling bureaucracy.

The U.S. economic engine continues to chug along, buoyed by a strong dollar and some hope for a China trade deal.

Travel tips

+ Travel prices are weird. Book Eurostar train from London to Paris a few days in advance, you’ll pay five times what you would three months in advance. Then my weirdest one: On-line our hotel was cheap. But as I checked out, the hotel’s website added a whopping 20+% “service charge.” I went with Expedia which was cheaper and had no service charge. Same hotel. Much different price. Go figure.

+ Business class tickets to Europe have dropped dramatically since the old days.

+ We’re going back to Paris in the fall. Paris has five “industries” — museums, fragrances, boutique shopping, food and tourism. Good combination. I’ll show you pictures of our incredible hotel tomorrow. I bought two gorgeous flannel pants and a nice insulated leather vest — all at 50% off. Susan says, after 42 years of marriage, I finally have some decent clothes. Thank you Paris for saving my marriage.

+ London and Paris have taxis and Uber. Both are reasonable. The London and French subways work well. I prefer the Paris Metro. Easier to figure out.

+ I loved this Vitorinox wallet. In Paris it was 55 euros (or $61.91) on the Blvd Saint Germain. At, it was $40.

+ I love the signs in London. Make sure you read them:

+ My three most useul travel “gadgets” —

— A Duxiana travel pillow.

— My Eagle Creek “illegal” 25″ roll-on which fits in an overhead and carries more than enough for two weeks travel.

+ An Anker five USB charger. One for my iPhone. One for Susan’s iPhone. One for my Apple Watch. One for Apple EarPods.

It’s $36 on Amazon. Click here.

+ The U.S. has really improved its incoming immigration. We now have great machines and they work. We breezed through Immigration. No more long lines. I played tennis within two hours of landing at JFK. Incredible.

+ Your American iPhone works well in Europe. Negotiate with your carrier before you leave the U.S. For long stays, rent a tiny, portable hotspot and use it for your data — like Waze, Google Maps and Citimapper.

+ The iPhone sports a much better camera than any heavy camera you might think about schlepping. I have proof. I’ll show you tomorrow.

+ WiFi on a plane across the Atlantic actually works. It brings in your emails and lets you do some work. And it’s cheap.

+ Paris has oodles of small one-person shops selling wondrous stuff. The shops make walking around so special.

+ Glasses in Paris and London can cost $1,000 — just for the frame. Thank God for and my $29 glasses — which include lenses.

+ Going to Europe outside summer is a good way to miss the crowds. Take warm clothes and a light rain coat.

+ AirPods are great for traveling. Most French museums have free apps which tell you about the paintings — in English. Really useful. As we walked the museums, I wore one AirPod. Susan wore the other.

+ Critical to check for seat selection. We went business class (on frequent flyer miles) on American Airlines. We went on a 777 to London and returned on an geriatric 767 that will be put to pasture at the end of this month. You can guess which had the better seats. The seats on the 767 were narrower. 30 years ago we were all narrower.

+ You don’t want polarized plugs. A large pair of pliers will cut them down. Then you file off the sharp bits. You also don’t want this cable. It’s squared off at end. You want normal rounded cables.

A little on France, and safety

The “yellow jackets” demonstrate and vandalize Paris (and other cities) on Saturdays. They complain they’re being neglected by city-country economic policies and hurt by onerous taxes — such as on gas. .

One weekend, a wealthy Paris family packed their money and their bags, gassed their car and were ready to flee Paris for safe quarters in the country. They didn’t go.

Macron dropped the new taxes and went out on a Town Hall listening campaign throughout France.

France needs major labor, tax and business reforms.

It can make two months to open a simple bank account in Europe. If you’re American you may never get one. How you buy real estate or start a business there beats me. I didn’t try this visit. I enjoyed the croissants, the museums, the shopping and the walking around. Paris is a gorgeous place. The people have become friendly. Miracles happen.

Favorite app

We did a lot of messaging and WhatsApping. Good for finding your mate in a big museum.

Brexit – from the Economist

What now? Under both British and European Union law, Britain is currently due to leave the EU, in accordance with Article 50 of the treaty, on March 29th. But that is now extremely unlikely to happen.  …

It is easier to predict the immediate next steps than the longer-term future. On March 13th the Commons will vote by a large margin against leaving the European Union with no deal. A day later MPs will vote to require the government to ask the EU to extend the March 29th deadline. Somewhat grudgingly, EU leaders will agree to do this at their summit in Brussels on March 21st-22nd. But to avoid Brexit getting entangled in the European elections in late May, they are likely to limit the extension to two months.

What will happen during those two months is less clear. Mrs May could have a third or even a fourth shot at getting her deal through, though her chances of success seem extremely small after two such big defeats. MPs may also try to stage indicative votes on what alternative kind of Brexit could command majority support in Parliament. There will be calls even from within her own party for Mrs May to resign. Others will argue that the time has come for a fresh election. And those from all sides who are campaigning for another Brexit referendum will see the successive big defeats for Mrs May’s deal as a boost for their cause.

In other words, no one knows. The English pound is holding, for now.

Read the whole piece here.

Harry Newton, who snapped grandkids Zoe and Sophie a million times. This is my favorite. It’s Sophie slo-mo on a trampoline in the Tuileries, shot with my iPhone 8; Click here and wait a few seconds: sophieontrampoline 



  • Scooter

    With all the dire consequences predicted when the UK didn’t approve the EU deal, one would have thought that the stock market would have tanked, yet it seems to have given it extra legs.

    • harrynewton

      Makes sense?

  • Lucky

    Sophie brought a smile!