Category: TRAVELS


Mexico – safe travel location

Mexicans do not steal.

I traveled four times to different locations in Mexico, never had anything stolen. Having now spent over three weeks at the Bahias de Huatulco, southern Pacific, a grand tourist location. Examples of my experiences: Hotel safe, not necessary here. No cleaning staff touches any guest property. This includes cash money, jewelry. When arriving I had forgotten my cash Pesos in my room, thousands, left openly on the wardrobe. Coming back afternoon after the cleaning lady had done my room, found everything where left. Today buying some fruits in my little grocery store, paid with a 200 Peso bill, thought is was a 20. Can happen when your  brain fries in the heat. They called after me with my exact change. Even when I said I am an idiota, they said, NO, es normal. Don’t you love it !

Want to try this in Canada or the USA  ? Don’t!  Most of valuables I had stolen was exactly in those countries. And these were not hotels.

How safe is it here for a single lady ? Couldn’t be safer. I could go out at night after dark alone. There is lots of specialized security personnel and police and auxiliary police. Everywhere, even in parks.

Taxis. When I travel I usually do not take taxis. Here the prices are pretty much fixed, there is no hustling.

 

 

 

 

 

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My Trip to Huatulco, Mexico

s.a. Previous post MEXICO TRIP TIPS.

This southern Pacific area, Huatulco, is a large tourist area, full of many hotels and resorts, they also sell condos here. It has expanded in scope tremendously over the years. Most of the infrastructure along the many bays now consisting of hotels.  Not long ago there was only desert. Seems construction here is never ending. Because of the vicinity of Mexico City (only an hour’s flight from Huatulco), the majority of visitors hail from there, families with small children. Of course, there are also resorts for Canadians, as well as the obligatory American Holiday Inn. The entire bays area received apparently the UNESCO Biosphere and other ecological accreditations. Large areas here ecological reservations.

Although one gets good return for dollars, prices are not low. Some restaurant prices are comparable with ours on Canada’s Westcoast, which is one of the most expensive. The cost of a taxi for a 20 minute ride is 30 $MXN. That’s cheap. There are also regular bus services to further away areas.  A BF here would be around 60 or more, that’s like over 5 C$. Ice cream the same, a piece of cake more. Dinner on the average from small $140 MXN to anywhere up to 300 per meal. The breakfast that’s included with our hotel stay is mostly taco with some cheese sprinkled on top and always eggs, coffee, a fruit plate or orange juice,  the fruit always water melon and papaya. Bread around here always only white bread. Weekends buffet, lots of food. I get from the small store tomatos, also found apples, bananas are the other staple fruit. Coffee with milk, often coconut milk, very sweet. Saturday’s market stuff is cheaper, but not much variety. In the nearby little town La Crucecita found a pastelaria selling pastries. Still no brown bread.  Of course lots of seafood and fish. Not bad.

MEXICO TRAVEL TIPS

UPDATE February.  

NOTE. Any of these tips are based on my own experiences, you should always follow-up and use your own advice.

This will be my fourth trip to Mexico. Different considerations, because of a long and interrupted flight connection and because rules have changed. I’ll stay 4 weeks and need to be prepared. Let me say that in all of those visits I never met any Mexicans who were not friendly, accomodating and helpful. They  definitely do not deserve a “wall”.

BAGGAGE

I will have three stops and long layover times at each, requiring hotels for overnight in Los Angeles. Meaning that any checked in suitcase will never arrive at my final destination. Decision, take one small carry-on suitcase and wear most of the clothing on my body. Coming from Canada is cold, arriving southern Pacific Huatulco is hot. Best, not to wear any winter clothes for the four hours it takes for me to get to Vancouver Airport. Instead, wear multiple layers of summer clothing and hoodies on my body. Pack only the most necessary items, like First aid Kit, couple summer tops, sun screen, and vitamins. [NOTE. All creams, liquids in plastic outside thru security check.] Leave space when arriving south to peel off your clothing and put into carry-on suitcase. Also, when traveling I always wear my special vest for wallet, passport, during trip toothbrush kit. The hotels will have everything I need.

MOBILE PHONE or CELL

I do not take mine this time, although it is unlocked. Reason: As per January 2018 there are new rules for immigration and customs controls. Like, customs agents can take possession of your phone, check data, download files or other stuff, for no reason whatsoever. Or, maybe just keep your phone. They now have the right without telling you why. Instead, if phone is needed the hotel may help. [NOTE. Easy to get SIM card on arrival Mexico City Airport, largest service provider in Mexico is Telcel. I usually buy call package only for international calls, if I take my phone.  Check it out:   [ http://extras.telcel.com/en/international-calling ].

Should have taken my mobile phone for at least emergency.

COMPUTER

Will take my iPad, camera kit and chargers. Hopefully get some decent network somewhere down there. Mexico is not exactly North America. Huatulco Marina Hotel Resort , no WiFi in my room, need do my business in the hotel lobby in the heat and noise.

FOREIGN CURRENCY

I am just going by my own experience in many travels, not browsing thru hundreds of travelers’ forums on this subject.

You can buy foreign currency in your bank account, then pick up at your branch (+/- 5 business days). Of course there is always gouging compared with the actual currency rates (C$ to Mex. Peso).

Example: RBC Canada has an online foreign exchange calculator site. These rates are the current 2018 rates for non-cash purchases. Buy cash foreign exchange thru your online bank account you will pay more for Pesos. It’s for the extra work to send and pickup the cash. When ordering Pesos at your Bank branch and you pick up you’ll get the rate as of that day of pickup. When buying Pesos at an ATM machine in Mexico, you may get better conversion rates. Problem is, how reliable are those machines ? Two things can happen: (1) The machine is physically out of cash, you get nothing except for charges to your Bank account. Therefore, always use ATM machines during the banking hours, not weekends. * (2) Your Bank can cancel your bank card (happened to me multiple times). Forced to use a credit card costs a bundle in those machines. So, best to buy expensive Pesos before leaving. US$ don’t help much, Mexicans prefer Pesos, and small bills. Nobody changes MXN 5,000 bill for you. *[NOTE. Machine out of cash, happened to me in Alberta, I was lucky I get my money back next business day from that Bank.]

UPDATE Huatulco Mex, RBC again cancelled my bank card, as they always do. Something wrong with their security programming.

WATER and FOOD

Careful, mostly not potable nor even suitable to brush teeth. Use bottled only or dilated juice or whatnot. Food: I like my veggies and fruits, only fruits I can peel.  UPDATE. Hotels provide bottled water.

TRANSPORTATION, TAXI

I would never book any shuttle bus before trip start from a website. And be charged for it immediately. Because, most of these websites service airports and locations all over the planet. Don’t expect your pickup is there when you arrive after a lengthy flight way south in Mexico. Taxis, inside airport are double price than outside. Best get airport map ahead of time to know where you are when arriving. 2018 taxi maybe max. MXN 300 from HUX Huatulco to Santa Cruz resort area, if shared bus or more if private car. 

UPDATE. Huatulco, Bus from airport to resorts only 140 Peso.

HOTEL

Never go by those beautiful elegant pictures they show you on a hotel’s website. Minimum, expect noisy air conditioning. Who knows it may be just wonderful. Never forget ear plugs.

Always be prepared, and GOOD LUCK.

Germany and Europe has become a different world. Not only as a result of the first major terror attacks in the United States, followed by regularly recurring attacks in public places, including North America and elsewhere.
But for me also of looking more critically at differences of life in general in North America as compared to my former (long-ago) homeland Germany.
In Summary: In my 52 years after having left it, (that is 43 years out of Europe), living, working and travelling in North America (US, Canada, Mexico) I have seen so much, met so many different peoples, and had so many unbelievable experiences that if I would even consider moving back to where I came from, it is like shrinking my brain from it’s now large size to a small pea, or having to wear some giant Scheuklappen [blinkers]. It’s all a matter of perspective.

TRAVEL TIPS.
Nonetheless, Visiting Germany one can be assured that most everything works efficiently. Not anymore their public transit system, because of shrinking public roads and excessive automobile traffic. And so many people. As a Canadian, I can say that, because we have hardly any population in the second largest country.

Good city maps are always tough to get on the Internet, in fact the ones you find are more or less useless. So, on arrival in any city in Europe first thing ask for city maps and regional maps.
I arrived Frankfort Airport. To get to Wiesbaden is easy: From the Airport Terminal 1 take the S-Bahn (Rapid Transit) S8, also works S9, to main train station, from there find the Bus to get you to your address. Free WiFi at Frankfurt Airport may work certain areas only. I got a copy of the entire transit network in Canada from the Internet: http://www.rmv.de, Regionaler Schienennetzplan and Schnellbahnplan.

The day of arrival I prefer to pay a one way ticket for the Bus, to first get to the wherever one resides. After that I buy a monthly bus pass. Strangest thing is, one enters a bus in the middle door, the driver does not care to see your bus pass. But beware, any control and you don’t have a pass, can cost 100$. In Hessen, Rheinland-Pfalz, I bought a monthly bus pass for the region Wiesbaden-Mainz, it includes also the S-Bahn.The monthly bus pass also includes the city of Mainz across the river Rhein, best to use is S-Bahn.
Mobile phone (in Germany called ,Handy,) setup is easy. Enough options offered by competing network servers with SIM card, special outlets or super markets or other stores. Buy the plan with the SIM on arrival.
The nicest thing about Wiesbaden are it’s many hot springs (Thermen) and Spa’s. There are many in this entire Rhine-Main region, which rests on a thin earth crust, therefore the many natural hot springs. Thousands of vineyards, good wines, too. Germany’s largest river Rhein offers plenty of river cruises starting Mainz/Wiesbaden along this most beautiful stretch of Germany, up to Cologne.

Part II of Budget Travel blog. [https://renataveritashistory.com/2017/02/09/travel-on-a-budget/ ]

Home away from home. This post on cheap Transportation, excludes car rental. Besides standing by the road with your thumbs up referred to as hitch hiking (which I did in the past several times, long illegal and very dangerous); when on vacation transportation is one of the most important requirements. Even if someone rents a car.

Usually I research transport facilities prior to departing. Get my metro, bus, sky train maps, be prepared. In fact get my city maps immediately after my flight arrives. Of course if you go on a package trip with all included and some guide takes care of you, no worries, but I am independent and like to be prepared.

Example, Spain, Alicante, Arrive from Berlin, masses of travelers inside the arrivals hall of the airport, standing in line for car rentals. I walk out of the arrivals, across some street to the other side, there is the public bus. Cheap and no delay.  

Well, travel on a budget for me does not include Taxi for that matter. Too expensive, too unsafe. A few times I had nightmarish experiences with taxis. In fact, in many countries – even Europe – there are advisories against taking a taxi. Taxis only if there is (which is the odd times) a woman driver.

Good example, St. Martin, in the Caribbean, a tiny island shared by two countries Netherlands and France [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Martin ]. I spent some time there shortly after the big volcano Montserrat eruped in the 1990s. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/oct/05/volcano-earthquake-caribbean-montserrat-maarten ]. I was in a resort on the French side of it. Wondering why there were so few tourists despite it was summer season. {Because of this major eruption.} One day, from St. Martin I tried a trip to the Dutch side St. Maarten, Philipsburg.

Went with a guy who gave me a ride in a truck. To get rid of that type, I simply slipped away inside a store. But needed a ride back to my resort hotel St. Martin. There was this very nice local cab driver lady who gave me a ride. I did not have much cash money on me. As I speak French, it was easy. I offered her all my French Francs for the trip, not much, she took it. What a decent thing to do ! When coming back, met some Americans who told me they spent US$20 the same trip that cost me couple of dollars. There you see !

Marrakesh, Morocco, took a taxi to the major Square and walled in Souks, Jemaa el-Fnaa, but had I not been able to speak French, they would have driven me to doomsday that day. If in Tunisia, or Morocco taxi drivers will drive you anywhere you do not want to go.

In Europe anywhere we have very good, efficient and reliable transportation systems. No need to do extensive research. Get a map, get costs for bus passes (cheaper than single trip), mostly also try to get discounts. I always do. Including train. I love trains. Always prefer the train to anything else. Cheap, fast, easy ! Any major airport to any town or city usually has an express bus system, but check for trains – they are much less expensive and usually reliable.

Except – can happen – when in Monte Carlo, Monaco, trains fell out, waiting hours, finally a special train from Prince Albert II, Principality of Monaco, was installed and all of us got back to Cannes, France. Things happen, not always only in London, when the Tube strikes.

Canada has a large rail system (close to 50,000 km to traverse). Primarily today for commercial freight transport: CN (Canadian National), CPR (Canadian Pacific) Railroad. VIA Rail is for passenger transport. A private corporation operates the Rocky Mountaineer rail system. After thirty years in Canada, in 2008 for the first time I took VIA Rail from Quebec City to Montreal. Late Fall. It was cold.

Mexico for long distance travel, their bus system was one of the best. Big comfortable coaches, separate washroom for ladies, gents, and each passenger got some lunch and water included in the price. TVs each isle. Local buses not so good, old and outdated suspension systems, watch your back.

Further back in time, I took the train from my hometown to Berlin, during the time of the Berlin Wall and the DDR (GDR). Berlin lies at that time in the Russian zone. All trains were special trains with special bars for windows and underneath the train also, to catch those who tried to escape the Russian zone into the West. At stops along the way, the VoPos/Volkspolizei came in to check passengers. At that time it was always a good idea to keep your mouth shut, else you end up being pulled from the train and put into a Soviet DDR prison.

Also during that time took the train from Munich to Zagreb, then Yugoslavia. Long trip, many countries to traverse. Was like in the movie Dr. Zhivago, passengers with all sorts of farm animals, no room, one had to sit on a suit case all that long trip. Usually in those Eastern States people speak also (besides Russian or Serb Croatia) German or French. When taking a train into the country side from Zagreb, I had a Serbo Croatian dictionary with me. Not realizing that most peasants could not read.

Good tip: Before travel to Europe best not to purchase any rail passes. They are cheaper on location. Plus, often rail lines have special deals. Europe, trains are a wonderful alternative. Locally Bus systems are preferred. Certain other countries outside of Europe, wait times can be very long. Never traveled to any country where I did not find public transit maps and schedules at the airport on arrival or any train station. Also check not only government trains systems, but also private companies operating trains (like in Italy).

Travel on a budget

Home away from home. This post on food and vacation rentals.

Though I hate to generalize, but I can safely say – after traveling alone most of my life – that no matter if you find a way to “travel on a budget”, this only works if you NOT travel alone. Almost all accommodations advertise “sleeps 3, 4, 5, or even 12” (whatever that means). The odd times, I can find “sleeps 2”. Never once seen “sleeps one person only”.

Rule of thumb: As a single traveler you usually pay more. This applies to renting vacation accommodations. [Cruises, you always pay double.] However, even the odd time I found vacation rentals for 500 a month. Lots of ‘foot work’ to dig that up. Mostly it is much more.

I am considering for example the Bahamas, because it is half way between the Pacific Coast where I live and Europe, where my family lives. Plus, it is pleasant climate and few restrictions for Canadians. In the following link [ http://www.bahamasonabudget.info/ ], someone implies that “
One of the biggest costs away from home is
food and drink” (quoted from that web site). No matter which country you travel to, from experience I found that accomodation is the most expensive item when traveling. Food is not. Having a decent “roof over your head” is priceless and costly. Unless you travel in a group (most people do not) and share with half a dozen others. What kind of fun is that ?!

Eating out in restaurants on the other hand can get pricey. Because of service costs. While food items bought in super markets, grocery stores, any kinds of markets, is cheap. No matter which country one travels to. Mostly it is much less expensive than the city where my home is. The other reason I do not eat restaurant food is, that I am a good cook and do not trust what others present me with. Drink likewise. Anywhere in the world, one bottle of good wine cannot be more expensive than 20 or 30 dollars (in a store), in fact in Europe more like under ten . Restaurant ?, try get a glass for that.

Conclusion. To save while traveling: try get accomodation/vacation rental with at least a small kitchen. Try, not to eat street food in certain countries. Make sure the food you buy is clean. Wash your own laundry. Do your own cleaning. Find the best deals where to buy groceries and a decent cup of coffee. [Example: Here in Cannes, Côte d’Azur, one bistro asks 5 for one cappuccino, next door it is 2.50]. To look at (food) cost of living, first thing I do is check out how much a cup of coffee and specialty coffee costs. [Transportation = next post.]

Travel medical insurance – how to get better deals. Usually and in general travel emergency insurance is more expensive when purchased in North America before going on a trip – let’s say to Europe. I suspect that this is caused by high third party liability provisions, when something goes wrong (in other words legal action). For my international travels I purchased all my insurances online. They are large insurers, but come with a price. When in Europe and an insurance case arises while out of country I experienced the biggest frustration not so much with the insurance coverage, but with the inability to contact the emergency phone numbers for such cases. And this has nothing to do with the mobile phone technology used to get through to wherever these insurances have their headquarters (usually somewhere in USA, Canada or out in virtual space). When an emergency arises and you are somewhere in Europe or in North Africa, or (God forbid in Timbouktou) and must rely on a mobile phone, no such luck to get through to an insurance who – in the worst case – gave you an international “call collect” number. Examples: Travel Guard. I had bought expensive coverage. When in Berlin on one occasion I needed to contact their emergency number. Of course at a time when they (in that case in Canada) are reachable during their office hours. It should be noted at this point, that when anywhere in Europe and renting a temporary vacation home the only phone one has is a mobile (cell) phone, even if you rent for several months. That is expensive in terms of air time. The person at that Travel Guard insurance who is on call took his sweet time to respond. In fact this particular incident I never got anybody to answer my call, only some music playing. That cost me 20. Forget it ! Subsequently cancelled this  insurance, requesting a full refund. Then bought an insurance in Germany for the remaining several months stay, same or better coverage, for 130 (instead of the initial C$2,000).  For several trips within Europe and North Africa I then bought a travel emergency medical insurance with a trip package (examples: one month Tunisia, one month Morocco), insurance per one month trip only around 100. Another example: Pacific Blue Cross, head quartered Vancouver, BC. Gives you a collect number to call (within 72 hours of an emergency). Some online travel insurances provide an “international toll free number”. Do not expect to be operational in any country where the mobile phone provider has overriding airtime authority. Check out this one, sold in North America and offering world-wide toll free numbers [ http://infomarket.avoxi.com/International-Toll-Free-Numbers.html? ]. This is a ‘cloud communications’ provider. Of course, enough customers may fall for this, order this package, subscribe to it, then arrive overseas and discover the pitfalls. Remember, CEO and founder David Wise is in South Carolina, possibly never visited any country to test his system for functionality. When in Europe a visitor must abide to the federal or local rules of mobile providers of the country visited. International toll free numbers work in North America and Mexico. Worst contact phone number that any business or your Bank can give you prior to travel are “call collect” numbers. By the time I am through an automated answering system (in Canada) my mobile phone service times out.

My advice: Buy travel medical emergency insurance from within the country you visit. Or else, do not buy any, pay a doctor or clinic, usually way cheaper than anywhere in North America. I never had any problems with any European travel insurance provider. You can usually trust them.

 

As travel as a pastime, entertainment and necessity has become one the biggest ticket items sold and bought on the Internet, particular by a large seniors’ population, who incidentally require more than anybody else PEACE OF MIND (Oh my God, maybe I suffer a stroke while enjoying myself in a foreign country !), Insurance companies are advertising and selling at all cost and pressurising travelers to buy travel insurance. Sell at all cost, make as an agent your (who knows) 40% commission, but under no circumstances provide the most needed coverage to some poor sod who happens to have travelled out of country. Is travel insurance then useless ? unwanted ? not needed ? not necessary ? I would say so. Today when everything is bought and sold online, how do insurances make money ? They make money on the people who never use it. [ quoted from http://viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com/2013/05/24/the-travel-insurance-scam-read-this-post-before-you-book-your-next-trip/ ].
Point in case: Travel to Europe. Spend several months. Before leaving, buy some travel insurance package, including cancellation insurance, emergency medical insurance, delayed or lost baggage. The insurance company will provide an emergency phone number for the traveller. As you know, in Europe almost no one uses any landline phone, everybody is on a mobile phone (or as we call it: cell phone). Meaning expensive air time and roaming charges. When calling from Europe to North America, where these insurance agents physically reside, nothing but problems with their CALL COLLECT or TOLL FREE phone number (that would only work in North America). Call Collect works in misterious ways. A traveler has a medical emergency and needs to phone the insurance within 72 hours of that incident. If that person ends up in a hospital, a payment out front must be made (give me your credit card!). If that poor traveler is unconscious, he or she will most probably lie in some corner in the hospital, never waking up. Meanwhile the period of 72 hours to call the Travel Insurance overseas, has passed, and the policy is invalid. My recent case: I just spend three months in the South of France, using my cell phone with a French SIM card, that when used costs me a fortune, even if I would ever reach some call collect number. It would be an anwering machine, and waiting times at least ten minutes, costing from Europe like €20 at least. No matter, what kind of contact number the insurance gives you, there are still air time and roaming charges. Call Collect always costs the caller. [ http://www.howtocallabroad.com/qa/toll-free.html ] While international “Toll Free” numbers may work for the insurance company who sells them (usually residing North America), but not for the international traveler who tries to use them. All those (emergency call) numbers offered by North American insurance companies are foremost controlled by the country where a traveler currently resides.
Before leaving I had bought at Pacific Blue Cross $878 travel insurance for three months to cover emergency medical, and cancellation. When I needed them, using their Medi Assist call collect number, no contact, no way to reach them, my service provider hung up. Meanwhile I could have used a small amount (like not more than €50 to pay for a Doctor or Pharmacy). For the Pacific Blue Cross I tested their phone numbers after my return, typical wait times were way over ten minutes. The travel insurance industry has figured out that according to statistics – comparing insurances sold and emergencies covered – it has become extremely profitable to sell travel medical emergency insurance.
As mentioned before, insurances make money on the people who never use it. BTW – delayed or lost baggage is covered by the airlines.

2015/2016 logistics of how to get to Nice Airport from Cannes for early flights. Nice is the third busiest airport in France (after Paris CDG and Orly). Nice Airport [ http://www.nice.aeroport.fr ]. It has two terminals, T1 and T2. Most domestic flights are using Terminal 1. Most international flights are from Terminal 2. For some time now and at present, there are road constructions around the Airport which make it difficult to commute there, or even walk to the Airport. Between Cannes and Nice, there are several buses (Lignes d’Azur yellow), of which Bus 210 is an express to and from the Airport. Starting at 7 AM in Cannes, at Hotel de Ville, arrival Nice Airport Terminal 1 at 7:50 AM. €20 one way. For early flights, useless. If the flight is scheduled to leave 7 AM, then the time needed to arrive at the airport is preferably not later then 5 AM. Because, since after the November 13th terror attacks in Paris, Nice Airport Security has installed more severe check-in measures.
Other options, of which the least preferred: (1) Taxi cab from Cannes. Costs can amount to €120 for early cabs (4 AM and two suit cases). Plus wherever you live a walk to Hotel de Ville Plaza where cabs normally are. Or pay even more to order Taxi services to the door. (2) Train, TER PACA [ http://www.ter.sncf.com/paca ]. Which would be very cheap, but again the first trains leaving Cannes are still too late. The earliest being the train Mandelieu-La-Nepoule via Cannes to Ventimiglia. Cannes stop around 5:20 AM, arriving the stop closest to Nice Airport at 5:50 AM (Nice-St-Augustin). Too late for 7 AM flights.
NOTE. For later flights, this last option is ideal: take the train to the stop just before Nice Center, get out, then walk to the Airport. Walking now takes longer then 20 minutes, because of the extensive road constructions. Airport signs everywhere, easy not to get lost. Plus, there is also a free Airport Shuttle (Navette) service every 10 minutes, which circles around the entire airport area and between Terminal 1 and 2.
My option: I booked an Airport Hotel for the night before the flight. My flight is at Terminal 2 at 7 AM. The day before I have lots of time in the afternoon to take the train to Nice-St-Augustin stop, walk to the airport hotel, which is a 10 minute walk to Terminal 1. The morning of the flight, early walk to the Airport. Budget hotels running around €55 a night.
Documentation: (a) Plan du Réseau Les Transports des Pays de Lérins. (b)
Aéroport Nice Côte D’Azur Horaires/Timetable brochure which lists all flights, airlines, and a host of other important information (free at Airport). Balcon d'Azur 007

Spending couple of months in Cannes, la Côte d’Azur, the wonderful warm Mediterranean Cost line of the South of France. Arriving 9 November 2015.

How to get here from North America

Nearest airport is Nice. Most North American flights go via Paris, major airport Charles de Gaulle (CDG), arrival Terminal 2E. In my case, flying Air France/KLM, I needed to take off for Nice from the second big airport in Paris – Orly. As CDG airport is very large, it takes some time to navigate to where the shuttle bus takes off for Orly Airport. Cost €21. As with most bus services, buy a ticket from an agent, not on the bus. Time to circumvent almost all of Paris to arrive at Orly is around 45 minutes. Arrival Nice – a short flight only – Terminal 2. From there an express shuttle train gets to Terminal 1, where the Express Bus #210 to Cannes takes off. Again, buy ticket inside the terminal, not from driver. Cost €20 one way. Time around 40 minutes.

Luggage delayed

I was late getting out of Nice airport, as my checked-in suit case had been left behind in Paris CDG airport. Reason: because I changed airports. Should have picked up my suit case at the carousel at CDG, Paris. However, the Canada Vancouver Airport agent had told me, the luggage goes thru to Nice. Spending some time with the Air France luggage services, which is inside a closed off secure area at Nice Airport. Made a report at Nice Airport. Then took the #210 bus to Cannes.

Mobile Phone

Had my old Motorola W370 (Rogers) cell phone unblocked in Canada. Bought a SIM carte for the largest phone network Orange at Nice Airport. This is the Orange holiday 120 minutes, 1000 texts + 1GB; 39.99. Easy. With the SIM comes a package with instructions for activation. [www.orange.fr]. The number you get has some zeros somewhere, in France use only the number; outside plus 0033 (France), or elsewhere in Europe 00(country code), then number.
Top up coupon Mobicarte available anywhere from super market, newsstand, or Orange agent. Same as in Canada. I buy €25 and get €8 bonus, for example. Recently changed my Orange SIM for another – La Post Mobile, they start €9.99, gives you so many minutes, and messages. Cheapest are messages, calls expensive. Across the border from France to Italy, my cell phone network stops, Orange will switch to some Italian network, La Poste Mobile, not.

Food, Groceries, Markets

Compared to our Canadian prices, regular food items are cheaper. Because we import all the good things. Therefore, it is always a good idea to rent a place with a small kitchen. Find a super market somewhere. Here in Cannes there are several large open air markets daily from early to noon, for all foods and flowers. I found – because of the late season, November – I was better off to buy in the super market, as fresh markets are more expensive. Super markets not much choice in fresh fruits, vegetables.
Wines are also very cheap, can buy in any super market. Don’t forget bring your own bags. No plastic bags free.

Restaurants, Cafes

Comparable, can be expensive, because of the service cost. In four months in Europe I maybe go once into a restaurant. I cook my own meals. Here it is common to eat out lunch in a restaurant, lots of seafood. Cafe is different. Being so close to Italy, fine caffees are standard, a tiny espresso cost €1.40, cappuccino cost around €3.50.
Cafe/brasserie during the day culture, watch out as a single woman. Mostly men sitting around, lots of smokers (though confined to outside, but still). Wait your sweet time for service. I wait 8 minutes, then leave. Yesterday, went to another Cafe, in French ask them if they serve women and tourists. This server came over so quick. All prices in Europe including taxes !

Transportation

Cannes has a good public transportation system: the Palm Bus. [palmbus.fr]  Network plans, individual line plans with times and variety of schedules available also at Palm Bus sales centres, City center, and tourist information. Buses cover the entire region of Cannes and outlying other towns. It is a vaste network, extending over an area of multiple hours travel time. Cost one trip (which incl. transfers) €1.30; ticket of ten cost €10. Useful about the individual schedules is that they can also serve as area maps and plans. As the regular (online) and available here ‘circuit pédestre’ plan is not all inclusive and detailed enough. Most useful is the big Palm Bus map ‘plan du réseau’ showing all bus lines and lots of information. Then the trains (SNCF train station city centre) best of all, get you anywhere fast. [TERpaca.fr; TER=Transport Express Regional). As I rent near the historical Centre Le Suquet, the center, La Croisette, most shopping areas are easily reachable by foot.

Most important the connections between Cannes and Nice Airport

How to get to Nice if your flight from Nice Airport is too early for the regular Express bus from Cannes ?  Taxi from Cannes ?  Not for me, I avoid taxis wherever I am (despite no language problem whatsoever).  Taxi one way Cannes to Nice Airport at least EUR90. Better : SNCF train Cannes train station earliest train 05:17,  stops Nice St Augustine station, very near to the airport (500m).  Then Taxi. $10 train, plus Taxi. Not so bad ! More on Nice [ http://wikitravel.org/en/Nice ]. Link to a comprehensive website [ http://www.seat61.com/Europe-train-travel.htm#Do_I_need_to_check-in_for_a_train ] about all sorts of trains and many practical tips. WRONG is: “tickets will be checked on the train.” Not so.Throughout the SNCF France region (or even elsewhere), before boarding the train, the ticket must be validated in a small machine, which prints the leaving train station and the time of day. Ad-hoc controls on the train (in 2 months only once).

Swimming Pools

For me important. During winter season, most public indoor pools are closed, except La Piscine at Parc Montfleury. It is a large, bright pool with five double (25m) swim lanes, a shallow warm pool and one for small kids. No chlorinated water. Single admission €5.10, also reduced rates. Lockers cost extra. This is a mixed pool for men and women, also in the dressing areas and showers. Life guards on duty. These pools are operated by the City of Cannes. Extremely clean. The Parc Montfleury is also known for its six outdoor tennis courts.

Shopping

The entire length of Cannes and surroundings parallel to the Mediterranean is one big shopping area. With Boulevard La Croisette, and the Rue d’Antibes famous for its many high class and luxury items’ stores. As is Rue Felix Faure. With Rue Meynardier and its narrow historical streets offering the lower priced items.

Safety, Security

Since the terrorist attacks November 13, 2015 in Paris  – not safe anywhere anymore, in Europe or particularly France. I would not go out after dark, not even to the super market. Although Cannes is pretty safe and street lighting everywhere. Just, not hang out anywhere where large numbers of people are. Police and armed Military mainly around train stations, airports, and boulevards with large numbers of holiday shoppers. My next train trip will be from Cannes to Marseille, only a two hour ride.