Tag Archive: public transport


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).

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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.