How to get from Madrid Airport to Atocha Train Station

If you’re heading from Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD) to Atocha Station and you’re wondering how to get from the airport to the the train station you are in luck because it’s one of the easiest methods of transportation I’ve come across yet.

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Before I go into my recommendation, there are other options. You can take a taxi, which will run you about €30 or you can look into booking private transfers (helpful if you’ve got a lot of luggage). 

The cheapest option is to take the metro which costs about €2, but comes with the hassle of having to transfer to at at least one station to get to Atocha.  I don’t want to completely discount the Metro as we didn’t use it to get to Atocha; however, I had a great experience with the route we took so I’m going to pump that option up here.

Inside Terminal 4 at Barajas Airport in Madrid
Inside Terminal 4 at Barajas Airport in Madrid (MAD).

I believe the Línea Exprés Aeropuerto, which runs 24 hours and during peak times come around every 15 minutes, is the easiest option.  This bus will only take a couple of stops on your way to Atocha Station but it’s a great option at only €5 per person. Just make sure that you have the cash on hand because the bus driver will only take cash (and I don’t think you can purchase tickets ahead of time online).

We landed at T4 and took the bus from there but I’m pretty positive it also stops at T1 and T2 but don’t remember it going to T3 so check ahead if you think you’ll be arriving at that terminal.  A few sites reported that it would take about 40-45 minutes to get to Atocha Train Station but I recall it taking us about an hour to get there so plan accordingly.  The ticker and routes maps inside the bus were a little confusing so when we made a couple of stops I wasn’t exactly sure where we were stopping at.  However, when you finally do arrive at Atocha you will know you are there as the station is so large it’d be impossible to not know you were at Atocha.

The bus stop for the  Exprés Aeropuerto will be on your right as you exit from T4. Just head to where the busses are and look for the yellow post pictured below. You really can’t miss the bus once it shows up.  Also, the bus never got really packed when we boarded it going into the city or even coming back so hopefully that’s the norm and you won’t have to worry about any major crowds.

Pick-up Point at Terminal 4 Madrid Airport
The Pick-up Point at Terminal 4, Madrid Airport

One last tip: don’t get confused when you are ready to head back to MAD airport.  On the post at Atocha Station, the sign will say that Terminal 4 is only for arrivals. I’m not sure why that signs says that but you can definitely depart from Terminal 4 like we did. If for some reason you don’t have your ticket with you and you’re not 100% sure which terminal you will be departing from there is a list of all of the airlines and their corresponding terminals on the bus driver’s window, inside the bus. So just check that list out and you should be fine.

Finally, if you’re looking for an easy and convenient way to get around Madrid, then consider booking a hop-on-hop-off tour bus. Although it might seem too “touristy” to some people, it’s one of the easiest and cost-effective ways to get around Madrid, so I’d look into it.

Things to do in Madrid

I recently spent three nights in Madrid and felt like it was a prefect amount of time to hit some of the top attractions.  If you’re going there for only a few days, here are some things to consider while you visit Madrid.

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1. Eat Tapas

If there’s one thing you can’t leave Spain or Madrid without indulging in, it’s definitely Tapas. What are tapas? Tapas are a wide variety of appetizers and snacks that take many forms. Often served with some kind of bread, you’ll get everything from jamon, salmon, fried octopus, olives, and sardines sometimes combined with different types cheeses, sauces, and random toppings.

Tapas Madrid
Tapas in Madrid!

In Spanish culture, they eat lunch and dinner hours after we do in the United States and UK, so tapas are often eaten during social periods before dinner and lunch. In Madrid, you’ll find restaurants that serve tapas or simply tapas bars everywhere and hopping from bar to bar snacking on tapas is highly encouraged and a lot of fun. At some bars these trays are delivered to you free of charge so long as you’re there having a few drinks.

Just watch out because whether you’re full or not, the tapas won’t stop coming in and before you know it you will be completely stuffed. It happened to me pretty much every night we went out for tapas so be warned!

2. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

A lot of people might’ve put the Prado ahead of the Sofia but I really enjoyed the Sofia. One of the major reasons was that we showed up right when the museum opened and so we got to enjoy Pablo Picasso’s Guernica all to ourselves for a few minutes. They don’t allow photos in that room so I wan’t able to snag a photo of the painting but it was still an experience to see it.

Un mundo A World Spain
Un mundo (A World)

For those who don’t know, Guernica is Picasso’s most renown work and easily one of the top 5 paintings in the entire world. It depicts the horror of the bombing of the small town of Guernica back in 1937 when the Spanish nationalists essentially directed the Germans and Italians to decimate the town. The painting is the most famous of all anti-war paintings and portrays the suffering of war in a number of symbolic ways and there’s even a few hidden images in the painting.

In addition to Guernica, there’s plenty of other great exhibits and collections in the museum including a number of works from another one of the most famous painters of all time: Salvador Dalí, the painter of the Persistence of Time (which unfortunately is located in New York).

The Enigma of Hitler by Dali
“The Enigma of Hitler” by Dali

3. Day trip to Toledo or Segovia

It may seem odd to list going to another city as something to do in Madrid but you’ll thank me later for the suggestion. My day trip to Toledo, Spain was actually the highlight of my trip to Madrid and I know a lot of other travelers who felt the same way. Madrid is great, but spending a day wandering through the cobblestone alleys of Toledo will have you feeling like you’ve stepped into the world of Aladdin for a day — truly unforgettable and a must for anyone with enough time to take the trip. A round trip on a high speed train to Toledo will only run you €20 (roundtrip).

Toledo Spain
The beautiful city of Toledo, Spain

4. Visit the Museo Nacional Del Prado

This is Madrid’s most renown museum with the finest collection of Spanish art and it’s easy to see why when you visit its vast collections and exhibits. One interesting work is the Mona Lisa. Of course, the actual Mona Lisa is at the Lourve in Paris but the Prado is home to its own copy. Unlike many of the other copies that were created after the Mona Lisa came into existence, this one was actually painted simultaneously, likely by one of DaVinci’s pupils.

Prado Museum Mona Lisa
La Gioconda in the Museo del Prado, Madrid.

You can visit this museum and many others for free during certain hours in the evening and on certain days so don’t forget to look into those options.  Just know that if you venture to these museums during these free times your experience is going to resemble the frenzies you find at other major museums like the Louvre in Paris and you can all but forget about any kind of intimate museum experience.

5. Take a stroll through the city

Madrid is a beautiful place to just walk around and admire the beautiful architecture. Since Madrid is a fairly young city (by European standards) you’re not going to see a bunch of medieval castles and fortifications around the city, but there are plenty of colorful buildings that tower over the roads throughout the city. If you’re into the shopping scene or looking for good nightlife,  one of the streets to take a stroll on is Gran Vía.

Calle de Atocha
Streets of Madrid

6. Rooftop terraces

There are a lot of different rooftop bars around Madrid that offer sweeping views of the city so be sure to check one of these out. Simply google “Rooftop terraces in Madrid” and plenty will show up. One of the best according to many is Círculo de Bellas Artes but I think that plenty of others also offer great views. Just try to make reservations if you’re planning on eating dinner at some of these because I know some of them can fill up rather quickly.

Seating at restaurant Madrid Spain
Photo by Jason Paris (Creative Commons).

7. Chocolat con churros

Just like tapas, no trip to Madrid would be complete without a good portion of chocolat con churros.  You can eat these with breakfast or as an afternoon or late night snack or you can even have them as a meal — nobody’s going to judge you. 😉 The holy grail of places to find these treats is San Ginés but don’t be afraid to try out other places. If you’re in the Atocha area then take a look at this article and give the place I recommend a try and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Chocolat Con Churros Madrid Spain

8. Buen Retiro Park

This is recommended by almost everyone. We strolled through a small portion of it pretty quickly mostly because it was hitting in the 20s°F/-°C, so we weren’t exactly trying to hang out for extended periods of time outside. However, had the temperatures been more mild, I could see how it is such a draw. If you make it there, be sure to check out the glass palace before you leave.

9. Templo de Debod

This Egyptian temple was dismantled in Egypt and rebuilt in Madrid. The Egyptians dedicated it to Spain as a thanks for helping them save the temples of Abu Simbel. It’s a good spot to fit in your itinerary if you’re going to visit the Royal Palace of Madrid since it’s just a short walk from there. Crowds build up at this site so if you want some decent photographs try to get there early or late.

Spain Templo de Debod
Templo de Debod (with frozen waters surrounding it)

10. Drinking delicious sangrias and mojitos

Living in the Texas and being in close proximity to so many Tex-Mex restaurants I’ve had my fair share of mojitos and sangrias.  And though I’ve never been to Cuba, I’ve got to say that I was thoroughly impressed with the mojitos I came across in Spain. The sangrias were right up there, too. Even if you don’t consider yourself much of a sangria or mojito drinker you owe it to yourself to give them a try in Madrid.

And of course, the cerveza is just as good and it’s not uncommon to find it for cheap. Specials can get you a large glass sometimes for as cheap at €1.50 or less.

Mojitos Madrid
Dos Mojitos, por favor!
Sangria and fried red mullet tapas in Madrid
Sangria and fried red mullet tapas.

Obviously there’s a lot more to see and do in Madrid like checking out the markets, flamenco dancing, the amazing night life, and so forth so don’t take this list to be a comprehensive list. However, from my recent time in Madrid, these seemed to be 10 of the top things to do that you didn’t want to miss.

5 Places to eat and drink in Madrid near Atocha

So you’re researching places to and eat in Madrid and looking for a few suggestions? I got you covered. Here are a few places near to Atocha (and one place near Plaza Mayor) that I didn’t disappoint us on our recent outing to Madrid.

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1. El Hecho

Looking for a nice little bar to stop at for a couple of drinks? Look no further. Out of every place we stopped at, this place had the best and the strongest mojitos.  I think it’s one of their specialities based on their website but man were they amazing. Try to get there a little early as it did get pretty packed on a Saturday night.  Also, I’m not sure if it’s customary or not but that little baggy in the photo below is housing some complementary cerveza inside, which I highly enjoyed.

Mojitos Madrid Spain

2. El Olivar

This little place is more of a bar/restaurant but we actually got stuffed here on tapas and sangria.  The sangria was a little pricey at about €12 for a jug; however, it was very good and the best that we tried while in Madrid. I’m not sure what exactly they put it in but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As for the tapas, they had a tapa dish with the works of different tapas to try that  had a little bit of everything in it! Fish, jamon, and different types of meats topped with brie cheese.  Everything tasted authentic and were some of the best tapas we tried. The staff was also very friendly and it was overall one of the best dining experiences we had while in Madrid. The dish below costed us €15, which isn’t that bad if you consider that it’s €7.50 per person for dinner. They also supplied us with the plenty of olives and prawns as complimentary tapas in true Madrid fashion.

If you’re really interested in tapas then I would consider doing a tapas touryou can look into booking a tapas tour here!

Tapas Madrid
Tapas Madrid

3. Chocolat Madrid

If you’re coming from Atocha Train Station and in search of the famed churros con chocolat in Spain you might be tempted to first stop at a place right next to “Dunkin Coffee” that’s immediately across from the train station — but don’t do it! There’s a place much better just a bit further away called “Chocolat Madrid.”  The place (whose name I can’t remember) next to Dunkin Coffee had some okay chocolate covered churros but the churros con chocolat (the real deal) didn’t compare to those found at Chocolat Madrid.  They also had some great cafe con leche as well.

Churros Madrid

4. La Plateria

This was one of the more touristy places that we ate at. Not overly touristy — it just didn’t feel quite as hole-in-the-wall as some of the other places we tried. Brad and I both had the same dish (something we try not to do) and I think both of use were pretty impressed.  It was a hearty dish with eggs, brie-topped potato slices, and a whole lot of onions.  They served up come complimentary tapas (fried red mullet) and they were surprisingly tasty. I didn’t quite think things through before my first bite and ended up plucking a lot of fish bones out of my teeth but it was worth it in the end, or at least I kept telling myself it was.

This was also the first time we tried the Sangria in Spain and while we thought it was good, El Olivar’s (#2 above) tasted better to us.

Sangria and Tapas Madrid

5. Cafetería Magerit

Okay, so this place isn’t really near near Atocha but it was one of the other places that we tried tapas at and enjoyed them so I thought I’d throw it in here. This place was the most touristy of them all and that was completely expected as we knew what to expect at Plaza Mayor.  We had a little cerveza here and then tried some of their tapas, smoked salmon topped with brie cheese and jamon.

If you check on the link you’ll see that this place only has gotten 3 out of 5 stars on Trip Advisor. I agree with most of the reviews that the food is not blow-you-out-of-the-water delicious but the tapas were still pretty tasty and seemed about on par with some of the other places we ate at.

Plateria Madrid

Overall, if you’re a foodie you’re going to love Spain and Madrid.  Out of everywhere we’ve visited so far, Madrid is where we’ve gotten the most stuffed. Sometimes I even tried to refuse tapas or extra sweets but they insisted so I just went along with it and kept stuffing myself.  Between the tasty tapas, churros at every corner, and sangria to go along with just about anything you may want to put in those extra miles on the treadmill leading up to your trip to Spain.

Getting From Heathrow Airport to London

So you’re wondering whether you should take a Taxi, Tube, or other express train to get from Heathrow to central London. Here’s a quick answer to your question: I recommend the Tube far and above any options.

The reason is that using the Tube from London Heathrow is ridiculously cheap and easy.

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First, it’s easy to find your way to the Tube as there are plenty of signs in the airport pointing to the “Underground.” You’ll take the elevator or stairs down a couple of levels and then you’ll arrive where the platforms are and where you can purchase your tickets or Oyster card. From that point, you simply follow the herds onto the train, jump on the Piccadilly Line and you’re off to Central London!

Using the Tube to get from Heathrow to London is also very cheap. An adult fare from Heathrow to Central London (during non-peak hours) only costs £3! Three pounds! And you thought London was expensive, right!? And even if you go during peak hours it’s £4.70. Now this does assume that you do a pay-as-you-go method by using on Oyster Card. Still, by simply buying your single fare ticket is only £5.70!

London Tube

Tube vs. Taxi

Compare that to a taxi where the going taxi rate for a Black Cab from Heathrow to central London is £45-85 (usually closer to the £80 than the £45). You can also look into private transfers from the airport.

So as you can see you’re likely to save on average about £55 by taking the Tube! With that said, the Tube can pose some problems.

The biggest problem is that if you’re lugging around tons of baggage it could be a pain bringing all of that stuff up and down stairs and trying to find room on the Tube. The Tube isn’t usually that packed when you first hop on from the airport (except for Sundays; avoid Sundays!) but it will virtually always get packed as you approach central London.

When I first moved to London I had to travel around with big suitcases and a duffle bag and it was pretty miserable on the Tube. Some trains have designated spaces to put your luggage but a lot of times these areas are taken up by passengers and you’re kind of just on your own in terms of finding room for your bags. When the Tube is packed and there’s hardly any room this can really suck (if you’re packing light, however, this is not a big issue). If you are the type of person that abhors these types of situations then I think the cab will be the better option for you. However, if you’re the very budget-conscious type then you’ll likely struggle to justify spending over 10x the amount of cash to get the same distance.

London Tube

Tube vs. Heathrow Express

Another option is the “Heathrow Express.” Upon arriving at Heathrow you’ll see signs and perhaps even people trying to sell you Heathrow Express tickets. This is an express train that runs every 15 minutes from the airport to Paddington Station. It take about 15 minutes to get to Terminals 1, 2, and 3, and 21 minutes to get to Terminal 5. (Terminal 4 is served by a shuttle from Heathrow Central). The Express Train is quicker than the Tube but also more costly. The cheapest rate is £21, so you give up a savings of at least £15. Also, you have to remember that you have to get around from Paddington to wherever your destination is and will have to incur further charges adding to your total cost. Thus, I choose the Tube over the Heathrow Express each time.

Tube vs. Heathrow Connect

There is yet another train option called the Heathrow Connect, which is a little bit slower than the Heathrow Express (30 minutes versus 15 minutes) but it is also cheaper. The Connect also runs less frequently at only 30 minute intervals. The Connect does not go to Terminal 4 or 5 and you’d have to jump on the Heathrow Express at Heathrow Central (free of charge). A ticket on the Connect costs £9.90 for a one way ticket and thus presents the second cheapest alternative for getting from Heathrow to the London but again you have the added costs of getting around on the Tube if that is necessary.

London Tube

The verdict

Therefore, with all things considered, I recommend the Tube above all other options. If you’re bringing tons of luggage with you then yes you may want to consider a taxi cab but if you’re a budget traveller then the Tube is the best option for you!

Visiting Lovely Amsterdam: 13 Things to Know

Amsterdam is without a doubt one of my favorite spots I’ve visited to date. While I found the getting around the city and enjoying myself there to be a relatively straightforward experience, there are a few things that you will want to know before you visit. Here are 13 things to know about Amsterdam.

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1. Bicycles, bicycles everywhere…

Undoubtedly, the first uniquely Amsterdam phenomenon you’ll encounter is all of the bikes (and their incessant bell ringing). There are bikes everywhere and not only that but people on them like to travel quickly sometimes. Everyday I witnessed at least three collisions between pedestrians and cyclists and by the time I left I wasn’t even paying attention to it anymore.

Bikes lining the canals Amsterdam at night
Bikes lining the canals in Amsterdam

Now, there are bike lanes so if you stay out of those lanes you will be okay most of the time. However, sometimes it’s not clear which lane is for cars, bikes, etc. and sometimes there’s no where to go except for in the bike lane because the sidewalks are taken up. It can get a little crazy but just pay extra attention when crossing any road or walk area and you should be okay.

2. Tons and tons of great snack food options

I had a ton of great food while in Amsterdam… mostly snacks, but food nonetheless. You have to try some of the local foods like bitterballen, stroopwafels, Koffie verkeerd, and all of their other amazing pastries and foods. I also had some fantastic Chinese noodles and pizza while there. See my post of places to eat in Amsterdam for recommendations.

Bitterballen in Amsterdam

3. The city of Amsterdam is absolutely beautiful!

I’ve never felt the need to just be outside walking around like I did in Amsterdam. The closest city I can think of is Paris but even that doesn’t compare to the walking experience in Amsterdam. I think it also helps that we caught Amsterdam on a flawless fall day. Seeing the yellow leaves hanging over the canals, and passing by beautiful bridge after bridge never got old to me. And just when you’ve think you’ve seen all the canals have to offer, you stroll upon some swans sitting majestically in the water and it blows your mind even more. Add in the Dutch architecture and it’s easy to see why this city blew me away.

So plan some time for just walking around and taking photographs and maybe even consider booking a walking tour of the city.

Buildings in Amsterdam
Canal and church in Amsterdam
Canal in Amsterdam

I found walks around the central canal areas to be great and I also liked the central-western area of the city, known as the Jordaan. Many say that the Jordaan is the most scenic neighborhood in all of Amsterdam but I found just about every area of Amsterdam to be full of noteworthy architecture and sites. Below are some photos of the Damrak, a canal area that you’ll come across as soon as you step out of Central Station.

Buildings line canal in Amsterdam
Buildings line canal in Amsterdam at night
Buildings line canal in Amsterdam at night

4. Consider a canal ride but I’d think twice about bike riding

Many recommend a canal ride or bike ride in Amsterdam. I think a canal boat trip would be great. We saw a lot of different places where you could jump on a cruise or rent paddle boats to take down the canals. There are also websites where you can reserve your canal cruise tickets. The usually last about 1 1/2 hours and start at about €12 but they also have dinner cruises or packages that include museum admission so consider those.

Boat in canal Amsterdam
Boat in canal Amsterdam

Bike riding through Central Amsterdam just didn’t look like it would be a ton of fun to me because there were just too many things going on. Sure it would be cool just to say you did it and you can get around the city quickly. However, if you want great photos I just recommend walking because it will be 10x easier to stop and appreciate all of the beautiful sites without having to worry about wrecking your bike and body in the process. Of course, we were there for the weekend so I’m sure that things would slow down a bit in the middle of the week.

Just be sure that you’re realistic with your bike riding abilities before venturing out in central Amsterdam on a bike. If you’re even a little uncertain, perhaps stick to the outskirts at first. Like I said, it looked a little tricky navigating the pathways around other cyclists, pedestrians, vehicles, and trams and I saw a number of tourists who looked like they had no idea what they were doing. I’m sure bike riding could be a lot of fun in this city, I just don’t necessarily think it’s for those visitors imagining a peaceful stroll along a river side.

5. The train system was a bit confusing but just ask questions — the Dutch are nice and speak great English!

I’d read online somewhere that the rail system was ultra-simple getting from AMS airport to Central Station, but I found it to be a little confusing. For example, it’s a straight shot on the the train from Central Station to AMS but we had to transfer going from AMS to Central. There was some construction happening so maybe it was just that the straight line from AMS was out of service. I put the confusion more on us not researching thoroughly but I still think the stations and trains could use a bit more route maps on display.

Luckily, they speak great English in The Netherlands and you’re bound to find at least one person who knows how to explain the train routes to you so if you get confused just ask. While a taxi would definitely be easier, Brad and I got from AMS to Central Station for only €10 total via train and there’s know way you’re coming close to that with a taxi ride.

6. Central Amsterdam is definitely a party mecca

Central Amsterdam reminded me a lot of a mini Las Vegas, with tons of people collected along a couple of main streets with the primary intention of partying into the late hours of the night. One group of partiers right below our hotel repeatedly broke out in song with “Don’t you want me baby” until the wee hours of the night.  And come Saturday morning, the central streets looked like the day after Mardi Gras with trash sweeping through the streets. To be fair, this was all cleaned up by street cleaning trucks pretty quickly in the early morning.

While there is definitely a lot more to Amsterdam than partying, if that’s the atmosphere you are looking forward to then I don’t think you will be disappointed if you visit on a weekend. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a quieter experience (at least at night) then I definitely recommend you staying away from the central streets.

7. You must check out at least one of their museums (but do everything early)

Amsterdam has some amazing museums. The top three for include: the Rijksmusuem, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Anne Frank House. Either one of these three will be well worth your time. See my recent article on the Rijksmuseum if you don’t believe me. My only bit of advice is to book your tickets online, especially if you are planning on seeing the Anne Frank House. And second, do everything you can to arrive when these places open in the morning (usually 9am). That’s pretty much the only guaranteed way to beat the crowds and will cut down time wasted standing in line.

The Night Watch at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
The Night Watch at the Rijksmuseum

8. Dutch steps are crazy!

Dutch steps are basically stairs that are as steep as they possibly can be without being a ladder. Sometimes you’ll ask for the bathroom at a restaurant and the next thing you know you are climbing up four stories of steep spiraling stairs. I found it quite fun, but just be prepared for it, especially if you estimate that you’re not going to be in the “clearest of mindsets” during your stay in Amsterdam.

9. Keep Euros on you

A lot of the shops, cafes, and coffeeshops only take cash, so try to always keep some cash on you.

10. Souvenir shops

I always feel the need to comment on souvenir shops because I know a lot of people want to know about them and Amsterdam is definitely a place where you will find unique souvenirs. A lot of the souvenir shops are like 30% sex-shop (mostly innocent type stuff) and 70% actual souvenirs. They also sell Cannibas candy bars and other items of the marijuana-inspired nature. Overall, I felt like most of them had reasonably priced items and a great selection of tulips, delftware, clogs, and vast selections of little Dutch building magnets along with all of the typical stuff. I did hear some talk about vendors ripping off tourists so be aware that that could be going on, though I didn’t have that experience.

Gift shop Amsterdam
Gift shop Amsterdam

11. Amsterdam is very LGBT friendly

I saw a lot of openly gay couples in Amsterdam and it should come to no surprise that Amsterdam would be a very open and LGBT friendly place. There were a number of gay bars but we weren’t able to make it to any of them so perhaps next time.

12. Coffeeshops

Almost everyone wants to know about the coffeeshops, right? Well, I’ll just have to say that they are exactly what they are advertised to be. Places where visitors can go and buy and smoke Mary Jane along with consuming other food and drink items. And the coffee shops are pretty much everywhere. Some of these places were extremely packed on the weekend, so I suggest trying a lesser-known place or getting further from the central area if you’re interested in checking them out.

Most bars do not allow you to blow the “do-jo” in them but there were some that I saw that did. They were located behind the Damrak on “Warmoesstraat” street. It’s kind of funny because they only allow weed smoking and not cigarettes. And you will know when you’ve come across one of these places because it will be clearly marked that you can “drink and smoke here!”

Cannabis plant in window

One last thing, I would personally recommend keeping the weed-smoking in the coffee shops/bars, open parks (away from children), or in your hotel room (if that’s permitted). It seems that some frown on weed smoking in public and perhaps it annoys many of the locals. I always try to err on the side of not appearing to disrespect locals so that’s why I wouldn’t do so in the streets. But don’t get me wrong, I still saw plenty of people toking up along the streets. So if that’s what you want to do you likely wouldn’t encounter any trouble, especially if it was on a weekend night in the central areas.

13. One last thing: don’t acknowledge the shady people at night

I’ve heard mixed reviews of how safe Amsterdam is. Personally, I felt completely safe at all times near the central area. Of course, if I was a solo female traveler that could have been a little different at times. But even still, I think Amsterdam is a pretty safe city due to the amount of people out on the streets all the time. One tip, though, ignore the sketchy folks who will approach you at night. They’ll try to get your attention to sell you some kind of drugs. Apparently, even if you are interested in getting drugs you don’t want to get them from these people because their stuff is bogus. I have no idea whether that’s true or not but my advice remains the same: just stay away from these people.

8 Good Eats in Amsterdam and Where to Find Them

Brad and I recently had some great food on our weekend trip to Amsterdam. While we didn’t really focus on finding any fine Dutch cuisine we did come across some of the great snack food that Amsterdam is known for. In addition, we found a couple of street food joints you may want to hit up if you’re looking for some great food on the go. Here’s a rundown of some the food we had and recommendations for places to eat.

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1. Bitterballen

There was no way  I could go to Amsterdam and not try bitterballen. This is basically a fried ball filled with beef, broth, and butter usually served with mustard and recommended along with a pint of beer. The bread crumbs on the outside are quite crispy and the filling on the inside is very mushy (and hot so don’t burn yourself).

Bitterballen Amsterdam

The texture took a little while to get used to as soon as I bit into it. I don’t think I’d ever tired something so crispy on the outside and yet so mushy on the inside. With a few dabs of mustard, the bitterballen had a lot of different tastes going off in my mouth. While it wasn’t my favorite food I tried in Amsterdam, it was still pretty good and I can’t wait to try different types of it some time in the future. We tried our bitterballen at Tuin 10, a nice little restaurant/pub near the Jordaan.

2. Stroopwafel and koffie verkeerd

Another snack that I had to have in Amsterdam was stroopwaffel. Stroopowafels are basically mini-waffels made with baked batter. They are then sliced in the middle and filled with syrupy goodness. Some even have a little bit of sugar sprinkled on top. We tried caramel-coffee and a honey flavored stroopwafels.

Stroopwafel Amsterdam

I was once again a bit surprised with the gooey inside of these snacks. Only this time, I enjoyed it a little bit more. It’s got a crunch to it like a normal cookie but the syrup together with the additional sugars on the stroopwafel make for a much sweeter experience than any ordinary cookie would.

Stroopwafel and koffie verkeerd Amsterdam

The koffie verkeerd (which is basically cafe latte) was great, too. It paired amazingly well with the stroopwafel. I don’t know if it’s a Dutch thing or not but one interesting thing was that the coffee was served in a glass with no handle. I tried to drink it despite the heat but eventually just had to wait for the glass to cool down.

The bakery where we experienced these sweet memories was Lanskroon, located in the south west of the Red Light District. It’s a small bakery but they have a great staff and a amazing selection of pastries to choose from.

3. Patat

Patat is basically just the Dutch word for French fries. The only real difference is that they come in larger strips and are usually accompanied with some sort of sauce like mayonnaise or ketchup. You will see Patat places everywhere along the main roads it’s really a grab and go type of food. They usually serve them to you in a little paper cone with a small plastic spear.

Ketchup and mayonnaise patat Amsterdam

We tried two different kinds. The first was with ketchup and mayonnaise. Obviously ketchup is a pretty standard American sauce for fries but the mayo was definitely something different. It wasn’t bad, either. We also tried sweet chili sauce with the patat and it was pretty tasty as well. This is a great option if you are just in the mood for a quick snack and are in the midst of your wanderings throughout the city. I recommend Chipsy King but like I said there are several all around the city.

4. Crepes and breakfast waffles

I wasn’t sure what to expect with regards to breakfast food like crepes and waffles. With Holland being so close to Belgium and France I figured that we couldn’t go wrong with either of these in Amsterdam. We ordered both crepes and waffles at a place called “Crepes and Waffles” on Warmoesstraat street near the Damrak.

Waffles Amsterdam
Waffles with powdered sugar Amsterdam

We ordered one waffle with powdered sugar and two crepes: one with white chocolate and strawberries and the other with my favorite, Nutella and chocolate sauce with even more powdered sugar. (We obviously put the diet on hold for this weekend.) The waffle was amazing. Very thick and a bit dry, but still very tasty. The crepes were good but got a little rubbery for our liking. The only comparison for crepes for me were the ones I had in Paris so it was perhaps a little unfair to compare the two. Still, they weren’t bad and the service and food presentation was top-notch at this place as well.

Crepe with chocolate drizzle

Interestingly, I later found out that the Dutch actually have their own version of the pancake called “pannenkoeken” and it’s in-between a crepe and pancake in thickness. Also, they aren’t breakfast foods and are instead eaten at other times of the day and usually with generous potions of toppings. Perhaps next time I’ll give pannenkoeken a try.

5. Oliebollen

This was another tasty Dutch treat I had the privilege to try. I had struck out at a few other places asking for this because it’s usually only made around New Years. It’s basically a large fried donut hole with powdered sugar. The one I had happened to also come with raisins. Despite me not really liking raisins I thought that it was good.

Oliebollen Amsterdam

6. Chocolate covered waffles, donuts, and everything else

One thing that surprised me about Amsterdam was all of the amazing pastries you can find everywhere. There are tons of them and many are covered in thick layers of sweet chocolate or icing. I had an amazing chocolate waffle and a few other great tasting pastries. Just be prepared because the chocolate they use is very rich. Our bakery of choice was Rene’s Croissanterie and I highly recommend them… definitely stop by at least once during your visit!

Donuts and waffles Amsterdam

7. Pizza

One tradition Brad and I have is trying out pizza joints everywhere we venture to. We had originally planned on getting pizza from a place on the outskirts of town but due to being short on time we just grabbed a bit nearby our hotel at New York Pizza. The pizza was great and though we weren’t able to make it to our initial pizza joint of choice, this was a solid substitute for the late night cravings you’ll probably be having in Amsterdam.

8. Wok

There are a number of Wok places around Amsterdam. We grabbed some amazing Chinese noodles from Wok Inn near the Damrak (not the restaurant listed far away from Amsterdam on Google Maps) and it really hit the spot with our late night cravings. They cook up your food right in front of you and are pretty fast and cheap as well. While the below photo looks a bit messy I promise you that these noodles were amazing!

Chinese noodles Amsterdam

Obviously, there are real restaurants that you can choose to eat from in Amsterdam. However, there’s nothing wrong with doing a little (or lot) of snacking while you are there because there’s just so many good things to try. Hopefully, I’ll be able to return to Amsterdam soon and try out more traditionally Dutch foods but for now know that these are some great options!

Iceland: Quick Tips for a Great Experience

Brad and I recently took a week-long trip to Iceland in late August 2014. The trip didn’t go as expected to the say the least. We both came down with severe flu-like sicknesses and it pretty much kept us from being able to see everything we had listed on out itineraries. After looking forward to visiting Iceland for so long, it was a huge bummer to say the least. However, we were still able to see some of the attractions and  even though we weren’t able to make it out to every site we wanted to, we got a good feel of the layout of Iceland. So here are a few pointers for planning an amazing trip to Iceland.

Like snow? Want to see the northern lights and still have some daylight? Visit in March.

Maybe you’ve already decided on the time of year you will be heading to Iceland but if you haven’t then there are a few things to keep in mind. My personal recommendation is to go in the spring. Here’s why: if you go in March you can see the northern lights above beautiful glistening snow, still have enough daylight to explore some of the terrain during the day, and you’ll be able to see some of the ice caves (not available in the fall).

Other seasons do have their advantages, though. Summer has endless daylight and so there is plenty of time for you to explore and the weather is very mild, though it is also peak tourist season. Winter will likely give you the clear dark skies that are perfect for northern lights viewing but that comes at the the price of having almost no daylight and blistering cold winter temperatures. As you can see, there will obviously be pros and cons for each time of year, but if you’re interested in the northern lights and like the idea of being around snow then late February or March is probably best time of year for you to visit Iceland. (For the record, a March visit just didn’t fit into our schedule and that’s why we chose to visit in Aug/Sept.)

Northern lights from plane

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Golden Circle is an easy day trip

The Golden Circle can be easily seen in one day. If you’ve begun researching things to do in Iceland you’ve inevitably come across the “Golden Circle.” If you haven’t heard of it, the Golden Circle is an area just outside of Reykjavik that consists of Gulfoss, the Geysir hotsprings, and Þingvellir National Park.  There are a few other locations that sometimes make the list as well. These “big three” locations can easily be seen within a half day and if you get an early start out to the area, you should definitely have enough time to see them all, relax for lunch and still get back to Reykjavik or another nearby city in time for your evening meal or check-in.


My favorite attraction out of the three would have to the geysirs. Although this area is home to the “original Geysir,” the geysir that you’ll actually see erupt is “Strokkur.” It seems to go off about every five minutes. It was my first geysir to ever see in person and it was pretty impressive. Unlike many other geysir areas, you are allowed to get right up next to it and even get sprayed a bit so be careful if you don’t want to get wet. One of the coolest things to try is to get a photo of the bulge just as the geysir is erupting as seen below. You can really make your Geysir experience into your own as well, as there are some trails that will you take you up on a hillside for some great views of the surrounding area.

Strokkur Geysir erupting

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir National Park was an interesting place. Personally, it didn’t really blow me away but it did offer some fantastic photo opportunities and also offers you the opportunity to say that you’ve stood between the two continents. On that latter point I was somewhat disappointed to hear that you can’t actually stand in between the ridge and touch the Eurasian plates and the North American plates. From what I researched, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is so deep and vast that you can’t actually pinpoint any specific points where you could actually touch each side. Still, even if that’ true, the experience of knowing that you’re standing (somewhere) between these two vast tectonic plates is something I won’t forget and makes Þingvellir National Park worth the visit.



Finally, there’s also Gulfoss. It’s one of the most famous waterfalls in the world and is worth a visit. Because the weather was so bad we pretty much just ran out from the car, took a look at it, and then scurried back in to the car. Hopefully, you’ll run into great weather there and will be able to linger there for some time.

The Jökulsárlón (The Glacier Lagoon) is a must-see attraction

Glacier Lagoon

I find Jökulsárlón a little difficult to pronounce and even read so I’ll just refer to it as “The Glacier Lagoon.” The Glacier Lagoon is one of the most awe-inspiring sights I’ve seen and is probably the main reason why I wanted to visit Iceland in the first place. It’s the deepest lake in Iceland and giant icebergs slowly bob around the lake as they break off from a giant glacier. Between guided boat rides and walking along the black sand beaches, one could easily spend an entire day admiring the lagoon. One of the cool things about the lagoon is that your experience of the icebergs can be completely different depending on whether or not the sun is shining on them or not.

Glacier Lagoon

At the Glacier Lagoon, there’s a couple of parking lots that you can pull into just after you pass the bridge. When we arrived in early September around noon, there were hardly any cars in sight. However, I’ve heard that during peak season the traffic can pick up here. If weather permits, many people enjoy walking along the black sand banks that lead to the parking lot. And one thing you absolutely cannot forget to do is to visit the black sand beach on the ocean-side of the bridge. All you have to do it park on the opposite side of the bridge from where you are parked to see the lagoon and you’ll walk up on the beach. Sometimes the tidal conditions aren’t quite right but if you catch it at the right time you’ll see tons of ice chunks (some the size of automobiles) washed up on the beach.

If you’re making the drive from Reykjavik to Jökulsárlón the ETA on driving is 4.5 hours. But keep in mind that there are several amazing things to stop by and see along the way. These include the cliffs overlooking the black sands at Dyrholaey and the waterfalls of Selijalandfoss and Skógafoss, among many other interesting viewpoints. With that in mind, you may want to plan on that trip to the glacier lagoon taking closer to 6 or 7 hours. I recommend starting that drive early in the morning to maximize your daylight.

In addition to planning enough to time to get there and see other sites, I suggest booking at least one night in a nearby hotel, such as those in Höfn (see my hotel reviews below). If you spend at least one night in that area, then you’ll have the opportunity to catch at least one sunrise and/or sunset at the glacier lagoon, which will make for remarkable photographs. If you can’t spend a full night there then don’t worry; you can still fully appreciate the Glacier Lagoon just by stopping by and checking it out.

The Blue Lagoon is the ultimate experience in relaxation

See my tips for visiting the Blue Lagoon for more information about the Blue Lagoon. Right now, I’ll just say that the Blue Lagoon was the most relaxing experience I ever had in my entire life! You don’t have to indulge in the premium package that comes with a robe and meal to the Lava Cafe either; just taking a dip in it is an almost hypnotic experience. The water is the perfect temperature and you can easily stay in there for hours.

Man in Blue Lagoon

As far as what to consider when planning, I think that visiting this at the end of your trip, after you’re exhausted, is perfect. Also, if you wait toward the end of your trip you’ll have a better sense of where you stand financially and you can decide if you want to splurge at the Blue Lagoon with some of the premium packages, massages, etc.

So those are a few quick notes on these destinations. Here are a few general words of advice that will hopefully make your trip a lot smoother.

Getting around Iceland: I recommend choosing a rental car

Iceland is the perfect place for jumping in a rental car and making your way around the island. There are plenty of rental car companies to choose from and some of them are pretty reasonably priced, though you will have to book them well in advance if you want to catch those rates for the cheaper vehicles. We went with RED Rentals and they had great service and provided us with a great running car. They even will pick you up from the airport (though we missed that memo and took a shuttle to their office downtown).

There’s always an option to get around the country by bus as well. However, this option can still get a little pricey and some of the busses don’t run very frequently so you will have to plenty of research to make sure that you don’t leave yourself stranded for a few days in a less-frequented part of Iceland.

One option for the traveller willing to deal with the risks is hitch-hiking. Iceland has some of the safest hitch-hiking around and there are a lot of travelers doing it in the south area of the country. Of course, this always comes with a risk, but if you are on a shoestring budget then perhaps you could look into this.

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Phone Service

Upon arriving, we bought a Vodafone SIM card for our unlocked iPhones. Overall, the service was okay when we were near urban areas. However, it gave me a lot of trouble when I tried to pull up my internet browser outside of the major cities. In fact, the lack of service rendered my iPhone GPS maps useless. If it weren’t for my GPS in the rental car we would have struggled to find our way around. My suggestion: get a Vodafone if you feel you will need to use data around cities but don’t rely on your cell phone service to get you around the country.

Lodging: When to book

I suggest for those people looking to pursue the northern lights to await making their bookings until they arrive. I’ll post more on the northern lights at a later point, but the reason is I state for making last-minute bookings is that the weather can be so fickle and one side of the island may be cloudless while the other side is completely overcast. Waiting until the day-of to book hotels can be nerve-racking, however and so if that is the sort of thing that you’re not comfortable then perhaps just go ahead and play the odds and book ahead. But if you’re visiting in late August as we did, you’ll find there is no difficulty in finding available hotels on the day of or day before your planned booking (this would be less doable in the summer but the northern lights won’t be out so that’s not an issue).

Where to stay in Iceland?

If you’re not like us and you don’t mind sharing bathroom facilities then you will have a much easier time finding more affordable lodging across the country. However, if you are like us and you prefer to have private bathroom facilities in a hotel with decent reviews you should expect to pay around €125-150 per night and expect the options to be somewhat limited. We stayed at four different hotels and I am going to recommend two of them. Here are the two that I recommend:

  • Thoristun Apartments (Selfoss) (€126 per night) — The town of Selfoss is a good place if you are wanting to stay somewhere outside of Reykjavik after seeing the Golden Circle and perhaps want to get a jump start on your next day trip to the Glacier Lagoon or any other destination on the eastern side of the country. There are plenty of restaurants and I really loved that their traffic lights had smiley faces on the green lights. : ) As for our hotel, we really enjoyed our night at Thoristun Apartments. The customer service was exceptional and they will even let you check in early if you contact them ahead of time.
  • Seljavellir Guesthouse (Glacier Lagoon) (€168 per night) – Finding an affordable place near the Glacier Lagoon with private bathrooms is difficult. There are limited number of places to choose from but this place was pretty great. It’s a small hotel with probably only eight or ten rooms but it is very new and very clean. Because tidiness is a big thing for me I give this hotel an A+. The hotel is also close enough to Hofn that you’ll have no trouble heading into town for lunch and/or dinner. (Though breakfast is available at the hotel we didn’t try it so I can’t comment on that.)
Outside of Seljavellir Guesthouse
A view from outside of Seljavellir Guesthouse

The food is pricey and not exactly overwhelmingly delicious

I’ve got to be honest, overall, I wasn’t too impressed with the food in Iceland. A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that I was so sick but I think some of it is just the way it is. I’ll say this, there are plenty of restaurants where you can find some quality lamb dishes and seafood like lobster. You can’t really go wrong with those dishes. I also tried some other American foods that I heard good things about in Iceland like hotdogs and pizza. I wasn’t too impressed with either of those but I did have a couple of great burgers during my stay in Iceland. Finally, there are some of the local dishes like cured shark and Puffin… I was a little too sick during my stay to even contemplate trying to stomach those so my take on those foods will have to wait until next time.

One last thing about the food, if you plan on eating out at a decent restaurant you should plan on paying $40 to $50 USD for a meal for two. The one drawback to Iceland is that eating out is so expensive and you don’t always feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. For that reason, try to load up on sandwiches or some other cheaper food during the day or save them for dinner to keep the costs from getting too high. One thing that you can do is rent an apartment that comes equipped with a kitchen and cook your own meals. That will cut down on your costs a lot.

This is only the tip of the iceberg

Remember that I’ve only covered the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things to do in Iceland. I almost didn’t want to make this post because I felt like my Iceland experience was so cheated from being so sick. Just remember that there are a million more things to see and do in Iceland and that it is a unique landscape that you will never forget upon your visit.

The Eiffel Tower: Save Time and Money

Once the tallest structure in the world, now the Eiffel Tower stands out as probably the most recognizable tower in the world. You can see the tower from just about anywhere in central Paris and for travelers it serves as a constant reminder that “you’ve made it” (to Paris at least). Admiring the tower from afar or even up close is good enough for many. But for others, going inside the tower is an irresistible experience. Visiting the Eiffel Tower itself is a relatively straightforward process. You wait in line, buy your tickets, and then go up and down the elevator or stairs. However, there are a couple of things you may want to take into consideration when planning your visit to the Tower. Here are five bits of information for making your visit to the tower a good one.

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1. Prices (as of October 2014)

A ticket to get to the top of the tower via the elevator is €15 per adult (less for students and children).

To get to the second deck via the elevator it’s only €9.

To get to the second deck via the stairs it’s only €5.

Under Eiffel Tower

2. How to beat (or deal) with the lines

You can beat the lines by reserving your visit online. The only problem is that you usually have to make this booking about one to two months in advance! That means you’ll have no idea what the weather will be like on the day you choose to visit. Still, it may be better to play the odds with the weather and not have to worry about standing in line.

Another way to beat the line, or at least mitigate the damage of time standing in line would be to get in line about 30-40 minutes before opening or to go at night (at a risk). If you arrive before opening, the line will start picking up about 30 to 40 minutes before opening so make sure that you are there extra early. You can always buy some coffee and crepes from a nearby cafe to appease your appetite while you wait. Be careful about going at night, however. The reason is that sometimes they will close the elevators due to a high capacity of visitors or even worse they may close off admissions entirely if too many visitors are coming in. So while the night time may offer great views and potentially shorter crowds, that comes at the risk of not being able to enter the tower at all.

The photos below show the difference in the crowd from a 5pm on a Saturday and about 45 minutes before opening on a Monday.

Crowd Under Eiffel Tower
The line at the Eiffel Tower at about 5pm on a Saturday.
Eiffel Tower no crowd
The line at the Eiffel Tower approximately 45 minutes before opening.

Finally, in addition to going at the tight time, a way to beat the lines is just to take a hike up the steps. Many feel this is the most rewarding way to view the tower. Not only do you save money (and likely waiting time), you get a more intimate experience as you make your way up the tower step by step.

Remember though, while you’ll be entering into a shorter line you’re going to have to climb a good enough amount of stairs (about 600) to get to that second level. If you’re in decent shape this shouldn’t be a big problem but if mobility is somewhat of an issue for you then I recommend you looking into the elevator route. Also, not to be ignored is that those with extreme fear of heights may struggle a bit due to the exposed sights below. While you are barricaded in by steel and fencing, you can see right through the stairs and surrounding structures on your way up and that may induce a little bit of vertigo in some, so just be mindful of that.

Eiffel Tower elevator view
View from the elevator.

If you decide to go the elevator route you may be a bit surprised by the smoothness of these machines. They seem to almost float up to their next floor. While they can get a little stuffed with visitors, I think the employees do a good job of not squishing a ridiculous amount of people in the elevator at once. After you switch elevators on the second deck to get to the top, the speed picks up as you ascend hundreds of feet and before you know it you are at the top. If I had to grade the elevator experience I would give it an A+, and coming from a claustrophobic guy that’s saying a lot.

3. Is the view from the top worth the extra money?

I hear a lot of people ask this question. I have to say that personally I do think that it’s worth it but it’s really a matter of personal preference. Paris is such a beautiful city and a lot of that comes from the amazing symmetry of the architecture and the layout of the parks, monuments, and streets. You can definitely appreciate this at the second level. However, seeing the city from the top of the city just adds “emphasis” to this fact. Check out the photos below to see the difference in the view in terms of being able to appreciate the full-scale of the city’s symmetry. For some, the difference may be negligible but for me, I appreciated the enhanced perspective.

Trocadéro Gardens from Eiffel Tower
View from the top of the tower.
Trocadéro Gardens from Eiffel Tower
View from the second level.

The other reason for wanting to go to the top is just to say that you were at the top. For me this was the primary reason. Much like going to the top of the Empire State Building, traveling to the top of the tallest structure in Paris is just a cool experience and offers a bit more “bragging rights,” especially if you are willing to add the extra cherry on top with a €10 “glass” of champagne. (Note: the “bar” at the top is really just a walk-up bar where you grab your glass and go so don’t expect an elaborate set-up.)

Top of Eiffel tower

I realize that bragging rights and pricey champagne may not be important to everyone and if it’s not then you will not feel cheated one bit from just visiting the second level of the tower. The views are still sweeping and for some arguably better. Remember, this area of Paris isn’t full of high-rises. Thus, a higher vantage point won’t necessarily improve your sights of many of the four and five story buildings. So while you can appreciate the full scale of the city’s symmetry better from above, that may come at the expense of missing some of the fine detail of the buildings from the second deck. For that reason, the second deck has it’s own advantages and you should stop and check out that view even if you are primarily interested in the view from the summit.

Another shot from the top of the tower.
Top of Eiffel tower

So I guess the answer to which view is better or more worth the money is that you truly can’t go wrong with either choice. And just in case you were wondering, no you cannot walk up the stairs to the very top of the Tower. While such a workout would be unforgettable, they only allow you to access up to the second level via the stairs.

4. Scammers and souvenirs – $ave your money!

Avoid the scams in and around the Eiffel Tower area! There are basically two ways you may get scammed. One are these Romanian Gypsies who wander around asking you to donate to some deaf and blind “charity.” They will approach you asking if you speak English and if you answer in the affirmative then you will become fresh meat in their eyes and they will try to pressure you to “just sign your name” and then donate. They usually have about four or five names on their little sign-up sheets already marked to try to entice you to donate, but don’t fall for it.

After I caught on to their game, I purposely answered one that I spoke English just to take another look at their sign-up sheet. My suspicion was that all of the previous donators were written in the same handwriting. After getting one of the scammers back over to me, I quickly saw that I was right. All four individuals had their names written down in the same exact handwriting! I didn’t really need confirmation on these scammers, but it was interesting to see how little effort apparently goes into their game on that end.

The other potential scams are the folks selling Eiffel Tower models out on the sidewalks. They are mostly African and usually have a big bunch of metal tower models in three or four different sizes attached on a ring. They aren’t scammers per se, but they will try to get you for your money. They sell Eiffel Tower models for about €10 that easily sell for €2-3 in the nearby souvenir shops. So my advice is not to buy from these people unless you bargain them down to about 25% of their offering price or unless you are just feeling particularly generous with your money.

Eiffel Tower gift shop
Eiffel Tower souvenirs at a local shop, sold for a fraction of the price offered by some of the street vendors.

On that same note, I recommend you spend as little as possible at the souvenir shops inside the Tower. I have to admit, I bought the “official” Eiffel Tower model from one of the shops inside the Tower just because I couldn’t resist, but I don’t recommend you buying a bunch of little items like magnets because you can pay about half the price for those at nearby souvenir shops and little kiosks around the streets.

5. Eiffel Tower Restaurants

I did not have the privilege to dine at any of the restaurants located inside the tower so I can’t say much about them. My advice would to be to read up on Tripadvisor about these places before making plans. Here’s a list of the restaurants found inside the tower.

Overall, the visit to the Eiffel Tower is pretty straight forward and shouldn’t pose any problems for you. I think the main thing is to catch the tower before it opens because the lines underneath get out-of-control and that is your only sure way of being guarantied admission without pre-booking months in advance. Also, be careful when purchasing souvenirs from the street vendors and the souvenir shops because you can easily save 50% by just being patient and buying from nearby shops.

That’s it for now. Enjoy your time in Paris!

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