Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Telephones
This afternoon I’ll be on a very inexpensive direct flight to New York on Norwegian Airlines — 391.60€ — so inexpensive that I couldn’t afford NOT to book the trip to be with my daughter and other family and friends for Thanksgiving. That price INCLUDED a checked bag each way valued at 35€ each way, too! The only thing that’s risky about the deal is that the airline doesn’t allow you to choose your seat in advance. (I will be begging for an aisle seat!) Friends who have flown on Norwegian Airlines have had good things to say about their trip…so we’ll see…as it’s my first experience with them.
New York isn’t the only U.S. city to which they fly! How about…Austin (begins March 27,2018), Baltimore, Boston, Chicago (begins March 25, 2018), Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Hartford, Las Vegas (seasonally), Los Angeles, Newark, Newburgh, Oakland, Orlando, Providence and Seattle? So, if you live near any of these cities, or live in France and want to visit any of these cities, you no longer have the cost of flying as an excuse — this is the cheapest fare I’ve personally paid in a very, very, very long time.
Traveling between the U.S. and Paris is a big topic of conversation among expats and visitors. The faster, easier, cheaper we can get from Point A to Point B is what keeps us traveling, visiting our favorite cities, friends and relatives…or exploring new places we’d never been. One of the big reasons it’s tough for many Expats to leave their life in Europe is because we have such immediate access to so many interesting and diverse places by plane, train and automobile at very inexpensive fares.
Low cost airlines, such as easyJet, Transavia, Eurowings, Ryanair, Vueling and Norwegian (among others) keep us hopping from one European city to another, but some destinations are easier, faster and just as inexpensive to reach by train…such as Paris to London on the Eurostar, Paris to Amsterdam on the Thalys, Paris to Geneva by TGV-Lyria, etc., etc. The list goes on and on and is virtually endless for weekend jaunts. Living in an American city means it takes a transatlantic or transpacific flight (almost never a train) to find another language, another culture and a landscape that looks particularly different.
I admit, we’re spoiled by this. Next week, New York. Two weeks later, Nice. Three weeks after that, South Africa. That’s the travel plan TFN and that’s fairly normal. If it weren’t so inexpensive and easy, I’m sure I’d be sitting at home twiddling my thumbs and WISHING I were packing a suitcase instead of just DOING it.
To prepare for my New York trip, I took out the cell phone I keep in reserve and installed the prepaid T-Mobile SIM card I keep with a U.S phone number I’ve had for years. When I’m there, I simply charge it up with money using a credit card and go. This time, the SIM wouldn’t connect, so I dialed the number and a man answered! Who was he? It sounded as if I had awakened him from a dead sleep and hung up. I called T-Mobile and even before speaking to a customer service representative, a recording on their phone-tree said that the account was under collection! What?!
I made two calls to T-Mobile. They transferred me from one department to another. They hung up on me, twice. I gave up. Clearly, someone stole my phone number and whatever money was already left on the account, transferred it to a subscription and then didn’t pay it. Not nice. The phone number now is lost forever and a visit to a T-Mobile store will be my first stop in New York for a new SIM card. They have a thief on their hands, but there’s not much I can do about it, but punt.
Also in preparation for the trip which includes spending Thanksgiving in upstate New York with family, I set out to rent a car and learned a valuable lesson. Rental cars picked up in Manhattan carry a special price — about three times the cost of picking up a car outside of the city! Lesson learned, we’ll be trekking to Hoboken, New Jersey, and back to save hundreds of dollars…well worth it! For that amount of money, I could have taken a weekend in Venice flying easyJet and stayed in a nice hotel!
Wednesday, you’ll be hearing from me from New York, then I’m back on Monday with tales of a very eventful week in the Big Apple and beyond. A very Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
(by Tom Marquardt)
P.S. If you missed our recent airing of the House Hunters International episode, Champagne Problems in Paris, you’ll have another opportunity to see it December 29th. Details available on our House Hunters International page!