Venice, Invaded by Tourists, Risks Becoming ‘Disneyland on the Sea’

Venice Invaded by Tourists
5 monkey st marks closer

I traveled to Venice, Italy in November. I always travel off-season because I don’t have to fight the crowds. I am often the only person around, but the bonus is I never wait for any museum  except the Duomo San Marco. I have been to Venice twice, but due to the cruise ships bring their passengers directly to St Mark’s in massive hordes, unless you want to wait for hours, you are not getting in.

When it comes to traveling, time is money and time shouldn’t be wasted. While others are waiting in line to get into the Duomo, take a vaporetto across the lagoon to San Gorgio and go to the top of the bell tower for the best views of the lagoon and St Mark’s.

3 venice 1

A word of warning, if you are in Venice during the ‘Alta Aqua’ or ‘High Tides’, the streets will be flooded in the morning. It can be an inconvenience, but it is also fascinating to watch the water swirling down into small drains that were cut into the stones hundreds of years ago. Part of the joy of travel is to learn about the local culture and speak to the native Venetians. Don’t give up on any opportunity to be friendly and engage a local. They love to talk up their love of this unique floating city.

5_peP1010942_pe All photos by Cynthia Cassell – Girls Travel The World


22 French Phrases Every Traveler Should Know

 France, Ile-de-France, Fontainebleau, Palace of Fontainebleau

Maybe you passed high school or even college French, but speaking like the locals is something quite different from what we learn in the books. I don’t pretend to speak like I was born here, but I generally get by sans problème.

We’ve talked about phrases that will save you money in Paris, but there are also a few essential words to know so you won’t feel totally lost when you’re exploring the city

Five vital French phrases

First, five indispensable phrases that will take you well outside the leagues of thoughtless tourists who never even attempt a word of French (and then complain of ill-treatment in France). Use these basics in almost every interaction and we guarantee that your entire trip will go more smoothly.

Best of all, they’re simple… and you probably already know them. Now use them!

1. “Bonjour / Bonsoir” | Hello / Good evening

(bone-jure / bone-swar)

Begin every human interaction with a simple hello or good evening. Don’t get caught up in the temporal boundaries surrounding both. Some people say bonjour until 7 p.m., others start bonsoir around 4 p.m. It’s a weird game, but as long as you use one of them when greeting a person, you’ll be safe.

Bonus: Entering a shop or interacting with a stranger? Show a touch more respect by adding “Monsieur” or “Madame” (miss-your / meh-damm). Thus: “Bonsoir, Madame.”

2. “Merci” | Thank you


Don’t be shy on this one. Thank people left and right, just like you would back home. A waiter places your coffee in front of you? Don’t remain quiet, say “Merci!” Someone holds the door? “Merci!” The nice lady hands you an ice cream cone at Berthillon? “Merci!”

Bonus: Add the “Monsieur” or “Madame” to class it up. “Merci, Madame.”

3. “Au revoir” | Goodbye

(or vwah)

You’ve entered a shop, bakery, or restaurant, said your “Bonjour, Madame” and responded with a “merci,” when your order was brought to you. Now, get out of there with all of your manners intact by saying “Au revoir.”

Bonus: You guessed it–class it up with Monsieur or Madame.

4. “Pardon” | Excuse me


Getting off a train, pushing through a crowd, knocking into someone while reaching for a jar of mustard at the supermarket – simply say pardon with a cheery assertiveness and you don’t need to feel bad about shoving someone around a little bit.

Don’t try to say sorry (“désolé”) because you don’t need to apologize for getting out of the Metro. Save that for when you do something really reprehensible in France… like cut bread with a knife.

5. “Est-ce que vous parlez anglais?” | Do you speak English?

(ess-ka voo par-lay on-glay?)

This one is a dead giveaway that you’re not French, but who are we trying to kid ? Asking if someone speaks English, preceded by a “bonjour” of course, is never a bad thing. Many French people will switch seamlessly into English. Others, not so much.

Here’s the thing: It’s respectful to ask someone in their own language if they speak your language. If you just barrel forth in English first thing, you’ll come off as obnoxious. Just ask, and everyone will be happy.

Everyday conversation

Learn these phrases to navigate everyday situations in Paris and throughout France:

6. “Ça va?” | How are you?


Forget the “comment allez-vous” of textbook fame. A simple, “ça va?” is all it takes to ask someone how they’re doing. Ask it with your voice going up at the end. And the response couldn’t be easier — simply repeat “ça va” with your voice falling. It means both “how you doin’?” and “I’m fine, thanks”, depending on your intonation.

So yes, you’re having an entire conversation using just two words. Really simple.

7. “C’est combien?” | How much is it?

(say comb-be-en)

When it comes to prices and asking about money issues, save the stress for the numbers themselves. “How much is it?” is all you need to know, so point, say the phrase, and then prepare to fumble over the numbers.

8. “Café / noisette / café crème / cappuccino / allongé”

(caff-ay / nwah-set / caff-ay krem / cap-oo-chino / eh-lawn-jay)

Know your coffee order! If you just order a café, that’s a little cup of black espresso and milk isn’t served alongside it. If you want a touch of milk, order a “noisette.” A larger black coffee? That’s an “allongé,” and with milk it’s a “café crème.

There are plenty of great cafes in Paris to test out your French, including these shops that serve excellent coffee.

9. “Je vais prendre…” | I’ll take…

(zh’uh vay prawn-dra)

At a café, a restaurant, or even at a market, this phrase simply means, “I’ll have…” followed by the item you’d like. You’ll hear more advanced (and proper) derivations (je prendrais, je voudrais, j’aimerais) but let’s just keep it simple.

10. “Où est…” | Where is…

(ooh ay)

Every Parisian knows that you should never ask another Parisian for directions – they invariably point you the wrong way, even if by accident. Still, if you need to tempt fate, a simple “Where is” followed by your destination is all it takes.

Bonus: Make it proper! Throw in, “Excusez-moi, Monsieur. Où est…?” And naturally, end with a “Merci!”

11. “Vous prenez la carte bleue?” | Do you take bank cards?

(voo pren-ay la cart bluh)

Using bank cards (“carte bleue”) to pay isn’t always easy in France. A lot of establishments require a minimum charge around €10-15, so it’s best to ask first before assuming they’ll take it. They’ll tell you it’s accepted “à partir de 10 euros,” or starting at 10 euros. You can also ask, “Vous prenez l’American Express?” but expect “Non” 90% of the time.

12. “Une baguette tradition, s’il vous plait.” | A “tradition” baguette, please.

(Oohn bag-ett tra-diss-eon, see voo play)

When ordering your bread, you always want the baguette that is called the “tradition” if there are multiple options. In Paris, ordering a regular baguette is possible, too, but it’s rarely as good.

13. “Le Métro le plus proche?” | The closest Metro?

(Le Metro le ploo pro-shh)

Asking someone in the street where the closest Metro should be easy. “The closest metro?” is all you need to help orient you towards Paris’ underground transportation system. Getting directions from Parisians on the street can feel hopeless, but they do know how to use their Metro.

14. “Une carafe de vin/d’eau” | A carafe of wine / water

(oohn care-aff de ven / doe)

Asking for a carafe of house wine or free tap water is one of our hallmark tips. In fact, buying a bottle of water when dining out is one of the biggest rookie mistakes you can make in Paris.

Don’t buy a bottle of wine or “mineral water” (Evian) unless you really, really think you need it. House wine and tap water are cheaper and perfectly good. Use this phrase liberally… well, in restaurants and cafés at least.

15. “Pourriez-vous me prendre en photo ?” | Could you please take a photo of me?

(Pour-ee-ay voo meh prawn-dra en photo?)

Ditch the selfie sticks, please. (Seriously, they get in everyone’s way and look silly.) Ask a stranger in the street if they can take your photo and maybe you’ll make a new friend. If nothing else, it’s a chance to use your French.

16. “Est-ce qu’il y a une grève aujourd’hui?” | Is there a strike today?

(Ess-kill-ee-ah oohn grev oh-zhor-dwee?)

This is an important one for anyone planning a day of travel. Asking if there is a strike (“grève”) today is always a good idea since the French are kind of known for striking. If there is a delay on the trains or a big crowd gathering, it can’t hurt to ask a passerby, though it just might be a “manifestation,” or a demonstration, unrelated to a strike.

17. “Non, je ne parle pas anglais” | No, I don’t speak English.

(Non, zhe ne parl paw on-glay)

This one is super useful when scam artists ask you if you speak English, trying to get you to sign their fake petitions. Telling them that you don’t speak English is a great way to get them to leave you alone.

18. “Est-ce que vous vendez [item] ici?” | Do you sell [something] here?

(Ess-ka voo von-day [item] ee-see)

Sometimes you need bandages. Maybe a certain brand of notebooks. Maybe you’re searching for The Cat in the Hat in French. Asking if they sell the item in their store will save you the time of searching through the boutique yourself – just don’t forget your bonjour!

19. “Ce sera tout, juste l’addition, s’il vous plaît” | That will be all, just the bill, please.

(Se sair-ah too, zhoost l’ah-diss-ee-on, see voo play)

Often ending a meal in France can be a long ordeal, but when you want to go, you want to go. Then there’s the issue of getting the ever-evasive bill. After your main course has been cleared, you’ll often be asked if you want a dessert, a coffee, a digestif, etc. Just respond with this phrase, and they’ll bring the check quickly… sometimes.

20. “Je suis crevé/Je suis fatigué/Je suis HS” | I’m exhausted / tired / “out of service”

(Zhe swee crev-ay / fat-ee-gay / ah’sh-ess)

If you’re going to be in Paris, you have to let everyone know that you’re tired. That’s just the rule. Ask a French person how it’s going (see phrase 6), and they’ll often tell you in one way or another how tired they are. Maybe they just got back from work, maybe they just got back from vacation – it doesn’t matter, they’re always tired or HS (“hors service” or “out of service”). If you want to fit in, use these phrases liberally.

21. “Je suis désolé, j’ai pas de monnaie.” | I’m sorry, I don’t have any change.

(Zhe swee day-sew-lay, zhay pa de moan-ay)

Often you’ll find yourself paying a small sum with a very large bill. The French aren’t huge fans of this because it requires them to count out change. Anytime I pay with a 50 euro bill, I always apologize first and say, “I’m sorry, I don’t have any smaller money,” to let them know that I understand that it’s annoying, and it seems to prevent any feathers from getting too ruffled.

22. “C’est pas possible.” | It’s not possible.

(Say pa pose-ee-bl)

“It’s not possible.” Perhaps one of the most frequently used phrases to express irritation. When a crying child gets on the Metro, for example, you’ll say it to yourself to express irritation. It’s best muttered under your breath, but loudly enough so that others can hear. The French apparently think many things are not possible, even as they are witnessing said things happen.

Unpaid Tax Debt? You Soon Won’t be Able to Leave the U.S.

Check to Internal Revenue Service


It’s time to pay up, tax dodgers.

Starting in early 2017, the Internal Revenue Service will begin certifying tax debt to the U.S. State Department, which oversees passport applications and renewals. That means if you haven’t paid your federal taxes, don’t expect to travel outside the U.S.

The new rule, which adds section 7345 to the Internal Revenue Code, was signed into law by President Obama in 2015 as part of a five-year infrastructure spending bill. It reads:

Sec. 32101) Amends the Internal Revenue Code to require the Department of the Treasury, upon receiving certification by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that any individual has a seriously delinquent tax debt in excess of $50,000, to transmit the certification and disclose certain tax return information to the Department of State for action with respect to denial, revocation, or limitation of a passport for the individual. Prohibits State, upon receiving such certification, from issuing a passport to such an individual except in emergency circumstances or for humanitarian reasons. Requires State to revoke a passport previously issued to the individual; but to allows permitting a limited passport for return travel to the United States.

Authorizes State to deny a passport application or revoke a passport if the application does not include the applicant’s Social Security number, or includes an incorrect or invalid number willfully, intentionally, negligently, or recklessly provided by the applicant.

The IRS website vaguely states that it will begin notifying the State Department of unpaid taxes very soon.

“The IRS has not yet started certifying tax debt to the State Department. Certifications to the State Department will begin in early 2017, and this webpage will be updated to indicate when this process has been implemented,” the IRS website states/

If you’re seriously delinquent on $50,000 or more in federal taxes, plan to pay up or you won’t be able to fly internationally.

Unpaid Tax Debt? You Soon Won’t be Able to Leave the U.S.

IRS debt passport suspended

Smart tips for smooth travel

9 Hacks for Lazy People

SMARTERTRAVEL has published an guide for travelers. I do follow these ‘hacks’ ( I hate that word) so I can vouch that I do all of these recommendationsHacks.

Every trip I take I want to make as smooth going as possible. I do have several toiletry bags and makeup that always stay in my luggage. I keep printable packing lists that I use for every trip so I don’t forget anything. I can’t stress enough that it’s imparative to bring a multi-plug extension cord. I have posted several of my handy tips under packing and travel tips.

When in doubt please contact us at

Flight Attendants Say Angry Passengers Are Creating a Big Safety Problem


Some say airline staffers are more hesitant to enforce rules, which could threaten safety.

This story originally appeared on

The fury has died down, but the rash of viral confrontations on airplanes is still very much on flight attendants’ minds. They are demoralized and anxious, afraid of becoming the villain in a cellphone video that spreads across the globe — creating a situation some say could result in safety lapses on planes.

Several flight attendants who spoke to TIME said they have seen colleagues ignore unbuckled belts, incorrectly placed bags and similar violations of federal safety rules in order to avoid sparking confrontations with passengers. “A lot of flight attendants feel uncomfortable performing essential job functions and responsibilities because one angry person can change our employment status,” said Ben, a flight attendant working for a major U.S. airline, who spoke on condition that his last name not be used.

The recent tensions between fliers and crew arose in April, when a video posted online showed a passenger being dragged off a United Airlines flight after refusing to give up his seat. Two weeks later, an American Airlines flight attendant was suspended after yanking a stroller from a mother, leading to a heated argument that was caught on camera. And just last month, a family was kicked off a JetBlue flight after a dispute with a flight attendant over where to store a birthday cake.

While it’s still relatively rare for trouble to brew aboard flights, smartphone videos posted to social media make the incidents seem more frequent, creating friction in the cabin at a moment when confrontations can quickly spiral into viral moments. Since the United episode, in which passenger David Dao was left bloodied and with a concussion after being forced to give up his seat, flight attendants said they started noticing an attitude shift among passengers.

“Just about every other flight, I would have a passenger make a reference to the United Airways incident, and be like, ‘Well, you guys are always saying, please fasten your seatbelt, put up your tray tables, pull your seat back forward. What if I don’t? Are you going to drag me off the plane like they did on United?’” said Jenny, a flight attendant for nearly 20 years, who declined to give her last name.

If flight attendants don’t have the respect of their passengers, some experts say there could be far more serious problems than an unbuckled seatbelt. Passengers who don’t obey rules could mean chaos in a true emergency, said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents 50,000 members at 20 airlines.

“If we have not established that authority, and passengers are not listening to flight attendants, it can be catastrophic,” Nelson said. “It can be the demise of an entire airplane.”

Not all agree with such dire predictions. John Cox, a retired U.S. Airways captain who now runs aviation safety consulting firm Safety Operating Systems, acknowledged that flight attendants are under intense pressure, but he does not believe that poses a safety threat. “There’s always pandemonium during a life-threatening evacuation,” Cox said. “But history has shown us that when you stress people to that level, they turn to who they believe is the expert on scene. Every time, it’s the flight attendant.”

The recent incidents have drawn new attention to customer complaints about airlines. Passengers filed 1,909 complaints with the Department of Transportation in April, a 70% bump year-over-year and a 69% increase from March. The gripes mostly involved flight cancellations and delays, lost baggage and ticketing issues. Airlines have also been criticized lately for finding clever ways to raise prices, experimenting with reduced legroom and struggling with massive delays caused by computer outages.

After the United incident, several major airlines reviewed their policies and made changes. United instituted a new rule that employees could not revoke a passenger’s seat after he or she had already boarded, according to a news release the airline issued in late April. United also pledged to limit its use of law enforcement in future cases of disputes with passengers.

When asked about the safety concerns flight attendants have raised in the wake of the incidents, United and JetBlue did not respond to requests for comment. American referred to a memo its CEO Doug Parker sent to employees in late May. In the note, Parker says the “dedication and commitment to customer service for everyone in our industry has recently been called into question.” “We now live in a world where all eyes (and video cameras) are on us,” he wrote, later adding that the airline would offer web-based training in de-escalating conflicts.

Delta provided a statement through a flight attendant named Mathew Palmer, who said the company’s “leaders are working directly with us to find solutions and set them in place quickly.” “The social media effect has certainly had an impact on our jobs, but my colleagues and I are safety professionals and we remain focused on working with our customers to ensure safety is taken seriously,” the statement said. “Not only do the people on the ground have our backs, but we have the tools at our fingertips to get ahead of a customer issue and make it right, even at 30,000 feet.”

The Federal Aviation Administration did not directly respond to the potential safety risks raised by flight attendants. “A flight attendant’s primary responsibility is aviation safety,” the FAA said in a statement. “Flight attendants provide passengers with a safety briefing, remind them to comply with FAA safety regulations, and provide instructions during an emergency. Our nation’s flight attendants are well-trained professionals who are required to comply with the FAA’s regulations.”

This is not the first time tensions have arisen between between flight attendants and crew. There were similar levels of “air rage” in the late 1990s, as America’s skies saw a spike in unruly passengers confronting or attacking airline personnel. At the time, the solution involved harsher penalties for interfering with crewmembers. Now, flight attendants say airlines need to do a better job of teaching passengers that attendants’ primary duty is safety, not customer service. “We don’t go to training every year to learn how to serve Cokes,” said Steven, also a longtime flight attendant with a major U.S. airline. Others say it’s a matter of catching problems well before takeoff.

“We’re paying more attention to the customers coming on board, paying more attention to the attitudes that are coming on board,” Ben said. “And if there’s any negativity, we address it before the door closes.”

Original Story

Why Do I Always Get Sick After Traveling?


Smarter Travel Why Do I Get Sick When Traveling?

……….I just returned back from a trip to Paris, London, Venice and Milan. I believe that I picked up my terrible flu in Venice because I was coughing and sniffling on the train to Milan and then things got incredibly worse. My hotel owner called in a doctor because I looked ( and felt ) like death. The only thing I was able to do in my 3 days in Milan was to see Leonardo DiVinic’s Last Supper, which was I was in Milan in the first place. I could not suffer and make others sick, and had to waste my tickets to an opera at La Scala. Getting sick is almost inevitable, although I do take serious precautions. ……….

Why Do I Always Get Sick After Traveling?

It seems like every time I fly, I come home with an unwanted souvenir—a cold, stomach bug, or sore throat. I’m usually pretty good about trying to stay healthy—I wipe down everything at my plane seat with anti-bacterial wipes and always wash or sanitize my hands before eating. So I asked the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT) what gives—why do I always get sick after traveling?

Daphne Hendsebee, Communications and Marketing Specialist for IAMAT, explains that many people get sick after traveling. “There are many factors that make you more prone to illness when you travel,” she says. “You are out of your regular environment and you come into contact with different bacteria and viruses from those you are exposed to back home. You touch many surfaces covered in bacteria and viruses (door handles, tray tables in planes or trains, seats, railings, money, etc.). You may also be in contact with crowds of people while in transit and at your destination. Travel stress, fatigue, and jet lag can also have a big impact on your health.”

So what can you do to prevent getting sick after traveling? Hendsebee advises, “Take time to adjust to the new environment slowly, wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and reduce your stress levels.”

If you do fall sick after returning home, you probably don’t need to see a doctor if it’s just a mild cold or upset stomach. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that travelers get medical help if any of the following applies:


“If you have been in a country with malaria and develop a fever within a month after you leave, see a doctor immediately. Most fevers are caused by less serious illnesses. But because malaria is a medical emergency, your doctor must first rule it out. A fever could still be symptoms of malaria even if you took antimalarial medicine because the medicine is not 100% effective. Most malaria develops within 30 days, but rare cases can lie dormant for a year or longer. So always tell your doctor about any travel you have done, even if it was months ago.”

Persistent Diarrhea

“Most cases of diarrhea go away by themselves in a few days, but see your doctor if you have diarrhea that lasts for 2 weeks or more. Persistent diarrhea can make you lose nutrients and is often caused by a parasitic infection that will need to be treated with special drugs.”

Skin Problems

“Skin problems (rashes, boils, fungal infections, bug bites) are among the most common illnesses reported by people who have returned from international travel. Most skin problems are not serious, but they may be a sign of a serious illness, especially if you also have a fever.”

If you do fall sick after returning home and need to visit a doctor, make sure you tell him or her about your recent travels. The CDC advises, “Make sure to include all relevant details:

  • What you did on your trip.
  • How long you were gone.
  • Where you stayed (fancy hotel, native dwelling, tent).
  • What you ate and drank while you were there.
  • Whether you were bitten by bugs.
  • Whether you swam in freshwater.
  • Any other possible exposures (sex, tattoos, piercings).”

If you often catch yourself wondering “why does traveling make me sick,” remember to get lots of sleep, wash your hands, and use sanitizer—and hopefully, the only affliction you’ll return home with is wanderlust.

Why you can’t use a cell phone on an airplane

Why you can’t use a cell phone on an airplane

It’s true that before an airline could allow cell phone use in-flight, it would have to prove to the FAA that it wouldn’t interfere with the airplane systems. But the FAA says the point is moot. “As far as the wireless system goes, the final authority rests with the FCC,” Les Dorr, an FAA spokesman told