Thursday, May 29, 2008

Useful Travel Tips

A few fallen trees are displayed at Versailles to show the scope of the damage.

· A few days before New Years 2000, a freak cyclone battered Paris with 125 mph winds, destroying tens of thousands of trees and even damaging the famed stained glass windows of Sainte-Chapelle (the stained glass panels depicting Jesus stilling the storm were not adversely affected - no surprise). In the gardens of Versailles alone, more than 10,000 trees were uprooted, including a 225-year-old tulip tree from Virginia presented to Marie Antoinette. I suggest staying inside on very windy days; this would be a good time to see a movie, and a bad time to climb the Eiffel Tower.

· In August 2003 a heat wave gripped Paris and much of France, resulting in 30,000 deaths, most of them elderly citizens. Travel tip: book a room with air conditioning.

· During Good Friday religious services, 1918, a German “Big Bertha” bomb struck St-Gervais church, killing close to 100 worshipers and injuring hundreds more. Don’t forget to stop at the holy water font when entering a church, and remember to participate in prayers.

· During the extremely cold winters and resulting famines of the early 15th century, packs of starving wolves strayed into central Paris. Scores of small children went missing, and corpses were found unearthed and partially eaten. Button up your overcoat and give the poor dog a bone, or prepare to suffer the consequences.

· A fire at the Opéra-Comique in May, 1887, resulted in the death of 115 patrons. I always suggest choosing seats near an exit - but that's just me.

· This just in: today I learned that an American tourist in Rome was befriended by a stranger, who gave him cappucino laced with drugs before robbing him. The disoriented tourist stumbled onto train tracks and was killed. Tip: Be glad you are traveling to Paris and not Rome. No French person ever befriends a tourist and buys him a cup of coffee, so you'd know in an instant that anyone attempting this is surely up to foul play. This is a no-brainer.

· Buy trip insurance:

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