✈️ France is in the air!
Traveling to France just got a little easier.
👨✈️ The Briefing Room:
Notes and open topics from the editor’s desk.
Welcome to the first edition of Departures. The place to be for where to go and what to see. I am so excited you have decided to join me on this journey. Although I am still working on the content calendar, there is tons going on right now in the world of travel and I really did not feel inclined to lose the forrest for the trees. So think of these first few editions as a dry run of what’s to come. As always, but specially now while I am getting the final layout settled, I will be very appreciative of your feedback and take any questions or suggestions you might think pertinent as well as topic ideas and travel destination recommendations for future editions.
And now without further ado, let’s take it away!
📰 This Week in Travel:
A TLDR approach to some of the week’s most important headlines.
France drops test requirements for all fully vaccinated travellers. It now joins, Sweden, Norway, Greece, Czechia, Finland, Portugal and Lithuania in relaxing it’s entry restrictions. All of which have adopted the exception to all fully jabbed travelers indifferent of their country of origin. Early on, France had taken some of the more aggressive mitigation measures in Europe and alienated most foreigners in the process. Though small, it is still a very welcome change and a step in the right direction for getting back to pre-2020 travel. The timing could not be better as I was already scheduled to be in Paris this month and France will be the subject of the Departures’ first multipart Destination Deep Dive.
Singapore Airlines touches down in Bali for the first time in two years. Ever since Indonesia shut its borders to foreign tourists in March of 2020, passage to the paradise island has been extremely limited. This week marks a huge milestone with the first flight out of Changi Airport carrying a total of 156 passengers and officially resuming regular service to the island. Starting on March 1st, triple jabbed tourists will be able to visit the island after a 3 day quarantine. Not exactly wide open for business as usual but, leaps and bounds beyond the complete shutdown of the previous twenty some months.
Alaska Airlines introduces flight subscription service. Dubbed the “Alaska Flight Pass”, frequent flyers can now choose a monthly subscription for flights between California, Nevada and Arizona. These new plans come in 2 tiers. The regular Flight Pass ($49/mo) is suited for those who can plan their travels at least 14 days in advance. The Flight Pass Pro ($199/mo) tier is meant for those who need the flexibility to book same day travel. Definitely a unique concept that if it catches on has the potential of being adopted by other carriers between other frequently traveled routes like say Washington DC - New York. What do you think?
📸 Destination Deep Dive:
Comprehensive multipart series on a single destination.
France Part 01
“Oui! Ça sent le printemps!” - The smell of spring is definitely in the air! To kick things off on our first Destination Deep Dive and for the next several editions of Departures, we will go all in on France. The country has slowly but surely started to open up and move back to relative normalcy. So it was only fitting to start here as it continues to rank as a top destination for a good majority of international travelers. Although there is a lot more to France than its capital city, we will begin with Paris as it is definitely the gateway to most people. Specially those visiting the country for the first time.
In order to keep things as organized as possible I have pinned a map of the city with some of my favorite locations.
Instead of using the already established “arrondissmenents”, for the purpose of this guide, I have divided the city into regions centered around the main attractions noted by a green star along with my selection of the points of interests in the region within walking distance of the main attraction. All points of interests will be noted with an icon representative of the type of attraction they are in blue.
Although the best way to experience Paris is by walking, the distances between regions can be a bit much depending on where you are staying. I left all the public transit stops in each map for reference as it is one of the most efficient forms of transit in the city. But note there is also bike, scooter, car and ride share services as well as taxi available.
I go fully in depth into all the transportation options, including how to navigate the Metro system as well as transfers from all three major airports in my “Ultimate Transit Guide to Paris” (Coming Soon). But for quick reference here are some of the apps and services I use while in the city:
Now that we gotten some of the basics out of the way, lets move on to our first main attraction in the city for Region 1:
Notre Dame / Point Zero
The official center of Paris, Notre-Dame and more specifically the meter wide bronze Point Zero plaque in front of it marks the point where everything in France is measured from.
Built in 1345, Notre-Dame de Paris or Notre-Dame as it is more commonly know is a medieval Catholic cathedral located on Île de la Cité, in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. Although temporarily closed for renovations after a tragic fire that consumed the entire roof, it still stands as one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. The entire surrounding area is full of charming vignettes and other points of interest.
Even though it’s closed, I still think the site itself is worth the trip in addition to the rest of other lesser known points of interests in the vicinity. Just on Île de la Cité you will find Sainte-Chapelle and Square du Vert-Galant. Both of which are worth the visit.
Next week on Destination Deep Dive: France Part 02 we will explore the rest of the area and I will share a lot more details on some of my favorite points of interest in this region for shopping, eating and drinking.
About Destination Deep Dives
Destination Deep Dives offer a more immersive look at one particular destination in a recurring format over a several editions of the newsletter. It is where I give myself room to explore a broader set of points of interests, for all travel styles and budgets. Think of them as small parts of a larger travel guide. Even though I will be publishing them all together as one guide at the end of the series, you may access them all as individual articles as inside their corresponding Departures edition here:
🗺 Bucket List:
Short highlight of a dream destination.
Chances are if you’re among the first Departures subscribers, you are here because of this photograph. The truth is this rock was one of my inspirations to travel and went on the top of my bucket list when I first started putting it together so many years ago. Although I’ve continued to visit this beach, there is just something about this particular moment that perfectly captured the awe I felt when I first stood in front of it.
I am working on a comprehensive beach guide to the entire area including Phra Nang Beach that should be out soon, but in the meantime here’s the quick 411:
How to get there:
There are multiple daily flights to Krabi out of Bangkok from both Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports as well as buses and a bit more adventurous train / bus / ferry route via Phuket. Depending on how much time you have, your preferred travel style and what you are most interested in, they can all be great ways to experience this side of the country. My preferred route is to fly non-stop from Bangkok to Krabi, take a taxi or bus to Ao Nang Beach then take a long tail boat to Railay.
Where to stay:
For a 5 star luxury experience, look no further than Rayavadee Resort. It offers the best views, room/villas and restaurant in the entire area. For something a bit more down to earth, try Bhu Nag Thani Resort. Though the location might not be as privileged as the Rayavadee, it more than makes up for it in what you get for the price. For those traveling on a budget, Blanco Hideout Railay is one of the most beautifully located hostels you will ever see. They do daily / nightly activities all open to the public so you can get in on the fun whether you are a guest of the hostel or not.
Where to eat:
Both Bhu Nag Thani and Rayavadee have excellent sit down restaurants. Throughout the entire area there is also no shortage of options to eat and drink. But if there is one place you must make a point to go, is to this little hidden gem called Tew Lay Bar.
Though they do have a grill and serve light fare, you really don’t come here for the food. Without giving away too many spoilers, this spot is all about the drinks and the view.
Bonus points if you make it in time for sunset and land this hammock overlooking the bay.
🧳 Carry-on Only:
Travel experience, tech and accessory reviews.
Those of you who have been following me for a while know how big of a Peak Design fanboy I am. Ever since their initial Kickstarter campaign in 2011, they have been consistently hitting it out of the park with every new product release. Though initially a photographer centric brand, in the last few years they have expanded to a broader market with their modular Travel Line. This week they released 15 new products that are sure to expand that appeal even further. Check them out here:
💰 Deal of the Week:
Special sales and offers from all over the web.
Ultra low cost carriers can be both a blessing and a curse. On one end, they democratize travel with their aggressive pricing and no frills approach to flying. On the other end, they can be a real nightmare with their minimal amenities, limited routes and lack of customer service. This is not really a deal of the “week” but more of an ongoing deal and 8 times out of 10 that I’ve looked the most affordable way to fly between the US and Europe.
A relative newcomer to the long haul ultra low cost space, Frenchbee got it’s first go at the US market in 2018 before abruptly suspending service in 2020 for obvious reasons. Now back to crossing the Atlantic, it currently offers very affordable fares from Paris to French Polynesia, Reunion Island, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Dominican Republic.
In the spirit of our Destination Deep Dive on France, I have booked a transatlantic day trip with them, so expect a more in depth review of the entire experience soon. But in the meantime, check out their latest deals here:
🛠 Hack of the Week:
Tips and tricks for better travel quality of life.
Does the thought of getting stuck on a middle seat on your next flight make you throw up in your mouth a little? Well if you ever find yourself in such a predicament, dread not! Open a free account on ExpertFlyer and use their Seat Alert feature to get notified when a there is a cancellation on your flight. You can then switch your seat for theirs.
🛫 About Us:
Departures is a free newsletter about photography, travel & lifestyle. To find out more about what this is, who I am and why should you be here, visit our dedicated about page here: