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As a female backpacker and first-time traveler in Europe, I was both excited and anxious of my 5 days in Paris. I knew beforehand that it’...

As a female backpacker and first-time traveler in Europe, I was both excited and anxious of my 5 days in Paris. I knew beforehand that it’s a big city that could get very overwhelming. Also, as a well-known and top destination in the world, Paris tends to be an expensive city to travel, thus the question "Is Paris for backpackers?" was left hanging.
Moulin Rouge
Despite my setbacks and questions about Paris, I took the challenge of spending days there on a budget. I believe that with smart trip planning, anyone can enjoy the beauty and elegance of Paris. Here are some useful tips and money-saving hacks, hopefully to help anyone who plans to go to Paris soon.

Treat the metro as your friend

Paris Metro
The Paris Metro is one of the biggest metro lines in the world with a total of 16 lines with 300 stations. I applaud the accessibility and tourist-friendliness of the metros in Paris. Most tourist spots have at least 2-3 nearby stations. Even if you get an accommodation away from the tourist spots, you can easily get to the center in minutes. Just make sure to carry a map with you because the numerous stations could get confusing sometimes.
Carnet: 10 tickets in a single purchase
A single journey ticket, called the Ticket t+, costs EUR 1.90 regardless of the number of transfers and stations you travel in Paris within 1.5 hours. If you’ll stay in Paris for a few days and will take the metro more than once, a good tip is to get the carnet (pronounced as “kar-nay”), a type of ticket purchase where you buy 10 tickets in one transaction. It saves you money since the carnet only costs EUR 14.90 for 10 tickets, giving a 22% discount (priced at EUR 1.49 each) per ticket. There’s no expiry of the ticket but should only be used once. Also, remember to keep the ticket while in the metro for random checks by Paris Metro officials (which happened to me twice).
Ticketing office at Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 2 train station
The tickets are sold at self-service ticketing machines, but note that only coins are accepted. With my experience, since it was my first time in Europe, I only had banknotes and no coins upon arrival. I went instead to the ticketing office at the airport's train station. There, my banknotes were accepted with change. The ticketing officers also speak English.
Free maps are available at the airport, or you can download the Paris Metro app
To find a metro, simply look for the “M” sign which are represented by line numbers 1-14 and 2 secondary “bis” lines, the 3b and 7b. Aside from “M” lines, however,  some stations are labeled “RER” which should not be confused with Paris Metro lines. The RER (Réseau Express Régional) is another type of railway in Paris that consists of 5 lines (labeled in letters A-E instead of numbers) that serve Paris and extends up to its suburbs.

In particular, RER serves trips from the airport to Paris (vice versa). Note that the 2 airports (Charles de Gaulle and Orly) are outside Paris, but the RER railway is conveniently connected to Paris Metro. One-way fares are as follows:

  • CDG to Paris: EUR 10.30
  • Orly to Paris: EUR 12.05

Another common RER station is the Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy station, the nearest station to Disneyland Paris. One-way fare is EUR 7.60.

Paris Metro and RER operate from 5:30AM to 12:40AM Sunday-Thursday and extends up to 1:40AM on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays.

Treat walking as your best friend

Arc de Triomphe
The metro may be your friend in Paris, but walking is your best friend there. Paris is a very beautiful city to walk on, especially that it’s surrounded by the Seine River. Walking works both as a hack to save cash and a healthy way to explore the city too. Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes!
Luxembourg Gardens
Luckily, autumn has just kicked off when I traveled in September (which they say is the perfect time to go), so the weather was all sunny but slightly cool at 15°C to 20°C. I was able to walk for kilometers without really getting exhausted.

Making a daily itinerary by area is what I advise when traveling Paris to make the tour on foot work. Here are tourist spots that are close to each other:

Set 1: Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Trocadero Gardens, Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars (picnic area with Eiffel Tower view)


Set 2: Hôtel de Ville, Notre Dame Cathedral, Sainte-Chapelle, Pantheon Paris, Luxembourg Gardens

Set 3: Royal Palace, Louvre Museum, Orsay Museum (Musée d’Orsay), Tuiletries Garden, Orangerie Museum (Musée de l'Orangerie)

Set 4: Place de la Concorde, Petit Palais, Grand Palais, Pont Alexandre III, Esplanade des Invalides, Les Invalides (includes Army Museum)

Set 5: Louise Michel Square, Sacre Coeur Basilica, Place du Tertre, Moulin Rouge


Get an accommodation outside the center

I say this straightforward: Accommodation is really expensive in Paris. Of all the cities I’ve traveled, my accommodation in Paris was the most expensive despite booking in advance and staying outside the center.
Eiffel Tower's 10-minute sparkling show of lights run every hour at night.
As I noticed, accommodations near and with view of the Eiffel Tower (in 7th arr.) are the most expensive. Also, those hotels located within 1st-8th arrondissement (arr.) are priced higher than the rest of the districts since these places are the ones considered the “center” of Paris with several tourist attractions around.
Sacre Coeur Basilica
The cheaper accommodations are located at 18th arr. which is the hilltop side of Paris called the Montmartre. This district has a lot of affordable backpacker hostels and shared Airbnb apartments. It may be away from the center, but it's easily accessible by metro (in 20-30 minutes). The 18th arr. is said to be the center of nightlife with the presence of local cabarets including the famous Moulin Rouge. The area also includes sights like the Sacré Cœur Basilica and the so-called African district called Barbès.

Buy tickets online and check free entrance days

When in Paris, always expect a crowd. To get into an attraction, you have to go through the ticket counter line and the security check line. To at least get away with the first, I suggest you buy tickets online. In that way, you save hours in queue. As said, the line could take 30 minutes to hours especially during summer.
Louvre Museum
Also, there are days when there’s no entrance fee to selected museums for tourists, usually on first Sundays of the month. If you happen to be in the city on those days, grab the chance to enter for free because some entrance tickets cost something too.

I’ve listed some popular attractions in Paris with their respective operating times, closed days, entrance fees, and free entrance days. Note that these are subject to changes, so it’s still best to check the official website (linked below too):

Attraction name
Operating days and hours
Closed days
Entrance fee
When is it free entry to tourists?
Mon, Thu, Sat, Sun: 9AM to 6PM

Wed and Fri: 9AM to 9:45PM
Tuesdays

Holidays: Jan 1, May 8, Dec 25
EUR 17
Every first Sunday of the month from Oct-Mar

Free to all nationalities under 26 years old every Friday at 6pm
Orsay Museum (Musée d’Orsay)
Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat, Sat: 9:30AM to 6PM

Thu: 9:30AM to 9:45PM
Mondays

Holidays: May 1, Dec 25
EUR 14
Every first Sunday of the month
Orangerie Museum (Musée de l’Orangerie)
All days except Tue: 9AM to 6PM
Tuesdays

Holidays:  May 1, morning of July 14, Dec 25
EUR 9
Every first Sunday of the month
(Château de Versailles) 
All days

Palace: 9AM to 6:30PM

Estate of Trianon: 12PM to 6:30PM

Gardens: 8AM to 8:30PM

Coach Gallery: 12:30PM to 6:30PM
Mondays
Passport type entrance ticket: EUR 20

Passport type with entry to Musical Fountain Shows or Musical Gardens: EUR 27

Every first Sunday of the month from Nov-Mar
All days
Jan-March: 9AM to 5PM

Apr-Sep: 9AM to 7PM

Oct-Dec: 9AM to 5PM
Holidays: Jan 1, ay 1, Dec 25
EUR 10
First Sunday of the month from Jan-Mar and Nov-Dec

Sat and Sun of the 3rd week of Sep (European Heritage Days)
All days 10AM to 9:30PM

Ticket prices generally depend on the season:


Mini (low season): EUR 55

Magic (mid season): EUR 72

Super Magic (peak season): EUR 83


    Drink water from the tap

    At first, I was hesitant to drink water from the tap in Paris since back in the Philippines, we never do that (and we know we should not). Also, in most Asian countries I’ve been to, drinking water from the tap isn’t advisable all the time.
    A type of fountain in Paris. Some fountains even provide sparkling water.
    To my surprise, I proved it myself that tap water is potable in Paris. Before leaving my accommodation, I usually filled up my water bottle from the sink, then refilled at any public fountain found in most tourist attractions like Hotel de Ville.
    Les Invalides
    Doing so saved me a few euros, considering that a small 50 cl bottled mineral water is around EUR 2 in touristy areas (and EUR 0.50 only in the supermarket). To me, the water tasted neutral just like any bottled mineral water. It’s something I can recommend if you don’t have a sensitive stomach. Not only it saves money, but it also saves the environment as it lessens consumption of plastic containers.

    Parisian bread is survival food

     At restaurants, a set menu composed of an appetizer, main dish, dessert, and a drink is usually priced at EUR 14 and up in Paris. It isn't bad to try the local restaurant once or twice, but you won't do that all the time because it could get really heavy in the pocket.
    Paris is home of the best boulangerie (bakery), so expect quality bread there even if you just buy at a neighborhood bakery. You can simply get a baguette (long bread) or croissant (crunchy half-moon-shaped bread) at EUR 1 each, which to my surprise were enough to fill up a stomach. As an Asian, I'm so used to eating rice for a long day of travel, but after a few days in Paris, bread became a good alternative. Aside from the bakery, breads are also sold cheaper at supermarkets. Common supermarkets in Paris are Carrefour (City or Express), Franprix, and Monoprix.
    Crepes aren't only a dessert in Paris. There are also crepes stuffed with meat or vegetables
    Aside from bread, Paris also boasts its expertise in pastry. You'd probably find a patisserie (dessert or cake shop) at every block with all the artistically baked cakes, tarts, and other desserts. You should try eating a macaron or a crepe at least once!

    Have you been to Paris? Any other tips you can recommend? Leave a comment below!






    If this blog has given you helpful information, or has inspired you in any way, a little amount would help me maintain it!


    View of the Eiffel Tower at Trocadero Gardens As a female backpacker and first-time traveler in Europe, I was both excited and anxious o...

    View of the Eiffel Tower at Trocadero Gardens
    As a female backpacker and first-time traveler in Europe, I was both excited and anxious of my 5 days in Paris. I knew beforehand that it’s a big city that could get very overwhelming. Also, as a well-known and top destination in the world, Paris tends to be expensive, thus the question "Is Paris for backpackers?" was left hanging.
    Moulin Rouge
    Despite my setbacks and questions about Paris, I took the challenge of spending days there on a budget. I believe that with smart trip planning, anyone can enjoy the beauty and elegance of Paris. Here are some useful tips and money-saving hacks, hopefully to help anyone who plans to go to Paris soon.

    Treat the metro as your friend

    Paris Metro
    The Paris Metro is one of the biggest metro lines in the world with a total of 16 lines with 300 stations. I applaud the accessibility and tourist-friendliness of the metros in Paris. Most tourist spots have at least 2-3 nearby stations. Even if you get an accommodation away from the tourist spots, you can easily get to the center in minutes. Just make sure to carry a map with you because the numerous stations could get confusing sometimes.
    Carnet: 10 tickets in a single purchase
    A single journey ticket, called the Ticket t+, costs EUR 1.90 regardless of the number of transfers and stations you travel in Paris within 1.5 hours. If you’ll stay in Paris for a few days and will take the metro more than once, a good tip is to get the carnet (pronounced as “kar-nay”), a type of ticket purchase where you buy 10 tickets in one transaction. It saves you money since the carnet only costs EUR 14.90 for 10 tickets, giving a 22% discount (priced at EUR 1.49 each) per ticket. There’s no expiry of the ticket but should only be used once. Also, remember to keep the ticket while in the metro for random checks by Paris Metro officials (which happened to me twice).
    Ticketing office at Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 2 train station
    The tickets are sold at self-service ticketing machines, but note that only coins are accepted. With my experience, since it was my first time in Europe, I only had banknotes and no coins upon arrival. I went instead to the ticketing office at the airport's train station. There, my banknotes were accepted with change. The ticketing officers also speak English.
    Free maps are available at the airport, or you can download the Paris Metro app
    To find a metro, simply look for the “M” sign which are represented by line numbers 1-14 and 2 secondary “bis” lines, the 3b and 7b. Aside from “M” lines, however,  some stations are labeled “RER” which should not be confused with Paris Metro lines. The RER (Réseau Express Régional) is another type of railway in Paris that consists of 5 lines (labeled in letters A-E instead of numbers) that serve Paris and extends up to its suburbs.

    In particular, RER serves trips from the airport to Paris (vice versa). Note that the 2 airports (Charles de Gaulle and Orly) are outside Paris, but the RER railway is conveniently connected to Paris Metro. One-way fares are as follows:

    • CDG to Paris: EUR 10.30
    • Orly to Paris: EUR 12.05

    Another common RER station is the Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy station, the nearest station to Disneyland Paris. One-way fare is EUR 7.60.

    Paris Metro and RER operate from 5:30AM to 12:40AM Sunday-Thursday and extends up to 1:40AM on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays.

    Treat walking as your best friend

    Arc de Triomphe
    The metro may be your friend in Paris, but walking is your best friend there. Paris is a very beautiful city to walk on, especially that it’s surrounded by the Seine River. Walking works both as a hack to save cash and a healthy way to explore the city too. Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes!
    Luxembourg Gardens
    Luckily, autumn has just kicked off when I traveled in September (which they say is the perfect time to go), so the weather was all sunny but slightly cool at 15°C to 20°C. I was able to walk for kilometers without really getting exhausted.

    Making a daily itinerary by area is what I advise when traveling Paris to make the tour on foot work. Here are tourist spots that are close to each other:

    Set 1: Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Trocadero Gardens, Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars (picnic area with Eiffel Tower view)


    Set 2: Hôtel de Ville, Notre Dame Cathedral, Sainte-Chapelle, Pantheon Paris, Luxembourg Gardens

    Set 3: Royal Palace, Louvre Museum, Orsay Museum (Musée d’Orsay), Tuiletries Garden, Orangerie Museum (Musée de l'Orangerie)

    Set 4: Place de la Concorde, Petit Palais, Grand Palais, Pont Alexandre III, Esplanade des Invalides, Les Invalides (includes Army Museum)

    Set 5: Louise Michel Square, Sacre Coeur Basilica, Place du Tertre, Moulin Rouge


    Get an accommodation outside the center

    I say this straightforward: Accommodation is really expensive in Paris. Of all the cities I’ve traveled, my accommodation in Paris was the most expensive despite booking in advance and staying outside the center.
    Eiffel Tower's 10-minute sparkling show of lights run every hour at night.
    As I noticed, accommodations near and with view of the Eiffel Tower (in 7th arr.) are the most expensive. Also, those hotels located within 1st-8th arrondissements (arr.) are priced higher than the rest of the districts since these places are the ones considered the “center” of Paris with several tourist attractions around.
    Sacre Coeur Basilica
    The cheaper accommodations are located at 18th arr. which is the hilltop side of Paris called the Montmartre. This district has a lot of affordable backpacker hostels and shared Airbnb apartments. It may be away from the center, but it's easily accessible by metro (in 20-30 minutes). The 18th arr. is said to be the center of nightlife with the presence of local cabarets including the famous Moulin Rouge. The area also includes sights like the Sacré Cœur Basilica and the so-called African district called Barbès.

    Buy tickets online and check free entrance days

    When in Paris, always expect a crowd. To get into an attraction, you have to go through the ticket counter line and the security check line. To at least get away with the first, I suggest you buy tickets online. In that way, you save hours in queue. As said, the line could take 30 minutes to hours especially during summer.
    Louvre Museum
    Also, there are days when there’s no entrance fee to selected museums for tourists, usually on first Sundays of the month. If you happen to be in the city on those days, grab the chance to enter for free because some entrance tickets cost something too.

    I’ve listed some popular attractions in Paris with their respective operating times, closed days, entrance fees, and free entrance days. Note that these are subject to changes, so it’s still best to check the official website (linked below too):

    Attraction name
    Operating days and hours
    Closed days
    Entrance fee
    When is it free entry to tourists?
    Mon, Thu, Sat, Sun: 9AM to 6PM

    Wed and Fri: 9AM to 9:45PM
    Tuesdays

    Holidays: Jan 1, May 8, Dec 25
    EUR 17
    Every first Sunday of the month from Oct-Mar

    Free to all nationalities under 26 years old every Friday at 6pm
    Orsay Museum (Musée d’Orsay)
    Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat, Sat: 9:30AM to 6PM

    Thu: 9:30AM to 9:45PM
    Mondays

    Holidays: May 1, Dec 25
    EUR 14
    Every first Sunday of the month
    Orangerie Museum (Musée de l’Orangerie)
    All days except Tue: 9AM to 6PM
    Tuesdays

    Holidays:  May 1, morning of July 14, Dec 25
    EUR 9
    Every first Sunday of the month
    (Château de Versailles)
    All days

    Palace: 9AM to 6:30PM

    Estate of Trianon: 12PM to 6:30PM

    Gardens: 8AM to 8:30PM

    Coach Gallery: 12:30PM to 6:30PM
    Mondays
    Passport type entrance ticket: EUR 20

    Passport type with entry to Musical Fountain Shows or Musical Gardens: EUR 27

    Every first Sunday of the month from Nov-Mar
    All days
    Jan-March: 9AM to 5PM

    Apr-Sep: 9AM to 7PM

    Oct-Dec: 9AM to 5PM
    Holidays: Jan 1, ay 1, Dec 25
    EUR 10
    First Sunday of the month from Jan-Mar and Nov-Dec

    Sat and Sun of the 3rd week of Sep (European Heritage Days)
    All days 10AM to 9:30PM

    Ticket prices generally depend on the season:


    Mini (low season): EUR 55

    Magic (mid season): EUR 72

    Super Magic (peak season): EUR 83


      Drink water from the tap

      At first, I was hesitant to drink water from the tap in Paris since back in the Philippines, we never do that (and we know we should not). Also, in most Asian countries I’ve been to, drinking water from the tap isn’t advisable all the time.
      A type of fountain in Paris. Some fountains even provide sparkling water.
      To my surprise, I proved it myself that tap water is potable in Paris. Before leaving my accommodation, I usually filled up my water bottle from the sink, then refilled at any public fountain found in most tourist attractions like Hotel de Ville.
      Les Invalides
      Doing so saved me a few euros, considering that a small 50 cl bottled mineral water is around EUR 2 in touristy areas (and EUR 0.50 only in the supermarket). To me, the water tasted neutral just like any bottled mineral water. It’s something I can recommend if you don’t have a sensitive stomach. Not only it saves money, but it also saves the environment as it lessens consumption of plastic containers.

      Parisian bread is survival food

       At restaurants, a set menu composed of an appetizer, main dish, dessert, and a drink is usually priced at EUR 14 and up in Paris. It isn't bad to try the local restaurant once or twice, but you won't do that all the time because it could get really heavy in the pocket.
      Paris is home of the best boulangerie (bakery), so expect quality bread there even if you just buy at a neighborhood bakery. You can simply get a baguette (long bread) or croissant (crunchy half-moon-shaped bread) at EUR 1 each, which to my surprise were enough to fill up a stomach. As an Asian, I'm so used to eating rice for a long day of travel, but after a few days in Paris, bread became a good alternative. Aside from the bakery, breads are also sold cheaper at supermarkets. Common supermarkets in Paris are Carrefour (City or Express), Franprix, and Monoprix.
      Crepes aren't only a dessert in Paris. There are also crepes stuffed with meat or vegetables
      Aside from bread, Paris also boasts its expertise in pastry. You'd probably find a patisserie (dessert or cake shop) at every block with all the artistically baked cakes, tarts, and other desserts. You should try eating a macaron or a crepe at least once!

      Have you been to Paris? Any other tips you can recommend? Leave a comment below!






      If this blog has given you helpful information, or has inspired you in any way, a little amount would help me maintain it!


      While they say a language is best taught during childhood, there’s really no age limit when learning a new language. In fact, experts say ...

      While they say a language is best taught during childhood, there’s really no age limit when learning a new language. In fact, experts say that studying languages has health benefits, such as delaying and preventing possible dementia in later stages of life.

      Also read: Why Filipinos Should Also Learn Spanish Aside from English

      For Filipinos, I can say Spanish is one of the foreign languages we can learn easily. There are 2 main reasons why. First, thanks to thousands of Filipino words loaned from Spanish, Filipinos have the edge in mastering the Spanish vocabulary. Actually, a lot of Filipino words mean the same in Spanish. Second, Spanish and Filipino word pronunciations have similar characteristics such that words are spoken simply the way they’re spelled, with very few silent syllables, and not very nasal (unlike French and German, for example).

      Also read: Filipino Phrases Borrowed from Spanish that You May Find Amusing

      While I've just said that Spanish is easy, there are some habits we, Filipinos, need to unlearn and other habits that we have to practice more. I listed some of them, hoping to help you if you've decided to learn it or have been studying it already:

      Do not be afraid to ask

      Filipinos are very timid. We have questions in mind, but we don’t ask it out loud. We tend to compromise to get the answers on our own, but that isn’t the best way out all the time.

      Spanish, for example, is very particular with tilde, a symbol used to provide stress in word pronunciation. Although we also have this in Filipino language (remember malumay, malumi, mabilis, maragsa?), we hardly use the symbols paiwa (`) pakupya (ˆ), and pahilis (ˊ) in everyday writing. Perhaps this is why Filipinos find it tricky how tilde works, but with the attitude of Filipinos, we don't ask questions.

      When in doubt, ask a question. That's a general rule in learning a language, even in Spanish. Never keep a question to yourself. What if something you thought was right is wrong all along just because you didn't ask? It might remain wrong not until you ask to check if it’s correct or not.

      Commit mistakes, and learn from them

      Before you can master a language, remember that mistakes are part of the way. It's very expected, so don’t feel down if you'd be corrected by someone. Don’t get ashamed, even with the small mistakes. Remember that you’re still learning but you'll get there, for sure!

      If you’re learning Spanish through an academic institution, the classroom is the best avenue to commit mistakes. The teachers are there to correct you. Meanwhile, if you’re self-studying Spanish, try your best to talk with the natives. Speaking with them helps you absorb the native accent, which is something that you might not be able to learn if you’re only reading or using an app to learn Spanish. Don’t feel intimidated that you aren’t as fluent as them. Instead, feel proud that you’re trying to speak their language (and may even know more languages than them!).

      Stay away from memorizing

      Filipinos tend to memorize everything, a habit that we got from the memorization-driven learning system in the Philippines. When you memorize all the time, you get stuck at what the learning material says, thus learning becomes limited.

      In Spanish job interviews, for example, some Filipino applicants memorize the interview questions and its corresponding answers instead of practicing how to confidently respond in an interview. The chances are, if the question changes or gets rephrased, they get lost because they just memorized.

      Instead of memorizing, try to think and answer straight in Spanish. When you read a sentence, for example, avoid translating it in your mind because it only delays your comprehension and response. This takes time to master, but it would help a lot to start the habit early.

      Write as often 

      Writing helps you master spelling in Spanish. As mentioned, since Spanish orthography consists of tildes, it makes the structure a bit different from Filipino or English grammar.

      Also, writing helps you master the gender of nouns, another aspect of Spanish language that’s hugely different from Filipino or English. There may be a set of rules on gender of nouns, but sometimes, these rules don’t apply. It would be better to get familiarized with it.

      Also read: Filipino and Spanish Words: Spelling the Difference

      Tip: When answering fill-in-the-blank or multiple choice type exercises, rewrite the entire the sentence instead of just writing the answer. It’s a good way to recall Spanish words as you write them. The idea is similar to muscle memory in sports: when you write often, your brain remembers and recalls it easily.

      Using usted / ustedes is a similar idea with using po in Filipino

      In Spanish, there are 2 ways to address a person: the formal and informal way. Knowing its difference particularly helps you conjugate the verbs correctly. As general rule, the formal way is used when talking with someone you give respect to or someone you don’t know. The informal way is when you speak with people you are close to, such as friends, siblings, and other people you know very well.

      In Filipino grammar, it’s a similar idea with the use of po, a Filipino word attached before or after the subject pronoun that expresses respect. Similar to usted / ustedes, po is used when speaking with someone you give respect to.

      Example:

      InformalFormal
      SpanishDónde vasDónde usted va
      FilipinoSaan ka pupunta?Saan po kayo pupunta?
      EnglishWhere will you go?
      Notice that from informal to formal, the subject pronoun changes as the verb changes too. This applies to both Spanish and Filipino, thus making them a lot similar compared to English.

      Do you have other tips to Filipinos who are learning Spanish? If you're a Filipino learning Spanish, what struggles do you face in studying Spanish? 


      -----
      Shelly C. Dimaculangan is a language translator in the Philippines. She finished AB Journalism at University of Santo Tomas in Manila where she took her first Spanish classes. After college, she continued learning Spanish at Instituto Cervantes de Manila. 





      If this blog has given you helpful information, or has inspired you in any way, a little amount would help me maintain it!


      The Sigiriya Lion Rock is probably the most visited tourist site in Sri Lanka as it holds a rich historical significance, named as on...

      The Sigiriya Lion Rock is probably the most visited tourist site in Sri Lanka as it holds a rich historical significance, named as one of the 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country.
      Found in Matale district in central Sri Lanka, the Sigiriya Lion Rock is a visibly enormous rock plateau that's 370 meters above sea level. It's said to have formed from a magma of an extinct volcano. The monks first created a monastery on top during the 3rd century. Two centuries later, former Sri Lankan ruler King Kasyapa turned it into an ancient kingdom that consisted of a palace, fortress, several gardens, and a complex hydraulic system.
      As it's obviously elevated, getting on top of the Sigiriya Lion Rock requires some climb. The first part is on cemented paths and stairs, followed by climbing the narrow and spiral-shaped metal staircase leading to the western wall of Sigiriya Lion Rock. The west side is an important area of the complex, called the frescoes, that display ancient paintings on the rock wall. All these paintings are creative representations of female art. As to who these woman were, they're said to be the wives and concubines of King Kasyapa.
      Photo from lanka.com
      Taking pictures isn’t allowed at the frescoes, regardless of whether it's phone or professional camera, with or without flash. The authorities take the no-photo policy seriously as the entrance is tainted with big signs. Rumors even said that past violators got their gadgets confiscated and were brought to the police.
      After the frescoes, the detour leads back to continue the rest of the climb. The next significant attraction is the feet and claws of the lion, which marks the entrance to the palace. Back then, it had a complete carved image of a lion, but only the feet and claws have survived the test of time. It's so significant it's where the name “Sigiriya” originated. The Sinhalese word “sighari” actually means “lion rock” in English.
      History aside, Sigiriya Lion Rock is also well-visited as it's a testament of an awesome ancient water engineering. The complex had several pools, canals, dams, and fountains that collected and kept water especially during the rainy reason. Back then, these were distributed throughout Sigiriya, proving early innovation in building and running a complex hydraulic system.


      The Sigiriya Lion Rock is surrounded by lush green, which is why a visit to the rock, despite the difficulty in climbing, offers relaxation and a breathe of fresh air. At the top, the province of Sigiriya can be seen in 360-degree view. The beauty at the top is beyond amazing, and makes the climb all worth it.
      Climbing the Sigiriya Lion Rock should take around 45 minutes, but depends on the volume of visitors. At times, it could get very crowded you cannot climb the stairs. The best time to climb is early in the morning at 7AM to avoid the crowd.

      A challenge I experienced was the strong wind situation. Note that the windy season in Sri Lanka runs from May to September.
      I have to mention the very friendly Sri Lankans who made the climb fun and well-accompanied! Thank you so much!

      What to bring

      Make sure to bring bottled water before you climb. Ambulant vendors aren't allowed in the climbing area, so nothing is sold along the way. Also, wear sunscreen and insect repellent. Sri Lanka has a very humid temperature, especially in June. Unlike other tourist sites in Sri Lanka (especially in temples), there's no dress code to enter Sigiriya Lion Rock so just wear modest comfortable clothes and shoes.
      Entrance fee: USD 30
      Paying in local currency (LKR) is allowed. The amount depends on the day’s conversion rate (I paid LKR 4470).

      Hours: The site is open from 7AM to 7PM, but the ticket counter is only open until 5PM daily.

      How to get there

      There are several ways to get to Sigiriya coming from Colombo where Bandaranaike International Airport is at. The cheaper (but longer) route is to get a train at Colombo Fort station in Colombo, and then alight at Habarana station. Note that are only 2 train schedules daily (6:05AM and at night) of this route, so make sure to be at the train station early.
      Once in Habarana, Sigiriya is around 30 minutes away with a distance of less than 20 km. There are buses with a Habarana-Sigiriya route, but not all the time. Tuk tuk is a more frequent transportation that can bring you to Sigiriya. The rate varies (haggle as much as you can!) but for reference, the rate is around LKR 50 per kilometer for cities outside Colombo.





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