Title: 100,000+ Visitors ... That's Our Goal!
Sunday, September 6, 2015
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Title: 100,000+ Visitors ... That's Our Goal!
Key Words: views, view, visitors, Blogger, blog, subscribe, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, hotel, destination, review, reviews, Yelp, TripAdvisor
Friday, March 13, 2015
Monday, July 2, 2012
Arriving in Rome after an uneventful plane ride across the Atlantic, I found the Easy Jet counter for my leg to Palermo, Sicily. Easy Jet is anything but, with extra charges for everything, my €49 fare quickly became nearly double at €90.
Not So Easy Jet's Rome (Fiumicino) check-in counter was chaotic and I stood in line unnecessarily for 10 minutes before realizing that there was a bag check counter for those smart enough to print their boarding passes online. Even then, the short line took forever as the large family in front of me took items out of their bags to meet the 20 kg weight limit (44 lbs). Finally checking my bag 30 minutes later, I made my way to.the terminal and in to Palermo.
Trapani and Erice
Upon arrival at Palermo's new Falcone-Borsellino Airport for my bus ride to Trapani, not quite my final destination, my wife's picturesque, medieval hometown of Erice, I took the Segesta bus straight from the airport to downtown Trapani where my wife and her cousin were waiting for me. There are trains to Trapani, but the Italian train system is sometimes unreliable and I would have had to travel 20 kilometers back to downtown Palermo to catch the Trapani train, so the bus was faster and cheaper (€9.60).
Trapani is a medium size city that sits on the Mediterranean Sea in the northwest corner of the island of Sicily and Erice sits atop a nearby mountain, easily visible for 20 miles in any direction. Trapani is fairly clean and beautiful, but Erice is the gem of this area and a medieval delight.
You can take the cable car from Valderice at the bottom of the mountain (€2.80 per person round trip) or if you have a car, you can drive to the top where parking is liberal and inexpensive. Erice is a walled city and quite small, easily walked in 2-6 hours depending on your pace, how many of the quaint shops you want to stop in, or if you want a leisurely lunch or dinner in one of a small selection of restaurants. If you arrive at the right time, June through August, you can try the unique and delicious jasmine gelato (ice cream). You have not had ice cream until you habeas eaten gelato, and jasmine is a variety and delicacy found nowhere else in the world. Spend time enjoying the stroll over the cobblestone streets, but be sure to wear shoes with soles that will not slip on the shiny rocks, which can be quite treacherous, particularly when wet.
There are many wonderful things to see in and around Trapani, including Basilica della Madonna di. Trapani, the town of Marsala, the Egadi Islands of Favignana, Marettimo, Levanzo, the Greek ruins at Segesta, the island of Mothia, San Vito Lo Capo, and Agrigento's expansive Greek ruins, about an hour and one half south of Trapani.
The people and food of Trapani must be enjoyed, with the people passionate and friendly, and the food robust and unique. The local cuisine has a definite Arab influence, having occupied Sicily for several centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire. CousCous can be found as a staple in many dishes in exchange for pasta, and is a delicious and unique change of pace from many 'primi piati' (first dishes) found elsewhere in Italy.
Summers are quite hot in Sicily, so make sure you dress appropriately, luring sunglasses and sunscreen, and book a hotel with air conditioning unless you enjoy sticky nights.
The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Saint Mary of the Flowers) is the center of Florence. Begun in 1296, it was completed in 1436 with an exterior covered elaborately with polychrome marble in shades of green and pink bordered by white.
The second largest and most beautiful cathedral in Europe, "Il Duomo" and its equally impressive baptistri (baptistry), dominate this large piazza surrounded by medieval pallazzi (palaces). Crowded during peak seasons, watch out for gypsies and pickpockets, and DO NOT sit on the church steps (it is now illegal), but enjoy this "awe inspiring" scene with a drink. , a gelato (ice cream), or meal at one of the many bars and restaurants in Piazza del Duomo.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Guest House Vlado in Split, Croatia is a RIP-OFF ... Boycott Hotels.com!
AUGUST 2010 - Split, Croatia
AUGUST 2010 - Split, Croatia
Guest House Vlado in Split, Croatia is a RIP-OFF! Do not book a room with this “so-called” guest house. Do not fall for the lies they tell in their description on Hotels.com and don’t expect any help from Hotels.com if you have any problems with a reservation.
I made a reservation from Dubrovnik the day before we left for Split. Here’s the description Guest House Vlado gives on Hotels.com:
“Enjoying a beautiful Mediterranean climate, crystal clear seas and warm sands, this fascinating area of Croatia is also home to the Guest House Vlado, Split , where guests can take advantage of affordable 3 star accommodation .”
This is no 3-star accommodation and it is not a guest house. The room we were eventually shown was on the 3rd floor (no elevator) of an old building with a 2-star “Sobe” sign on the front (a Sobe is a private residence in Slavic countries and anything below 3-stars has minimum essentials).
“A warm welcome awaits you at this attractive property, and you are assured all the benefits you would expect to find in an upscale hotel. Located close to the Diocletian Palace and the beautiful Bacvice beach, visitors have no excuse not to relax and soak up the sun and the culture. Do not hesitate to ask the experienced staff for local tips and advice. Please Note: This guest house only accepts payment made by cash. “
The Hotels.com map locating Guest House Vlado near the bus/train station and Split’s Old City is a total lie. I booked the room the day prior (and agreed to pay 80 Euros - $103) because we were only staying in Split for one night and needed to catch a train the following evening, so I was willing to pay extra so we didn’t have to drag our bags all over town. We followed the map as shown on Hotels.com (with all of our baggage in tow), but Guest House Vlado was nowhere to be found. When I asked several people where 86a Matice Hrvatske (the address listed on hotels.com) was, we were sent on a wild goose chase around Split for the next 1½ hours, finally locating the address about a mile from the station where we had arrived. In fact, Diocletian's Palace was 1.06 miles from Guest House Vlado, not 400 yards as advertised on Hotels.com. The “warm welcome” was an old hag (woman I believe) with a beard sitting in front of a worn out apartment building in a very seedy area. She was extremely rude and condescending, even when I pointed out all of the inaccuracies of her description and the amenities listed on Hotels.com:
Amenities (all rooms include)
· Air conditioning
· Cable television service
· Ceiling fan
· Non-smoking only
· Air-conditioned public areas
· Grocery/convenience store
· Number of rooms: 15
· Restaurant(s) in hotel
· On-site car rental
· Room service (24 hours)
This is not a hotel, but several (five according to the old hag) sub-standard properties located in some terrible areas. There was AC in the room we were shown and a very small balcony. There was a TV on the floor, but we did not stick around long enough to find out if there was cable. There was no AC in public areas because there were no public areas. This is a room on the top floor of a building. There was no ceiling fan, bar/lounge, garden, grocery/convenience store, car rental agency, room service, or restaurant in the “hotel” because THIS IS NOT A HOTEL.
When we finally got to the room (2½ hours after we had arrived by bus from Dubrovnik), the hag said “Everybody always says thank you so much for this beautiful room, is it not a beautiful room?” I said, “Actually, no it’s not” and proceeded to tell her about all of the beautiful rooms we had stayed in on our journeys, rarely paying more than 50 Euros for rooms directly on the sea. She became very rude and threatening at this point, so I told her that we were not going to pay 80 Euros for a room which was falsely advertised and misrepresented on Hotels.com in order to trick me into making the reservation. She showed me a list of about ten names (with prices ranging from 70 to 130 Euros) which she was expecting from Hotels.com bookings, saying “see how much they are paying, you have a very good price”. I told her that I refused to be swindled or bullied into staying in (and paying for) a room which was misrepresented in the advertisement, so we told her so and left. She and her friends followed us for a while as we searched for a place to go (it was now around 7:30 PM), but we finally lost them when we got on a bus for the train station. We were very concerned because of her aggressive nature and did not know what their intentions were.
I immediately bought an international calling card (which cost me another $10) and called Hotels.com’s 24-hour “emergency” number, knowing that they would be very supportive and help us out of our predicament. Wrong! After getting cut off the first time, I finally spoke with Melvin (Employee # 5262899) at the Hotels.com toll-free emergency number where they advertise their “RISK FREE BOOKING”. After explaining our situation to Melvin, he said he was sorry, BUT “there is nothing we can do because we are merely a booking site, a middle man, between the property and you. If you have a problem with the property, you need to work it out with them”. I asked him how Guest House Vlado could be allowed to lie and cheat people out of large sums of money and Hotels.com doing nothing about it. He said he was sorry again, there was nothing he could do, the property could still charge us even though we did not stay there, and was going to hand me off to somebody else to try to find us a room. I had had enough by this point, hung up the phone, and called my bank in the U.S. to warn them about a possibly fraudulent charge on my credit card. We went directly to the train station and booked the first train out of Split, headed for a much more civilized country, Slovenia.
I have booked many rooms over the years with Hotels.com and never had a problem until now. They are apparently unconcerned about their customers and allow fraudulent business practices on their site (Guest House Vlado is still advertizing rooms and tourists are getting ripped-off two days after our complaint to Hotels.com). I tried to post a review, warning other travelers about Guest House Vlado, but Hotels.com does not allow it, even though I have an account and have been a customer for many years. They make you wait for an e-mail with a link “a couple days after your stay” to submit a review. I finally received the email 5 days later (Aug 19th), but when I clicked on the link, the message I received was “Sorry, you are not eligible to submit reviews”. More and more Hotels.com customers are being ripped-off by Guest Housel Vlado as I write this, even after warning their employee (Melvin) on 8/14/2010. We will never book a room with Hotels.com again and I urge you to consider doing the same!!!
Boycott Hotels.com until they show some concern for their customers and stand behind the “risk-free” booking they so proudly claim!
"We never charge a cancellation or change fee because it's just not fair. At hotels.com, we understand sometimes your plans fall through. Or, perhaps you just decide you'd prefer to spend your vacation lounging on the beach rather than visiting your in-laws. Hey, it happens. That's why we never charge you hotels.com change or cancel fees. Other travel sites may charge you a fee to change your plans, but with hotels.com just go online or call 800-2-HOTELS (800-246-8357) to change or cancel your plans. Please note, you may still be subject to change and cancellation fees that the property itself may impose and require us to pass on. So go ahead, be free to change your mind."It's all a lie!