aside THREE LADIES 2015 ADVENTURES IN ITALY AND RESULTING TIPS, PART II
To say that two of us had a tremendous time in Italy is an understatement. It isn’t possible to have enjoyed ourselves more. Still, every time I travel, I think about what I could have done better. Many years ago, when I used to set up tours, the travel industry would arrange for me to take study trips to various destinations to assist me in garnering more knowledge. Whatever I have learned from my May 2015 trip to Italy, I am sharing .
In my prior blog, I mentioned that next time I travel overseas, I would insist on of having my own cell phone. In anticipation for the future, I did contact my carrier, Verizon. If your current cell phone qualifies for international usage, then you can purchase one of two plans. One plan costs $40.00 for 100 minutes of use; 100 megabytes and 100 text messages. The alternative is $85.00 for 250 minutes, 250 megabytes and 250 sent text messages. If your current phone does not allow for usage in foreign destinations, Verizon will loan you a phone for just the cost of shipping which is a minimum cost of $19.99 and then the consumer can purchase one of the two packages described above. The caveat is that the customer has to return the phone within 30 days from the original order date, otherwise there will be a$ 375.00 assessed fee with no exceptions.
Another issue that we learned how to address, was garnered from our experience in dealing with Delta Airlines. In July 2014, when we originally purchased our airline tickets with separate credit cards, I did follow up with a call to Delta Airlines to provide the confirmation numbers and to explain that we preferred seats adjacent to each other. We had purchased coach comfort seats with extra leg room which cost each of us about $218 more. The agent did assign us seats close to each other but she did not connect our confirmation numbers to indicate that three travelers were flying together. Just before our travel dates in May 2015, our flight schedules were changed to different times for the return flight on June 4, 2015. After we adjusted our tickets so that we were returning on the same flights, two of us lost our comfort seats. We were each refunded about $109.00. In order to avoid this problem, make sure that the confirmation numbers are connected during the original booking.
On May 3, 2015, I did email the Delta Airlines CEO, Richard Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org regarding this issue but I never received a response.
Another learning event occurred when our friend reminded us on our train trip to Rome that we were required to pay 430 euros in cash upon our arrival at our Rome apartment. She did email us regarding this demand about a month prior to our flight departure to Milan. Unfortunately, I did not read the fine print because in part, the 7/2014 worldwide-accom advertisement regarding this same apartment, indicated that we could pay with a credit card. So, at the last minute, we were stuck attempting to obtain cash at the Rome train station. Our retired hospital executive friend proceeded to do business at a train station currency exchange booth by using her credit card to obtain cash for about 700 euros. Our retired New York teacher friend did likewise. When it came my turn and upon discovering that this transaction would cost me over 20% between fees and interest, I, the retired insurance sales agent, resorted to a full blown Italian hissy fit which resulted in my obtaining a huge discount. Just so future travelers will not be tempted to act accordingly, please be assured that there are functioning ATM machines which charge much less, located within every train station and airport. My one friend emailed me regarding what she was charged for her 700 euros which is as follows:
“I purchased 700 euros for 832.55 euros with an additional commission and fee. I looked a little more closely at the receipt. This translates into $914.80 plus $27.44 for fees in dollars. SICKENING. However, I can only blame myself for following her. I am sure she can’t be happy about this either. As it turned out, we did not immediately need to pay for the apartment. So, who knew??”
The next educational event for us has to do with the Battista Apartment in Rome contracted by our executive friend through Worldwide-accom.com (They used to be known as Italy-Accom.com); Tel: or 661-748-0240; owners are Leon and Ava Kammer. Our friend selected and quickly placed a deposit on this apartment as she perceived it to be a great value. I had been dealing with another apartment finder, Federica Tibaldeschi of Escalea Apartments; email@example.com; tel. +41 (0) 22 346 4479. Federica did locate an excellent apartment for us at Villa Borghese (3) for 9 night stay for 1345 euros. However, we decided to support our friend’s decisive action without question.
The apartment’s flaws would not have appeared so flagrant except that all of our previous lodgings had been so wonderful. Our expectations were a bit high!
The location could not have been better suited for tourists. It was within walking distance to a major plaza, Piazza del Popolo; the stunningly gorgeous gardens of Villa Borghese; the metro and other public transportation; outstanding cafes, restaurants, shops. We were able to walk to the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountains (still under renovations) and the Piazza di Spagna. Also, the apartment was huge with two large sized bedrooms and two bathrooms; a spacious living room and dining room area; long hallway and well appointed kitchen. This could be an excellent choice for large family gatherings.
However the apartment was in need of major repairs such as fixing a hole in the hallway wall; an upside down prong and bulb light fixture in the living room; an unrepaired large leak in a bathroom ceiling; a very loose (unsafe) shower enclosure; a broken clothes line in the bathroom area; and a lack of a proper cleaning prior to our arrival exemplified by the putrid smell emanating from the refrigerator, for starters. Within a half hour of our arrival, I contacted the apartment owner, Giancarlo and Leon Kammer, owner of Worldwide-accom.com about our list of complaints along with a request to be moved.
Readers, please be informed that a total of three reviews for an advertised property does not provide enough data to form an adequate assessment for anything and that informing management in a timely manner about problems with any short term lodging is standard. In this case, this step was part of our contract.
Leon Kammer, owner of Worldwide-accom.com (661-748-0240) advised us that his entire inventory was already booked due to the Italian national holiday on June 2 which is equivalent to our Independence day. He did make sure that the apartment owner was informed of all complaints and Mr. Giancarlo promptly started on repairs which he did during the day while we were touring. The apartment rate had been discounted at a rate of 205 euros from the advertised price of 1845 euros for a 9 night stay which we paid by cash in full on the last day of our stay in Rome. Leon and Ava Kammer did arrange for free car travel for us from the apartment to the airport on June 4. Also, he provided a voucher for the future. For future renters, please specifically ask prior to a confirmation, if you can pay by credit card instead of being required to make a cash payment upon arrival.
When we travel to Rome in the future, we will stay at the River Palace Hotel, Via Flaminia, 33, 00196 Roma, telephone, 39-06-83 00 11; fax 39 06 83 00 1234; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.riverpalacehotel.it. We did check out this nearby hotel as an alternative to the Battista Rome Apartment. The Deputy Manager, Massiliano Viola who was very solicitous and charming, assured us that his beautiful, well appointed and well managed boutique, luxury hotel had affordable rooms, large enough to accommodate three ladies. Trip Advisor ranks the River Palace Hotel as #61 out of 1270 hotels in Rome. Unfortunately, our one friend who was not willing to forgo her share of the deposit, declined to join us.
What is important for the reader to know is that Murphy’s Law is to be anticipated in your travels. The ability to be flexible and to roll with the punches is a crucial trait to have in your adventures because there is bound to be something that goes wrong. Do not let hiccups in your plans keep you from having a grand, memorable, fun time!!