Travelling to Europe
We recently returned from a trip to Europe, Italy specifically. Overall we had a fantastic time and throughly enjoyed a number of things but there was also a number of things we didn’t like. Read our blog about Italy – Top 10 best things here.
Cities We Visited
Our trip began the day after our arrival in Rome with a 7-day Mediterranean Cruise. We visited the following ports on the cruise (in order of the stops):
- Livorno, Italy
- Cannes, France
- Majorca, France
- Barcelona, Spain
- Naples, Italy
Once the cruise was over we spent the next 21 days travelling to a variety of cities in Italy and finished the trip in France. This cities (in order that we went to them):
- Rome, Italy
- Siena, Italy
- Lucca, Italy
- Florence, Italy
- Venice, Italy
- Paris, France
While it was a great trip and 90% of the experiences we had were positive there were some things we didn’t like or weren’t used to from our North American culture. These included the following:
- The washrooms left a lot to be desired! While most were clean they were very sub-standard to our expectations. In particular was the lack of a toilet seat. This wasn’t a big deal for Jeff but for Tara she felt like going to the washroom was a workout for her thighs. It is 2014, come on let’s put seats on the toilets.
2. Tour Groups
- Yes we took some guided tours but on days we were touring various cities on our own the tour groups can be annoying. We felt the tour guides could do a better job of moving groups off to the side a bit. Tour groups are easily identifiable by the ear piece and transmitter around their neck. Avoid them if you can!
- Yes this was also on our Top 10 Best Things of Italy blog but often (not in the hotels) the sign-in process was difficult. Many times it required a text message with a login which of course we could not receive with our phones in airplane mode. And yes, we realize this is a “first world problem” but it got a bit annoying to have lunch at a place that advertised free WIFI but you couldn’t access it.
- This was more of an annoyance then anything else but it was also somewhat humorous. The trains while a reliable source of transportation provided a challenge in finding what track the train you were taking would be departing from. They ask you to arrive 30+ minutes in advance, but often the track was not posted to the notice board until 5 – 10 minutes before your train left. The funny part was watching everyone stare at the big track posting board and as each track was listed watching them scramble (or run) to the track as the trains do not wait.
5. Horrible Service
- As good as the food and beverage meals were the service was equally horrible. Most restaurants we went to charged either a $2 – $3 per person charge or a 10% – 20% service charge on the bill. We had food slammed down on the table, never got asked if the meal was OK after ordering or if we wanted another drink once the order was placed. We thought the service might improve when we were on the last leg of our trip in Paris, France… sadly it was worse their then Italy.
6. Harry’s Bar Venice
- We had such an awesome experience in Harry’s Bar Florence that we sought out their Venice location. It’s not the same! We were throughly disappointed and while Florance is worth the cost of an $18 euro ($27 Canadian) martini, Venice is not.
7. Speed of Dining
- While we throughly enjoyed the food in Italy we do not enjoy the speed or style of dining. You arrive, receive a menu and are given 5 – 10 minutes to review it. Then you are expected to place you drink, starter, main and dessert order all at one time. Often the main would arrive before the starter was finished. They seemed are very concerned about table turnover although most places were not overly busy.
8. Scooters & Cars
- Italy (or at least the bigger cities we were in) had very little traffic. Although when they did it was either Scooters, Mopeheads or Motorcycles and they were present everywhere. You do need to be careful because they appear to have the right of way everywhere, even on sidewalks.
- When you are away for 28 days laundry service can be an issue and it was. We did plan a few hotels that had laundry service, but it was expensive. On average we paid about $16 euros ($24 Canadian) for each load we did.
- Get used to walking them. Almost none of the tourist activities have an elevator (or lift) and many of the hotels / inns we stayed at required you to hike up steps. We figured we were around 15,000 stairs climbed during our trip including the tourist attractions.
You can view our photo albums from the trip here.
We, Jeff & Tara Ciecko of CK Golf Solutions write two blogs, one is our 19th Hole Blog where we share personal experiences and the other a Biz Blog where we comment on business best practices and give golf industry related opinions. We have owned CK Golf Solutions for 7 years and provide marketing, social media and business services to the golf and other industries. We DO NOT get paid for ANY of the blogs on our website. These are the places we visit and the things we do because we want to. When we say that we like or dislike something or have a good or bad experience this is our opinion and the truth as we see it. If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact us anytime.