56 Replies Latest reply: Mar 20, 2012 9:19 AM by anadyr RSS

Warnings too

profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
Currently Being Moderated

I may come across as Pollyanna in today's posts, but I want to assure you all that while I am an optimist who seizes the day, I fully understand as well the risks of travel.  It took me a long time to get over a) my fear of flying (now I love it except for the TSA part); b) meeting strangers (now I like them more than people I meet on an every day basis); and 3) you always have to exercise good judgment and be careful, wherever you are.

 

To take an arbitrary example, if a couple from the central Midwest (other than NUHUSKER) went to LA or NYC, precautions would be in order.  In Maine, we expect people not to commit crimes and to act nicely toward others.  I expect most feel the same.  Yet big cities are different.  But even there you'll find helpful strangers -- just make sure they're not TOO helpful.  Confidence is key.  When I ended up in Grand Central Station in the 1970s en route to Philadelphia, I was taken for a ride, so to speak, by a guy who offered to help me with luggage.  He didn't steal it, but he also expected money at the end.  And I had almost nothing.  (He was not a happy camper when I gave him my nearly last dollars.) So part of my point is that even when traveling abroad, think like you would if traveling at home. On the other hand, the last time I had to go into NYC (sorry for the wording -- I will have to go into NYC again in two weeks) I took the subway from LaGuardia.  I didn't know what I was doing, since I mostly just fly through airports and had only been to NYC a couple of times, then on a high school class trip and later on a visit to The Cloisters.  But an obvious prostitute came to my assistance (without any hope of reward), telling me that to get to Midtown I needed to take a certain train (without most stops) and avoid others (with many stops), then change to a bus.  Then she went away without asking for anything.  On the bus, I still wasn't sure where to get off, but I was the only one with a suitcase, and 3 different people offered helpful (and true) advice about where to descend.

 

I mentioned in one of Jerry's posts a while back that my first trip to Rome was awful because I stayed near the train station in the heat of summer and also got ice-cream balled by a con man with a dog who had an ice cream gun (I do have a lot of good stories).  I was (AS ALWAYS) hugging my laptop bag and my purse tightly to my body while keeping my roll-on luggage very close.  The man said in English (dead giveaway, usually), oh, "a bird has crapped on you" or something to that effect.  Always, if you don't take a taxi (or sometimes when you do), map out your route in advance.  Whether you're walking, taking a train, bus or taxi, you need to know the distance (just like in NYC or LA) from your origin to your destination so you won't be taken for a ride that could be quite costly (or ruin your clothing).

 

In my Roman case (my first time in the city that made me hate it till I returned and loved it starting 8 years ago and many times since), since I did not then speak any Italian, I yelled at the guy in French that I knew where I was going and that he and his dog (whom he had trained to do triple 8 maneuvers) should find some other *******.  I don't know that he got the reference, but he backed off. When I got to the hotel wearing my black dress, I told the check-in guy what happened and he attributed it to gypsies.  But I turned around and he confirmed that I had been ice cream painted into polka dots on the back of my black dress with white ice cream.  That's why it took me so long to go back to Rome.

 

But I was young in those olden days, and very naïve.  Even in the cases I've told you about in my pilgrimages, I always had the good judgment to know when or if I was in a difficult environment.  If I figured I could handle it, I stood my ground -- and had some cool and extremely worthwhile experiences.  With one exception that I wrote about on MRI a few years back, my only truly bad experience happened on a Saturday train from Paris to the ritzy suburb of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.  I will not repeat the details, but even then I feel I won the upper hand by my immediate but bizarre response.

 

In other cases, like in Turkey, where you will be sucked in (if you allow it) to buying a Turkish carpet while visiting one or more facilities, you will be harassed in a sense.  The point is you can and must say NO (unless you want what they're offering). And the earlier you say no, the better. You'll oddly earn respect from the locals if you do.

 

And keep that purse, computer or whatever tucked to your body whether you're in the USA or anywhere in the world.

ProfC

(For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

Location Brand Hotel
London, England
  • Re: Warnings too
    jasper100 Alumni Steward Platinum 10 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    Very Good Suggestions Prof...In all my travels, I have run into some interesting bizarre situations.

     

    1. My wife was robbed in Milan while pregnant and while we were in a train going to our hotel. Lost some very personable things including some money. Lucky our passports were at the hotel. It was a scam where several men were involved diverting our attention, taking my wife's purse then getting off at the next train stop..While we yelled for help, no one came to our assistance..This really turned us off to Milan.

    2. While in Israel, and returning a rental car to the King David Hotel from the Intercontinental hotel (considered in the West Bank), some one through a rock through the passengers side of the window at dusk, shattering glass all over the place including in my face area.  I was following my friend, an embassy employee who was going to return me to the Intercontinental Hotel signalled to me to keep driving and not stop. We were very fortunate that I was alone in the car. My son wanted to ride with me but I told him that he should stay at the hotel and get ready for bed as we were leaving early the next morning. Lucky he was not in the car with me.

    3. While visiting Bethlehem, rocks were thrown in the direction of my wife, son, daughter and me, lucky that they all missed us at the time.

    4. While on assignment in Egypt, our house in Maadi was robbed. The robbers thought we had left the night before and they were suprised when they saw that we were still in the house. (Around 2am in the morning I smelt smoke in the house, started heading downstairs and saw several of them with knives in their hand..ran back to our bedroom and locked the door and called for help out of our bedroom window. Locals came and helped resulting in the capture of these intended robber and return of most of the stolen items.

     

    These are just a few of my interesting events in my many years of living oversea. These same type of events can occur anywhere including in the USA. But as you say, it is important to beware of your surroundings and always keep a good lookout over your shoulder and do not go into areas that you know are dangerous.

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: Warnings too
      profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      Hi Jasper,

      This will likely be my last or next to last email of the weekend (unless I exhibit an extraordinary work ethic tomorrow!) since I have lots of classes to prepare for next week and 40 papers to grade before I leave for Toulouse on Thursday.  But the key thing is stuff happens everywhere.  If I had always lived in Maine, I doubt I would've done very well on my first few or more recent trips abroad and that is because we make assumptions that everyone will be like us (and I don't mean as Americans, since as I pointed out big city America is often far more dangerous than big cities elsewhere).   I just mean that we get use to the place where we live and tend to assume the same for elsewhere. Never a good idea.

       

      Oddly, while my greatest joys have come in France, my worst problems (aside from St Germain-en-Laye) have also happened in France or in Rome.  I have felt utterly safe in the Middle East, though I've only been in Egypt and the Palestinian territories (plus Turkey, but it is a secular country by constitution).  In Egypt, except at the pyramids and Valley of the Kings, I wore a head scarf and modest clothing when I went out, but it was by choice and to show I respected local customs.  I also found in Turkey in particular (the weather was bad, so I didn't even need to worry about ethical issues) that when I wore a scarf around my head those same rug sellers bothered me a whole lot less! So it's a matter of choice in Turkey, but it's a good ruse if you don't want to be bothered. As I learned in Egypt, if a Muslim man bothers a woman he might believe to Muslim, he could end up in jail (at least under Mubarak in Egypt).

       

      In the West Bank, I did not wear a head scarf and had an amazing time in Bethlehem.  I cannot wait to go back! I had the most amazing guide and it was a completely peaceful, wonderful experience.  Getting back into Israel with the tour group was a little more challenging since the Israeli guards had guns and asked for our passports, but happily we got them back immediately.  On my next trip to Israel, I need to see the Dead Sea (but apparently the tours don't take you to where the Scrolls were found but just give you shower changing rooms and a chance to float on the sea) -- not my idea of a historical site.  But more importantly I want to see Jericho, which is also in the West Bank.  And I will.

       

      And I want to see places in Libya and Syria as well, but those will have to wait.  Morocco could happen sooner.  A former (female) student spent the past year there in prep for grad studies and had an amazing time.

      ProfC

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: Warnings too
      pluto77 Alumni Steward Gold 25 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      Wow Jasper!

       

      We had a similar experience to your #1 in Naples.  Been rather sour on Naples ever since.

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: Warnings too
        profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        Hi Jasper and Lori,

        I actually got done my preps for next week so am looking at MRI.  I've always tended to avoid Naples, despite wanting to see more of it.  On a day when everything in Italy was on strike I took a bus excursion to Pompeii that stopped ever so briefly at Naples and then Sorrento (the attempt to make us buy the obligatory stuff), and finally to amazing Pompeii.

         

        Since I am a seasoned and regular traveler, I feel pretty comfortable everywhere I go, but I adopt the "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" philosophy.  I try to fit in, not look like American or French or Swiss or whatever, meaning no tennis shoes for women above 25, modest dress except at exclusive hotels or restaurants, no backpacks except on group excursions, etc.

         

        Except for the ice-creaming in Rome on my first trip and being surrounded by two would-be robbers in the park directly across from Notre-Dame on the Left Bank (both more than 20 years ago), I've never had a problem.

         

        To me the key, besides 'being like a Roman,' is to not stand out.  First of all, people should not yell in English.  At the risk of offending some, I have seen this all too often.  People in Europe almost always speak English since they are required to learn it and pass exams in high school, then when they often get a bureaucratic job (like the trains), they are also expected to do so.  But just like someone selling subway or train tickets in NYC would probably respond negatively to someone from [I am picking a country I never have visited] to a Dane who yelled in Danish 'give me a ticket to such and such a place' -- you'll find the same thing everywhere.

         

        So my advice is always learn a few words of the language -- at least hello, please, thank you.  Then they'll speak in English, almost without exception, because people in most other countries speak many languages and English is usually the first they learn after their own.  NEVER SHOUT.  I was once in this position waiting to get a ticket in Paris to CDG.  An older Frenchman was in front of me, and about three people ahead of him was an 'ugly American' - and yes we/they still exist.  The guy was screaming at the woman in English to give him a ticket to the airport.  She responded -- as I would if a foreigner approached me here in the same way in the same job -- "je ne parle pas anglais."  The man went away without his ticket, cursing, and then the agent spoke in perfect English to a nice American who quietly asked with a bon soir ahead of it if he could buy a ticket to the airport.  The funny part was during the previous incident with the ugly American.  The older Frenchman in front of me turned to me and said, "les étrangères [foreigners]."  He had no clue I was American, but I just nodded because that man had embarrassed me as well.

         

        Just like I would hope visitors to our country would behave appropriately and try to speak at least a few words in English -- they are usually a whole lot better at it than we are in the opposite situation -- I try to make the basic effort wherever I am. If that means wearing a headscarf in Cairo, no problem.  And as I said earlier, I have chosen to do so in countries where it is not even expected, like Turkey, so as to ward off unwanted advances from rug salesmen, etc.

         

        But the key is, if you have not traveled a lot, be careful.  Here and around the world there are people who will con you.  The more you blend in, the less likely it is that that will happen.

        Profc

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

        • Re: Warnings too
          pluto77 Alumni Steward Gold 25 Reviews
          Currently Being Moderated

          Hi ProfC,

          I agree with you, speaking a few words of the native language go a long way to ingratiate oneself with the locals.  I have always found Parisien's to be courteous and polite (unlike some acquaintances who have had what they refer to as rude treatment by the French) and I completely attribute it to speaking the language, albeit haltingly, and to behaving in a manner that reflects my status as a visiting guest, and I have never shouted or demanded anything from anyone while traveling abroad.  My unfortunate experience a kin to Jasper's #1 was due to inexperience combined with standing out like a sore thumb (first trip to Europe, and they must've seen us coming from a mile away).  We were preyed upon by con artists posing as unofficial porters trying to earn a buck.  To be honest, if I am ever approached in that manner again, I probably will - well, perhaps not yell, but I can growl, "back off, Buster!"  And I will make sure that before my next excursion into Italy, I learn the words for "go away" or for the younger ones, "run along."

           

          Boy, Jasper has had some bad luck.  Not a very good travel commercial for either Israel or Egypt.  Although I recently sat with an Israeli engineer while flying to Germany, and she was quite firm that all the touristy places in Israel are terrorist free, and that the violence is centered in other neighborhoods.  Hmm.

          (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

          • Re: Warnings too
            profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
            Currently Being Moderated

            Hi Pluto77,

            As I have gotten older and especially in France and Italy where I have spent the most time, I simply won't take any guff.  I cannot possibly repeat all the details , but in one case that happened early 90s (which I mentioned a while back and reported in this forum I was censored for the French version of the word) a guy exposed himself all the while I was reading a French newspaper en route to the ritzy suburb of Saint-Germain-en-Laye around noon on a Saturday.  I am ever so proud of my reaction.  I will try to get as much printed as I can, but basically I behaved like I think a European woman would (except for what I said), waving my arms menacingly, threatening him with my newspaper, and among other things calling him the French equivalent of a cow.  Other than the other word I said that first came to mind, I was particularly proud of choosing that word -- why, I don't know, but he fled at the next stop.  And I sat down and kept reading the sports section.

             

            The other time happened in Rome, also the early 90s when two men  -- two! -- accosted me outside of a church, no less, and suggested what I will call an assignation.  One was Italian, one was Russian.  I started screaming at them in French (my Italian has only improved in this century).  They were less impressed but moved on to easier targets.

             

            I think it's because of having lived there -- I can easily spot an Americans without them opening their mouth.  Mosts Americans are more open, and almost always slightly too agreeable (especially among the French you have to find the delicate balance between being unrelentingly cheerful [cheerful is always the better alternative, just tone it down a bit] and an ugly American).  They respect a certain amount of contempt as long as it is done in the right way.

             

            Sorry for the national characterizations, but we'll see if this even gets through.

            ProfC

             

            (PS -- while they aren't as wonderfully memorable as my pilgrim stories, they do bring a smile to my face as I remember the reactions.  The key is deciding quickly --whether you're in NYC or Istanbul or Paris -- whether the person is bothersome, friendly, threatening, or can be 'cowed' easily (haha). It's actually not so hard, at least if you study people, which becomes an art form sitting at cafés in Europe.)

            (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

            • Re: Warnings too
              pluto77 Alumni Steward Gold 25 Reviews
              Currently Being Moderated

              It's a fine line between being friendly but with just the right amount of aloofness, isn't it?  I knew Germans held some contempt for our over-friendly/over-cheerful tendencies, but I did not know the French did.  I reminds me of a certain boss I had.  He was very intimidating and people tended to be afraid of him, but over time I found that what he really respected was someone who would stand up to him and sort of get in his face if you will, and argue their position/opinion.  Once I had that figured out, we got along swimmingly.  As far as threatening or downright criminal behavior, I won't hesitate in the future to do what's necessary to protect myself regardless of any sense of ambassadorship I may feel as a representative of my nation while abroad.  In May/June, the first half of our travel party will be all women.  BTW, it's me, Lori.  I latently realized that it was not very smart to use my full name as my user id, so I changed it.

               

              Have fun in Toulouse.  Wish it was me!

              (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

              • Re: Warnings too
                profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
                Currently Being Moderated

                I kinda figured that !  But you're so right, and it is universal, with slightly different edges depending on where you are.  The more comfortable you are in a place, the easier you read the signs, so to speak.  But the French most assuredly respect a certain haughtiness, indifference, call it what will you.  Your situation with the boss sounds exactly like that.

                 

                Italians (especially south of Tuscany) are more appreciative of American cheerfulness, but they are also harder to get rid of if they like you.

                 

                A group of all women -- now that will be intimidating!  Where are you going?

                 

                I had to again cancel my trip to Toulouse, this time because my father is sick.  But I have to give a call out (in the most wonderful sense) to the Pullman Toulouse Centre, an Accor hotel.  I'd written them on the weekend (via the Tripadvisor address) about possibly getting tours to Conques and Moissac as well as things to do in Toulouse.  Alas, crossing messages, I got the most wonderful information "saying they'd welcome me with joy" from the communications person at the hotel detailing everything I could have possibly wanted.  When I wrote her back this morning that I'd cancelled, she not only said she looked forward to welcoming me in the future, but that she hoped my "papa" would be well soon.

                 

                This is what I want to see from a front desk and management.  Although I'm flying into Marseille in May I may very well just take the train to Toulouse and stay there instead.  I am very impressed.

                ProfC

                (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

                • Re: Warnings too
                  pluto77 Alumni Steward Gold 25 Reviews
                  Currently Being Moderated

                  ProfC,

                  We are going to Paris, Venice, Florence and Rome.  For Paris, myself, my youngest daughter and my grandlittles (they call me grand-mère), along with my mom, then myself, mom, and oldest daughter in Italy (my sister and her husband will join us for Florence and Rome.)  (Generally we laugh our way through these trips; and gosh, I can't wait!)

                  (And you should join us sometime!)

                   

                  That's a nice story about your hotel.  I just had a similar experience with the folks at vacationinparis.com.  I had to give up our reservation for an apartment in Paris stay because the apartment was on the third floor with a narrow stairwell and steep stairs (no lift), and there was nowhere to store the stroller on the ground level AND my son-in-law had to back out due to his job (military), and not only did they cheerfully give me a full refund on the deposit, but the apartment owner apologized (can you imagine?) and expressed her condolensces about the son-in-law.  What a kind blessing.  It would be appropriate to say something about Marriott along these lines.  Without going into embarrassing details, about a year ago I had pre-paid a stay that I could not fulfill, and Marriott extended to me the same courtesy by giving me a full refund as well. (I really do not make a habit of this.)

                   

                  Hope your "papa" gets well soon.

                  (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

                • Re: Warnings too
                  pluto77 Alumni Steward Gold 25 Reviews
                  Currently Being Moderated

                  ProfC,

                  Aren't you glad you're not in Toulouse right now?  Perhaps things have a way of working themselves out.  Feeling bad for the poor victims.

                  (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: Warnings too
    jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    Professor,

     

    Thanks for sharing some information that could save people a lot of money and trouble. 

     

    Had a bad situation going skiing in Garmisch, The Zugspitzer. While getting out of my car to go skiing, a couple came up in a car and said they couldn't ski due to an illness, and would I buy their lift ticket.  I did and it was a reproduction.  Bad news, I had to buy another one.  Cost 30 Euros.

     

    I have had friends that have been "Targeted" at airport and train station, currency exchange places.  One has to be careful at these places, as there are people watching them to rob you, especially if you are alone.

     

    Have safe travels.

     

    JC

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: Warnings too
      profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      Hi Jerry,

      Never, ever do that. It's a kind of standard scam.  That's why I say to people who have never traveled abroad (or even to NYC or LA) before, do your homework.  Do not be naïve.  There are bad or at least unethical people out there whether in the US or elsewhere.  I feel pretty much totally comfortable everywhere I go because I have seen it all (literally, on the train to Saint-Germain ) and have come to know it all.  I think the best thing we can do as a community and to our family and friends -- if they travel -- is to alert them that "Dorothy, you're not in Kansas anymore."  Yes, I grew up with the B&W version of the Wizard of Oz and maybe that was a portend of my future.

       

      The best advice is to behave as a traveler as if you were in the most dangerous city (depending on one's perspective) in the US.  Then add an extra layer of caution, but also be nice but not overly nice.  Learn those few words of the foreign language that will open doors for you and create many fewer hassles.

       

      Never take up strangers on offers or free tours, free baggage carrying, etc.  In Turkey, for example, Americans (unless you want a rug -- and they are nice, but you WILL be pressured) wear a headscarf and act like you don't speak English, French, Spanish, Italian or whatever, but most of all wave them away.  I love Istanbul, but I loathe the rug and other merchants.  If you let them hijack you to a rug store (trust me that is the worst that will happen, and it will be elegant and you will get tea, but YOU HAVE TO KNOW THAT AFTER ENJOYING THE TEA you can just say no.  It's often been harder for me traveling alone, but I have learned that just like in France and Italy a certain attitude works.

       

      Airports are the worst. That's why I always check out the airport sites before my flights to know whether it is better to take a regular taxi (usually the case in Europe -- places like Rome have fixed fees as long as you get in the right taxi outside of the airport and don't give in to the many people who promise you better deals inside).  In a place like Cairo, I would always plan in advance and pay for a private service to downtown, because the traffic in Cairo is horrific.  Even before the revolution, it took me 2-1/2 hours to get FROM the airport (the reverse is not the same at all) to downtown around 5pm.  But I had paid $45 in advance, which was one great deal.

       

      The best thing we can do for all our friends, relatives, and fellow MRIs is to share these experiences.  As Jerry said, train stations are also a place where you can be targeted, especially in Europe.  Just hold onto yourself and your belongings, fit in with the country you're visiting and whisk off strangers offering purported services and head instead (if you don't have a reservation, which I highly recommend that you do) to the tourist bureau in the train station.

       

      Scams are rampant in Europe.  But ask yourself, would you buy that lift ticket in Colorado? Probably not.

       

      In other words, act almost exactly as you would at home except with extra precautions if you don't speak the language, and above all fit in with the local populace so that you're not singled out.  Wearing all black for men or women is often a good option, at least on arrival.  And shout another language than English if you're bothered -- the two guys left as soon as I started screaming at them in French.  It's not so much that we're American; it's just that Europeans know better in these situations.
      ProfC

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: Warnings too
        tryt53 Alumni Steward Platinum 5 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        Wonderful tips ProfC!  I have added a new level of security recently, in that if anything looks or feels wrong, or to good to be true (then is usually is too good to be true, and you should watch out), then I start bringing out my camera, or iPhone camera phone, and start taking pictures.  It's amazing how many people will go away rather quickly if they are trying to pull something.  Might not always work, but some are probably worried that you would have a picture to show the authorities.

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

        • Re: Warnings too
          profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
          Currently Being Moderated

          That's an excellent idea, Tryt53.

          (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

        • Re: Warnings too
          Alumni Steward Platinum 8 Reviews
          Currently Being Moderated

          Be careful that they do not snatch the phone--that is all too common these days

          (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

          • Re: Warnings too
            profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
            Currently Being Moderated

            It would probably also not be a good idea to photograph anything that looks like it there could be actual criminal intent lest you end up as collateral damage.

            (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

            • Re: Warnings too
              Alumni Steward Platinum 8 Reviews
              Currently Being Moderated

              Actually many countries assume that photographing military or government buildings is tantamount to spying and confiscate the camera if not the camera holder as well

              (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

              • Re: Warnings too
                pluto77 Alumni Steward Gold 25 Reviews
                Currently Being Moderated

                Steppingstones, you are right.  The first time I visited my daughter and her husband in Germany (my first visit to Germany), when we drove to the army base, there was a lovely, large sign outside one entrance to the base that said U.S. Army Garrison, Storck Barracks, Illesheim, Germany.  Of course, I had to ask my daughter to stop so I could get out (in the snow!) and take a picture for posterity.  Got back in the car and as we drove around to the main gate (where visitors must surrender their passports, and by the way, the security for American bases in Germany is contracted out to German companies per their SOFA agreement), I was asked to surrender my camera.  It seems I was observed taking the picture, and was therefore confronted about it.  Fortunately, every picture on my camera was either of a touristy nature or of my beloved granddaughter, and so the security guard returned my camera to me with a stern admonition to refrain from taking photographs of the base (my son-in-law flies one of the sexiest warbirds on the planet and I'm not going to take any pictures? hehe.)  Anyway, ya... (Side note:  I really want to visit France's National Air and Space Museum.)

                (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: Warnings too
    jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
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    Professor, Lori, and others,

     

    One thing I learned the "Hard way", is that everyone in your party and especially yourself, should have a card from the hotel in their possession, at all times.  It should have the Name of hotel, address, and phone number on the card.  Just pick them up at the front desk. 

     

    I was staying at The Renaissance Louvre, shortly after it opened and this "Ruined my Christmas".  What happened was I was taking two chef's on a "Culinary Christmas, and we had driven from Zurich to Paris to spend a couple of days dining.  Well, those two, (My son was one of them), decided to go out for a few "Drinks",  It was Christmas Eve the next day, and I was driving to St. Moritz for Christmas Day.  When I got up, and got ready to drive, they were NOT in their room.  You can only imagine the panic I had not knowing where they were! 

     

    Part of the problem was they did not know were the hotel was, and when they figured it out, the Taxi drivers did not know where the hotel was, since it had just opened in Paris.  They did eventually make it safely back, but were were now 4 hours late, and I hit a "25 mile back-up". It was a rough nine hour car ride across the Alps at night.

     

    Keeping people together on a trip may sound easy, but strange things happen.  Bottom line, put a necklace or wristband on people if you have to!  Having taken over 11 "First timers" to Europe with me, "Anything can happen"!

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      pluto77 Alumni Steward Gold 25 Reviews
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      That is really great advice, Jerry.  I'll be sure to put that into action.  Thanks.

       

      As a matter of fact, I recall my mom and I being in Piazza Navona on our first visit one night.  It was late in the evening, and it started pouring down rain, and there wasn't a cab to be had.  We ended up walking back to the Grand Flora in the rain, but the thing is, we hadn't a clue how to get there.  We literally pinballed our way back.  It would have been really good for us to have had been carrying one of the hotel cards with us, just in case.  As a side note, and I don't know what anyone may think of me after sharing some of the goofy experiences I've had, but that night, as we were lost and soaked (do you think we would have had an umbrella between the two of us, or at least had the luck to stumble across a store?), at one point during the torrential downpour, we wandered up an alley.  There were cardboard boxes and other such 'junk' lying about next to a building, and we grabbed a cardboard box and tore it apart, and walked about holding the cardboard over our heads.  How we must've appeared, but I tell you what, we still laugh about it hysterically to this day.

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        jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
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        Lori,

         

        Make sure you give me some good advice on Hotel Flora, as I am booked there in December!

         

        Now I'll share one more with you!  Took my best friend on his first trip to London, not long ago.  Get off the plane and are waiting for bags, he goes to the bathroom, and I don't know where he is and think he is outside of the "Secure area", so I walk out to find him.  Guess what?  He is not outside but still inside the secure area and I cannot get back in!  After an hour he finally comes out and we get on the Victoria Express to London. 

         

        As you and your Mother laugh about the "Cardboard experience", (Sounds like an episode from, I Love Lucy!), we laugh about this as well.  His comment is "Where did you think I was going?"  He had really no idea of even where we were after his first class transatlantic flight.  But we had a great time after that "Scare'!

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          pluto77 Alumni Steward Gold 25 Reviews
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          Jerry, It's good that the pair of you didn't wander out of the secured area, leaving all of your luggage behind!  Yes, my story is a bit I-Love-Lucy-esque (heh, and we wondered why no taxis would stop for us!)

           

          I will be happy to pay attention to any details that may be of interest to you or anyone else here regarding the Grand Flora.  How will you be arriving?  Also, it looks as though there is a new Marriott hotel (autograph collection?) just a few doors down now.  We plan to meander in there and take a look-see, maybe have some nibblies and drink if it is inviting.

           

          A couple of  questions for you (I hope not inappropriate to the thread as they have naught to do with security; well, I guess I've already skipped down that path).  The Louvre Ren, are you referring to the Vendome?  Just curious, as I am not aware of the Louvre Ren.  And how was the weather for your Culinary Christmas venture?  I ask because I will be spending Christmas in Bavaria, and it has occured to me to take in a bit of sightseeing during that time as well (Prague and Vienna come to mind), if possible.  In recent times, I've been to Bavaria in the winter when it has been both white as well as green.  But driving in it...I don't know.

           

          Also, you mentioned the Victoria Express.  What is that, and which airport were you at?  Just wondering about transportation from Heathrow into London.  I've never been to London.  I finally have a desire to go.  No absolutely nothing about it.  The place to start of course would be how to get to/from the airport.

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            pluto77 Alumni Steward Gold 25 Reviews
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            "know"

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            profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
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            Arkwright actually wrote a review of the new Autograph Hotel in Rome.  You definitely want to be at the Flora.  And like I said before, you waste your money on special transportation since cabs outside the airport along the curbs have fixed fees (40 to 45 euros).  And they're very nice and usually give you the grand tour into Rome since most speak English.  Instead use the money you saved on stuff in Rome and Vatican City.  I don't recommend eating (except the magnificent breakfasts at the Flora) on the VIa Veneto since it's overpriced, not terribly Roman, and not that good.  Piazza Navona has many good restaurants, but some of the best true Italian food can be found in Trastevere and the Monti section of Rome.  There is (or was) what I heard was a very good seafood restaurant near the new Autograph hotel (which is right down the street from the Flora) called TUNA. I don't know if it is still in existence since I've been gallivanting around the world instead of sticking to my normal places, France and Italy.

             

            You'll have an amazing time, and the Vatican is spectacular near Christmas time.

            ProfC

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              shoeman1000 Platinum 4 Reviews
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              prof

               

              I just cannot imagine you "gallivanting" anywhere.....

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                profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
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                I gallivant like you would never believe!  I'm not your average historian who buries herself in archives and libraries all the time.  To me understanding the history of a place meaning taking in its culture, museums, natural archaeological sites, and so forth.  Only then do I retire to the libraries and for as much or as little time as I need to write whatever I'm writing at the time...

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                  pluto77 Alumni Steward Gold 25 Reviews
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                  She said, while the theme from Indiana Jones plays on in the background!

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                    profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
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                    I love it Lori! Keep in mind the places I loved best, especially Egypt and the Luxor Valley.  I just wait and pray that things will stabilize both for the people there and so I can go back and gallivant some more.  BTW, Shoeman, I have not yet even made it to the Egyptian museum in Cairo or the New Archaeological Museum in Athens, because I needed to see the real places 'in situ'.  But of course that means I will have to keep going back until I finally get to those places!

                     

                    It actually took me several trips to London (mostly business since London is not my favorite place) to finally get to the amazing British museum.  Sorry, Arkwright.  By contrast, I love Chester, York, East Anglia and Cornwall.

                    ProfC

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                      shoeman1000 Platinum 4 Reviews
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                      you are awesome!  really.

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                      pluto77 Alumni Steward Gold 25 Reviews
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                      And so, the British Museum is really amazing then?  Always wanted to go there. (I found Arkwright's postings on the AC hotel in Rome.  I FINALLY got the search to work.  Discovered that Arkwright has many thoughtful posts.)

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                        profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
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                        The British Museum is amazing, and I was truly sorry I hadn't gotten there earlier.  (And you can photograph everything, even with flash, since it is not technically Her Royal Majesty's personal property -- a pet peeve of mine about photography in cathedrals and castles in England where either you have to pay to take photos or not allowed to at all).  But the Egyptian collection is especially amazing -- far beyond the Rosetta Stone.  And as long as you make a reservation (I got in so early I got a table without one) there is a great Turkish restaurant that is always absolutely packed a half block from the museum -- I think it's called Taj, but might have written so in a previous post. 

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                          Alumni Steward Platinum 8 Reviews
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                          Sounds like a Sinatra song.

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                    tryt53 Alumni Steward Platinum 5 Reviews
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                    Oh great Lori,

                    Mow we have a visual of ProfC with her whip

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                      pluto77 Alumni Steward Gold 25 Reviews
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                      And hat.  Mustn't forget the hat!

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                        profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
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                        I actually have worn hats on occasion.  I'm not much on baseball caps since I'm quite pleased with my hair.  Although I have no attachments to the south, I favor a broad-brimmed variety with an appropriate dress to complement it.

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                      profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
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                      I don't bother with a whip -- as you all already know, I just send my least favorite students to get their Reward points at the Bates Motel.

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                        tryt53 Alumni Steward Platinum 5 Reviews
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                        I guess that's OK, as long as Norman properly recognizes their elite status, gives them a welcome gift, and gives them meals on weekend, right?  Oh, yes, and they should also get a room with a nice view and a GREAT shower!

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                          profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
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                          As I recall, Norman certainly recognizes their special status and gives them a real welcome gift !

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              pluto77 Alumni Steward Gold 25 Reviews
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              I found his write up.  I agree.  I'll poke my head in though to see if there's been any progress for the better.

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            jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
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            Lori,

             

            Sorry it took me so long to get back to you!

             

            It was The Renaissance Vendome, and not a the Louvre!

             

            Please let me know how I can help you in the Bavaria Region, I have spent a lot of time there, and will try to help with anything I can.

             

            Lastly, I was taking the train from Gatwick.  It was a great trip!

             

            DSCN0021_0012.jpg

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            Location Brand Hotel
            London, England
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              pluto77 Alumni Steward Gold 25 Reviews
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              Jerry,

              Thank you, I will certainly ask away (regarding Bavaria) as time gets closer.  If the weather is good, we will travel about.  If not, we shall stay snug in our little "haus" in our little German village nestled along the Romantic Road.  One thing that has challenged me is dining.  I am not a fan of the German language, and perhaps in the end I shall find out that I am not a fan of German food either.  I haven't had any meals there that I have particularly enjoyed.  At least in France and Italy, one can decipher the menu fairly well.  But I cannot decipher a menu printed in German to save my life, let alone pick a good restaurant.  Honestly, it's probably because we didn't do any research.  Just sort of showed up here and there and randomly picked a place.  If you know of any good places in Nuremberg or Rothenburg odT or even Wurzburg or Kaiserslautern, please share!  Also, didn't eat well in Fussen or Munich.  Ate well in Heidelberg and along the Rhine, but can't remember where we dined.  The breakfasts at the Heidelberg Courtyard on the Neckar were very good.

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                Alumni Steward Platinum 8 Reviews
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                More than you ever cared to know about German food and translations into English can be found here

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                  pluto77 Alumni Steward Gold 25 Reviews
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                  Steppingstones,

                  Thank you!  Great little resource.

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                    Alumni Steward Platinum 8 Reviews
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                    I used to have a small booklet from the folks at NATO but it seems I've misplaced it and it seems not to be in print.

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                pluto77 Alumni Steward Gold 25 Reviews
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                DSC00925.JPG

                Winter weather can be dicey in Bavaria.  Makes one happy to just stay home, and save Prague and Vienna for another season.

                DSC00885.JPG

                And so this is 'home' in Bavaria.  View out the nursery window.

                DSC00909.JPG

                Beautiful church steeples.

                DSC00994.JPG

                The kids live just above Herr Schmidt's hardware store.  This is a village just off what is known as "The Romantic Road" in Bavaria.  Not too far from Rothenburg odT, Nuremburg, and Wurzburg.  You know, I really do like Germany.  Well, Bavaria anyway.

                IMG_0045.JPG

                The kids are why I go there.  This however, is why the kids are there.

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                  profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
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                  Beautiful!  Not surprisingly I went to Rothenburg ob der Tauber many years ago, since it is a nearly perfectly preserved medieval city. I have not yet made it to Prague but hope to. Actually the snow doesn't look bad compared to Maine, though I once spent a VERY snowy Christmas in Nuremberg.

                   

                  It does seem that I am not intended to go to Toulouse, esp. considering what happened in the past four days and now today.  It wouldn't be much fun wandering around the city while everyone is in shock and worrying where this madman is going next.

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                    pluto77 Alumni Steward Gold 25 Reviews
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                    Ah yes, medieval Rothenburg.

                     

                    Ya, Toulouse is not a happy place at present. 

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                    nuhusker Platinum 2 Reviews
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                    Rothenburg probably has the best Christmas market in FRG.

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                      Alumni Steward Platinum 8 Reviews
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                      Kathe Wolfhart?

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                        nuhusker Platinum 2 Reviews
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                        You are getting way to techinical for me now.  I was just along for the beer.

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                          Alumni Steward Platinum 8 Reviews
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                          Hey why not? In Bavaria beer is not considered an alcoholic beverage.

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                            nuhusker Platinum 2 Reviews
                            Currently Being Moderated

                            Nor in the Nebraska I don't think...????

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                            profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
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                            Try drinking a Maß in Bavaria some time and tell me it is not alcoholic...

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                              Alumni Steward Platinum 8 Reviews
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                              Twas not me that claimed it was not, twas them

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    profchiara Alumni Steward Silver 3 Reviews
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    Montauban or anywhere in the SW either.  That is where the shootings started with four French Muslim army parachutists, three of whom were killed and one who remains in critical condition. Sounds like a fairly easy spree to profile.

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