I HAVE MADE A DECISION NOT TO UPDATE THIS INTRO EVERY TIME I GO AWAY BECAUSE PEOPLE WILL BECOME BORED IF IT GETS ANY LONGER.
I travelled extensively in North America in the 70's and worked in Vancouver for a year. I came home when my Dad died but was able to go back to the States every year until I got married and had a family.
I was 53 before I saw Europe and was so taken by the age and beauty of everything I saw that I doubt that I'll ever stop going back. I leave for my 3rd trip in under 5 years in May/June, 2007 and I am more excited than ever before.
July 3, 2007 - Back from 5 weeks in Europe which was great for all the usual reasons - revisiting old favourites and showing them to my son and discovering new places for the 1st time. But the trip lost its glow when I was pickpocketed in Rome on the Metro. Usual thing, packed train, team of 4 who managed to get a pouch with our passports and 3 c/cards. They got nothing of value as everything got stopped very quickly. The repercussions however were horrible. I am now home, but still suffering the after effects of the theft. I tell the full story here:
The Italian police were no help. I guess they must get sick and tired of dealing with tourists everyday, but I must give full credit and sincere thanks to the staff of Hotel Italia and the Australian Embassy. I wouldn't have known what to do without the hotel staff making all the necessary phone calls for me and then the embassy staff rushed the passports through in a little over 3 hours thus enabling us to leave for our next port of call on schedule. Waiting for money to arrive from Australia made things difficult but I had friends to keep me afloat till it came. The worst of it was yet to come however. When we got to London June 27 we battled the tube from Heathrow to Earl's Court and dragged our luggage in heavy rain to the York Hotel in Philbeach Gardens where I had 2 rooms booked at 43GBP per night each for 3 nights. We struggled into reception where we were told that the booking had been cancelled by Venere.com on account of my c/card having been stopped. None of the other hotels had done so. Then I found out that Wimbledon was on so of course the unscrupulous people at the York Hotel had an excuse to cancel my bookings and to relet the rooms at a much higher rate. We struggled around in the rain for several hours looking for rooms and had just about given up when a lady at the booking centre at Victoria Station managed to find us 1 twin at the Royal Eagle Hotel in Paddington at 139GBP for each of the first 2 nights and 179GBP for the 3rd night. The room was very tiny. We couldn't both stand up in it at the same time and the bathroom was even smaller than the smallest I had seen in so many hotels in Europe. This was "cashing in" at its worst but we had no choice but to take it. To secure the booking we used my son's c/card as mine was not going to arrive till the next day. I made it very clear to the desk clerk that this card was not to be used to pay the bill but that I would be using my own card which would arrive the next day. They assured me that the card was only required to secure the booking and that I would not have to make payment till I checked out. Then I could use any method of payment I chose.
My card arrived and when we checked out, I used it to pay the bill. But we came back to Australia to find that BOTH c/cards had been charged 457GBP I now have the job of fighting to get my money back. My bank told me that my chances of recouping it are very small. I hope they are wrong.
I NEVER accept being ripped off so no more London for me. Sadly, not all of the people are as nice as the Bobby in the photo on my europe page which was taken on my 2005 trip.
Thanks to all of my friends on VT who gave me so much good advice before I went away. So much of it was extremely useful. Thanks too to all who sent me birthday wishes, I was really pleased to receive them.