"Nothing happens until something moves........" Maryimelda's Profile

Late Bloomer

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:


Please read it so that you can see particular situations to avoid for your personal safety.

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.

Postscript to the London Fiasco

Well after much to-ing and fro-ing I have ascertained that venere.com were not to blame for the cancellation of the rooms at the York Hotel. In fact, the York Hotel cancelled the rooms claiming that I had instructed them to do so. This of course, was an absolute fallacy.
What happened was that the York Hotel attempted to pre-authorise the account and were informed that the credit card had been stopped (due to the theft in Rome.) The York Hotel then saw an opportunity to cash in on the severe shortage of accommodation by cancelling our reservation without notifying me, which they could have done as they had both an email address and my mobile number. Venere.com is at present taking the matter up with the York Hotel and have apologised most profusely to me. It's too little too late as far as I'm concerned and I would warn all of my fellow VT travellers to stay as far away as you possibly can from the York Hotel in Philbeach Gardens, London.

As for the double charge at the Royal Eagle Hotel, this too was a case of pre-authorisation about which we were not informed. The matter has now righted itself and the money has been refunded to my son.

Now all I have to do is battle the Insurance claim......oh well!

Yay! Off again in August 2009.

Plans for the fourth trip to Europe are well under way and I will fly out on Emirates on Sunday August 23 bound initially for Paris where I will meet up with a friend for a couple of days. Then it is off to Strasbourg, Heidelberg, Freiburg im Breisgau, Lauterbrunnen, Zermatt, Chur, Salzburg, Vienna, Bamberg, Fuessen, Dinkelsbuehl, Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Trier, Maastricht, Paris, Athens, Mykonos, Paris and home. Since for the most part, I will be travelling alone, I intend to have plenty of time to journalise and photograph my travels, as I will be moving at my own pace and not depending on others or conversely wanting to hold them up by stopping to take pictures etc.
Most of my travel will be by train and true to the advice that so many VTers give, I have done my homework thoroughly as regards point to point tickets versus Eurail. My initial estimate of what I have saved by going to point to point for most of it and with a Swiss Flexi Pass thrown in for good measure, amounts to something in the region of $AUD500! As we all know, it is a tedious exercise doing all the research, but it is definitely well worth it. I have discovered the merits of Spar Schiene, Laender Tickets, Happy Weekend Tickets and some plain old earlybird online specials. Thank God for VT!!

I feel the need to climb upon my soapbox.....

Why do so many people on this forum have such a low regard for "tourists"? Are these people so naive that they don't realise that anyone who travels anywhere in the world for the purpose of seeing the sights is a tourist? Or do they really consider themselves to be so bloody special that they don't rate as "tourists"? It never ceases to amaze me how many people subscribe to VT (Virtual TOURIST) and yet consider themselves to be somehow made of better stuff than the "tourists". The way I see it, we are all toursits, like it or not. I for one am perfectly content in the role and very grateful that I have had the good fortune to be able to see a little of this wonderful world of ours. Consequently, you can call me what you like, I'll still keep travelling for as long as I am able. I do understand that there are some who simply don't like the queues or the inflated prices etc. that popular tourist destinations are full of, but I can't for the life of me, understand the attitude that tourists are the lowest of the low. I especially have to smile when VTers write wonderful tips and travel pages for the purpose of enticing others to go to a particular place, but at the same time warn against the many tourists they will find there!!!!! "Go early or stay late to avoid the tourists!" I would prefer to have them say "to avoid the crowds", that I could readily accept, but I can't accept the fact that "tourist" to some is a dirty word.

Up Up and Away 2009!

Just thought I'd say a temporary goodbye before I leave for my 2009 European Odyssey. Hopefully, I will find plenty of Internet opportunities along the way to call into VT and see what everyone's doing. I look forward to meeting up with Christine, Roley and Tina along my way. Ciao for now!

Home again .....exhausted!

What a trip! All went well, the weather for the most part was perfect especially in Paris and Mykonos. It was great to return to old favourite places such as Paris, Salzburg, and Vienna and even better to see the new places which are too numerous to mention here. I will gradually get caught up with updating the travel pages and I was careful to note down a whole lot of tips in many different categories. I took over 1400 photos and have now deleted the rubbish ones. Having said that however, I must confess to being a very amateur photographer with a very basic camera, so please forgive my humble efforts.
Special thanks to christine.j (and her husband Martin) for their gracious hospitality when I was in Heidelberg. Christine is an extremely knowledgeable and very interesting lady and I consider it a privilege to have spent time with her. Thanks Christine and Martin too.
I would also like to extend a special vote of thanks to roley who showed me around the Spanish Riding School in Vienna and for her company for lunch, another very knowledgeable and interesting lady. Thanks roley.

I must admit to having chosen extremely well as far as hotels were concerned. My thanks to venere.com and most especially to bookings.com for that. All hotels were expecting me and all were everything I'd expected for the money. I must admit to being a little puzzled as to why so many 2 and 3 star hotels in Europe don't have fans in the rooms. Air con is a luxury, I know, and one that we must expect to pay more for, but a small fan in each room would not break the bank of any of these hotels. They could put up the tariff by 1 euro per night and have them all paid off in a matter of weeks. Lucky for me, I learnt my lesson about fans on my last trip, so this time I carried my own little desk fan with me. I was very glad I did as I used it quite a number of times.


Observations from 2011 Trip....

I left Australia on August 20 bound for Zurich and places beyond.
This trip included parts of Germany I had not seen, namely Berlin, Hannover, Bremen, Erfurt, Koblenz (where I caught up with old VT friend christine.j and her husband Martin), Bacharach and other Rhine destinations (with a wonderful personal guide in the person of VT friend Trekki), back to Ireland for a quick "hi" to my friends there and then after a few days in Paris where I met up with my VT friend stevemt (who took my new ID photo), I had three nights in Annecy enroute to Isle-sur-la Sorgue where I rented a wonderlul apartment for two weeks. This I used as my base for having a good look at all the South of France destinations that I had not yet visited. Then after a wonderful dinner and walk around Zurich with yumyum, Horschek and Penelope4, I had to concede that the party was over, it was time to come home.

2013 Back to Europe with the family in tow....

Next week I am being very brave and taking my son, his wife and my two grandchildren for their first European visit. I know full well that the long haul flights each way with a 2 and a 3 year old are not going to any walk in the park but what the heck? We couldn't go away without them so we are gritting our collective teeth and forging ahead. First stop Paris followed by Augsburg in Bavaria, Innsbruck, Venice and Rome.

Wish me luck!


Well that wasn't so bad. It wasn't easy by any means but we did manage to have more happy days than unhappy ones. Elijah is going through a sooky 2yr old phase at the moment so he made a lot of noise at different times. However I do have one very important triumph to report and that was that my two little darlings (and I use the term loosely) made two 8 hr flights and two 12 hr flights without even a whimper between them. I was so proud of them because before we left I was terrified that they were going to upset the rest of the passengers by crying and other such "kids on planes behaviour" but they were absolutely totally perfect all the way. We even had people come to us when we landed to remark on how good they were. Wonders will never cease, but I guess they are just natural born travellers like their Grandmother!!

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