We met friends who had arrived in Rio the day before us. They went to the yellow taxi kiosk at the airport and got a ticket with a price for their ride to Copacabana. But, after being escorted to their waiting taxi the price was crossed out and a new price written on the ticket. The man who had escorted them to the taxi then handed the ticket to the driver who crossed that price out and added his own price! Essentially they ended up paying 95 Brazilian Reals,(US50) for a journey that should have cost a lot less. Of course, like us, they don't speak any Portuguese which makes it very difficult to argue in these situations.
We had read about these sorts of problems on a few different travel sites and my husband booked our transfers to Copacabana with Rio Airport Transfer, who he had seen comments about on this site, and paid 50 US for a smooth journey to our hotel in a very nice car.
I'm sure everyone has different experiences and there's always a few people who get conned by opportunists, but for the sake of convenience we prefer to book in advance and know what we're getting for our money. We would recommend Rio Airport Transfer for those like us who prefer less stress.
Heavy security searches and few gates can lead to queues to get into the music area - especially for the non-camping locals, so plan ahead if there is a band you really really want to see.
Also, they ran out of beer the year we went and we were left with drink tokens that we had bought but could not exchange!!! Which was not a nice end to the festival....
Newport Isle of Wight
Buenos Aires is a big, beautiful city overflowing with great opportunities and activities for all kinds of travellers. Full of history, art, tango, football and the best night life in the world, Buenos Aires attracts tourists from all over the globe. But like any international city, there are certain measures that you must take in ensuring that you will have the safest, most enjoyable trip possible.
Protect your personal belongings at any popular tourist destinations, where pickpockets often take advantage of distracting landmarks to relieve travellers of their wallets, passports and cameras. This also holds true in crowded subways and buses. Only hold you camera in your hands when you are using it; stash it back in your bag or pocket in between photos as to not attract attention. Be careful with purses and backpacks while sitting at cafes or restaurants. These are prime spots for quick robberies, and try to tie your bags to the tables or chairs whenever possible.
At night, limit the amount of cash you carry and always know exactly where you are going. Know which areas to avoid after sundown, such as La Boca, and try sticking with a larger group instead of walking the streets alone. Only use cabs labelled as “Radio Taxis,” as these are known to be safer than independent drivers. If there are ever any problems, contact the Tourist Police Station at 4346-5748. And don’t forget that while safety is important, you still need to have fun. So if keep your head up and use common sense, you should be in for the best vacation of your life!
Confortel have built a fine reputation for providing affordable and stylish accommodation in major Spanish cities. The confortel seville is a huge disappointment and not worthy of its three star status.
Hotel Puerta de Triana Sevilla
Cautionary tale about booking at a hostel a year in advance,due to Carnival.
We booked a twin room with Golden Lion Hostel a year in advance to ensure we had beds booked for carnival week. Then 2 weeks before we due to arrive, we tried to reconfirm our bookings. The hostel only replied (after prompting from hostel booking website), to say that “due to a change in ownership, our booking no longer valid”. The hostel did not seem to want to honour our valid booking. The worrying aspect is if we had not chased the hostel, we would have simply arrived there in Carnival week with no booking and little chance of finding alternative……so would you risk booking at this hostel?
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Golden Lion Hostel Rua Visconde de Silva 55, Humaitá - Rio de Janeiro
If you are travelling around India, do not book an air con train, they are far too cold. I have done over 2000km on the train system ad I recommend the no air con. Also the in the air con you keep the windows closed, and they are filthy so you don't see anything
This week's heavy snowfall has reminded me of the fragility of the UK transport system. When weather is bad, it's worth remembering to check your airport's website to see if your flight has been cancelled or not.
BAA, operator of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted (www.baa.com) offer a flight text service to keep you informed on the status of your flight.
You'll be lucky if you ever get into a taxi in Cairo that has a working meter. The meters were calibrated years ago when petrol was much cheaper, and so now everyone has to guess the price of a journey.
A good rule of thumb is about 1LE for each minute of your journey. We've been living here for four months now and haven't been shouted at by irate taxi drivers since using this rough rule.
On a recent trip to Marrakech I became tired at being fleeced by all and sundry. This was especially true of taxi drivers who will use your geographical ignorance to charge more than you would pay for a similar length of trip in a London Black cab if you're not careful. And they tend to get quite aggressive if you have the neck to negotiate – even though you're doing so nicely. Thus I resolved to make a planned trip to Cascades d'Ouzoud (well worth it by the way) by public bus rather than taxi. In most ways this was a good way to travel – all Moroccans, no tourists, rooster in cage on roof, altogether much more interesting than a more tourist-oriented option.
What I discovered, though, is a vast difference in condition of buses. Some look quite together and well, if creatively, maintained. The one we got on was falling apart – and that's by Moroccan standards. It's typical to see some quite creative repairs on Moroccan cabs and buses but this thing had repairs on top of repairs to the point where it was hard to tell what was holding what together. It seems the same buses tend to do the same journey times day in day out. We were on the same bus on the way back two days later (it was later in the day but this made sense as it was the return leg of the journey). This time the dilapidation started to show up big time. The windscreen shattered, showering everyone at the front in glass and, ten minutes later one of the side windows fell out. Even the locals were a bit perturbed by the state of the bus in question! If this kind of thing worries you it may be best to go to the bus station a day before you plan to travel. Find the bus that's going where you are headed and talk to the driver or ticket man to ask if the same bus will be running at the same time the next day. If the bus looks sufficiently knackered that you don't think you can stomach a trip in it you can then change your plans accordingly.
In the end we all got back in one piece but it wasn't a trip of the feint of heart.
The OUI has trendy décor, but they forgot the essential thing: the quality of the food.
The wine list was large but most of the wines were not available. I had to ask for four different wines to find one, but the price went up from 30 euros to 60 euros. We asked the waitress for a reduction, and she answered that her boss would think about it.
The food was also bad and the dishes arrived one by one so that the six of us ate almost cold food despite the restaurant being far from full.
When the bill arrived we realised we had received no reduction. The bill was 250 euros for six people (40 euros per person for a main dish and a dessert).
Then the manager started insulting us and told us not to behave like poor people! He raised his voice and pushed us towards the door.
So if you want to be insulted and to eat bad food, go to the OUI. If not, be on your way, there are many other good restaurants in Lille.
My tip is not to book this hotel. On the website it looks quite charming and the area near Place de Clichy metro is great and lively with lots of brasseries. But the hotel had ropey-worn carpets, tatty old furniture, noisy water pipes when the room upstairs flushed the loo and the hallway stank of stale tobacco. The beds were comfy and clean though, and it was only €90 for a triple room, so maybe I shouldn't complain and ask myself “what did I expect?”
Rue de batignoles, Paris 18
There are lots of young men who will accost you as you walk around Marrakech and try to act as your guide to take you to wherever you are going and then demand a fee. This is particularly so once you leave the main square and are heading out to somewhere less easy to find - for example the Bahia Palace, or the Dar Zellij restaurant. Be aware too that some of them will pretend that somewhere is closed when it is not, or will send you off on the wrong direction in order then to get one of their friends to set you right. This is a great shame because it means that, rather than interacting with people, you sometimes have to blank them or even pretend to speak a different language. If you do need directions to somewhere it may be preferable to ask a woman or an older man or a storekeeper - they are more likely to give you accurate directions out of common courtesy without then wanting to accompany you or expecting money in return. If you do end up being accompanied by a 'faux guide' against your will, you may want to explain that you are happy to talk to them along the way but do not wish to have a guide and will not be paying them any money if they accompany you. At least that way, when you reach your destination, you can feel comfortable sticking to your guns and refusing to pay - though be prepared to be pestered repeatedly and to have to hold your resolve. Of course there may be no harm giving a few coins to a boy who has taken some time to get you to the right place, but they should not expect to charge more than this and should be prepared to give you correct and honest information for free. So when one lad demanded 20 dirhams (more than a taxi fare across town) just for telling us which door on the street we were looking for we robustly refused - pour decourager les autres.
My husband and I were visiting ruins on Kadifekale (Mt.Pagus) during the day. I was separated from my husband for a short while, and he was surrounded in the car by a group of teenage boys who pretended to be friendly at first. There was no-one around and they quickly turned aggressive, trying to force their way into the car and grabbing at our belongings. My husband distracted them by throwing something out of the car, and locked himself in, and then drove through them to get to me. They banged and kicked the car, and chased him through the fortress gate. He sped up to me and shouted for me to get in. We then turned around and had to drive through them. One pretended we had run him over, and others smashed on the car. We had been warned by the Lonely Planet Guide to Turkey that this was a rough area at night, but be warned! We felt very unsafe in the day.
We then went down to the ruins of the Agora, and got out to walk around the old bazaar. We thought this would be a lot safer as their were a lot of people around. However, a well dressed Turkish man came up to us and told us, in a very urgent manner, that we were not safe and should get back in the car and go! We thanked him and promptly obeyed!
We have been to Turkey many times and love the country and its people, but we definitely felt unsafe in Izmir even before the incident. We felt hostility from passers-by and a restaurant owner during the short time we were there.
Kadifekale and the Agora Bazaar, Izmir
We booked a flat in Paris based on information on the website. When we arrived on a Saturday night the key was not available. With a lot of luck we were able to contact a local agent who was able to get us into the flat that Holiday Velvet had booked with them for us. it was not the flat shown on the web. It was small and cramped and cost two thirds of what we paid. We have been ignored by Holiday Velvet and have not received our deposit refund let alone any refund of the difference in the rental.
Be aware of the Beijing teahouse scam, - especially around the Tiananmen Square and Wang Fujing Street areas - which young Chinese people posing as students of English will try to lure foreigners into a tea-house for a demonstration of tea ceremony, leaving the foreigner with a bill running to hundreds of US dollars. Be sure to ask for prices for the tea and facilities up front before agreeing to any kind of tea ceremony.
In order to avoid becoming a victim of crime on the streets of this wonderful city, here are a few tips:
- Do not carry large amounts of money when you leaving your apartment or hotel.
- Don’t let anyone invade your personal space while walking down the streets (whether they seem suspicious or not).
- Wear your bag diagonally across your chest and avoid wearing it on your shoulder. If possible, keep a hand on it at all times. If you must have a backpack, wear it on the front and not on the back as it should normally be worn.
- Even though it is important that you have a valid ID such as a passport with you, in case you decide to go shopping and you need to pay with your credit card, it is not recommend that you carry your passport with you. Take a photocopy of it and keep it somewhere safe in your bag.
- If you still want to take your passport or other ID documents with you, remember to photocopy them and leave the photocopy in your apartment or hotel.
- Carry your wallets and purses in your front pockets and never the back pockets. You will be surprised at just how easy it is to take a wallet or purse from a back pocket and before you realise, then perpetrator will be long gone.
- Whenever you leave a bus, metro or taxi cab, please remember to take all your belongings with you. If you are carrying a laptop, always keep it close to you and never leave your luggage or any other valuables unattended.
- It cannot be stressed enough that even in the busiest, safest looking places (bars and restaurants included), you are a potential target, so be aware at all times.
This is probably the biggest tourist trap here into which many have fallen. Many of the shops on Nathan Road in Kowloon selling electronic products don't display the prices on the items. Many tourists have been scammed or cheated. One ploy is to give you an unbelievably good price, then after they have your money, they say they are out of stock, offering you another item but at an outrageous price. Some tourists have said that even calling the police did not help.
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