Travel Rome - Game of Life - Postcard 32

All I can say at this point is you live and you learn, but some times taking the mistakes of others can make learning easier. So here are a few things I can pass on that I hope will make your first trip to Italy easier.

First off, when arriving at a hotel review all of the costs that can be incurred before completing your check in. Does your stay include breakfast and if so is it continental or buffet and what does it include? Check the cost of the internet and if you pay for that separately or in the final bill. Is there a hotel connection fee per call, even when using your own calling card? What is the overall total per room, per night throughout the duration of your stay and does that include VAT?


Second, in Italy a four star hotel is equivalent to a two star hotel in the states. If you have the extra money to upgrade to a five star hotel, than do it. At a five star hotel you will find all five stars present and accounted for! The quality of the rooms, the professionalism and customer service within the staff is worth the pretty penny. What most don't realize is that you can find deals to stay at five star hotel's in Italy for not much more than you would pay for a four star hotel. The difference may not seem worth it at the time of booking the reservation, but take my mistakes and trust it will be money well spent!


Third, payphones in Italy do not accept coins even though they have a place for them. Do not assume your coins will work even though other peoples don't. I guarantee they will they will not work and you will lose your money! I repeat the coin slots do not work! Why are they there? That is something I am still trying to figure out as I have seen so many people lose there money in the phones. The same person will put money in three phones and lose money all three times, then just assume none of the phones work. The phones do work, but you can only use a calling card that you must purchase from the city.  Also what they will not tell you, nor is it instructed on the card you purchase, is that you must tear the top right corner of the card off. Yes, the top right corner must be off for the phone to retain your card long enough to process the call.


Fourth, when out at a bar or city functions there are two lines for alcohol. In America we have one around the bar, where we order and pay for our drinks with the bartender.  In Italy there are always two. The first line is to pay for what you want and they give you a ticket. The second is where you give your ticket to the bartender and they make what you paid for. In America, I will never complain again about waiting at the bar for a drink!


Fifth, when in a restaurant in Italy if you order water and you don't specify your preference, you will receive sparkling.  If you prefer flat, you must ask for it by the name 'Naturale', and water is not free anywhere in Europe! Most hotels will have a note stating that the water from the tap in your sink is safe to drink. I suggest getting a medium sized water bottle and keeping it to refill when it's empty. Water is anywhere from two to three euros a bottle and that's for the small size. This is an easy way to save money! If you tend to drink a lot of water while out site seeing, you should keep change on you. All public bathrooms in Italy charge a seventy euro cent fee to use the toilet and they do not supply change.


Sixth, if traveling by train make sure to you a few luggage tests. For example, are the wheels in good condition? At a train station you will cover a lot of ground and a good portion of it tends to be broken brick. Can you easily carry your bag up and down three flights of stairs? If not is your handle secure enough to pull the weight of the suitcase up and down the stairs? Can you lift your suitcase at a full arms length over your head? If the answer to any of these questions is no, than you need to repack or get a different suitcase, as you will find travel by train near impossible and quite frankly exhausting.



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