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Sunday, 10 April 2016

Cruise and Land Tour in Portugal - July 21st/15....

Review of Trafalgar Land Tour - overall, I thought the Trafalgar Tour was excellent except in one respect, as discussed below.  The tour guide liked his job very much, ran a very good tour, and being Portuguese, he was very knowledgeable.   We saw many interesting historical places during the trip - there were more interesting places to see in Portugal than I thought - it seems to me that Portugal is under-rated and under-appreciated.   Except for a few breakfast buffets which were mediocre, the dinners were very good to excellent, and Trafalgar did not hold back on the wine.  

My only criticism is the Turim Hotel in Lisbon.  To get from one lobby to the next, one had to use a long flight of steps.  The individual floors had automatic lighting devices activated by motion - the devices farther into the corridor did not alight until someone got close to them.  Without the automatic lights, the corridors were black as pitch and spooky.  Another person traveling with Trafalgar said to me that she thought the Turim Hotel was a strange place - and it was.

This is the only time in all my trips when I could not get the TV system to work.  The buffet breakfast was mediocre at best; and the hot items were unappealing to me. 

When the tour returned to Lisbon on July 10th, I received a room at the Turim which was a few square feet larger than a closet - I could not find a place to put my bag.  More importantly, the air conditioning did not work -  I complained to the tour director and got another room, which was not as nice as the one I had July 1-2nd.

One night, before dinner, one of the hotel staff knocked at my door and said she wanted to check my bar.  After looking in the bar, she said to me that some things had disappeared.    I immediately went to the front desk and asked to speak with the manager.  I described to her what had happened and that I had not used the bar.  She honestly admitted that the staff had not checked for the prior guest use of the bar.  She said that I would not be charged, and would not have a problem on checking out the next day. 

However, at check-out, firstly they said that I owed for the bar - I explained my conversation with the manager the prior day,  We argued for awhile, but they eventually dropped it.  Then they said that I owed money for the hotel bar  but I insisted that I had not charged - when I used the hotel restaurant, I paid in cash.  They showed me receipts with a strange signature which had no resemblance to my signature.  The hotel staff was becoming embarrassed in front of the other guests and dropped their demand that I pay.  Trafalgar could have done much better for us than at this hotel,  and there did not seem to be a lot of guests staying here. 

Otherwise, Trafalgar ran an excellent tour and I am glad that I went on it.

Review of AMA Waterways Cruise:  The cruise was very good -  I am glad that I went  and  would recommend this to others.

The service and food were very good, as was the itinerary with offerings of limited tours and special tastings.  The tour director did an excellent job.  The scenery of rolling hills of vineyards is among the most beautiful in the world.  Two of the entertainments, the fado and flamenco, were enjoyable. Having the AMA cruise immediately after the Trafalgar land tour turned out well. 

I had to depart the ship at 7 in the morning going to the Oporto airport. .Everything had gone well until I arrived in NY/Newark - then I started to notice that, one by one, flights were being cancelled and finally, mine was cancelled.  I learned later that there were serious storms in Florida - I had to switch to another terminal for my flight tomorrow so was stuck all night at the airport - I arrived home on July 22 just minutes before midnight. 

That is it for the blog this year - Follow us and pick up the voyage in November/16 with a Provence land/cruise trip Dec/15, a trip to New York in April/16 and a Boston/New England cruise in October/16.  Happy travels......

Photos belong to Phil Bianco

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