Thursday, October 12, 2006

When Ischia Becomes ICK-ia

I struggle to type on a wet keyboard, as my tears flow for beloved Finny’s departure this morning… buon viaggio! Italy will miss you!

Oh, the stories, folks. I will leave FK to tell you most of them, but there is one in particular that I have to relate, since it is my big, fat fault that the whole tale unraveled in the first place.

I know you must have one of these stories too. Oh, please tell me you do.

That “I-booked-a-hotel-so-horrible-I-had-to-laugh-to-keep-from-crying” story.

Well, if I didn’t have one before, I sure do now.

Wanting to give one my best friends in the whole world a grand tour of the lovely isle of Ischia, I bravely ventured into uncharted territory: vacation accommodation planning. Seeing as how I run vacation accommodations, you would think this would be my specialty; however, even though I know what I like and try my best to provide that for my special guests, I don’t have a knack for finding great places. Actually, I just always leave it to Ale, who loves it and does a great job. But since he was down playing on the movie set (pics out in this week’s Italian Vanity Fair—I will post if I can get a hold of mine and Ale’s photo with “DJ”), I was faced with the dilemma.

All the good ideas come in hindsight. Like: dummy, you should have just asked Tracie B. But, alas… I didn’t.

Instead, I ventured out on my own. Mind you, I did do my homework. Here are the titles for the first 5 comments that come up for the place in Trip Advisor:

1) “Peaceful setting”
2) “Lovely”
3) “A wonderful relaxing holiday”
4) “Great place”
5) “Highly recommended”

Now, Trip Advisor has never steered me wrong, so I thought I was really onto something.

So, let me now commence with my TOP 10 SIGNS THAT YOU HAVE BOOKED A BAD HOTEL:

1) Upon arrival, your host hands you an opened package of toilet paper with two remaining rolls, smiling: “I don’t normally supply my guests with toilet paper, but…” (BUT, what? I’m special?)
2) When you pull up, there is an illuminated picture of a saint, perhaps the patron saint of the hotel, clearly telling you to pray that you might have a nice room. (No help there.)


3) Beautiful flowers adorn the parking lot, alas, only to cover the garbage bins.

4) Symmetry is not a priority.

5) Lampshades are optional.
6) Owner remarks that the bay is just steps away, and that we are lucky because, and I quote: “a new, super convenient 200-step (yes, that’s TWO HUNDRED step) staircase has just been added!”
7) Looks like owner is attempting some kind of zen experiment in wall decoration.

8) After being handed your sheets to make your own bed (could possibly be #8b in and of itself), you find you were also given a hand-monogrammed bath towel, yet, strangely, the initials do not correspond to anything or anyone you are aware of, as owner’s name starts with a “P.” (Have we stumbled upon a new phenomenon of hotel owners stealing towels from hotel guests? Could be an ironic role reversal.) I later realize that the initials might correspond to two words in the four-word hotel name. Guess the owner didn't want to buy the extra consonants.
9) Patio described as molto bello by owner has "dog issues." (Which I will link to, however not photographically, as soon as FK elaborates, since it was on her patio and this is her cleverly-worded term for the problem.)

10) Your friend turns to you rather desperately, telling you: “I don’t think there’s a shower in my bathroom.” (Um, that would be the big spigot sticking out of the wall. It’s continuing with that whole zen theme, no shower curtain or shower stall needed, just go ahead and spray all over the toilet, sink, clean and formerly dry clothes, etc.)

Oh, the horror of it all. And yet, a silver lining. After many ha has over our misfortune, we take the extreme opposite route and resolve for our next night to find the “most scrumptiousest” (see #7) hotel on the island, or at least the town of Forio on the island. Our search started and ended at the lovely and most scrumptious Hotel Villa Carolina, where we traded views of flower-laden dumpsters and dog issues for this:



So, all’s well that ends well. Sigh. Thank God for low-maintenance friends with a healthy sense of humor and sense of adventure, as my little mishap could have easily sent another less patient person a-packin’. Grazie Finny!

16 comments:

African Kelli said...

Well, the last two photos seem to make up for all the rest. They are amazing! I would guess you guys didn't let this slow you down either. :)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the "R.S." on the towel stood for "Real Shit"???? LOL, sorry it's seems to be appropriate for the hotel and it's dog issues, right? A good sense of humor can help anyone get through a bad situation! We stayed in pretty crappy hotel once in the Philippines that belonged to a friend of my husbands family. It was awful. The shower dripped, and if you got 10 drips for your shower you were lucky!!
By the way, I have the Ciao Professore movie. Isn't it hysterical!!?? I had my Mom watch it last night and she was cracking up.
I can't wait to read FK's blog next week. It should be chock-full of laughs.
Have a great weekend!

Tracie B. said...

hey, why didn't you call me? you could have come to my birthday party...it was fun.

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Kel: At least now we know where to go when you come!

Ebony: LOVE the acronym, I think you got it right.

Tracie: ARRRGH! Now I'm really kicking myself!! Next time...?!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

LOL. Thanks for the tip on your second choice. I hope to visit Ischia next year and will remember the name of the hotel.

Anonymous said...

I agree -- this could have been a really bad situation if we all weren't adventurous and good humored folk. It doesn't hurt that Alessandro took it upon himself to create a hundred hilarious wisecracks right off the bat. I'm still enjoying all the jokes that resulted from our foray into Residence vacationing. I mean, really, the owner could not have tried harder to make himself the butt of every joke.

I will be sure to elaborate on Dog Issues this week as I go into mind-numbing detail on my trip.

Tracie - I'm bummed we didnt catch up with you! Next time?

Tracie B. said...

hey nyc, you better call me and let me help. don't be silly like our friend shelly...;)

Texas Espresso said...

sounds ilke a great time even with the yucky hotel. what stories/memories that kind of thing makes! lol

I laughed out loud at the Italian man saying the beach was "steps away". hehehe that is very Italian, whats a mere 200 of them? LOL

Stacy

avery said...

I love the patron saint of the hotel (illuminated no less) -that is classic. Friends with a sense of humor are one of the best things in life, right up there with a comfortable bed and clean sheets.

anton said...

Yes, everybody has a bad hotel story. One time my friends booked a place in VA they later dubbed 'Cell Block H'. Nuff said.

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

NYC: Take Tracie's advice! Or else you'll end up like me, holding a pack of half-used toilet paper!!

Texas: I know! What is that? Italians have such a different perception of distance...or maybe they're just more active than me (former "drive to the grocery store around the corner" when I lived in the States, now hauling countless bags up 3 flights of stairs!)

Avery: AGREED!

Anton: LOL, that is hilarious and terrifying at the same time.

Thanks all for the lively comments!

Cynthia Rae said...

You make me laugh! I have a couple of these stories, both times at hotels in Venice. A word of warning to future guests of Venice, you WILL GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR! hehehehehehe.... shower head in the bathroom without a shower (check), bidet IN the bedroom rather than bathroom (check), smeared blood on the walls with countless dead mosquitoes IN WINTER (check, check).

Live and learn! Hope you guys had fun anyway. Laughing always help.
Cyn

adair said...

it is reassuring to see that it is not strictly a southern italian issue. this is what I found at a "quaint family-owned hotel" in Gragnano:

a shower stall so tiny that you could not stand in it AND wash your hair (had to hold my hands above my head before I entered. a bidet that worked and a toilet that didn't. dressers with drawers that did not open. and the piece de resistance? a balcony that was the local bario for every pigeon within a hundred miles. there were deep layers of "bird issues".

thanks for sharing your experiences. it immediately transported me back to what, for all it's hang-ups, was an amazing trip.

Valerie said...

Not even during my years as a travel agent have I heard such a tale of woe for a bad experience as this. Mamma mia! Thank goodness you're good natured and found a wonderful place to make up for the wreck.

Neeters said...

hi there,
That was funny to see such a horrendous hotel experience. HOw can an owner open that kind of business withoutshame? I know I couldn't. I'm from Maryland, I'm going to SOuthern Italy for 10 days in Feb. I was wondering if you could provide tips/advice as to where to go(off the beaten paths) I've never been overseas!! I'm going with my boyfriend. The only thing we've booked is an apartment off the Amalfi Coast that's it! I'm freaking out! Thanks!
Anita

Neeters said...

here's my email address smellsammisbreath at gmail com