The Discerning Traveler

by Philip Wagenaar (Second of two parts)

Last month I discussed Italian repasts and where to eat. This month I continue with phone advice and accommodation details.

Phone pointers — Since many more people now take a telephone on their trips, I would like to suggest the following: if your cell phone doesn’t work in Italy, buy a new SIM card at a mobile phone shop, which will give you an Italian number. The major networks are Telecom Italia (TIM), Vodafone and Wind.



by Philip Wagenaar

(First of two parts)

BARI, Italy, April 14, 1990 — Being exhausted after our long bicycle ride, my wife, Flory, and I decided to have dinner in our hotel’s ristorante (restaurant) rather than go out. Alas, service was slow, the bread was stale and our wine glasses were full of particles, a result of the waiter’s piercing the cork in a less-than-perfect fashion.

After I told the server that the wine was unacceptable, he became very huffy, pushed the...


by Philip Wagenaar (Last of four parts)

Last month I gave an overview of homestays, home exchanges and other unusual lodgings in France. This month I will finish my essay with an outline of the French gîtes, camping in France, youth hostels and more.


O. Gîtes

A gîte (which simply means “lodging”) is a private holiday home or property in the country or the mountains or by the sea, which can be rented for a week (usually from 4 p.m....


by Philip Wagenaar, third of four parts

Last month I wrote about, in addition to specific French hotel groups, the use of Michelin and Logis de France guides in obtaining reservations. This month I will give an overview of homestays, home exchanges and more.


J. Global reservation services

The following global reservation services can be used for many hotels in France, but you usually pay extra for their services. You also have to watch...


by Philip Wagenaar, second of four parts

Last month I discussed how to reserve lodgings in France, how to evaluate the room you are about to inhabit and how to obtain appropriate discounts. I continue this month with listings of specific hotel groups, followed by a discussion of the Michelin guide, the Logis de France and more.


Below is a guide to accommodations, accompanied by my comments. In the listing of places to stay under headings A, B and C...


by Philip Wagenaar, first of four parts

A large gate filled the arch, which gave access to the hotel’s front garden.

“Would they have room for us?,” I mused.

My wife, Flory, and I had been biking from Amsterdam, Holland, to the French Riviera. It was 4 p.m. and we were tired. We had been riding since 6 a.m.

I quickly ran up the steps to the reception desk. We were in luck. They had space available. An inspection found the offered room satisfactory.



It was just what we had always looked for: a 2-week stay in a 4-star accommodation — a large, airy room with great en suite facilities; personnel hovering over my wife, Flory, anticipating her every wish and accommodating her every whim; fantastic meals, and the zero charge upon checkout.

This took place in 1991. Since I was somewhat afraid you might want to overnight in this Shangri-la, I waited until now to report it.

Come to think of it, maybe you wouldn’t want...


(Second of two parts)

Last month I discussed the resolution of billing errors under the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA). This month I will discuss the settling of disputes regarding the quality of goods and services, such as a mismanaged tour.

Billing errors vs. quality of goods and services

It is important to realize that disputes about the quality of goods and services are not the same as disputes about “billing errors,” so the dispute procedure discussed in this column last...