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Host Bonjour

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About Host Bonjour

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    Cruise Critic Host

About Me

  • Location
    NYC region
  • Interests
    Travel, film, mixed media painting, photography
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Love mew places, some old favorites & going home.

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  1. Only a few weeks ago there were some posts in a thread that veered off in the wonderful direction of sites to see like this; a number of incredible ancient roman structures and sites of interest were suggested by a few of our members. But...I can't recall which thread it was and those specific posts occurred further down into the thread anyway because of course everyone was awesome in helping the OP with their inquiry before the discussion went happily off-track to visiting these incredible places. I think it might have been a hotel thread...Hotel Cesare? I'll see if I can find it, in the meantime, hopefully some of our resident alternative Italy travelers will consider posting some of their favorite outside "centro storico" places that they think are worth visiting. In that thread I refer to the information the members posted was comparable to the syllabus of a history course on ancient Rome. 🙂 Thanks for posting a great thread topic and thanks in advance for the replies. I'm going to pin the topic since it isn't an every day question but it is one worth keeping handy as maybe an idea of other options and ideas for things to do in Rome. You never know, someone might be tempted 😉
  2. Or....grazie 😉 Have you got the Google translate app on your phone and/or tablet? It works offline as well (without wifi) so that ought to be pretty handy on your trip or while you continue prepping. Many websites do translate (or, Google does it, or whichever browser...) some don't but hopefully you can still navigate pages with this app. As the awesome dogs4fun explained, just knowing a few essential words is enough to complete the transaction for Borghese tickets...uhh, biglietti....(making my three Italian teachers happy there!) I think the app even speaks out loud and has worked well for users...not sure if that works offline (I'm thinking it does so long as your device is charged - bring back-up battery charger!) so that if you find yourself with some old-timers or in a less touristy place, you'll manage. In some ways Italy is so forward and with the times like all of Europe and other times....I laugh in a way with affection (con affezione) because for a country sooo popular with visitors you'd think websites for attractions would definitely all be, um, adaptable, for global visits? But NO. It's probably on the list of things to do - maybe, but what's the rush? 😄
  3. Hello Everyone, Some of the most frequently posted topics are understandably about how to get from port to destination, in most cases, Southampton to London. We noticed a similar trend on our Italy port board and with our newer boards there is a feature that lets us pin a topic to the top of the forum but will also keep it listed with the rest of the other topics on the board. I put a post with new information about the Civitavecchia to Rome train initiatives aimed specifically at cruise passengers arriving in the mornings to spend the day in Rome. I then posted my own topic about this "experiment" of pinning the Civi-Rome train topic as a heads up and to see....did this even make sense? I know not everyone has the same questions about getting from port to town and everyone is always welcome to post separately of course but as we see on some ports, theme threads can be helpful when focused. As I mentioned over in my post on the Italy board, when I was able to keep up with merging threads that were virtually identical requests, I immediately noticed that topics with other different requests immediately came into view which made me hopeful that everyone had an equal chance of getting an answer to their question whether it was one of the more popular topics we see or something a bit different. I'm here to see if you think this board might benefit from a similar type thread, here's the pinned Italy thread: here's the thread where I mention it: Let me know what you think...yeah or nay? A thread each for train or car questions? Do you think another recurring topic might make for a better pinned item? Just wondering if there's a way to make clever use of an option we have and simultaneously help boost the likelihood for folks' posts to get viewed since there'd be a place for a popular question(s) to be answered. Thanks for taking the time to read this post and as always, for all of your wonderful contributions to these boards. 🙂
  4. I guess I was trying hard not to suggest that a King of England was illegitimate or that he was viewed by many as rather an unsavory type? One doesn't want to just come out and say those things about a person otherwise known as William the Conqueror. (And 1066 is burned in my brain too although I have learned so much more here in this thread, I must say 😉 )
  5. It's possible you might have come across a new teller G; newer hires are under tighter cash 'limits' than more experienced staff, sort of a 'probation' until all the vast rules and requirements for security are understood along with the requisite speed coming along for getting things done quickly. Although banks might not be as crowded as they once were with so many things happening digitally now, the banks are as security minded or more so than ever and auditors might show up any time unannounced. No decent manager will run the risk of having a new staff person be the weak link in a branch being written up for a weak spot. Trying to think of scenarios in which a £50 would be an issue - we had limits on what could be in the reserve drawer under the till, all the large bills went there immediately for us and were never kept up top. I can't recall what my initial backup drawer limit was - maybe $10,000 and then I was required to "sell" money to the head teller...not an easy thing to do if the queue was full! And the drawer could fill up quick - forget about large bills - the smaller ones pile up quickly although turning away one large bill seems not such a big deal, if someone is new and on limits, they are unlikely to take a chance. The 'probation' period only was 3 or 6 months I think and then the instincts and intuition start to develop. It helps if there was prior experience working with people and/or money; some people never have, I started when I was a kid. Actually, it's the thing to do. One day we were unbelievably busy, it had to have been a payday and maybe even around Christmastime. My reserve drawer was near capacity and although by then I was an experienced Senior teller and that day working on the private client side of the bank, thus receiving much higher level cash deposits from businesses and other individual customers, it did not exempt me from limits. I really needed to get rid of the cash but there had not been a moment to stop. I was even throwing money into my coin safe underneath both my till and reserve drawer. Here's what happened: For whatever reason, I had to walk away from my station to fetch something...to complete a transaction that I didn't already have at my station. Things seemed fine and we finished the day but when I counted my till I was off $500 exactly. Did the double count, nothing. Then bank rules require an officer to count my cash and review my transactions. Still nothing. They kept looking because I'd been there about three years and knew I hadn't taken it so everyone, the entire bank was stymied. I was devastated. I knew my mistake was terrible and I admitted it. I also was nearly certain where the money went but obviously could not prove it because a change had occurred earlier that hadn't made sense until it became apparent the money was gone. So it was this thing like, you made the mistake, you have to live with it now and that person knew it. Game. Set. Match. And so I tell this completely off topic money story in the hopes it might help with understanding why some teller wasn't accommodating - he/she might have been practically restricted from doing so, or...just not great at their job, or poorly trained. For two of the three it's always worth letting the bank know and this I know from the great experience I had at my bank. Customer experience was everything and this was a major (then/now) huge part of how we did our job so if you feel "oh, it doesn't matter if I say something" I tell you, yes...it really does. If the past 10 years or so has proven anything it's that banks get things wrong sometimes. 😉 Oh as for the "feel of denominations" of US money, it's of course correct that the sizes of note have all been the same but I'm inclined to think that indeed, someone without sight would probably have the ability to detect one note from another because of the depth of the engravings and by feeling the different faces of whomever was on the center of the note and the feel of whatever number was on the corner of the note. There were deep, deliberate engravings made in the past to make the impressions on the note that one could certainly feel - nothing like ridges but there were certainly palpable edges and dents/impressions made in the paper - by the heavy plates used to stamp ink on the notes. Of course when a person loses the ability to use one sense the other senses become much more attuned and so I am not surprised to here of the blind clerk that managed so well with money; as I mentioned above, I could feel a counterfeit before I saw it (some actually did look good) and before I confirmed it with the Secret Service (yep we had a direct hotline to them, special phone and everything) so I believe that easy. I know it's true too that security and processes have changed in order to deter counterfeiting so the money is probably a bit flatter now because the paper has holographic images and other secret surprises embedded into it so that hard strikes from old heavy engraving plates would destroy the built in security embedded into the paper. That said, with the new methods there has to be yet another way for blind folks to use these new effects in the money to aid them in determining which notes is which. They did turn some US notes funny colors; our Ten is a sort of peach shade and the Hundred is to me, periwinkle-ish. Calling it just blue seemed boring. But it sure was odd when it debuted. I guess they had to pull out all the stops to try to keep them from duplicating that one. I'm glad I don't have to be the one trying to look out for bad notes on a daily basis. I'm no longer handling large sums of cash and my purse now is more in line with JB's youth travel budget 😉
  6. I enjoyed hearing about the Stanny and about the shillings/rouble/pound conversion not to mention that it must have been a great experience - you've probably mentioned it before and maybe on our Northern European board too although I confess I cannot recall but then I've only been around here a few short years before moving over from Independent Traveler/Family Vacation Critic after years and years. I think it's awesome when young people get to do school trips like that to get an early start on opening up the world beyond their own communities and what's in books or on the telly/cinema screens. It helped even seeing your conversions up there because I'm always trying to figure what the value of the money is in older films because it does relate to the story if I know how much a shilling or a crown or a guinea is or even what a pound was worth at a certain time. But a Stanny? I read all about the Fitzwilliam family and the mines and the flats they had and etc etc but there wasn't anything about a unique currency which sounds like it was perhaps another way to keep the miners stuck within their own class by restricting them to a closed form of currency but maybe I don't have it right? But indeed a mystery as to how it remained in circulation for such a long time! The other day though I found an Irish type of penny when I was sorting through a pack of travel change since I couldn't recall what was in the mix and this coin, I have to research what it is and why ever it was in with my travel coins because undoubtedly I picked it up in the U.K. but I'm sure like our Stannies and $500 note and Silver certificates (and the date on the coin) it ought to be out of circulation but someone would accept it in a minute as it looks like any old penny. And now we can pay by holding our phones over a small white plastic thing. Won't be anyone waving around metal detectors looking for an old Nokia, will there? Another reason why this was fun...travel, history, knowledge, info, humor....(but yes, progress is good) 🙂
  7. Oh this is good......... These islands....the money....the passports....the government....the Queen/Duke.....how are there not more BBC dramas conjured up around all this? MI5/6 will not abide it? The possibilities are just.....wow. An aside....all hail the history teachers and students, this is a LOT to get through, well it's a constant isn't it, understanding history? Oh and was William a bastard in the....not quite biblical sense but without the 'j'accuse' intonation? Or both? So Jersey and Guernsey, quite separate and apart but if you remove the 'n' and swap out the 'g' ......was that deliberate? So this went way off the rails 😜 History is awesome 🙂
  8. There are so many questions, but then I would probably have to remove my own posts 🙃 although I won't tell if you don't.... I'll look up what a Bailwick is... (it's been a fun thread 😉 thanks everyone!)
  9. Well....I didn't work for the Bank of England but I did work for one of the biggest American commercial banks and although our notes don't exactly expire or become non-negotiable as some Sterling notes do, money does get taken out of circulation but only because it's old. What changed the need to "recycle" it even quicker was the arrival of the ATM because they performed better (when I was filling them) when the notes were clean and smooth. Notes that did come out of circulation here were the Gold and Silver certificates that resembled ordinary notes but not exactly - there was a distinction. I've never seen a Gold Certificate but I have a few Silver certificates and would get them from time to time in the bank and the reason I mention all this is the theory, I think that you've all helped me arrive at with the great (and funny!) comments: it could be that when these various notes arrive in different hands and different transactions, it will depend entirely upon the person who is on the receiving end (collecting the money) of the transaction and what their awareness or understanding is of currency. Money is money and a currency rate is a currency rate. If fiver is a fiver, it ought not matter what the note looks like as long as that note is representing the exact rate of the GBP. The example of an American two dollar bill is perfect because it absolutely is legal tender but again, like the Silver certificate, a lot of people haven't seen one or are aware that there is/was such a note. Therefore being presented with a bill triggers an understandable response: you can't use this! A dreadful thing here is when a sidewalk vendor gives me change with Susan B. Anthony dollar coins. They're nearly the same size as our 25 cent coins and so in my change purse....it doesn't go well when I reach in and rely on the feel to choose my coin. Thomas Jefferson and Susan B. ought to have gotten better representation than these monies although Jefferson is also on the nickel. I once discovered a five hundred dollar bill in a large cash deposit that a business customer was making and I asked him if he was sure he wanted to deposit this bill. It was easy to spot when I was counting even though I counted rather fast, the shade of the ink was different and the paper felt different - I probably felt the paper before I saw the ink - but the customer said no he didn't want it so he got the credit for $500 only. Immediately I called someone I knew that collected coins and notes to see if they wanted the note and they said yes so I was able to keep the note in my cash drawer because my manager was cool, each night we stored our cash drawers away with a certain amount that I can't recall. I kept forgetting to "buy" it out of my drawer because eventually it was either time to buy it or forward it to the treasury because it had to be surrendered since these bills were no longer in circulation and if we were audited, it wouldn't be great because it would show I'd been carrying the note along in my drawer. The same thing would happen with Silver certificates...I'd ask people if they wanted the note back to switch for another note but most of them did not really understand what I was talking about and just wanted me to get on with the transaction. So...I wonder could this be what's happening if/when currency from other territories or departments or regions is presented in a transaction? It absolutely is legitimate but it will all depend upon the person that is conducting the transaction. The human factor. It kind of happened to me at this bank when I was new, a customer requested American Express traveler's checks in either French or Swiss francs and I thought "what???" we're in America. Of course I did not yet know that it was possible (although a bit arduous) to purchase traveler's checks denominated in another currency. So that day, I was the one that almost blocked the transaction. When it comes to money, banking, currency, crossing borders (maybe just bridges or small bodies of water) and the effects of time, there can be a lot to take into consideration for a trip and in the day to day! As to us ever having separate money in the states....I hope not; just the thought of that brings back bad memories of the fact that there was a time when we were split in two and had different governments and currencies and presidents. The fifty state quarters thing was enough when they just put a different state on the back of George Washington. 🙂 And a tip regarding the feel of money...anywhere because I know the same paper maker provides paper to a large number of western countries and probably more and more countries in the world: that's always the best and only way to tell a note is counterfeit because they can't ever get the paper to feel right. Every single one I caught, I felt it before I saw it while counting large stacks of money...it got me to pause cold stop. Most of us don't use cash that much anymore and the cash we get from ATMs in banks probably goes as it did when I was filling them; only the money that was "delivered" by armor car was put into the machines because it was "clean" money...not crimped and serial numbers are good. The little ones in mini-marts? Only if my life depended on it. So...I haven't even finished reading all these posts but I'm loving the history and local commentary and interesting thoughts. The cheek I got in Scotland probably only came my way because I was a visitor and maybe I had mentioned arriving from London or Tadley where I'd been visiting too. But I enjoyed it and for me it was just one of the things that I travel for...learning and understanding. Just like now even though I am home and would really like to go to the Channel Islands or Wales or maybe Ireland (I am a citizen but have not ever been) and for now, I love to hear these kinds of bits about places I hope to be. 🙂 Thanks to everyone for commenting, its great!
  10. So happy to hear that you've received a refund. Thanks so much for following up with the news, it's helpful for everyone to know that these disputes have positive outcomes and are worth pursuing in addition to learning any information about all the details that you encountered from the time the fraud occurred. I also wanted to second a recommendation mentioned in this thread about using PayPal. I and some of my family use it to send each other money and I also use it to pay some other bills and it works without incident every time. I started using PayPal probably LONG before most people did and as with most things, initially it was not without a few hiccups but any issues that I had were remedied immediately and without any questions. Back then, they offered me a slim credit card sized random number generator to add an additional layer of security to my account login and I still use it, maybe because I once worked in banks and other financial institutions where we had multiple layers of security and loads of money was at stake....old habits. Since then, a number of years ago, I have not ever had to lodge one single dispute nor has anyone I am close with. Alas, if any outlet you are considering to use accepts PayPal you can feel confident using them. Thanks again for the great news and follow up 🙂
  11. I feel like such a git for asking and I suppose I could google for a wiki answer but I'm wondering why? I love that Guernsey has it's own currency (kind of like Scotland except yes, I know, it's so not Scotland) but if it's of course equal in value to the GBP then why ever wouldn't it be accepted in England or elsewhere in the U.K.? Too many different currencies to account for? I can appreciate this having had to account for large amounts of cash in a big bank once upon a time - send out the old money, unpack the new money every week. Only....and I suppose it doesn't compare, we had quarters (25 cents) with all 50 states on one side fora good part of the aughts and they were good in every state.....ok say bad things about me, I know 😉 I was surprised, then amused by the reaction when I spent my first English sterling note in Edinburgh - perhaps because I was obviously a visitor - the part chortle, part the struggle is real - "here, this is better money" when handing me some change for whatever it was I was purchasing. Still.....he accepted the money. I'd have been less amused if I learned the money wasn't even accepted although it's likely, as with our OP is planning to prepare for their trip, that I'd have arrived unprepared. But then again, I do *totally* get the whole wanting a separate parliament, money and whatever else for a certain feeling of uniqueness and singularity. I suppose like everything wonderful with the U.K. there's a long, wonderful history that I haven't yet learned about that is always fascinating. On my first ever trip to Europe I departed with about US$50 in Swiss francs, French francs and German marks...more than I needed to manage and I ended up with a few lira too because I took a boat into Italy from Switzerland. The euro has been incredible in this regard! But then as mentioned, so have credit or debit cards with no fees. I carry almost no cash anymore even at home. A few years working at the bank during uni and it put me off money forever, so to speak :eek: For anyone that indulges me on the currency curiousity beyond a wiki link, I'm grateful. It's always the context from a citizen and cc member that I'm most keen on and that I value most. Wiki won't ever have that 😄 (That's for when I lose track of which King, when....the Queens I know, Elizabeth I, Victoria and Elizabeth II because that's all there were/is and I have to know!!)
  12. I stayed in Modena visiting friends and as I read this I’m kind of kicking myself because one of the girl’s boyfriends was an engineer at Ferrari so I could’ve probably had access there like I have access now at NASA which is VIP and very cool. More important to me was there was an Armani outlet in Modena. THAT I went to...if I hadn’t been with locals I’d never have known it was there or found it. A plus of living there? Maybe. We did go to Imola race track which was pretty cool. One, I’ve never ever been to a race track, two...it was a Formula 1 race track so it’s legit serious. Kind of hard to watch though but the atmosphere is truly something. I echo the sentiments about the roads being easy...wonderful highways and we never hit traffic going to/from Imola or when we went to/from Florence. Bologna train station is easy, convenient. I never could have imagined there would be soooooo many different types or offerings of balsamic vinegar but there are. Imagine you’ve walked into a wine shop only it’s not wine, it’s all vinegar and....it’s intense. Probably one of the best gelato I ever had was in Modena. Some local place we drove to also. There was an incredible, large outdoor market near the football arena, I could hear the supporters singing throughout the match. Modena has an impressive duomo too, naturally. And...not any more of course but every year Pavarotti had a charity concert for UNHCR. I got to attend the rehearsal so I was up in front, there was no audience. I had no idea I’d be seeing this when I arrived in Italy on this visit. I guess what im saying is Modena was magical. The Emiglia-Romagna is lovely. (You’ll definitely want to have some of the local cheeses!) Oh and Ferrari makes these “starter” Ferrari’s called (surprise!) Maranello that you’ll see all around if you drive on the roads. They are not exported and they’re not too terribly expensive either, for a Ferrari. Perks of being Italian...and that Armani outlet 😉 Let us know how it was!!
  13. Thank you for the link to the wiki....quick bit of history but I don’t see any details as to how it got the name. I thought it best to trust something like this to true English folks. Or maybe I’m just too nostalgic sometimes...forgive me please. 🙂 The UK is an island, isn’t it? And Northern Ireland is part of another one so....big wonderful islands but islands, I believe.
  14. As soon as I read the OP there’s a place called Mousehole my brain lit up and as I read through these posts I knew it wasn’t a false alert. But I wonder if it isn’t the sort of place that’s out of the way for a reason so as to keep it from being too overrun which I can totally understand because although I know this is no comparison, Montauk used to be a place that was only just for fisherman and some escapists, nature lovers etc. Now....there’s regular chopper service out from Manhattan. (It’s not Iron Age changes but....) Cornwall already seems spectacular at every turn but then this is one stunning island. Mousehole huh? I won’t tell. Or maybe I just need to wake up.... But, however did it get the name Mousehole? It’s got to be an interesting or pub-worthy story. 🙂
  15. I was down in South Island in April and the weather was spectacular in Christchurch, Ashburton, Hokatika, Dunedin, I was all over the island but the weather is different all over the island though I was lucky on the west coast the rain had let up. And while it was sunny and mild in the day in Dunedin, as the sun went down it really, really was COLD. I was on the water for an incredible wildlife day tour of the Otago Peninsula - albatross, seals and penguins up close - and didn't need much more than a fleece. But at night to go to sleep - I was not on the water I was on land and Kiwis don't heat their homes, maybe some do many don't - I wore every item of clothing I had and found towels to add with my bedding, whatever I could to get warm. It was that cold. In April. I kept having to remind myself how close I actually was to Antarctica and no, I was not a penguin although I had a perfectly magical time observing them from an unobtrusive but usually fine vantage point that was worth crawling through a camouflaged tunnel to arrive at. In fact, one of these fine yellow eyed friends had chosen to molt inside the tunnel and the conservationists were perplexed as to why but it gave everyone an extra special encounter. If only s/he could have shared the secret for staying warm 😉 I hope the cruise makes the Sounds - cyclone season should be about done in April and if you get the right attire you'll likely be quite alright on a brilliant sunny autumn day. My kiwi farmer friends much prefer Doubtful above Milford but they live there and can be picky....to me just about everything about NZ and particularly South Island (no shade to North Island but....) was pure heaven. Let us know how it turns out! :)
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