I wasn’t really planning to write about this trip at all, but certain events accrued and I feel that I need to put everything to the paper to give it a rest.
I will start from the beginning:
As we were back from our traveling in Asia, my husband got invitation to a conference in Malta in the beginning of March. Too soon for me to travel, as I just took almost a month vacation, but the atmosphere at the office become more and more unbearable for me and I had the thought that the time has come for me to quite and may be take a break, stay home, do some sawing and look for a new job.
As a general rule I don’t stay in one company more that 5 years and here I am finishing 7 years of working at the same place. Overall this was a nice ride: small, family operated IT company, just as I like it: when we get to know each other and become as a family. But our circumstances has change and also my bosses. He got married, had children and the new wife came from extremely wealthy family with lots of pressure to get rich, fast and no matter who is around.
This is not what I want around me. I don’t need this stress and pressure. I am at the time of my life when I can relax. I don’t need to work hard and I can enjoy traveling and spend time with my family. I notified my boss that this is my last month at work and decided to join my husband on his trip.
At that point I couldn’t find a convenient way to get to Malta, so we look what there around and decided to go to Palermo, Sicily. We never been there and the island look like exotic enough place with all the right ingredients we so much learn to appreciate on our travels: history, people and local food!
The plan was simple: my husband goes to his conference and when he is done, he will join me in Palermo. I will flight the day early and meet him at the hotel. We will spend about a week there; back home on Sunday and everyone goes back at work on Monday (including me, if I even have a job).
We checked local hotels and didn’t find anything interesting, but we saw a lot of B&B and those caught our attention. We booked one, after a day we found something more attractive and re-booked it and later we found another place that got 10 on his reviews. It was a little more expensive that all the others, but we decided – why not! We can afford it, so we re-booked again and took the most expensive B&B with total score of 10 even with just few reviews. It’s very unusual to get such a high score and we were impressed.
Now I will get to the point of this whole post;
How reliable are those reviews on Booking.com, Trip advisor, YELP, etc.,???
Do you rely on those?
I read the good and the bad reviews about the place. Some times I read bad review and it’s don’t diminish my opinion of the place because it’s not relevant to me. But I rely on those reviews! I want to trust they are honest and based on person experiences. One can have bad experience and its OK – its his/her experience and I respect it. One will enjoy a place tremendously and give it a 10 – that OK too.
The owners responsibility is to see why someone wrote bad review and sometimes it’s not very objective or it was a minor incident, that most people will overlook. Just acknowledgment from the owner makes travelers feel better.
The place do care! We all know you can’t please everyone all the time, but you can do you best and please most people most of the time and this is just perfect!
In today’s age of on-line reviews and on-line everything – if you are the owner of a business and you (because to be on any of those sites – THE OWNER has to open an account and register) decided to attract people using all those web site – you have to understand that you are opening yourself to good and bad reviews alike! Take it and try to improve or respond to someone who is not happy with comments of your own. Don’t dismiss and don’t be negative – this will not help any one!
I do rely on the reviews, especially when I am traveling to new places overseas. I also write reviews myself and I am trying to be as honest as I can – this is MY experience. It’s very rarely I will write negative review. Actually, I only did it’s once on yelp for the new sushi restaurant in our area. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one to write such a bad review and the place is still open – go figure… But as I said before: everyone initiated to their opinions and I can’t dismiss how others feel.
So here is my in-take of the events conspired me to write this post:
We booked this very expensive B&B in Palermo that got a perfect score of 10 on the web site. You already know we travel a lot. You already know we stayed in 5 starts hotels and 3 starts hotels and hostels and Air-B&B and houses – it’s all good: some better that others. We are not particularity picky and we can handle a little dirt, or little bad service. BUT don’t expect us to write you an excellent review!
If the place fixed the problem – I will write about that. If the place ignore it – I will write about that too. It don’t mean I will not stay at that hotel again, or you shouldn’t stay there or go to that restaurant I wrote that something was wrong – that not the point of those reviews! I just want you to know if you made a chose to stay here because the price was right or location was perfect or you just feel like eating that food – have some knowledge from MY experience; and you – my fellow traveler make your own mind according to your needs!
That what I do! I am not always choose the perfect score place to visit or 5 star restaurant. I will choose what will be GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME!
If you have a perfect score on your web site and you are not really perfect… well this is the whole new ball game!!!
I got to B&B late afternoon. I was greeted by the owners daughter, because the owner left on a little vacations and left the girl (in her late twenties or early thirties) in charge. Wonderful person, nice and attentive, ready to please. All good so far.
She showed me to my room, which was specious, nice decorated with huge bathroom. She offered me a cup of really good coffee, explained how to open the special door at the house and what time is breakfast and left me be. So far – all good. I was tired, so I unpacked, took a shower and went to sleep.
At the morning I meet the girl and another guest of B&B at the breakfast table. I learned that the owner is a famous chef and she prepared all kind of goodies for guests. We had a wonderful conversation and I got a tour of the 1st floor of the house, that was built on top of ancient church from Roman times. In some places the floors was glass and you could see the ruins and the roman streets below. The house was built around, incorporating some ruins into the stricture. Very beautiful. I was really amazed by the house and the location was perfect. We walked everywhere in the city.
Quattro Canti, officially known as Piazza Vigliena, is a Baroque square. The piazza is octagonal, four sides being the streets; the remaining four sides are Baroque buildings, the near-identical facades of which contain fountains with statues of the four seasons, the four Spanish kings of Sicily, and of the patronesses of Palermo, (Christina, Ninfa, Olivia and Agata). The facades onto the interchange are curved, and rise to four floors; the fountains rise to the height of the second floor, the third and fourth floors contain the statues in niches. At the time the piazza was built, it was one of the first major examples of town planning in Europe.
We walked the streets, ate the food, enjoyed the people for all 4 days. I visited Marionette Museum, which considered as one of the world’s greatest museums dedicated to puppets, Museo internazionale delle marionette Antonio Pasqualino features an extensive collection of puppets from all over the world. Some as small hand puppets and some huge, human size.
And we visit the Palazzo dei Normanni, (Palace of the Normans) or Royal Palace of Palermo. It was the seat of the Kings of Sicily during the
Norman domination and served afterwards as the main seat of power for the subsequent rulers of Sicily. Seat of the Sicilian Parliament, today it is the seat of the Sicilian Regional Assembly. The building is the oldest royal residence in Europe, the home of the rulers of the Kingdom of Sicily and imperial seat with Frederick II and Conrad IV.
~~ The Palatine Chapel (Italian: Cappella Palatina), is the royal chapel of the Norman kings of Sicily situated on the first floor at the center of the Palazzo Reale. Also referred to as a Palace church or Palace chapel, it was commissioned by Roger II of Sicily in 1132 to be built upon an older chapel (now the crypt) constructed around 1080. It took eight years to build, receiving a royal charter the same year, with the mosaics being only partially finished by 1143. The sanctuary, dedicated to Saint Peter, is reminiscent of a domed basilica. It has three apses, as is usual in Byzantine architecture, with six pointed arches (three on each side of the central nave) resting on recycled classical columns.
We passed beautiful Fontana Pretoria square during the day and late at night. Piazza Pretoria, also known as square of Shame, is at the limits of the district of Kalsa, near the corner of Cassaro with Via Maqueda, just a few meters from the Quattro Canti, the exact center of the historic city of Palermo . In 1573 the Senate of Palermo bought a fountain initially intended for the Palace of San San Clemente in Florence, with the intention of placing it in the square. The large central fountain is the focal point for sixteen nude statues of nymphs, humans, mermaids and satyrs. Since eighteenth century in 1860, the fountain was considered the representation of corrupt municipalities, and Palermo nicknamed the square with the nudity of the statues, the Square of Shame (Piazza della vergogna.) This may have also been reflecting the prevailing influence of the Spanish Inquisition during that time.
And we took a tour of The Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele – an opera house and opera company located on the Piazza Verdi in Palermo, Sicily. It was dedicated to King Victor Emanuel II and is the 3rd biggest opera house in Europe (the third after the Opéra National de Paris and the K. K. Hof-Opernhaus in Vienna). Here we also attended a rehearsal for the next opera and were able to see how they set up the stage and visit the Royal balcony.
We walked and walked and walked – so many small streets, so many beautiful building and amazing restaurants.
We took a day trip to visit some of the most beautiful parts of Western Sicily: Erice, Segesta, Nubia and the Trapani Salt Pans. We visit an archaeological excavation at Segesta. Took in the excellent views from the hilltop town of Erice and learned how sea salt is still collected off the Sicilian coast at the Salt Pans of Trapani.
Beautiful island, beautiful people and excellent food!
So this is my trip in a nut shell, because I wanted to write about ‘reviews’.
When I came back and recovered a little, I started getting emails from all the web site I booked my trip, asking me to write a review and I did. Some places I liked more, some less. My whole blog is one big review (if I have time I will write about our amazing visit to Palazzo Conte Federico, which was one of the best highlights of our visit in Palermo – but this is for another day!)
Here I am finally coming to why I am writing this long post! I was bullied to change my review! Can you believe it??? After writing my review for the B&B and give them 8.5 with very good recommendations, saying that I will not hesitate to stay there again and how wonderful the staff and the food was with some minor discomforts. They didn’t like it! They wanted me to give them a 10!
I am sorry guys, but this was not a 10 score establishment!
Yes, it was very interesting decor. Yes, you were amazing people, BUT: the floors were never cleaned during our stay; they didn’t provide any toiletries (lucky I had some of mine). The bed, as comfortable and as big as it was; it was so low that it was very hard to get up. Some one with knees problems will really have a hard time! They closed the heater, so it was a little cold at nights and the TV didn’t work properly with very dirty remote (which I point to the owner and I did tried to clean).
There was some residue in the bathroom sink I had to clean myself and I had to remind them to put extra toilet paper.
All those were really extremely minor items and I didn’t really mind or complained, BUT this is not 10! When I am writing my review I have to be honest to who ever comes after me. What if this person have some knees issue? What if they don’t have shampoo with them? What is they get cold at night? Don’t you want to know before booking? I still would go and stay there, because I am not that picky, but someone else may be not. Travelers need to know about those details so they can make education decision.