Europe 2009


These are some notes on the places we stayed while we were away. Where relevant, we mention ease or difficulty of access. This is something not often mentioned in guide books or on hotel web sites, but it's quite important to those who are getting elderly. Such as us.

  Dubai (outbound): Arabian Courtyard Hotel, Al Fahidi Street.
Comfortable, and not too expensive (for Dubai) if booked in advance. Close to the old Dubai Fort, now an excellent museum, and the old souk area. It has a number of restaurants, most of which seem to exist solely to sell alcohol though a loophole in Dubai's liquor laws. Indeed, the wait staff in one of the restaurants seemed very surprised when we actually wanted a meal. †
  Venice: Ai Tagliapietra, San Marco.
A nice little B&B, not far from Piazza San Marco, and very reasonably priced. Our host provided a good breakfast each morning, and much useful advice. It's up one flight of steps, but that's not much worse than one of the big bridges in Venice. There's no sign at all outside, so we got to recognise that we were at the right place by the plaque over the doorway. †
  Mantua: Agora, via Leon d'Oro 13.
A comfortable apartment in the heart of the historic centre of Mantua with easy walking to all the historic sights and many restaurants. The apartment is on the ground floor, so no problem with stairs. There is no parking, but it costs only €2.60 per day to obtain an official permit to drive into the restricted area in the centre of town and park. This is the living area of the apartment. *
  Vicenza: Hotel Continental, Via G.G. Trissino 89.
Comfortable enough and reasonably priced. It might have been a bit difficult to find without the GPS to guide us. It is right next to the football stadium, and so best avoided if there will be a match on. Ten minutes' easy walk to the city centre. The hotel has a few free car parking spaces, and there is a large and cheap municipal car park across the street. This was the bedroom. It seems it is now called Key Hotel. *
  Bellagio: Hotel Metropole, Piazza Mazzini 1.
One of our more expensive stays, but just look at the location! Right on the waterfront, a few minutes' stroll from the ferry terminals and the centre of Bellagio. The only disadvantage is that it is about five minutes' walk to anywhere that has free daytime parking. †
  And this was the bedroom. *
  Bolzano: Hotel Figl, Piazza del Grano 9.
A nice hotel right in the centre of the town, so it's only a short walk to everything. The hotel has a cafe/bar on the square (behind the greenery in the photo) which serves breakfast in the morning, and drinks and snacks through the day. However, there is no free parking nearby so you have to park in the expensive car park beneath the main square. †
  And again this was the bedroom. *
  Hallstatt: Gasthof Bergfried, Echerntalweg.
This was not where we intended to stay, but Nick messed up the booking. It was plain but adequate, although the restaurant does not deserve the praise it gets on the hotel's web site! It's on the edge of the village, with a 10-minute walk by the lake to the centre. No lift, but the stairs are not too steep. The silver car second from the right is the hire car that took us all around Italy, Austria, etc. †
Innsbruck: Hotel Weisses Kreuz, Herzog-Friedrich-Straße 31.
A very pleasant and professionally-run hotel, right in the centre of Innsbruck and only a few minutes' walk to most of the places of interest. It has free car parking spaces in a nearby underground car park, but not very many so for the first night we had to use a rather expensive commercial car park.
  Lindau: Hotel Noris, Brettermarkt 13.
A rather quirky hotel very close to the lake waterfront in this attractive little town. There is no lift. We were initially allocated a room on the third floor, with a view towards the lake but, after helping us get bags up there, the receptionist agreed that a room on the second floor would be better, even if there was no view. Hotel guests can drive into the historic centre to drop off or pick up luggage and passengers, but then have to park in one of the big car parks outside the centre, some 15 minutes' walk away.
  Brunnen: Hotel Brunnerhof, Gersauerstrasse 3.
Another rather strange hotel, that has seen better days. The web site claimed it has a bar and restaurant, but they were not operating the three days we were there (Wednesday to Friday). However, it is very close to the waterfront and so is convenient for catching a boat for the scenic trip up the lake to Lucerne. It has a very small lift and, although there are doors to the lift shaft on all floors, the lift itself has no doors. Car parking is available at the hotel next door (same management) but we did not know this and parked in a cheap municipal car park some five minutes away.
  Chamonix: Hotel de l'Arve, 60 Impasse d'AnĂ©mones.
A very pleasant modern hotel. We had a room at the far side, with a balcony overlooking the river that runs through Chamonix and, cloud permitting, a magnificent view of Mont Blanc. It is at the edge of the centre of Chamonix, only a few minutes' walk from many shops and restaurants. Plenty of free car parking. Thoroughly recommended.
  Aosta: Hotel Cecchin, Via Ponte Romano 27.
Eccentric is perhaps the word to describe this hotel and its owner. It was the only time I was offered a discount if I paid in cash and did not ask for a receipt. But it was comfortable enough and served a good Continental breakfast. The web site claims that "the hotel is situated within a stone's throw from the town centre", which is something of an exaggeration. It's about five minutes' walk to the start of the main street, which then extends for some distance. No lift, but we managed the stairs to the first floor. Car parking in a nearby free municipal car park. †
  And this was the bedroom. *
Certosa di Pavia: Hotel Ristorante Italia, Corso Partigiani 48.
The web site says the hotel is "in a splendid farmhouse from 1700", but it seems a thoroughly modern hotel. Comfortable room, a good Continental breakfast, and a restaurant with good evening meals that clearly did a roaring trade in take-away pizze. Plenty of free car parking, and a bus stop right outside for travel into Milan.
  Parma: La Pilotta, via Garibaldi 31.
An interesting B&B on the second floor of a building facing one of Parma's main streets. The photo shows the entry from the street to the parking in the courtyard. A difficult passage when turning right from the right lane! Entry to the building is by a lift to the right of the covered part of the entryway. Although it is on a main street, noise is not a problem at night; but you know when the trolleybuses start running in the morning. Free car parking and only a few minutes' walk from the centre of Parma. And Clementina was very helpful indeed. †
  Our accommodation was really a small suite, with both living room and bedroom. This was the living room. *
  Levanto: Villa Margherita, Via Trento e Trieste 31.
A nice, modern hotel not far from the centre of Levanto. A very obliging owner, and free car parking with a lift from the car park down to reception level. However, there is no lift from street level up to reception, or from reception up to the rooms. Returning to the hotel from the waterfront involved a 15-minute walk up a fairly steep hill to get to the hotel gate. From there, the long flight of steps in the picture led up to reception, followed by another flight of stairs to the room. Fine for the young and fit, but not so good for the elderly. But that is true of many places along the Italian Riviera. †
  Pienza: Relais Il Chiostro, Corso Rossellino 26.
This was our one extravagence on this trip: a night at this lovely hotel and a meal in its excellent restaurant. The hotel is in the cloister buildings of the ex-convent next to Pienza's cathedral. The comfort, service, and food were as one would expect from a hotel of this quality. Stay there if you can afford it. The hotel will valet park your car for a price, or there is free parking outside the walls about 250 metres away, down a very steep path.
  A very comfortable bedroom. *
  Montepulciano: Il Marzocco, Piazza Savonarola 18.
Obviously a family-run business and in need of some refurbishment in places, but quite adequately comfortable. Most of the ground floor is used by shops; reception and the breakfast room are on the first floor; and the rooms are on the second and third floors. Our room was on the second floor, with a view over the Tuscan countryside. The hotel has a few free parking spots and we were able to get one each night by returning from our trips by mid-afternoon.
  Rome: Apartment Orbitelli, Vicolo Orbitelli 11.
A pleasant, comfortable, and well-equipped flat on the first floor of a building on a very narrow street at the western edge of Rome's historic centre. This is the living room, with a little kichen area. There was a supermarket about five minutes away, so no problem in getting food for breakfasts. It was easy walking distance to Campo die Fiori, Piazza Navona, and Pantheon. To get further afield, we just hopped onto Rome's efficient bus system.
  Barcelona: Sagrada Luxe, Avinguda de Gaudí 28.
Oh dear. As you can see from the photo, there was a marvellous view of the Sagrada Familia from the living room window of this apartment, but it suffered from lack of care and maintenance. For example, it sleeps six people yet there were only three eating forks provided. This was remedied when we complained, but other problems were ignored. The agent twice said she would come to the flat to talk with us, but did not show up. We are not providing contact information, as we cannot recommend this apartment. It was convenient for visiting the Sagrada Familia, but we needed to use the metro to get to other parts of Barcelona. Plenty of bars and restaurants nearby, but a rather limited selection at night. †
  Valencia: Apt 28, Calle Heroe Romeu 16.
This apartment was much better, probably because it was run by its owner and not an agency. Pleasant and comfortable accommodation in an area with plenty of bars and restaurants. There is a metro station about five minutes' walk away, but the metro does not yet serve the centre of Valencia and walking there took 15 to 20 minutes.
  Granada: Abadia Hotel, Triana Baja 7.
The hotel is hidden away down a narrow street and looks rather bland from the front, but behind the frontage is a quite large and pleasant courtyard with the rooms opening off a balcony. The rooms are comfortable, and the manager was very helpful. The hotel is near the corner of the semi-pedestrianised main street of the old town and the traffic-laden main street of the newer area. It's an easy walk to most of the historic sights, but the Alhambra is some distance away at the top of a steep hill so a bus or taxi is needed. A reasonable selection of bars and restaurants nearby. †
  Sevilla: Casa Sacristia Santa Ana, Alameda de Hércules 22.
Another comfortable hotel, built around a roofed central courtyard. It is at the northern edge of the historic centre of Seville, so it is about 10 minutes' walk to the main central square, and another 10 minutes from there to the "main sights" of the Alcazar and the cathedral. The area near the hotel has plenty of bars for breakfast or a drink, but not many good restaurants for an evening meal. †
  Our bedroom in Casa Sacrista Santa Ana. *
  Cordoba: Hotel Mezquita, Calle Pl. Santa Catalina 1.
This time, the hotel was built around a number of courtyards. We were originally booked into a room with a view of the Mezquita, but this area does not have a lift, so the receptionist decided to put us into a larger room, without view, in a wing that had a lift. The hotel is in the heart of Cordoba's historic centre. One of the entrances to the Mezquita is straight across the road, and other sights of tourist interest are in easy walking distance. †
  Madrid: Hotel Carlos V, Calle Maestro Victoria 5.
A very traditional hotel, in the heart of central Madrid. We had a room at the front on the top floor, with a balcony overlooking the street. You can't see it in the photo, as the rooms are set back to allow the balconies. It was easy walking to many shops, restaurants, and sights; and Madrid has an excellent metro system. †
  Rome: Relais al Senato, Corsia Agonale 10.
We had a one-night stopover in Rome on our way back, and were glad we decided to stay here. We were put into an apartment on the top floor, which had access to a rooftop terrace with this view across Piazza Navona. Magic. †
  Dubai: BurJuman Arjaan Hotel, Trade Center Road.
This feels like a bog-standard international **** hotel, but apparently Dubai classes it as serviced apartments, which means it cannot serve alcohol. On the other hand, there is an entry direct from the hotel into the large BurJuman shopping centre.
  This was the room.

That's it, folks! Thank you for joining us in this adventure. If you want, you can go to our home page and look at some other travels.

Copyright © 2009 by *Lynn Booth or †Nick Booth. Please contact us if you wish to use a photo.