Report Cards

From Minori, ITALY, May 27, ’04. . .

Hotel Villa Romana (Corso Vittorio Emanuele 90, Minori) — on the Amalfi Coast. We were traveling with another couple and stayed two nights here at approximately $165 per night with an EP food plan.

Our traveling partners had the sewer overflow and fill their bathroom upon taking a bath. Later that night we had bathrooms overflow and flood also. We were moved to another room where the air-conditioner did not work. We were moved twice more because there was no hot water in one room and, in the next, it took two people to open the door out of the room.

The food was sparse in serving size and very bland, as well, and service was nonexistent.

I would avoid this one at all costs.

— Don Jancauskas, Dallas, TX

From Istanbul, TURKEY, May 25, ’04. . .

Mav Evi, or Blue House (Delbasti Sok 14, Istanbul; phone 0212/638-9010), is also a hotel, but we only ate there. Ask for its rooftop restaurant, since there is also one at ground level.

The servings are generous, as is the marvelous view of the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya (lighted at night). I especially liked the hunkar begendi (veal with mashed eggplant). The meal for two with dessert (no alcohol) was $35 — not bad, for Istanbul.

Zener Pafia Konagi (Doyran Sok 13, Citadel, Istanbul; phone 0312/311-7070) was difficult to get to (and find), so we took a cab.

The restaurant is on the top floor of an old Ottoman building with a stupendous view of the city. Try to sit near the windows at the rear. We arrived near sunset with a rainstorm moving in — what a sight!

While the food and ambiance were good, the cigarette smoke was bad once the bus groups arrived, so go early. There was live Turkish music once the tour groups arrived.

Pat Minami, Rockville, MD


• On my May 5-10 trip, I caught a bus from Dublin Airport to Belfast (€19 one way). The Belfast bus station was literally around the corner from my hotel, Days Hotel (40 Hope St., Belfast, Northern Ireland).

I had reserved a single room for two nights with breakfast for a total Internet rate of $235.68, which included a service fee. The rate advertised on the side of the building, however, was £59.95 (near $107).

Days Hotel is 3-star, on a quiet street, one block from Great Victoria Street and within easy walking distance of city bus stops.

• I’d like to highly recommend the guest house we used after I met other family members. Caldhame Lodge (102 Moira Rd., Nutts Corner, Crumlin, County Antrim, Northern Ireland; phone/fax [028] 94 423099) is a 4-star guest house run by Anne McKavanagh. A double room was £45 ($81) and a single, £30, breakfast included. MasterCard and Visa accepted.

• We had three evening meals at a restaurant recommended by Anne, McGeown’s (32 Main St., Glenavy, Northern Ireland; phone [028] 9442 2467, fax [028] 9445 3967).

Nice atmosphere. Good variety of good food. Open Sundays, and credit cards accepted. Handy for us after long days elsewhere. Again, we highly recommend it.

— Winifred Cairns, Loveland, OH

From Sydney, AUSTRALIA, April 26, ’04. . .

• The Gumnut Tea Room* (28 Harrington St., The Rocks, Sydney; phone 9247 9591) — located at The Rocks, just a minute or two from Circular Quay, between Harrington and George streets.

A wonderful little tea garden in a lovely outdoor setting. Provides a wide range of tasty homemade foods, from soups and salads to fish platters and other main dishes. The meat and vegetable pies are wonderful. Breakfast is excellent, with a choice of homemade scones and fruit to bacon and eggs. Coffee, tea, juices and soft drinks are the only drinks available, but you are welcome to bring your own wine or beer.

The tea garden is open for dinner Wednesdays through Fridays but serves breakfast and lunch every day until 5 p.m. Prices run Aus$8-$18 (near US$6-$13).

It is truly a wonderful little place with much atmosphere, wonderful homemade food and reasonable prices.

— Jan Cobb, Verona, WI

*A reader has informed us that that restaurant no longer exists. She says, "We tried to find it in Oct 2012; no one in the area had any idea. The local tourist office tried the phone number for us and said it was disconnected."

On CUBA, April ’04. . .

• Stayed at wonderful Casa Particular (Calle San Lazaro 1018, Apto. 8, c/ Espada y Hospital Centro Habana; phone 878 2985), April 26-29. In a great location in central Havana, three blocks from the university and three blocks from the Malecon.

Gracious hosts, Mario and Dalia.

Very secure. Our unit had a private entrance from the rest of the house, plus a large bedroom, nice bathroom, small kitchen and separate dining area. You can e-mail Mario and he can reserve this room for you. He has two other rooms available.

$25 per night. A really, really good breakfast is available for $5. I will definitely stay here again.

Leland R. Sisk, Garden Grove, CA

On SCOTLAND, March ’04. . .

Bed-and-breakfast in Oban run by Mrs. F. McQueen (Latheron, Longsdale Rd., PA34 5JU, Oban, Scotland; phone 01631-564974) — located in a quiet residential area with offstreet parking. Easy access to the town center and the ferry to the islands of Mull and Iona.

Warm reception. The place was immaculate, very spacious and elegant. All rooms had shower and bath en suite. The price per person was £25 (near $47) for a single and £22 for a double. We had a delicious full breakfast.

In our month-long trip in Scotland, Mrs. McQueen’s was the best bed-and-breakfast.

Houstons & Wellington Guest House (41 High St., Wick, Caithness, KW1 4BS, Scotland; phone 01955 603 287, fax 01955 603 237) — centrally located. There was enclosed parking on premises.

This was a pleasant guest house with spacious, quality accommodations. The rooms had facilities en suite. The rate was £25, or £45 for a double. The bellman helped carry our luggage.

We had a generous, full breakfast, and it was the only place during our month-long trip that served a variety of hot rolls for breakfast.

George & Edith Hislop, Edmonton, Alberta

On SOUTH AFRICA, March ’04. . .

• Had an excellent guide/driver in Cape Town. We took a full-day city and peninsula tour with Francois Viljoen (P.O. Box 6178, Welgemoed 7538, Cape Town, South Africa; phone/fax 27-21-9136150 or e-mail The tour included Table Mountain, Seal Island at Hout Bay, the Cape of Good Hope and the penguins at Boulders.

Born and raised in South Africa, Francois is descended from Huguenots who fled France in the 17th century. He has a new van, and his tours are for two to eight people. He charges $100-$150 per person.

— Bill & Patricia Bocchino, Guttenberg, NJ