So do you use TripAdvisor? Can you believe them?

May 4, 2015: Well just about everyone who travels, or who wants to travel or sell a travel product does. TripAdvisor owns 46 separate travel review and retail travel sellers (with posts in 28 different languages)—the most well known and popular is their travel review site where travelers—they say—post their reviews on every thing from lodging to restaurants to—well in Italy even gondola rides in Venice. Over 200 million reviews currently appear on TripAdvisor—with more than 4 million Monthly Google followers. 

In Italy The Travel Curmudgeon has become more than suspect on seeing a TripAdvisor-approved decal on a store front, restaurant, hotel, cab and even a water ferry—well we know even on a good day their service stinks! Every retail establishment in the country features a TripAdvisor logo somewhere on the premises—sometimes several—some with a year designation and many without. So beware if you see them! Better to ask a local for an opinion on a particular activity. Ask hotel staff or even restaurant service staff where they spend their money or Euros, or wherever to dine or visit.

Use TripAdvisor for research and planning but be your own “trip advisor” when you commit dollars!!! REMEMBER TripAdvisor is also in the business of selling travel, so does that influence their posts, rankings and recommendations?

Trip Advisor Logo

Menaggio, Lake Como, Italy—Ralph’s and Safeway with a view?

April 29, 2015: So what’s the view like from your supermarket parking lot? Can you see the fantastic Little Swiss Alps or the Dolomite Mountains? Probably not, unless you travel around Lake Como in Italy.

This is the view from the CONAD supermarket, the largest of two markets in Menaggio, on the western edge of Lake Como, about 30 minutes north of the city of Como. The city of Como is the major destination on the western side of Lake Como as well as a rail hub to travel south into Milan and north into Switzerland. 

Menaggio is one of the dozens of small villages that dot the 100 plus miles that cover the entire lake, and one of the small “treasures” you can visit or stay. Arrive by car, bus or be bold and travel via water ferry in a slow old fashioned yacht-like pace or high speed “hold on to your loved ones and the family jewels” catamaran hydrofoil.

Unlike the Venice water ferry system and operation, the Como ferry crews like their jobs, have ticket offices in each destination with live people that can answer questions, are pleasant and even helpful. Visit in the off seasons—avoid July and August—look for the deals, and don’t be bashful and ask for an even larger discount! Stay in a “royal” hotel (that’s a hotel with Grand in the name) or find an apartment and be a local.

And expect to walk a lot and still gain a few pounds – meats, cheeses, pasta and the best gelato in all of Italy!!! And maybe even a Cooney or Branson sighting—or even visit locations used in Casino Royal or Star Wars!!! For real.