Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bologna Hotel: 4 Star Comfort

 Rest and Relax in Bologna, Italy

If you have stopped by my blog before, you know on my extended trips I keep to a budget whenever possible.   I certainly save for each trip via a plan that most others would never enjoy.     However, at times it is necessary or desirable to go out of budget to enjoy some well needed rest.

After 2 weeks of travel while fighting the flue,, I planned to spend the two days prior to my adventure with Laura Massoni Travel, in a luxury hotel in Bologna.
Within 2 blocks of the train station and 1 block from the main
 street to the center of town

I prefer the old grand dames of European hotels but for this stay I selected a hotel with wifi, breakfast, a restaurant if I needed it and close to the train station.   Against all advice from every online traveler, I had packed too much and did not want to travel far.   In my defense, I shall be in two different climate, attend two travel shows, several business meetings as well as a walking adventure and a session picking olives!   All this requires appropriate equipment. 

But this post is about NH Hotel Bologna a part of the NH hotels  http://www.nh-hotels.com/.     I expect  business travelers are familiar with NH Hotel chain.  With several meeting rooms, the hotel was busy with meetings the first day of my visit.

A good sized room after the min rooms I was given as a
solo travel in other hotels
As promised it was within two blocks of the train  station and an easy ‘roll’ for large suitcases.   This is a modern vs traditional hotel.  Check in was crowded but the two desk employees were very efficient.    One employee spoke English and was willing to try to understand my Italian (solely for my benefit to practice more). 

I was asked if i wanted to purchase an upgraded room (declined), given a membership into the NH club that I could not read (in Italian) but was assured it was free and my my electronic key was cut, My room number was written down NOT shouted out for everyone to hear (bravo) and the times and location for breakfast and dinner was shared. 

All set to enter the lap of luxury for 2 days.   My room was far away from the elevator which I had requested, faced away from the station, had windows that opened and air conditioning.   Heating in most Italian cities that I have visited is often not turn the heat on prior to November    There are government regulations that can restrict times that heating is used, fortunately the hotel was very comfortable.

Additional benefits to the NH BOLOGNA

A wonderful bathroom the size you will find in higher end hotels.   A deep tub, a strong shower, lots of hot water and BIG fluffy towels.   A pleasant addition was a lighted magnification mirror.   After weeks of poorly lite bathrooms it was great to have every amenity with in one room.

A treat to find a make up mirror.

The Bed:

Although I believe  requested a full size bed the room had two twin beds.   I expect had i returned to the lobby my room might have been changed but I elected not to bother.   The bedding was plush with a  cushioned mattress pad ,crisp sheets and wonderful pillow.    All this can be appreciated after two weeks of standard housing.,

The Room:

Large flat screen TV with English news stations.

Carpeted (a little worn and needed a deep cleaning)

High ceilings

Windows that  open

What was missing:
There was no luggage rack that I could locate so your  suitcase remains on the floor
The closet was almost inaccessible with the door opening for just 1/4 of the space
The working desk was far too small for more than a laptop since the TV took up most of the surface (wall mounted TV can resolve this)

Only ONE electrical outlet at the desk.   The bathroom outlet required a plug adaptor I did not have.

I shall continue to look for other outlets tonight.   The problem with one outlet:  if you have a computer, camera and phone to recharge you must remember to alternate every few hours.    Women travelers who have electric appliances may find one outlet will delay morning rituals.

Breakfast:    I had declined dinner the night before but saw a few diners in the restaurant.   Bologna is know for the best food so I expect guests were out visiting one of the many restaurants

The dining area is very large with many tables for 2.   There is no need to tell the waitstaff you are traveling solo.  In the morning after giving your room number you are free to choose any table and select from the buffet.

The buffet was very large with a varied selection.   Each food station had several serving post to accommodate the large number of guests so you do not have to wait in a conga line while the guest in front  selects the best piece of fruit! 

I sat next to the coffee machine.  This is Italy and there is a coffee machine!   I understand it saves time.   Although the machine produced an acceptable cup of cappuccino, nothing replaces the hand prepared cup in the morning.  Sometimes the barrister is an artists and creates a design on the top to share a smile with you.

I arrived at the  end of the breakfast hours but was not limited to how much I could consume or how long i could remain in the breakfast room.  The staff continued to refill fruit and juice containers past the ‘end of breakfast’, instead of carting off the remaining food exactly at 9 am.

Other comments: 

There is a strong wifi signal in the room which is important in a business hotel

There is a computer in the lobby that I did not need to use

I asked about the ‘business center’ listed in the hotels.com listing:   there is no designated busines center and I asked for several documents to be printed for me via email to the front desk.  When I returned from dinner the documents were waiting for me.

My booking was through Hotels.com who did not compensate me for this visit.

The opinions represented above are my own.   I was not compensated by the hotel nor given any incentive to express these opinions.  As a solo traveler I have requirements of a hotel that other travelers may not need.

I would be wiling to return to NH B   when in Bologna again.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

On the road again: without wifi!

You become dependent on the internet to find information, store your photos, make reservations, download maps.

When you plan to write about your adventurers or misadventures wifi connections become paramount.   Have you passed on a hotel when you find they charge $5.00 or more for internet?

The past 7 weeks have been a challenge to find the time to back up photos, store information and write anything meaningful.   This last week particularly since the ship I am returning on will offer FREE laundry service but charges for wifi.     Stories may come to you in a blast or dribble in as I find places to post and time to upload photos.

Be sure to check both blogs for the ongoing saga of the UK world travel show and the Italian travel show in Rimini.     Learning so much in so little time makes your head hurt.

So sign up for posts at both http://www.hometoitaly.com and http://www.maturesolotravel.com.   I hope the stories make you smile or even laugh!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Florence Italy: La Missericordia di Firenze

*  Just read that the museum has been renovated!

The Misericordia has an ancient history in Florence although Thousands of tourist pass this building but have  no idea what is behind the ornate door across from the Duomo.

I visited the museum of the Misericordia on the only day there is an English tour:  Monday.  However, don't expect a fluent dialogue of the history and the items on display.   My host was most gracious and patient while I tried to interpret her information or ask questions in my very limited Italian.

There is an English brochure that gives a fascinating history behind the modern day ambulance workers.   *All facts and information in this post are from that brochure which was printed in May 2014 with texts by Silvia Nanni.

This sinister mode of dress hides the fundamental basis of the Misericordia, charity and service to their fellow man.

Such a low profile entrance only steps from the front of the Duomo

Zane:  baskets large enough to hold and carry a person

"Members of the Misericordia have assisted in the transportation of the ill to hospitals as well as in burying the dead".  "During the numerous plagues from 1325 onwards, the Misericordia showed great courage and kindness, walking through the streets to help those afflicted".

Their faces were covered to keep their identity hidden and to be anonymous.   To warn people that they were transporting a plague victim a bell was rung.    This alerted towns people to keep moving and not risk exposure.

 The Missericordia's services has included contemporary disasters:

WWI the provided transported wounded soldiers.  In WWII's aerial attacks and resistance fighting in the streets and during the flood in Florence they continued to serve the sick in Florence
Today services are offered with modern transport

“ The venerable Archconfraternity of the Misericordia of Florence is one of the oldest institutions of the city, having been founded in the 1200s.  An ancient legend tells us a most interesting story related to its origins.”

“Florence of the 1200’s was a city engrossed in its trade and commerce:  two important fairs were held each year and on such occasions a great number of men were employed for the transport of merchandise.   The porters usually sheltered themselves from the rain in the Adimari’s basement or cantina situated in Piazza San Giovanni. 

In the year 1240 among these workers was Pietro di Luca Borsi, a very devoted many that tired of hearing his fellow workers’ curses, suggested that each time the name of God or of the Virgin Mary was taken in vain, a coin (crazia) should be placed in a box as penitence for the offense committed.   (could this be our contemporary ‘swear jar’?)

Soon a large sum of money was accumulated and again prompted by Borsi, it was used to buy six baskets-zane- each capable of containing a person.It was established which porters had to carry the zane week by week, receiving a coin (giulio or paolo) for each trip they completed in carrying the sick to the hospital or any person that had been found on a road in need of medical assistance.  Note:  Historians proved Borsi did not accomplish the above)”

There is an extensive description of the political and social conflict and religious influences in Florence that finally led to the establishment of this organization who’s members always did the utmost in the transportation of ill to the hospital as well as in the burying of the dead.   Later its obligations spread to:  liberating debtors from prison, providing subsidies to the indigent ill, dowries to improvised girls as well as providing for the decent burial of the poor.”

“Perhaps the Misericordia did their most courageous work during the many plagues.  Walking the streets with their characteristic ‘buffa’ (hood) with the lower part covering the benefactors identity.   It was believed charity had to be done anonymously.     During the 1630 plague a member walked ahead of the  ill or corpse and rang a bell to warn the population and clear a path.”

Now I find the title Misericordia on the ambulances in Firenze.  I wonder if this is the foundation for modern day volunteers.