Sunday, May 2, 2010
To Whom it May Concern:
I recently purchased a package to Rhodes, Greece from Helena Davidovich who works for Issta. This was a package that was being sold by Flying Carpet for a six night stay at the Mediterranean Hotel for nearly $800.00. We left March, 31st and returned April, 6th. Prior to booking this trip, I had many conversations with Helena about this trip and our options. She researched many destination spots for our group, however, we specifically said that we wanted a beach vacation. There is no doubt in my mind that Rhodes is a beautiful destination, yet, perhaps during the peak season. I went to a travel agency, as I am not familiar with this area of the world and needed help. I am confused why someone would send me to a destination when things are not open. For every four shops, there was one open. There were no restaurants on the beach open, no water sports, essentially besides walking around in circles- nothing to do. We walked to the acropolis and the Old City, but that took nearly an entire day. We were told by Issta that we could take a ferry to Turkey for the day, which sold the trip for me. However, once in Rhodes, we went to buy tickets and they do not take daily trips as it is not peak season. This was such a disappointment as we had expectations which were set by Issta.
The stay at the Mediterranean Hotel was less than comfortable. We switched rooms twice as the first room had hair all over the bathroom, and then in the second, the pullout couch was broken. They had to bring in a new bed for us, and then finish stocking the bathroom. The room was clearly not ready for us. There was no clock in the room, the television was not consistent when turning on, we had to screw the bulbs into the lamps in order for them to work, the maids left the doors open after cleaning which drew mosquitoes into the room, and the entire hotel staff treated us as if we were simple college students that should not be there. The concierge gave us faulty information on when the Archaeological Museum would close, the wait staff was annoyed that we did not order drinks at night, and then were less than helpful when we asked where to go at night. The front desk specifically said that there was not much to do as it was not the peak season.
After speaking with a representative from Flying Carpet at the hotel, he said that our travel agent was a liar and this wasn’t a beach destination at this specific time period. The miscommunication from either the hotel to Flying Carpet or from Flying Carpet to Issta is not my responsibility. I paid for the travel agent to take on that responsibility, and unfortunately, with this trip, communication was lost. With Issta being the “middle-man” when selling these packages, the company should be more than confident in the trip, and also should not use this as an excuse for the inability to take responsibility when the customer is dissatisfied.
Regardless of whether other travel agents have visited Rhodes at the same time period, I was sold a beach vacation. I am very upset as I spent a lot of money on this trip, and I feel that I was lied to. In effect, Issta sold a faulty product. I’m confused to why someone would send me there if they knew it was not the peak season. I was clear in my expectations of what I wanted out of this trip, and my needs were not met. Compensation is rightfully in order as I was a paying customer whose expectations were not met. Answers are in order either from Flying Carpet or Issta as to why this would be recommended when we were repeatedly told from the hotel, Flying Carpet, owners or stores, and locals that it was the off season.
I look forward to hearing from you and I appreciate you taking the time to help me in this matter.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
On the way back, we drove through the West Bank! Yes! The West Bank! We are so close to it. It was nothing like I expected. We drove right through the security without being stopped and then we went to see a Jewish settlement. I was a little nervous, but then we were back in Israel. It is so confusing though between what is Arab land and what is Jewish land. I really can't even begin to explain as I still don't fully know. I'll fill you all in though :) So finally I am up to Sunday, which is today! We had class today, really weird to have classes on Sunday. I keep catching myself staring out the window during class looking at the West Bank and the Mosques. Hmmm I think I should be paying attention, but it really is beautiful to just look out onto the desert. After class ended, we had our academic orientation for our classes. It sounds so unorganized and just not fun to register. Worse than WWAM! Iknow! I can't even imagine something worse than that. Oh well, I'll be registering sometime within the week. Not sure what my classes are, I have a meeting with my advisor this week as well.
I cooked my first dinner by myself tonight! I cooked ground chicken, with spices!!!!!! Thanks Ro! And then some spaghetti sauce with spaghetti. Really good. I was so proud of myself! :) Did a little homework, still trying to sound out all of the sounds and then trying to figure out what it actually means. Now I feel like downloading some pictures to Facebook and then they will be up here shortly! But I miss all of you! And I am so excited to have followers and I love that I can share this with you! Adios!
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Okay, so I have been here for a week and two days. Lets start with the flight: I had to get a little extra screening on El Al Airlines (honestly because I am not Jewish, but it was fine, a little nerve racking however). The flight was long. They sat the entire group of about 55 of us in alphabetical order so I had the last row, which a wall was behind and I couldn't put my seat back. Total bummer. Food was good, movies were good. After the meals the men and young boys went to the exits and prayed. I guess that was my first look into how things would be in Israel. I sat in between two girls that have been to Israel multiple times. Oh and I was lucky enough to be sitting in the middle. Ugh. I was walking around a lot and standing and talking with other people from the program. I think once we saw daylight and then the beaches of Tel Aviv, I just remember I kept asking myself why on Earth am I studying in Israel!?!?!?!? We then take a bus to Jerusalem, find our roommates and then our apartments!
There are twelve buildings in the entire complex and I am in building four. We are on the third floor and I have a view of the dumpsters. Ha! I moved in with a girl named Sarah from MA, who goes to Bates. We were really excited that there were people living here and there were basic things as silverware and toilet paper here for us. At first there were two polish people living here who were working on their Masters, but they left yesterday. There is also another girl named sarah from CA who goes to UC Santa Barbara. She has been here all year, I have only seen her a few times as she is on her "Winter Break" now. Her boyfriend also is here for the year. So after arriving we had a few hours to unpack and then we went to the mall. We had to buy comforters, pillows, towels, slippers, lamps. Pretty much everything for your room. That wasn't the greatest feeling. I wish they had told us to really buy food as Friday is Shabbot and everything is closed for two days. People, when I say everything is closed for Friday and Saturday I really mean it. I think that was the biggest and still is the hardest adjustment. So we come back from the mall, finally get to sleep after being awake for 40 hours and then Friday arrives.
I went down the the "Shook" which is the open air market with a few people and it was INSANE!!!!!! It was incredible to see all the fresh produce but it was so busy as everyone was shopping for Shabbot dinner and Saturday meals. Its really hard to understand that after four o'clock on Fridays and before six o'clock on Saturdays you really are just resting. I mean they push it on you as you are in Jerusalem. I have heard that it isn't this bad in other parts of the country. So Friday I bought some hummus (which I live off of), some apricots, other stuff and then head back. It was so weird because you are all living in different buildings, people still barely know each other, yet you have to instantly bond so you don't drive yourself nuts. Friday night I went out with my roommate and a few other people to a bar in one of the Arab neighborhoods. Pretty chill, nothing too exciting. It was nice to get out though. The thing about being in Jerusalem and everything closing is that things are open, but they are in the Arab neighborhoods and its just whether you want to venture out there or not. I am living in an Arab neighborhood so there is like a falafel/tiny grocery store open around the corner. So its exciting to be in those neighborhoods and see life moving around.
Ok Saturday- I think I slept until like 3 in the afternoon, so nothing too great, haha. We all went out to like the American/tourist part of the city to a few bars. Then Sunday we had our orientation, and then classes started on Monday. Wow. Hebrew is beyond hard. My teacher was moving at such a fast pace and the other kids in the room had already learned the alphabet. After much convicing and crying I was moved to another class where the teacher actually wrote and sounded out the letters. This isn't easy people. I have been to the grocery store up the street a few times, but still wonder through the isles looking at everything having no idea what it is. One I rarely shop and cook on my own, and two...it's all in Hebrew! Double fail. The week went on and I got to know so many more people. Kids from all over the States and the World. Its really exhilerating to see everyone wanting to study here.
So then on Thursday we had our like first little family meal I guess. Me and five friends all cooked together and then got ready to go out to the bars. Wow, Thursday nights in Jerusalem are the night to go out. So much fun. Except everyone smokes here, and inside everywhere. I'm always showering as I smell like smoke. It really sucks. Badly. After a fantastic night of Israeli bars and clubs I finally ventured into the Old City on Friday. I got up a little eary to go to the grocery store so I could have things to eat for the weekend, as it would be close later (once again). So we take the bus down to the Old City and enter in the Christian Quarter, walked around, saw great shops that had the statues of Jesus made out of Olive Wood. Really cool. You saw people of all races and religions walking around. We then made it to the Church of the Holy Sepulchure. When we walked in the side, I was really confused by it. It is actually pretty plain compared to Notre Dame or St. Patrick's but the actually history of it is fascinating. I want to take a tour of it so I can really know what everything is. But I did get to light candles for the living and the dead. It was very emotional and overwhelming. Next we went to the Arab quarter and were in there for a while. We had lunch at this great restaurant and then walked some more. Tons of shops and little "titsey's" to buy. We kinda went off the main road and were walking in some rural areas. It was fine though. We then started walking up these stairs and didn't realize the the Mosque and terrace were right in front of us. We were stopped by two soldiers with massive guns. Ummmm yeah. A little scary, they told us to come back another day, it was fine after that. Once coming back to reality and realizing that we were just stopped by M-16s we went to the Jewish quarter. We had to go through security and then made it to the Wailing Wall. First impression was that it was kinda small. Pictures made it look much larger. We walked closer and stopped at like an area for tourists to stand. the Wall is separated between men and women, but we could stand anywhere. One of the guys we were with is Jewish and he went up to the wall. It was neat to see people sticking their prayers inside the cracks. It started to get busy as it was Shabbot. Going to the Old City was so exciting but overwhelming. When I go back I want to take a tour of certain things so I really know what everything is.
So I hope this was good for a first blog?!?! :) Ummm I'll keep them coming and pictures will be up soon!