Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Memories of trips past, quirky accommodations

As with the planning of every trip, a myriad of guide books are consulted. I found this hostel, not in Let's Go but in Lonely Planet. The major airport in Sicily is in Catania, so Catania is very important for any trip to Sicily. This is an old pallazo now turned into a hostel. It is dirt cheap and always full, usually of young Europeans. If they are full, they offer you another apartment that they own, just yards away. We've stayed at both places. These are really nice people. I've stayed at expensive places and cheap places. I prefer cheap because with the money I saved I can make more trips. Even when I started traveling, years ago, when the US dollar was still worth something I still prefer cheap. Over the years I've stayed in more cheap places that I can count and/or remember. It is these places I write about here that I've kept a record of. There will be many more in my future. For the next trip I'm hard pressed to look for and locate even cheaper places.
Carcassone, France, mai oui! I took my nieces and their mother, the girls were very small then. I thought it would be a blast for them to stay within the walls of a medieval fortified city. I've been to Carcassone twice, the second time, I stayed in the village below, the Bastide St Louis.

The exterior of the building where we stayed, the owner's shop was on the first floor, her apartment on the second and the chambre d'hote was on the third. It was really quirky, all decorated in colorful provencal fabrics and had bright pink walls. It was a lot of fun sans a lot of money. It was a loft and we had fun in Carcassone, living within the walls and our view was of turrets and the crenellations of the double walls of this fortified city, even though they were completely restored.

She chose this bed in the corner. I loved this place, I love Nicole, the owner, found this place in Rick Steves' guide.

Avignon, a pretty affordable place, within the old city, within walking distance of everything, nice owners, a young French family.

Paris, a hotel on Rue Cler, a Rick Steves' recommendation. They gave used toilet paper rolls. I don't mind bad treatment if the place is cheap. I do expect a little bit more if I paid more money. To me 110 euros (double) is a lot of money, maybe in Paris, this is dirt cheap. I don't really care, I'm easy, I just want to maximise on the value of my hard earned money. To quote Matt Gross of Le flannuer frugal, New York Times,' stretch the dollar to the breaking point'.

Catania, this is the apartment belonging to the hostel. No sooner had we arrived, we already have laundry hanging on the furniture. Some hostel forbid having wet laundry hanging from the furniture in the room. We do it discreetly, in the night, in the morning we hang them in the closet. We always have wet laundry in the room and they have to be hung somewhere. It is important to bring quick drying stuff only.

The apartment and the location maybe a dump but the view was priceless. We had an ocean view and because of the storm and rain, the waves were humongous. You can see the train tracks going to the central train station which is just 5 minutes walk away. The location is so convenient. If I need to go to the airport early in the morning, I wouldn't stay so cheap, it will be the only time I pick a 1 or 2 stars place who has 24 hours desk service and can give me an early wake up call.

Catania apartment

We've arrived in Catania, after 3 flights. At 45 eros (double) I can smile even though the room looked like a cheap boudoir in a whore house!

This place in Trapani, Sicily was a lot of fun, it was an apartment hotel. The owners also operate the restaurant downstairs. I love this place, it wasn't a lot of money, 76 euros a night.

The view of the courtyard from the apartment in Trapani, Sicily. It is such a pretty place.

All the rooms surround the courtyard and we had the front door opened all the time just so we can see the beautiful courtyard.

I have no doubt I will have more stories of quirky accommodations in the coming years. Even as I write this, I have to start looking for accommodations for the next trip, September 14, 2008.

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