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By C.T. Sorrentino “His Holiness”. I first saw him on TV, a documentary, 60 Minutes, I forget exactly where or when, but he i...

Monday, December 10, 2057

Countries Visited ... So Far ... 41 And Counting!

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 List (Alphabetical)

 Bahrain – Kingdom of Bahrain
 Belgium – Kingdom of Belgium
 Bosnia and Herzegovina
 Bulgaria – Republic of Bulgaria
 Canada
 Croatia – Republic of Croatia
 Czech Republic
 Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat/Grønland)
 France – French Republic
 Germany – Federal Republic of Germany
 Greece – Hellenic Republic
 Holy See
 Hungary
 India – Republic of India
 Ireland
 Israel
 Italy – Italian Republic
 Jamaica
 Japan
 Korea, South – Republic of Korea
 Luxembourg – Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
 Macedonia – Republic of Macedonia
 Malta – Republic of Malta
 Mexico – United Mexican States
 Micronesia – Federated States of Micronesia
 Monaco – Principality of Monaco
 Montenegro
 Netherlands
 Palau – Republic of Palau
 Palestine - State of Palestine
 Portugal – Portuguese Republic
 San Marino – Republic of San Marino
 Saudi Arabia – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
 Slovenia – Republic of Slovenia
 Spain – Kingdom of Spain
 Switzerland – Swiss Confederation
 Tunisia – Republic of Tunisia
 Turkey – Republic of Turkey
 United Arab Emirates
 United Kingdom – United Kingdom of Great Britain    and Northern Ireland
 United States – United States of America
 - Guam
 - Puerto Rico

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Title: Countries Visited ... So Far ... 41 And Counting!

Key Words: countries, country, nation, capitol, Google Maps, Google, map, maps, city, state, world, earth, visit, visited, traveler, 44, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, Yelp

Sunday, December 10, 2056

Why Should You Read My Reviews And Subscribe To TravelValue?



I served my country in the United States Air Force for over 20 years and have visited 44 countries over the last 35 years, all without spending over $75 per night for a nice hotel room and dining in excellent restaurants for well under $25 per person. How do I do it? Through diligent research, exploration, trial and error, and tapping local knowledge.
Would you like to stay in a central, 3-star hotel in a major city for under $20 per night? How about a room with a balcony and view of the Himalayas while attending teachings with the Dalai Lama for just $5 per night? Or a beachfront hotel for $13 per night? Maybe a meal prepared by a 5-star chef for less than $20? Well, you have come to the right place ...


Having several popular travel blogs CombatCritic.com and received numerous accolades from several of the top travel and restaurant websites/apps (Yelp, TripAvisor, Zomato, Tabelog, Booking.com), you can trust my opinions. 

Unlike many reviewers who are either afraid to tell the truth or have personal relationship with businesses and biased views, I reserve 5-stars (10 Bombs on my blog) for only the most flawless restaurants, accommodations, businesses, attractions and destinations, those where you absolutely and without a doubt get the most “bang-for-the-buck”. 
CombatCritic.com

I try to remain as objective as possible in all of my reviews, providing the pros and cons as I see them and a rating based on the overall “value” as compared to similar entities in similar locations. I accept no "freebies" and only identify myself as a critic after having been a customer and paid the bill, so you can trust my reviews.

Here is a breakdown of my ratings both on my blogs (where I use a ten point scale) and on travel and dining websites (that all use 5 point Likert-type scales) ...

If I hate a place, they get 1-2 Bombs (1-star)

If so-so with numerous”issues", they get 3-4 Bombs (2-stars)

If average (the vast majority of businesses fall into this category if you look at the distribution of my ratings), they get 5-6 Bombs (3-stars)

If above average, they get 7-8 Bombs (4-stars)

If they are one of the very rare “best of the best” values in my experience, they get 9-10 Bombs (5-stars – I always round up from bombs to stars because I use a 10 point Likert-type scale in order to be more discernible). 

Now that you understand my philosophy and ratings, on to my reviews …

CombatCritic

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Title: Why Should You Read My Reviews And Subscribe To My Blog?

Key Words: combatcritic, travelvalue, travel, value, combat, critic, review, reviews, objective, restaurant, hotel, attraction, destination, Italy, USA, India, Asia, Europe

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Tavira, Portugal: Nikita - Not Thai, Not Japanese, Just Great Portuguese Food And Reasonable Prices

Nikita Restaurante
Rua Doutor Parreira 104
Tavira 8800-346 Portugal
+351 926 897 859
Prices: €€€€
I had no idea this restaurant existed before our friends, Tony and Catherine, invited us there this evening. On a tiny one-way street a block west of the river in a mostly residential neighborhood is a hidden gem you will not regret trying.
Spaghetti and Prawns

Very simply decorated, the room is warm, both literally and figuratively, and inviting. The service was excellent given that just one woman, likely the owner, handles the front of house while a gentleman, her husband or a brother most likely, whips up delicious meals in the back.
Tuna

We had a bottle of Dao (€13.50), a robust, deep red and oaky, just the way I like it, between us along with a large bottle of sparkling water.
Goat Cheese


Asparagus

For starters, I had the Mussels (€6.80) in a white wine and cream sauce, my wife got the Baked Goat Cheese (€6.50), and our friends the Asparagus (€6). My fresh, steamed mussels, a healthy portion for the price arrived with little visible sauce, but when I inquired if I had received the right order, the woman happily brought me a small bowl of sauce ... obrigado!
Mussels
My entree was the Grilled Steak (200g - €16.50) with Peppercorn Sauce (€1.50), accompanied by sauteéd veggies and roasted potatoes. The steak was perfectly cooked, tender, and delicious with almost enough peppercorn sauce. The veggies, zucchini, carrots, and onions, were perfectly done and scrummy even though I  do not usually like cooked carrots and the potatoes divine.
Peppercorn Steak

My wife ordered the Pork Loin (€14) with potatoes au gratin and sauteéd vegetables, the tender pork topped with a simple, light sauce that was also very good. Our friends had the Spaghetti and Shrimp (€15) and Tuna (€16) respectively, which I did not taste, but they seemed to enjoy very much.
Pork Loin

The bill came to €108, quite a bargain for the bottle of wine, two bottles of water, four starters and four mains, and a definite TravelValue ... OOH-RAH!

CombatCritic Gives Nikita 9 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Nine Bombs Equates To:

Translation for Civilians: "U.S. Marine Response To A Verbal Greeting Or As An Expression Of Enthusiasm"

Read More Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp "GOLD" ELITE '14/'15/'16/'17/'18/'19/'20/'21/'22 
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Read Chris S.'s review of Nikita on Yelp

Zomato - #1 Ranked "VERIFIED" CONNOISSEUR (13) - Over  4 Million Review And Photo Views ... And Counting #1 Reviewer in Portland, Oregon!
Tabelog - Official Judge - "Silver"

Booking.com - Frequent Traveler "Genius"


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Title:  Tavira, Portugal: Nikita - Not Thai, Not Japanese, Just Great Portuguese Food And Reasonable Prices

Key Words: 
Tavira, Portugal, Nikita, Portuguese, fish, beef, wine, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, business, review, Yelp, Zomato, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook

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Saturday, October 29, 2022

Loulé, Faro, Portugal: Leroy Merlin - Total Incompetence and Lack of Customer Service ... Astoundingly Horrific Management!

Leroy Merlin Loulé
Av. Algarve 2, 8100-299 Loulé, Portugal
+351 289 151 700
Prices: €€€€
Wow, 96% of Leroy Merlin's reviews on TrustPilot are poor or worse and only 3% are above average! I wonder why?

That is because they could care less about customers, they treat customers in the store like garbage, like I was today, and their online/email/phone customer service, if you can call it that - it's more like customer disservice - does not even bother returning calls or emails.

I bought two, very expensive five-meter awnings and paid for them, installation, and delivery at Leroy Merlin - Loulé in early April 2022. I was told at the store when I paid for the awnings and installation that the awnings would be delivered on 19/05/2022, that their installer would be at my home when they arrived, and that they would be delivered to our 4th floor apartment terrace with 'no problem'.
I received an email a few days before the scheduled delivery date of 19/05/2022, telling me that the awnings would actually be delivered on 18/05/2022. I didn't have a problem with them arriving on 18/05/2022, but I wanted to verify with the installer that he would be here on the 18th when the awnings arrived, so I contacted him to find out what was going on and he said:

'We are an independent company and only provide the installation. The product delivery and conditions were with Leroy Merlin. Be aware because this kind of problems with the delivery happens very often'. 

'When you make the order, you told them that it is the 4th floor? I think it is better to call them tomorrow to ask if the value that you payed includes the delivery in the apartment ... We only make the installation and be sure that the client get the right choice for his needs. We don’t have access to delivery info or how they do it.'
 
‘Yes, of course I told the store’ I told the installer, not only having asked Manuel, the Leroy Merlin sales representative, if there would be a problem delivering two 5 meter awnings to the 4th floor, and he told me that they would, but our delivery address clearly indicates that we live on the 4th floor: Rua Xxx Xxxxx, 4 Dto 8700 Olhão.
 Why was the installer, whom Leroy Merlin coordinated the installation with and whom I paid for in their store, telling me that he has no involvement in coordinating this and that I have to contact Leroy Merlin to coordinate it myself? This was ridiculous and someone needed to sort it out, soon.
 
I was told when I purchased the awnings that they were a special order and could not be returned, so I verified with the installer beforehand, paying €29 for him to come to our home and provide an estimate in order to ensure they could be installed on our 4th floor terrace. He said they could and I assumed that because he was the Leroy Merlin installer, Leroy Merlin and he would do their due diligence and coordinate the delivery and installation. It seems obvious that did not happen.
 
The installer originally told me the €780 installation would take 2-3 days, justifying the ridiculous labor charges when I asked why the bid was so high. Then, he has cancelled on the 19th as originally scheduled, because he said he was working another job, and would come on the 20th instead, telling me ‘it is only going to take one day’, not 2-3 as I was originally told when I asked him why the price of installation was so high. 

A €100 per hour for labor charge is in unprecedented in Portugal, having paid three men far less than that for 2.5 days of labor when we renovated our apartment last year. It appears to me that I was charged non-Portuguese prices because I highly doubt that a Portuguese customer would pay anything near €780 for one day's labor. The math is very easy, having paid almost 63% less than I paid for this installation when I renovated our apartment. Leroy Merlin shouldn't take advantage of expat customers like they do.
 
I believe that when Leroy Merlin arranges installation and I pay Leroy Merlin for the installation, Leroy Merlin and the installer should communicate directly and handle any issues such as this, not the customer. Every time I asked him a question, he told me to 'talk to Leroy Merlin, it's not my job'. Unsatisfactory!
 
I called the number, 289 151 700, on the morning of 17/05/2022 as instructed in the SMS I received and pressed '1' for English, but the lady did not speak English. She took my number and told me someone who spoke English would call me back, but that never happened. 

On a happier note, Rita and the store manager were extremely helpful on 17/05/2022 when I had to make a special trip to Loulé to ensure the delivery would arrive and be delivered to our 4th floor terrace because Leroy Merlin employees do not speak English, would not return my calls, nor would they answer my emails. The manager and Rita told me that the awnings would have been dumped on the street if I had not checked and Rita was a lifesaver, jumping into action and arranging for a crane to accompany my order the next day so the 5 meter awnings could be delivered to our terrace, not on the street below.
 
I was supposed to get a message on the morning of the delivery day, 18/05/2022, telling me when the delivery would arrive, but I received nothing. Their website said 'delivery failed" as of 0914 that morning, but I called all day long, seven times, and couldn't talk to someone who spoke English until, finally, at 1534, I spoke to a man who said that the ‘delivery hasn't failed, it's on a truck now’. He couldn't give me any more information than that, so I asked him to have the Loulé store manager call me, but that didn't happened either. 

I waited all day and the delivery never arrived! I finally left home at 1845 for an engagement that couldn't be canceled, so I asked the installer to contact the store and find out what was going on. The whole fiasco was an absolute disaster from the start and Leroy Merlin should be ashamed of themselves for what I had been put through. I did my due diligence, but Leroy Merlin did not perform theirs, eventually wasting a great deal of my time and two extra wasted trips from Olhão to Loulé to solve the problems that they caused.
 
When I returned to the store, for the second time, on 19/05/2022 to solve the issue of my delivery not arriving, a female calling herself ‘manager’ and a female, supposedly in charge of delivery/logistics, by the name of Maria Biato were both rude, condescending, and insulting me because I couldn't speak Portuguese (along with many of their other customers). 

Their behavior was appalling. I know that we are in Portugal and should speak Portuguese when possible, I’m trying, but many expats have told me about how difficult it is for non-Portuguese speakers to navigate their website and deal with their employees. Expats would probably spend a lot more money at Leroy Merlin if they made it easier for us non-Portuguese language speakers.
 
The awnings were finally delivered on 24/05/2022, nearly a week late!
 Carlos, the installer, finally arrived on the morning of 25/05/2022 and told me we ‘have too many things on the terrace’, even though they were the same exact things that were there when he came to do the quote. They moved some things around and damaged them, scratching or denting a few objects and left many heavy objects for me to move back where they belonged when they left and I am a disabled combat veteran. 

The job only took about 8 hours, not 2-3 days as Carlos had originally told me, at a rate of €100 per hour, an unprecedented labor rate in Portugal. Some things were damaged and heavy plants were not put back. I was taken advantage of, paying €780 for an 8 hour job, €100/hour. If I were Portuguese, I would have paid 1/2 that because I know how much labor rates are. One of the remote controls also doesn't work properly and the awnings are unstable, even with just a 15 kph wind.
 
I will never shop at Leroy Merlin again after these experiences and they should be ashamed, not only for how I was treated by Maria Biato and the manager on 19/05/2022, but for the amount I was charged for labor on the installation.

The Main HQ in France needs to know how these people treat their customers as I can guarantee you that French or German customers would never allow being treated the way I was and as many other Leroy Merlin (Portugal) customers obviously have been treated based on the reviews I have seen here.

I contacted them through their Facebook page via message early on in this process and was promised that they were 'looking into it', 'following this complaint', and 'will be in touch' with me, but they have done absolutely nothing in the past six months. Here is their most recent response:

Good afternoon. We know that your case has been followed internally through the "Portal da Queixa". Since you have not reached any agreement with the store, the resolution of the case will follow the judicial route, and LEROY MERLIN is awaiting legal contact from your lawyer. 
          
Thank you

Leroy Merlin undoubtedly has core values and key metrics which leadership are briefed on regularly, so they must be aware of the massive problem with LeroyMerlin.pt. Their TrustPilot rating is an abysmal 1.3 / 5 stars with 91% of the 197 reviews being rated 1 / 5 stars. Surely, they must be aware of this data:

  

I am not paying a lawyer to deal with Leroy Merlin! I have stopped purchasing at Leroy Merlin because of the way I have been treated. 

I do not spend my hard earned money at businesses that have no respect for customers and zero integrity. They have lost this customer and from what I can see on TrustPilot and other websites, Leroy Merlin has a massive problem in the way it treats its customers and the kind of service they provide. 

Leroy Merlin, like many Portuguese businesses obviously do not understand customer service and are oblivious to core values such as honor, integrity, and treating people with dignity and respect. They have likely already lost thousands of customers and will lose untold numbers in the future. 

I contacted Thomas Bouret Nouhin, Leroy Merlin Managing Director, personally via Facebook Messenger as I am sure he is unaware of the appalling way I have been treated and the extremely negative perception of his Portuguese operations. I have not heard back from him yet. 

In my opinion, customer service is a foreign concept to Portuguese businesses and, based on my experience, professional business acumen is equally as bad. Companies who treat customers like Leroy Merlin does in Portugal would not last a month in the USA, their doors would shut because American customers expect to be treated with dignity and respect as well as receiving outstanding customer service.

Get a clue Leroy Merlin, fire all of your Portuguese management team and train their employees on how a business as big as this must be run!

CombatCritic Gives Leroy Merlin Loulé 0 Bombs Out Of 10 And A Spot On My 'WALL OF SHAME' ... More Bombs Are Better!
Zero Bombs Equates To:
Translation for Civilians: "Fucked Up Beyond All Repair"

Read More Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp "GOLD" ELITE '14/'15/'16/'17/'18/'19/'20/'21/'22 
  • Over 1.4 Million Views A Year
Da uma olhadela à avaliação de Leroy Merlin escrita por Chris S. no Yelp

Zomato - #1 Ranked "VERIFIED" CONNOISSEUR (13) - Over  4 Million Review And Photo Views ... And Counting #1 Reviewer in Portland, Oregon!
Tabelog - Official Judge - "Silver"

Booking.com - Frequent Traveler "Genius"


Google Maps - "Top Photographer" With Over 3 Million Views!

View my food journey on Zomato!

View my food journey on Zomato!

View my food journey on Zomato!

... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube and our sister channel, CombatCounselor Chronicleswith Over 1,250 Subscribers and 1,000,000 Video Views ... HOOAH!

Title: Loulé, Faro, Portugal: Leroy Merlin - Total Incompetence and Lack of Customer Service ... Astounding!

Key Words: Leroy Merlin, Leroy, Merlin, Loulé, Faro, Portugal, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, business, review, Yelp, TrustPilot, Google, Facebook, incompetence, customer, service

Copyright 2022 - 3rd Wave Media Group And CombatCritic ™ - All Rights Reserved


Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Alvor (Algarve) Portugal: Pizza, Pasta, Meat, Fish, Or Salad, You Cannot Go Wrong At Pizzeria & Trattoria Napoli

Pizzeria & Trattoria Napoli
EM531 1 5a 
8500-013 
Alvor Portugal
Phone: 937 696 093
Prices: €€€€
Our doggy has cancer, so he needs a CT scan in Portimáo every 3 months, so we stop by Pizzeria & Trattoria Napoli for lunch while he has the procedure and wakes up.

I found out that their 'winter' hours (likely October through April) are different from my last visit in August, so we had to wait an hour until 12pm when they now open for lunch. No biggy!
I brought my wife this time as she recently returned from Napoli, the city in Italy, where she has been taking care of her mom. Gianluca greeted us once again and the two of them chatted in Italian about Napoli, his hometown, while I sat there and picked up some of the conversation ... Italians talk too fast for me to catch everything.
As it was one of the rare warm, sunny days in the Algarve, NOT, we sat on the patio. The service was fast and friendly and the food, once again, delicioso ... Mama Mia ... HOOAH!
I knew how big the portions were, so we did not go nuts with the antipasti, ordering one Bruschetta (€5) and sharing the four pieces, one with tomato, two with marinated, grilled melanzane (eggplant), and the other with melted gorgonzola and parmigiano. Very nice.
My wife had the Fettuccine (€14) in a gorgonzola and rucola pesto with pancetta, mushrooms, onion, and walnuts. It was superb!
It is not easy finding weal dishes anymore, so I got the Veal Parmigiano (€11) with a side of spaghetti tossed with their wonderful ragù instead of the chips (aka fries) and side salad, which was huge. The large cutlet was coated with breadcrumbs and perfectly fried, then topped with ragù, grated parmigiano, and fresh mozzarella (upon my request) before being baked until melted. I was in heaven.

One of the great things about Napoli, beside the excellent food and fair prices, is the fact that they are very willing to work with you on substitutions. My wife hates tomatoes - yes, she was born in Sicily and grew up in Naples - so they altered the normal bruschetta toppings. The veal parmigiana comes topped with parmigiano, not mozzarella as I became accustomed to in the US, but Gianluca did not flinch when I asked him if could add it and did not even charge extra.

Gianluca's dad came out after our meal and reminded me about my promise to bring him some Antico Toscano cigars, made famous by Clint Eastwood in his 'spaghetti' westerns like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, which were actually filmed in Italy. I promised to bring some cigars from Ayamonte, Spain (much closer to where we live than Alvor) where I buy my Toscano cigars and much cheaper than in Portugal, but I forgot ... OOPS! I will try to remember next time.

In a nutshell, excellent, authentic food at very reasonable prices with great, friendly service, that's amore, I mean Pizzeria & Trattoria Napoli ... OOH-RAH!

CombatCritic Gives Pizzeria & Trattoria Napoli A Very Rare 10 Bombs Out Of 10 And A Spot On My 'WALL OF FAME' ... More Bombs Are Better!

Ten Bombs Equates To:


Translation for Civilians: 

HOOAH!: "Phonetic spelling of the acronym HUA, which stands for 'Heard Understood Acknowledged.' Originally used by the British in the late 1800's in Afghanistan. More recently adopted by the United States Army to indicate an affirmative or a pleased response." - Urban Dictionary

"The Department of Military Science and Leadership, University of Tennessee claim HOOAH 'refers to or means anything except no' ... Regardless of its meaning ... the term is an expression of high morale, confidence, motivation and spirit." - WarChronicle.com

"The U.S. Air Force stole 'HOOAH' from the Army because we were part of the Army until 1947 and rather than waste a bunch of time coming up with something new and unique like "ROO-YAH" or "HAL-A-LOO-YAH", we said 'screw it, let's go with HOOAH' ... thanks Army ... HOOAH!" - CombatCritic
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Read More Reviews By CombatCritic:

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  • Over 1.4 Million Views A Year
Read Chris S.'s review of Pizzeria & Trattoria Napoli on Yelp

Zomato - #1 Ranked "VERIFIED" CONNOISSEUR (13) - Over  4 Million Review And Photo Views ... And Counting #1 Reviewer in Portland, Oregon!
Tabelog - Official Judge - "Silver"

Booking.com - Frequent Traveler "Genius"


Google Maps - "Top Photographer" With Over 3 Million Views!

View my food journey on Zomato!

View my food journey on Zomato!

View my food journey on Zomato!

... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube and our sister channel, CombatCounselor Chronicleswith Over 1,250 Subscribers and 1,000,000 Video Views ... HOOAH!

Title: Alvor (Algarve) Portugal: Pizza, Pasta, Meat, Fish, Or Salad, You Cannot Go Wrong At Pizzeria & Trattoria Napoli

Key Words: 
Alvor, Algarve, Faro, Portugal, pizza, pasta, pizzeria, trattoria Napoli, Naples, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, business, review, Yelp, Zomato, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook

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