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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

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

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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

The Leader In Getting Travelers The Most "Bang-for-the-Buck"

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CombatCritic's "TravelValue" Channel




Read More Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - "Gold" Elite '14/'15/'16 /'17 / '18

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!




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

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Naples, Italy: Airbnb - Viviana 'Entire Condo' Was A Single Room Shared With Two Others And She Threw Me Out For Being American!

Viviana's Zona Ospedale Condo?

Location was as described, but it was not an entire condominium as advertised, it was a small, single room and bathroom in a 3-bedroom condo that has been sectioned off. You do not get the entire apartment, you have to share it with at least two other people.

The host discriminated against me upon arrival, telling me that I had to leave because Italy requires Americans to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. My Airbnb profile clearly displays our hometown, Portland, Oregon, so there should have been no surprise after making the reservation weeks ago.

I did not have the COVID-19 virus, having tested negative for COVID BEFORE DEPARTURE and traveled for 24 hours with a medical-grade face mask and face shield. 

I was then forced to go stay with my 80-year old mother who recently had a stroke, the reason I traveled to Naples, potentially exposing her to the virus instead of self-quarantining in an isolated location. I checked several other Airbnb's and local hotels after she threw me out, but they refused to let me stay because Neapolitans are ignorant and apparently are able to discriminate against Americans like Viviana did.

CombatCritic Gives Viviana 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My 'WALL FO SHAME' ... More Bombs Are Better!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Gearhart, OR: Gearhart Golf Link's Sand Trap Pub Was Sub-Par

McMenamins Sand Trap Pub
1157 North Marion Avenue
Gearhart, OR 97138
(503) 717-8150
Click Here To View Menu
Prices: $$$$

Fairly typical McMenamins fare and service, mediocre at best. The building and view of Gearhart Golf Links, the oldest course west of the Mississippi, is wonderful, but the service was slow and my burger and fries sub-par, excuse the pun.
We sat on the veranda overlooking the golf course after an OGA Senior Pro-Am event on a beautiful, calm, mild July afternoon. It took forever for a server to greet us and take our drink order as was the case the rest of our meal even though there were very few customers seated.
My Bacon Cheeseburger ($16) came with cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles and their secret sauce as well as fries of tots. I got the fries and asked for grilled onion instead of red onion. When by meal arrived, the red onions were still there and there was barely a trace of grilled onions even though they up-charged me $1.50 them without telling me. The fries were few, burnt to a crisp, and barely warm, but the burger itself was OK, not great.

I have been to several McMenamins and have been unimpressed with the service and food overall. With tip, my burger, fries, and a beer ($6.50 for a 12-ounce glass) cost me over $25, a bit much for what I got and a poor overall value.
CombatCritic Gives McMenamins Sand Trap Pub 3 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Three Bombs Equates To:
Translation for Civilians: "Situation Normal, All Fucked Up"

Read More Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp "GOLD" ELITE '14/'15/'16/'17/'18/'19/'20  
  • Over 1.4 Million Views A Year
Read Chris S.'s review of McMenamins Sand Trap Pub on Yelp

McMenamins Sand Trap Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Zomato - #1 Ranked "VERIFIED" CONNOISSEUR (13) - Over  4 Million Review And Photo Views ... And Counting #1 Reviewer in Portland, Oregon!
Booking.com - Frequent Traveler "Genius"

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Title: Gearhart, OR: Gearhart Golf Link's Sand Trap Pub Was Sub-Par

Key Words: Gearhart, Seaside, OR, McMenamins Sand Trap Pub, McMenamins, Sand, Trap, Pub, hamburger, fries, beer, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato


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Thursday, June 25, 2020

Vancouver, WA: Great, Wood-Fired Neapolitan Pizza Now In SW Vancouver ... HOOAH!

Pizzeria La Sorrentina
3000 SE 164th Avenue, Suite 107
Vancouver, WA 98683
(360) 314-4447
lasorrentinavw.com
Prices $$$$

Amy and Daisuke Matsumoto ran Pizzeria Las Sorrentina out of a trailer in NW Vancouver, but decided it was time to expand across town to the southwest part of town and am I glad they did!
We had a bad experience last year, having driven 20 miles to try their famous pizza Napoletana (Naples, Italy style), but were turned away just 2 minutes after closing. I was unhappy, but Daisuke and I messaged back and forth, got to know each other, and I promised I would give them another try. We were there last Sunday on just their second night of dine-in service.

I never knew many of these businesses existed because their backs are on 164th, so it took some time to find the place, even with Google Maps.  The pizzeria is in a large, new space with a big dining room, huge kitchen, and massive patio out back on 164th (that will be open soon). With COVID-19 social distancing protocols in place, less than half the tables were available and the counter/bar was closed altogether. They are still in the process of decorating and expanding the menu, but the place is attractive and they have a nice selection of appetizers (antipasti), salads (insalate), pizzas (pizze), pastas (tipi di pasta), and desserts (dolci) although I do not recall seeing a drink menu.

Daisuke Matsumoto - Chef / Pizzaiuolo / Owner
We were warmly greeted by a young lady in a mask and seated by the exit to the patio. Menus are a no-no during the crisis, so you have to scan a barcode upon entry in order to view their offerings. I decided on the Pizza Diavola ($16 - in the devils way), my tomato-hating wife ordered the Pizza Quattro Formaggi ($15 - four cheeses), my son got the traditional Pizza Margherita ($12 - named after Queen Margherita of Italy and is red, white, and green in honor of the Italian flag), and his fiancè the Pizza Marinara with veggies ($12 - vegan).

Diavola - $16


Quattro Formaggi - $15


Margherita -$12


Marinara (Vegan) - $12
All of the pizzas were Neapolitan size, bigger than most individual 'wood-fired' pizzas you get in the US, and looked just like the hundreds I have eaten in Napoli (Naples - I was stationed there for 3 years, having met my wife, a Sicilian, in 2000). I tried my wife's pizza and it was quite tasty, a fact we both agreed on, and a thumbs-up from someone who grew up in Naples, the birthplace of pizza, is high praise indeed. My son's and his fiancès pizzas were perfectly cooked as well and they both raved about them. Daisuke was trained as a pizzaiuolo (pizza maker) in Naples where the ingredients and baking methods for Neapolitan pizza are strictly regulated.

I consider myself a bit of an aficionado when it comes to pizza Napoletana, having been trained as a chef (in my spare time) during my three years living there and attended a Vera Pizza Napoletana (true Neapolitan pizza) course in 2019. Therefore, I am a certified pizzaiuolo in my own right.













Pizza diavola is one of my favorites, along with pizza con salsiccia e friarielli (sausage and sautéed broccoli rabe, a Neapolitan specialty), so I am used to having it prepared in a certain way because pizzaiuoli (plural) in Naples DO NOT experiment with recipes. You will not get pineapple, chicken, or BBQ sauce on your pizza in Naples, no matter how much you whine. 

Diavola (the devil's way) refers to the olio piccante (EVO mixed with hot peppers and left to soak for months) sprinkled liberally over a Margherita pizza topped with sliced salami. Daisuke's diavola comes with 'mama lil’ peppers', which I thought were hot, spicy peppers like those in olio piccante, but they were not. Instead, I got diced red bell peppers in a very slightly spicy agrodolce (sweet and sour) sauce on top of mine, not quite what I was expecting. It was good, but I am not a huge sweet and sour kinda guy and mama lil' peppers overwhelmed the pizza so that I could barely detect the wonderful mozzarella and salami. I had to ask for some olio piccante to spice-up the pizza and was a tad disappointed because it was not what I was expecting.


The pizzas are moderately priced by West Coast standards, so I will not ding them there, but, for comparison, a top-notch pizza diavola in Naples goes for around $5.65 and a Margherita is just $4.50 most places, a little less than one-third of La Sorrentina's prices. We did not have any appetizers, drinks (except water), or dessert (even though Daisuke was kind enough to offer) and the total for four came to $51 and change (not including tip), a reasonably priced Father's Day meal in the Portland area.
Daisuke and CombatCritic
I am looking forward to returning to try new and different things, and I hope that Daisuke and Amy are hugely successful in their brand new location. The COVID crisis has decimated many restaurants and businesses, an extremely difficult industry in any case, but I believe La Sorrentina will flourish in their new location. 
Salsiccia e Friarielli (Naples - $5.65)
I have just two recommendations: 1) Lose the 'mama lil' peppers' and drizzle olio piccante on your salami pizza to make it a true 'diavola'; and 2) add a Pizza con Salsiccia e Friarielli to the menu. 

In bocca al lupo Daisuke (literally, 'in the mouth of the wolf' - an Italian phrase for good luck, to which you should always respond 'crepe', not with a 'thank you' because that would reverse your luck)!

CombatCritic Gives Pizzeria La Sorrentina 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  
  • Over 1.4 Million Views A Year
Read Chris S.'s review of Pizzeria La Sorrentina on Yelp

Pizzeria La Sorrentina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog - Official Judge - "Silver"


Zomato - #1 Ranked "VERIFIED" CONNOISSEUR (13) - Over  4 Million Review And Photo Views ... And Counting #1 Reviewer in Portland, Oregon!
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: Vancouver, WA: Great, Wood-Fired Neapolitan Pizza Now In SW Vancouver ... HOOAH!

Key Words: Vancouver, WA, Pizzeria La Sorrentina, pizzeria, Sorrentina, wood-fired Neapolitan, pizza, pasta, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, Facebook


Copyright 2020 - 3rd Wave Media Group And CombatCritic ™ - All Rights Reserved

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Amazon: Lightweight Travel/Carry Golf Bag Is Junk Made in China - Do Not Purchase

Rock Bottom Golf
6701 College Drive
Suffolk, VA 23435-3336
(877) 540-4653
rockbottomgolf.com

I bought a US Air Force lightweight golf bag on Amazon less than two month ago. The stitching on the back (connecting the straps) with the Air Force logo started coming apart almost immediately and I had to stitch it so that the padding would not fall out.



I bought a nearly identical LA Dodgers golf bag less than two years ago that had similar issues (the zipper on the main side compartment broke and the bag became useless). Both have something inside the bag that continuously unravels, leaving long thin black threads on the clubs as you pull them out and I am continuously pulling the threads off as I take my grip. This is a distraction I would rather do without. 


This is how I pulled it out of the bag - normally I find long, thin threads on my hands
These bags are very poor quality and the 14 club inserts have become difficult to insert clubs into, probably because those unraveling threads are blocking the way. It seems as though the 14 insert 'tubes' are separated by thin, cheap nylon material that are sewn into place with that very black thread and they are also falling apart just weeks after purchase. 
Finally, the metal loop that connects the back straps to the bag is attached by a cheap, thin mesh and the loop constantly moves out of position (90 degrees). I gave up moving it back to the way it is supposed to be because, at least, it seems to stay in the new position.
This bag is the Hot-Z Golf US Military (Air Force) Stand Bag purchased on Amazon from Rock Bottom Golf and 'rock bottom' is a very appropriate name, not in terms of prices, but due to quality issues, poor customer service, and lack of integrity, definitely putting them at the bottom of the pond with the rocks and other pond scum. 

I ordered two used Wilson D7 hybrids from Rock Bottom Golf a few weeks back, spending quite a bit money on them and a few other things, but when they arrived, the 4-hybrid had the wrong shaft. I called them immediately and told them I received the wrong club, but they could have cared less, offering me $5 off of my next order. Next order? As George Bush always said, 'not gonna happen, wouldn't be prudent'!

CombatCritic Gives Hot-Z Golf US Military Stand Bag and Rock Bottom Golf 2 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!
Two Bombs Equates To:

Translation for Civilians: "Tits Up" 

Read More Reviews By CombatCritic:

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  • Over 1.4 Million Views A Year
Tabelog - Official Judge - "Silver"


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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: Amazon: Lightweight Travel/Carry Golf Bag Is Junk Made in China - Do Not Purchase

Key Words: Amazon, golf, bag, junk, Made in China, Rock Bottom Golf, rock, bottom, golf, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, business, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook, Amazon.com


Copyright 2020 - 3rd Wave Media Group And CombatCritic ™ - All Rights Reserved

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