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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

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

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CombatCritic's "TravelValue" Channel




Read More Reviews By CombatCritic:

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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

Friday, August 12, 2022

Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz, Spain: Mehbe I Walked Too Far For The Mexican Food At El Villano

El Villano
Calle de las Magnolias, 37 11500 
El Puerto de Santa María, Spain
Phone: +34 956 853 845
Wesbite: N/A
Prices: €€€€
I walked one kilometer to eat here because, first, parking was impossible to find near my hotel and did not want to give up my space, and, second, the menu and photos made it appear that the food was nearly authentic Mexican.
The server spoke a little English, so I ordered a small pitcher of margarita, a half-order of nachos (€4.75) , and the Tacos Tijuana (€11.00).

The margarita was too sweet and had little alcohol. Meh!
The server told me that I could not order just chips and salsa and I thought he said that I could order a 'half' order of nachos, but when the nachos arrived, it was a full order (€9.50), obviously a miscommunication, so I let it slide. The chili was not bad and it came with a small cup of green salsa, guacamole, and pico de gallo, but the chips were not house-made as appearing in the photos I saw, they were Tostitos. Had I known, I would not have bothered. Meh #2!
The tacos arrived looking pretty good, four corn tortillas with a decent portion of carne asada and guacamole and they were pretty tasty, but four small tacos for €11.00 was not exactly a TravelValue.
Overall, the food was decent, not great, and the service good, so I will go easy on them even though I was told the chef was from Tijuana. I should not have walked so far for what I got.

CombatCritic Gives El Villano 5 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Five Bombs Equates To:


Translation for Civilians: "Continue Mission"

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Read More Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp "GOLD" ELITE '14/'15/'16/'17/'18/'19/'20/'21/'22 
  • Over 1.4 Million Views A Year
Read Chris S.'s review of El Villano 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: Puerto de Santa Maria,  Cadiz, Spain: Mehbe I Walked Too Far For The Mexican Food At El Villano

Key Words: Puerto de Santa Maria,  Cadiz, Spain, Mexican, food, El Villano, taco, burrito, enchilada, margarita, 
CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, business, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook

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

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Cabanas (Faro), Portugal: The Golf Course Is The Last Priority At Benamor Golf

Benamor Golf 
Qta. de Benamor 8800-067 
Tavira, Portugal
Phone: 281 320 880
Prices: €€€
In my second year as a member, I liked the course and friendly staff at first, but course conditions have plummeted over the past year and management could care less.
The staff are still wonderful and many of the members friendly, but the sand traps have become unplayable with little or no sand under the ball, making bunker shots a nightmare. Bunkers are called hazards for a reason because even under the best of circumstances they are a challenge. The sand, if there is any, is routinely hard as a rock due to inaccurate sprinkler placement with water accumulating in many of them. When the grounds crew drag the bunkers, the 'sand' hardens and it is easy to blade a shot over the green. The sand is low quality and more like dirt in the first place with various size rocks embedded throughout. What a nightmare!

The course layout itself is OK, a decent layout, but the fairways receive zero maintenance (rototilling, verticutting, sanding, etc.) so what grass there is has become dense and plays like hardpan. The greens are the best part of the course with regular maintenance and are challenging, but fair.

The clubhouse and patio are old, but nice and the food is pretty good.










There is a golf club just five minutes away, Quinta da Ria, which has two fantastic courses, with wonderful sand, lush fairways, and excellent greens as well as a practice facility that is the best I have found in the Algarve. The annual membership is comparable in price to Benamor, but you can play three quality courses - Quinta da Ria, Quinta da Cima, and Quinta do Vale, another great Seve Ballesteros course - making it no comparison when I move my membership there next January.


Benamor management just does not seem to care about members or the course. They have been given ample feedback about course conditions, but ignore input from members and focus more on wasting time and money on menial and irrelevant tasks like building a croquet court, while closing the member's putting and chipping green for months, and raking dirt areas and removing grass unnecessarily. That is what happens when golf-ignorant people run a golf course!

CombatCritic Gives Benamor Golf 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/'21/'22 
  • Over 1.4 Million Views A Year
Read Chris S.'s review of Benamor - Actividades Turísticas 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: Cabanas (Faro), Portugal: The Golf Course Is The Last Priority At Benamor Golf

Key Words: CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, hotel, accommodation, destination, product, service, business, review, Yelp, Zomato, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook

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

Sunday, June 5, 2022

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

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'. He went on to say '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' and '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 happened.
 
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 non-Portuguese 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 would not return my calls or 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. The 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 theiir employees. I 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 review In have seen here.

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 outstanding customer service.

Get a clue Leroy Merlin, fire all of them, and train employees 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


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