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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

How To Save Money And Get The Best Exchange Rate While Traveling Abroad

I belong to numerous travel pages on Facebook and elsewhere, having seen many posts asking about the best way to exchange moneys while traveling abroad. Here is one I found on Facebook recently:
"Can I change my US$ to Yen (in Japan) somewhere or should I change it here (in the US)?"
Being the host of a popular travel blog and YouTube channel, I have traveled to 43 countries so far. In my experience, you ALWAYS get a much better exchange rate though ATMs (versus currency exchanges) using a globally accepted debit card (e.g. Mastercard / Cirrus or Visa / Plus). My bank (USAA) reimburses me up to $15 per month for other bank's ATM usage fees in the US, but overseas they charge a 1% fee (per ATM transaction) and DO NOT reimburse ATM usage fees abroad any longer.
However, due to the prevalence of pickpockets in many tourist areas, I prefer carrying as little cash as necessary and using a credit card with NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEES. The exchange rate is equally as low (as debit cards) and cards can be replaced quickly (within 2-3 days in some cases) and easily by calling a local toll free number (take a picture of the front and back of your cards so you have all of the necessary information). I misplaced a Chase Visa card in England last January and had my replacement card in just two days. 

When all is said and done, the best way to pay for travel is with a rewards credit card (paid in-full every payment cycle of course) for most purchases and an international debit card for ATM withdrawals in order to have cash available for merchants that do not accept credit cards (which is very common in countries like India). Keep only enough cash on you to cover a meal or purchase of under $100 and you will not be too disappointed if you happen to find your wallet missing after a crowded bus or metro ride.

Happy travels!


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Yelp - "GOLD" ELITE '14/'15/'16/'17/'18 
  • 650,000+ Views A Year
Tabelog - Official Judge - "Silver"


Zomato - #1 Ranked "VERIFIED" CONNOISSEUR (13) - Over  4 Million Review And Photo Views ... And Counting #1 Reviewer in Portland, Oregon!
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Title: How To Save Money And Get The Best Exchange Rate While Traveling Abroad

Key Words: how, best, exchange, rate, traveling, abroad, ATM, fee, credit, card, debit, money, cash, currency, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, Google, Facebook


Copyright 2018 - 3rd Wave Media Group And CombatCritic ™ - All Rights Reserved

Portland, OR: Do Not Miss This Swiss Delight In The Quaint Northeast Alberta Neighborhood

Swiss Hibiscus

4950 NE 14th Avenue
Portland, OR 97211
Northeast Portland, King
Phone: (503) 477-9224
Website: swisshibiscus.com
Prices: $$$$


Located in the up-and-coming, trendy Alberta neighborhood of Northeast Portland, I was surprised by Swiss Hibiscus' appearance, expecting an older chalet-style building adorned with flower boxes and Swiss flags, but it is housed in a small modern, multi-purpose building a half block off of the main Alberta Street drag on 14th. The restaurant is small with only six or so tables inside (seating around 25) and another three or four outside (if the Portland weather cooperates), bringing the maximum seating to around 40 diners. A reservation is a must during prime hours and can be made by calling the number above.




We started with the Swiss Fondue ($24) shared among three of us and there was plenty to go around. A blend of Swiss cheeses, white wine, and kirschwasser (a clear German cherry brandy), heated in a traditional fondue pot and served with plenty of chunky French bread pieces. It was a bit pricey, but delicious and as good as any fondue I have had.
For entrees, my friend's wife had the Emince Zurichoise ($14.50), thin slices of pork sautéed in a mushroom cream sauce reminiscent of Zurich and accompanied by handmade spätzle. Each entree was preceded by a cup of soup de jour (a creamy potato leek) or house salad with their signature dressing and their crusty, piping hot French bread.


My friend Mike ordered the special of the day, Chicken Valaisanne ($17.50), two chicken breast halves smothered with sauteed tomatoes and onions and melted raclette cheese perched atop a bed of spinach and accompanies by their famous rösti, crispy Swiss hash browns infused with bacon and onions ... YUM!
I had the traditional Wienerschnitzel ($14.50), breaded pork cutlets sautéed in and topped with browned butter. I ordered a side of the Zurichoise mushroom cream sauce ($2) for my schnitzel and rösti, a wise choice because it made for a perfect combination similar to the Rahmschnitzel sauce I have enjoyed in Germany on many occasions. The cutlets were smaller and thinner than most I have had, but after the fondue and soup, I was quite glad that they were not of the traditional behemoth variety and was able to finish my plate.
Schnitzel Sans Gravy

Schnitzel With Gravy
A delightful and fortunate find on Yelp, we enjoyed our meal immensely, the service was friendly and efficient, and the prices very fair for the quality of the menu offerings. The only drawbacks were the smallish size of the restaurant and the somewhat limited menu.

PS ...

On a recent return trip, so my wife could experience Swiss Hibiscus having been absent on my first visit, we had a similar albeit not quite as "perfect" meal. The service was as outstanding as the first time and Bridgeport IPAs ($4) were an excellent value.
We ordered the fondue ($24) of course, which was as decadent and delicious as the first time, but the Jägerschnitzel with Chanterelles ($19.50) special was a little disappointing. Do not get me wrong, it was tasty and a very good value, coming with their yummy rösti (crispy Swiss hash browns infused with bacon and onions) as well as a wonderful cup of soup and fresh, hot bread rolls, but it untraditionally prepared and the pork was a tad tough. 

Having stuffed ourselves with bread and hot, gooey cheese, we spilt the schnitzel dinner into two reasonable portions (no split plate charge - the server actually suggested that we split it).

Schnitzel in normally breaded and fried, resulting in a crispy, tender boneless pork cutlet topped by a thick, rich mushroom (hunter's sauce) gravy. This cutlet came without the traditional breading and was chewier than any schnitzel I can remember having eaten ... and that has been many. The sauce itself was decent, but it was not very thick nor was it overly flavorful.
Taking this most recent trip into account, although not quite as good as the first visit, it was still an excellent meal and a very good value at a little over $60 including tip for a dinner for two, including drinks. So my rating remains unchanged ...

CombatCritic Gives Swiss Hibiscus A Nearly Perfect 9 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better
Nine Bombs Equates To:

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

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16/'17/'18

Read Chris S.'s review of Swiss Hibiscus on Yelp

Tabelog - Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato - #1 Ranked Foodie

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Swiss Hisbiscus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Swiss HibiscusSwiss Hibiscus


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Title: Portland, OR: Do Not Miss This Swiss Delight In The Quaint Northeast Alberta Neighborhood

Key Words: Swiss Hibiscus, Swiss, hibiscus, Switzerland, German, French, Austrian, Alberta, Portland, Oregon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Lawrence, Kansas: Not Bad, But Overpriced By $10 To $20 Per Night

Baymont by Wyndham Lawrence
740 Iowa Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone number (800) 337-0400
Prices: $$$$

At nearly $80 per night for a motel in the seediest part of Lawrence, Kansas, I was not overly impressed. 
The front desk clerk was extremely helpful, friendly and professional - a good start. However, the room was very basic, relatively clean and the wi-fi and cable worked just fine, but because we were on the ground floor, the noise from the people upstairs was significant.

Breakfast was a bit better than your ordinary "continental" variety, but not by much. They had biscuits and gravy and scrambled eggs, but the biscuits were as hard as rocks and the eggs were left extremely dry by the Sterno-fueled warming pan. We were told that they "normally" offer bacon and sausage as well, but because they had been throwing away so much as of late, they decided to stop doing so during the week.


I would expect to pay no more than $60 to $70 max for a room of this quality in the Midwest, so I cannot in good conscience give them more than an "average" rating.

CombatCritic Gives Baymont by Wyndham Lawrence 5 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Five Bombs Equates To:


Translation for Civilians: "Continue Mission"

Read More Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - "GOLD" ELITE '14/'15/'16/'17/'18 
  • 650,000+ Views A Year

Read Chris S.'s review of Baymont by Wyndham Lawrence on Yelp
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: Lawrence, Kansas: Not Bad, But Overpriced By $10 To $20 Per Night

Key Words: Baymont by Wyndham Lawrence, Baymont, Wyndham, Lawrence, Iowa, KS, Kansas, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value,  hotel, accommodation, business, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook

Copyright 2018 - 3rd Wave Media Group And CombatCritic ™ - All Rights Reserved

Friday, October 19, 2018

Ryan Air's Conflicting And Confusing Carry On Policy Deciphered (1 NOV 2018)

Ryan Air's carry on policy is confusing with conflicting information on its website. 

Some current web pages claim that there is a 35 x 20 x 20 cm (13.75" x 7.85" x 7.85") maximum for small bags: 
https://www.ryanair.com/us/en/plan-trip/flying-with-us/baggage-policy
But, if you dig into the FAQs, you will find a new 40 x 20 x 25cm (15.75" x 7.85" x 9.75") maximum for small bags ("New Baggage Policy" - Effective 1 November 2018):
https://www.ryanair.com/us/en/useful-info/help-centre/faq-overview#2-0
So I asked: "Which is it Ryan Air?"

Here is the answer I received from Zamasiba, a Ryan Air Support Agent:
Zamasiba: Hi, my name is Zamasiba, welcome to Ryanair Customer Support. I would be happy to help you with your query. Please stay connected while I review your query and reservation details. 
CombatCritic: Your new online baggage policy (eff 1 Nov 18) does not state the maximum dimensions of a “wheelie bag” allowed as cabin baggage for priority customers. Is the max still 55x40x20cm? 
Zamasiba: Yes, it is. 
CombatCriticThanks! One of the screens on your website (with opposing information – on one it says that the small bag must be 35 x 20 x 20cm and on the other its says that you have increased it to 40 x 20 x 25cm) has the following note:
--------------------- 
Please note: Flights to/from Israel 
If you have purchased "Priority & 2 Cabin Bags" or Plus/Flexi Plus/Family Plus you can carry the following on board:
• One small bag e.g. handbag, laptop bag etc. not exceeding 35cm x 20cm x 20cm
If you have not purchased "Priority & 2 Cabin Bags" or a Plus/Flexi Plus/Family Plus and are flying to/from Israel you can carry the following on board: 
• One cabin bag, not exceeding 55cm x 40cm x 20cm in size and up to 10kg in weight.   
• 1 small bag e.g. handbag, laptop bag etc. not exceeding 35cm x 20cm x 20cm 
Customers travelling to and from Israel who present at the airport with a 2nd larger cabin bag (exceeding 35cm x 20cm x 20cm) may drop this bag off at the check-in/bag drop desk, for an airport checked bag fee of €40 or at the boarding gate, for a gate bag fee of €50. 
--------------------------
My question is: Are the max dimensions on small carry ons to/from Israel 35 x 20 x 20cm or 40 x 20 x 25cm? 
Zamasiba: They are 40 x 20 x 25cm 
CombatCriticThanks again. Will I receive an email documentation of this chat which I can print and take with me on our trip to Israel in case gate agents are as confused as customers by your conflicting online baggage policy information? You really need to update your website to ensure that all baggage policies are identical. 
Zamasiba: Yes, it will be sent at the end of the chat. 
CombatCriticFinally, do you have links to Ryan Air approved cabin bags we can purchase online? Thank you very much Zamasiba! 
Zamasiba: Unfortunately not. 
NOTE: UNFORTUNATELY, THAT WAS NOT A TRUE STATEMENT AS YOU CAN FIND RYAN AIR APPROVED CABIN BAGS FOR SALE ON THEIR WEBSITE IN SIZES THAT ARE GUARANTEED TO BE ACCEPTED ON ALL RYAN AIR FLIGHTS (CLICK HERE).  
CombatCriticCheers! Have a nice day (or evening)!!
Zamasiba: You are welcome. If there's anything else I can assist you with please come back to us. 

Thank you for using our Live Chat Service.
BOTTOM LINE: "Priority" customers can carry on one bag not exceeding 10kg with dimensions 55cm x 40cm x 20cm (aka "wheelie bag") and one small bag with dimensions 40 x 20 x 25cm (effective November 1st, 2018).

Unfortunately, there is still conflicting information on Ryan Air's website, even within the very same FAQs:
We have increased the size of the free small carry-on bag by over 40% from 35 x 20 x 20cm (14,000 cm³) to 40 x 20 x 25cm (20,000 cm³).  
All passengers are entitled to bring 1 small personal bag on board which must fit under the seat in front of you (35cm x 20cm x 20cm). Examples include, handbag, laptop bag and small back pack.
Fix your damn website Ryan Air and, please, stop posting conflicting polices!

CombatCritic Gives Ryan Air's Website And Their Conflicting Baggage Policies 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My WALL OF SHAME ... More Bombs Are Better!

One Bomb Equates To:
Translation for Civilians: "Fucked Up Beyond All Repair"

Read More Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - "GOLD" ELITE '14/'15/'16/'17/'18 
  • 650,000+ Views A Year
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: Ryan Air's Conflicting And Confusing Carry On Policy Deciphered (1 NOV 2018)

Key Words: Ryan Air, Ryan, air, airways, ryanair.com, baggage policy, baggage, policy, airline, website, deciphered, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, service, business, Yelp, Zomato


Copyright 2018 - 3rd Wave Media Group And CombatCritic ™ - All Rights Reserved

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