Rome and Naples
16 days in Italy - Rome and Naples
CURSED HOUSEKEYSI'm back! It seems a bit remarkable frankly, given the number of significant screw-ups.
The first one was mine: On leaving, at San Francisco airport security, I forgot that I had my housekeys deep in my pocket. So, when the people-scanner beeped at me, I was instructed to go back to the start of the security line to get a tray (they did not have any trays or the usual bowls for change near the people-scanner). Consequently, my pocket contents actually ended up spread out in 3 trays with other customers in between. You can well imagine I was distracted when I finally got through the scanner, and I failed to pick up my housekeys. I realized this 20 minutes later at the boarding gate ... and I've got to tell you it felt like a miracle when I went back to carefully survey the scanner area and found them!
I had a second problem upon my return. Leaving Rome via Lufthansa (which I learned means "air union"), I was surprised to find that I couldn't hand carry my 3 bottles of Limoncello (a Sorrento specialty) because of the limit on liquids. In my stupidity, I thought of them as bottles, not liquids! I hastily repacked them in my daypack and checked it (thank god no fee for a second checked bag). I traveled with a plastic grocery bag as my carry-on luggage! Connecting in Frankfurt, one of my 2 checked bags was delayed 24 hours. It was my main bag (not the one with the Limoncello) the one carrying my housekeys!
If I hadn't had a backup housekey available, I'm not sure where I would have slept that night.
Actually, I had a great vacation, and learned some good lessons.
THE ATM TRAPThe other major problem I had in Italy was that my ATM card mysteriously stopped working after my first try. Despite the 3% currency conversion fee (plus $5 'out of network' fee), I had planned to use it as my main source of spending money (as I have previously in other countries). I used it successfully upon my initial arrival in the Rome airport to get 350 euros. I had notified Bank of America in advance that I would be traveling in Italy. Nevertheless, when I tried later in Naples to withdraw US$534 (I have learned that my limit is $700 anywhere), the withdrawal was refused and it triggered a 'fraud protection hold'. I was unable to get any more ATM cash anywhere in Italy.
It may be that BofA considers Napoli a high risk city. After climbing the ladder in the Fraud Protection Dept by phone at BofA, I seem to have learned that their (Naples/Italy/overseas?) policy is "use it once then call us." Their policy seems to assume that one still has email access while traveling (I did receive a bunch of email 'fraud alerts' once I got home).
So, "for my protection," a 'fraud protection hold' was placed on my card simply because I used it again, in Naples. I didn't know this, of course. As my cash dwindled, I wandered Naples looking for a machine that would work, with no success.
Interestingly, there are obvious crossed wires here: My intent in informing them of my travel to Italy was to loosen their security monitoring; but they did just the opposite!
Fortunately, I travel with several credit cards (spread across my person and my luggage) and $500 in $20 bills, so I had alternative forms of money. I was not actually inconvenienced, just pissed off!
I WAS CHEATED!Visiting Italy, home of the mafia, the topic of crime was thrust on me. Fortunately, not big time or violent crime, just cheating the tourist.
IN THE PAST
When I look back at mishaps in my prior travels, maybe Naples wasn't so bad:
Tourists are easy marks. Learn from my mistakes!
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