bloggers

True Blog Costs

Because the economy is so bad I see more and more bogus news stories on how to make tons of money a month blogging or how to become a fabulous money making travel blogger and travel the world for free all while blogging.

As with most industries if one began their travel blog when the blog thing was new (like 1983 or so) you most likely had a shot at making a living blogging. If you figured out how to get sponsors, affiliate links and how to use blog aggregators properly you could have learned how to make money blogging because you would have more than 25,000 views on every story you posted and perhaps one or some of those 25,000 people would click on one of the ads on your blog site and you made a little extra money.

In order to make any serious money and to control your income you have to own your blog name, address and the servers they reside on. You cannot have a free blog service. If you have a free blog (such as on wordpress.com) you cannot do google analytics or ad sense and without this you can pretty much kiss making any serious money goodbye.

In the old days companies raced to hire bloggers and to pay them to acquire their followers. What all these companies soon realized was that they did not have to pay anyone to place an ad on these blogs; they just had to allow them to have an affiliate link. All those side bar links that so many blogs have are available to anyone, even you.

On our official website we had an affiliate link (now gone) for SendMyBag. You clicked on it and if someone purchased or booked their service we made a small commission (but only if they actually made a purchase). Some blogs will actually disclose this information to you before you click on the link. We had many of the visitors from our website click on the link to learn more. What they soon realized was that they too could sign up and become an affiliate so we made nothing. What SendMyBag got was a free website to advertise on. Good deal for them. When I realized I was being used, and gaining nothing, I removed their link.

You can only put affiliate links on a paid blog subscription or on an official website, both of which will cost you money to set up, own and to keep, year, after year. The old saying, you can’t make money without spending money still applies. Your conundrum is to figure out if spending this money is worth it in the end.

Before anyone runs off to set up a money making blog I suggest you add up the costs first and then realize that writing a blog is a serious amount of work and takes dedication. You should also expect to spend up to 12 hours a day advertising your blog and making your audience grow and in finding the best aggregators to place your blog on. Oh, and take an SEO course, you are going to need it.

How much work is a blog? I followed one blogger who sat in a different coffee house and chatted with people and then he wrote about that encounter. He was posting daily at the time. He was expected to travel for a year (he had sponsors) and to visit a new coffee house in a different city all over the United States writing about these encounters. Sounds like fun, right? He didn’t even make it through the first five months when his health began to deteriorate and his doctor told him to cut back or else.

Traveling non-stop, meeting with people in a new place, then spending hours writing and posting, no wonder he was sick. He even set up a pod-cast with another blogger during this time which also takes hours to write for and to record. This is the side of making money while blogging that people do not talk about; that blogging to make a serious amount of money is also a serious amount of work.

This blogger is no longer blogging daily; he’s down to once a week. Because he was no longer able to travel he also changed what he blogged about and it was no longer compelling reading. I stopped following.

I guess what I want to say here is that if you think you are going to make a ton of money blogging you had better have something to say first. If your blog is just a series of affiliate links you won’t have many viewers.

As for all those affiliate links I see everywhere; no thanks. I won’t be clicking on any of them anytime soon. I am tired of social media being used to make me an advertising target. Mike and I have adblocker software on every internet browser we use.

Because we are in a ‘jobless’ economic recovery everyone is scrambling to figure out how to make money. Only a few of the lucky ones will actually make a decent living at blogging. I realized early on that I just wanted to blog to have an outlet for my thoughts. I didn’t want to expend so much energy trying to make this a business that I didn’t have the time or the energy to travel. Paying to own my blog in the hopes of making money is like spinning the wheel at a craps table in Vegas. I try to remember that all those fancy casinos didn’t get built because the house loses…

Florence Lince

About.me/florencelince

What is Your cell phone number?

Before heading off for what would be three years of travel, Mike and I had to decide if we were going to keep our American cell phone number. In order to do that we had to pay for minutes and then we had to leave the phone with someone here in the US who had to use the phone at least once in every three month period. If a cell phone number is not used for an extended period of time the phone company deactivates it and the phone number can be assigned to someone else. We knew we were not going to take the silly thing with us and pay the roaming fees for using the phone internationally, so our American cell phone was history.

You might wonder if you even need a cell phone while traveling. We needed one to contact landlords and rental agencies since we were looking for a place to live. We weren’t using it to find the closest restaurants, read the latest news or find out what time the local bar opened. In the three years we traveled and lived abroad, we may have used a cell phone only a handful of times to connect with friends who happened to be in the country that we were in. Having a cell phone was simply not a necessity.

In every Latin American and European country the cost of a phone is minimal, like $5 minimal. Getting minutes was often as cheap as $5 or $10 for 200 minutes. Often the cell phone sat in a drawer and was turned off.

Not all the phones were usable in the next country but they were all unlocked and if the chip from the next country was compatible we just changed the SIM card and bought more minutes and used the phone wherever we were. There are two types of SIM cards that travelers can get; an International SIM and a country specific SIM. We had both while traveling.

While we were away traveling the US started offering ‘go’ phones. We had kept our original phone in a box here in the US so we now pay $10 a month for cell phone minutes. You see we have an old fashioned landline in our home with an answering machine. This is the only phone number we give out.

Mike and I are not quite sure what the whole smartphone thing is about. What is so important that we need to know about it immediately? Do we need to know that someone had a fight with someone else, or have someone call us to see if we saw the latest episode of a TV show, and do I honestly need to know that someone is calling some government agency to talk about their benefits not having arrived because they are homeless? (This was an actual phone call I had to listen too while on a bus recently.)

While we were away, the craze became for everyone to have a smartphone (yes that is one word). A smartphone is defined as a cellular phone that performs many of the functions of a computer, typically having a touchscreen interface, Internet access, and an operating system capable of running downloaded applications.

What shocks me the most is the cost of even getting one of these phones and then making them do all the features mentioned above. Having a smartphone is not cheap. Since I have a computer at home and I am already paying for internet access why would I pay for all of those things twice? Do I need to be on a computer 24-7?

Mike and I researched getting a more modern cell phone when we returned to the US and when I saw the costs to even just buy the phone I was in shock. These same phones were so affordable in most other countries that every family member had one. Personally, I could use that money to buy airlines tickets to some fun place or to book a ships passage to Alaska or something way more enjoyable, so we left the sales counter laughing that anyone in the US would spend that kind of money on a phone.

Perhaps my life is not that exciting, because I do not feel the need to talk to someone immediately when they call. I can leave my home and run my errands and meet and talk to strangers face to face. I can build relationships with people. I can stop and smell the roses instead of walking with some contraption on my ear and not evening noticing my surroundings. I can keep all the money I would be wasting on a cell phone and use it to travel more.

In a nutshell if you want to chat with me, and you have my number, I will chat with you and give you my undivided attention. If I don’t answer my phone and you have to leave a message you know that I’m out of the house, enjoying whatever life has to send my way. You won’t find me on a smartphone calling someone to talk about the latest episode of Game of Thrones. I’ll be the one traveling to Croatia to see the country where they film the series instead.

Florence Lince

About.me/florencelince

Meet Rebecca Howard, First Female Business Owner in Olympia

Rebecca Groundage was born in Philadelphia in 1827. In 1843 she married Alexander Howard. In 1859 she and her husband had moved to Olympia, WA where they opened a hotel and a restaurant which they called Pacific House.

She and her husband ran Pacific House and Restaurant from 1859 to 1866. It has been recorded that The Pacific Restaurant quickly became very popular with travelers since Mrs. Howard was an excellent cook, had a keen wit and a sharp sense of humor.

They entertained dignitaries such as Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman; and a parade of legislators and other visitors to the capital city and in 1880 she even hosted then President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife Lucy. She was however not impressed by politicians.

Mrs. Howard was said to be stern but also a caring and giving woman. In June 1862 she and her husband signed an agreement to care for Isaac I. Stevens Glasgow. Isaac was part American Indian whose father, Thomas Glasgow, mistreated his son. In 1877 the Howards adopted Isaac and changed his name to Frank A. Howard.

After retiring Rebecca moved her family to Priest Point, outside of Olympia, and her husband was able to set up his farm. After selling Pacific House Rebecca continued to promote business endeavors in Olympia and she donated 100 acres of land to the campaign to gain a railroad terminus in the city.

While retired, Mrs. Howard continued to build her wealth by buying property. According to the tax records of 1870 there were 221 taxpayers in the Washington Territory at that time. All were men, except for Rebecca Howard whose wealth was recorded at $50,000.

In 1870, after only 4 years of retirement Rebecca opened a boarding house and then reopened the Pacific Hotel and Restaurant.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Rebecca died in 1881 after suffering a stroke; she was 52. She left an estate valued at $1 million dollars.

In 2012 Rebecca Howard was honored with a mural on the south side of the building on Capitol Way where her Pacific House Hotel and Restaurant once stood. The building now houses a very popular Olympia eatery known as the Bread Peddler.

In 2012 Rebecca Howard was honored with a mural on the south side of the building on Capitol Way where her Pacific House Hotel and Restaurant once stood. The building now houses a very popular Olympia eatery known as the Bread Peddler.   © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

 

Yes, Rebecca Howard was not only a pioneer woman but also African American. She flourished in this part of the country at a time when not only most woman but African Americans were still dealing with the after affects of slavery and the Civil War.

Being a female business owner is tough enough. Being a female business owner, a pioneer and an African American woman should have placed major roadblocks in her path. They did nothing of the sort.

I am used to walking around cities and taking pictures of interesting things. Olympia is a city filled with murals (of which I will be writing another story) but this one mural struck me as unique and different and I wanted to learn more about the woman who stood so tall and regal on the side of this building. So I returned home and began my research.

A very long time ago there was a reporter named Paul Harvey who would tell great human interest stories about interesting people most of us had never even heard of. He always brought these people to life and he made their story larger than life, sort of like the mural of Rebecca Howard. I will end the way Paul Harvey always did when he finished telling one of his stories, by saying, ‘and now you know the rest of the story.’

Florence Lince

about.me/florencelince

Cristóbal Colón Day

As a little girl growing up in the United States I would always look at the academic calendar and see when the holidays were in the school year.  School started in September and our first holiday was October 12th.  It was called Columbus Day.

Years later I would be taught that Columbus was Christopher and he was credited with discovering the New World, namely the America’s.  I was taught he was born in Italy so he was really an Italian Explorer but he was given his commission by the Spanish Government and he told them he was going to find the route to the East Indies (they didn’t have GPS in those days).

Columbus would stay on the periphery of my education and I would know as scant little about him as my teachers deemed it worthy for me to know, which as you can tell wasn’t much.

Today I sit in Torrevieja, Spain and statues to Columbus can be found in many cities in Spain.  It was from here in the city of Granada that Columbus received his commission from the Spanish throne under Queen Isabella in the 15th Century.   It was the discovery of this New World that helped to make Spain a world power. Spain was to dominate the world so inclusively that half of the known countries of the day would speak Spanish as their primary language and from North America to the tip of South America every country even to this day speaks Spanish, most as their primary language.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Statue in Granada, Spain depicting Columbus’ meeting with Queen Isabella in 1492, where he received his Royal Commission to sail to the East Indies, © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

There is more however to the story of Columbus and as sometime happens when history is re-examined a more controversial figure of Christopher Columbus has emerged, if that was indeed his name.

The only thing historians agree on was that Columbus died on May 20, 1506 at the age of 54 in the city of Valladolid in Spain.  Where he was born, who he really was and where he is buried have historians from around the world vying to unravel the mystery of Columbus.

Columbus was born sometime between October 31, 1450 and October 30, 1451.  He was perhaps born in Genoa, Italy but might also have been born in Catalonia, Portugal, or another city in Spain.

Columbus was a self educated man learning Latin, Portuguese, and Castilian, with a love of reading about astronomy, geography, and history.  Unfortunately, as he was self-taught, this also lent itself to Columbus making up his own version of facts and it was his interpretation of the Bible verse from the Second Book of Estrus which he used to explain to Queen Isabella that the route to Asia lay to the west. Columbus firmly believed that the size of the world was much smaller than it really was.  He believed that the Eurasian landmass was far larger than it was and that the Asian continent was reachable from the east coast of China.  He was wrong on every count.

Based on his interpretations of maps of the day Columbus told the Spanish Crown that the distance to Japan was only 3,000 Italian miles (2,300 statute miles).  The correct figure was closer to 19,600km (12,200 mi).   Scholars from the 3rd Century had known the true distance and European navigators from Columbus’ own time agreed that there was no ship from the 15th Century which could have carried enough food and fresh water for such a long journey.  So desperate however were the Catholic Monarchs (Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand) to gain an edge over other Europeans countries that they believed Columbus’ claim that traveling west was the fastest way to reach the East Indies.

Even after landing in the Americas (in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492) Columbus stubbornly refused to accept that he had not in fact landed on any part of the Asian Continent.

During his voyages Columbus erroneously interpreted evidence that the Earth was not perfectly spherical, but rather bulged out like a pear around the new-found continent based on star rotation.

Columbus completed four voyages to the New World for the Spanish Throne.  During one of his voyages the ship the Santa Maria ran aground and had to be abandoned.  It was used for cannon practice and to show the locals the power and strength of the new conquerors.  Never trained in the art of chivalry Columbus was more of a barbarian and he treated the locals of the Americas like a tyrant.

Columbus faces west as he meets with Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Columbus faces west as he meets with Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

In 2006, located in the state archive of Valladolid Spain, was unveiled a 48 page document gathered during Columbus’ time as govern of Hispaniola.  It details the torture and mutilation of colonials during Columbus’ time in office.  It has also been recorded that when Columbus first landed in Hispaniola 60,000 people were living on the island and between 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery, and the mines.

When Columbus died in 1506 he was buried in Valladoid, Spain.  His body remained interred there until 1542 when it was transferred to the Dominican Republic.  In 1795, when France took over the island of Hispaniola, Columbus’ remains were moved to Havana, Cuba. After Cuba became independent in 1898, the remains were believed to have been moved back to Spain.  However, the people of the Dominican Republic now claim that they did not return the body of Columbus as previously stated, or they might have returned only a portion of his body.   In June 2003 DNA samples of the remains in the Cathedral of Seville were examined and proof was received that the remains were Columbus’; or was it. Initial observations suggested that the bones did not appear to belong to somebody with the physique or age at death associated with Columbus.  The amount of DNA also could only ascertain that the person buried shared the same mother as one of Columbus’ brothers.  Hardly conclusive evidence that Columbus is buried in Seville.  The Dominicans will not allow the remains in their crypt to have DNA testing done.

The tombstone inside the Cathedral of Seville where some believe the remains of Christopher Columbus have been buried.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The tombstone inside the Cathedral of Seville where some believe the remains of Christopher Columbus have been buried. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Contrary to popular accounts there are no known photos or painting of Columbus.  The most famous one was completed in 1509 and therefore was not painted during Columbus’ lifetime.  This lack of a portrait leads to the air of mystery and uncertainty as to who exactly was Christopher Columbus.

The beautiful Gardens of the Alcazar of Cordoba is where the Spanish Inquisition began and where Columbus met with the Queen and King before he departed for the East Indies.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The beautiful Gardens of the Alcazar of Cordoba is where the Spanish Inquisition began and where Columbus met with the Queen and King before he departed for the East Indies. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

In addition to the atrocities attributed to Columbus one needs to include the following.  Without Columbus opening trade between Europe and the Americas foods such as potatoes, tomatoes and corn would not have helped European countries to increase their populations.  Without him wheat from Europe and the Old World would not have became a main food source for people in the Americas and coffee from Africa and sugar cane from Asia might not have became major cash crops for Latin American countries.

On May 14, 2014 word came that the lost Columbus hip, the Santa Maria, had been found in the waters off the coast of Haiti.  The Santa Maria was the largest of the three ships used by Columbus during his first voyage.  Will finding it again after all these years and exploring its secrets rewrite history once again?

After his death Columbus’ son Ferdinand claimed that his father was actually of Italian aristocracy. He described Columbus as a descendant of a Count Columbo.  This fake history is now widely believed to be how Columbus ingratiated himself to the good graces of the aristocracy, was this an elaborate hoax to mask a humble merchant background, or something else…?

The formal tomb of Columbus in the Cathedral of Seville.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The formal tomb of Columbus in the Cathedral of Seville. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

So, was Columbus the greatest con man in history?  Did he really know anything about navigation, was he really Italian or from Spain; was he of noble birth or merely merchant class; is he buried in Spain or has his body been cast to the four corners of the new world?  I do not know the answers to these questions.  I do know that based on my current research, and with the information that has come to light about Columbus and how he treated the indigenous of the New World I’m glad I hail from the United States of America, and not the United States of Columbus.

Florence Lince

http://about.me/florencelince

 

A Parasol Too Large To Carry

The one constant that we have seen everywhere we have traveled is that every city has something unique to bring to the travel experience.  We never really know what we will find when we travel to some of the great cities in the world.  One of the stops on the map of the city of Seville, Spain is the Metropol Parasol.  Since it was not visible from the bus route we decided to walk the few blocks from the bus stop and see what all the fuss was about.

The Metropol Parasol is a wooden structure located in La Encarnación square, in the old quarter of Seville, Spain.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Construction began in 2005.  It stands 85 feet high and is 490 by 230 feet long.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Construction finished in 2011.  It is believed to be the largest all wooden structure in the world.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The building is affectionately known as Las Setas de la Encarnación (Incarnación’s mushrooms).  The design is said to be six parasols which form a giant mushroom.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Construction on the site actually began in early 1990 but during the excavation they found a ruin dating to the Roman and Andalusian eras and construction was immediately stopped.

The Metropol is organized into four levels.  The sublevel is the Antiquarium where the Roman and Moorish remains are on display in a museum.  The Central Market is located on level 1.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

They sell lots of fresh fish and meats…

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Olives and cheeses…

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

And loads of fresh fruits and vegetables.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The roof of Level 1 is the surface of the open-air public plaza, shaded by the wooden parasols above and designed for public events. Levels 2 and 3 house a restaurant, and two stages for entertainment.  They also offer one of the best views of the city centre.  Our new friends Ruth and Mick had a better idea and we decided to have a drink under the parasol instead.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

In fact we decided that sitting under the parasol was a perfect way for me to celebrate my 54th birthday.  And no, I didn’t eat the whole thing by myself.  🙂

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Florence Lince

http://about.me/florencelince

 

Desfile de Pascua

(The Spanish Easter Parade)

One of the perks of living in a foreign country is getting to attend the many fairs and festivals that are held.  The other perk is getting to take lots of pictures of these events and being able to share them with others.

This is a portada, the main entrance for the Cordoba feria.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The portada (main portal) of the Cordoba Feria is 140 metres wide, with a 45m-tall main central tower, two smaller towers at either end, two main arches one on each side of the main tower, and a multitude of Mezquita-style red-and-white striped double arches.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The word Feria means a local festival or fair usually held in honor of a patron saint.   The Cordoba Feria is therefore also known as Feria de Nuestra Señora de la Salud (Our Lady of the Health).

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

This feria takes place the last week of May every year.  It has been held since 1284.  Entrance is free.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

During the feria and every day from noon to roughly 8:00pm there is a sort of Easter Parade that takes place.  Called the Paseo de Caballos it is a parade of horses and carriages led by purebred horses with well dressed riders and sometimes fashionable ladies.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The men who ride wear traditional Cordoban hats which are flat with a wide brim.  They sit very tall and high in the saddle and cut a stately figure.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The ladies, of all ages dress in exquisite traditional dress of all colors, shapes and sizes.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The traditional dress is called traje de cordobesa which is composed of a skirt and jacket with their hair swept up into an elegant chignon covered by a net.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

I was told that the beautiful flowers worn in the hair of the fashionable ladies are only worn in two locations; one low and behind the right ear, or on the back part of the top of ones head.  Some ladies wear as many flowers as they can find.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

What would a fair be without a ferris wheel or a carnival?  This is no exception.  There were actually two ferris wheels, carnival booths and food stands that went on for miles.  This is quite an event.  The booths open from 4:00pm to 5:00am.  In Spanish this is called La Calle del Infierno (Hell’s Street).

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Bullfighting is a part of the feria festivities and the bullring in Cordoba is considered to be among the seven most important in all of Spain.  I don’t have any pictures of a bullfight because this little girl was too cute not to take a picture of.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Not to be outdone in wearing their fancy dresses these men strut their stuff in their fancy flamenco aprons!  In actuality they were headed from one casetas to another.  The casetas are food tents and here at the Cordoba feria there were over 100 of them.  They are tents which offer food, drink and dancing.  Lots of flamenco dancing takes place from noon to 5:00am. The entertainment was free; the beers were not.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

After seeing all these wonderful feria dresses and the many colors they came in we were compelled to buy this complete outfit for my youngest niece Natalia.  Natalia is taking dance lessons and we thought she would look smashing in this flamenco ensemble.  I hope she likes it.

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

© Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

 

Florence Lince

http://about.me/florencelince

 

Real Over Imagined

The ROI (Return on Investment) Dilemma

Recently we took two semi-escorted excursions; one to Granada and the other to Seville / Cordoba.  We used the same tour company and as we always do we called their main office and spoke to the owner to see if they would like to sponsor our trip.  They listened politely and then told us that they had done this sponsorship thing in the past and received absolutely no ROI (Return on investment).

This is not the first time we have heard this from business owners but it’s the first time I’m addressing this issue.  I’m hoping this blog entry does two things; 1. Explains to bloggers who give business owners more hype than ROI, that you are making it harder for those of us who actually give ROI to make a living, and 2. It’s time to educate business owners on what exactly is real ROI.

Based on a recommendation from another resident here in Torrevieja we used David’s Coachtrips S.I. for both trips.  There is no question that the two woman who led these trips (Jane to Granada and Sue to Seville / Cordoba) had received Tour Guide training.  They were both clear in their instruction to the passengers as to time schedules, hotel information, drop off / pick up points and even meal time information.  They gave touristy information as we motored along of all the sites and even about the cities we were traveling too.  They spaced out their little talks and kept it to a minimum.

The bus driver was excellent and took very good care of the bus and drove safely.  I had no qualms about napping while he drove.

The hotel in Granada was centrally located which made the fact that this tour didn’t offer us any other excursions or coach services convenient because we could walk to everything from our hotel. The only reason to take this trip was that the bus drove us to the front entrance of the hotel.  I am still trying to decide if it was worth the price for two ($246).

The trip to Seville / Cordoba was a disappointment since the hotel was located 30 minutes from Cordoba and 90 minutes from Seville.  The hotel was located on the outskirts of the little town of La Carlota.  We were trapped at the hotel with no place to walk to; no other restaurants to eat at; no stores to browse in; nothing to do but sit in the bar and drink.  This was not a good location for any tour.

The trip to Seville / Cordoba was hailed as a special event because the spring Feria was being held.  More like a reality TV show where things put forward as reality are not so, the feria, instead of being a big deal was more of a dud.  We were dropped off at 2:00pm and found most of the carnival booths closed.  We found overpriced restaurants open and nothing to do but eat lunch.  We were told that a parade was going to take place but the only thing that happened was an Easter Parade sort of walk where ladies in pretty dresses and men on horseback walked or rode down the center road. This part of the trip was a complete waste of time and energy.   What made it especially horrific was that we had been hurried through the city of Cordoba so that we could get to the feria early.  In reality we could have skipped the feria completely and spent more time in Cordoba.

The trip to Granada was tainted on the ride home when our tour manager decided to play a movie. Now this is not unusual and many guides around the world will play a movie to help the passengers pass the time on the ride home.  However, she showed Million Dollar Baby, a foul-mouthed, nasty and vulgar movie that I had never sat through, would never have sat through and wouldn’t even recommend.  I wasn’t alone in my assessment and soon I was sitting in a bus full of outraged seniors who felt violated and insulted as the movie progressed.  Why on earth would a company show a movie like this to a group of people who couldn’t turn the sound off?  This was incredibly bad judgment on someone’s part but as always happens it became a he said / she said argument with the tour manager blaming their office for forcing them to show the movie.

There are two sides to the ROI dilemma.  On the one hand when a blogger is given a freebie they should be disclosing that fact to their readers in the first paragraph so that readers know from where their review comes.  Not being compensated means one is free to tell the truth about a company and the level of service they receive.  This is a double-edged sword for a business owner.

Mike and I refuse to write reviews that are false.  We give right of first refusal to every business owner as to what gets put forward and what doesn’t.  For David’s Coachtrips most of what we would have written for their ROI would have been positive.  Not having to deliver ROI means I can write about the negatives as well as the positives.

Real ROI also doesn’t have anything whatsoever to do with a bloggers follow numbers.  If that is the only thing you as a business owner are being offered you are not being offered ROI.  Many followers or readers of blogs are arm-chair travelers and they will never spend money in your company.  Real ROI increases your bottom line.  Real ROI means we write about you on other highly visible websites or newspapers not just our blogs.  Real ROI means we share with you best practices in how to increase your business and how to advertise. We also take a look at your website and tell you what you are doing right, and what you are doing wrong.  Real ROI is therefore about helping grow your business; not about inflating our follow numbers.

As in all things there is a Real ROI and an Imagined ROI.  I know which one I offer.  As a business owner which one would you rather have?

Florence Lince

http://about.me/florencelince