THAT’S the message from Maria Sofra of Orrvale, who has just returned from a trip that could have been a nightmare without it.
The adventure started when Maria decided to take her mum, Claudia back to Italy to meet up with the relatives.
Arriving in Rome they stayed at an apartment that Maria had rented near the family home in Tivoli and as word spread that they had arrived relatives came out of the woodwork.
It was a great time, Maria arranged visits to the major tourist sites in Rome and found out that the Turin Shroud said to have covered the body of Christ, was being displayed to the public by the monks of Turin; a rare occurrence and something special to witness. The display took place in the local church and Maria says it was very special.
Then a side trip to see her mother’s sister in law at La Poesia, which became their base to explore the coastal towns of Cinque Terre with its great views across each village and excellent restaurants.
Then, leaving mum with the ‘rellies’ back in Rome, Maria set off to meet up with an organised tour starting in Vienna and covering Budapest to Poland.
In Krakow they visited the salt mines that have been turned into a museum and church, three miners converted the mines creating huge statues and galleries some with crystal chandeliers made of salt.
In Poland she visited Auschwitz Concentration Camp, an incredible emotional journey. You can see the items people left behind on their journey to the gas chambers.
Maria was amazed at how short a time many people spent here from arrival and processing to death; only a couple of weeks.
Then onto Warsaw and Berlin. Maria just loved to walk the town and see the buildings and the people up close. Quite often she would sit at a coffee shop and just watch the world go by.
She loved the history of Berlin, from the old to the new, but it was the wall that drew her attention. Mostly pulled down, you can buy little samples to take home as a keepsake, but parts of the wall still remain and artists have decorated them to tell the story.
From Berlin to Dresden, which was almost destroyed by bombing in the war, but today is a beautiful city with stunning architecture.
In Prague, a cruise on the Danube just as night closed in on the buildings on the bank shone, with dramatic night lighting.
Returning to Vienna, Maria spent five days exploring the art galleries and museums, then an eight hour train ride to Venice to spend time there. Then the phone rang to say that her 80 year old mother had had a fall and needed an operation.
Maria headed for the fast train. The Italo travels at 300 kilometres per hour, the trip to Rome took just three and a half hours.
It was a simple thing. Her mother had fallen from her bed but an ambulance had to be called and she was now in the Tivoli Hospital. She needed an operation but the hospital had such a back-log, she had to wait.
Maria had called the insurance company as soon as she had heard about her mum. They were wonderful and assured her they would look after everything.
But with the back-log, her mum had waited seven days. The insurance company, who stayed in close contact with Maria, arranged for her mother to be transferred to the Rome American Hospital. An hour after arriving, preparation for the operation was underway.
Maria had arranged the insurance with Apia because of her mother’s age. Their operators Ace Assist looked after everything including accommodation for Maria while her mother recuperated, and an upgrade to Business Class for Mum and Maria for their flight back to Australia.
Maria would like to thank Joe Bovalino from Lyn McNaught Helloworld Travel in Mooroopna for arranging things and staying in daily contact during her mother’s ordeal. As Joe says, never travel without insurance.
Until next time,