Take Your Vacation Contest Winner Tells All: Debbie H. Discovers Italy

Earlier this year, Condo Agent Debbie H. won the Global Connections Inc. Take Your Vacation Contest, giving her an eight-day, seven-night stay in a Global Connections condo and a cash prize. She spent two weeks in Italy – part of it in Sicily and the other part in the condo, Villa Giulia, near Sorrento. Here’s how it went!

GCI: How was the resort?

Debbie: We stayed near Sant’Agata Bolognese. It was a cute little town, but the road was as small as could be. You had to put in your mirrors and it had traffic going both ways. We were scared when we left, especially at night when it was dark.

The resort manager meets you 20 minutes away. There is no way you would be able to find this place on your own. The roads wind around. They tell you in the instructions for the resort to rent a car as small as you can.

Once you get to the resort, you find gorgeous views. The condo was spacious, especially because Vince (my husband) thought his kids were going, so we had an extra bedroom. But it ended up being just the two of us. The accommodations were really nice. It’s a beautiful place.

GCI: It sounds scenic! What did you think of the area?

PositanoIt’s centrally located for day trips. We would get up in the morning and go to Sant’Agata as our starting point, which was about eight miles away. We originally spent all day there and went home when it was dark. After that, we decided to take the bus and not to drive far at night.

GCI: You had many attractions to choose from. Which ones did you see?

pompeiiSorrento is like a big hub. A lot of buses and boats go in and out. One day we went to Pompeii, which has so much history. We took a boat from there to Capri because we wanted to go to the Blue Grotto.

To see it, you have to get on a small boat, four people at a time. In the meantime, you’re waiting on a larger boat, where we waited for more than an hour with 50 other people. It’s funny because you wait all this time to go to the grotto, which lasts three to four minutes. But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance. It’s indescribable, the blue and the water. The boat rowers were singing, too, and it was a cool experience.

On another day, we went to Amalfi and Positano. That was my favorite. It was pretty easy to get there by bus. Both areas are gorgeous, so we were sightseeing for the beauty. And they had great little shops. Positano is 90 percent shops for women. It’s a really classy shopping area for rich people.

GCI: What was your favorite memory from the trip?

Vince has been working on his family tree. His dad was from Sicily, so we stayed there four nights before heading to our condo. We were very close to where his family roots are and Vince ended up meeting a man who had the same last name. Their grandfathers were brothers!

Vince met somebody who worked for the city and knew how to speak English. He knew another person with Vince’s last name and we went to their house for lunch. There was a language barrier, but the man who worked for the city translated. That was a great memory, for Vince especially. You should see his family tree. He’s been working on it forever.

GCI: Have you traveled using the employee condo program?

This is the first time I’ve ever taken a Global Connections trip at a condo. Plus, it was the first time I used our travel agency and I’ve worked here for six years. I’m going to use Bridget a lot. I had been checking airlines and she got a better deal than I ever saw. And she loves booking Europe! She’s the go-to agent for European trips.

rome tevi fountainGCI: The goal of this contest was to remind people about the importance of taking time off. What did you get out of it?

My mother lives in a home nearby and I go see her every lunch hour. She’s 96 and she wants me to travel so she can live vicariously through me. When my mother was 70, both of us went to London and Paris. It was the first time either one of us went to Europe. So it was really cool to tell her about our time in Italy. She loved Paris and Notre Dame, so it brought back memories for her.

I had been looking forward to this trip for so long. I took every bit of vacation I had left to be gone two full weeks. You can’t go to Italy for just one.

We’re so happy that Debbie was able to experience a much-needed trip and we hope this inspires you to use your vacation days as well. You do work for a travel company, after all. Lifelong memories await!

Photos courtesy of Debbie H.