valencia in photos

hotel boutique balandret

beautiful rooms, great customer service and shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom – the true markings of a good hotel, right?

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la paz

beach restaurant with a €15 lunch menu of  bread, calamari, prawn paella, pudding AND a beer. total bargs.

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la malvarrosa beach

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el rodamón de russafa

incredible tapas, big portions and a good gin selection. we paid €65 for 7 dishes (too many!) and several goblets of gin… but perhaps book ahead, we had to sit at the bar.

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cafe del duende

€10 entry for a drink and a one hour show – we loved it!

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la bella de cádiz

bizarre bar full of mannequins, lampshades and vintage treats but a great buzz, and even cheaper gin!

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city of arts and sciences

actual instagram heaven.

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restaurante contrapunto les arts

fancy lookin’ food in a fancy lookin’ restaurant  – we had amuse bouche, two starters, a paella main and a pudding for just €19.

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so yes, just a whole lot of good and drink really – what more did you expect?

valencia = done!

Ibiza, Valencia, Madrid, Porto, Berlin, Athens & Mykonos for £192.50

Have you heard about the trick you can do to get 18 days off straight this April?

Due to a load of bank holidays being either around or on the weekend this spring, you only need to take 9 days off to be free from Friday 14th April 2017 to Tuesday 2nd May 2017.

HolidayPirates found an incredible 7 European city trek for £145 last week, but, whilst I can’t have that huge stint off (WAIL), I wanted to see what could be done if we threw in a couple of beach destinations as well. Mostly because the thought of doing 7 major cities has me reaching for the compeeds… (WHAT A SEXY VISUAL).

Right, let’s kick this bad boy off.

IBIZA, SPAIN

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Saturday 15th April – 3 nights – 16°C

First up is Ibiza.

Whilst the party season hasn’t quite kicked off yet, the beautiful scenery and great food more than make up for it and are a perfect way to ease yourself into 2 and half weeks of jaunting around Europe.

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 14.55.51.pngLondon Stanstead – Ibiza
1725 – 2105
Ryanair
£20

VALENCIA, SPAIN

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Tuesday 18th April – 1 night – 20°C

It’s only a quick 45-minute flight over to Valencia to enjoy a one night stay and time to take in some of the city’s best bits.

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1240 – 1325
Ryanair
£26

MADRID, SPAIN

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Wednesday 19th April – 2 nights – 17°C

It can be easy to focus on flights but with all the faffing of getting to the airport and checking in, it’s always worth taking a look at where you can go by train as well.

In just 1 hour and 38 minutes, you can reach Madrid for 2 days of exploring the Spanish capital.
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Valencia – Madrid
1410 – 1548
Renfe (via trainline eu)
£18.50

 

 

The tickets for the 19th haven’t been released yet (they will be very soon!) so I’ve used the prices for the week before.

PORTO, PORTUGAL

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Friday 21st April – 3 nights – 20°C

After the winter rains, Porto is looking LUSH, making it the perfect destination for spring.

3 nights means you can explore the city, take a boat trip and also visit Foz beach.

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Madrid – Porto
0920 – 0935
Ryanair
£21

BERLIN, GERMANY

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Mon 24th April – 2 nights – 14°C

After a beach day in Porto, it’s time to head back to a big city to check out the museums and galleries in Berlin. Oh, and to test out all those cracking beers as well.

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Porto – Berlin
1635 – 2050
Ryanair
£28

ATHENS, GREECE

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Weds 26th April – 1 night – 20°C

Next, we’re heading back south for an evening in the Greek capital of Athens.

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1300 – 1655
Ryanair
£26

MYKONOS, GREECE

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Thurs 27th April – 3 nights – 20°C

And in the spirit of not doing too much on holiday, it’s only right that we finish this whole thing off with one last beach stop in Mykonos.

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Athens – Mykonos
1400 – 1450
Ryanair
£15

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

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Sunday 30th April – 8943894379 nights – 15°C

It can often be pretty sad when it’s time to come home but DON’T WORRY, you’ve still got May Day Monday off to wind down/do all your washing/start planning your next holiday.

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Mykonos – London Gatwick
1305 – 1500
easyJet
£38


So, how have we done?

Well, in just 16 days we’ll have visited 7 different destinations for the total cost of £192.50.

Aye, that’s not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.

holiday one: winter sun weekend break for less than £170

As I sat down to get my booking on, I had three things in mind.

  • I wanted to go somewhere new
  • I wanted to go some warm(ish)
  • I wanted to go somewhere for 2 nights

I was also planning on going with the housemate, James, so everything I’d be searching for would be for two.

So with a quick stretch of my most prominent key-tapping fingers, I set forth, loose in the wily heaths of the world wide web.

Here’s how I got on:

1. Flights first

I bloody love Skyscanner because its nifty search tool allows you to search ‘everywhere’ when you’re not sure where to go, and ‘cheapest month’, when you just want a good deal.

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This time, I knew my dates so just used ‘everywhere’.

After sifting through many a cold (but cheap) destination, I settled on Valencia.

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Total cost – £61.98 each (yes, I really am counting that 2p!)

Tip – Whilst there certainly are last minute deals to be had, deals were pretty thin on the ground 10 days before. I saw some incredibly cheap flights (£38) to Cyprus at the same time just 2 weeks ago!

Booked with easyJet (via Skyscanner)

Cashback – No monies for easyJet, but we’ll let it slide… This time…

2. Getting to Gatwick

Since our flight is leaving Gatwick at 7:10AM, I’d rather put my head into a bag of wet prawns that leave the house at half three on a Saturday morning. Therefore, I had a quick look for a cheap hotel at the airport itself et voilà!

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The BLOC hotel is actually IN THE TERMINAL. As in, roll out of bed, brush teeth, do 12 lunges (how else do you think I maintain my physique?) and walk through security.

What’s more, some of the rooms look out onto the runway which excited James so much, he asked if we could just stay there for the weekend.

I found a ‘no window’ room for £71 on hotels.com, but after hitting up trivago which is a great tool for comparing prices, I found one with a window for £67 on a site called Amoma. What’s more, when I checked if it did cashback, I saw that there was a 5% off code as well. Screen Shot 2017-01-24 at 16.45.46.png

Total cost – £32.78 each

Tip – Always use a comparative site such as trivago to check you’ve got the cheapest price on your hotel.

Booked with Amoma (via TopCashback)

Cashback – 9.2% cashback = £5.95 PLUS a cheeky 5% off code to boot (HOTEL5OFF – expires 31st March 2017).

3. A Valencia hotel worth of an Instagram (or six)

There were a bevvy of beautiful hotels for under £75 a night to choose from, including the highly rated Hotel Vincii Mercat and Vincii Palace.

However, it was two others that caught my eye.

First, One Shot Colon because – well, yes, because of the absolute lolathon the name gave me (and its minimalist but cool decor, great reviews and a bargain price of £50 a night).

But we ended up going for the slightly more expensive Hotel Balandret which has a 4.5 rating on TripAdvisor, and also comes second in The Telegraph’s expert ‘best hotels in Valencia’ list.

It’s also on the sea front (we paid an extra £15 in total to have a sea view) and comes with free breakfast each morning.

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Total cost – £75 each

Tip – Sure, we could have done this bit for cheaper but a few extra pounds has got us a better room and we’ll save money on spends by eating in for breakfast.

Also, the hotel is part of Hotels.com’s loyalty scheme so we’ve banked 2 nights out of the 10 needed to get a free night stay at a hotel in the future.

Booked with Hotels.com (via TopCashback)

Cashback – 9.2% = £8.15


Total cost = £169.72

Total potential cashback = £14.10

As the cashback is only a bonus once it comes through, there’s no deducting it from the final total (just yet) so for now, here’s what we’re left with:

Total left = £1543.29

Holiday one: BOOKED.

5 quick tips for booking cheaper holidays

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I am ITCHING to get booking my first wild escapade but you know what they say, “don’t run a marathon before you do a few lunges”.

Okay FINE. No one says that.

But basically, I’m just trying to point out that there’s a few little ‘warm up’ tricks one can do before going batshit cray-cray on the credit card.

1. Sign up to holiday deal websites and newsletters

To get the best deals, you need to know what’s out there and a good way to stay in the know is to sign up to some travel newsletters.

A few personal faves are:

Now, I know what you’re about to say.

NO ONE NEEDS MORE EMAILS IN THEIR ALREADY CLUTTERED INBOX, CHELSEA.

And I’m with you. So I use Unroll.Me which not only unsubscribes you from pesky emails (found out I was signed up to 133 of those bad boys t’other day – bleak) but also allows you to add newsletters into one daily ‘rollup’.

2. Set travel alerts

We all have a dream location in mind. Like, imagine being able to say “here’s me in St. Barts with my friend Edna”.

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If you’ve also got an idea of when you’d like to go, travel alerts let you know when the flight’s price changes – be that up or down.

I use Skyscanner for this (like I said, obsessed) but you could also use other flight comparison sites, such as Kayak.

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3. Be ready

You’re sat in work one day and an email pops into your inbox. You rub your eyes. You can’t quite believe it. GOOD GOD they’re offering direct flights to BOGNOR REGIS for only £2500! It’s the bargain of the century!

Between sharp breaths, your shaking hand clicks on the link and just as you’re about to checkout you remember – you don’t have the money, you don’t have your details and you don’t know who you’re going with.

Incredible deals, including online glitches, go quick or get fixed so don’t hang about. Whilst money is a no-brainer, it can be easy to forget that you need personal details when you’re booking.

Quite often airlines don’t require a passport number at checkout, but they do need to know everyone’s date of birth and name as it appears on their official documentation.

4. Sign up for cashback

Who the hell doesn’t like free money?

Whilst cashback sites are no new trick, I often speed through an online checkout and only remember later than I could have claimed money back on it.

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Quidco and Top Cashback both offer a downloadable extension that notifies you when you’re on a site with cashback. I personally found this a little too invasive so I just try my best to remember.

If you join Quidco via this link, we’ll both get a tenner (WHEYYY) but I’ve actually just swapped to Top Cashback as Quidco’s success rate on paying out was about 40%, so I’m giving something new a go.

In fact, that’s important to remember. Don’t book something because of a promise of cashback – you may never get it. Just think of it as a bonus if it does come.

5. Get a railcard

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A 13 hours and 23 minute train from Aberdeen to Penzance not your idea of a holiday? (Yes, that’s a real train route). No worries. Railcards can still come in use.

10 airports in the UK have their own railway station so you can cut down on a third of your travel costs before you even fly.

Woah – what’s that? Not 16-25? (I feel your pain, bro).

There are a few more options but my favourite is the Two Together railcard. You don’t need to be romantically involved (can you IMAGINE having to send in EVIDENCE to PROVE IT – HA) and so you can get one with your best mate, your colleague or even your Nan.

All railcards are £30 but there’s ALWAYS a 10% discount if you search the web.

Is it worth it? Well, it depends on how much you travel. If you’re having to take the train to a different city to fly, it usually pays for itself but even if you just need a return ticket between London Victoria and Gatwick, a railcard makes the journey £10.65 cheaper each.

Two holidays a year and you’ve saved yourself £15.60. That’s enough for a pint each and a sudoku book at the airport.

ALSO – if you do have a 16-25 railcard, did you know that you can add it to your Oyster card?

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IKR. GAME CHANGER.

(Mine expires in Feb. I am so sad).


So there you have it – 5 quick tips to help you cement your way to a top holiday deal.

Now, it’s about time I start my own booking otherwise I’m gonna have to take up that Bognor Regis deal…

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The average Brit spends £3418 a year on holidays.

What the actual fuckles.

£3418?!?

That’s like 45 pairs of Topshop boots.

Or a 2009 Vauxhall Corsa with tinted windows, body kit and some alloy wheels.

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Nice rims mate

SHIT SON – that’s 682 Toby Carveries!

Whatever way you look at it, that is one huge lump of cash that I, as a holiday deal delving fiend, was shocked – neigh- OUTRAGED to discover.

Even if we were to say that half of that is spends, that’s still £1709 on travel and accommodation.

Therefore, I’ve decided to go ahead and commit to not getting engaged/housedup/babyfied for at least the next year (in the very, very least) so that I can see how many holidays I can do for the same price.

I know. What a bloody trooper.

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SOMEONE GIVE THIS GIRL A MEDAL (also Omega, hit me up with some sweet sponsorship again, thanx bbz)

Now, I’m not talking about slumming it – christ, Zante 2008 was enough to swear me off 2 stars for life – I’m just talking about getting the most for your money. After all, we all still want to look fancy as fuck on Instagram (AM I RIGHT LADS?!).

So first things first, we’ve got to have some rules.

For £1709:

  1. I’ve got go on at least 10 holidays
  2. Trips have to be 2 nights or more and two have to be 5 nights or more
  3. I can only use my 28 days of annual leave
  4. I’ve got to visit at least 3 continents
  5. I have to fly business class at least once

THAT’S TOUGH, RIGHT? (Again, what an absolute champ I am for taking on this grueling task, etc. etc.)

So, if you fancy seeing how I get on/how long it takes me to fall into a pit of inevitable yet totally instagrammable debt then get a pen, some paper and write down the name of this website. Oh, what wait- you’re not my gran? (Shit! More people than my gran are reading this!!). Well, you can just sign up for emails or press ‘follow’ to the right instead.

Next time, it’s all about finding holiday numero uno.

Yeah, I should really start looking at that…