Wednesday, 18 December 2013

What kind of traveller are you?

I have taken this test and I was quite surprised to see I am a city slicker... I do not think so!! What about your result?


Saturday, 17 August 2013

72-hour Visa-free Transit in China

In order to facilitate the international visitors’ short stay for sightseeing in Beijing, and Shanghai, they both adopt a visa-free transit policy from January 1, 2013, which allows transit passengers with passport of the following 45 countries to stay for up to 72 hours without visa on direct transit via Capital Airport, Shanghai Pudong Airport, Hongqiao Airport;

Note: Guangzhou and Chengdu had also been approved by the State Council to carry out this free transit policy. That is to say, air passengers from those 45 countries can enjoy 72 hours free transit via  Guangzhou Baiyun Airport (from 1st August 2013) and Chengdu Shuangliu Airport (date has not yet been set):

Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Shooting manual for the traveller

Not to my happiness my boyfriend husband does a number one in all the famous monuments. Are you guilty of any of them?


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Just an update

Hi, I just wanted to make an update in the status of this blog as it seems a bit dead by now.

Nothing bad is happening. I just got married (yeah!) and had the bad luck of having to move out of our flat in the past month. At the moment we are living in a tiny studio in London where we do not have internet or even phone reception (can you believe it?) This is a momentary solution while we solve out our papers to move back to Spain, so I hope in the next two months I will be able to write regularly and even more than before. I try to write in the meantime from my lunch break at work, but out there is 30 degrees and that does not happen too often in London!

See you soon!

Raquel

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Monday, 17 June 2013

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Kua 'Aina, the hawaiian barbecue in London

Exterior, Carnaby Street
A few weeks ago we found this gem. We were on our way somewhere else, but we have walked so much in Hyde Park and Oxford Street that I could not feel my feet, so I wanted to sit as soon as possible.

Basement
My boyfriend wanted a burger and I was not really hungry, but I could not resist to trying something new , so I ordered one for me as well. 

Burger with a full avocado
So I decided for an avocado burger. To be honest, I was not really sure what I was ordering, last time I went to Nando's (which I hate) I ordered one mushroom wrap and there was no chicken in it, only a big mushroom and a sad cheese! 

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Eating in London for less than 10£

Some people might say London is a really expensive city, that the lifestyle is too expensive. And I say: it depends. Don't you believe me? Read this entry.

We can't deny that the British Pound worths much more than other currencies like the Euro or Dollar. So, with the exchange rate, yes, it could look much more expensive. But happens to be that we spend a lot of money in eating while on holidays. London is the city of the take away. A few of us bring food to work, most live on sandwiches and the take away for most of the  month. And that is the reason why eating out is really cheap. Sometimes it even turns out to be cheaper buying out than cooking at home. So I give you a list of restaurants that appear all around England and that are a good option is you are travelling on a tight budget or you just do not want to wast any time and enjoy the city to the full.

I give you all the restaurants were you can eat (main dish and soft drink) for under 10£ per person without having to stand. And I want to make really clear that I am only talking about chains, but all along UK there are thousands of similar independent companies that offer the same, you just need to look a bit around.

Ping Pong: This is a Chinese food chain serving mainly dim sums. The little steamed bites are a healthy and tasty alternative. They always have offers at lunch time and even at diner. They also have other traditional Chinese food, but that would go out of our budget. They are proper restaurants, not for fast food.

Itsu: This is a Japanese, also really healthy, but the shops are more to eat fast than enjoying a quiet night. They mainly have sushi, salads and noodles or rices.


Wasabi: another Japanese, really similar to Itsu, but I always think they have more to choose from.  
Pizza Express: many Italians would tell you this is not the authentic Italian pizza. To be honest, I have seen so many types of pizza, that I do not know what is authentic and what is not. The pizzas, salads and pastas are quite well and they are around 7-9£, although the restaurants look quite more expensive than that! They have been awarded with the best pizza award in 2012. 
Strada: quite similar to Pizza Express, it is a bit more expensive and I personally do not like it as much, but it is also a really good option. 
Wagamama: I am not a fan of this one, but I include it here because it is quite popular in the country. Japanese food without sushi. The tables are to share, but they have waiter service.
Wetherspoon: This one is about pubs. Because pubs have generally good food, mainly English dishes and the prices are really popular. Wetherspoon has really cheap prices and all their pubs look independent from one another. Be careful going with children as some of them do not allow them in depending on their emergency exits.
Nando's: I am not a fan at all, but everybody else seem to love it. They mainly do chicken. Yes, only chicken and some vegetarian dishes.

I will keep adding as soon as I remember more, but I can assure you will find most of them in any city across UK.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Convivence rules when travelling

Over the years I had the chance to travel with many different people: partners, friends, relatives, workmates and even strangers. I have travelled alone too, and that is very challenging! My fellow travel mates go from people that have travelled extensively to those ones that haven't left their native country.
Let´s face it: travelling is an adventure and not everyone is ready for it. Anyone can become the best or worst mate, no matter how much you love him/her, you can end up thinking: this is the last time we travel together.
Did it happen to me? Yes. Have I been one of those whose friends think: WTF is wrong with you? Mea culpa, I have to assume it. There are people that have never travelled before and you are surprised how open-minded they are with other cultures (my own Mum happens to be one of those). Then, there are those that have travelled a lot and they can be the perfect annoying tourist (I should write a post about this!)


As a general rule, a good tourist shouldn´t be complaining about everything. You are travelling to enjoy. Spending money to be kilometres away from home and not enjoying the thing at all, it is not worth it. Whether it is the first time you travel or you have done it many times, I give you a few convivence rules to help you survive the vacation without problems.

  1. Sharing room: This is my big no-no and one of my worst issues when planning a trip. The room is there to get rest and grooming. Decide a few basic rules before ending pulling your hair out. There are people that need more hours of sleep than others, as well as people that need two hours to get ready (true story). Be realistic: if you are going to straighten your hair, waxing and apply 5 layers of make up before leaving the hotel, do not dare to be the last one to get up and make everyone else waiting for you. Also, if you are not capable of sleeping without the tv on, maybe this is a good chance to start trying for the sake of those with light sleep. I still remember how in my first trip to London, my roommate decided to see all the 2000 pictures she took that day without turning off the sound in her camera, resulting in 2000 beeps. Mad!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Places to visit: The Simpsons' theme park

Probably so far you know that Orlando has the most theme parks per square mile in the world. I think I have never told you that I am really keen on theme parks, not too obsessed with them, but I like them. Whenever a have spare time, I always tend to visit them.

One day I will in Florida for sure, but now I have one more reason: visiting The Simpson's Springfield! Although I think they deserve a theme park on their own, Universal has decided better adding it to Universal Studios

Springfield according to Universal
As  you can see, the city does not look much like the Simpsons one, but at least you the a Krusty Burger, Moe's and even the famous Duff beer.


And where is the family's home ? It is not there, isn't it a pity? Don't they really think the famous yellow family deserves a whole them park for themselves? 

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The bikes take New York

Ever wonder why New York does not have renting bikes in every corner like in London, Lille or Barcelona? Don't need to wonder anymore, City Bike has arrived.



From now on you can rent one of the over 6000 (so far) bicycles that are available for the public in over 300 stations over Manhattan and Brooklyn. 

Although the bikes are for rent from yesterday for members, it is only from 2nd June that the tourists can get them for short journeys. The price is quite ok, 9.95$ plus taxes for 24 hours (although in London the price is 2£) and you have to dock the bike at the station every 30 minutes to avoid paying a surcharge. 


New York has more than 400kms of bike lanes and over 300 green routes. These made it the perfect city to explore on two wheels. But please, take care when driving! 

Friday, 17 May 2013

Essentials for a music festival

Going to a music festival can become one of these memories you will have for ever. For me, at least, they are magic. But all can go horribly wrong if you do not take with you suitable clothes or shoes, commodities that can facilitate the stay or you are not just mentally ready.

40th Glastonbury
Although a festival can look so cool from far, you will have to do many sacrifices. I do not want to put you off, just wanting you to think carefully. If you do not see it too clear, just buy a one day pass and see how it looks for  you.
If you have it really clear: congratulations, you are heading one of the best experiences of your life! And just because I love lists, I give you one of the things I would take with me to a festival:
  • The tent. Do not buy a tiny one unless you are staying only two nights. For  more days you will have to leave all the clothes and supplies somewhere. 
  • A blanket. I am not crazy. The soil can be really cold and even though you have the plastic of the tent, this won't isolate you from the ground as it should. I have tried using nothing, mats and similar things, but this summer I took one light blanket and it is what it really works. 
One blanket like this can be used in many way
  • Air mattress. I would recommend you to invest in one if you are spending a few days there. And although with the mattress can seem enough, the cold goes through the layers, so I would recommend you to still take the blanket. 
  • Water. Buying/finding/stocking up with water can be a challenging process and can cost you  good money. I would recommend you always having one bottle in the tent just in case. .
  • Baby wipes. The best, you can use them in the toilet, washing up like a cat (yes, the showers in these places are really sought-after), cleaning wounds, shoes, stains, etc... 
Ice cream woman hands washed after 7 days in Glastonbury
  • Antibacterial gel. For the same reasons as the baby wipes, I think you should always carry it with you. You only have to look at my hands after 7 days in Glastonbury and I had just washed them! 
  • Sunblock. Festivals are usually done on summer and spring and the sun can be really tough, so remember to use it at least twice a day. 
  • Medical kit. The chances you will need a plaster, an aspirin or anti acid when you are miles away from a pharmacy are multiplied by 200%. 
  • Toiletries. Just because the showers are almost a luxury, do not forget to bring all that can help you keep clean. 
  • Cash. You will need A LOT, so do not expect going only with your credit card, as the lines for the cash machines, if there are any, will be endless. And never, ever leave all this money in the tent, always keep it safe with you.
  • Outerwear. Temperatures in the countryside can go down extremely at night. So do not forget to bring a jumper or similar. 
  • Swimsuit. Although there might be no beach where you are going, taking one could be a brilliant idea if you have to use the communal showers and you do not like to get naked! 
  • Wellies. Ok, you won't need them in Benicàssim, but in England they are a must. A bit of rain or water can turn everything into mud. If you are thinking about some beach destination, although flip flops might look like the smartest option, I would suggest you take any other light footwear that will keep the dust away and will protect you against stomping. 
Ritz wellies

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Cliffs of Moher, pure beauty

Beauty
I will gift you with some vintage Ritz today, that is why the pictures have that weird colour. For the moment you will have to enjoy these ones until I scan the old photos.
It was 2002 and I decided to go to Ireland to improve my English. I had just lost a job that should have been for me, but some other girl got it just because she had been living in London for a while and they felt she was just better. You do not know how powerless I felt, but hey, this has changed my life forever.
I was also waiting to start my Travel Agency's degree and I was in waiting list. So I thought, as many other youngsters, that going abroad over the summer would be great.

Hey Ritz, look at the camera, you are going to be famous 11 years later!
Although my first intention was coming to London (I always knew this was my place), I was made change my mind and I ended up in the outskirts of Dublin. It was a place that I did not like at all, although the city is really pretty. We went a weekend away to Galway (a city that by the way, is amazing) and we stopped by the Cliffs of Moher. Even nowadays is one of my favourite places. Ireland looks like Galicia, with all that greenish nature that looks like untouched by humans. And where else can you say that?

The cliffs are stunning, simply wonderful. I have been not long ago in Beachy Head and I loved them, but I could not stop thinking that the ones in Ireland were much better. Nothing less than 8 kms of wild sea, rocks and green of a height of 214 metres. There is little trail that goes all along its length and if you go there by car (something quite likely considering how isolated the place is) there is a car park.

Oh yes, it is nice.

Friday, 10 May 2013

50 Ways to live life to the full

Daily Mail has published an article about what people consider that means living life to the full. Travelling is one of the most people consider as LIVING. And most of these things can be done travelling. So I thought I should share them with you. 

1. Stop worrying about money
2. Stop worrying about what other people think
3. Take two holidays a year
4. Enjoy little comforts in life
5. Experience different cultures
6. Work to live rather than live to work
7. Pay off all debts
8. Be true to yourself
9. Concentrate on what you have instead of what you don't have
10.Use money on experiences rather than saving for a rainy day
11. Make time for family and friends
12. Try all types of food
13. Find true love
14. Travel to at least 25 different foreign countries
15. Go outside more
16. Learn a new language
17. Be well thought of by family and friends
18. Help a member of your family out when they really need it
19. Lose a stone in weight
20. Treat each day like it's your last
21. Visit all of your country's historical landmarks
22. Book an impulsive last minute holiday
23. Volunteer for a good cause
24. Take up a challenge
25. Go on safari


26. Blow a load of money in one shopping trip, just because you can
27. Learn a new instrument
28. Be married for longer than 20 years
29. Have enough money left for the grandchildren to enjoy
30. Start a family
31. Earn more than your age
32. Have a pet
33. Drive a really fast car
34. Travel alone
35. Be able to keep the kids on the straight and narrow
36. Meet strangers
37. Move away from home to an unfamiliar place
38. Have a one night stand
39. Pass your driving test
40. Get a degree
41. Rescue someone so that you're a hero for a little while
42. Date someone exciting but completely wrong for you
43. Get a promotion
44. Reach the desired career peak by age 40
45. Have an all-night drinking session
46. Perform something on stage in front of others
47. Snog a stranger
48. Plan a surprise party
49. Embark on adrenaline packed activities such as sky diving or bungee jumping
50. Spend time with children even if they aren't yours


How many have you achieved? Is it scary that you have done most of them? I am sure you can think of even more.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Why I do not do hostels

Well, yeah, I guess you will think I am posh. How lightly can you say: "I do not do hostels"? Do not get me wrong, it is not that I do not like them, it is simply that I do not need to. Whoa, that sounds even worse!

When I first started travelling, I always went to cheap hotels, more like motels in the outskirts of the cities than 4 star ones. Spain is not a country of hostels. Or it was not before. We had this bad idea about them. Then you start going to foreign countries and you start getting accustomed. How do you get back to the idea of sharing a room with strangers once you have been travelling on hotels?


Then I started working in the travel industry. I won't lie to you, sometimes I get hotel nights for free (from time to time). Or almost. Most of the hotels give great discounts for travel agents, a few of them really juicy discounts. So why not spending a couple quid more in a nice hotel instead of a crowded hostel room?

I know, I must be missing lots of good things, but you get really used to it. So when I read all this stories about hostels and I think: wow, we live in a different world!
So I guess this makes me different to the rest of travel bloggers. But don't get fooled, all will do hotels if they could !

Friday, 3 May 2013

Four Pillars Hotel Cotswold Water Park 4★- UK

The hotel is split in several buildings
This wonderful hotel is a good option if you are looking for something in the area, good service and good value for money.

shame we could not enjoy the terrace at 10ºC
I am sure you have heard of Cotswold as a typical destination in UK. There are uncountable things you can do for a weekend or week away, but there they multiple more choices as there are a total of 147 lakes created from the extraction of minerals in the past 50 years. This area is known as Cotswold Water Park, and regardless of its name, this more a conservation area more than a water park. Do not expect any fun rides or anything similar!

The spacious room
Although we went at the beginning of March and it was cold, in summer this is more a holiday area for families that can enjoy the beach, windsurf, fishing, golf, horse riding and a lot of activities more. I must confess I would not find coming back in summer and see the lakes with a bit of sunshine, because the location looks gorgeous, because due to the fog and such a grey day you couldn't say: oh, wonderful!


But let's go back to the hotel. Apart from a good sleep and the wonderful food, this hotel has a spa. It is not massive, but despite the high season when we went, you can enjoy everything in a quite intimate atmosphere. We had moments where we were alone in the steam room and the sauna. And the swimming pool was not enjoyed with more than 8 people at all times.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Easyjet: check-in only on-line

From 30/04/2013 Easyjet has implemented the only on-line check-in for all its flights. That means airport desks are only for baggabe drop.
Check-in can be done from 30 days to 2 hours in advance.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Heard in a travel agency: chapter one


Last week we received one of the.... erm.... weirdest petitions ever. We are used to being requested strange seats requests, but never like this. A passenger was flying from Europe to Asia. In economy, to be more precise and his PA sent us the following email:  

Please mind the following seat requirements: 
 
"Please, book my seat. The aircraft is A340-600, but there are two different types, depending on the type, please book according to the following preferences: 
 
When the aircraft is A340-600 (8F/60C/238M) (Airbus) then, please book the following: 
Priority 1: 38G
Priority 2: 40D
Priority 3: 41C or 58D or 58G
Priority: 58C or 41H or 58H
 
Being A340-600 (8F/56C/229M) please book one of the following :
Priority 1: 37G
Priority 2: 40D
Priority 3: 40C or 57D or 57G
Priority 4: 58C or 40H or 58H "

We were astonished. What would have happened if neither of the seats is available. Would he refuse tor travel?