A+A EuroTrip 2015 ~ Spain (Madrid & Barcelona)

Finally back from our Europe trip! It has been a wonderful journey yes even with the bitter memories but we gained such an amazing experience! An experience we can never forget and definitely encourage everyone to do it just once in their lifetime! To explore the unknown, to get lost, to venture in a new city and be mesmerised!

After 2 short transits in KL and Dubai, we finally reached Madrid at 8:30PM. It was a very tiring flight, I’ve never had to have a full 5 meals on board an aircraft before. I had to turn down a couple meal services as I was too tired. As mentioned in my previous post, we used Mozio to book for our transportation to our Airbnb Apartment. We had to wait for 30mins as we are sharing the shuttle with a couple of others. Which wasn’t that bad for the price that we pay. For taxis in Madrid, they have a flat fee of €30! We paid about AUD$28 for the shuttle.

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Our AirBnb apartment was cosy,clean and for the location it was worth the price! We did set a budget of getting an accommodation for AUD$100 a day! We did have a total of 18 nights so definitely budget is quite important in our trip! We had our first tapas for breakfast at Tapas 44 and it was awesome! I think it was the best one.

Tapas 44

Tapas 44

Madrid is a very cultural city with the Palace, the Plazas, the Facades. When you’re in Madrid, have some Churros! Among the places we visit were Puerta De Sol, the Palace, Plaza Mayor. But the weather was cold, rainy and rather gloomy while we were there! So it has been about running seeking shelter and warmth!

And i wonder why we shopped heaps in Zara! Well, definitely hit Zara and Mango when you’re in Spain. Cheap Cheap Cheap! We used Tripomatic app a lot during our holiday trips. It’s great as it features all the must see attractions and restaurants that you need to visit in each city and you can plan your daily itinerary as well! Very useful!

We spend about 4 days in Madrid and another 4 days in Barcelona. We were giving each city ample time just afraid we did get jet lag like we were in New York last September. We spend each day walking throughout our day. Due to the proximity of our apartment to the City, we walked almost every where except to the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

We cab it to the stadium as it was starting to rain. The stadium tour was awesome and no doubt it was huge! The hubs had a great time and was in awe! Thank god we head there on a Weekday morning, it was less crowded and look who decided to show up, Mr Sun of course! 

On the fourth day we head to Atocha station to catch the Renfe Train to Barcelona. We got the tickets in February and it was an early bird ticket! So pretty happy to grab bargains of course! The trains were spacious, each carriage had a luggage area for you to store your luggages. If you like to know more, Seat 61 is the best train travel guide!

It was such a great weather in Barcelona! Alhamdulillah, we got upgraded from a 2* Hotel Santa Marta to a 3* Hotel Suizo as the hotel was still under refurbishment. As per TripAdvisor, initially there were heaps of mixed reviews regarding Hotel Santa Marta! So we were a little scared but you know to just accept whatever! Then we were told a week before that we were upgraded to Hotel Suizo! We were so ecstatic because it was located right in Gothic Quarters! Such a great location, close proximity to La Ramblas, 2 train stations within walking Distance and great cafes and Tapas bars within reach! Below is the view from our balcony.

Something about the Hotel bathrooms in Spain and Italy, they have this urinal thing at the side. Which we thought was weird. We stayed here for 3 nights and the hubs couldn’t sleep soundly due to the noises and theres really strong smell in the bathroom which i reckon coming from the separate urinal which we never ever used. But i think for the price and location, we are still grateful. We still think its a great place to be based at.

  The highlights of soccer fans being in Barcelona is to catch their game! Definitely had the best time, front row seats and having Barcelona conquered and dominated the match! It was amazing and of course getting to see your favourite players in real life! It was indeed such a dream come true!

Among the attractions that you definitely need to catch is of course the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Plaza Espana, Montjuic Fountains and Barcelona Beach! These places are amazing! We didn’t go into Sagrada Familia, the line is long and you know w just enjoy the facade really. Park Guell, definitely get tickets online! We had to wait 3 hours for the next available time to enter the park! So definitely lessons learnt there! Montjuic Fountains starts at 9pm so definitely worth checking the times before you go as the time changes as the seasons change!

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia

Park Guell

Park Guell

Barcelona has been such an amazing city and is definitely our favourite city of the Trip! Halal restaurants are so easy to find in the city too!

Insurance ✓ SIM Card ✓ Tickets ✓

So we packed our bags yesterday. Was quite surprise that I did not overpack this time like how I usually do! Was quite surprise myself! And finally my Ripcurl softcase luggage got to retire! The Ripcurl luggage did lasts me for 8 years! It was just the time to replace. Alhamdulillah, American Tourister was on sale so got the Large Suitcase (75cm) for $160! Really wanted the white one! But I chose practicality over fashion and got the black one instead!

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And how great that the Global Gig Sim Card arrives in the mail on time! It’s awesome, so far our research goes, we hardly use text or call credits when we are overseas as we mostly use Skype to call, Whatsapp to text and Social Media. So after comparing a couple of the global sims (which are ridiculously expensive!) We decided to go with GlobalGig! 3Gb for $50/Mth or 5Gb for $70/Mth for anywhere in Europe and USA. I remembered I paid for 3Gb for $40 with AT&T when I went to the US. I purchases the AT&T new sim card from Ebay and just top it up online before I leave! That was great and very convenient! Cuz we needed a US number as soon as we touch down to call our AirBnB Host! Overall the best thing about Global Gig and AT&T you can even use it as a hotspot and share the data with your partner! So you don’t have to get 2 sim cards! Well at least that’s what I did!

I usually use and recommend comparethemarket.com.au for my insurance needs. Be it health or travel insurance. Indeed they are great and suits every traveller’s budget! So we got the Travel Insuranz Premiere for $136 for us, couple!  I can’t default it. It did save us a lot of money.  

It was a nightmare exchanging money in Melbourne. Wanted to head down to KVB as they are trusted to have good rates, however, they ran out of Euros! Booo so I headed to my next trusted and best rates United Currency Exchange! And they ran out of Euros too! Nonetheless, I manage to haggle and negotiate with one of the Stores and got my Euros! So lesson learnt, exchange your money to Euros at least a week before you depart! Guess it was just my luck but Alhamdulillah!

It is definitely going to be a long day at work today. And we are finally leaving tonight! Too excited 🙂

A+A EuroTrip 2015

The husband was half hearted when i mentioned that we should carry forward our EuroTrip to April instead of September. But Alhamdulillah we did! Since we missed the Europe Travel Expo last November, we were lucky that the Global Travel Expo was on in February. We did thorough research on the prices of flights prior to the Expo and had our minds made up on a budget.

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This was our second flight purchase from the Travel expos that were organised by Flight Centre Group. You do need to look around and know where your budget is. So far the prices were cheaper than what we expected. Europe is by far the trip that scares us the most, the expenses, the people, the language barrier, we just don’t know what to expect!

We got Emirates flight going from Mel ✈️ Madrid 🚆 Barcelona ✈️ Manchester 🚌 London 🚆 Paris ✈️ Venice 🚆 Maranello 🚆 Pisa 🚆 Rome ✈️ Mel. This is definitely going to be interesting! We booked our Trains in Spain (Renfe) and Italy (Trenitalia) in January/February and got really cheap early bird fares! They usually open 120 days prior to your travel dates. However Virgin Trains and EuroStar opens 90 days in advance! We missed out on Virgin Trains as Manchester – London earlybird train fares was sold out pretty quickly. I guess it was due to the soccer match that weekend! Of course everyone will be rushing to get £15 tickets as compared to £80.60! Oh wells!

I highly recommend the app/website GoEuro to get the cheapest transportation fares in UK and Europe! And what i did was to go on the train/airline/bus website and book it directly. If you book it from GoEuro, you couldn’t choose your seats. We learnt it the hard way! Let’s see if we can negotiate with the train conductor if we can swap seats! lol

Seat 61 will be another website you would want to bookmark! A guide to travelling around Europe/UK (worldwide actually!) by train, including how to buy cheap train tickets! A site worth to visit! Another site worth looking at is Mozio it helps you with Airport transfers! Going to and from Airports is a breeze with Mozio, I’ve got quotes from quite a number of Operators (Cheapest, €65) for my transport from Kyriad Disneyland Hotel to Paris Orly Airport early morning. So far Mozio has been the cheapest (€51). The same for our Madrid Airport to AirBNB apartment in Madrid City. Taxi Fares are €30. At Mozio, I am paying about €21. Well, we shall see how reliable they are in a few days!

Once we got the transportation settled, we started looking at hotels/airbnb! Our budget for accommodations are $100 a day maximum! Alhamdulillah we manage to keep it all under budget! Besides AirBNB, We looked at Hotels combined, Trivago and Expedia. If you found any accommodations listed cheaper (on the sites) as compared to Expedia, they will be able to price match and in return put $50 forward to your next hotel booking! I did that for a couple hotels and its worth it! For hotels in Spain and Italy, you are better off booking directly through the hotel as they do more discounts/freebies as compared to the websites above! Usually, you’ll pay for the rooms upon checkout! So its pretty great! I reckon!

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Los Angeles Part 5

3 days left before we head home.

Started off the day with breakfast at iHop before sending the cousin off to the Airport! We head down to Hollywood Boulevard again to Madame Tussauds since we are in the area, purchased the tickets online prior as it is much cheaper than buying at the desk. We bought it 5 minutes before we entered! Quite last minute… i must say!

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After doing some last minute shopping, we ended up catching Jim Carrey doing a Haircutting Stint for Jimmy Kimmel Live and also promoting his then new movie Dumb and Dumber To. Which was really cool to see him live! He was indeed aging but he’s still hilarious!

Across the road, there was a red carpet event so we end up at the front row to see what’s the fuss is all about! It was for a promotion for Fox Catcher! And Steve Carell was there and he was signing autograph right infront of us! Pretty disappointed that Channing Tatum didn’t show up tho! 😦

On the way back to Anaheim, we stopped by at the Citadel Factory Outlets in LA (5100 Citadel Drive), we shopped a bit (Well we gave ourselves 1 hour to shop!) before getting to Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles for dinner! It was then the time to pack our luggage!

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The next day we head out to do the Warner Brother’s Studio Tour, we got this last minute tickets through their website. If you’re any tv and movies lover, you’ll love this tour! We love the TV series ‘Friends’ so fair enough we love being on the set! It was great! We get to go to different talk show sets, i love being on the set of Ellen, although we can never get tickets for the show! They also had the new Batman memorabilia exhibition, everything from the first Batman movie to the last one! So the husband was in awe!

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We headed to the Lakers game after! It was amazing, got to see Kobe and Jeremy in real life! The atmosphere was great! Spotted Rebel Wilson on the courtside and heard rumours that Fabulous was there too! Definitely a must do when you’re in LA!

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Our last day in LA, we’ve decided to do a last minute shopping at Walmart in Anaheim before I spotted the gigantic Forever 21 Outlet! But it was too late to get more stuff as our luggage are all packed up! Booooo! Right after we bought the essentials, we did do a bit of celebrity spotting in Malibu. Malibu Country Mart to be precise!

Trying not to be touristy! We spotted Kourtney Kadarshian and Scott! I am not really a big fan but it was nice to see them in person. We take the day nice and slow strolling around Malibu and cruising down the highway. It was a perfect day!

Before we head to the airport, we went to Churros Calientes for the greatly reviewed Spanish desserts. If you’re in Santa Monica, don’t miss this! You definitely have to try the Churros here! Don’t bother buying the churros at the Pier as its not worth it and doesn’t even taste good at all! The café is pretty small hence seats are limited! We came here about 6ish and the place is slowly filling up. The café owner was so friendly and very accommodating. The atmosphere was awesome! If you’re not really all into chocolate, stick to the churros as the Hot chocolate can be quite thick and rich! Will highly recommend any travellers going to Santa Monica!

After living out of a luggage for 3 weeks, I was actually ready to come home. Till next time US!

Los Angeles Part 4

We went to the Universal Studios Los Angeles on a Sunday morning after a hectic crowded Disneyland the day before and was greeted by Mario Lopez and a couple of ladies from Extra while they were filming an episode right in front of Universal Studios. It was amazing! He is quite charming and crack a few jokes with the crowd~

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We bought tickets online; http://arestravel.com/77_attraction-tickets_a10.html-  Buy A Day, Get 2nd Day Free! General Admission – Universal Studios Ticket – $84.85

Don’t bother wasting your money on VIP tickets, not worth it!

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It wasn’t packed when we were there. We waited not more than 15minutes for any rides except the Studio Tour and the Mummy ride which we did them first and last activity of the day respectively and was only waiting for 25 mins! Definitely Don’t miss out on The Studio Tour which includes the King Kong Ride!, try to do it first and get it out of the way! We especially love the Simpsons Ride, The Minions Ride, Transformers Ride, Shrek 4-D and Special Effects Stage.

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You can easily finish everything within a day! We entered the attraction at 11AM and didn’t leave till 9PM! This is inclusive of a lunch break in between at Gru’s Lab Café! Love minions! Love them to bits!

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