8 tips to flying on the cheap with Ryanair around Europe

Ryanair, the low cost airline europeans love to hate but can’t live without. It’s CEO Michael O’Leary was famously quoted as saying “Are we going to say sorry for our lack of customer service? absolutely not.”

Ryanair, the low cost airline europeans love to hate but can’t live without. It’s CEO Michael O’Leary was famously quoted as saying “Are we going to say sorry for our lack of customer service? absolutely not.”

With fares regularly as low as £5.00 one way, if your looking for cheap fares to fly around Europe, Ryanair begrudgingly is the only way to go. But in order to get those bargain fares, there’s a fair few hoops to jump through first.

Here’s my top tips for flying on the cheap with Ryanair

1. Be Prepared

If your going to be a RyanAir regular its worth investing in some Ryanair friendly luggage, aim to make it as light as possible a couple of good options are:

From Argos.com a great budget option

Or another option is CabinMax.com who do a range of soft bags, rucksacks and wheeled trolleys.

2. Bookings

All bookings must be done via their website http://www.ryanair.com but in order to find the cheapest fares I use google flights putting in ‘Europe’ as the destination and it will bring up the cheapest destinations in Europe from your chosen airport, 9 out of 10 times Ryanair will be the cheapest flight , then you can go through to the Ryanair website to book.

3. Check for Errors

So you’ve found your bargain fare and you’ve made your booking and everythings great , that is until you realised you’ve booked the wrong day/ month/ airport. Amazingly Ryanair now allow you to make amendments up to 48 hours after your initial booking free of charge , trust me this is going to be the only thing your getting free with this airline.

4. Check your Baggage

Ryanair are continually changing their baggage rules, the rules last changed at the end of 2018. Passengers can no longer bring a small case onboard for free. The only way to travel for free is with ONE small bag/ rucksack measuring max 40x20x25cm that will fit under the seat in front, this is strictly enforced. There’s an urban myth that staff will bring out a tape to measure the dimensions of your case if there’s a chance of squeezing a few more pounds out of you, so check the current baggage rules very carefully before you fly , you have been warned, if you mess up and are made to check your case in at the gate thats £25 down the drain and thats each way, an expensive mistake to make.

If you really can’t cram everything into a small backpack , the next option is to pay an extra £6-£10 each way (depending on route) and get priority boarding which includes what effectively you used to get for free, two carry on bags a small bag that goes under the seat and a case up to 10kgs. If you want to check a bag in the hold this is where it starts to get expensive and your probably best looking at other airlines, Ryanair is primarily best for short trips around europe.

5. Check in Online

Ryanair doesn’t have any check in desks , if you have to check in at the airport its going to cost you dearly , €55 per passenger each way, to check in for free you must check in online from two days to two hours before your flight. Ryanair will send you a txt / email to alert you when to check in, its best just to do it as soon as you get it to avoid any mishaps.

6. Print your boarding cards

Another area Ryanair cleans up is with passengers who dont print off their boarding cards. Michael O’Leary branded passengers who forget to print off their own boarding cards as “idiots”. if you want them to print of your boarding card thats another €25 boarding card reissue fee thank you very much.

Ryanair introduced their mobile app in 2018 with mobile boarding cards, which should cut down on this, but I always print out a paper boarding card as well as having it on my mobile just in case …

There are a few airports which dont have facilities to accept mobile boarding cards, I’ve listed the current airports below but again its always best to have both the paper and mobile version.

  • Agadir (Morocco)
  • Essaouira (Morocco)
  • Fez (Morocco)
  • Nador (Morocco)
  • Oujda (Morocco)
  • Marrakesh (Morocco)
  • Rabat (Morocco)
  • Tangier (Morocco)
  • Kefalonia (Greece)
  • Volos (Greece)

7. Seating

Predictably if you want to secure a certain seat ie window or aisle, Ryanair’s charges for seats for by the row. You can do this when booking or again when checking in. the bonus is if you pay for a seat when booking, you can check in up to 60 days in advance rather than the usual two days.

  • Rows 1, 2 (seats DEF), 16 and 17 have extra legroom and cost from £7.
  • Rows 2 (seats ABC) to 5 cost from £7.
  • Rows 6 to 15 and 18 to 33 are standard seats. They cost from £3.

If you don’t want to pay for a seat you’ll be randomly allocated a seat when you check in.

** If your travelling with children under 12 please note that if one adult pays for seating in rows 18-30, you then get free allocated seating for up to 4 children per adult. Whilst the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules states that airlines should “aim to sit parents close to children”, or if this isn’t possible, they should not be separated by more than one aisle and by no more than one seat row, if your travelling with under 12’s its worth paying for one seat to avoid having to have hassle at the gate.

8. Bring your own snacks …

Even once you make it onboard Ryanair will still be finding ways to seperate you from your cash. Your flight doesn’t include any refreshments even on their longer flights nada, nothing, you might be able to squeeze a cup of water out of them if your really really lucky.

With a meal deals of a hot drink , a chocolate bar and a sandwich at a hefty €9 it’s best to either bring your own snacks from home or grab something in the airport before you board. Though I usually bust the budget and stretch to hot drink at €3.

I hope these tips have encouraged you take the plunge and get out and explore more of Europe, whilst Ryanair is far from perfect it does enable more people to travel due to the low fares. As long as you stick to the rules and don’t incur any extra charges, you can easily pick up return flights for less than £50. Just know you get what you pay for , Ryanair is basically a bus that flies , the journey is never going to luxurious but if you get to another countey for the price of their onboard meal deal whats not to like ?

Bon voyage !!!

Easy Jet London Gatwick to Reykjavik, Iceland #A321Neo Flight Review….

EasyJet was established in 1995, by Greek Cypriot businessman Stelios Haji-Ioannou , as a low cost airline that served all of Europe.

Now as one of Europe’s leading airlines, EasyJet is currently operating on over 900 routes across more than 30 countries with a fleet of over 275 Airbus aircrafts.

Here’s is my Easy Jet experience flying from London Gatwick to Reykjavic Iceland.

Flight EZY 8503

Cabin Economy – Easyjet operates all planes with one cabin

Seat 16A

Flight Duration 3 Hours 20 minutes

Plane Type Airbus A321Neo

Boarding

Passengers who purchased speedy boarding were allowed to board first , though since the introduction of allocated seating, I fail really to see the point of speedy boarding.

Boarding was done via external stairs to the front and back of the plane onto a brand new A321Neo aircraft.

Cabin & Seat

The A321 Neo is the largest aircraft in the Easy Jet fleet with a whooping 235 seats, in a single aisle, 3-3 configuration

The first thing I noticed about the seats were, they looked a lot slimmer than usual , which initially was worrying, but with a seat width of 17.3 inches , I didn’t notice any difference once I sat down.

With a standard 29 inches of legroom, and new look pleather seat covers instead of the usual fabric seat, I definitly found the seat a lot more comfortable that usual.

The only difference on the new seat that I noted was, they no longer recline, which in my opinion is a good thing, theres nothing worse than having your someones head literally in your lap even if it a short flight.

Food & Drink

There is no complimentary food or drink service included on any Easy Jet flights , but there is a pay on board option of snack type meals, consisting of toasties , sandwiches as well as drinks including some alcohol, available from the Easy Jet Sky Cafe.

The only issue I have with the food service is they understandably only carry a limited amount of food, but sometimes they tend to run out, before they reach your row if your sitting near the rear of the plane. So I normally just bring my own snacks, or buy something before boarding at the airport.

In my Opinion …..

Easy Jet provides exactly what it says on the tin, low cost no frills air travel, and with return fares regularly as low as £50 return to Europe from the UK when booking in advance, Easy Jet provides a solid low cost service. If you travel light, and bring your own snacks on board you can keep your costs to a minimum.

Whilst I personally have a Easy Jet limit of flights under four hours flying time , this new more comfortable aircraft could be a total game changer for travelling beyond Europe for Easy Jet in the future. Great flight , good service , massive network , really what’s not to like ?.

For more information on routes and fares , check out the Easy Jet website

http://www.easyjet.com

Please note I purchased my ticket for this flight and recieved no concessions to write this review for Easy Jet. As usual all opinions are my own.

Top tips for visiting London for the first time … Part One

Get an Oyster card

 

20140727-223440-81280625.jpg

 

If you only buy one thing when you get to London, make it an Oyster card. ( £5 deposit is payable) These handy pay-as-you cards are issued by Transport for London (www.tfl.gov.uk) and make travel on London’s buses, trains and tubes much cheaper and easier. Using an oyster doesn’t just save time, but it saves money, a central London cash tube journey is £4.20, while using an Oyster card the fare is only £2.20. Can be picked up any tube station including Heathrow, and Oyster ticket shops.

Get a London A to Z Map Book

 

20140727-224440-81880415.jpg

 

Despite everyone owning a smart phone , nothing will replace the humble A to Z London map book.Long after your phone battery has died , the A to Z is worth its weight in gold with every London street clearly marked , you can pick one up at any bookstore.

Get good waterproofs

London is well known for its unpredictable weather. The day may start sunny & bright but by lunchtime there could be torrential downpours, ALWAYS carry a foldable mac or an umbrella you have been warned

Do your Web Research

There are a number of sites to check that will save you cash, & give you itinerary ideas here’s are a few of the most popular

http://www.lastminute.com – as it says on tin last minute deals for literally everything Hotels , trips , attractions , spa days , show tickets .

http://www.opentable.co.uk – a London restaurant discount booking site that finds the closest restaurants to your location or budget , discounts can be up to 50% off.

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com– not necessarily a tourist site , but sometimes they have great deals for all so worth checking out.

http://www.airbnb.co.uk
With the average London hotel room hitting £160 per night, AirBNB is an ideal solution to finding accommodation . Also by having an apartment, you can make your own meals saving more cash for that big night out. Just pick somewhere near to transport links and within zone 3 of the tube map as a rule so your not wasting time travelling back & forth.

http://www.southbanklondon.com – For all things cultural in London , theatre , gallery events , art , head to the the Southbank located steps from London Waterloo station on the river always good for an afternoon stroll.

See London from the River

 

screenshot_20190113-184501_chrome36361610199001276.jpg

Cruising down the Thames is a great way to see London and rest your weary legs. Check out http://www.thamesclipper.com for times & routes and the good news is you can use your oyster card for a discounted fare.

screenshot_20190113-184855_dropbox8096426009961990203.jpg

Check out the best free view in London

The Sky Garden , aka the walkie talkie building is London’s best kept secret , located across the river from the famous London Shard which charges an eye watering £32 to check out the views down the Thames, book into the Sky Garden for totally Free entry for the same view , plus you get a shot of the shard in all your pictures , the only catch is you need to book in advance at https://skygarden.london . There is also a cafe and restaurant at the top so maybe splash out on dinner with the money saved on entry fees.

screenshot_20190113-184417_chrome1781287726552123241.jpg

Check out Londons best Museums

Great activity for a rainy day there will be a few rainy days , no matter what time of year you visit, this is London it rains accept it. London’s museums are world class and more importantly most are FREE , here are the main ones not to miss ….

British Museum

screenshot_20190113-195447_chrome8233359853316420045.jpg

Where: Bloomsbury
Open: 10am-5.30pm every day, till 8.30pm Fri. Closed 1 Jan, Good Fri and 24-26 Dec.
Description: An always busy and always fascinating collection of over eight million objects. Themes include Leaders & Rulers, Animals, and Money.

Museum of London

20190113_2000197401473446634845049.jpg

Where: London Wall
Open: Every day 10am-6pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Description: One of the world’s largest urban history museums. Exhibitions include the story of modern London from 1666 to today.

Science Museum

screenshot_20190113-213138_chrome
Where: South Kensington
Open: Every day 10am-6pm, except 24-26 Dec.
Description: Vast museum of advancements in science, medicine, technology and industry. Suitable for young and old alike.

Natural History Museum

screenshot_20190113-200925_chrome8390182860659928607.jpg
Where: South Kensington
Open: Every day 10am-5.50pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.
Description: Life and earth science specimens in five collections: Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Paleontology and Zoology.

National Portrait Gallery

screenshot_20190113-201121_chrome6308578568549595010.jpg
Where: Just off Trafalgar Square
Open: Every day 10am-6pm. Thu-Fri until 9pm.
Description: Founded in 1856, it has over 195,000 portraits, from modern subjects to paintings from the 16th century.

For more ideas on what to do and what to see check out the official Visit London Website https://www.visitlondon.com

 

48 hrs in Valencia ….

If Barcelona is the big brother of Spain, then Valencia is the fun and flirty little sister. With less than a 2 hour flight time from the UK, British visitors can fly direct from London airports, plus Manchester and East Midlands from the north of the England , making Valencia more accessable than ever from the whole of the UK.

Depending on what you fancy doing on your weekend away, Valencia has it covered. There with so much to offer, from world class museums and the city of arts and sciences, or chilling down at the cities beach. With over 2,500 resturants for the foodies , there’s plenty to pack in to your weekend away. Valencia has more of a local Spanish vibe about it, with less crowds , and tourists prices a good 20% lower on both accommodation & eating out its a win win.

Here’s my few of my favorite things to do in Valencia …

 

Park Life

The Garden of the Turia was created in the dry riverbed of the Turia after a catastrophic flood in 1957 . In place of 120 hectares of dry riverbed, the city centre has a lush green gardens, its a park for the people, it’s home to an athletics track, artworks, climbing walls, football pitches, cafes, ponds and flowers, it’s the perfect place for an afternoon picnic or evening stroll after dinner.

Culture Vulture

The first stop on any culture trail is the Valencian Museum of Modern Art ( IVAM ) . Here you will find permanent collections of local painters Ignacio Pinazo and Julio Gonzalez, as well as changing exhibitions often featuring some of the biggest names in national and international art.

Food Glorious Food

The most famous dish to come out of Valencia is unquestionably the Paella – a dish of rice, green vegetables, butterbeans and a variety of meats seasoned with olive oil and spices. The dish originated in the 19th century and is particularly special due to the excellent rice crop grown in the Valencia region. You could eat paella every single day of the week in the city and not run out of restaurants for months. If you want to really impress, you can learn to cook paella at Valencia’s School of Rice Dishes and Paellas.

For a real treat, come to the city, during the Valencia Cuina Oberta-Restaurant Week taking place twice a year usually in the months of June and November, the ten-day festival sees some of the finest restaurants in the city offer diners, the opportunity to enjoy their cuisine at a special price. The festival is designed to promote Valencia cuisine to the wider world and offers a fabulous dining experience.

Family Fun

The Spanish are renowned for their love of children , and Valencia is no exception, there’s is plenty to keep little and big kids alike entertained.

The City of Arts and Sciences is home to:

Oceanogràfic

The largest aquarium in Europe, and contains representatives of the world’s main marine ecosystems. Each building is identified with the following aquatic environments: the Mediterranean, Wetlands, Temperate and Tropical Seas, Oceans, the Antarctic, the Arctic, Islands, and the Red Sea, as well as the Dolphinarium

Príncipe Felipe Science Museum

the main objective of the museum is to stimulate curiosity and critical thinking and amusing the public by its contents from the world of science, technology, and the environment. The building contains over 26,000 square metres of exhibitions on current scientific and technical matters, full interactivity is one of its special features, and touching is postively encouraged.

BioParc Valencia

An innovative zoo, in which the barriers are practically invisible,
contrary to traditional zoos, this park has the unique feature of bringing the visitor totally into the habitat of the animals, this is known as zoo immersion. Bioparc’s main objective is to promote respect for animals and make the general public aware of importance of protecting the environment through a commitment to education and the preservation of the animals. Leopards, lemurs, hyenas, lions, giraffes, gorillas, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, porcupines, ostriches, elephants, otters… all coexist in this zoological world.

Beach Baby

The city of Valencia boasts beaches just a few minutes out of the city centre. Arenas and Malvarrosa beaches are easily accessible via bus and tram. Here, you can enjoy a walk, roller-skating, jogging, sun bathing or stop off at one of the restaurants for a delicious paella or a fresh fish stew

For further information on visiting Valencia check the Visit Valencia Website .

Please note my trip to Valencia was kindly hosted by the Spanish Tourist Board, though as usual all opinions are my own.

48 hrs in Budapest ….

Budapest, is hands down one of my favorite European cities, with great architecture, great food and a thriving nightlife, even on my second visit there was still loads to see. It’s a great place to explore on foot.

If your off on a weekend in Budapest, and wondering what to do, here’s a few of my favorite things to do in Budapest.

Jump on a tram…

Riding the number 2 tram is a ‘must’, from the parliament buildings, it travels along the Danube , past St Stephens Basilica to the Chain Bridge, with Buda Castle across the Danube in the distance , then down to the Liberty Bridge, where you can jump off for a stroll round the central Food Market. Free travel on the Tram is included with a Budapest Card

Budapest no2 Tram

Chain bridge Budapest

Eat strudel… 

My favorite place for strudel in Budapest,  is the Retesvar bakery up in the castle district, just steps from the Fishermans Bastion. It’s a great place for a quick cheap lunch of sweet & savoury strudels



Buy great chocolate…

Down by the Liberty Bridge tucked away on a side street is Rozsavolgyi Csokolade, a husband and wife chocolatier team, Conde Nast recently voted their chocolate in the Top Ten in the world, as if you need pursuading  http://www.rozsavolgyi.com


Take a Bath… 

Budapest is awash with thermal baths, It’s a great way to relax after a day of pounding the streets sightseeing.

There’s free entry into the Luckas Baths with the Budapest Card, which leaves plenty left over for a massage .

See some Art…

Get a culture fix at the Hungarian National Gallery ,  Hungary’s finest Art  is spread over four floors, including the ‘Hungarian Nabi’ Jozsef Rippl-Ronai. Free entry is included with the  Budapest Card.

Go for a posh cuppa…

Lotz Hall aka The Book Cafe , is located within the Alexandra Book shop on Andrassy Avenue. Possibly one of Budapests most grandest place to stop for a cuppa. If your lucky you might even catch a pianist having a tinkle on the ivories.


On my weekend, I used a 48 hr Budapest Card, check out more info at http://www.budapestcard.org

For more information on Budapest and Hungary check out http://gotohungary.com/

48 hrs in Gothenburg Sweden……  

As Sweden’s second city, Gothenburg is sometimes overshadowed by its more famous cousin Stockholm. But on my trip, I found Gothenburg has gems all of its own to uncover.

Coming into land  at Landvetter airport on a snowy morning, it felt like i was having a second Christmas.

My base for the weekend was Hotel Flora, a centrally located 4 star boutique hotel perfectly located for exploring Gothenburg.

With my Gothenburg one city pass in hand,  giving me free travel  on all public transport in Gothenburg, on top of entry to Gothenburgs main attractions , I headed out to explore .

With a good couple of feet of snow to contend with, it  definitely felt like I was getting a workout ,whilst having a wander round the city, no wonder those swedes keep so trim.

Gothenburg definitely wins the award for the most stylish public transport system, with their retro style trams, they blast through piles of snow effortlessly , and it’s easy to hop on and off .

Gothenburg is stuffed to the brim with culture , the museums are world class.  The Gothenburg museum of Art houses  all the greats from a Monet to a Deagas ballerina.


And the Natural History museum is small but perfectly formed .

The Gothenburg city museum is also worth a peek, with plenty of Viking artefacts from around the city.

Fish is big in Gothenburg , they even have their own ‘fish church’ known as  FESKEKÔRKA. There’s even a couple of excellent restaurants inside, if you get the sudden urge to eat fish.


There’s  also an indoor food hall, where you can hang out and grab a typical Swedish  lunch at Kages Horna

Or grab some chocolate,  from local producer Kanold.

The place for the perfect afternoon stroll is in Haga , the once dodgy part of town, since  rescued by the hipsters. With plenty of quirky independant shops, it’s a great place to pick up something Swedish to take home.

And when you fancy a quick fika stop , check out Cafe Husaren for a traditional gigantic cinnamon buns.

In the summer when the ice breaks ,  you can see Gothenburg from the water on a boat trip along Gothenburg’s picturesque canals.

Gothenburg was so much more than I expected , it’s a compact, easy to navigate city , with great public transport , I especially liked the trams, there’s more plenty to see and do on a weekend break.

Check out http://www.goteburg.com to plan your Swedish getaway. 

Please note my stay in Gothenburg was generously provided  by Gothenburg Tourist Board, but my opinions as usual all my own.

10 things to do with your teen  in Berlin, Germany.     

I really thought I was going to struggle, to find enough things to keep my 12 year old entertained whilst in Berlin. The plan was, that in the evening we would visit the Christmas markets, then in the day we would do family stuff. To be honest I could have easily filled another week, Berlin certainly gets the  family friendly seal of approval!!

Here our top 10 things to do in Berlin …… 

1. Learn about the Story of Berlin 
The story of Berlin, is a unique interactive museum where visitors can explore 800 years of Berlin history. In 23 themed rooms where visitors  can experience everyday life of the people of Berlin during different eras.

The highlight of the exhibition is a guided tour of an original nuclear bomb shelter from the Cold War below the museum,  which still can be used in case of an nuclear attack today.

http://www.story-of-berlin.de

Ideal for children aged 7+


2. Pop into the Natural History Museum and say hi to Tristan the T Rex 

The Museum für Naturkunde, now exhibits one of the best-preserved T Rex skeletons worldwide. The museum also holds more than 30 million items relating to zoology, palaeontology, geology and mineralogy, which are highly significant for science as well as for the history of science.

http://www.naturkundemuseum.berlin

Ideal for children aged 5+


 

 

   

3. Check out what life was like in the DDR 

The DDR Museum is located in the former governmental district of East Germany, right on the river Spree, opposite the Berlin Cathedral.

Its exhibition shows the daily life in Deutsche Demokratische Republik aka DDR. The museum prides itself in being totally “hands on” , kids will love the new interactive Berlin Wall with a chance to try virtual graffiti or belt up and drive a virtual trabant round Berlin.

http://www.ddr-museum.de

Ideal for children 7 +

 

 

 

 



4. Go all retro at the Computerspielemuseum

Computerspiele Museum is the first European museum for video and computer games, and a must see for any gamer . Containing over 300 exhibits, including rare originals, playable classics, from classic arcade games to a giant pac man. Be prepared to drag them out kicking and screaming.

http://www.computerspielemuseum.de

Ideal for gamers young & old




5. Step into the future at Game Science centre. 

The Game Science Center is an interactive Future Museum, run by a team of game developers. the exhibition presents a lineup of innovative technologies and playful projects. Where you can try out futuristic ways to interact with computers , where you can even try out controlling games with your eyes!!.

http://www.gamesciencecenter.de

Ideal for children 10 +


  

6. Strike a pose at Madame Tussaud’s 

Be whisked off into a star-studded world with interactive exhibition of fascinating waxwork figures getting up close to Hollywood stars, sporting heroes, famous figures from the past and present as well as new Star Wars figures.

http://www.madametussauds.com/berlin/de/

Ideal for children 7+


  

7. Find some animal magic at Berlin Zoo 

The Berlin Zoological Garden  is the oldest and best known zoo in Germany. Opened in 1844 it covers 35 hectares  and is located in the heart of Berlin’s Tiergarten. With about 1,500 different species and almost 20,500 animals the zoo presents the most comprehensive collection of species in the world.

http://www.zoo-berlin.de

Ideal for all children


  

    

8. Walk the Berlin Wall 

You can’t visit Berlin without a visit to the Eastside Gallery,  and check out a vital part of Berlin’s history. The wall was constructed overnight on 12 August 1961 and divided the city of Berlin until 9th November 1989.




9. Get your photo in a vintage  photomatic booth 

For €2, squeeze into the booth, close the curtain, and strike a pose and wait for your strip of black and white shots to emerge.

Two Berliners, came up with the idea of buying and restoring an old analogue photo booths in 2003. The first Photoautomat was stationed at the city’s central Rosenthaler Platz intersection , now there are machines dotted all over Berlin, a great unique souvenir.


10. Climb up to the dome of the Berlin Catherdral  

The Cathedral of Berlin is the largest church in the city, and it serves as a center for the Protestant church of Germany. The Dome walkway is reached by 270 steps (no lift ), and once you’ve made it to the top  your rewarded with a view of Museum Island, the synagogue, Gendarmenmarkt, the Reichstag. Please note unusually there is an entrance fee of 7 euros, but 3 kids go free per adult.

http://www.berlinerdom.de

Ideal for children 7+