Hotel Arai Review-Barcelona

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We went away to Barcelona recently for our friends hen do. We didn’t do much research on where to stay prior to booking which is unusual for us but the hen found a beautiful hotel she had her heart set on so we agreed and went ahead and booked the hotel. As the time got closer to us visiting Barcelona we looked up the location of the hotel and realised we were staying in the gothic quarter which looked beautiful!

When arriving at hotel Arai we were greeted by the staff who made us feel incredibly welcome. We weren’t able to check into the hotel when we arrived as it was only 11am and check in wasn’t until 3pm. The hotel staff offered to store our luggage while we went out and explored the city which was a great help. The hotel took our phone number and called us when the room was ready which was handy.

When we arrived back at the hotel ready to check in the hotel staff had already moved our baggage to the room which was incredibly helpful of them (considering we had a lot of luggage as well). We were shown to our room by the hotel staff and we had already fallen in love with the hotel the decor was beautiful.

There were four of us sharing a room/apartment, we had 1 double bed and 2 single sofa beds. the room wasn’t that spacious for 4 adults and we did feel like we were living on top of each other. For the money we paid for the room we would have expected a slightly bigger room. Saying that though we didn’t spend much time in the room as we wanted to make the most of the beautiful Barcelona weather.

The hotel provided us with a bottle of red wine on our arrival which was nice touch. We enjoyed this one evening and it was probably one of the nicest wines we have had it was so delicious.

The Wifi at the hotel wasn’t too great we kept losing connection which we wouldn’t have usually minded when on holiday but we did have quite a bit of work that we needed to get done. When on holiday blogging doesn’t just stop and we do rely on a good internet connection.

We were really lucky to have a hotel with a roof top pool and this was one of the reasons why we booked the hotel. The pool wasn’t massive but we didn’t expect it to be as we had seen the photos on the hotels website. We chilled most afternoons on the roof top sun beds using towels that had been provided by the hotel, it was so lush and very relaxing. We spent our evenings on the roof top prior to going out for dinner, the sun was going down and the lighting was beautiful-perfect for photos.

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We could have asked for a more perfect location. we just had to step outside the hotel and we were already in the middle of the gothic quarter.

The gym at the hotel was like any other typical hotel gym it was small and limited but that didn’t bother us as we chose to go on morning runs instead of using the gym.

We would definitely recommend this hotel for the Future and we would be sure to visit again. The hotel staff couldn’t be faulted and we felt incredibly safe in the hotel.

 

Say yes to a girl’s holiday

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We have been going away with each other and our other girlfriends since we were 18. Our first girls holiday was in 2010 to Zante and we loved it. Since then we have been to Kavos, Portugal, Ibiza, Barcelona & Majorca. Although our holidays have changed a bit throughout the years we still have the most amazing time and have created unforgettable memories.

We have just got back from a girls holiday, which started in Barcelona on a hen do and ended in Majorca! We had been looking forward to this holiday for such a long time and it definitely did not disappoint. We had so much fun chilling, drinking and eating basically all day everyday.

In June 2016 we went to  Ibiza (which you can read all about here). We booked the holiday super last minute and before we knew it we were boarding the plane and on our way. We were away for five days and we honestly had the most amazing holiday. We fully relaxed and it was just what we needed after months of solid work. we split our days up by doing a mixture of chilling by the pool and taking part in fun activities such as a boat trip to Formentera. We also had to go to a pool party because lets be honest you cant go to Ibiza and not go to at least one pool party.

Holidays can be expensive but they don’t have to be, we paid no more than £200 for our trip to Ibiza which included our flights, hotel, food and drink (we were all inclusive). If you can’t afford £200 then why not look for a holiday in the UK we have had some brilliant weekends away that barely cost anything.

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Reasons why a girls holiday could be just what you need

Girly pool chats are the best, we discuss everything and anything! It’s the perfect time to discuss anything that you have been meaning to get off your chest for the past few months. In Ibiza we had pool chats every day with an iced coffee or Mojito in hand and it really helped us make decisions about what we needed to change in our lives on our return.

You will be sure to laugh constantly the sort of laughing that makes you cry and leaves you with tummy cramps.  We always come back from a holiday feeling like we have done a full week of AB workouts.

Days, weeks and months can fly by and you suddenly realise you haven’t seen your friends. Going on holiday always reminds you of how much fun you have when you are together and the importance of keeping the friendships going.

Going on holiday with a partner or your family is AMAZING but they don’t always get it when you need the perfect Instagram shot! That’s when you need your girls there helping you find the dreamiest backdrop.

Lots of dancing takes place on a girl’s holiday which is sure to put you in the best mood ever, need we say anymore?

We cant wait to go away on lots more girly holiday! Have you got any in the pipeline?

 

An Amtrak Adventure

We have always wanted to explore the U.S. via Amtrak, as we love the idea of visiting the country via train or bus. We have heard and read lots of good reviews about Amtrak, especially that it’s known for being very reliable and offering a comfy mode of transport. We have planned our route below so you can use it for inspiration. We have visited some of the cities before, but we’d jump at the chance of going again!

San Francisco

We would start our trip in San Fran, as it’s a city that everyone falls in love with immediately. We definitely recommend hiring bikes and cycling over the famous Golden Gate Bridge. We would suggest taking the longer scenic route and then taking the boat back to the city after a long day of exploring.

You can’t write a post without mentioning food, especially when visiting America. You have to visit In-N-Out Burger, which is a burger joint that’s only in six states. You also have to try the bread bowls filled with chili con carne or seafood chowder, as they are specialities in San Fran.

“The Princess Diaries” is one of our favourite movies filmed in San Fran. Of course, we would take a ride on the tram and hop off and visit the amusement arcade to reenact that famous seen with the Queen of Genovia.

Los Angeles

We would definitely take a trip to the famous Barry’s Bootcamp and end the workout with a delicious shake in the summer sunshine. When in LA, you must visit the Hollywood sign. Take a walk to the Observatory Griffith to get that Instagram shot.

We would also visit the Walk of Fame, where there are over 2,500 brass stars on 18 city blocks. We would take a long walk and try to spot our favourite celebrities and public figures.

San Diego

We would of course love to visit Belmont Park and take a ride on the Giant Dipper. It was constructed in 1925, but it’s still the centrepiece of Belmont Park. We love amusement parks, and Belmont Park looks like so much fun.

We would also love to try a fish taco in San Diego. We would go to Oscar’s, as we’ve heard this spot sells the best fish tacos in town. We’ve been told we may have to stand in line, but it would definitely be worth the wait.

Las Vegas 

You can’t visit Vegas without stopping by a famous pool party. We love the Wynn and the Encore. They’re so much fun, and the atmosphere is incredible at both.

We would also spend an evening dancing the night away at Drais, which is a rooftop pool and nightclub that overlooks the Strip. You should also watch the incredible water display at the Fountains of Bellagio. It takes place seven days a week, and you can find the timetable here.

To take a break from a busy Las Vegas schedule, we would take a day trip to the Grand Canyon for the breathtaking views. If you have cash to splash, then you should definitely opt for a helicopter ride for an experience you’ll never forget.

Albuquerque 

We have always wanted to visit Albuquerque, New Mexico, so we would set aside a few extra days to visit and properly explore this city. During our trip, we would stay at one of these hotels close to the Amtrak station.

We would kick our trip off with a tour of the Old Town, as we have heard it’s a reflection of the city’s Native American and Spanish heritage. We would also love to visit the ABQ BioPark, Paseo del Bosque, Petroglyph National Monument, and Sandia Peak Tramway.

New York

After spending a few days in Albuquerque, we would fly to New York. We would end our trip here because you can’t go all the way to America without visiting the Big Apple. You can read all about what we would get up to in Brooklyn here.

Now, where are our passports? We need to make this dream a reality pronto!

Whats in our hand luggage

For some people they will only travel with hand luggage – putting baggage in the hold is just so expensive anyway! When we go on short holidays we will ALWAYS travel with hand luggage, whats the point in paying the extra when you can usually fit everything into a small wheelie suitcase anyway. Additionally it means that you have your luggage with you all the time so as soon as you get off the plane there is none of that faffing about waiting for the carousel, plus the little panic when your suitcase still hasn’t appeared isn’t fun at all.

However for those longer holidays where you have check bags we thought we would share our hand luggage essentials so your holiday can run as smooth as ever.

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1) Spare underwear/clothes – this is number 1 because its SO essential you do this. If by that very unfortunate event your suitcase ends up halfway across the world in China you need to have some spare clothes and of course spare swimwear. We always pack a spare bikini and underwear in the event this might (and we hope never) happen.

2) Phone – this is most probs a given as we know everyone these days are glued to their phones, however it has to be on our list anyway. These days you can download the airline app and have your boarding pass on your phone, we LOVE this and it saves that stress of printing or losing your paper ticket. Paper is so old school now anyway 😉

3) Portable charger and cable – this is vital for your hand luggage to keep your devices fully charged. The cable is important because some airports have charging points and some planes also have charging sockets, so you will never have to worry about your phone running out of battery.

4) Magazine/books – you have to have something to read to occupy your time and in case of a delay too! We always treat ourselves to a magazine for holiday, because we rarely buy them otherwise. Plus once you have the magazines you can also read them by the pool. If you don’t want to carry so many books we recommend downloading kindle app to your phone or tablet, or even purchase a kindle.

5) Headphones – we use our headphones to listen to music on the flight or at the airport. However we often download programmes to watch on the flight onto our tablet, so will use headphones to catch up on our favourite TV show.

6) Moisturiser/lip balm/toothpaste & toothbrush – planes can make you feel so dry due to the air con so we always carry moisturiser and lip balm with us to keep our hands and lips moisturised. Brushing your teeth can make you feel ten times better about yourself and if you are travelling long haul then we would definitely recommend this one.

7) Socks – planes can be so so cold due to the air con, therefore we will always bring a pair of socks in our hand luggage – there is nothing worse than feeling cold on the plane. However if you are on a long haul flight they will provide you with socks!

8) Eye Mask – if you are on a night flight or a long flight then an eye mask will be your best friend! Eye masks are so small and easy to fit in your hand luggage, and may make that long plane journey not feel so long!

9) Local guide book – you may as well kill some time by flicking through the guidebook and getting ahead of the game with planning your trip.

10) Pen & paper – We always make sure we carry a pen and some paper with us. We always find we spend the plane journey planning the holiday and writing down the things we want to do and places we want to see, this often involves flicking through a guide book (see point 9!). Sometimes we draft out a mini itinerary too to make sure we fit everything in.

11) Anti-bacterial hand gel – this is a necessity as you never know what you are going to touch or if there will be any tissues to dry your hands. In addition aeroplane toilets are not exactly the nicest! We love ones that smell nice and fruity!

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Happy travels! 

Top 10 cities we want to visit

We do like to write about the places we have visited, however this time we thought we would write a post about the cities we want to visit. City breaks are great because you can go away for a long weekend it can feel like you have been away for ages. City breaks also mean you don’t have to take too much holiday, so you can do lots of mini breaks throughout the year. There are often cheap deals going on flights so there’s no excuse!

Between us, we have visited, Dublin, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Madrid, Prague, Florence and Paris (we are off to Paris in April again and cannot wait), therefore this post is all about the cities we haven’t visited but really want to. Let’s see how many we can tick off the list!

Barcelona-We have heard some amazing things about Barcelona, and of course want to visit the Sagrada Familia – it is the most iconic building in Barcelona after all. However the Park Guell looks just as impressive! The best thing about Barcelona is that is a city that has a beach, so we would be able to top up the tan and relax for a bit too. We cannot not mention Spanish food, going for tapas and watching Flamenco dancing would be definitely be the best way to spend an evening. And lastly we both love markets, so we would definitely visit a Spanish market whilst there.

Budapest- Budapest is renowned for being cheap so we just have to visit. The city looks incredible with lots to do and we can imagine just wandering the city stumbling across beautiful sites and taking lots and lots of pictures. We have been recommended going on a cruise down the River Danube as it’s a good way to see both Buda and Pest. We also would love to attend a ‘sparty’, which is basically a party at one of the many spa’s in Budapest. Whilst in Budapest we would have to sample local Hungarian food of course, and taste the local Goulash.

Dubrovnik- Croatia looks like a stunning country and the city of Dubrovnik looks amazing and even better it’s another city by the sea, so a trip to the beach would be on the cards! It would be pretty amazing to go sea kayaking here, which would be a different thing to do on a city break or take a trip in the cable car for some fantastic views. Another recommendation has been given to us of visiting the Island of Lokrum, and the pictures do look stunning – maybe we will need longer than a long weekend to visit Dubrovnik!

Lisbon- Lisbon is meant to be the cheapest place to go for a city break so we are intrigued to visit and see if this is true! We would definitely visit the Sao Jorge Castle whilst there and also take a trip to a view point for some cool pictures and also ride the tram. Whist there we would definitely have to enjoy a pastel de nata (custard tart) or two!

Marseille- Marseille is not somewhere you would instantly think of visiting for a city break which is why we want to visit. Marseille is a city in the south of France and looks stunning as there is a Greek feel to the city with a pretty port. We feel this city will be very similar to Paris but less hectic and busy. It would be the perfect city break full of cheese and wine, and of course French bread. Marseille Old Town looks picturesque so I imagine we would spend a lot of time there!

Stockholm- We have never been to Sweden so a city break to Stockholm sounds like a fab idea, and it looks like another beautiful city. The decision is, to visit in summer or winter? We do much prefer hotter climates though…..

Edinburgh- Why should we not pick a city to visit in the UK?! We haven’t visited Scotland and heard so many good things about Edinburgh so a visit would be worthwhile. As you probably already know, we love walking so this would be the perfect city break as we could visit Arthurs Seat and challenge ourselves to climb the main mountain in Edinburgh. It wouldn’t be a trip to Edinburgh without a visit to the famous Edinburgh Castle or a trip to the theatre.

Helsinki- Again this is another country that we haven’t visited, so a trip to Finland would be quite the adventure and experience. In Winter it will be super super cold, but imagine the Christmas markets are quite spectacular and of course lots of snow! The city looks equally stunning in summer and for the past 5 years in summer you can have dinner in the sky, which looks incredible! Imagine eating dinner high up in the sky, the pictures look epic! Kayaking is a main hobby and outdoor activity in Finland so we would definitely have to hire kayaks in the summer or go on a kayak tour. We have also been recommended to do a bike tour of the city, which we can imagine you can do in summer or winter.

Warsaw- A trip to Warsaw would be a very historical and cultural trip, so maybe best to go in winter as we can imagine  a lot of the trip would be spend in museums such as the National Museum in Warsaw, the Museum of History  of Polish Jews or the Science centre. However we would also enjoy the food and drink that Poland has to offer and explore the old town on foot. Breakfast is a serious meal in Poland and we love our breakfast so we will be sure to enjoy a very large Polish breakfast every morning to set ourselves up for the day. Warsaw also has a lively bar culture so we will be sure to visit some bars in the evening.

San Sebastian- This is not a very well-known destination for a city break, but this city in Spain looks beautiful so a different destination to add to the list. There is meant to be one of the best beaches in Europe here so we will most likely spend a lot of time here, from sunbathing, to walking and morning runs along the beach. The old town also looks stunning and we can imagine spending an evening eating and drinking here. A highlight for us would be taking the funicular railway to the top of Monte Igeldo to see impressive views and take some perfect blog pictures!

Where do you think we have missed off our list? Where would you recommended we visit next?