Budget Guide to New York

New York, New York so good they named it twice, but how can you go on half the budget? Well… Read on and I’ll part some tips I learnt on my trip this year to make sure you get a taste of the Big Apple without having to blow your budget!

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A brief run down of New York

Like most absolutely huge cities, New York has plenty of different areas all with their own individual atmospheres and specialities. You have Midtown, Soho, Chelsea, Tribeca, Brooklyn… I could go on but instead I’ll post a map instead. This map from Kate La Vie is also very helpful in showing the different areas, and was a lifesaver on my trip this year.

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The entire city is absolutely huge, and whereas I think you can walk from central park all the way down to the Brooklyn Bridge at the bottom in around 2-3 hours, you can also get the (much quicker) subway. Their subway system is great and also pretty easy to get your head around, and if you’re staying in Brooklyn (like I did) it can get you into Central Manhattan very swiftly.

How To Get There

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There are tons of airlines willing to jet you to NYC, and recently flight prices have gone down massively. I flew with Norwegian Airlines and would definitely recommend – they had great service and you can pick whether or not you want food which is to save some pennies if you’re flying overnight and just fancy sleeping the whole way through. Air Lingus is meant to be fab as even though you have to stop in Dublin it means you sort all your immigration bits and bobs out there, completely missing the immigration queue at the other end when you touch down – which can sometimes take a few hours to get through in peak times.

As always take a look at Sky Scanner as months which aren’t in peak time are looking very cheap, and in January the majority of airlines have new year sales, and they’re the best kind of sales….

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Where To Stay

I’m lucky enough to have visited the Big Apple twice, and on my first I stayed just above Central Park in a swanky hotel, and this year on my trip I chose to stay in an Airbnb in Brooklyn which was a bit further out. Even though the subway system is very quick and cheap (in comparison to London at least!) it meant getting into the city wasn’t a chore, but I think if I went again I’d choose to stay in the main city. Sometimes when you’re jetlagged and you want to go to sleep, it’s nice to be able to go back to your bed quickly!

With that in mind I’ve linked some value Airbnb and hotels below, both in Brooklyn and in Manhattan.

Brooklyn Apartment with Rooftop Terrace – £61 a night (this is the apartment I stayed in this year!)

Central Airbnb Apartment – £76 a night

Cheap Brooklyn Apartment – £75 a night

Bargain Lower Manhattan AIrbnb – £77 a night

Royal Park Hotel & Hostel – May be 2* but good reviews, and £100 for a central hotel!

Yotel – (have heard good things about this place and usually good deals on Groupon!)

How To Get Around

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I kind of covered this earlier up in this post, but you can get around pretty easily using the subway system – we paid $30 for a week travelcard and it’s unlimited for 7 days which worked perfectly for our 6 day trip.

Of course you can get in the famous New York yellow taxi – they’re really easy to hail down at the airport and the majority take cash and card now which is great if the rate gets a bit higher than you hoped – oh and don’t forget to tip!

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But obviously, the main travel choice for New Yorkers is to walk everywhere, and is the best option for exploring and great for finding hidden places you might not have seen otherwise. Also a great way to burn off the massive meals you’re bound to eat – when in Rome and all that…

Where To Go

Now this list could be endless but I’m going to limit it down to my favourite recommendations which you might not usually find. Obviously Times Square and the usual tourist hotspots are a must, but check out the below for some hidden treats!

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Central Park – You’d think a park wouldn’t take a whole day to explore but Central Park is really, really big. It’s particularly great though, for stopping off in the evening just before the sun sets with a coffee and donut in hand, just because. There are huge rocks everywhere which make for perfect spots to lie down and enjoy the scenery and whatever sugary snacks you’ve brought along.

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Soho – Walking around Soho on a lazy afternoon was a lovely way to explore a part of the city I hadn’t seen before. Just like wandering around London sometimes it meant I stumbled across areas, restauraunts and little shops that I didn’t even know would be there. It’s also great for looking for bars, and make sure to take advantage of the Happy Hour deals on offer as drinks can get a bit pricey.

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The High lineI didn’t even know about this until just before our trip, but I’m so glad I gave it a go. It’s a long strip of old railway that goes along the east side of Manhattan, with several stops to get off. It’s just a lovely route to walk down and discover little places to eat, drink or watch street performances. It stops off near Central Manhattan where you can walk inwards to reach Times Square etc. This is perfect for a sunny day, preferably early in the morning to beat the rush so you can take your time and stop for a coffee!

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Brooklyn & Walking Across the Bridge

Definitely take a trip over the bridge and walk along the coast on the Brooklyn side, as it gives you some great views of the Manhattan skyline. If you are going to walk over the bridge, try and do it on a weekday as we found out the hard way that Saturday is bit of a squeeze with all the locals and tourists all trying to get accross. I’m not sure if I hadn’t stayed in Brooklyn if this would’ve been so high up on my list, but I’m so glad I did it as it have a different of NYC.

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What To Do

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Statue of Liberty Tour & Boat Ride – Sorry, not sorry for sounding like the biggest nerd but our trip to the Statue of Liberty was genuinely the highlight of my trip. It was such a lovely, sunny day and a the trip involved getting a boat over to the island, climbing up inside the statue – which is so much tinier than expected and involves a lot more stairs than I thought. You can spend as much time on the island as possible before stopping off at Ellis Island to visit the msueum and then heading back to Manhattan. It was just such a fun day and really good value – just make sure to book in advance as we managed to get the last slot availble for our trip and I’m so, so glad we did! I also managed to buy a fabulous hat whilst I was there, so it was a win win.

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9/11 Memorial & Museum – It feels odd to recommend this, and I don’t intend on being insensitive in recommending it, I just think this is a must for your trip if you’re interested in the events of 9/11. The museum is very tastefully done and I found it really interesting – and as I was only 8 at the time so I felt like it taught me a lot about what actually happened on the day that I didn’t know before. The memorials that now stand where the towers once stood are also something to see, as they are so big it does take you back a bit. Definitely a must see.

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Rent a boat in Central Park – I stumbled across this by accident on my trip this year, and I really didn’t realise how cheap it was, as it’s only $15 for half an hour, and an extra $3 every fifteen minutes extra (if you’re not exhausted because it turns out rowing is a bit of hard work)

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Visit the cupcake ATM! – I’d say the cupcake was pretty good but it’s just worth it for the expeirence of getting a cupcake out of an ATM. What a time to be alive.

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Night time at Empire State Building – I’ve been to the top of the Empire State during the day before, but can definitely confirm it’s an incredible sight when you do it at night. If you’d still like to see the surrounding New York landscape in the daytime then head up to the Top of the Rock, as it gives you a great view of Central Park and also the Empire State from far away – so you get to see a bit of everything.

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Where To Eat

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Bubby’s – This lovely place really reminded me of Bill’s back in the UK as it has a lovely, chilled and laid back vibe whilst also producing some of the best brunch I’ve ever tasted. This is also the place we discovered that biscuits are actually scones, and they were incredible. 10/10 would eat them all again. In fact I really want some now…

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John’s Wife Freida – We ended up going to both spots of this restauraunt on our trip in May as it ended up being our favourite breakfast spot. The pic above is of the duck bacon, cheese and egg fried sandwich and it was incredible. Each time we visited we were greated by really friendly staff, and the interiors of both restauraunts are lovely and as the place is alwas full it definitely felt like the right choice for food.

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Dough – If you’ve ever fancied eating a donut the size of your head (and who hasn’t?) then look no further than Dough. It took me two sittings to eat the donut in the picture above and I have no regrets, it was incredible.

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The Egg Shop – This place is a beautiful little spot in Soho with an incredible brunch menu which believe it or not, isn’t just limited to eggs.

I’ve just realised that 3/4 four of those food recommendations are based on brunch, but if that isn’t your favourite meal of they day then I don’t know what to say. If you’d like to see more recommendations on food and drink in NYC then check out my full Where To Eat blog post.

So, overall that’s my budget guide to New York City! I hope you enjoyed it and took away some helpful budget recommednations, if you’ve booked a trip to NYC or have any questions just pop them down in the comments!!

In the meantime, enjoy this picture of a skateboarding dog – who needs a broadway show when you can watch that instead?

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Budget Guide to Santorini

Santorini is one of the most iconic Greek Islands, and I can guarantee if you’ve ever googled the place, or had a look through the epic sunsets tag on Instagram then you’ve probably seen lots of images of picturesque white houses stacked up on a cliff facing the sea.

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Becuase the place looks so incrdible you might think this would involve a huge price tag, but it is possible to go there on a budget. Guaranteed you’re not going to be staying in the sleek, white mountain side flats with an infinity-pool on the side, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find somewhere good.

A brief rundown of the Island

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Explore the map above here

The island of Santorini is set in a kidney bean shape, with Oia at the top – which is the part with the white buildings and blue roofs with the incredible sunset views. In the middle you have the main town, Fira – which is also where the port is so that’s where any cruise ships will stop by, and also where you get to encounter the insane amount of mountain climbing donkeys… At the bottom you have Akrotiri, and on the other side you have the black volcanic beaches and party locations of Perissa and Kamari.

How to Get There

Most airlines fly directly there from the UK, or you can fly into Athens and then get to the island via ferry. The cheapest direct return flights I can see (for September) start at around £149 and you can fly there with airlines such as Easyjet, British Airways and Norwegian Airlines. On a personal note I flew there with Norwegian and the service was great, including free in-flight wifi which was a great little treat!

Where To Stay

As I mentioned earlier, I’m a big fan of Airbnb but below are a few cheap selections which are a mix of hotels and airbnb apartments all around the island.

Anemomilos Suites – Price for 7 nights: £168

Odysseys Sofitas – Price for 7 nights: £186

Balcony with View – Price for 7 nights: £248

Lia Flat With View – Price for 7 nights: £496

And if you want to go really crazy just look at this place – Charisma Suites – Price for 7 nights: £1,987

How to get around

To travel around the island you can obviously hire a car, but if like me you’re under 25 and hiring a car is super expensive and hard work, in Santorini your best bet is to get the buses. To go from destination to destination (which includes the majority of the main towns, Oia, Fira and the beaches as well) it’s between 1.50-2.50 euros each way. Majority of the buses run every twenty minutes thorughout the day, so they’re a great way to hop to another town for dinner or the whole day, and head back when you’re ready.

You can also hire quadbikes to travel around the island, or standard bikes too, but the roads look a bit crazy so take care.

Where to Go

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Oia – The iconic, all white town with the insane sunset views and bars dotted all along the cliff is great to visit. It’s very expensive to stay here, but it is the hot spot of the island. If it works better then stay further down the island and pop up in the evenings to take in the sunset views and stop off for something to eat and drink.

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Fira – This is the main town, and the port where all the cruise ships stop at so it can get quite busy in peak times. It’s also full of cliff top bars facing the sea, so there’s a massive choice of places to stop and eat and drink. There’s a huge trail of steps down to the port which I would only recommend walking down (or up) if you consider yourself very fit as in the heat it can be quite a lot…

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Perissa & Kamari – These spots are beaches at the bottom of the island which are known for the black volvanic sand. These are lined with bars and restaruaunts with accompanying sunbeds to enjoy throughout the day and in the evening have great deals for drinks if you’re looking for the party scene. The food deals along here aren’t anything special, but they’re really good value if you’re looking for something to eat! The drinks are also very cheap so most bars will let you use their sunbeds all day if you drink/eat there, which can work out in your favour.


What To Do

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Boat Excursions – There are so many different boat excursions to try out. Some are extremely expensive if you’re looking for a private tour, but you can also do a range of excursions on a old fashioned pirate boat to visit the volcano and travel round the island to view the sunset.

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Hike between Fira and Oia – Okay, perhaps it’s more of a long walk, but it does take a bit out of you if you’re not a seasoned hiker. We did the walk/hike along the edge of the island – which gets really high and nail biting at some points – but it was so worth it to get in a view of the island you might not find anywhere else. It was also great to do it all the way to Oia as we got to end it there and stop off for a well earned ice cream and beer!

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Wine Tasting – There are so many wine tasting options all around the island to fit any budget, and it’s a great way to take in the incredible views with (several) glasses of wine to hand!
So there we have it! A quick budget guide to Santorini perfect for a quick get away or for a long beach holiday. If you have any questions or queries feel free to comment below!
 

Marrakech

This is a bit of a throwback post as I actually went to Marrakech just over two years ago now, but I find it’s one of those places that there’s not a lot of information about, and a little bit of experience can help out new travellers a long way! This post isn’t going to be a massive run down of the entire trip, because I can barely remember half of it, but it includes a lot of tips we learnt the hard way whilst we were out there!

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So to start off – we went to Marrakech with Teletext Holidays for £210 for 7 days, flights included and staying at a beautiful little riad on the edge of the city. People laugh when I suggest Teletext Holidays but that stops shortly after how cheap I tell them the holidays are on there. Seriously it’s so cheap it’s quite hard to believe, but everything went smoothly and it even included transfers in Marrakech, which was a lifesaver when you touchdown in a completely foreign country.

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Because we stretched out a city break across 7 days it meant we had more time to try a few more activities we wouldn’t usually try, such as a traditional hammam and an authentic Moroccan cooking course. The hammam was an interesting experience, as it’s about 90% pain followed by a 10% relaxation bit at the end, and heavily involves a woman scrubbing your entire (and I mean entire) body with a hard exfoliating cloth so be prepared for that.

The cookery course was good fun, set in an incredible hotel we could never hope to afford so we chilled by their pool for a good amount of time afterwards. We learnt how to cook a chicken tagine with a free tagine pot thrown in for good measure which was great fun to try and fit into a hand luggage suitcase.

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We also went to visit the Majorelle gardens, the botanical gardens previous owned by Yves Saint Laurent, which is an incredible little space in the midst of a very urban city. It’s a lovely large space filled with all different kinds of plants and also a tiny, free museum if you’re interested in learning the history of Morrocco.

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One aspect of Marrakech I really loved was the food. Because of the exchange rate it means you can dine like kings for a tiny little budget, so we got to milk this and visit some really lovely and high end restaurants.We also ate in the main market one evening to try it out, and it was incredibly cheap here, but be warned – if you don’t have a strong stomach then maybe stay away, I’ll leave it at that…

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This really was a whislestop tour of my time in Marrakech, but I’ll be back with a budget guide post shortly. I’d definitely recommend it here though, as it’s perfect for a holiday on a budget and is so beautiful pretty much everything you see is already Instagram-ready…

A Weekend at Glastonbury

Some may not count this as a travel post, but Glastonbury for me is an annual event which often takes up more time, prep and money than most holidays, but it is absolutely worth it.

There’s 100 reason why it’s considered one of the best festivals in the world, so I thought I’d feature a few of my favourite reasons with you. Enjoy!

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  1. The Variety
    There is more variety at Glastonbury than you find anywhere else. The festival has something insane like over 100 stages available across the entire site, and it’s safe to say if you can’t find a musical act you want to see at any point (and that’s pretty hard) then you can go and entertain yourself anywhere else. You’ve got the Theatre and Circus fields, or you can just explore the various vintage and trinket stalls, or take a hike up the Glastonbury hill to get a great view of the entire site, and ofc an obligatory pic with the Glastonbury sign… I could go on….IMG_4530

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  2. The Music is On Point
    I doubt you’ll find such an incredible line up of bands in one weekend anywhere else. In the past four years I’ve seen The Rolling Stones, Adele, Kanye, The Who, Coldplay, Muse, Florence & The Machine, Lionel Richie, Dolly Parton, Tame Impala and so many more. And they’re only just the headliners! There’s an incredible range of talent, and you can’t quite find that variety anywhere else.11540837_10155920949415727_8826071933856067113_n

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  3. The Food
    The range of food you can get at Glastonbury is actually a little bit overwhelming, I think throughout my 4 years I’ve had every type of food possible, and I’ve only managed about 5% of food outlets available. My absolute favourites have to be a big-ass plate of nachos with all the trimmings, the Glastonbury favourite roast-in-a-yorkshire-pudding and a breakfast burrito. Becuase if there’s anything you can do to improve breakfast, it’s to put it in a burrito.I have to do a shoutout to my ultimate fav though, and mention The Garlic Farm, who I have been dining with for four years in a row now (even allowing me a plate of free garlic mushrooms this year) and they are always on point. So. Much. Garlic.

    When I first went to Glastonbury I was still at uni so was massively on a budget and yet I still ate like a king every day. The festival has a very handy Food For A Fiver campaign which the majority of stalls take part in, meaning you can still enjoy the food on offer whatever the budget. Throughout the years I’ve refined my routine so I try not to go overboard on food and usually end up only buying breakfast and dinner, which is more than enough to fill me up, and is also pretty much my routine on a holiday!

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  4. You camp within the festival
    This is the part that people don’t quite get as usually a festival set up involves a seperate camping area, and then the festival arena. But, with Glastonbury, everything is included in the one site – apart from the car parks – so you camp amongst the music tents and the food outlets. Obviously there are walkways and penned off areas for each stage, but it means you are camping right in the action, and even better – you’re allowed to take your own alcohol in!IMG_4248

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  5. The music may stop at midnight, but the night doesn’t…
    I have only been to one other festival and that’s Latitude, (as a member of staff), so I can’t guarantee what nights out are like at other festivals, but I’ve heard there’s often a noise curfew, meaning the only option for a night out is a silent disco. However, at Glastonbury, the night never seems to actually end. There are silent discos if that’s you’re thing – in fact there are actually two – but you can find a multitude of places to spend your night until the early hours of the morning. The main venue is of course Shangri-La, which is the spot of choice for the majority of festival goers on a night out, so it’s often the busiest. But throughout my years I’ve spent nights out exploring Glasto Latino, The Glade, Arcadia, Burlesque tents, small tents with life drawings going on simultaneously, and even at a bar singling along to 00s classics such as ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams – and to be honest I’d count it as one of my favourites…I hope you enjoyed this brief round up of why I think Glastonbury is the best festival there is. For more pictures of mud, mud and more mud, check out my instagram at @grundytravels!