Please assign a menu to the primary menu location under menu

2 years ago

Travel News and Reviews

What To Do If You Have Booked Flights With WOW Air

WOW_opt

I was saddened to hear about the demise of WOW Air, they were an airline that I had flown and worked with in the past. Many are wondering what to do if you have booked flights with WOW Air – hopefully this might be of some help.

 

WOWair announced on the 28th of March that they has ceased operation, leaving thousands of passengers travel plans in disarray. Aer Lingus have announced rescue fares for anyone who was booked to travel to the USA and Canada from the 12th of April onwards, with prices from €169 each-way including taxes. Those wishing to avail of these rescue fares should contact the following numbers after 18:30pm 6:30pm this evening 28th March. 1890 800600 (from Ireland) / 00353 1 886 8822 (from Europe) / 0333 006 6920 (from UK) / 516 622 4222 (from US) and 800 474 7424 (from Canada). Other airlines may follow suit and I will update this post as soon as I receive any further information.
 

 
Unlike package holidays, airlines are not bonded in Ireland, so claiming a refund is not as straight forward as you might think. How you go about claiming for the price of your ticket, or getting home if you are stranded abroad, really depends on how you booked your flight. Find out what to do if you have booked flights with WOW Air below.

what to do if I booked flights with wow air
 

 

 

If you have booked with a travel agency:

If you have booked a package deal involving WOW air flights and accommodation via a travel agency, you are in luck. Your holiday is protected by the Package Travel Directive, so your travel agent should be able to source an alternative holiday for you, or claim a refund if you no longer wish to travel. If you have booked a flight only through a travel agency, they should be able claim a refund on your behalf. 
 

 

 

If you have booked flights with WOW Air by credit card:

If you booked online with WOW Air and paid with a credit card, you should contact your credit card company immediately, they should be able to offer you a refund. There may be exclusions to this rule, depending on the credit card company, so make sure you check directly with your credit card company.

what to do if you booked flights with wow air
 

 

 

If you have booked flights with WOW Air by debit card:

If you booked online with WOW Air and paid with a debit card, you should contact your bank immediately. If you paid with a visa debit card, they may refund you. I called AIB this morning and their policy is the same for debit and credit cards – they will refund you. Although there are conflicting statements about this, so make sure you check with your own bank for clarification. 
 

 

 

If you have travel insurance:

It is important to note that all travel insurance policies have different levels of coverage, but Multitrip.com, Ireland’s premier travel insurance company, include airline failure in their standard policy. Note they will insist you claim the cost of the flight from your credit card company, before seeking any claim from them. See what does travel insurance cover here.

 


 

 

 

If you have travel disruption cover included with your travel insurance:

I am a big fan of travel disruption cover. I always recommend to anyone travelling that it is added to their insurance policy. If you happen to abroad when WOW Air went bust, this policy will allow you book alternative flights and pay for additional accommodation expenses if required. You can read all about why you should add travel disruption cover to your insurance policy here. It is advisable for you to keep all receipts of expenses incurred before making a claim.

what to do if you have booked flights with wow air

 

 

 

 

Useful websites:

European Air Passenger rights:

RefundMe.ie

AirHelp.com

FlightRights.ie

Passengers may also be entitled to compensation from WOW AIR, including in accordance with European regulation on Air Passenger Rights. In case of a bankruptcy, claims should be filed to the administrator / liquidator.
 

 

 

Statement from WOW Air 

DESTINATIONSTravel News and Reviews

My Favourite Travel Vloggers on YouTube

travel vloggers

YouTube is great for finding out all sorts of information, but one of the attractions for me, is watching awesome videos from the world’s best travel vloggers!

 

Owned by Google, YouTube is much more than a video platform nowadays. It is the second biggest search engine in the world and with 300 hours of video being uploaded every minute, there is literally a video on everything. I have been drawn to YouTube because of my kids – they now prefer it to TV! So I have found myself watching the platform now and I wanted to share some of the best travel vloggers with you. There are plenty of them out there, but these people are definitely my favourites. I’ve also stuck their most popular video for each below, so you can get a flavour of what they do and how they do it. Hopefully they will give you some travel inspiration or help you with your travel plans.

best travel vloggers
 

 

 

Christian Le Blanc

Using the moniker ‘LostLeBlanc’, this Canadian has grown to over 1m subscribers in 4 years. Not taking himself too seriously, he travels mostly through Asia with his girlfriend Katy. Incidentally, Katy is a YouTuber too and has over 1m subscribers to her own (Spanish speaking) channel.

His videos show him travelling as well as some element of education in videography. A light hearted couple travelling for fun that have managed to make a full time career out of it now too, through YouTube and other various online income streams and collaborations with hotels and tourists boards.
 

 

 

Michael Gray

Moving swiftly from old(ish) to new kid on the block, we arrive at Michael Gray (or MikeVisuals). He is a young guy from the UK who makes pretty stunning videos of his travels. He combines this with advice on how you can create similar quality videos. He is primarily a filmmaker that loves to travel. You can check out his website HERE. Despite only having 8ok plus subscribers, he is definitely one to watch in travel vlogging.


 

 

 

Janet Newenham

It would be remiss of me not to include one of our own! A homegrown bona fidé Irish travel blogger who has made a living touring the world, Janet has opened up her YouTube channel.

With a huge following on other platforms and a unique insight into how to grow a platform, I have no doubt Janet will have great success on her YouTube channel as well. With all her her quirky videos of places she visits this channel is likely to grow and grow, so watch this space.
 

 

 

Sailing La Vagabonde

Elayna and Riley are an Australian couple who have the dream of circumnavigating the globe by sailboat… initially having no clue how to sail though. They have now sailed over 70,000 nautical miles and have been on the high seas since 2014. Through their videos, they want to inspire others to explore alternative options of living and to spread ocean awareness.


 

 

 
Riley, from Adelaide in Australia, had very little sailing experience when he flew to Bari, Italy and purchased the 43 foot Beneteau yacht. What followed was a fairly steep learning curve. He met Elayna, who was working as a singer, travelling Europe and she decided to join him on his quest! For a laid back look at a sailing around the world, this is one channel worth checking out or alternatively you can visit their website here and meet their latest crew member, their son Lennon Foster Whitelum.
 

 

 

Jared Watney

Also ocean themed is the YouTube channel of Jared Watney. A native of South Africa, Jared and his girlfriend documented their time served as staff on luxury superyachts and soon found a significant following on YouTube and Instagram. So much so, Jared has now made a career out of his YouTube channel, photography and filmmaking. Mostly shot initially on a GoPro action camera, the channel is only two years old and has already close to 50k subscribers.


 

 

 
Some of his most popular videos are the information ones like showing you the crew accommodation on a superyacht or can the crew use the superyacht freely when the owner is not onboard? Find out the answer here, if you really want to know!
 

 

 

Kane & Pia

The glamorous couple, Pia Muehlenbeck and Kane Vato run a very successful business, as well as a very popular YouTube Channel. Perhaps not as successful as Pia’s Instagram account which has 2 million followers though. They also run Slinkii which is a global swimwear, yoga accessories and fashion brand, built from nothing and Pia is the face of it!


 
Their travel exploits come through conferences and opportunities abroad that arrive via Slinkii. It all looks very glamorous, but I know that there is very hard work going on behind the scenes.
 

 

 

The Bucket List Family

This is one of my absolute favourite YouTube channels. I guess it is because I feel I can relate to Garrett and Jessica and their young family. Travellers with kids, but these guys have gone all in. Calling themselves ‘Family Travel Journalists’, they have been traveling with their three kids since the summer of 2015 and making their living online.


 

 

 
It started with three bucket list items, (1) To swim with whales, (2) launch a paper lantern at the Lantern Festival in China and (3) just live like locals wherever they went, even with the Maasai warriors in Africa. That bucket list though, continued to grow and grow with new adventures somewhere around the world.
 

 

 

Casey Neistat

It’s hard to mention YouTube without mentioning Casey Neistat. Casey was a very early adopter of the whole YouTube thing and even had his video iPod’s Dirty Secret’ go viral three years before YouTube even existed. Casey has over 11m subscribers at the time of writing and most of his content is set in Manhattan were he lives.


 

 

 
His travel exploits generally come from his exploits around the world as he travels to give talks at many conferences. His subscriber base exploded when he decided to do a daily vlog for over 12 months. Putting out content everyday must have been very difficult but he did and got his just rewards, a massive subscriber base. Casey lives in Manhattan with his wife Candice and two daughters and Youtube has become the backbone of his income, whilst also selling a business to CNN for millions too!
 

 

 

Where’s My Office Now?

This American YouTube channel is slightly different. It features Emily, Corey and their rescue pups. These guys have been on the move around the US for more than 5 years, living in a vintage VW camper van.

With lots of information on a popular movement in the US, just check out #vanlife on Instagram, these guys are inspirational really. It’s not really something I’d like personally, but I do enjoy watching these guys doing it.
 

 

 

The Indie Projects

Theo and Bee began documenting travelling Europe in their converted VW van in June 2014 and they are still going. Previously going by the name VDubVanLife, they have evolved to include many different aspects of their lives and travels, as well as all the other people they meet along the way.

In 2018, they went bigger and converted a LWB Sprinter Van into their full-time home, and are currently living in it. They say ‘getting out in the van has been such a fantastic way to see the world and we love sharing it with everyone! Again, perhaps not for those who enjoy their creature comforts, but their channel is great for something different.
 

 

 

Karl Watson

As Karl’s channel states, he is bringing us ‘backpacking adventures from around the world’ by making travel documentaries (his term, not mine!), there is something for everyone in here. With nearly 100 videos from Cambodia to the Grand Canyon, Karl makes honest and entertaining videos that are well worth a look.

He makes the videos for many reasons, not least of all to share them on YouTube with his 70k plus subscribers. For him though, ‘making a film of a trip is the ultimate souvenir’  – as he gets to relive the adventures he has been on.
 

 

 

Nomadic Matt

Matt Kepnes was a latecomer to the travel bug, not taking his first trip outside the US until he was 23, heading to Costa Rica in 2004. That single trip infected him bad…with the travel bug! The following year he headed for Thailand, met others with the same ‘disease’ 😉 who showed him how to feed his travel habit and do it for very little money. He began travelling full time in 2006 and has never looked back. Matt has visited over 100 countries to date and has no sign of stopping. One thing he did find out in his journeys, is that you do not have to be rich to travel! Matt now makes his living as Digital Nomad, educating others online, on how to do what he has done. You can check out his website here.


 

 

 

DeathByVlog

Ryan and Stacia, two adventurists uploading cinematic travel vlogs every single week. He is a professional web developer and an amateur filmmaker who is mad about tech! She is dance instructor and choreographer. You can check out their website here but be prepared for envious travel. They are currently in Asia.


 

 

 

Kara and Nate

A Tennessee couple on a mission, Kara and Nate set out to travel 100 countries by 2020. They have been on the move since January 2016 with now sign of stopping just yet! With 83 countries stamped in their passports, the couple uploads travel vlogs to YouTube every other day from both popular and lesser touristed destinations. With over 500k subscribers, Kara and Nate double down on value by providing an incredible set of resources like income reports, travel cost hacking, and video editing tips as well as great videos on destinations. As well as their proficient YouTube Channel, you kind find out more about them on their website HERE.


 

 

 

Sam Kolder

No list of YouTubers or travel vloggers would be complete without mentioning Sam Kolder. He is one of the best travel vloggers in the world and the one that everyone wants to emulate, or at least have his filmmaking and editing skills. Born in Toronto, Canada, he got his big break touring and shooting videos for the band ‘The Chainsmokers’ and after a tragic accident that claimed the life of his older brother, Sam decided that he needed to face his fears and passions. Sam now travels the world with friends and collaborates with some of the best known brands in the world. The cinematography of his videos is wonderful and for a good looking guy in his early twenties who loves extreme sports, he has the world at his feet.


 

 

 
Other vloggers try and emulate his style and the filmmaking community itself on YouTube have taken to dissecting his videos with many channels dedicated to his editing and storytelling methods. With no searchable website to find, Kolder prefers to let his stunning cinematography and photography that he posts to social media do the talking for him. If you are one of Kolder’s 914K Instagram followers, then you know he has a pretty busy and epic life.

With the skillset he has now in his mid twenties, I’m intrigued to know where that skill will take him over the next 10 years. Check out his channel KOLD.
 

 

 
So there it is, some of the best travel vloggers on YouTube. If you get a chance, check them out or if you have other ones you think are great, let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear about more. Hey and whilst your at it, subscribe to my YouTube channel HERE! 😉

 

Sarah
travel deals
Best Travel Deals

The Travel Expert’s Best Travel Deals – 26th March 2019

Best Travel Deals

This weeks best travel deals include deals to the Algarve, Majorca, Croatia, Costa Rica and Dubai, an overnight stay at the Titanic Hotel Belfast and a cruise deal you won’t want to miss.

 

Best last minute:

If you can get away at a moments notice, then get yourself over to the Algarve, where the temperatures are a balmy 22 degrees! The airfares are ridiculously cheap with return flights from only €50! I found a great deal staying in the popular Jardins Vale de Parra in Albufeira. Price for flights and a seven night stay is only €155 on the 2nd of April. Fancy some five-star treatment? Price for flights and a seven-night stay in the 5* Grand Real Santa Eulalia is only €348….

View flights here €50pp

View Vale de Parra here €105pp

View 5* Santa Eulalia here €298pp
 

 

 

Best May deal:

May madness is well and truly here! There are so many great deals to choose from but I picked Majorca, as it still remains one of our most popular holiday destinations. Choose the Lagotel Hotel from €249 B&B, or go All Inclusive in the highly rated Barcelo Hotel Ponent Playa, in the pretty resort of Cala D’or, for only €377. Prices include flights, accommodation, transfers & checked baggage for seven nights, departing the 21st of May.

View Hotel B&B here €249pp

View All Inclusive here €377pp

 

Best cruise:

Enjoy a taste of the orient with this amazing cruise and stay holiday. Spend three nights in Singapore, before cruising to Malaysia and Thailand over four nights on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas, in a balcony stateroom. You will round off this remarkable trip with a three night post-cruise stay in Hong Kong. Price including flights, all accommodation and four night cruise is only €1589!

View offer here
 

 

 

 

Best family deal:

Enjoy a week in the highly rated Mariners Club apartments in Alcudia for only €1765 on the 10th of July. This family deal includes flights, transfers & checked baggage, based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing. Use code SAVE100 to save €100 off the listed price. 

View offer here

 

 

Best long haul deal:

Costa Rica is very much in vogue at the moment and it is a place I would love to explore.  There are many escorted tours available, but this road trip caught my eye! Enjoy an 11 day city to surf trip, which brings you from San José through the rainforests and on to Tamarindo on the pacific coast. Price including flights, all hotels and car hire is only €1763.

View offer here
 

 

 

Best Summer sun

Looking for a five star holiday in July that won’t break the bank? Try a summer holiday in Marrakech! Spend a week in the highly rated Riad Le Jardin d’Abdou for only €299 on the 18th of July. It doesn’t get much better than that!

See more here

 

 

Best city break:

Explore the city of Dubai while staying in one of it’s most popular hotels, the JA Oceanview Hotel. This deal includes flights and a five night stay, with breakfast, for only €749 per person. Centrally located on The Walk, this is an ideal choice to explore all that Dubai has to offer. This amazing offer includes a saving of €500 per person, if you book before the 30th of April.

View offer here  
 

 

 

Best early booking offer:

One of my best travel deals is back! Spend a week in the superb 5* Hotel Croatia for only €498 on the 16th of October. Price includes flights and hotel on a bed & breakfast basis. 

See more here

 

 

Best staycation

Stay at the iconic Hotel Titanic in Belfast for only €155 per couple. This amazing deal includes a complimentary upgrade to a superior king room, the legendary Titanic breakfast, a glass of prosecco on arrival and £20 credit to spend on food in the bar or restaurant.

View offer here  
 

 

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. Please note some of my best travel deals include affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.
 

 

 

Sarah
travel deals
City BreaksDESTINATIONSEurope

Three Places You Must Visit in Puglia

Alberobello

Alberobello, Ostuni and Polignano a Mare, are three of my favourite places to visit in Puglia. Each one has it’s own unique charm and they are all waiting to be explored.

 

We enjoyed a magical few days in Puglia and we tried to see as many of the highlights as possible. It wasn’t long before we realised that we needed to stay a lot longer, to explore this stunning region in the heel of Italy. Each old town we came across was more dramatic than the next. It is hard to believe how this area is still relatively unspoilt, considering it’s beauty and history.
 

 

 
I would strongly recommend hiring a car to see as much as possible. Ryanair fly direct into Bari from Dublin airport, so for Irish people, this is the most accesible route. Brindisi is also a local airport, that may be an option for European readers. Try to stay in at least one of the old towns, the atmosphere is completely different at night time, without all the day trippers. Make sure you visit one of coastal towns too. The combination of the turquoise waters of the Adriatic and the white-washed cliff towns, will certainly give you the wow factor. I know there is much more to see in Puglia than the three towns I have outlined, so I will definitely be back to discover more. In the meantime, here are my top places to visit in Puglia.
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on


 

Alberobello:

Alberobello is probably one of the most well known towns in Puglia – or at least the most photographed! Packed with over 1000 trulli, the white-washed stone houses with conical roofs, it looks straight out of a fairytale. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the trulli are full of locals selling their hand made crafts. Despite being a tourist trap, prices are not that expensive and we enjoyed pottering around, in and out of the various trulli, for a few hours. It tends to be packed with day-trippers and instagram lovers, but you can’t deny it is a beautiful setting and it is definitely one of the top places to visit in Puglia!

top places to visit in Puglia
 

 

 
Alberobello has an interesting story too. It was designed by a local lord in the 1700’s, who housed his peasant workers here, in order to fiddle taxes. The trulli didn’t class as an inhabited settlement, as they could be easily dismantled. Tulli are usually square with thick stone walls, but all have the iconic cone shaped roof and are scattered throughout Puglia.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on


 

 

 

Where to stay:

We stayed in our own trulli, on the outskirts of Alberobello, for two nights. We found this unique property, Trullo Della Ghiandaia, on AirBNB (affiliate) and it was one of the highlights of our trip – we didn’t want to leave it. It was a fairy tale like villa, complete with two restored trullos and three bedrooms. There was a large outdoor swimming pool, with a terrace, BBQ and pizza oven. Cristina, our host, greeted us with home made lasagne, delicious focaccia and wine from her fathers vineyard – what a welcome! I loved staying here, because we were able to go into Alberobello in the morning and evening time, without all crowds. Many of the trulli in the centre of the village have been converted into restaurants, and Alberobello has a completely different feel without coach loads of people around. 

top places to visit in Puglia

Where to eat:

Tullo D’oro serves up the best food, with an emphasis on local produce. Unfortunately it was fully booked – so take note and pre-book if you are planning a visit! We opted for Il Pinnacolo instead and enjoyed tasty food inside a trullo in the centre of Alberobello. We also enjoyed delicious take-away pizza from ArborisBelli on our first evening. Located just minutes from our villa, this was just what the kids wanted after a hectic weekend in Matera.
 

 

 

Ostuni

A walled, white city, perched on top of a hill – no visit to Puglia would be complete, without stopping in the dramatic town of Ostuni. We took a quick tour by piaggio, which was a great way to get our bearings and ideal if travelling with kids. Our guide brought us from the main square outside the city walls, through the labyrinth of alleyways, to the top of the hill and it’s impressive 15th century Gothic cathedral. This allowed us plenty of time to walk downhill, through the town, at our leisure. Every stone, street and archway is white, it is remarkable. We stopped regularly to pose at doorways with colourful flowers, but no photo could actually do Ostuni justice. I would have liked to stay over-night, but alas, our time in Puglia was too short.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on


 

 

 

Where to eat:  

L’osteria del Tempo Perso was recommended to me by many people, but unfortunately it was closed when we were there. I should point out we visited Puglia at the end of October! We opted for another recommendation, La Locanda Della Gelosia. It is beautifully situated in a restored house with stunning gardens. The setting and service couldn’t bet better, but I was a little underwhelmed with the food.

top places to visit in puglia
 

 

 

Polignano a Mare

Polignano al Mare is definitely one of the top places to visit in Puglia, if for no other reason than it is offers superb views of the adriatic coast. After spending four days touring Puglia and Basilicata’s old towns, it was refreshing to catch a glimpse of the sea. Polignano a Mare’s dramatic cliff top setting is spectacular. We enjoyed strolling around the old town, which can be reached via the Porta Vecchia gate. Complete with white-washed streets, charming trattorias and three panoramic terraces, it is easy to spend a few hours here, taking in the views. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on


 

 

 
Polignano is famous for its stunning beach, that is hugged on both sides by dramatic cliffs. Locals and tourist swim here and it is a favourite with cliff divers. You can catch great views from the Ponte Lama Monachile bridge, but it is best to climb down and get close to the water’s edge. The white stones underfoot help to make the colour of the sea a beautiful aquamarine colour. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on

 

 

 

Where to eat:

There are some pretty trattorias in the old town, but if you can book in advance, be sure to check out Grota Palazzese. Located inside a cliff, with stunning sea views, it is one of the world’s most famous restaurants. We visited Polignano a Mare on our last day, as it is only a thirty minute drive to Bari airport. We were going back to cold, wet weather in Ireland, so wanted to be close to the sea. We chose Il Cavo for lunch, located right beside the Ponte Lama Monachile bridge. The food was surprisingly good and reasonably priced, but the view, was the pièce de résistance!

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on

 

P.S – Make sure you visit Matera too!

Although Matera is NOT in Puglia, it is close by, so it should definitely be considered if planning a trip in the region. It was one of the most fascinating cities I have ever visited and I would urge everyone to go see it. We stayed there for two nights – you can read all about our magical weekend in Matera here

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on


 

Want to bring children along? Check out my top 5 things to do in Puglia with kids 

 

 
Sarah

The Travel Expert

City BreaksDESTINATIONSEurope

A Magical Weekend In Matera – Why You Need to Visit Italy’s Best Kept Secret

matera

I have always been a lover of Italy. I spent many years travelling the length and breath of the country, visiting it’s beautiful hilltop towns and walled cities. However, nothing I had seen prepared me for our weekend in Matera.

 

Looking at Google maps, it seemed like a straight forward drive from Bari airport for our weekend in Matera. However as we got closer to the old town, or Sassi as its more widely called, we realised it wasn’t going to be plain sailing, or driving, in our case! We were the only people driving on the cobbled streets and the only road signs we could understand said, ‘no entry’!

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on

Google maps was soon redundant so I decided to go with ‘Ciao’, out of the window of the car and hoped for the best. After a few frantic waving arms from locals, telling us to go back, luckily an elderly ‘nonna’ pointed us in the right direction to our hotel. We pulled up outside, delighted that we had finally made it, only to find out that there was no car park at the Casa di Lucio hotel….
 

 
All was not lost, as the Casa di Lucio is a sister hotel to the 5* Sant’Angelo Luxury Resort, which is located close by. We were able to check-in there and they kindly valet parked our car, albeit with a €25 fee! It transpired that this hotel is one of the only hotels inside the Sassi that has parking facilities. Driving in the Sassi (the literal translation of Sassi is stones) is forbidden unless you are checking-in or checking-out of your hotel. We had to advise the hotel of the exact time we wanted our car the following day, so that they could drive us to the garage in the new town of Matera to collect it. Similarly we had to advise them of our check-out time, so they could have the car parked at the hotel for the minimum amount of time.

weekend in Matera
 

 

 
My initial reaction was one of amazement at this strange parking system, especially for a five star hotel, but when we walked outside and took a long look at where we were staying, realisation began to set in. It was like stepping into a film set – Matera somehow didn’t seem real. Perched on top of a rocky mountain were caves, houses and streets, piled up on top of each other. I even spotted churches carved out of caves! The Passion of the Christ was filmed here and I immediately understood why, I felt like I was going to bump into the 12 disciples at any time! The sand coloured stones and the lush green valley below, combined to make it one of the most remarkable places I had ever laid eyes on.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on


 

 

 
Matera is not only visually stunning, but it has a remarkable story too. It has been inhabited for 0ver 9000 years and is the third oldest continually inhabited settlement in the world. Up to seventy years ago, thousands of poor families lived side by side with animals in tiny caves, without electricity, water, or sewage facilities. Riddled with malaria and other infectious diseases, Matera was labelled the “shame of Italy”. Finally in 1953 the Italian government decided to re-house its population in the new part of the city, or the ‘new Matera’ as it is now known. Matera was practically deserted until 1993, when UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site. It is hard to believe it has literally gone from ‘rags to riches’ in seventy years. It is now the European Capital of Culture of 2019. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on


 

 

 
Contrary to popular belief, Matera is NOT located in Puglia, it is the region of Basilicata. Although many people, like we did, choose to combine a weekend in Matera, with a trip to neighbouring Puglia. You can read my recommendations on top places to visit in Puglia here.

 

When I was booking our trip, I knew I wanted to stay inside the Sassi and I really wanted the ‘wow’ factor. After walking the 100 meters to our hotel room, or more accurately our ‘house’ in the Casa di Lucio hotel, it wasn’t long before I knew I had achieved my goal. Not only was it bigger than our house in Dublin, but it was so beautifully designed to compliment the surroundings. It was aptly called the ‘Royal’ apartment and I’m sure it has housed many royal guests since its opening.
 

Ironically, the Royal apartment is the only room in Casa di Lucio that is NOT built inside caves. That didn’t bother us, we were too busy enjoying the stunning views from our three balconies! Our three-bedroom house with a massive hall, kitchen and office, was incredible. It even had a mezzanine, which the kids quickly renamed as their ‘den’. The Sassi was lit up at night time,  so we enjoyed a glass of Chianti with a spectacular view from our balcony, while the kids were tucked up in bed. It was heaven.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on


 
Casa di Lucio, although only 13 years old, is the oldest hotel in Matera. The owners decided to buy some caves in 1999 (as you do!) before the rebirth of Sassi di Matera began. In 2005 they expanded, and although many thought it was ludicrous, they decided to open a luxury resort called Sant’Angelo. They added rooms over the years and now it is the most prestigious hotel in the Sassi.

weekend in Matera
 

 

 
While Casa di Lucio is classed as a four-star hotel, the Royal apartment is definitely five-star, in my view. Breakfast was included in the cost and was served at the five-star Sant’Angelo resort. Later that evening, when I witnessed tourists lugging their suitcases up and down the cobbled-stone streets, from the new town of Matera to the Sassi, I realised how fortunate we were with our choice of hotel and why it is worth paying a premium price for a weekend in Matera.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on

 
 

 

 
We decided to take tour of the Sassi by Piaggio, which was a great way to get our bearings, and ideal with children. The city has two sides, Sassi Barisano and Sassi Caveoso. The former is more developed and houses art galleries, boutique hotels and restaurants, all inside the caves. The latter has yet to be developed, but you can manage to look inside some of the caves and see how these people lived just seventy years ago – it is remarkable. To be frank, if you never visited a museum, church or exhibit here, you would still be blown away by Matera’s beauty and it’s history. We climbed up stone staircases, posed for pictures inside colourful doorways and had pizza on pretty piazzas, all without actually visiting many of the local attractions.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on


 

 

 
We also drove across the ravine to Murgia National Park, to catch one of the best views of Matera. You can also walk across, but you need to hike down, cross a rock bridge and hike back up the other side, which wasn’t ideal with kids. In fact most of Matera is hilly, so don’t even think about bringing a buggy! If you fancy the hike, it is a great opportunity to explore some of the small palaeolithic caves at the same time. We went for sunset, but I think sunrise would probably be best, if you want to see the light reflected on the Sassi.

weekend in matera
 

 

 
It was a bit of an ordeal to get our car from the car park, so we decided to make the most of it and took a spin to a nearby beach,  before catching the view of Matera at sunset. Castellenata Marina is only a 35 minute drive from Matera, so if you wanted to combine a city and beach break, this would be ideal. Although deserted in late October, it is a stunning beach with numerous beach bars along the promenade. I think a long weekend in Matera, that included a day at the beach, would be perfect during the summer months. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Sarah Slattery – Travel Expert (@the_travel_expert) on

There is no doubt about it, the reason we booked a weekend in Matera was to see the Sassi, but it is fair to say that the new town was worth exploring too. The Piazza Vittorio Veneto is as pretty as it sounds and has plenty of restaurants, bars and shops to keep you amused. Buskers entertained us in the evening time and it is so close to the Sassi that we easily walked from one to the other, stopping for selfies along the way!

weekend in Matera
 

 

 
We dined out both evenings, but the cuisine was one of the few things that disappointed me throughout my visit to Puglia and Basilicata. I had heard so much about the regions specialities, but I felt a little underwhelmed. The pane di Matera’s, or local bread, that is recommended in every travellers guide, was just ok and the orecchiette pasta dishes were not exactly earth shattering. We enjoyed many tasty light bites in the trattorias scattered throughout the Sassi, but the experience of dining al-fresco in such a dramatic setting, outweighed my love for it’s cuisine.

weekend in Matera

We did however manage to come across a great find in Matera, La Cola Cola. It was recommended by our hotel and despite being hard to find – we spent a half hour climbing up and down old staircases to find it, it was worth it! Situated inside a cave from the 1700’s, with a panoramic terrace, you could sit inside or out and still have a memorable experience. We chose inside because it was late October and quite chilly at night time. It was packed with locals and the atmosphere was superb. The food was delicious and so cheap too! The Bresaola with parmesan, lemon and rocket was sublime and the pizzas were a big hit with the kids. 

weekend in Matera
 

 

 
The ironic thing is there were so many interesting places to see over the weekend in Matera, but we actually saw very few of them. I can’t tell you that we visited the most amazing museums and cathedrals, or all about the beautiful frescos in the rock churches. We didn’t even visit the ‘must-see’ Casa Noha, the multimedia exhibit that tells you the story of Matera. We had no urge to see the ‘top 10 things to do in Matera’ because the whole city is like a museum. We had two memorable days exploring this incredible city, climbing up stone staircases, peaking inside ancient caves, stopping for gelatos and taking in the spectacular views. Matera is one of the most fascinating cities I have visited, not only because of it’s beauty, but because of it rags to riches success story, that is straight out of a fairytale. As the European Capital of Culture in 2019, let’s hope it stays that way before the crowds arrive.  

 

 

How to get there:

Ryanair fly direct from Dublin airport to Bari, the drive time is one hour to Matera. Aer Lingus also fly to Brindisi from Dublin Airport but the transfer time is a little longer – 1 hour 40 minutes. I stayed in the superb Casa di Lucio Hotel, which has standard rooms and larger suites depending on the number of people travelling.   

Search Flights Here Search hotels here

 

Like this post ? Why not combine a weekend in Matera with a visit to Puglia. Check out my top three places to visit in Puglia here.

 

Sarah
 

The Travel Expert  

 
Travel

August Bank Holiday Deal To Rhodes, 1 Week, Flights, Apartment, Transfers & Baggage, €449!

rhodes-97279_1280_opt

Check out this amazing deal to Rhodes over the August bank holiday weekend! Enjoy a one week package deal in a highly rated apartment for only €449!

 

Rhodes probably has more to offer than any of the other Greek islands. Not only is it one of the largest Greek islands, but it has a UNESCO world heritage site as it’s capital. Wandering around the Colossus of Rhodes is like stepping into a fairy tale, but once you step outside the old city walls, you will find a modern town, full of designer shops and trendy waterfront cafés.
 

 

 
The hill top town of Lindos is another ‘must see’. Complete with whitewashed buildings and winding alley ways, it is a photographers dream. There are also quieter resorts like Lardos and Pefkos as well as the lively resort of Faliraki. If all of this isn’t enough, why not try Greek island hopping to some of the neighbouring islands.

 The Travel Expert's deal to Rhodes
 

 

 
This super deal flies from Dublin on Saturday the 3rd of August. You will spend seven nights in the Cosmos Maris studios in Lardos, for only €449 per person. Ranked number 1 on tripadvisor and awarded a certificate of excellence, this is great value for a highly rated apartment in peak season. With a pool and restaurant on site and the beach just five minutes walk away, this is an ideal choice for someone looking for a peaceful location, but also want the option of exploring this beautiful island.
 

 

 
The icing on the cake – there are no hidden extras! This amazing deal to Rhodes include flights, accommodation, taxes, transfers and 20kg baggage! You will need to use code SAVE100 to save €100 off the listed price.

 

View offer here

 

Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change. Note that some links above are affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.
 

 

 

Sarah

travel deals

Best Travel Deals

The Travel Expert’s Best Travel Deals – 19th March 2019

best travel deals

In my best travel deals this week I have last minute deals to Lanzarote, city breaks in Madrid and Toronto, summer in Zakynthos and Zanzibar, a super Celebrity Cruise deal, an early booking deal to Iceland and a staycation at Waterford Castle.

 

Best last minute:

Enjoy a week in Lanzarote for only €295 on the 31st of March ! Price includes flights, accommodation at the cheap and cheerful Lanzarote Paradise apartments, transfers and checked baggage!

View offer here

 

 

 

Best summer sun:

Spend your summer holiday in the Greek island of Zakynthos. This amazing deal is only €465 for one week on the 13th of August. Price includes flights, accommodation at the highly rated Katerina Palace, transfers and checked baggage. 

See more here

 
 

Best family deal:

Treat the kids to a city break in Madrid during Easter holidays. This super deal includes flights, a two night stay in the Plaza Espana Skyline apartments, a Real Madrid stadium tour and a Downtown Madrid Segway tour ( children must be over 9 years). Price of €1085 includes flights, accommodation, tours, 10kg hand luggage per person, selected seats and priority boarding, based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing.

See more here  
 

 

 

Best city break:

Combine the vibrant city of Toronto with the wonder of Niagara Falls. Price for flights, all transfers, a three night stay in Toronto and a two night stay in Niagara Falls is only €749 per person!

View offer here
 

 

Best cruise:

Enjoy ten magical days cruising the Med with Celebrity Cruises for only €1399! Visit Croatia, Montenegro, Greece, Malta and Italy with this superb itinerary that even includes an overnight stay in Venice. Price includes flights from Dublin, departing the 10th of October .

View offer here

 

 

 

Best long haul deal:

Holiday in the paradise island of Zanzibar this year, without the expensive price tag! This amazing offer of just €1259 includes flights and a seven-night stay in the Ocean Paradise Resort, with breakfast and evening meal each day!

View offer here

 

 

Best early booking offer:

Plan ahead and secure this amazing deal to Iceland after Christmas. Price of €309 includes flights and a three-night stay in the centrally located CenterHotel Kloop, departing the 2nd of January. This is the perfect Christmas gift!

See more here
 

 

 

Best staycation:

Treat yourself to a stay in the wonderful luxury lodges at Waterford Castle. We stayed here a few years ago with my children and loved it, the lodges are superb. Price of €195 includes a two-night stay for up to six people and is valid until the 31st of December 2019. Want to stay for three nights? The supplement is only €50 more.

View offer here

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. Please note some of my best travel deals include affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.
 

 

 

Sarah
travel deals
Travel

Summer Package Holiday Deal to Zakynthos, 23rd August, 1 week, €399!

Zakynthos

Decided to go overseas this summer? Getaway in August with this super holiday deal to Zakynthos for only €399 including flights, transfers and baggage!

 

Despite government advice against non-essential travel still in place, many of you can’t wait to holiday overseas and have asked me to look for some special offers. Hopefully, this holiday deal to Zakynthos might be just what you are looking for. This is a package holiday with TUI, so flights, transfers and accommodation are all included in the price, and all of their package holidays are protected under the CAR bonding scheme. And, should your holiday be cancelled at a later date, you’ll have the option to receive a refund credit or cash refund.
 
Instagram

 
I spent a week in Zakynthos a few years ago and loved it. There is so much to see and do, you will spoilt for choice. A visit to Navagio or ‘Shipwreck Beach’ is a must, it is one of the most photographed beaches in the world! A boat trip to see the Loggerhead turtles is also a great day out and appeals to all ages. If you are feeling really adventurous you could take a ferry to some of the neighbouring islands, Kefalonia is a ideal for a day trip.
 

 

 
For me though, the beauty in just chilling out on Zante’s beaches and enjoying some tasty Greek food in local tavernas. There is a great laid back atmosphere on the island and although developed for tourists, it still feels authentic. For more information on Zakynthos you can read my blog by clicking here.

summer holiday deal to zakynthos
 

I found a great deal staying at the popular White House studios in Alykanas. A small complex with just 16 rooms, this is the perfect place to chill out and relax. The beach is just a 5-minute walk away and there’s a pool and bar on site too. They receive great reviews from previous guests and are rated as excellent on Tripadvisor. And remember, this summer holiday deal to Zakynthos includes direct flights from Dublin, accommodation, transfers and checked baggage – all for just €399 per person
 

 

 
Note that currently government advice against non-essential travel still in place. Hopefully, this will be changed in July or August, but I obviously don’t know for sure. It is important to note that if you decide to travel against government advice, your travel insurance will not be valid. You can however, apply for a European Health Insurance Card, which will let you get healthcare in Europe for free, or at a reduced cost. 

 

View offer here

 

 

 
Price is correct at the time of issue but is subject to change. Please note some of the links in this post contain affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but with no additional cost to you.

 

Sarah

travel deals

Holidays in IrelandTravel Tips

How To Collect Avios At Kildare Village

Kildare Village

Did you know you can collect Avios at Kildare Village? Shopping is a great way to boost your Avios balance and get closer to that next trip away!   

 

Have you a special occasion coming up or fancy some nice beachwear for your holidays? Kildare Village is the perfect place to pick up something special at discounted prices. Popular stores including Michael Kors, Karen Millen, Kurt Geiger, Superdry and Mint Velvet are all here and offer discounts of up to 60% off retail prices. You can also accumulate points in sports stores, homewear and even restaurants.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Kildare Village (@kildarevillage) on

 

To put this into context, if you spend €100 at Kildare Village, you will receive 125 Avios. However AerClub run promotions throughout the year with bonus Avios and exclusive discounts, so watch out for my newsletter to ensure you are kept up to date about these. You only need 8000 Avios for a return flight to Paris and 26,000 for a return flight to New York (you just need to pay taxes, fees and charges). You can also use Avios to pay for hotels, car hire and travel experiences. See five ways to spend Avios here.

how to collect avios at kildare village

Why I love shopping at Kildare Village

Not only can I save up to 60% on retail prices and collect Avios at the same time, but I also love the outdoor village atmosphere. It is a much nicer shopping experience than being in a large shopping centre. There some great dining options too, including Saba and my personal favourite, Dunne and Crescenzi. There are over 100 brands in Kildare Village now and each time I visit it seems a new boutique has opened. I have my favourites, Ted Baker, UnderAmour and Kurt Geiger, but I am also enjoying accumulating a full set of Samsonite luggage. It is also the best place to buy a designer hand bag, the savings are amazing compared to high street stores. I rarely leave without something for the kids too, the sports shops are superb and Ralph Lauren always has great bargains for special occasions.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

“You had me at Coach” The moment you know, they know you. 💕

A post shared by Kildare Village (@kildarevillage) on

My Avios journey

I have been steadily growing my Avios balance over the last two years and I now have 68,000 Avios. I just need another 5,000 Avios for two business class upgrades with Aer Lingus to New York, for myself and my husband –  I just need someone to mind my kids! Most of my Avios points were accumulated by shopping, for more details on how to get flights and upgrades by shopping click here. In case you didn’t know, Avios are a reward currency that are used by many airlines including Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia, as well as various hotel websites and high street stores. See the many ways to collect Avios here.

collect avios at kildare village

How do I collect Avios at Kildare Village?

Once you have joined AerClub, simply present your shopping receipts and AerClub card or number, to the Welcome Lounge in Kildare Village and the staff will register your purchases. Avios will be credited to your account within 40 days. 

collect avios at kildare village

Collect Avios at 11 other villages around the world.

Kildare Village is a member of the The Bicester Village Shopping Collection, which has 11 villages around the world, including London, Barcelona, Madrid, Milan, Munich, Shanghai and Paris. You can collect Avios in all of these locations too, so if you are planning a city break anytime soon, or a trip to Disneyland Paris, make sure you pay them a visit. For a full list of locations click here.

collect avios at kildare village

Still not joined AerClub?

If by any chance you have not joined AerClub yet – now is your chance!  It is so easy to join, simply click here. By joining AerClub you will enjoy the benefits of being part of a global network of partners where you can collect Avios and turn them into reward flights, car hire and travel experiences. See the many ways to collect Avios here.
 

I hope this post helps you to collect Avios at Kildare Village,  you never know I might see you there! This post was sponsored by Avios but all views, as always, are my own.

Sarah

 

Pin It on Pinterest