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Takes One to Know One

An idiot, I mean. And I am in full-on "idiot mode" this week. I've managed to duplicate a hotel reservation in Madrid and almost botched a 40,000 point bonus from Citi because my head is just not in the game right now. I blame Summer Break. The laziness of No Alarm Season has turned my brain the consistency of a fried egg - my biggest ambition this week has been to watch Netflix and not fall off the couch. Hopefully by the time we leave for Europe on Monday I will have my act together!

I am certain this view of Siena will unscramble my brain...


Today I'll summarize our lodging expenses for the Italy/Spain trip. I'm currently in the process of begging the Hotel Indigo Madrid for a refund of my duplicate reservation - we'll see how THAT goes - so I won't count that cost in the final tally. Pray for a refund, y'all...

We're looking forward to trying AirBnB for the first time in Siena. As you can see, I applied a first-time rental discount code, and I also purchased a $200 gift certificate in order to take advantage of a $50 off $200 AMEX offer last year, which I then used to book the rental. Four nights in Siena for $339 is an AMAZING deal, especially since we are renting a full apartment in the pedestrian Old Town. Check the blog next week for my review and pictures.

Our Florence B&B is recommended by Rick Steves in his Tuscany guide book. Good enough for me! I booked it in April on and have received lovely communications from the owner regarding our stay. The breakfast room overlooks the Duomo - wow! Check out the pictures and reviews on TripAdvisor.

The Barcelona and Madrid hotels both belong to the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG). Late last year, IHG was running a promotion called "Priceless Surprises". One of the bloggers I follow noticed that buried deep in the fine print of the promotion was a clause enabling postcard entries. Each entry was guaranteed a minimum of 500 IHG points, and each person could submit 94 individual handwritten entries. Since I'm a frugal Dutch girl (and I was laid up recovering from hip surgery) I wrote out 188 separate entries - 94 for David and 94 for me - and sent them off. Lo and behold, 6 weeks later the points started rolling in. I'm not sure exactly how much we won since some entries earned more than 500 points, but we had enough to book 3 nights in Barcelona and 1 in Madrid, which is 110,000 points. Not bad for a few hours time and a cramped right hand! The other award night in Madrid I earned by participating in a Fall 2015 promotion which awarded us 1 free night after 2 stays. And obviously I paid cash for a couple of nights in order to save points for our December trip to Strasbourg.

Strasbourg is VERY over-priced during the Christmas Markets, so I decided to save some cash by redeeming points for our expensive December hotel and paying outright for the cheaper Barcelona and Madrid hotels. When you're planning a trip, make sure you have looked at all your options and taken into account your future plans.

Using points/miles is not ALWAYS the cheapest option, and you want to receive the most value possible, no matter the currency.

This will be my last post before we leave for Italy and Spain. I hope you will keep checking in next week for updates on our trip. I'm planning to post some videos as well as a daily review, IF the wi-fi cooperates. We'll see how that goes. Until then:

Don't be afraid to chase your travel dreams! I PROMISE - you can make it happen. After all, I'm not that smart and I'm going to Italy next week! (Dave gets to come, too.)

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