New York, New York

Having been on very few holidays in the first half of 2018. We had a lot of holiday remaining. My birthday is coming up so we wanted to do something fun. There were a few options on offer including Porto, Portugal, Marrakesh, Morocco and Los Angeles, USA. But we decided on New York City.


Flights from London to New York are cheap, highly available and always on offer. You can easily find flights for less than £400 and they even get as low as £200 on deals for low-cost airlines. We luckily found some cheap flights on Virgin Atlantic, and although they have lost their luxury mark by having no baggage unreserved tickets, they still apparently offer cocktails.


Now this is where the cost comes in! Accommodation in New York, is not cheap. If you want to stay in a hotel for anything less than £120 you will end up being very disappointed. Even searching away from Manhattan in Brooklyn and the Bronx you will struggle to find something feasible. In fact this is the reason that we decided to only go from Monday through Friday rather than Saturday to Sunday which would have been cheaper flights.

We always try and get a good deal and so we often look at the options available on all the different sites out there, but we have never found a deal that made sense on Airbnb. This is mainly because we never want to stay in shared accommodation. This time however, we thought we would take a gamble to save on the cost. If you want to also take a gamble, you can use our link here to save on your first stay!

Our place is on the Upper East Side, near a Metro station, central park and some bars and restaurants. We will provide an update after our stay and maybe its our new way to see the world on the cheap!


Does anyone have any recommendations? Anyone who has ever lived in or visited New York, please leave a comment below, we are very excited to try out some awesome places and want to try whatever we can in the city. I am looking to have Mexican on my birthday, and we have found a few places, but if you know anywhere that is a must go, then let us know!


Not knowing much about New York, we found some Youtube videos online that we used to get suggestions. Sarah Funk, below seems to give really good tips and we recommend her videos.

See you on our adventure!



Greek Islands: Planning the trip

Anniversary Time

We got married on June 30th 2017, so we have our 1 year anniversary this year. Having already been on a major trip for our honeymoon, we decided not to be too over the top. Greece, however is somewhere we have both wanted to go together and so our decision was made. Specifically the islands where the sand is soft and the sun is warm.

And you will go to Mykonos…

Flights to Greece seem to mainly focus on Athens, however there are some reasonable direct flights to Mykonos on the world favourite airline, EasyJet. And we managed to pick up a good return deal for just over a hundred quid each. Jenny and I don’t tend to enjoy party focused locations which was the impression we got from friends and articles we had read of Mykonos. Instead we were suggested the nearby island of Paros.

Unfortunately, the ferries in the Greek Islands are very expensive, but it is the most efficient way to get around without breaking the bank. Luckily we can arrive in Mykonos and take the ferry to Paros on the same day, something that isn’t always possible due to the timetable or availability of tickets.

There are lots of websites to book on the same ferry so check them all, as some will show sold out, whereas others will have plenty of availability. We booked onto Seajets.

…with a vision of gentle coast

Choosing a place to stay was very difficult. We knew that we didn’t want to spend too much, but we also wanted to enjoy our special week together. Jenny did most of the research for this and found some places. All with a view of the sea, well why not!

We ended up agreeing on somewhere near Naousa as it seemed a pleasant town with some places to eat but not being too busy. It has the typical white buildings looking out over the sea.

View of Naoussa, Paros from the water. Original image by ArnoWinter available here:
View of Naoussa, Paros from the water – Original image by ArnoWinter available here:

Margarita’s House is near to Naoussa but far enough away to be within our budget. We opted for a room with a view over the sea, but also with cooking facilities to give us the option to reduce our expenses if we needed to. We can’t wait the room looks lovely, there is a pool, a view and a short walk to the town centre.

Owner's image of the room we have booked, looking out over the sea.
Owner’s image of the room we have booked, looking out over the sea.
Now to wait

We have a few months to decide what to do, see which other islands we may want to go to and any places we want to eat. June now seems so many months away! But we will just have to wait and keep saving money to pay off the credit card and enjoy ourselves on holiday.

See you soon guys!

Mr&Mrs Watts


First few days: Kolasin: 1450


Most people don’t seem to know where Montenegro is, or confuse it with Moldova, Monaco or other countries starting with an “m”. Indeed Montenegro is a relatively new country, gaining independence from Serbia for the first time since World War I. Bordering Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania; it is located in the Balkans and looks across the Mediterranean to the east coast of Italy.

LON>PODGORICA flight map

The flight is relatively painless, except for the price and flying with RyanAir and takes just over two hours which conveniently leaves enough time for us to watch a movie on our tablet. The airport itself is small but clean and seems quite new. A man with an Alamo sign greeted us and took us to our car in the car park. It turns out that Alamo don’ have an office or desk in the building, but the system works relatively well.

Arriving in Kolasin

The roads in Montenegro are generally only one lane, which is not an issue as there are very few cars on them and the signage is very easy to follow, that we didn’t need to make use of any satellite navigation. The route itself to Kolasin is amazing, and we immediately knew we ewre going to love being in Montenegro, one lane winding up the steep gorge with a sheer drop on one side and a steep cliff on the other. The weather was leaving a little to be desired, but this added to the experience, as we plunged in and out of tunnels carved out of the rock with no lights or concrete covering where water poured down in waterfalls onto the road below.

We arrived just as it got dark and pulled up to Chalet Kolasin. This is an absolutely lovely building, which seems to be relatively newly built, the owner is a lovely man who met us at the front of the building and showed us to our chalet style room, gave us some recommendations for restaurants and told us how to get around.

Skiing in Kolasin: 1450

The drive to the ski-area is very straightforward and you follow one road the whole way meeting very few other drivers on the way. The conditions on the first day were not that good, it was snowing and icy and there had been little cleared off to the sides but as the days went on the road was very clear and easily passable, though the car park was quite muddy and icy so I am glad I had a 4WD.

The system to hire equipment and buy ski passes was a little confusing, we approached two desks each time being told it was the wrong one, but not saying which was the correct one, but eventually we got ourselves sorted. This is the only negative about the ski-area, the equipment is in very bad condition. My boots had no insoles and the skis were very damaged on the surfaces with a large amount of material having been scraped away, but the whole affair was cheap coming in at around EUR150 or £130.

The ski-area itself is a little limited. They claim to have 7 lifts, but in reality there are only 3 proper lifts other than the ones used to learn to ski. One of these lifts was closed the whole time we were there and one was extremely slow and uncomfortable, this really only left one viable lift. Therefore we just pottered up and down a few times, choosing slightly different routes each time, trying out by the end of the week every different run at least once. Three days skiing at this resort is absolutely plenty, until the new lift opens next year.

Eating in Kolasin

Food at the resort for lunch was more expensive than the surrounding area, but we managed to each burger and chips or pork and potatoes with a few drinks each for less than £25 a day.

Food options in the town of Kolasin were fairly limited and seemed to be predominantly focused on traditional Montenegrin food of potatoes, cream and cheese in a big dish – Kačamak. Also no restaurant ever had more than one table of service in addition to ourselves, which was unusual.

The restaurant “Konoba” on the main square of Kolasin is decorated in a very quaint and charming way, and the food was ok but we wouldn’t recommend the wine. On the completely other end of the wine and food scale was the main recommendation from our hotellier – Vodenica. It was only around the corner from our hotel in an Old mill house with beautiful old fashioned decor and a pleasant atmosphere. As always the portions were huge but extremely tasty and the wine was also delicious. This was all perfect for us as we celebrated 6 months of being married.



All these meals added up to around £250, which wasn’t too bad. And we ate breakfast in our hotel room, so the supermarket bills were only around EUR35.


Not as common in Europe as it is in the USA is a post ski jacuzzi dip and relaxation, so we hunted out and found that the four seasons hotel allows external persons to come and use the spa for EUR10. It was just around the corner and Jenny even additionally had a massage for an additional EUR 25.

Also there is Nordic skiing available in Kolasin:1450 and snowmobile hire too, though we did not try any of this ourselves.

Costs so far

Carried forward: £1520Ski hire and passes: £130
Lunch at the ski-resort: £75
Dinner X2: £250
Spa experience: £40
Supermarket supplies:£30

Running Total: £2045

December Blog 002: Booking the Trip


As we all know, RyanAir is an airline that offers no-frills flights mainly around continental Europe and the UK and their slogan says “Low Fares Made Simple“, therefore we assumed booking flights on RyanAir to Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro would rightly fit into that mantra.

Our flights cost 350 pounds! Each! Though at least that is return with one packed hold bag.

In any case, with gritted teeth we paid the flight price, knowing that the accommodation and food would be dirt cheap. Well, it’s Eastern Europe right? Right!

Accommodation in Montenegro is pretty cheap but seems to be split into two camps. On the one hand you have the high-end international hotels that everyone knows and loves or hates. Whilst on the other hand all the other accommodation seems to be rooms in apartment buildings. After having spent a hefty chunk of our budget on the flights we opted for the latter.

We had decided from the blogs we had read (see our previous blog post) and the WikiTravel pages that we would spend a few days skiing, a short stop in the Capital city and then the remainder of our 10 days on the coast visiting Budva, Kotor and Tivat.


We managed to book all 10 nights of accommodation through for an average nightly price of around 30 Euros! All in central locations, with parking and cooking facilities!

Unfortunately three weeks before we were due to leave we received an email from our accommodation in Kolasin saying they had had a flood and so they couldn’t guarantee our stay so we should cancel. At the time we were a bit annoyed and we knew the other accommodation in Kolasin was quite a lot more expensive. It turned out to be the such a great outcome because we booked into one of our favourite places we have ever stayed “Chalet Kolasin”.

Car Hire

Car-hire was easy, as always we booked through economycarrentals which has the most old fashioned website I have seen in a long time but always the cheapest prices. Selecting a 4WD with chains for the snowy roads and adding the second driver, we took the first and cheapest choice and ended up with a Dacia Duster from Alamo. It was much cleaner than the below photo when we originally collected it.

Next post we will have a look at what there is to do in Montenegro.

Costs so far

Flights: £720 (£360 x2)

Accommodation: ~ £500  (~£250 before the flood incident)

Car Hire: £300

TOTAL: £1520

December Blog 001: Planning the trip

Having got married in June 2017, we wanted to enjoy our first married Christmas together away on Holiday. We looked at a number of different locations from Greece to the Philippines, Denver to Barbados and Florida to Costa Rica.

We even booked flights to Manila and hastily canceled them, unsure of wanting to go all that way for 10 days. Thinking that we might want to go skiing we both started searching for cheap destinations that we could do some skiing and also enjoy some other activities. Rob happened across this story which noted the skiing in Kolasin was passable and Jenny stumbled upon a blog which suggested Montenegro as a great Winter destination to get away from the crowds. For us, the combination sounded perfect.

Planning a trip skiing in Montenegro isn’t as straightforward as planning one to Tignes, Vail or Saalbach-Hinterglemm, but it is definitely a lot cheaper. To start with, its initially not even clear where the ski resort is; the town shows up on Google maps but to find the resort itself one must deduce that the resort is called “Kolasin 1450” and was another 20-40 minutes drive up the valley.

The website for the “resort” itself has very little information on it, some of the information on the Montenegrin pages is in English and some of the information on the English pages is in Montenegrin. However we eventually deduced that they do ski, pole and boot hire in the same building as the ski pass purchase and the total cost for two for three days would be barely over 150 pounds.

This all seemed like a match, so we booked our flights and our accommodation and looked forward to Christmas. More on that in the next post.

Blog 006: 171015 Last couple days

Montepulciano, Montalcino and going home

Sitting on the plane writing this, we are sad to be going home. Holidays, no matter how long, always come to an end too quickly. 

Montepulciano is quite a bit larger that some of the nearby medieval mountain towns and villages. It boasts relatively quiet streets and alleys. There are some very large hills and as sedentary desk working people we were panting trying to get around, tiring ourselves out. 

The piazza with the main church is large and relaxed with a few small restaurants and shops. And many other restaurants up and down the streets where we enjoyed some lunch. Montepulciano is in a way special to us as we are united on a common love of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (which we know is not here) so originally we thought our favourite wine came from here. 

We made our way away from Montepulciano with a few souvenirs, memories and photographs. The views, shown above, are really brilliant across the valleys.

Jenny enjoyed both the cute little back up trucks and the fiat 500 that we were driving so she posed for a few photos as a send off to Italy and the cute car.

Back in Siena we marvelled at the restaurants on steep hills, they shortened two legs more than the other on both the chairs and the tables to enable people to sit on the hill. We then had a brilliant dinner at a restaurant recommended by our hotel owner, “La Finestra” behind the main piazza. Rob’s steak was huge and very tasty whilst Jenny made sure to have the required Bruschetta which was delicious.

Finishing this post in the air now. We had a stressful morning. Driving from Siena to Rome is relatively straightforward, finding petrol to buy with a UK credit/debit card on a Sunday morning was almost impossible. We took a round trip of 25 minutes to eventually find some but after waiting for the car rental shuttle this meant we arrived to the airport with only 30 minutes to spare. 

Luckily Ciampino is very efficient, has excellent free WiFi and the best toilets I have seen in Italy. So in less than 5 minutes we were through security sitting with some arancini balls and a drink. 

Bye Italy. We’ll be back!


Blog 005: 171013 Italy day seven

Siena, Monteriggioni and San Gimignano

Siena is not a good city for driving and parking.

Before we get to that though we had a lovely day. Once more Rick Steve provided an excellent guide for the city of Siena. With an audio splitter and two pairs of headphones in hand we wandered the streets of Siena learning of the 17 Contrade and the parts they play in the development of the city and its famous Palio race. 

The route takes you around all the major sites including the half built duomo and a coffee shop. We stopped off a few times on the way as well for carbonara, prosecco and coffee. 

Siena is really beautiful and finding out about its important historical origins as well as those of the banking industry and bank robbing was also an added bonus. 

Tired of walking and full of food and drink we headed off to find the car, miles away on that random street where we left it and headed out of town. Jenny got a quick driving lesson from Rob and she was pretty good if not a little nervous. Driving round a small industrial estate was fun so she might drive out on the main roads tomorrow. 

Rob jumped back in the driver’s seat and we headed for a small hilltop village called Monteriggioni. Comprising of only a small square, a few buildings and a half collapsed battlement it is an utterly charming little spot to wander, look in the shops and as Jenny found out, stroke some more kitties. It is a lovely place and even better if you find the free parking, avoiding the extortionate fees. 

We stayed here a little while had a drink each but decided to head on further for dinner. Deciding San Gimignano was much bigger with many more options. 

Although somewhat true, the whole place seemed to be completely closing down and there was apparently no free parking. We traipsed around the whole city to find somewhere to eat, something made more difficult since we both only wanted pizza. Eventually we came back to the main square and found an option which was lovely. Two pizzas and a pineapple juice later we were on our way. 

Having had only a little trouble finding a parking space last night we had assumed that we were by now certified professionals, this was not the case. A first hurdle was the road being blocked at the end with no entry followed by at least a dozen cars going in circles as we were looking for spaces. 

Eventually we capitalised on a great space, available as it was small enough for the fiat 500 but not much else. Rob manoeuvred in, lined up and beamed at his work to find out that “Sabato” means Saturday, tomorrow, was street cleaning day so no parking at 6am to 8 am. Frustrated and dejected we pulled out of the space and made our way round the block five or six more times. Eventually, another space appears. The sign on the other side of the road says “Venerdi” (Friday) morning is cleaning day, success! 

Walking back to the hotel we notice one side of the street is “Venerdi” but our side is “Sabato”. Oh lord no! Eventually after a few more times round the block the spectators of the football file back to Thier cars and we are rewarded with a space. Another 5 minute walk to our hotel on top of the previous 18 minutes…


Blog 004: 171012 Italy day six 

Car parks, driving and pretty Pienza

 So today wasn’t particularly action packed, we checked out of our hotel in Rome which had become a stable base for us and headed over to Ciampino airport where we had hired our car for the last few days of our trip.

I say Ciampino airport but it was 3km away in an odd industrial estate. However, after a quick bit of faffing we were on our way. Jenny was extremely happy that we had a Fiat 500 she desperately wants one herself. Though a little disappointed that it wasnt pistachio green. 

We drove then from Rome to Pienza making quite a few wrong turnings on the way. 

The views are stunning and we sat down to have a lovely coffee on the town wall overlooking the Tuscan hills. 

Eventually we ended up in Siena and made our way up a steep hill to our hotel. We had heard about parking being difficult so we were chuffed to find a spot less than 5 mins walk from where we were staying. Later we realised, with the help of the hotelier that we were in fact inside the restricted residents only zone. Something which comes with a 100 euro fine. 

Before all that though we tucked into a lovely bottle of prosecco. Not that it says great things about our choice, we find the exact bottle of bubbles from our wedding day at a motorway service station. We just couldn’t say no. Being both clumsy and tired though we managed to spill most of it on either ourselves or the bed. 

We traipsed back to our car and found out the signs were true. It was in this illegal zone. Therefore we turned around drove out and we are hoping for a miracle not to get a fine. After driving through the suburbs of Siena for around 40 minutes and debating the merits of the different parking zones we settled on a spot a mere 18 minute walk back to our hotel…

After a long day of driving and finding spaces, worrying about the street cleaning agenda and the market day calendar, we treated ourselves to a lovely meal. It was a lovely place called Antica Trattoria Papei and eventhough the brought me a beef steak instead of the pork one I ordered the apologised prefusely allowed me to keep the beef and only charged for the pork. Lovely people, great food, not too expensive. Highly recommended. 

Tomorrow we hope for a more chilled out day. 


Blog 003: 171012 Italy day five 

Crêpes and Steps and Cats and Dogs

Having traipsed around most of the famous sights already, we decided to focus our attention on relaxing and eating and drinking. Jenny wanted a crepe so we hunted everywhere for one. Finding crepes in Rome is not easy. Especially in the morning but eventually we found a nice lady who turned on her machine and made us crepes and milkshakes. At 10am. 

Mine was huge! And extremely tasty. So full to the brim with heart disease we set off in search of the Spanish steps, described by some books and websites to be something similar to the Aztec pyramids.

They are quite impressive and hard work to walk up and down. So to commemorate our arrival we indulged in a number of selfies whilst trying to avoid catching other tourists in the photos. 

By this point we were of course exhausted (it was 30 minutes later) so we consumed a couple of delicious cocktails over looking the Spanish steps. The rooftop cocktail bar  come pizzeria (Il pallazetto) was a great find and started filling up as soon as we arrived. (They also had amazing WiFi allowing us to backup the hundreds of photos we had taken)

Noticing the beautifully romantic streets winding away from the Spanish steps we wandered towards trestevere where the pharmacy sign informed us that it was an uncharacteristically warm 30 degrees Celsius in mid-October. 

We of course rewarded ourselves with another glass of wine and a light lunch. Having only been out of bed for 3/4 hours and eaten a huge crepe and lots of nuts and a large thick milkshake it didn’t seem sensible to have the customary 5 course Italian meal. 

This photo from a previous evening shows the charm of the Trastevere and it is well worth a visit for a meal in one of the many, if a little touristy, trattorias. 

After running out of the big ticket items we were looking for things to do. Having heard of the cat ruins at La Torre Argentina we made our way over and were not disappointed. There were cats everywhere; lying in the sun curled in the shade or searching for food. Jenny especially was in heaven though we were both quite taken by some of the cute fur balls. 

After searching for a park to walk around. We tried one green area on the map and it turned out to be a huge cemetery (Verano Cemetery). We eventually found Villa Borghese which has/is an amazing park. Really beautiful, full of decorative pagodas, buildings and statuettes and hundreds of dogs on walks it is a really pleasant evening stroll. The temple in the middle of the lake in the photo is utterly charming and worth a visit to get away from the loud cobbled city streets. 

We ended the night with a perambulate through the north west of Rome. Across the piazza del popolo, apparently sponsored bby a Samsung note 8 on a selfie stick we came across a tiny cute little bus and ended up in Trattoria Al Gran Sasso. The food here is excellent and we had a delicious entrecote steak on a bed of rocket and grilled calamari. The tiramisu is also definitely worth a try.

Rome is a very easy city to walk around and there is always another cute restaurant or charming street around the corner. Any visitor to Rome should make sure that they have the time to experience this side of the city as it is extremely rewarding. 


Blog 002: 171011 Italy day four

Coliseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon and plenty of wine!

As yesterday, a late start for us, so much so that the cleaner and front desk both contacted us to check if we were alright and needed our room cleaned.

Having read about the lengthy queues for the coliseum, we went the recommended route of purchasing tickets at the palotine gate. There was no queue and the ticket offers one time access to each of the palotine hill, the forum and the coliseum which can be spread over two days, there are discounts for 18-25 year olds.

The first view you get of the coliseum, although half destroyed and partly restored dramatically portrays a picture of the power of the Roman empire and instills the never ending image of Rome in your minds.

Although it is definitely busy, the crowds are nothing when compared to those of the Vatican. There is ample space surrounding the coliseum to grab many photos and sufficient space to meander around hundreds of street sellers and more tour guides!

Since we had already purchased our tickets the queue was quite short to get through security and without much waiting we were able to enter the coliseum.

Not the easiest area to navigate, signs seem to conflict with each other and the only access upstairs seems to be signposted with “no entry, fire exit” signs. But once you find your way out to the arena the sight is superb. Rising all around you the collosal walls that would once have sat up to 50,000 spectators and a reconstructed portion of the arena floor are stunning. Even more so when you remember this structure was built 2000 years ago with no heavy machinery, although thousands of slaves.

We downloaded Rick Steve’s audio guide of the Colosseum and it was a really handy way to learn about the history, usage and structure of the whole area since there is very little in the way of signage. (Italy must sort this out). Although it may seem obvious the Colosseum is one of the best things to see and do in Rome.

A visit from a feline friend and hundreds of photos left we left awe inspired and wanting more ancient Roman relics.

The “Roman Forum” as impressive as the Colosseum is an area once used by the ancient Romans and includes the remains of many temples, market places and homes. The effect is impressive and we were guided around once more by Rick Steve’s audio guide.

The most impressive ruin is that of the Basilica, formerly a large administrative building with large barrel vault niches remaining from what would have once been a collosal structure. All European churches (where the word ‘basilica’ stems from) are built with the same basic layout.

Capturing the dramatic scale of the Pantheon on camera is almost impossible. It’s gigantic beautiful and perfectly shaped some tower above and the shaft of light that shines down through the open ceiling is quite impressive. Entry is free, there is no queue and you can spend ages staring up at the sight. Well worth a visit for anyone.

Wondering the streets of Rome near the Piazza Navona once more down to the Campo Fiori we drank some more wine and soaked up the atmosphere before unsung a relatively cheap pizzeria to replenish ourselves from a long day of walking.

Rome is beautiful at all times of day and offers many opportunities to explore and find a place to have a quick drink or bite to eat, generally at a reasonable price.