How to use Airbnb

I am a massive fan of Airbnb.  I initially stumbled upon it when I was trying to find a place to stay in Cinque Terre and all of the hotels were either fully booked or exorbitant prices.  Now, whenever I’m going on holiday, one of the first places I look is Airbnb.  I’m going to be staying in another one when I go to Seville in September.  Here are some things you should know about Airbnb before booking (and a link for £25 off your first stay!):

1. It lets you live like a local. I love being able to wake up in a non-touristy area, and wander around local bakeries for breakfast, getting a smile and a ‘good morning’ in the local language,  instead of elbowing my way through a busy street, or eating warm cheese at the hotel breakfast.

2. It’s usually a lot cheaper than staying in a hotel. Sure, you don’t have room service, or reception, or someone to make your bed every day.  But, if you’re not bothered about any of that (and I always feel bad knowing that I haven’t made my bed up to standards, and someone has redone it for me), then this is a good option.  Sometimes, it can be as cheap, if not cheaper, than a hostel, depending on which city you’re staying in.

3. There are a lot of decently priced options close to tourist attractions. If you’re not bothered about staying in a local area, then you could stay near the ‘main attractions’ of the city.  Personally, I haven’t done this.  I prefer the locally areas, or areas that are near public transport.  Maybe in the future, though!

4. I’m a bit of an introvert, so being able to get the keys from the owner, and then not have to interact with anyone when I enter and leave the apartment is really nice. I’m useless at small talk.

5. You can cook your own food. Most of the Airbnb’s have kitchens so, if you’re not in the mood for eating at a restaurant, or you want to heat up some pizza you’ve bought by the slice, then you have this option.

6. You get the option of having an entire place to yourself, or to rent a room in someone’s house. I’ve only ever booked the entire place (again, crap at small talk), but if you’re a bit more extroverted, it might be nice to speak to the owner regularly.


7. You have a lot of options. You can choose how many bedrooms you want, if you want wireless internet (always!), if there’s a hairdryer, towels, etc.

8. It’s great for group travellers. Have you ever tried to book more than 4 people into a hotel?  It can cost a fortune.  Airbnb’s are great as you can book an entire house for your group for a really reasonable price.  I stayed in one recently for my friend’s hen do in Aviemore, and there were 11 of us in a lovely little house – with a hot tub!  And it only cost around £100 altogether per person for the 3 nights we were there.


9. If you apply for an apartment that is not an instant book, the owner has the option of rejecting you. This happened to me when I was going to Verona.  I applied for 3 different Airbnb’s and not one accepted (it probably had something to do with the fact that I was only staying for one night).  Eventually, I booked a hotel (it was really lovely, but a bit more expensive than I was looking for).  Luckily, you have the option of choosing apartments that have the ‘instant book’ option.  This cuts out the worry of the owner saying no.

10. Check the reviews. Sometimes, I’ll read a story about someone being scammed on Airbnb, so I always check to make sure the place I’m interested in has reviews, and that they’re decent.  I know that new hosts won’t have many (if any reviews), but you can usually tell who’s genuine and who’s not.

11. This is probably the most important one – ALWAYS conduct your transactions through Airbnb. If a host asks you to do a bank transfer, this is most likely a scam, and you will not be protected through Airbnb, so always, ALWAYS make sure to go through Airbnb.  Also, if a host tries this on you, report them to Airbnb and they will deal with it.

For those of you interested in staying in an Airbnb, if you sign up using this link, you’ll get £25 off of your first stay!  How amazing is that?!

The Weird and Wonderful Outfits of Carnevale

I said I’d make a post about the costumes I saw at the Venice Carnival and look!  These are some of the most amazing outfits I’ve ever seen – and I have to learn to properly make clothes so I can make some for my niece!  (She’s only a year and a half just now.  But she’s going to have heaps of outfits when she’s old enough to enjoy fancy-dress- she doesn’t understand Disney yet, and that day can’t come soon enough! 😀 )

(This one was one of my favourites – so sparkly!) You guys have no idea how much I wanted to buy this mask.  The fact that I already have four made me stop (plus, this mask was a bit more expensive than I expected!  If it’s still there the next time I’m in Venice……..)

Venice Carnival 2017

I finally got to cross the Venice Carnival off of my bucket list! I have been wanting to go for years now, but I’ve never actually got around to it.  Probably because, when I’ve actually remembered about it, it’s been too close to the time and the flight prices have shot up.

But never mind – because I’ve finally been!  Would I go again during the Carnival?  I’m not sure – there’s so many people.  Waaaaaay more people than there normally is, and that’s saying something for Venice.

(This was ‘quiet’)

One of the greatest things about the Carnival was that it wasn’t all contained in the main areas – there was stuff going on everywhere.  I’d be walking down a quiet street, turn a corner, and bam! – more people in costume.  And those costumes were absolutely stunning.  I really need to up my sewing game and learn to make clothes.  I could practice by making small versions for my niece 🙂

(This picture doesn’t show it, but his costume was so sparkly!)

I could fill a whole blog post with all of the costume pictures I took (an idea for a future post, perhaps?).  Of course, because I was in Venice, I didn’t just get involved with the Carnival – I went exploring and got lost (as I am very good at doing – especially in Venice!).

I also visited San Servolo and saw the Insane Asylum museum, which I would recommend.  It’s extremely interesting and, this may be the pharmacology part of me talking, but looking at the different preserved brains and skulls was particularly interesting – in a morbid sort of way.  The clouds were also especially beautiful that day.

I visited for the final weekend of the Carnival – and I’m glad I did, as there seemed to be a lot of things going on.  I saw the ‘Svolo del Eagle’, or the ‘Flight of the Eagle’ on the last Sunday, which was a woman in a huge, gorgeous, feathery dress being lowered down from the belltower in St Mark’s Square.

And, in contrast, on the last day of the Carnival, I saw the ‘Svolo del Lion’, or the ‘Flight of the Lion’, which is where a mahoooosive Venetian flag gets raised up the belltower.  Now, I don’t know if it was supposed to go all the way up the belltower, or only halfway up (which it did in this case), but it was super windy and the rain had just started, so I’m thinking that’s why it only went halfway?  If any of you guys have been to the Carnival before and seen this, could you please tell me? 🙂

One of the main things I’d wanted to visit this time was the Venetian Ghetto and, especially, the Synagogues.  You can only see the synagogues on a guided tour, but I would definitely recommend it.  They are absolutely stunning – plus the guide was funny and sarcastic 🙂

I also wanted to see the Teatro La Fenice (I’d actually wanted the see it the first two times I’d visited, but never had a chance to).  I knew it had burnt down and been completely rebuilt – but I didn’t realise it had burnt down twice in fifty years!  The first time was an accident but the second time was apparently arson.  Who would want to burn down the theatre!  It’s an absolutely stunning building – and there was a mini orchestra rehearsal going on in one of the ballrooms, which echoed gorgeously through the theatre.

I would also recommend a visit to the rooftop of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi department store.  It’s completely free but you need to get a ticket in advance – I’d advise going early.  I only had to wait an hour (which I spent wandering through the store), but when it got to my turn to go on the rooftop (3.30pm), the people who had just arrived had four hours to wait until they could get their turn on the roof.

And, a visit to Venice would not be completed without a visit to my favourite bookshop – Libreria Acqua Alta – which has now become even better, as there were cats in it this time around!!  Cats!!  Anyone who’s read this blog knows I’m a cat person (I found so many cats this time in Venice – always a good thing 🙂 )

Because I love fancy dress (I’m not a weirdo 😛 ), I bought a mask (another one!) from a stall and wore it through the city.  Thankfully, I didn’t stand out, as every other person had a mask, or a hat, or a wig on.

I also caved and bought a hat at some point 😀 (The next photo isn’t the best quality, as it had started to get dark and I’d left my proper camera in my flat, so this photo was taken with my phone)

I was staying in a flat just off of the Via Garibaldi, which I would highly recommend.  I don’t know if it’s a regular thing, or if it was just because of the Carnival, but there was music and dancing in the street every night!  I absolutely loved it.  And I danced with a few old ladies 😀

Here’s another couple of photos of me, because I don’t know where else they’ll fit into this post 😛

And every night, I finished off my day with a gorgeous sunset by the water.

Ah, Venice.  I’m sure it won’t be long until I’m back again!

I’m back!

I’m still around, don’t worry!  It’s been, what, 3 and a half months since my last post?  My bad… In my defence, I haven’t travelled anywhere, plus I have had some stuff going on in my life (job stuff…ugh…).  But, this is just a quick post to say, I’m alive and I’m going back to Venice on Friday for the Carnival!!  (And then I’m off to Paris at the end of March – exciting stuff!!  🙂  )