We arrived in Venice by train and took the public “boat” to our hotel, Westin Europa and Regina. Since we were backpacking, we were able to take the public boat easily. To book this hotel, I used 12,000 Starpoints per night thanks to my American Express SPG Credit Card. The hotel’s location was in the middle of the city near San Marco’s Square. The hotel would have cost $500 a night without points! We took a gondola, many boat rides, and ate lots of good food. Here are some pictures of Venice.
After our flight we checked into the Sheraton airport hotel booked using 4000 points and cash. We then took the s-banh train into town. The main station seemed crowded but after we started walking downtown it seemed sort of like a ghost town because most shops close on Sundays.
Once we got to old town Altstadt, it was filled with bars everywhere. We weren’t hungry so I had a bratwurst and Jamie had a pretzel. They were decent. We checked out the town and headed back and got lost a couple times. We did not know there was an underground subway and an above ground train. Once we got back we knocked out and hopped onto the plane to Rome at 915.
Our flight was uneventful but we were able to use the Hugo Junkers lounge due to my priority pass lounge access. There wasn’t too much there besides yogurt, drinks, and beer. To be continued.
We had a great honeymoon in Kauai for 5 nights. We stayed on the North Shore for 3 nights at the Westin Princeville Resort and 2 nights at the Grand Hyatt Poipu Resort. I will review both properties in separate posts. The reason why I booked two hotels because I wanted to get a feel of the north and south side of Kauai. Another reason was because I could use 4800 points + $90 per night at the Westin and 22k points per night at the Hyatt. The Westin was going for $300 and taxes at the time and the Hyatt was going for $425 and taxes plus $25 resort fee. For our flights, we used 25k avios miles per person and paid about $20 in taxes each. Car rental we used name your own price on Priceline and bid 21 dollars per day. After taxes it was about $185.
Airfare: 50k miles 42 dollars
Hotels: 14400 SPg points, $270, 44k Hyatt points
Stayed in San Francisco for 2 nights over the MLK weekend. I Booked two roundtrip tickets for 7,000 points each on Southwest Airlines from Orange County to San Francisco with my Chase Southwest Card. We did not need a car because took the BART into the city. We stayed at Starwood Luxury Collection’s Palace Hotel. It is a pretty old hotel but the inside was very nice and classy. The going rate was 200+ for a night plus taxes, but we paid using 4800 starpoints from my American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card and $90. Our hotel was across the street from Montgomery BART so it was a super convenient location.
Starwood Palace Hotel Restaurant
The 2nd night we stayed at the Marriott at Oyster Point next to the airport because I had a free night from the Marriott Chase Card. The going rate was about $150 + taxes at the time. The hotel had free internet and free breakfast.
I also used a groupon now coupon, which I got in my email. I used it for free for a baked potato restaurant ($20 value). Our highlight of our trip was renting a GoCar and driving it around town. We used the free entertainment book to get a buy 1 hour get 1 hour free coupon ($44 value)
Coming back from San Fran Airport, I stopped by the Alaska Airlines Board Room because I get access through American Express Platinum Card. They had pretty good minestrone soup, snacks, sodas, and free alcohol(which I did not take advantage of =\). It was a nice lounge, but I don’t think anybody would pay the going rate of $45!
We spent a lot of other money on other stuff, but it’s always nice to use deals when you travel. It makes things exciting!
Nights Spent: 2
Dollars Saved: $110(using cash+points) + $150 (Marriott Cat 4 Free-night certificate) + $240 (2 southwest tickets) + $20(groupon now) + $44 (GoCar entertainment book coupon) + $45 (Alaska Airlines Board Room)
Alaska Airlines Board Room Menu
Total: $609 + Taxes!
Overall it was a great trip and had a lot of fun without really spending much money. Using credit card bonuses like the Starwood Preferred Guest Card and Marriott Rewards Chase Credit Card allowed me to stay at nice hotels at reasonable prices. Please email if you need any help with planning a trip and saving money at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can also refer you to get 30,000 SPG points after $5000 spend in 6 months (10,000 given after 1st purchase). That’s enough for about 3-4 nights at a fancy hotel or use cash and points to maximize your value.