Day 8/9 – Florence

Our next stop was Florence, the heart of architecture and art.  We enjoyed the city a lot because it was easily walkable.  We climbed the Duomo and climbed to the top of a hill to watch the sunset.  It was definitely very peaceful and relaxing.  




Day 7 – Exploring Cinque Terre

We explored each of the five towns today.  Each town had its own unique flavor.  We started off in Monterosso, which is the most developed beach town resort.  I swam in the ocean for a while and we renting umbrellas to relax in the sun.  Afterwards, we took the train to each town and ate lunch/gelato/snacks.  We took a walk from the second town to the first town, called Lover’s Walk.  Cinque Terre has to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.  




San Francisco Trip Report

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 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.