Friday, 20 July 2018

Is the Dublin Airport Executive Lounge worth the price tag?

Airport lounges are not something I had ever experienced until recently. Previously, I had been under the (incorrect) assumption that they were the places only celebs or business class travellers got to frequent but a recent travel article by fellow travel blogger, Nadia from opened my eyes to this chill space and ''all you can eat'' concept.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the airport you will find the executive lounge located. We booked online however you can pay at the desk. The online price is €25 each and if you book in person on the day it is €29. Initially I really wasn't sure about the price, not that its so steep but I really wasn't sure what we would be paying for. But let me tell you we made the most of it!

The lounge itself is a long room full of comfy armchairs and low tables with the food/drinks area at one end near the reception area. The first thing you notice when those heavy doors at reception swing closed behind you is how quiet and peaceful it is inside. The next thing we noticed was - food and drink!

The concept of the bar /  buffet area is serve yourself which we very much enjoyed. I was suffering with a really sore throat the morning we travelled so I promptly made myself a hot whiskey with some honey and lemon which really helped take the edge off!

Now depending on what time of day you access the lounge what is available food wise changes. Luckily we got there towards the end of the breakfast time and coming into lunch time. While the breakfast options were basically the same as you would find in any continental option at a hotel, the lunch is where the lounge really shone. Tiers of little sandwiches and wraps were brought out, as was soups and little mini desserts like the chocolate brownie which was divine.

All in all we both would definitely agree that the Dublin Airport Lounge is definitely worth the price tag - when you factor in the expensive obligatory airport pints and lukewarm fry up you can get in the bar this place definitely wins hands down if you just want to chill and unwind before your flight with no hassle of waiting for drinks, etc.

I'll also add there are bathrooms with toilet and shower in the lounge if you want to freshen up. Only downside is, if you are a smoker there is no smoking terrace but that is literally it! We would definitely book the lounge again.

For anyone flying Stateside there is a new lounge called 51st and Green which is available to book after US PreClearance and I've heard it includes a full bar service with cocktails and an American style buffet  - think not the pancakes!

My family and I are heading to California in August and I am so tempted to book this lounge! If I do I will make sure to take more pictures next time.

Have you ever booked any of the airport lounges? Do you think they are worth the money? Let me know in the comments.

*Disclaimer: Paid for this experience myself but 10/10 would book again*


Sunday, 1 July 2018

72 Hours in Budapest: Things To Do

Hogy vagy?! For the record that's how you ask someone how are they in Hungarian, the native language of people from Hungary, capital city Budapest. We visited Budapest as part of our summer holiday this year along with Prague in May. We chose Budapest because I actually lived there when I was younger and had always wanted to go back. I loved the city even at that young age and remembered that there was so much to see and do in such a beautiful easy accessible place. 

We chose to go in May as Hungarian summers from my memory can reach crazy soaring temperatures such as 40 degrees so I definitely didn't think we would want to do much exploring in that weather. We booked an Airbnb which luckily ended up being located in such a fantastic spot near all the 'ruin bars' and restaurants with lots to see and do nearby. The famous Szimpla Kert bar was only a five minute walk from our apartment so I highly recommend the area we stayed in circa Gozsdu, Dob utca, Kacinzcy utca if you want a location right in the middle of all the action. 

Our first night there we took a stroll down to discover the ruin pubs after some traditional Hungarian food in the Kazimir bistro which is located very nearby in the Jewish quarter. There are so many beautiful buildings near here so it is well worth a stroll and to see the famous synagogue nearby. 

A ruin pub for those who don't know is basically a 'pop up' style pub created out of a derelict building. They are always unique and have something to look at in every corner. For example in Szimpla kert there is an old Trabant, a car popular in the Communist era in Eastern Europe that has the top taken off that you can sit in and have a few drinks. Other ruin pubs have things like bicycles covered in fairy lights strung up on the ceiling, it's also a great place for people watching and extremely casual - so girls leave your body con and stilettos at home. 

We fell in love with the laidback vibe of these pubs and highly recommend a visit to not only Szimpla Kert but some of the lesser known on the opposite side of street. There are so many to explore you could go to a different one every night. Some you can sit under circus tents, some play heavy metal music, others have a Mexican theme with pool tables - there quite literally is something to suit every taste. And of course you will have to do some shots of the local liquor palinka while you are there!

One thing we didn't realise was we had arrived over a bank holiday weekend and bank holiday weekends in Eastern European countries generally mean EVERYTHING closes. We had planned to go to Szechenyi Baths but my LOVELY boyfriend had forgotten to pack any swim trunks so we literally spent close to two hours trawling around the city to find a shop open to buy some. In the end we came up with nada and decided to just head along to the baths as you can actually rent them there handily enough. 

Sure there I am there now...these outdoor thermal baths are the stuff of Instagram worthy dreams. We had a slightly expensive drink and sat on the steps near the pools watching people take photo after 'candid' photo to try and capture the perfect one for Instagram it was a bit depressing to be honest. We got a fantastic day weather wise for the outdoor baths however it was insanely crowded in the chill out pool (other pools like the one behind me were for lane swimming) and honestly if you want a dip and to chill by a pool for the day you are better off heading to Margaret Island (Margit Sziget) which we did on the second day. 

I love Margaret Island, it has a massive water park on the man made island which is 2.5 kilometres long. You can also rent bikes and cycle around the island and there is a water fountain feature there which is timed to music which is just really cool to see. Plus, if you are on a budget if you get to the water park from 5pm to 8pm its waaay cheaper and the sun is still out and its way less busier so you are still going to be able to get a lounger. 

Definitely for me, Margaret Island is a must visit for those of you reading this. So many quirky cool bits to see around the island and perfect place to chill out. Its located right between Buda and Pest - yes the city is divided in two halves. It's on the river Danube and very near to the Parliament buildings so as you get the tram back over in the night time you will have the perfect view / angle to photograph the Parliament as the sun sets.  

For those of you interested in the history and culture of Budapest a visit to the Hospital in the Rock is highly recommended. It seems to be one of the lesser known attractions for want of a better word but it is so, so interesting and also for fans of conspiracy theories you will be interested in the history behind this place. If you are under 25 you simply need to show ID to get discounted entry. 

I don't have any photos of this place as you aren't actually allowed to take any but it was really interesting and great to get away from the heat of the day as you will be in an underground cave / bunker... I'll say no more. 

The Hospital in the Rock is perfectly located in the Castle District which leads us on to Fishermans Bastion and the cathedral which are also popular sights to see in Budapest. 

The view over the city alone is well worth the climb up to this location and the towers almost look like something out of a Disney movie. If you're feeling peckish after all this, visit Jamie's Italian nearby. Honestly the most delicious pasta and dessert we have had in a long time. This is one fo Jamie Olivers restaurants so it technically is a chain but you don't get that feel at all and the food was so tasty and reasonably priced for the quality. 

We really were blessed with the location of our Airbnb apartment as on Sunday as we strolled around looking for something to do we came across the Gozsdu street market which is well worth a visit to pick up some decent souvenirs. There is the usual tourist tat but there are so many unique handmade pieces also. 

Other sights to check off the list in Budapest would be places like Heroes Square and Vajdahunyad Castle. Luckily they are a stones throw from one an other so if you don't have to much time to spend in Budapest places like these are fantastic as the two above and Szechenyi baths are all within a little triangle which is basically ten minutes walk of each other. 

I've probably forgotten a million other things we did while we were away but those were the main ones and we were there for three days, four nights so we really did pack a good bit in along with nights out so it really is a city you can sightsee till your feet fall off, have some rest and relaxation in their thermal baths and then party until the early hours then do it all again. As I said previously I really would recommend Airbnb, it was the first time we had used it for both Prague and Budapest on the trip and we lucked out with absolutely gorgeous apartments. 

For €30 FREE travel credit on Airbnb simply click on the link to sign up. This post is in no way affiliated with Airbnb but we had such a good experience and want to share the perks they offer plus when you complete your stay Airbnb will give €15 towards our next trip so it's basically a win- win! 

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