The journey to Bermagui included some unexpected highlights. A six hour car trip from North East Victoria over the snowy mountains, winding our way through scenic surroundings and witnessing the final stages of a once filled snowy landscape.
Our son, who has never experienced real snow was awestruck by the patches of white on the side of the road. A quick stop to run, jump and absorb the crisp crunch of the snow was enough to quell the desire to play in snow. Even the ‘bigger kids’ enjoyed the experience. Another hour in the car and we arrived at Adaminaby in time to have a picnic lunch. Afaminaby is a small town located in the plains of the Snowy Mountains situated at over 1000 meters above sea level. The town is well known for its trout fishing and to highlight this they have a ‘big trout’ displayed in the park (located on the corner of Baker St and Denison St). If you enjoy your big icons around Australia then this is a great place to stop for a break.
The Big Trout at Adaminaby
All refreshed we set off for the final two and half hours of our remaining journey to Bermagui. The final stage of our trip was an easier drive with less winding although it was a steep decent at times. At around 3pm we arrived at Reflections Holiday Park in Bermagui.
Our Jayco Swan Camper
We had booked an ensuite site for our camper trailer at a great price of $491 for 9 nights. A quick set up and we were ready to explore this beautiful part of the NSW Sapphire Coast.
Interestingly enough I have never spent more than one night in Madrid. It tends to be a place to refresh after a long flight before setting off to other delightful places in Spain. One day I do hope to stay a little longer to delve deeper into the beauty of this magnificent city, it’s architectural prowess, culinary delights and it’s artistic elegance.
But for those like myself on a time poor budget it is possible to experience many of the delights this city holds.
Our most recent stopover in Madrid was after a 20 something hour flight from Melbourne that landed at Barajas Airport late at night. Fortunately immigration was very straightforward and we didn’t have to wait very long. We had booked a family room at the Crowne Plaza Madrid Airport for just AU$125. They offered a free shuttle service but we decided to jump into a taxi as we were exhausted. The taxi ride cost us €25 which was a little more than we’d expected. Mental note: always use the free service!
The minute we stepped inside the Crowne Plaza we knew we had got outstanding value for money. The reception was professional and the receptionist spoke fluent English and was very efficient. Upon arriving in our room we were so impressed. The decoration and furniture was classy and the room had all the necessities we needed after such a long journey. The next morning we were treated to an excellent choice at the breakfast buffet also included in our room rate. I would definitely stay here again if we had a late flight into Madrid.
After a good nights rest it was time to hit the streets of Madrid to discover for ourselves what this amazing city has to offer. We were able to catch a bus around 200 metres from the hotel that took us directly to Atocha train station. Atocha train station has a left luggage area located behind the tropical garden and turtle pond. Before you enter the left luggage room you need to place your bags on the security machine. Once through to the locker room you have a choice of three sizes; small – €3.10, medium €3.60 and large €5.20. We opted for a large locker for our four carry-on size bags. Make sure that you have some small change to pay for the locker, as the machine doesn’t take large notes.
We had to be back at Atocha station to catch a train to Calatyud at 3pm so I had extensively researched ideas for such a short visit to Madrid. It appeared that our best option was to do a self-guided walking tour. After extensively searching the internet I came across an excellent article on a website called Laurenonlocation.com. The link to the self guided walking tour can be found at: https://laurenonlocation.com/diy-madrid-center-sights-walking-tour/#
This fitted our time frame perfectly and allowed us to enjoy lunch at a restaurant along the way. The itinerary included all the major sites around Madrid and if you have more time it does give you the opportunity to visit some of the tourist attractions along the way. We took a metro train from Atocha to Sol (line 1) and then Sol to Opera (line 2) where the self guided walk starts. The directions were very simple to follow and it was great that they included the walking time and distance between stops. It was also fantastic that the walk concluded at Atocha train station so we didn’t have to catch anymore public transport around Madrid.
Our Favourite Parts of Madrid
There were so many highlights from the self guided walk it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few. Eating delicious pastries from the famous La Mallorquina was memorable and the shop has been serving these delicacies since the late 1800’s. We tried a Napolitana de crema as suggested and it didn’t disappoint.
I really loved the architecture of Madrid, especially the facades of buildings in the well known Plaza’s. It’s a great idea to stop for a refreshment and absorb your surroundings. If you are on a tighter budget then just sitting in the Plaza with a shop bought drink is just as good.
Then there are the iconic images of Madrid. El oso y el madrño (the bear and the strawberry tree) a statue that appears on a vast array of tourist merchandise. Tío Pepe a historic illuminated sign and kilometre 0 a little plaque and mile marker where all Spanish roads begin.
Whatever you decide to do in Madrid be confident it not disappoint. A big shout out and thanks to Lauren and her website, Laurenonlocation.com that allowed us to discover Madrid in such a short time.
What’s your favourite part of Madrid? I would love to hear other peoples stories and experiences.
No matter how many times you travel there are always improvements that can be made to make the trip run smoother. I have been inspired by so many awesome bloggers and also discovered many hacks myself and I am constantly testing out new ideas to make travel even more pleasurable.
I wanted to share some of my tips that I use on every trip so you can also enjoy stress free travel.
Unless you are an extreme minimalistic traveller (watch the videos where people just take a change of underwear) there are always things you can cut back on when packing. I have travelled for many years with carry-on only and I love the challenge of taking less each time I leave for a trip. The best time to reflect on how much you actually need is when you return home. Whilst unpacking make a note of what you wore and want you didn’t wear. Keep these notes for the next time you pack.
There are so many benefits to taking less, these include:
No extra charges for check-in luggage (on budget airlines)
Easier to move around on public transport
Zero chance of getting you baggage lost
Easier to repack each time you move to a new place (see my tip on packing cubes)
I also avoid taking anything sentimental or very valuable.
I am totally in love with packing cubes, they have made travelling so much easier for me. I have several different brands, some very cheap, some expensive and I’ve even sewn some myself. I wouldn’t recommend the really cheap ones though as they do not last long.
The reason I love packing cubes so much; they allow you to organise everything into different cubes so you don’t have to rummage through everything. They allow you to condense your clothing into a smaller space and it’s very quick to repack as you can leave things organised in the cubes for shorter trips.
Pack a large ziplock bag, it can be used to store your dirty clothes and also wet swimwear. The smaller bags are great for you cosmetics and toiletries and other small trinkets.
Keep a Copy of Your Itinerary
I usually create my own itinerary using Microsoft Excel with all the important details. I have three columns including the date, details and notes. The date is self explanatory, under details I include flight details, hotel names, train times etc and under notes I include booking numbers, phone numbers and terminal numbers for flights. I like to take a picture on my phone so that all the information is easily accessible at any time.
Imagine you are on your flight and the attendants come around with an immigration form that needs to be filled out. The last thing you want to do is fumble around in your carry on luggage for all those details that need recording. For many years I have created a small information card with all the necessary details.
For our next trip I have saved it on my phone in a secure file. I include the following details:
A picture of my passport (and other members of my family)
Address at our destination
Don’t forget to keep a pen in your personal bag so you can actually fill out the form!
Personal Items for the Flight
There’s nothing worse than having to squeeze past fellow passengers to access things you need from the overhead luggage compartments. I always carry a small personal bag that fits easily under the seat to store all my flight essentials. My flight essentials:
Toothpaste and toothbrush (toothpaste placed in after security)
Small drink bottle – fill it up after you go through security
Phone and power bank
When I travel on budget airlines where only one bag is allowed I place my personal bag inside my carry-on and simply take it out once I have boarded the plane.
Understand the Liquid Restrictions
At the time of writing there are still liquid restrictions for carry-on luggage. This includes liquids, gels and aerosols and they must be 100ml or less and able to fit into a one litre (or quart sized) clear bag. When you go through security you will need to place the liquids into one of the plastic tubs. Always make sure that they are easy to access so you don’t hold up the line. There are no restrictions for liquids placed into a check in bag.
Avoid Getting Overwhelmed
Sometimes this is easier said than done when you have just arrived in a strange place and you are extremely tired. Some things you can do to minimise getting overwhelmed:
Learn a few key phrases/words. Just knowing a few things will show the locals that you are trying to make an effort and they are more likely to offer assistance.
Have the details of your accommodation (also in the local language) with you at all times. If you get lost it’s easier for people to help you find your way back.
If you do start to feel overwhelmed find a place to sit down and grab a cold/warm drink so you can gather your thoughts and reassess the situation. Remember you are on holiday, you have the time to relax!
Let your Bank Know About your Travel Plans
Before setting off make sure that you ring your bank and credit card company to let them know when and where you are travelling. This avoids having your card or accounts suspended by the bank when you are overseas.
Preparation and Research
For me the preparation of a trip is almost as exciting as the actual trip. I like to find out the opening times and prices of the tourist attractions we wish to visit. I will research good restaurants and hotels before we leave so once we arrive we don’t have to use up precious time finding good places. I also research the local transport and find the cheapest way to travel so we don’t get confused by the different systems. It’s always lovely to read a few books or articles on some of the countries or places you are visiting, it just adds to the excitement.
And finally…….enjoy every minute, you are on holiday!