Other

Social Media has taken over our lives. We post, hashtag, follow and un-follow, tweet, re-tweet, pin and re-pin and get high on the feedback. Is this all about self worth? Do we need constant adoration to feel good about our lives?

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Smythson Journals, La creme of Journals.
Remember the old black notebook, a worthy substitute!

Are small snippets of information all we can absorb, have we, in fact, turned into ‘skimmers’?  Are we also skimming over our lives? Imagine an entire day with out any Social Media. Is your life any better living in a state of constant connection? Do you feel relief when you finally put the phone own at the end of the day, many feel sleep is but a brief respite.

Instead why not try to reconnect yourself to you. Turn off the phone an hour early and go to bed. Every day write down your own life story. You read many books in a lifetime, one day you deserve to thumb through your own story. Happy or sad the entirety of it will be lost if you don’t record it. Not digitally, or in the cloud. Your life story needs to be tangible; somewhere you can see it each day, waiting for an addition or a re-read but never a re- edit. There is no need to cover up your feelings from the day before. You may have been venting or concocting a lie on paper, hoping to absolve yourself of responsibility. But it will be you. Moments of joy, irritation, frustrations and successes will be recorded, possibly for posterity.

A Journal can become the book of your life. You read hundreds of stories in your lifetime about other people. Why not write your own story? Writing down your daily doings can greatly reduce your stress level. Like telling someone a secret you weren’t supposed to tell, you’ve passed it on, suddenly you become lighter. Journaling is where you can let it all hang out, waiting for the moment when you are ready to read the story. You may never actually read the story, it may feel overwhelming, like hashing through thirty volumes of Ulysses. (!)

That was never the only point. Jotting it down is. Take a moment to relive your days, weeks and years. Take some time away from Social Media to look at your life, it will feel as mind bending as yoga! You will feel cleansed, pious, guilty. Thankfully there will be another chance to acknowledge that everyday brings a fresh start.

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Mont Blanc fountain pen. Heaven to write with but a Bic will do!

 

All pictures are Copyright 2013 Trendy Girl Travels

 (except where specifically credited to other people)

 

Sailing around the Croatian Islands was seriously fun, the scenery was amazing and for me, the most picturesque town was Komiza, on the Island of Vis. The water was so clear and the photo ‘ops’ endless. We had booked a prime mooring spot right next to the town beach.

The sandy side of Gusarica beach, Vis.

We picked up some groceries at the market then headed to the beach! The beaches in Croatia are mostly stony so get used to lumps under your towel. Europeans get this but Americans, I know you won’t be happy– but you are just going to have to deal! I toyed with  using my blow up raft on the beach but I felt like a complete idiot unless I was actually on it in the water! Bring little water shoes for getting down to the beach, I didn’t have them and was in constant pain every time I went in for a swim.

The stony side of the beach, (the beach shack is in the photo)

There was a super beach shack on Gusarica beach, we sat and had a beer and they also have snack food and sandwiches in season. While having our beer we got chatting to other sailors and found out that on the other side of Gusarica beach, just past the beer shack, it’s sandy! (Angry growling sound).

Endless photo op’s in Komiza.

Komiza is definitely a walking town. Walking the back alleys you will see wrought iron balconies from the 17th century and several fierce door plaques depicting fishermen and their endless toil with the sea. Although it is the most remote of the Dalmatian Islands and is thirty miles out to sea, Vis has been constantly populated since the 4th Century BC. Fertile soil and rich fishing have made Vis a desirable habitat.

balcony WM

Striking stone masonry and wrought iron balconies can be seen in Komiza

Pre 1990 Vis was a military base and has only been open to the public since Croatia broke away from Yugoslavia. Vis seems so unspoiled: vineyards, olive trees and loads of wild herbs grow in abundance on the Island and traffic is almost nonexistent.

Fierce Plaques decorate the doorways

Fig trees and vineyards are everywhere, they have two local wines, try the red Plavac and a dry white Vugava, somehow when you drink the local wine when you are actually there it’s the best thing you ever tasted, even if its not!!

Fig trees frame the view

Take the time to wander in out of little boutiques and stop at cafes for a glass of wine or a coffee. Take a walk up to the top of Mount Hum, or take the path just past town that hugs the coast and leads to Aquarius, a cool Beach Club and Kamenice beach. FYI, if you go to Aquarius at night take a flashlight; the path is pitch black. Part of our party went to the club in the evening and had a great time, we went during yacht week and it was a zoo so be warned.

The path to Aquarius and Kaminence Beach

The beaches all along this path are secluded and spectacular. You can get drinks and food at Aquarius in season but take towels and water in case the restaurant closed. You can also buy food in town, right by the harbor, at the small supermarket and take a picnic. I also had my beach umbrella that I bought in Split.

Aquarius Beach

Right by our dock there were two amazing ‘dodo head’ statues on human bodies–(well bird heads of some sort)! There was some kind of local celebration going on around them, I tried everywhere to get info on them, and have contacted the Mayor of Vis to learn more about the statues, if anyone can tell me what they represent I’d love to know.

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Local festival on the Wharf

As the sun started to get lower in the sky we sat out on the boat with cocktails enjoying the celebration. One of the great things about a sailing trip is your deck always has a great view!

13 Vis Komiza sunset WM

Sunset, Komiza, Vis

For dinner there were quite a few choices. I really wanted to try Senko but it was fully booked. Senko is a small stone cottage/restaurant owned by Chef Senko Karuza. The restaurant sits high above the sea and is a total experience, be prepared for a very long dinner with many courses of traditional Vis food. Everything they prepare is grown locally. Our other choices were in town; we only had one night and went to Tavern Jastozera.  Even though we could walk from our boat, we asked our Captain, Luka, to ‘dinghy us in’ as the approach to the restaurant has a dramatic entrance under the floor joists that creates a sort of tunnel effect.

approach to jastozera

Entrance to Tavern Jastozera

The food was good; Lobster was on the menu and it was time to indulge. All the usual Croatian ‘tourist fare’ was on the menu. Squid ink risotto and green iceberg salad with tomatoes and cucumber, along with seafood spagetthi. I loved the atmosphere but wished we had gotten a reservation at Senko to try the true Croatian food, or even try next door at Tavern Bako, where although they didnt have the view, I heard the food was not as expensive and really good.

15 a better Jaz pan

Open air dining at Jastozera

Amazing views and fab panorama, starry skies and Lobster– ok, I guess it wasnt so bad, I’ll try to remember the good things!! What’s wrong with me…Senko Senko Senko…..

0a vis harbour closer WM

Also right on the wharf, there is an amzing gelato shop. Surprisingly we had great Gelato on all the Islands. On all the Islands it’s really a good idea to get a mooring spot at the marinas and docks close to the town you are visiting. As you don’t want to constantly use the dinghy it’s great to have all the shops and access to water right there. One of the worst things about a sailing holiday is having to restrict water if you dont get a good mooring–this is a very popular destination, make sure you or your charter company have made reservations at all the popular spots!

-Leaving Bay sesula wheel WM

You are going to love this Island, I wish we had stayed here for days, actually a week would have done nicely. Vis was the most unspoilt of the Islands and Komiza was the prettiest town on Vis. There was so much we didn’t get to do, include go on a cross Island adventure to Stonica, the most FAB beach and cove ever. We ended up going to Stonica via the sea–check out the next post for our next stops, the Blue Grotto at Bisevo Island and Stonica, Vis, sheer heaven!

 

All pictures are Copyright 2013 Trendy Girl Travels

(except where specifically credited to other people)

 

 

 

Venice

BY 2 February 2013 Eat, Other, Venice

365 Degrees Piazza San Marco.

From land to water, paths traversed will inspire your imagination, transporting you step by step into another era.

Venice forces you into a time warp. Normally I would prefer a getaway with a cross between more trendy dining and dancing venues with just a dash of romance thrown in.  However, It’s impossible to escape romance here, this place just begs you to dress up for dinner, smooch on a bridge and spend most of the afternoon having lunch and drinking rosé wine. You just have to go with the flow.

Dinner Cips Club, Cipriani Hotel

Before we get to the fun stuff its nice to actually know Venice as a landmass. I’ve been a few times and am surprised that I have not got to grips with how Venice sits within its surroundings. Lets start with an Ariel view. Imagine flying over any coastline with a thin outer strip of land almost enclosing an inland bay, in this case called a lagoon. The lagoon (bay) is large, 210 square miles. Take the Jersey Shore! (Very loosely imagine this but it is a similar ‘lay of the land’). There is the main landmass, the open bay, then the strip of beach enclosing the bay that divides the bay from the sea. Venice is an island divided into two parts by the Grand Canal, sitting within the lagoon.  Venice was built on a sandy spit in the lagoon on sand, mud and wood pilings (now petrified).

How do you get to Venice if it’s an island? Travel Guru answers the question. Most fly, and then use some form of water transport to get there. The Airport is small. When you arrive there no need to get a taxi. You can walk to a covered walkway about three minutes from the airport to the waterbus or water taxis.  Depending on where you are staying it may not make sense to take a ton of luggage.  This is a great town for dressing up but if you are bringing several suitcases make sure to pick a hotel with on site water taxi access so you can be dropped at your door! I still have bad memories of a girl’s trip where we schlepped many bags up and over the Rialto Bridge.

Water taxis, Venice

There are several other ways to get to Venice. You can hire a car and park on Piazzale Roma, in the artificial TronchettoIsland. From there you can go to the historic town and San Marco square either by foot or by the No.2 vaporetto, the public water bus. The only reason to do this is that you are going somewhere else after Venice very early before the car hire is open. You can also get a train. There are many options here from different cities for instance from Paris you can get the Thello overnight service, which also goes to Milan. This train deposits you right near the Grand Canal at the station Venizia Santa Lucia. Personally I am a road trip person but you can’t beat a train for convenience.

Bus stops look better here!

FYI there are other Islands in the Lagoon with accommodation and a more ‘fishing Village’ aspect. If someone had told me I would have stayed around longer to experience the contrasts. Look up Mazzorbo, a quiet island with a thriving vineyard. Try the Venissa Ristorante Ostello it’s a six room locanda (guest house) with a completely different feeling to the bustle and glamour of Venice. Apparently the food and atmosphere are both fab. You can get to Mazzorbo in 35 minutes from Venice on the LN vaporetto (waterbus) from Fondamente Nove.

Taxi approaching Ca Nigra Hotel

The fun thing about Venice is the endless exploring, mostly on foot ie; walking or by public transport, (boats). If you see yourself endlessly being carted about by water taxis and gondolas think again. Each water taxi is 60 euros no matter how far and each gondola 160 euros for a loop that lasts about 40 mins. We persuaded a gondolier to take us in the direction of our hotel, in a straight line, for 40 mins this costs way more. The water buses are reasonable about 6 euros for a ride and you can get passes …but in August they are packed so we mostly walked and splashed out for taxis in the evenings.

Exiting water taxi at Hotel Ca Nigra

Again, this is seriously a ton of walking, even if you think you are in superior shape do not wear flip flops or after several hours pounding the pavements, your lower back will go out.  As I like to look ‘together’ whether I am going to The Chanel Store or a back street Osteria, trainers seem a touch gauche… as do Teva sandals. I sported Todd’s and still suffered. Good Luck. However, If you chose to stay close to St Marks square you avoid the walking but pay more for a hotel and will never make it off the tourist route to the back alleys and back water ways, which is the whole point of Venice.

Stunning back alleys!

There are so many choices of places to stay in Venice. If we had been alone we would have stayed at the Hotel Cipriani the Gritti Palace, or the Danieli. On this trip we were a bunch of friends and there was no need to spend the cash. The prerequisite for us was a balcony in our room and an area to sit by the water.

I found a perfectly nice hotel, Hotel Ca Nigra and managed to reserve my room with a balcony that had a direct drop into the canal.

Hotel Ca Nigra

The rooms were very clean and had a simple Venetian atmosphere with a modern twist here and there. Ca Nigra was a bit quirky and a little lightly staffed, particularly at breakfast– but I just had coffee, which was Italian and seriuosly good. Ca Nigra is also in a great area for cool local restaurants and shops but quite a walk from St Marks Square, (San Marco).

On every trip I constantly scope out Hotels mostly first for position and ambience. Later in the trip I spotted a perfect option right on the water with a terrace for lunch.  I never made it inside but Palazzo Stern is reasonably priced and worth investigating. It is located next to Ca’ Rezzonico water bus stop.

Water alleys!

The back alleys and small waterways were worth the miles we walked. Small boutiques, galleries and restaurants are literally around ever corner. This is really the best part of a trip to Venice, every turn led to a new finding!  Canals are the major arteries, the water alleys connect everything but buses don’t use them, only the taxis.

Canals have stunning, longer, wider views than the alleys

You can see a good part of Venice in three days, less if you skip the alleys and just settle for the glitzy areas and a couple of museums, that would be a pity though. Just be careful if you set out late in the morning, quite a few shops close from 12.30 to around 4 pm, which is quite a chunk of time. If you are coming from the states bear in mind you will be seriously tired in the morning- hellooo jet lag!

Girls in Venice, contrasts of femininity!

Best to get up lateish, have coffee on the terrace overlooking the canal, do one museum or point of historical interest somewhere between 10.00 and 2.00, (you have made a reservation of course), have a late lunch, (again you have a reservation) and then head to the shops when they open. Then before heading to the Hotel either grab coffee at a cafe, or perhaps have a cocktail overlooking the canals or lagoon. Go home to change and head out for cocktails and a late dinner. You will be up till about 2.00am. Be warned in the summer the tourists are everywhere and it’s is very busy past noon.

Arriving for lunch, Hotel Cipriani

Hate to nag but you must have reservations for the museums and good restaurants in the peak season–even the local type.

If you do have any energy take a run around Venice in the early morning, it’s the best time to see it without hoards of people blocking the views. Fill up with a deserving lunch with unbelievable pasta at one of our local lunch spots, Ostaria Da Riobo, sit outside by the canal.

Rosé wine and lunch till 4.00

Again, do plan ahead for museums as its almost impossible to get same day on line reservations. An inside tip–if like me just for once you couldn’t deal with being totally organized, I heard from a reliable source that you can get ‘same day’ tickets for some museums by lining up at the central museum offices as soon as they open.

Ticket office is under the arches.

Look for the office under the archways opposite the Basilica in St Marks Square, (all the way across– this is a huge square) and hope for multiple entry tickets. Apparently this can work well depending on the time you get there and availability. We instead decided to line up 8.45 am for San Marco Basilica as we had set out fairly early before the crowds.

St. Marks Church and the Doge’s Palace

San Marco church opens at  9:30-17:00 Monday through Saturday and 14:00-17:00 on Sundays.   It took awhile but luckily just as we were loosing interest a guide turned up, scoured the line and took people who wanted to do a paid, guided tour to the front. Needless to stay we went with her, it was about 15 euros more per person and well worth it. Sometimes things work out. BTW–Wear clothes that cover your knees and shoulders or they may not let you in!

Balcony view St. Marks church.

Above is the view from the balcony of St Marks Basilica. In between these columns at the edge of St Marks Square convicts used to be executed. Locals avoid walking through the middle. So did we.

Lagoon blue waterways in the mid-day sun.

After the sightseeing and then some heavy shopping we decided to get a Gondola home and did not want to go on one of the usual ‘loop’ routes. The Gondolier we hired was fit and young (!) he took us in a straight line towards the Hotel for double the rate (40 mins max). This is not an easy transaction as they hate to do this– mostly because they have to come back for 40 mins and they may not get a ride ‘off route’.

Personally I just couldn’t get my head around ending up where we started with no progress made! It was also time for a cocktail (which can make you a wee bit grouchy) so our Gondolier thoughtfully stopped at a local restaurant he knew, grabbed us a bottle of prosecco and some plastic cups, heaven! Many Gondoliers learn their trade from a family member, ours actually went to Gondola school and now owns his own Gondola which cost him about 35,000 Euros. Every year he takes January off and totally loves his job. Very cool. Mind you, nothing beats zipping about in a wood trimmed motor launch!

Gondolas take quite a few people

After making it most of the way back to the Hotel in the Gondola, we walked the last few alleys with a skip in our step. Tonight we were going to drink Bellini’s and eat Carpaccio (rumored to have both started here) and indulge even further on the most fabulous chicken liver risotto, at the Bar/ Restaurant Harry Cipriani. This is, for me, the Number 1 bar in Venice. Exciting stuff. Note about booking this bar. Book ages in advance and also call and make a point of contact and for god sake get a name. INSIST on an email conformation or you are screwed. This is the trickiest place in Venice to tie down to a reservation, particularly if you want to eat in the bar.

Heading out for dinner, where to eat next?

The bar At Harry’s really is a scene but do understand there is no view; the view is of the people who have managed to secure a reservation at the height of the season. Some dont’s… Don’t go on a past memory from when you were with your sister on a binger (even IF your mother was there–long story). Don’t go with 10 people. Don’t go in an un cool outfit. This is Venice you can go for it–dress up.

Cocktail hour!

I had remembered the chicken liver risotto correctly but NOT the size of the bar. Somehow my brain crossed the downstairs bar with the upstairs restaurant in an uprescedented mind merge.  I thought the bar was bigger. It’s very, very small. You don’t want to go upstairs. It’s all about the bar. However the bar (staff) couldn’t handle 9 Americans at once wanting Bellini’s– and damn it… one irritating small woman wanting a Cosmo! Truth is we overwhelmed the bar and the Italians around us were looking sort of stiff (and they can be VERY disapproving).

We moved on to the Hotel Monaco where we had a lovely lunch the day before. As we departed the cry went up at Harry Ciprianis, “how could they give up that table, god forbid! These Americans”. ANYWAY we know when to cut and run and felt no remorse. Hotel Monaco is right next door to Harrys Bar and has one of the best terrace views in Venice. As we knew the Maitre D’ he waltzed all 10 of us to the front rails just as the sun was staring to go down. Unheard of on a crowded night at peak season–:)

Unreal Balsamic vinegar

The food here is fab but the balsamic vinegar literally stands up in a rounded mound on the plate, it was truly divine. If you can get past the vinegar and bread you may have room for the yummy food.

Limoncello, St Marks Square

A must do is ordering limoncello after dinner at some random bar close to the lagoon in St Marks square. A little pricey for 10 people, 350 euros actually, but what fun.

St Marks square pm, from the water

The next day some of our party made it to the Doge’s Palace but I had done this before and as choices had to be made– I chose to return to the Peggy G museum. As far as museums go in Venice , for me the Peggy Guggenheim Villa and Museum is the Number 1 thing to see.  Thats a tough pick in Venice but this museum takes you right in, making you feel like you could have lived here and lived the ‘Peggy life’, hanging out with relatively current artists and having a total blast–no problem. (Sadly no time in this life that’s for sure…)

This ‘exuberant’ sculpture (it was hard to find the right word), is titled ‘The Angel of the City’ its definitely my favorite at the museum. Looking out over the canal it commands the best position. 🙂

Shopping in the city is easy. As you wander through the city look for hand made paper goods, hand made masks for all the balls you go to (!) and great hair clips. Obviously all the big name stores are here but in the back alleys there are some great custom jewelery stores and tiny boutiques. There is no point naming them, you have to discover them for yourself, that’s the fun part!

Paper goods, look for marbled note books!

Murano glass and lookalikes are everywhere– not my cup of tea unless you are going for a red glass chandelier to fit into a minimalist decor. Good luck finding it. You can find tasteful tumblers like those pictured below but you have to hunt.

Murano glass tumbler

Moving on towards our ultimate dinner experience we boarded the boat in the early afternoon to The Cipriani Hotel. Note: although this hotel was originally a Cipriani family establishment it is now a member of the Orient Express Group.

The Cipriani launch

Hotel Cipriani is for me, the number 1 place to stay. Old world Venice, oozing refined glamour.  To some it can appear dated but it has great ambience. Remember, when you stay here you are away from the city. Just a quick complementary ride away but you are not right on the main Island. Which, quite honestly actually feels like a blessing.

This Hotel exudes ambience and I was definitely in love. Yes it’s a bit dated here and there but that’s truly part of the charm. We were a bit put out as we arrived too early for the bar situated at the enterance so we wandered about the property exploring. A really cool chef on break saw us and guided us to the pool bar.

Pool, Hotel Cipriani

He took us through a myriad of winding back hallways, (more chance to observe the inner workings of the Hotel), then just as we arrived, annoyingly, the pool bar was just closing in anticipation of the other bar at the entrance opening …angry growling sound. However we persuade the staff to serve us a couple of bottles of wine and sat down before dinner to admire the late evening sun and enjoy the ambience. The pool sits under a distant canopy of buildings and closer canopy of manicured shrubbery. The bar area adjoins the pool with indoor and outdoor terrace seating.

A moment in time, Cips Club, Venice

When you consider where you are and how you arrived (water taxi though the canals then the Ciprani launch across the lagoon) the next step is to contemplate your upcoming dinner on the deck at Cips Club overlooking Venice, across the lagoon. This is the number 1 spot for dinner on a fine evening. If you do this right dinner will be perfectly timed to happen during sunset and I guarantee you feel pretty damn special and rosy about the cheeks. Go. I loved the Cipriani logo toweling hand towels in the loo. I loved the snack with the wine. I loved that I left my scarf there and had to come back for lunch. I loved this place!

The perfect sunset and perfect view, Cips Club.

Inevitably you will end up boating along the Grand Canal. It seperates Venice and can be a pain to cross but your photo op’s are endless. Even if you are on a super quick trip make sure you take a ride down the Grand Canal to St Marks Square and sit at a café and watch the people go by.

The Grand Canal!

Pick a spot close to the Lagoon for the best people watching.

Front row seat, cafe on St Marks Square

And get a gelato!! Yummy!

With those of you with more time, some of the best hangouts are back in the alleys.

Ae Oche Pizzeria and Cucina

We ate at Ae Oche Pizzerie and Cucina, which was good, truthfuly it was mostly because of the Osteria and bar it was next to. It was jammed every night with clientele spiling out onto the street. So fun. On their business card under Osteria da Filo- is the slogan -wine’ n’ music-. So fun and all the locals go.

Osteria da Filo

Leaving Venice wasn’t easy but as we were heading to Croatia to sail the Islands we weren’t feeling too sad, plus the water taxi ride across the lagoon to the airport was an event in itself.

Arrivederci, Venice

Don’t forget to buy ready made Bellini’s at the airport, they come in various sizes. I think I’ve seen same brand in America too. The small ones purchased in pairs make great gifts for those who didn’t get to go!!

The larger size Bellini

All pictures are Copyright 2013 Trendy Girl Travels

(except where specifically credited to other people)

xxx

I must admit, I just didn’t get it.

For months, I watched the Social Media space from the sidelines—trying to make sense of why people cared what a best friend might be having for breakfast. But then it dawned on me: Social Media isn’t what you read, it’s what you share.

While  I understand Facebook’s value, it’s both Twitter and Instagram that have really captured my full attention. In limiting how much (Twitter) and what (Instagram) can be posted, these two platforms encourage a specific focus. As a travel writer, this has has been a godsend as it has forced me to capture the most pertinent information—no fluff allowed.

In addition, it exposes me to other sources of information and viewpoints. No one wants to read a stale blog—views differ and shift. Sure, I have lots to share, but I also can benefit from other’s experiences!

Above all, these Social Media platforms have provided another means by which I can share my insights. The reader who wants the nitty gritty is best served through this blog, but for tidbits and snapshots, Twitter/Instagram should be the go-to medium. And really, the three are complements to one another—they enhance each other.

Anyway, enough said! I highly suggest signing up for a Twitter, Instagram and Pintrest accounts (if you don’t have one, that is). Start reading and contributing pertinent information on Social Media websites. It’s a great way to express and expose oneself to both alternate (and still valid!) viewpoints. Besides, it’s the way of the future. Better to get onboard quickly or be totally left behind.

A couple of weeks ago I introduced the Chase Ultimate rewards program. This post profiles the Chase Ink Bold card.

Card: Chase Ink Bold

As I continue to say over and over again, the flexibility of the Chase Ultimate Rewards points is unparalleled. Your points are fungible and can be transferred with ease into a variety of different rewards programs (airline, hotels and Amtrak). The Ink Bold is another card that earns these great points.

The Ink Bold earns ultimate rewards points as follows:

  • 1X points on general purchases (no limit);
  • 2X points on hotels and gas (per $1 on the first $50,000 spent annually at gas stations and for hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel);
  • 5X Points on office supplies and utilities (per $1 on the first $50,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services).

The first three bullets are self explanatory, but the last requires some further examination–as this is the real value proposition of this card. I use my Ink Bold to pay all of my utilities charges, including my AT&T iPhone plan, my Verizon iPad plan, and my cable, electric, and water bills. Since I’m single, I generally spend about $200-250/month on these items, which means I’m earning up to 1250 ultimate rewards points every month. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but over the course of the year it amounts to enough for a one-way domestic miles redemption on United (12,500 miles). Think about how many points you’d earn with utility spending for a family of five!

Alternatively, you can transfer the points to Amtrak, and you’ll have enough for 3 one-way tickets up and down the North East corridor (at 4,000 each). Another option would be to transfer to Hyatt for a free night (starting at 5,000 points) or to Southwest (where 12,500 points gives you around $200* of value).

* Southwest’s rewards program doesn’t offer fixed-price mileage/point redemptions; instead the number of points a flight costs varies directly with the actual dollar value of the ticket. To find out how many points you need, be sure to check out Southwest.com before transferring your points, but a quick estimate can be had by multiplying the current ticket price by 60.

For those people with small businesses, this card is built for your needs. Office supply store purchases also earn 5X points/dollar spent. It shouldn’t be a surprise where I buy my printer ink. One thing we haven’t mentioned is the 2X on gas purchases as well.

This card costs $95/year to keep. A lot of people will cancel after the first year, but it really makes sense to pay the fee and keep the card. The truth is that the points you earn are worth more than the cost to keep the card so it makes sense. If you’re like me and spend around $250/month on utilities, the 15,000 points you earn in a year is easily worth around ~$300 in value and maybe even more. I know I transferred my points to United to redeem for a last minute ticket that was currently selling for $650.

Note: it’s important to note that the Ink Bold is a charge card, meaning the balance must be paid off in full every month. For those who want a credit card instead, go for the Ink Plus. The benefits are exactly the same. The only difference between the two cards is their charge versus credit status.

Also, the Ink Bold is a business card. What most people don’t realize is that nearly everyone has a legitimate ‘business,’ but they simply do not know it. I, for one, help people book award flights for a fee. That is my business. When applying, just use your social security number in the place of  a ‘tax ID.’ I confirmed with Chase that this is completely kosher and is something many people do. Since it’s business card, it may not be for everyone, but for those who do have a need, this is definitely a card you want in your wallet.

Sign-Up Bonus: Chase Ink Bold

While the real value comes from using the card for your everyday spending, the Ink Bold offers a generous signup bonus! As of now, if you sign up for the Ink Bold, you get 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points. In addition, the first annual fee of $95 is waived. To get the points, you need to be sure to spend $10,000 in 3 months.

The $10,000 number my have some people worried. But if you have some big purchases coming up, hold off until you are approved for the Ink Bold. It’ll be worth it. Those 50,000 points that you’ll receive are enough for a one-way ticket in business class to Europe on either United or British Airways (or a roundtrip to London in BA economy). Alternatively, those points can be transferred over to Hyatt for 2 free nights at their top-tier hotels, like in the Maldives, which retail for over $1000/night.

If you’re wondering, I did something different with my 50,000 points. I transferred some to Amtrak to travel cross-country by train. Having flown so damn much, I decided it was time to see the country from the ground.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be detailing specific redemptions that maximize the value of your ultimate rewards points–program by program. I’ll also be reviewing the Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Freedom card, which can be cleverly used to build your ultimate rewards point balances even further!

Feel free to contact me at travelguru@planelypoints.com if you have any questions!

Who Are We?

BY 3 December 2012 Other

There are lots of blogs out there. Why use this one? Who do we appeal to?

Lone Tree, Harbor Island, Bahamas

Trendy Girl Travels is what it says. We definitely follow trends that are already out there but what will set us apart is presenting honest information that is neither slated by advertising nor influenced by the establishments covered. What you read here will be red-hot, useable, and provide current information based on our actual experiences.

View from Room, Little Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall, UK

We will cover any area and any experience, but this blog won’t exactly be “roughing it.” Even if we were to cover a camping trip, it would have to be a certain camp site with known amenities nearby. The wilderness is great so long as you can get out whenever you’ve decided you’ve had enough (and in some cases the quicker you can exit the better)!

L’Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle, Haut-Var, France

But generally, this blog won’t talk about camping trips. Instead, our mission will be to answer the question that I have been asked more times than I can remember: “if we were to visit one of your suggested hot spots and we could only do one or two of your favorite things—what should we do?” Where to go, spend, save, (and sometimes, what to ignore) is what I know best.

Elbow Beach, Mount Pleasant, Bermuda

My methods are not elaborate. I follow my gut. But that isn’t to say that I don’t know what I’m talking about. As a former Magazine Editor, I’ve learned to squeeze information from every source then triple cross-reference the info until being absolutely sure it’s worth doing. The final step is actually visiting and exhausting every option once you are there. This combination almost always ends up delivering a great experience—the good news is that I hope to have done all the legwork for you!

Lunch, Eden Roc Hotel, Cap De Antibes, France

Gathering information, breaking it down, and choosing what’s best is my forté.

Pool, Four Seasons, Hong Kong Island

Whether you are embarking on a big vacation or simple day out, you might as well make each experience count.

Gravetye Manor, West Hoathly, West Sussex

My family, friends and followers keep on telling me that I have to write this stuff down. I do. But recently I realized that it makes far more sense to write it here than in a notebook. The fact is, as a result of my endless quest for the “perfect spots,” I have lots to share.

Katikies Pool, Santorini, Greece

In the last 10 years I have covered so much territory, both close to home and far away. Luckily I have some help. ‘Travel Guru’ writes tips for the blog and delivers valuable information on how to acquire miles/points that can (1) save you money on the trips you have been meaning to take and (2) make possible those that have seemed out of reach.

Niki Beach, Eden Roc Hotel, St Barths

I look forward to sharing my travels and my insights in this blog. There are still many past insights to catch up on, and there are still many places to go, gather info from and to pass on through Trendy Girl Travels. Keep checking back to the site as it will take awhile to fully load up the blogs!

Stay tuned for my for my first trip report coming this weekend: New Zealand.

For daily updates, snapshots and insights as I find them, follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@trendygirltravz).