Posts Tagged ‘Steals and Deals’

‘Wicked’ & Wine!


Considering the fact that I have been diligently holed up for the past week, working voraciously on my presentations, papers, etc., I felt (semi)justified in going out a few evenings this week! After Wednesday’s Arsenal match, I needed another amazing event to top off Thursday night! I organized a trip to see ‘Wicked’ at the Apollo Victoria theatre (which is conveniently a stone’s throw away from the Victoria tube station) for my Social Policy & Development group. In total there were 16 of us and it was a blast! I happen to be a lover of musicals/plays/general live performances and Wicked definitely exceeded my expectations. The set, the lighting, the singing, the music — it was all amazing! Plus, because we were a large group of students, I managed to snag superb tickets for £17.50 per person (versus £45-£60 that they would normally be)!

Andy & I at the TheatreLadies
We all had such a blast, we’re hoping to plan Round 2 at the Gielgud Theatre in Soho to catch a showing of Avenue Q! If Wicked is playing at a theatre near you, I highly recommend it. It’s almost tied with the Lion King for amazingness!

Last night, after having too much fun on Wednesday and Thursday, my flatmate and I wanted to keep it low key with date three at Mildred’s in Soho. For the record: the risotto cake was out of this world! Whether you’re a veggie or a carnivore, it is definitely something that can be appreciated by all. After a few glasses of wine there, we met up with a group of folks at Gordon’s Wine Bar, apparently the oldest wine bar in London. Rudyard Kipling actually lived in the building back in the day! The place has a very cool vibe; it’s underground in what could best be described as a cave. It’s dimly lit, reasonably priced and a great place to mingle with a slew of different people! A must visit if you enjoy wine.

Gordon's Wine Bar

After three nights of fun, today is dedicated to finishing up my presentation for Monday and working on my paper for the coming week. Only a few more weeks of crazy intensity and then back to having a semi-normal schedule!

Hope everyone’s weekend is fantastic!

Signature Stamp - Shannon


My Name is Shannon and I’m a Bum.

I didn’t make it a point to get to bed at a decent hour last night and my alarm didn’t scream at 6:15A like it normally does. It’s currently 745A and I’m sitting in my kitchen, sipping home-brewed coffee, browsing Nordstrom’s website and organizing my online life (read: unsubscribing to emails from a million obscure websites that bombard my inbox) before leaving for England on Thursday. It feels like a three-day weekend today; the Monday after Labor Day, perhaps. It still hasn’t hit me that I have opted to be a jobless bum for an indefinite period of time. My schedule today is filled with the oh-so-important tasks of shopping, gymming, tanning, laundry and packing. It’s truly bizarre because I haven’t been jobless since I was 15ish and now my “job” is to be a super student and traveler extraordinaire (and blogger, of course). If that’s the case, I suppose I should hope to graduate with a Masters with distinction (or high distinction, if such a thing is humanly possible) and should return next year with the most amazing pictures ever! On the traveling front (to ease my bummy nerves), I do have trips to Germany, Malta, Italy & Greece nearly set in stone, and getaways to Scotland, Ireland and France are a must considering their proximity to England! In any case, before I start thinking about those fun-filled adventures, I’m off to Kohl’s to stock up on an array of socks and shoe inserts.

Don’t be jealous.

Hope everyone’s having an amazing day at work!


PS. As a side note, I tried Skype with my iPhone last night (with no phone plan or SIM card or anything!) and it worked like a charm! Provided you have internet access (and the Skype subscription — $30 a year to the US and Canada), you can call any landline or cell — CRYSTAL clear!

PPS. Buy one, get one 50% off at H&M! Download the coupon here.

Traveling Like A Princess {on a Pauper’s Budget!}

Half of my excitement for the upcoming year is rooted in the fact that I’ll finally get to travel to all of the places that I’ve dreamt about since the womb: France, Italy, Spain, Portugal… the list can go on and on. Of course, the downside of travel is that it costs money. Even if we snag an amazing deal on airfare or on train tickets, we’ll have to find a place to stay. After looking around, I’ve found loads of hostels that work well into a student budget. For €15-30 per night, we can stay in a fun little place and bond with fellow budget travelers. Cool. It works. It fits into our measly budgets & we’re able to see everything the world has to offer on a budget. Here’s the downside: whilst perusing hotels and hostels on Expedia (or some other amazing travel site) you see the real hotels — the ones that don’t involve 10 people to a room — and you’re enticed. You want to stay in a real place for a bit. A place where you don’t have to bring your own sleeping bag to ensure proper hygiene. I get it. Here’s an option that too often gets overlooked: vacation homes.

For example, in my idyllic world of amazing travels (aka Summer 2010), I will be traveling to the French Riviera for a little sunshine action; to Rome, for a little artistic inspiration, and to Greece, for a little cultural immersion. I’ve found awesome rentals on a couple of sites (although you can surely find a slew of websites that have similar offerings): craigslist and HomeAway. Both sites have a pretty amazing selection at totally affordable prices — in fact, they’re so affordable if you’re traveling in a group, I find it more cost effective that hostel living!

Here’s some pricing to give you an idea:

French Riviera:

A two bedroom apartment with internet, TV & Wi-fi has two beds (a bunkbed) and a double bed in the Master bedroom. Four people could comfortably fit in this place (and I’m sure you can squeeze 5 or even 6 with couch space) plus you have access to a kitchen, showers, and a balcony overlooking Nice.

€600 for the week! If you assume four people share the place (although you could have more!), you’re looking at €150 per week per person, or €21 per night (about $30)! Even though hostels are probably equivalent, you get the luxury of having your own shared flat or house, plus Wi-fi, TV, and all the amenities of a home!

Next stop — Rome, Italy:

A two bedroom, two bathroom apartment that sleeps five is a short walk from the Colosseum. This bad boy has a Master bedroom and then a second bedroom with three single beds plus satellite TV (not that you’ll be watching TV whilst in Roma). Plus there’s room in the living area with a sofa that could accommodate an extra visitor!

665 per week! With five people comfortably sharing this place, you’re looking at €133 per week per person, or €19 per night (around $27.50)! Check out this view and tell me it doesn’t beat a hostel!


Final stop — Athens, Greece:

Of course there are many Greek islands that would probably better be worth a gander, but we’ll use Athens as an example! This darling home, in a well-connected part of Athens, has three bedrooms and sleeps 8 people. It’s near the beach, the downtown area and close to loads of authentic Greek restaurants and hangouts. There’s a market nearby to purchase local fruits & veggies to cook in the kitchen.

Check out some of these shots:

{Worth €12.50 per night, right?!}

600 – 700 per week! At €700, with 8 people, we’re looking at €87 per week per person, or €12.50 per night ($18.13)! Seriously! What a steal. At that rate, you can have just six people occupy the huge place and still keep your costs super low.


Those places are pretty high up on my list, but I’ve looked for homes all over Europe and have managed to find some really amazing deals if you have a group to travel with! There are some really beautiful places to stay in Lisbon, Florence, Istanbul, Austria, etc., if you take the time to look!  Look for a place with Wi-fi (and some places even have phones with free calls to North America!) and you’ll be well connected so you can have fun during the day and work on your dissertation at night!

Note: Word on the street is that Greece and Portugal are two of the least expensive places to travel. Although the scenery is gorgeous, their respective economies have allowed us to snag some really amazing places on the cheap. On top of saving money on the stay, you’ll be able to save money on food, drinks and cultural excursions!

Happy travels — let me know where you’ll be heading this year!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Beijing & Shanghai for $799!


I had to seriously double-take on this one, guys! I am even more stoked than usual because my mom has a minor obsession with Asia and has always wanted to visit. If you, too, are looking for an inexpensive way to visit China, this is it!

Beijing & Shanghai 8-Night Package WITH AIR for $799 from San Francisco! 

Typically, the airfare alone costs this much, so this is a serious steal. You can spend 10 days and 8 nights exploring two of China’s premier cities. Here’s what you get:

* R/T nonstop air from SF to Beijing
*Intra-China flights and ground transportation
* Airline fuel surcharges
* Eight nights first-class accommodation in centrally located hotels (5 nights at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Beijing; 3 nights at the Holiday Inn Vista in Shanghai)
* Full buffet American breakfast daily
* Services of an English-speaking tour guide

This package is available November through April with the $799 departure dates on December 4th and January 8th. Even if you can’t go on those dates, you can book other dates for $100 – $200 more. Such a great deal. Click here for more details! 
Book by July 21st.

Happy Travels!

Signature Stamp - Shannon


Salon & Spa Steal

Hoss Lee Academy

Fellow students and others on a budget, listen up!

I found the most amazing place to check out if you don’t want to discontinue your hair and skin care, but don’t have the budget to allow for fancy extras. For my sister’s birthday, I took her in for a celebratory brow wax and facial. I found a local Salon & Spa Academy where students perform the services under a professional’s supervision. I have looked into these places before, but had never actually taken the plunge and visited. However, after looking at the disparity in pricing between the academy and a normal salon, there was a major savings! Depending on the service, you can easily save 40-50% (or more if you get packages) on your services! Tiffany and I visited Hoss Lee Academy in the greater Sacramento area and she snagged a brow wax for $10 (not a huge deal, but still) and a clay facial for $45! The basic facials run at $25 per session, the upscale European facials are $35 (total steal!) and the specialty facials (clay, anti-aging, etc.) are $45. She was pampered for a good hour and a half by a knowledgeable student and raved about her experience afterwards. In addition to the skin care, they have hair care services (cuts, color, highlights, styling, etc.), make-up services and body services (body scrubs, wraps, sunless tanning, and hot stone therapies).  On top of that, the salon is absolutely gorgeous (the picture above is an actual snapshot from our visit) and the staff is great, which added to my confidence in having services done at a school.

On top of that, after perusing their list of services, I found that they have a peel package — 6 glycolic peels + a complimentary Euro facial for $250! To put that into perspective, I paid $85 for ONE glycolic peel and it’s not unreasonable to pay up to $150 per. Getting six of them plus a facial for $250… beyond a steal! With having to save like a mad woman for the upcoming year abroad, I had written off professional skin care until 2010, but now I can afford to indulge once in a while. Check out Hoss Lee (also, click here to get a $50 gift certificate for $25!) or find another reputable academy in your area to save on fun stuff. Just because we would rather spend money on travel doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate an inexpensive facial once in a while, right?

Check out Hoss Lee’s Salon & Spa Menu if you’re local — they can save you a bundle if you’re looking for occasional pampering <3.

Signature Stamp - Shannon