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Money Archives - foXnoMad

Category: Money

Is A Granada Card (Still) Worth The Cost? [UPDATED]

granada card

Many cities around the world like Dublin or entire countries like Jordan have discount tourist cards, giving you access multiple major local attractions for a flat fee. Often they’re a balance between savings and time – that is, you get admission to a number of interesting places but limited time to take advantage of them all. It’s those practical considerations that make or break a discount card.

A lot has changed since I first reviewed the Granada Card so here’s everything you need to know, updated.

What Is A Granada Card And What Does It Get You?

There are 7 varieties of Granada Card, the primary differences between them being how much of the Alhambra they include, if at all. Essentially, the base Granada Card Ciudad (which doesn’t include the Alhambra entrance) is 35.50 Euro, the full card with entrance to all the Alhambra palaces is 43 Euro.

alhambra night

You can see a full chart of what each of the 7 cards offers but for first time visitors to the city on short trips (3-5 days) the standard Granada Card is the optimal option since it includes most popular options and a day trip to the Alhambra. For longer or more sightseeing-intense visits then the Monumentos Andalusies is only 3 Euro (43 total) more which includes sites in a wider area around Granada.

Although the Alhambra options vary between palaces and day versus night visits, all of the Cards will get you into the major sites, include 9 bus rides in the city, 1 hop-on-off tour, and are all valid for 5 days.

Breaking Down The Costs – Granada Card vs. Purchasing Tickets Individually

Let’s first begin by looking at the costs of a Granada Card to see if it makes sense for your budget in the first place to buy one. Assuming you intend on visiting all of the sites it allows you in, here’s a breakdown of the individual costs:

  • Alhambra, including Nasrid Palace: 14 Euros
  • Science Park Museum: 7 Euros (11 Euro for BioDomo entry)
  • Monastery of Cartuja: 4 Euros
  • Granada Cathedral: 5 Euros
  • Royal Chapel: 5 Euros
  • Monastery of San Jeronimo: 4 Euros
  • 9 Bus Rides included (10 Euro for a 10-ride pass)
  • Total: 49 Euros (vs. 40 Euros for the 5-day Granada Card)

granada cathedral

Take off the Nasrid Palace (but honestly, you shouldn’t) and the Granada Card with a day visit to the Alhambra is 36.50. What’s changed the most over the years in the Granada Card is that 6 of the 7 now include the Alhambra in one form or another.

Are Visiting That Many Sites Practical?

In case you don’t have 96 hours in Granada, I would organize the sites in this order:

  • Day 1: Granada Cathedral, Royal Chapel, and Monastery of San Jeronimo.
  • Day 2: Alhambra
  • Day 3: Science Park Museum and Monastery of Cartuja

granada spain streets

Aside from the Alhambra, the rest can be split across multiple days if you have more time in the city. The only site that absolutely requires you to be on time (and early) is the Alhambra and when booking your Granada Card, you’ll have to schedule an entry time. It’s an easy mistake to make as southern Spaniards are hardly the most punctual people on the planet but consider the Alhambra an exception to the rule.

How To Get A Granada Card

granada city hall

There are a few ways and locations where you can get a Granada Card. One way is to swing by the Granada City Hall in Plaza del Carmen (pictured above) a day before you plan to start using it. (Say hi to them from me while you’re there.) You can also purchase a Granada Card online up to three months in advance here.

One Of The Few Practical Buy-One-Get Many Cards In Europe

Having been to Granada three times now thanks to it being voted Best City to Visit in 2017 and 2018, I’ve come to appreciate how logical it is to get a Granada Card if you’re a first-time visitor. It both saves your money, time in lines, but also has some options like Cartuja you might not have otherwise considered. The Granada Card is one of the few across Europe that saves you money and can be practically used within the time allotted. For travelers who’ve already been, I recommend visiting these Game of Thrones filming locations nearby.

The short truth is, many of these cards around the world require you to visit a large number of sites in a short time for them to make sense financially. The Granada Card on the other hand, like the city itself, is a nice blend of price and pace – quite appropriate for this region of Spain.

This is an updated version of a post originally written in 2012.

TipFox Tells You How Much To Tip At Restaurants, Bars And More Worldwide On Your Phone

tipfox app

One of the most satisfying moments of an international trip is sitting down at a restaurant for your first meal. A moment that’s often followed by a confusing calculation of how much tip to leave for your server? Do you need to leave a tip when paying with credit card? Do you even tip at all?

TipFox is an app I developed for Android and iOS to answer those questions for you,at restaurants, bars, and for other common services.

wifox ios app store     wifox google play android
Covered By Country

From the map view TipFox shows you whether or not tips are generally expected, rounded up, not common, or just used in certain circumstances, all at a quick glance. From there, you can tap to get more information about a country’s tipping practices at restaurants, bars, for specific services (e.g. tour guides), taxis, plus descriptions on tipping etiquette as well on the details page.

There’s also a comment section to ask questions, add information, and connect with other travelers.

Other TipFox Features

TipFox is designed to be straightforward so you can spend more time enjoying your meal, guided tour, or haircut, without the pressure of worrying about not leaving an adequate tip. As a traveler you want to be polite and not under-tip staff who may rely on those wages. At the same time, it’s important to not be taken advantage of by a taxi driver who’s counting on the fact you might not know that tipping is an uncommon practice locally.

tipfox app

Within the app, information is included for services like hairdressers, guided tours, hotel staff, and more. TipFox is also continuously updated when you have an Internet connection, works completely offline, and can find where you are if you allow location services.

wifox ios app store     wifox google play android
Available On Android And iOS

TipFox is available for download for iOS on the App Store and on Android on Google Play for $1.99. Access to the information within the TipFox and all updates are free for life. (iOS users there are also discounts available if you’ve already using any of my other apps). I want to help make the mechanics of traveling easier for you, so you can focus on traveling. You can let TipFox worry about of how much to leave on a check – giving you more time to do everything else.

travel smarter,
-Anil

These $50 Blitzwolf BW-FYE4 Are Everywhere On Amazon And They’re Not Too Bad

Blitzwolf is clearly dumping their advertising budget into the BW-FYE4 wireless earbuds because they’re all over Amazon right now. I picked up a pair and as you can see in the video above, they’re surprisingly good for $50 – ideal for travelers who want very, very, small headphones but don’t want to advertise “I’ve got Apple Airpods” everywhere in the world.

Review Of Andando Tours: Galapagos Luxury Worth The Cost?

The Galapagos Islands are not an easy place to describe because of all the places I’ve been to, I’ve never been anywhere quite like it. When Andando Tours invited me to try one of their tours, scheduling conflicts nearly had me declining what turned out to be a trip of a lifetime. No, I was no paid to write this and it’s not an advertisement. There are other ways to visit the Galapagos on a budget but this particular $4500 Andando trip, onboard the Mary Anne sailboat, ends up being a value if you can afford the upfront cost. Watch the video above or read on to find out why.

Comparing The Competition

No matter how you get to the Galapagos, there are costs upfront: tickets – and visa if you need one – to Ecuador (flights to the Galapagos can only leave from their mainland) and the Galapagos permit required of all visitors. Round trip flights from Ecuador to Galapagos plus the permit will be at least $500 total. Once you’re in the Galapagos, you’ll have to take a small dinghy to the only major settlement, Puerto Ayora. Without opting for a cruise, add in hotel (minimum $60 daily) and meal prices as well.

andando tours mary anne

The Galapagos are an archipelago of 21 islands spread over several hundred kilometers in the Pacific. Not all of them are easy to get to but there are 4-5 points which can be done as day trips from Puerto Ayora. Those would be primarily hiking trips, with a guide, leaving around sunrise and returning at dusk.

I’m laying all of this out to because the most frugal ways to visit the Galapagos limit what you can see with day trips to select spots on nearby islands, for roughly $1500 for 8 days if you’re very careful with spending. Other Galapagos cruises tend to stick to those primary islands as well, running about $2500-$3000 for short 3-5 day trips, or closer to $4000 for trips of a week.

What You Get With Andando

Given that the cost of the Andando Tour onboard the Mary Anne is just above those prices ($4500), these are the three area you’re really paying for broken down:

  1. The Boat
  2. The Experience
  3. Time

andando tours review

Let’s start with the boat. The Mary Anne is a former German racing sailboat, the only sailboat operating in the Galapagos. There are 14 tourists on the boat and roughly that many crew. The vessel is spacious, comfortable, and doesn’t feel like a floating hotel. The rooms are spartan, beds and small bathroom pretty much, but the rest of the boat is where you’ll be spending a most of your time. There’s a short boat tour in my video here.

2. The Experience

Again, I’m referring you to the video but the 8-day trip is broken down daily by your guide. In my case, our guide Fernando Ortiz whose credentials are impressive to say the least, split the days into several activities. Andando it seems gets priority in scheduling island visits (they’re limited to avoid over-tourism) and hiking activities are generally arranged to avoid the hottest parts of the day when the equatorial sun is especially strong.

nazca booby

You’ll hike, snorkel, kayak, see unique wildlife close up since they have no natural fear of people, across 2-3 activities a day. Between each activity you return to the boat for a meal or snacks, giving those who want to stay behind an chance to do so. Which basically was just this blogger and this one staying behind once or twice to shoot videos for their travel blogs.

The efficiency in which all of this is coordinated, the boat transfers, the rooms being clean whenever you’re not in them, the timing of the meals, when to snorkel with seal lions at their most playful, all of it was very, very impressive. I kept looking (and expecting) cracks in the presentation. You know, crew that looked miserable when they thought nobody was around, dinghies being late, a guide who bull-shot the occasional answer to a question – and encountered none of that. There was a warmth and personality of the crew, guide, and Captain Mario whose authenticity could not be faked, even for our benefit.

3. Time

Many of the outlying islands of the Galapagos archipelago cannot be done as day trips from Puerto Ayora because of the distances involved. Andando offers several itineraries, and the eastern route I was on covers many of them. Because of the biodiversity of the Galapagos, you often find multiple ecosystems within a very small area. The spots you’re taken to are planned for the best time and the efficiency of the route, day planning, and crew ensure in 8 days you see a lot.

andando tours blogger

Cruise Options

To compare everything, I planned out an individual trip for myself to see what it might look like. There are two major constraints I found. The first, is reaching the outer islands. Missing those mean you would miss albatross returning to land, for example. Additionally, trying to recreate this route using Puerto Ayora as a base would make each activity of the Andando trip (2-3 daily) a trip of an entire day. Not to mention most of the sites are limited to certain cruises, so individually they wouldn’t be as accessible (i.e. you would need to opt for one of the higher-end tours from any company to reach those destinations).

Ultimately, if an Andando Tour is way out of your budget, then there are alternative ways to visit the Galapagos Islands. But if their prices are just a bit higher or around what you were planning to spend, I can certainly recommend their tours. Galapagos is a special place and suggest you treat this as a once in a lifetime type of trip – if you have the opportunity and the means, it’s not a place you want to skimp on.

Win $300 By Entering In The 2019 Best City To Visit Travel Tournament

best city 2019

The annual Best City To Visit Travel Tournament is back! To enter, all you have to do is nominate a city you love as the best to visit in 2019 in the comments below. The first 64 cities will be matched up and eliminated by weekly reader votes and the person who nominated the final remaining city will win $300 on either the Apple or Amazon online stores.

To enter, write your favorite city in the comments section of this post before Sunday, February 24th 12:00pm US EST.

The cities will then be placed in tournament brackets sorted by geographical region, with the first round of voting beginning on Tuesday, February 26th, 2019. Each week the number of cities will be halved by reader votes, until there is one left. Hopefully, the winning city is the one you picked.

Tournament Rules

Cities are first come first serve and several cities have already been chosen by my newsletter subscribers (who got the first picks). The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament is a round robin style competition, with voting every week during the month of March.

  • Cities Already Taken: Lisbon, Istanbul, Helsinki, Medellin, Rio de Janeiro, Melbourne, New York City, and Anchorage

Important Dates

Once you enter a city, there’s nothing you have to do… but remember, voting for yourself isn’t a bad idea. These are the (Tues)days in the coming weeks to make note of:

  • February 26, 2019: Round of 64
  • March 5, 2019: Round of 32
  • March 12, 2019: Sweet 16
  • March 19, 2019: Elite 8
  • March 26, 2019: Final 4
  • April 2, 2019: Championship

Check back on this page every Tuesday for each new round. I’ll also post updates on Facebook and Twitter. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, April 9th and the prize will be delivered electronically by June 28th, 2019.

Prizes And Tips

In previous years, the winners have all generally used these tactics to their success which I recommend you read to advance far in the contest. Also, since there are quite a few dates to keep up with – the best way not to miss anything is to get my posts sent directly to your inbox or subscribe to my newsletter.

  • The $300 gift card prize will be sent as a gift card that can be used on the Apple or Amazon online stores.

More retailers may also be added; or those above modified at any time before the end of the tournament – gift cards must be for the full $300 prize amount and cannot be split among stores, transferred into cash, and will be sent to the email you use in the comments section to choose your city. Best of luck to everyone and please let me know if you have any questions!

Review Of Audio-Technica’s ATH-SR30BT Headphones: Carving Out The Under-$100 Range

Initial searches for a good pair of headphones for traveling often reveal the extremes of ultra-premium like the Bose 35ii, or the uber-budget Taotronics. Nestled in between however is a growing class of headphones that are bringing premium sound quality under $100.

The Audio-Technica ATH-SR30BT wireless, over-ear headphones fill out this sparse budget range, making them an attractive option for a wider audience of travelers. You can watch my full review in the video above or read on.

Bring Some, Not All Premium Features

The ATH-SR30BT headphones look and feel premium since Audio-Technica hasn’t cut many obvious corners on the design. These headphones seem a lot more expensive than they cost, with respectable sound quality for being both wireless and less than $100. More on the sound quality below but where Audio-Technica has cut costs is in places many non-audiophiles won’t notice too much.

audio technica ath-sr30bt

First of all, there’s no case in the box although you can get a sleek Greekria softshell for under $20. Aside from the headphones themselves, a single micro-USB charging cable is provided.

Also notably missing if you’ve gotten used to premium earbuds or headphones is active noise cancelling. It’s a feature you’ll find on more expensive devices like the Bose 20i – one that’s hard to fly without once you’ve tried it. Still, the ATH-SR30BT has noise-isolation, a fancy term for good soundproofing. Noise-isolation on the SR30BT is good – although you’ll still hear the outside world or jet engine noise – nothing compared to noise-cancelling yet the SR30BT punches above its price here.

Cutting From The Top

Wisely, Audio-Technica has kept the price of the SR30BT down by taking out features from the premium end of the spectrum. In other words active noise-cancelling, a case, an optional wired connection are all notable omissions common to headphones in the $300 range.

audio technica ath sr30bt wireless headphones

On the flip-side however, the lack on noise-cancelling (combined with Bluetooth 5) leaves the SR30BT using less energy consumption – resulting in 70 hours of battery life. That’s close to double that of any comparable noise-cancelling pair; which can be recharged full in 4 hours. The leather ear cups, matte finish, and metal accents all add to lightweight, mostly comfortable profile.

Fidgeting With Buttons

The button placements look, yet don’t feel, entirely intuitive. One of the main issues I encountered is the volume up and down buttons, which also double as song forward and back, are differentiated by long presses. When I say long press, it’s supposed to be 2 seconds although these are very sensitive. I found myself skipping ahead and back when I just wanted to turn the sound down, for example. The third button (for phone pickup, mute, voice assistant, etc.) also got in the way quite a bit; so if the beep before Siri casually reminds you how useless she is drives you mad, stick to controls from the device you’re connected to.

Buttons can be acclimated to but the longevity of the Audio-Technica ATH-SR30BT is in the best of its features: good sound quality, premium design, long battery life, and well under a $100 without cutting costs from the wrong places.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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