If someone had told me I'd be spending two weeks in Tenerife and loving the peace and tranquility, I'd have fallen off my sequinned stillettos and gone back to watching re-runs of Benidorm on Skyplus.
I'm a French Gite or Italian Riviera girl at heart. At the very least, a weekend in Paris or a Theatre Break in London - but the recession has hit us all hard, and with redundancy a household name around these 'ere parts, a holiday seemed a long way off this year.
So I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that the two week break we'd booked on a whim as it was affordable, was just what the doctor ordered. I had never been to the Canary Islands before, and I was expecting lager louts, union jack shorts and hen parties - what I got was glorious sunshine, peaceful sleep, nightlife if I wanted it - and really, really good service and value for my money. And I even brought euros home at the end of two weeks!
Flying from a smaller airport in the UK was a little more expensive, but meant that the travel to and from home time was shorter (we live in the Westcountry). It also meant that thre were fewer boutiques to tempt us before we boarded the plane.
The flights were provide by Monarch, and were on time, eficient and friendly. There was no delay, no hassle with queues and no drama. Although there is no extra space provided, it is possible to pay for additional leg room; but we were determined to have the two weeks as frugally a possible, and it really did not bother us (and hubby is over six feet tall) for the four hour flight.
And stepping off the plane into the glorous sunshine and warm air was absolute bliss. No holiday for four years, and I was determined to enjoy every single second. A ten euro taxi ride and we were in PLAYA LAS AMERICA. We stayed in Garden Village Apartments, a reltively small commune of privately owned and internet-rented out studio and two bedroom apartments set around two pools with English speaking staff who run the pool bar and grill.
Our studio would easily have slept six, although we were just three. A large bedroom opening onto a balcony, a large lounge with two double bed settees, a luxury bathroom and a very reasonable kitchenette. The loung also opened out onto the balcony - which was large enough to seat a dining table, six chairs and four reclined sunloungers. All this for £250 a week. No, not per person - for the apartment!
The supermarket on the site was considerably more pricy than the luch larger Mercadona that was only a five minute walk (and I walk slowly) along a straight level road to get to.
At this supermarket area were also several cafes and restaurants, to suit all pockets (we ate out twice for dinner and once for lunch here) and a place where you can have your feet nibbled by teeny fish in a tank. This shopping centre is also where coaches collect and return you if you book an excursion - of which there are a myriad: to the volcano, to theme parks, to water parks, to museums, to shows.
We chose one as the highlight of our stay - Sounds of the Musicals. This was a dinner and drinks included (literally all you can consume) stage show of music from the west end, and was well worth the thirty euros per head we paid.
The temperature in the day in August was high thirties, and at night was mid twenties.
A pint of local lager was one euro fifty, and a can of soda was fifty cents.
The benefit of staying at this apart-hotel was that we were a short walk for the centre of Playa las Americas, therefore at midnight every night it was QUIET! All the music from other hotels stopped, bar closed, and we could have a good sleep. If you are the nightlife type, it is a five minute walk into the centre of the town, for restaurants, karaoke, clubs, drag shows, and all your hearts desire.
We chose to self-cater for the majority of our time - eating a large salad or a quickly made paella really keot the budget affordable for us. This meant we could buy all our drinks out - either al the pool bar, or out for a walk in the evening.
At the end of two weeks away, we returned home tanned, relaxed, healthy and with money in our pockets.
Top tips for a frugal break:
- Don't buy new clothes for a holiday - the holiday is the treat, and you will probably never see the folk you meet there again!
- Buy your suncream at a store like LIDL or ASDA - there is a large cost saving to be had.
- Don't over-pack: watch the suitcase weight. Put out what you want to take and then remove ten percent of it.
- Take a small plastic bag with your washing powder from home. Hand wash and hang out to dry each night - no launderette costs, no allergic reactions to strange washing powder, no additional costs.
- Don't bring back souvenirs for people over the age of ten. Children are happy with things that cost pennies.
- If you are bringing back duty free for someone, ask them to pay up front.
- Don't take a credit card with you. Take cash, divide it up for each day with a small emergency budget.
- Make sure your medical insurance is up to date. Ehic cards can literally save you thousands of pounds.
- Enjoy the little things - the sunset, the peace, the sound of the sea. One day you will look back and see that the little things in life were the most important.