The EURO conference series lead me to Valencia, Spain, where despite a busy schedule of talks and unforgiving heat I was able to fit in a bit of sightseeing.
A hotel voucher to burn, a new camera to test out, and a quirk of BA’s scheduling combined to send me to Madrid – where I was happy to find that this unfamiliar city was an architectural delight, soaking in winter sunshine.
The remote arctic island of Svalbard – or, at least, its main settlement Longyearbyen, is not as inaccessible as you might imagine! Here’s what lured me there, how I managed to visit, and what I got up to whilst I was in town.
Full report on my 2013Q4 project: chasing IHG’s Big Win promotion. I battled the St Jude storm in the UK; discovered CERN and Geneva with Marian Call and fellow fans; flew LCY-EDI-LHR-GVA-LHR-EDI on BA (enjoying the lounges along the way) and, of course, sampled four different IHG properties to meet all my challenges.
When Hilton announced the devaluation of their HHonors points – particularly for their high-end aspirational properties – I felt it best to burn what I had at the old rates. 90% of my balance got me just one night at the Waldorf Astoria Rome Cavalieri, a property normal several times my budget. Of course, I then had to build a short holiday around this highlight… So, is it worth it?