My Autumn Zara Favourites

I am not going to pretend I am some kind of fashion expert, honestly, I am quite the opposite. It’s a rare day when you see me out of my beloved gym leggings. Anyway, this year I decided would be different, I would wear ‘normal person’ clothes. So I decided to start expanding my wardrobe, and now it is safe to say I am totally addicted and can’t keep any money in my bank account. So that’s fun… I wanted to share with you some of the things I bought and why I love them, mostly because Zara’s online store is a bloody nightmare. I don’t know what it is about Zara but nothing looks the same on the website as it does in person. Anytime I buy anything in the store and later see it online I am shocked. Most of the things I choose in person I think look awful on the website. – Maybe that’s just me 🙂 Long story short, for that reason I have included links to all of the items I include in this post.

I am going to start with a pair of shoes that are very close to my heart not to mention they are only 25.95euro. You can find them on the Zara website by clicking here. – I would recommend you size down in these.

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Zara Velvet Platform Sneakers

Next up and potentially my favourite item, is this funky wool jumper with contrasting fur sleeves. It is really comfortable and it has the perfect sized turtle neck. I always find it hard to find turtle neck jumpers that don’t make your neck look a foot long. This jumper will set you back 49.95euro and I wear a size ‘S’. To shop this jumper click here.

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Zara Wool Jumper with Contrasting Cuffs

The next item on the list is such a simple but brilliant bag. Do you ever go to events that a cross body clutch isn’t really appropriate but you don’t want to carry around a bag in your hand all night? This bag is the answer. It has a hoop for hooking around your arm and a detachable chain so you can wear it as a cross body if you want. It is only 25.95euro and it is available in Black and Kaki Green. Note: You won’t be fitting much more then your phone, money and lip gloss into it. Find it here.

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Zara Black Suede Wallet

Next up is the ultimate snuggly winter knit. Keep this one for the cold days because it is tooooooasty.  Although this one has a big neck, it is perfect when you fold it the right way. It is long so I wore tucked into jeans, get it now for 39.95 here. I got a ‘M’.

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Zara Oversized Roll Neck Sweater

Next up are these little boots, maybe it’s my horse riding roots but I totally fell in love with them when I saw them in the shop. They are so comfy and you surprisingly don’t have to wear them in as you have to with other leather boots. Avoid the blisters and grab these for 39.95euro. They are true to size but weirdly make my feet look really long. Shop these boots here.

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Zara Flat Ankle Boots with Studs

So, yes, I do buy some of my clothes in the Kid’s section, and no, I am not teeny tiny. The sizes are surprisingly big and they are usually more then half the price of the ladies clothes! This skirt is really comfy, the material is nicely stretchy so you don’t feel restricted when you sit down. The best part is it’s only 12.95euro – BARGAIN, get your hands on it here. Comes in Pink, Bottle Green and Dark Blue too. I got a 13-14yrs and I can tuck a bulky jumper into it.

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Zara Moleskin Skirt – Kids

I hope you have found this post helpful for anyone else stuck in the ‘active wear’ way of life, it is a slow transition but I think accepting you have a problem is the first step. Anyway feel free to Subscribe to emails below and follow my Instagram account for more Clothes, Nice Food and the Occasional Workout.

Peace and Love,

The Girlo on the Go xx

 

Brunch – San Lorenzo’s

San Lorenzo’s is a modern, Italian style restaurant located on Georges Street at the downtown end of the culinary-famous Camden Mile in the centre of Dublin City. They are well known for their #BrunchOfChampions which is served from 10am to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s video of their Coco Pop French Toast that has been making it’s way through every social media platform convinced me that I had to go and see what all of the fuss was about.

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San Lorenzo’s, Dublin

The Menu

You are sure to find something you will love on the San Lorenzo’s brunch menu with 6 ‘Lunch Style’ dishes and 12 ‘Breakfast Style’ Dishes. I will say your options are some what limited if you want a ‘Breakfast Style’ Dish and you don’t like eggs, most of their breakfast dishes are predominately egg based. Looking for a boozy brunch? Look no further, San Lorenzo’s offer a wide range of cocktails, beers and shots.

The Food

We had the ‘Super Nachos’ and the ‘Coco Pops French Toast’ to share between the two of us. The French toast tastes as good as it looks (and better). It has an interesting mix of rich flavours and really adds something new and exciting to your standard breakfast menu. The only thing was, I would recommend asking for some more peanut butter  on the side. You see, the dish comes like a sandwich. All of the ingredients are in between two slices of French toast. The only issue is, that the slice on the top gets a bit left out when it comes to toppings and as a result is a bit plain. Nothing some extra peanut butter can’t fix. The ‘Super Nachos’ were scarily big. Despite our massive appetites it was no match for us. That portion could feed 3 people on its own easily. They tasted amazing, they were super fresh and perfectly spicy.

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Coco Pops French Toast 
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Super Nacho’s @ San Lorenzo’s 

Price Range

At first I thought that it was very expensive for brunch, 14/15 euro per dish seemed pretty steep. Having said that, once the food came I realised we had overestimated our hunger, or underestimated the size of their dishes. Like I said above 3 people could easily share the nachos, so that would have worked out at only 5euro each.

The Staff

The staff were really nice, super efficient and they tried to accommodate us when we requested a window seat. They were quick to take our order and our food and drinks arrived not too quickly, but not too slowly. I would recommend booking in advance as the place was totally full.

The Restaurant

The restaurant resembled an old wine cellar in it’s decor and lighting, giving it a cosy and wintery vibe. The loud music gave the place a modern spin. The bathroom in San Lorenzo’s I believe is the best bathroom I have been in. Instead of having a mirror over the sink they have a massive window looking down into the kitchen – how bloody cool.

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Wine Cellar Style 
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View from the bathrooms into the kitchen 

Overall we really enjoyed our meal here, although it was expensive you got good value for money in terms of portion size, keep it for a special occasion. For more information see: http://www.sanlorenzos.ie.

The Girl on the Go xx

Why ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ Might Not be for You

For those of you who don’t know flexible dieting or IIFYM (If it fits your macros) is the process of tracking your calories & macro nutrient intake (protein, carbohydrates and fats). This method of ‘dieting’ is really popular as it isn’t necessarily a dieting method it is more of a lifestyle. This eating method allows you to be flexible in the things you eat every day, so you can technically eat whatever you want once it is inside these macro nutrient goals, it requires weighing out and tracking the calories and the nutritional composition of nearly everything that passes your lips. It is serious dedication and does take time but it means you don’t have to totally cut out your favourite ‘junk’ food, making it more sustainable.

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In the past few months I have stopped tracking my macros and calories. I have started just trying to fuel my body with the freshest and most wholesome food possible. I am listening to my body in regards to how much food I need and when. This method is similar to what some people call ‘Intuitive Eating’, which is listening to hunger and fullness cues.

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So, in this post I am going to talk about my experience with both ‘flexible dieting/IIFYM’ and ‘Intuitive eating’. My opinion obviously isn’t gospel. I just want to share my experiences with the two different methods. I hope this post can give you some insight into what might work best for you, because after all, everyone is different.

Pros of Flexible Dieting

I tracked my macros for close to 2 years pretty consistently. Although I don’t do it anymore I think it was a great experience for me and helped me learn a lot about food composition and how different mixes of macronutrients and calories effected my body. It also helped me to understand the things people generally deem as ‘healthy’ weren’t necessarily as healthy as I thought they were. So I do believe that everyone should track their food for at least a month, even if you have no weight loss or gain goals. I just think it will give you a much better perspective on what you are putting into your body.

Cons of Flexible Dieting

During my time using the flexible dieting method I learnt a lot and I think it was great for me starting off. As time went on this approach made me obsessed with food. I was always trying to ‘fit things’ in. Everyday I would be like ‘Okay, what can/will I be eating next?’. This obsession had me  eating for the sake of hitting my calorie & macronutrient goal when sometimes I really didn’t need or want the extra food. Another problem that can, and did happen with me with flexible dieting is the ‘all or nothing’ mentality. I am a perfectionist and if I let myself have one thing that didn’t ‘fit’ into my macros I would treat the day as a write off and go on a huge binge – which was not healthy.

Pros of ‘Intuitive Eating’

Recently I have started ‘clean eating’ or ‘intuitive eating’. With this ‘method’ I am trying to listen to my body. I am only eating  when I am hungry, and in each meal I try to make sure I am using the Precision Nutrition Principles outlined in Nutrition: Back to Basics.  I try to include a portion of protein, carbs, fats and veg in every meal. This way there is less to plan, less to weigh and less to stress about. I am taking every meal as it comes and just trying to fill my body with the freshest and most natural food as possible.

Cons of ‘Intuitive Eating’

The cons that come with Intuitive eating include over eating. With no ‘limits’ on when to stop it can be hard to judge. Another issue is that all of the ‘superfoods’ are generally quite high in calories. So a healthy choice sometimes works out as a higher calorie choice, and although intuitive eating is moving away from the strict calorie counting, at the end of the day to lose body fat you need to be in a calorific deficit (burning more calories then you are consuming).

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So to conclude I am really happy with my move from flexible dieting to intuitive eating as I am definitely eating food for health rather than eating as a slave to my fitness pal or other calorie counting apps. I believe my experience counting calories makes intuitive eating more successful for me because although I am mainly concerned about filling my body with the best food, I also am aware that even the best foods have calories in them.

I hope you found this post interesting or helpful. If you know someone who would enjoy it be sure to share it with them. If you are not already subscribed to my email list you can do so down below.

The Girl on the Go xx

Dinner – Wanderlust, Dalkey

The other day I paid a visit to Wanderlust in Dalkey with a few of my girlfriends for a going away dinner. I had heard loads of great things about it and I had been really looking forward to trying it out for myself.

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Wanderlust Dalkey, 111 Coliemore Rd

About the Menu

The menu perfectly combined a wide variety of cuisines from Mexican to Asian influenced food without being too overwhelming. They had a huge range of starters but less main courses. Most of us actually ended up getting either two starters or a starter and a side. The starters were huge so it was a perfect amount of food. They also had a large wine and cocktail list.

The Food & Drink

When we arrived we all got a cocktail. I got the ‘Pink Passion’ (passionfruit in a cocktail is just heaven). It was by far the nicest cocktail I have had in a long time. It was so yummy and perfectly sour.

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Pink Passion Cocktail (10 euro) @ Wanderlust Dalkey

Everyone loved their meals. The table got a wide range of dishes from tacos to chicken wings. I got the Scallops (12.50) and shared a side of Sweet Potato Fries (4) and Skinny Stem Almond Broccoli (4) with one of the girls. I love Scallops and any time I see them on a menu I gravitate towards them. However, it is easy to over cook scallops and once you do you might as well be chewing on a bouncy ball. These scallops were cooked perfectly and were served with a pea purée, black pudding and diced smoked bacon. I would highly recommend them. I would say that they are very rich as a starter if you plan to have a main course.

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Pan seared scallops with pea purée, black pudding and diced smoked bacon (12.50 euro) & side of broccoli (4 euro)

Price Range

The cocktails were expensive, 10 euro each is pretty steep. Especially when they aren’t very big. Having said that they are to die for.

The food was on the expensive side. Mains ranging from 15-24 euro. If you are looking to save a few, opt with a starter and a side. It worked out cheaper and I think there were better options on the starter menu.

Early Bird option?

Yes, they have an early bird option from 5pm-7pm. You can get 2 courses for 20 and 3 for 23. The menu is limited but it is a good deal.

The Staff 

The staff were really friendly and dealt well with the big group. The were really accommodating when it came to paying the bill, we were all able to pay separately and some of the group were able to use card to pay their share. They were also accommodating to allergies.

The Restaurant

The restaurant is small, I would make a reservation on the weekend or if you have a big group. It wasn’t cold, I was able to wear jeans and a little top comfortably and it is nicely lit.

Conclusion

Overall I really enjoyed my meal at Wanderlust Dalkey, the food was superb and I definitely plan to go back in the future.

I hope this post was helpful and I would love to hear about your experiences and recommendations on what to get next time.

The Girl on the Go xx

A day in Lisbon

If you are staying outside of Lisbon it is well worth making a trip in to Portugal’s capital at some point during your stay. We were staying in Cascais a 35-minute train journey outside of Lisbon. Their train systems are easy to use and super cheap (only 2€ each way), so you have no excuses. The train ride provides you with stunning views of the coast as you make your way into Lisbon.

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Trams in Lisbon 
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Views on the way into Lisbon on the train

Attractions 

You can read as many tourist books as you like but I don’t think you can beat the advice of a local. That’s why when we arrived into ‘Cais do Sodré’ station we hoped straight into one of the many ‘Tuk Tuks’ you will find on the streets of Lisbon, locals estimate that there are close to 400. No matter what your budget is they are a must. The beauty of them is that there isn’t a set tour, you can pick where you go or they can decide based on your interests. You can give them a price limit and they will bring you to as many places they can within your budget. Our Tuk Tuk tour cost us 60 euro per hour which worked out at 10 euro each per hour in our 6 man Tuk Tuk. I am unsure about the price ranges with different companies, but it was a great way to see so much of the city in such a short amount of time especially because you won’t be getting far in the blistering heat of July and August on foot. Our driver Mario was so kind and he gave us a great feel for the city. You could tell he really cared about his passengers and getting us the best value for our money. Mario wasn’t the only Tuk Tuk driver we were in contact with that we were impressed by their generosity. They all seemed so genuine and we weren’t worried or sceptical about being ripped off as you do with so many other tourist attractions all over the world.

  • Choosing the right Tuk Tuk:

If you are going to get a Tuk Tuk get an electric one. Not only are they better for the environment, but they make it a lot easier to hear what your guide is saying while you are driving. Another reason why I would recommend the electric Tuk Tuks over the gas ones was because of the awful fumes that the gas ones were giving off. I’m sure a tour would be quite sickening in one, especially because the Tuk Tuks don’t have doors to keep the smell out.

  •  On a budget where should I ask them to take me:

Lisbon is a stunning city, being built on a hill means there are loads of look out points all over the city. Although they are all spectacular the most amazing one we say is called ‘Miradouro da Senhora do Monte’, so if you are on a budget ask them to take you there.

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View from ‘Miradouro da Senhora do Monte’

Feeling a bit peckish?

Taberna da Rua das Flores which was recently featured in the Sunday Times, is a hidden gem that is getting a bit more attention from tourists than it’s local regulars may like. Hidden away off ‘Praça Luís de Camões’ this quaint, authentic Portuguese restaurant would be missed by people not looking for it. The menu changes daily and is written on a big blackboard which is carried around the restaurant and translated to English for the non-natives. The menu consisted of 2 starters and 4 main courses. Although choice is limited the options on the day I was there all sounded amazing. The ‘rough and ready’ style makes you feel like you are sitting in a Portuguese kitchen waiting to be served. We all really enjoyed our meal here and I think it is worth ditching the touristy restaurants for one day and paying a visit to this for some real Portuguese food.

Main courses ranging from 8-10 euro – at lunch time.

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Taberna – Lisbon 

Everyone wants to eat different things? 

No problem, the ‘Time Out Food Market’ is the place for you. There are stalls with nearly every cuisine so you are sure to find something everyone will love without having to eat in different places. Your only problem now will be finding a table in their expansive seating area. Highly recommend.

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TimeOut Food Market 

Sweet tooth?

Then you have to stop in Amorino. This ice-cream parlour can be found in most major cities and has a huge range of ice creams and sorbets. However, the thing that I love Amorino for is their macarons that have a thin layer of ice-cream in the middle. To die for.

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Amorino Lisbon 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ice-cream filled Macarons 

We all absolutely loved Lisbon and hope to be back at some stage in the near future. It was a stunning city with both historic and modern aspects to it. The perfect weekend break at only 20 euro for a taxi from the airport to the city centre.

The Girl on the Go xx

 

The Oitavos Hotel Cascais, Portugal

The blue tinted mirrored panels give nothing away when you pull up at the Oitavos Hotel Cascais, Portugal. Upon entering reception, you will think you are back at the airport terminal or maybe even in an Ikea with the high ceilings, long corridors and expansive seating areas. A peculiar hotel we thought at first. Our opinions soon changed. Within 24 hours the spacious and modern hotel proved to be a not only extremely luxurious but it was the ideal location to totally wind down and relax. The numerous seating areas all over the ground floor made it possible to totally seclude yourself from the rest of the guests and dive into a good book.

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The Oitavos Hotel, Cascais

 

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The Oitavos Infinity Pool

The Rooms: 

The rooms were as I described the lobby, they were huge with high ceilings, big windows and modern cube style decor. The rooms had large balconies and a ‘sitting room’ area with a couch and a television. For those who like baths you will not find many like the ones in the Oitavos hotel. I will say you would want to be comfortable around the people you are going with because there is merely a screen of glass between the main room, the shower and the toilet.

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The Bedroom at The Oitavos Hotel
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The Bathroom at The Oitavos Hotel

The Food: 

This hotel was luxurious in every sense of the word, the buffet breakfast had a wide range of options, everyone could find something they loved. There were 4 types of dining the hotel offered throughout the day. There was a pool bar open during lunch hours which served small ‘Tapa’ style plates. There was a bar menu inside which also included some tapas as well as a selection of sandwiches, they served food from this menu until 11pm. The main restaurant was open for both lunch and dinner with totally different menus. The main restaurant was the most sophisticated out of the three. They also had a Sushi bar that was open from Wednesday through to Sunday in the evenings. The hotel had loads of options for food but they took advantage of the fact the hotel was remote. The food was good but it wasn’t cheap, if you are sitting around by the pool all day and don’t want to eat in the hotel is it a decent walk to any other restaurant and there is no supermarket within a 30 minute walk of the place (as far as I am aware anyway). I will be doing a post on where to eat in the surrounding areas in my next blog post so keep an eye out for that.

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The famous Custard Tarts @ the breakfast buffet
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Dessert @ the Main restaurant
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Club Sandwich from the Bar menu

The Facilities: 

Some of the facilities that can be found at the Oitavos Hotel include; an outdoor swimming pool, snooker table, numerous televisions on the ground floor, a spa with numerous treatments available, Balneotherapy area (sauna, steam room & indoor swimming pool) which you can pay for access to (it is nice but not with 25euro pp per day in my opinion), a small gym and complimentary shuttle to Cascais and the beach at set times throughout the day. There is a sport centre up the road from the hotel with a large gym, tennis courts and squash courts. The hotel staff can bring you there in a golf buggy free of charge. There is a bike rental facility within the hotel and a small clothes shop where they try to sell you sun cream from 40 euro …. I would advise you to bring your own.

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The Oitavos Pool Area
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Sauna in the Balneotherapy

Near the hotel: 

Guincho Beach, this is one of the nicest beaches I have ever been on, stretching close to a mile in length and about 200 metres in width you will find a nice private spot even on the busiest of days. The beach is home to many surf schools and when the wind picks up in the afternoon (which it does, usually around 3pm) the kite surfers are out providing entertainment to all the beach goers.

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The gorgeous Guincho Beach

Casa do Guia, is a little courtyard that is located around a 30 min walk from the hotel. It has a few little cafes, restaurants and some little boutiques.

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Casa do Guia, Cascais

Cascais, the ‘centre’ of the city is only a short 10-minute drive in the hotel shuttle or a 6-euro taxi from The Oitavos Hotel. Cascais has loads of shops, restaurants, cafés and bars creating a great buzz around Cascais in the evening. There is a train station right in the centre of Cascais which goes into Lisbon every 20 mins. Train tickets are only 2-euro per person each way. The train takes around 40 minutes and is a great way to see the Portuguese coastline. I will be writing a post on my day in Lisbon over the next week so keep an eye out for that.

Our problem with the hotel:

Although we all really enjoyed our stay at The Oitavos Hotel we had a bit of a problem with the standard of the service during our first few days staying at the hotel. The staff were slow, always forgot at least one part of our order and weren’t very attentive. It wasn’t like they didn’t have enough staff, they were just standing around chatting. When you are paying 5 star prices you expect 5-star service and that is not what we got the first few days of our holiday. We were all getting to the end of our patience when, one morning around half way through our holiday we walked down to breakfast and there seemed to be a lot more guests. We presumed that the service would get worse, but in fact it got better. With more guests the staff had to work harder and as a result were more attentive. For the rest of our holiday the service stayed at that standard, which was great but this shouldn’t even be a problem in the first place. It really took away from the stunning hotel and relaxing atmosphere.

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The Outdoor and Pool area at The Oitavos Hotel

Overall, we really enjoyed our stay in The Oitavos Hotel, it was a real pity about the service. I hope this post have been able help you. Keep an eye out for my next blog posts on ‘Where to eat in Cascais’ & ‘One day in Lisbon’.

The Girl on the Go xx

 

 

 

Where you Should be Eating in Fuengirola, Spain

It is easy to fall into tourist traps and get ripped off on the Costa Del Sol if you don’t know where to go. I am lucky enough that the few times I have visited Fuengirola I have been with people who have holidayed in Fuengirola their whole lives and appreciate good food as much as I do. Hopefully I will be able to pass on their wisdom and recommendations in this article, helping you make the most of your stay and leaving with a belly full of the best food fuengirola has to offer.

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Bikini Beach, Fuengirola

La Pergola, Italian – Love getting twice the taste for half the price? The Pergola is the place for you. This quaint and cosy spot will have you licking your lips when you get a whiff of the doughy smells as you walk through the door. Their menu includes a wide range of salads, pasta, pizza and different meats. Their friendly staff make you feel as though you have stepped into an old friend’s home.

Find more on their website.

My ‘Pergola’ Top Pick:

Mejicanna Pizza: Chilli Con Carne on a pizza – Where Italian meets Mexican *drools*

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The Pergola, Fuengirola

 

Picoteo/ Casa Colon, Tapas – You can’t come to Spain without dipping into the Spanish tapas culture. Tapas are small Spanish savoury dishes which can be combined to create a full meal. Tapas were traditionally served in bars to accompany drinks but have now developed into their own cuisine. I have two favorite tapas restaurants which are convienetly beside eachother in a buzzy square, that is filled with street performers and little children running around in the summer months.  They are called ‘Picoteo’ and ‘Casa Colon’. You can book the Picoteo but not Casa Colon, for this reason we usually end up going to the Picoteo as there is generally a big group of us. If you have a party between 2 & 4 it probably won’t be as hard to get a table in Casa Colon, generally there is a 30 mins – 1 hour wait. There are loads of bars in the area where you can have a drink while waiting. Both restaurants are very similar just with slight differences in their menus. The tapas range in prices but they are bigger than traditional tapas. They are almost all like starter portions, perfect for sharing. Each person will probably eat between 2&3 dishes each. Find more on their websites – Picoteo & Casa Colon.

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Picoteo, Fuengirola

My ‘Picoteo’ Top Picks:

‘Crispy Shrimp Tempura with Spicy and Creamy sauce’,

‘Hot goat’s cheese salad with Almonds, Bacon, Raisins & Balsamic’

& ‘Crunchy Burgos black pudding with apple puree’.

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Black Pudding, Edamame & Spring Rolls @ Picoteo
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Picoteo Square

Tanicós, Finer Dining – If this restaurant was set in the same square as the ‘Picoteo’ and ‘Casa Colon’ it would be my absolute favourite restaurant ever. Unfortunately ‘Tanicós’ is more of  a ‘winter’ restaurant. It is indoors, highly air conditioned and a bit outside the main, buzzy area of Fuengirola.  You know it’s a good sign when you are the only group speaking English in the place. Tanicós doesn’t come alive until at least 9pm, so stroll on down and sit in the bar area before you go to your table. The food is honestly to die for and I spend all year looking forward to getting back and indulging in their magnificent dishes. It isn’t the chepaest restaurant but I promise you it is worth the few extra euros. This is a place not to be missed. Find more on their website.

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Head Waiter at Tanicós, Carlos, Killing it as usual

My ‘Tanicós’ Top Picks:

Starters:

Oxtail Pasties (My Favourite starter),

Sautéed black noodles with mushrooms, prawns and scallops

Main Course:

T-Bone for 2 – they used to serve this on a stone to cook yourself but had to discontinue it for safety reasons. They will still do it for you but cook it in the kitchen to your liking, which actually tasted almost better than when cooking it yourself. This is the most amazing meat I have ever eaten and I would strongly advise going for this option.

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T-Bone for 2, cooked rare

Dessert: 

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White Chocolate Soup with Orange Sponge Cake and Forest Fruit – Tanicós

Dry Martini, Gin Bar – Gin is all the trend at the moment, Dry Martini Fuengirola is leading the way with an extensive gin menu and perfect setting. It is a great spot to go and grab a drink before dinner with two central locations in Fuengirola, you are sure to be eating near one of them. I will add like most great spanish things, nothing is done in a hurry so leave yourself a good bit of time for your chalice of gin to be brought and constructed in front of you.

My ‘Dry Martini’ Top Picks

Martin Millar & Schweppes Light

or Brockmans (Raspberry flavour) & Schweppes Light.

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Gins at Dry Martini, Fuengirola

Fuengirola is total heaven for foodies if you are eating in the right places. Hopefully you will love Fuengirola and all of the food it has to offer as much as I do.

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Thanks for reading and see you in the next one,

The Girl on the Go xx

Breakfast – Fern House café, Avoca Kilmacanogue 

I don’t think there is a better spot for breakfast than Avoca’s award-winning Fern House Café. The spacious, Victorian style fern house is uniquely decorated with orange & lemon trees, making  it a special breakfast location in any season, not to mention the food. When you eat in (or from) Avoca you know you are going to get 10/10 for taste. With nearly every option on the menu including some of their homemade bread, scones or pastries it is hard to go wrong with choice.

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The Fern House Café

Their menu has everything from ‘Gluten free Blueberry Pancakes’ to a ‘Full Irish’ and ‘Homemade Super-Berry Granola’. They also have a good selection of cold pressed raw beverages, teas and coffees. Like I said you can’t go far wrong with this menu. I was boring and went with an ‘Amy staple breakfast’ Scrambled eggs on toast. The eggs were cooked to perfection and the 3cm thick brown bread toast totally hit the spot.

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Scrambled eggs on brown bread toast and Poached eggs with sourdough – Avoca Fern House

Although Avoca is one of my absolute favourite places for breakfast, lunch, dinner and takeaway meals, you know you pay for the quality you are getting so a lot of the times Avoca will be a bit more expensive than other cafés. Having said that, I was surprised when I saw my meal was only 8.95 euro (which kept me so full nearly all day).

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Victorian Style Fern House

I really couldn’t recommend it enough and it is by far my favourite breakfast spot in all of Dublin. I would advise on the weekends that you make a reservation.

Food:                    9/10

Atmosphere:     8.5/10

Price:           4.25 euro – 12.95 euro

The Girl on the Go xx

 

Nightmarket Ranelagh – Dinner

Nightmarket is one of Ranelagh’s newest editions, taking over from ‘An Bhialann’ at 120 Ranelagh, Dublin 6, one of Dublin’s foodie hotspots. Nightmarket brings together traditional and authentic Thai food, while trying to use as much local produce as possible. Set up by an Irish man and his Thai partner they aimed to create a space where Irish people can gather to experience and enjoy the unique flavours of Thai home cooking.

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Nightmarket Thai Restaurant, Ranelagh

When we arrived last Friday evening the place was packed, booking seems to be a must. We sat at the bar for a drink while our table was being prepared. Their cocktail menu is one of the most unusual drink menus I have ever come across, the drinks all seemed a bit mad. I ordered the Mulata Daiquiri which had NM Rum Elixir, Lime & Dark Chocolate – yes, of course I go for the chocolate option. Josh got the Basil Smash which had Dingle Gin, Thai Basil, Lemon, Fish Sauce & Lychee. We watched the bartender as he carefully and artistically constructed the drinks. The precision and attention to detail was like no other. Although quite small the drinks hit the spot. I loved the sweet chocolatey aftertaste from mine, and Josh loved his fresh almost mojito like taste off his.

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Cocktails at Nightmarket

I have never been to Thailand and the only experience I have ever had with Thai food has been from takeaway chains such as Mao, Mango Tree and Camille – which I love, but I knew they weren’t the real deal. A bit confused by the menu we called one of the staff members over to talk us through it. He carefully took us through nearly every dish on the menu. He explained to us that a Thai meal traditionally consists of a selection of dishes shared by a group. He suggested we get three ‘Smaller Dishes’ which are like starters, a salad and one main course between the two of us.

From the ‘Smaller Dishes’ section we went with the Laab Moo Tad which were Crispy balls of pork laab, red curry paste, chilli, peanuts, ginger, shallots, spring onion, fish sauce, lime juice, mint, rice. The Hoy Shell Yang which was grilled, fresh scallops; chilli, lime juice & coriander sauce; chilli & mango salad with peanuts and finally the Kanom Jeeb which were steamed Thai dumpling with minced pork & prawn, crispy garlic, soy & rice vinegar dip. We really liked the Laab Moo Tad and the Kanom Jeeb. We found that the scallops were a bit overcooked and tasteless, however we loved the salad that came with the scallops. The salad we ordered was the Som Tum Moo Ping which was a spicy green papaya salad, dried shrimp, peanut, long bean, cherry tomato, chilli, lime, garlic, palm sugar, fish sauce, grilled pork skewers, sticky rice. This salad actually turned out to be very similar to the one that we got with the scallops just with pork skewers. We would have liked to have tried something else and I wish they would have told us that when we ordered them all together. For the main course we got the Gai Phad Med Mamuang Himmaphan which was stir fried chicken, cashew nuts, mushroom, dried chilli, water chestnuts, spring onion, onion. This dish was probably my favourite thing we got on the menu, it had a bit of a takeaway feel to it I mean this in the best way possible and only say it as the chicken was lightly battered and came in a sauce. It had twice the taste of a takeaway but none of that horrible sluggish after feeling of a takeaway.

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Small plates, scallops right, steamed dumplings back, Lab Moo Tad at front
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Salad front, Gai Phad Med Mamuang Himmaphan back 

I have a pretty alright tolerance for spice but a lot of the dishes we chose had a serious kick to them. The good thing is one of the staff members explained to us that nearly all of the dishes can be modified to how spicy or not spicy you want them, so make sure you don’t forget to ask about spice levels and explain what you want if you make a visit to this place.

Overall, we really enjoyed our meal at Nightmarket Ranelagh. Being a novice in ‘real’ Thai food makes it hard to judge, but I do think it is very different to what is out there. There are plenty of authentic Indian, Chinese and Japanese restaurants around Dublin, but I haven’t heard of many authentic Thai places. If you want something different I think it is well worth a visit. The staff are really friendly and the place has a great buzz.

Food:                     7/10

Atmosphere:        8/10

Price:                     Smaller plates: 3-15 euros, Main courses: 16-24 euros

I hope you have found this helpful if you are planning a visit to Nightmarket. If I was to go again I would choose a completely different selection of dishes, so I can experience more the cuisine has to offer.

If you enjoyed this post and want to keep up with everything I am up to don’t forget to sign up for email updates at the bottom of the Home page.

The Girl on the Go xx

American Road Trip – A Snapshot

As many of you know I spent the month of June road tripping down the East coast of America. The plan had originally been to do the West coast but due to a few complications we concluded that the east coast made most sense. Anyone who knows me knows I love having a plan, so to make things interesting we decided not to plan anything and just take one day at a time. Although it was pretty stressful for a few hours of everyday it was definitely the best way to do it and I would encourage anyone setting out travelling not to have a definite plan. Anyway, keep reading to find out more about my trip, what I thought of all of the places we stopped and some tips for you if you happen to be doing a road trip or visiting any of these places.

Stop 1: Provincetown, Massachusetts (Very end of cape cod)

Accommodation: 

We stayed in this little guest house called The Masthead Resort. It was absolutely perfect for the one night we stayed there. We shared a bathroom with one other room. We were a short 15 minute walk to the main town area and the guest house had it’s own little private beach and deck area with beach chairs. I couldn’t recommend this guest house anymore. It was by far one of the best value places in Provincetown and was just what we wanted.

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How cute was our room at The Masthead Resort??
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The Masthead Resort

Food:

We got a takeaway from a restaurant called Bubalas By the Bay, which we had planned to take to Race Point Beach to watch the sunset. When we got to the beach it started raining, so no sunset – nearly as disappointing as the food.

Opinions: 

We both absolutely loved this place, it had an old fishing town vibe but was filled with new and trendy shops, cafés and restaurants. It is a great people watching area. You feel as though you are on a little greek island rather than 2 hours outside the rustle and bustle of Boston.

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Breakfast in Provincetown, Cape Cod

Stop 2: Newport

We only stopped here for a few hours to look around but I really wish we had spent a bit longer here. If you don’t know anything about Newport it is known for it’s stunning mansions. You can get tours around the inside of some of the mansions, which I have heard only great things about. In the short time we spent here we went for a walk around the headland surrounding the mansions.

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Newport Cliff Walk

Stop 3: Providence, Rhode Island 

Accommodation:

Our stay at Hotel Dolce Villa was a bit of a disaster. We arrived at around 5 in the evening to find that the hotel ‘parking’ was an alley way that could fit only 2 cars, and that was full. When I went to the reception to find out what was going on they said we could get the car valet parked on an offsite location once we had checked in. So we had to find parking (which took us around 20 mins) for us to give our keys into reception to be valeted later on – kind of defeated the idea of valet parking, but anyway. The hotel room was clean and I can’t say many bad things, apart from the fact that I was woken at 6am by what I thought was an earthquake. There seemed to be either construction or a lot of bins that needed to be emptied in the area, it went on all morning so if you are staying here you will be up bright and early.

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Hotel Dolce Villa, Providence

Food: 

One of the main reasons we stayed in Providence was due to the amazing recommendations we had been given about a restaurant called ‘Hemenway’s’. It is a fancy enough seafood restaurant. I was impressed with their selection of starters, everything sounded amazing. I was less impressed with their selection of main courses. Being on a budget we said we would only have one course as opposed to two as it wasn’t the cheapest. Looking back I really wish I had got two starters instead of the Yellowfin Tuna. It was very plain and seriously lacked flavour. It wasn’t cheap and I know if I would have paid half the price for it I still would have been disappointed. Josh, went for the lobster Mac and Cheese which a friend of his had recommended. Unfortunately, he had a bit of a blonde moment and didn’t realise is was priced per pound of lobster… budget out the window. The Mac and cheese was divine, we ended up sharing most of it. It was presented really well and I would definitely recommend it if you go. The service was really good, the staff were really attentive and super friendly. I don’t know whether I just got unlucky with my choice or josh just got lucky with his but based on the Mac and cheese I would rate the restaurant 8/10. Based on my tuna I would rate 5/10.

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3lb Lobster Mac n Cheese

The breakfast in ‘Nick’s on Broadway‘ restored my faith in Providence’s food. Our breakfast was really tasty and good value. Although it was off the beaten track it is well worth a visit. I would recommend getting the buttermilk bread with your breakfast. It was amazing. Overall: 7/10

Opinions: 

We weren’t in providence for very long, we drove around the downtown area and there were some lovely buildings and parks. Our waitress had said that boat rides on the river was a popular tourist activity. Since we didn’t see a huge amount  to Providence I don’t feel like I can give a well rounded summary or judgement of the place. Having said that there was nothing pulling us to extend our stay like some of the other locations we stopped at.

Stop 3: Assateague Island

This was one of the most magical places I have ever been to. I totally fell in love with Assateague Island and would have happily stayed there for the full 3 weeks. It is completely off the beaten track but shouldn’t be missed. I did a separate blog post on Assateague Island which you can read here, and if you decide to camp there you can find tips for camping first timers here.

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The amazing Assateague Island

Stop 4: Outer Banks

Accommodation:

We stayed in a Travelodge in the Outer Banks. I was really disappointed with this place. I know there is only so much you can expect from a budget hotel but this one wasn’t clean and was a lot more expensive than other hotels of it’s type. The one good thing was that breakfast was included, which surprisingly had a pretty good selection. The hotel was directly opposite a beach, so can’t fault it’s location but wasn’t our most pleasant stay.

Opinions: 

While the Outer Banks were nice. I personally didn’t think they were anything special and honestly would have preferred to have used our night here as an extra night in either Assateague Island, Key West or Sanibel. A good stop over but probably not worth a nights stay.

Stop 5: Charleston 

Accommodation: 

We stayed in the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Suites in the Historic District. We used Hotwire for this place, (I spoke about Hotwire and my favourite cheap ways to book accommodation of one of my recent instagrams. This hotel was lovely, it had a small gym and laundry facilities – which if you end up doing a road trip you will become very familiar with. Overall our stay was lovely and were lucky enough to be upgraded when we arrived at the hotel so that is always a lovely surprise. The hotel was in a really good location and would definitely recommend it, it was on the expensive side if you aren’t getting it on Hotwire.

Food: 

If you appreciate good quality, fresh food and don’t mind paying a bit extra for it this is the place for you. SNOB (Slightly North of Broad) gave us our best meal on our trip to date. An elderly couple we met that had holidayed in Charleston for years recommended it to us along with ‘Fig and Husk‘.

You can tell it was a good menu when you are struggling to choose between more than two options. I honestly would have eaten anything on the menu. In the end I went with the New Bedford Scallops. They melted in mouth, and although I didn’t want the meal to end it was the perfect size portion, after I had devoured half of the bread basket. I usually try to avoid the bread basket but cornbread. Southern heaven – a bread I can’t resist. There is only so strong someone’s will power can be when the bread basket is fully of what looks and tastes like cake. Josh had the BBQ Tuna which was really good, however I preferred my scallops.

Overall: 

We both loved Charleston, the only issue was that due to the torrential rain we didn’t get so see as much of it as we wanted. It was such a cute little city with loads of old buildings and a daily market which is filled with souvenirs, jewellery and other bits and bobs. High street shoppers not to worry. Charleston had a great selection of high market stores scattered through it’s seasoned streets.

Stop 6: Savannah

Accommodation: 

We stayed in the Holiday inn in the Historic District, it was in the perfect location and was good value. The hotel was clean and modern and the staff were good fun. There was a small gym and an outdoor pool with some sun loungers. It was our favourite accommodation this far in on our trip.

Food & Drink: 

We went and got ice-cream in a famous old ice-cream parlour called Leopold’s we had read about it and had to check it out for ourselves. It was like something out of an old American movie. The ice-cream was divine and the line was out the door the duration of our stay. Very generous portions.

If you are lucky enough to grab a table at ‘Rocks on the Roof’ roof top bar around 6pm on a clear night, prepare for an evening of beautiful oranges and pinks as the sunsets behind the bridge. We sat there for hours having a few drinks. It looks over the river so you might be lucky enough to spot some dolphins like we did.

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Sunset drinks at Rocks on the Roof, Savannah

Activities: 

We did a walking tour one morning. Which I think are a great and inexpensive way really get a feel for the city you are in. Especially when through the eyes of a local. We found this one online by just googling ‘Savannah walking tours’. The tour was about an hour and a half long and was free apart from tips. The tour was really interesting and we enjoyed it, a lot of the tour was history based which I usually love just as Irish people it was hard to keep up as we didn’t have a good background knowledge on American history.

Overall:

This place is seriously overlooked. We loved Savannah, it was really pretty and in some areas it felt as though you had jumped back in time. There was a lot of history about it and was definitely our favourite city on the trip. Well worth the visit.

Stop 7: St. Augustine

St. Augustine is the oldest town in the states, we stopped here for some dinner and a walk around. The place is totally geared towards tourists, it is really commercial and honestly the few hours we spent there were enough. The food options seemed okay, we were starving and ended up in The Floridian. The food was fine nothing special, would have kept looking if we weren’t so hungry.

Stop 8: Orlando

Accommodation: 

We stayed in The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Orlando Lake Buena Vista. The hotel was everything you would want from an Orlando hotel, it was clean, cheap, had a swimming pool, a shuttle bus to all of the theme park and free parking – the most under appreciated thing. Disneyland can end up being very expensive and they last thing you want to do is be spending a fortune on a hotel as well. Our hotel was about a 20 minute drive from Universal Studios and a 15 minute drive to The Magical Kingdom.

Food: 

This place is what dreams are made of … We went to a pizza place called Giordano’s. There are two in Orlando and they are known for their deep dish pizzas. I have never had a deep dish pizza so I can’t judge if it was good in comparison to other deep dish pizzas. The one thing I do know is that it was unbelievable, words don’t even begin to describe how good it was. All ill say is we took a 2 hour detour to get it again on the way home…

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Yep, this happened
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Cheesus Christ
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Because two pictures wasn’t enough

Disney World:

In Orlando we went to Universal Studios, mainly because I am a huge Harry Potter fan. For those of you who don’t know Universal Studios has a huge Harry Potter attraction which was amazing. I felt as though I was stepping straight into the movie. Having said that I have been to Disneyland in Paris and in California and both of those times I went to the Magical Kingdom (the one with the big castle). If you are planning your first trip to any of the Disneylands I would definitely recommend going to the Magical Kingdom as opposed to any of the other parks. It is the main one and is based on all of the classic Disney movies.

Overall: 

From what I saw, Orlando is nothing but a city built around Disney world. I have never been to Las Vegas but Orlando is exactly what I had expected Vegas to be like. The place is filled with tall buildings, tourist attractions and bright lights.

Stop 9: West Palm Beach 

Accommodation: 

We stayed just north of West Palm beach in yet again another Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott West Palm Beach, Jupiter. It was a nice hotel, clean. Again, you know the drill, all budget hotels are pretty similar. There was a free breakfast included at this hotel which was really handy for us when we were constantly on the road.

Food:

Out in Jupiter near our hotel we went and got a takeaway from Food Shack. A friend had recommend it saying it was his favourite restaurant and obviously everyone else’s too, there was already a line out the door at noon. So we decided to skip the line and get it to take away. We were told by a local that the menu varies on a daily basis based on what fresh produce they have in. We got the ‘Shack Bowl’ which was mixed veggies basil cilantro toasted garlic noodles coconut milk lemongrass kaffir lime broth. They had a range of fish that you could add. The food was really tasty and super fresh.

Avocado grill was in downtown West Palm Beach, close to the water front. Their large outdoor seating area and huge tapas style menu makes this place the perfect spot for an evening bite to eat after a day at the beach. Their menu was filled with interesting and inventive dishes, I just wanted to try them all. They staff were so friendly and were really helpful when it came to recommendations for both food and cocktails.

Beach: 

We went to a beach just 15 mins north of West Palm Beach. A lot of the beaches around that area are private for the hotel guests of the surrounding hotels. We luckily found a natural reserve called John MacArthur State Beach ParkJwhich is in North Palm Beach. I think we had to pay in with the car, but can’t fully remember. There is a long walk from the car park to the beach across a bridge, which stretches over some of the water that separates palm Bech from the main land. You are able to rent canoes to explore these waters. The beach is really long and the water was an amazing temperature when I was there in June. It is really cool around the time I was there there were ‘Turtle Walks’ at night time. On the Turtle Walks you go with a guide at night and they would bring you to areas where you can see the turtles crawl onto the beach and lay their legs. They were all sold out for when we were there. We spoke to a staff member and they told us that they sell out very quickly so if you are going be sure too book in advance.

Overall:

West palm beach was really nice, the main area was a good bit inland from the beach which took us a long time to realise. The main area had loads of shops and restaurants. Where as closer to the water there wasn’t as much going on.

Stop 10 : Miami 

Accommodation: 

The plus point of my dad travelling for work = hotel points redeemable against free nights away. We stayed in the Hyatt Centric South Beach Miami. It was a stunning, modern hotel just one street back from the beach with a pool that has plenty of sun beds and cabanas. It wasn’t cheap if you didn’t have Hyatt points but hotel guests did have full access to the hotel across the streets gym which is probably the best hotel gym I have been in. Guests could also get a free sun bed and towels for the day on the beach just across from the hotel. Not only was it a lovely hotel it is also in a great location. Right beside Lincoln road, the main shopping area in Miami.

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Hyatt Centric South Beach Miami

Food: 

Taquiza was special, when I read a review saying it was a casual spot for some good Mexicuan I didn’t realise it would be this casual. Tequiza is essentially a stationary food truck built into the wall, it has a window where you go up and order and collect your food. The seating is in a little covered over outdoor area, with tree branches giving you the extra shade you need. The menu comprises of individual tacos, most being 3$ each. There were also chips and salsa/guac, the chips were not like the regular chips you would buy in the store. They were blu corn chips that were still hot. They were also a lot thicker. I couldn’t recommend this place more. We loved it and I think it is the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat and a beer in the evening after spending a day on the beach. My eyes were bigger than my appetite and ate waaaay too much and felt sick for the night. So, pace yourself.

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Flash sometimes makes things look unappetising – these were a lot nicer than they photograph….

We fell for the tourist trap and went to ‘Havana 1957‘. There were a few Cuban restaurants that seemed to be bopping every time we passed them, and we figured we weren’t going to Cuba so might as well get a taste for it – punny. The food was awful. I got their ‘house special’ and it was just a chicken thigh with a special gravy and rice. You have been warned, if you want Cuban food, go to Cuba.

Overall: 

It was a really nice area to visit for a few days, I wouldn’t fancy going there for a full holiday as in my opinion it is a bit hectic and not very relaxing.

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South Beach Miami

Stop 11: Key West – The highlight 

Accommodation: 

We stayed in a hostel called Seashell Motel,  we had our own room so it wasn’t as cheap as you would imagine but it was ideal. It was a short bike ride to the centre of the action (Mallory Square & Duval street area) – you could rent bikes from the hostel. It was clean and air conditioned and had laundry facilities and was exceptionally cheaper than all of the other places on the island.

Food:

I read a review saying Pepe’s was the best thing since sliced bread. We went and enjoyed it, but didn’t think it was all they had hyped it up to be. The food was good but the menu was small for lunch. The dinner menu looks as though it had a few more options. What did live up to our expectations was the key lime pie. It was truly to die for and we would have gone through 4 servings each. Easily.

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Key Lime Pie from Pepe’s

Beaches: 

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is off the beaten track but is not to be missed. You have to pay in, I cant remember how much it was but I know the price varied depending on if you went by car, bike or foot. The beach was lovely and clean with clear water and soft sand. There was a small shop and a rental facility for snorkelling gear. The beach had BBQ facilities and loads of picnic benches in the shade as well as outdoor showers and bike racks.

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Fort Zachary Taylor Beach
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Paradise

Lagerheads Beach & Bar is a chilled seafood shack known for their fish tacos. The beach they are located on is no longer than 20 metres and is quite the hidden gem. Although it doesn’t seem like much when you arrive, not very many people know about it so it is never really that busy. Feeling peckish or need to cool off? There is a little beach hut with really reasonably priced food and drinks. They also have daily drink specials and a happy hour from 5-7pm.

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Lagerhead Beach
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Stay hydrated with their whole coconuts

Activities:

When we were there we obviously rented bikes to get around the place which was also really fun, so I would totally recommend doing that because it is actually too hot to be walking everywhere. One morning we did a jet ski tour of the island which was so much fun. We saw so much and got to speed around on jet skis for an hour and a half. Money saving tip: get one between two people, it is cheaper and in my opinion more fun. Just make sure you hold on tight! We also bought snorkels and masks, we were totally ripped off in one of the ‘surf/beach shops’ on the island so go to Walmart before you make your way down the keys and pick up a pair.

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Jet Ski Tour, Key West

Overall:

Key west was by far both of our favourite stop on the whole trip. It was as chilled out or as crazy as you wanted it to be. You can drink on the streets so it was lovely to be able to walk along the street sipping a cocktail to cool you down in the blistering hot weather. The beaches were amazing. The people was amazing. The food was amazing. It was such a cool place and can not recommend it enough. If you can drive along the keys to get there, it was an amazing drive mostly over a bridge totally surrounded by the sea.

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On the road to Key West

Stop 12: Everglades

On the way back from Key West we stopped in the Everglades to do an Airboat tour and see some alligators. It is only a short journey from Miami and as far as I am aware there are buses that go from Miami. It was really cool, we were there just after a thunderstorm so didn’t see a huge amount of alligators. If you are going to make a trip to the everglades bathe in insect repellant before.

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Stop 13: Sanibel Island 

If you want to swim in water that is at bath temperature you have to take a trip to the gorgeous Sanibel. The stunning beaches and the chilled out atmosphere makes the perfect day trip. We had to pay for parking at the beach we went to which was quite expensive so do your research about which beach to be going to.

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Sanibel Island

Stop 14: Blue Ridge Mountains 

By far my favourite driving part of the trip. We entered into the mountains at Daleville and took the Blue Ridge Parkway through the mountains. We drove all the way through and into Shenandoah National Park. I will warn you there are few to no shops in the mountains so stock up on food before you set off. Another tip is to start your drive through the mountains earlier in the day rather than later. We ended up having to sleep in the back of the car because we were too tired to keep driving but weren’t near a campsite or an exit out of the mountain range. Ill let the pictures do the rest of the talking about how amazing the place was. Every kilometre or less there was a drive through look out point so you won’t have to try to hard to get the perfect picture.

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Drive through point, Blue Ridge Mountains

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Stop 15: Washington

Accommodation: 

Again luckily got to make great use of my dad’s Hyatt hotel points and cashed them in against a night in Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.  The hotel was lovely and we enjoyed our stay there.

Activities: 

There is a lot to see in Washington and it is all very interesting. In my opinion I think all of the ‘touristy’ sites can be done in one day, I wouldn’t be spending more than one night here. Tip: If you aren’t from North America do some research about what all of the buildings are before you go to look at them …. oppsie

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At least we knew what this place was..

Stop 16: New York

You can find all the details on what I recommend doing in New York in my New York in 4 days blog post.

I know this was a long one and well done if you are still reading. It was the most amazing trip and I couldn’t recommend it more. Hopefully you have found this post helpful! See you in the next one.

The Girl on the Go xx

Decoding Nutrition Labels

Are you following my Nutrition: Back to Basics but don’t know how to tell what is in your favourite snacks? Don’t worry, I was the same. I always found myself looking at the back of packets in the supermarket and nodding as though I knew what was going on, but really I didn’t have a clue what to be looking for. For anyone who can relate, this article is for you. Hopefully, I will be able to clear some things up and give you a basic understanding of what to look for.

I would recommend reading my article Nutrition: Back to Basics before reading this post. I will be referring to it a lot and will give you a good basis of what to do with the information in this post.

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 16.10.471) Size of the serving 

2) How many servings per container 

Many people believe that the nutritional information on the back of the packet represents the whole packet. In some cases it does, but not always. It is a crucial mistake to make. You could eat a full packet of crisps and think it was only 200 calories but really it was 200 calories for 7 crisps. Same goes for the nutrients listed. The information is all per serving. So be careful.

3) Calories: Can be related to ‘energy’ in my Nutrition: Back to Basics article. Remember, its calories per serving. Not always for the full packet!

4) Fat: In my basic nutrition article I talk about Precision Nutrition’s hand sized guide. They outline how per meal you should aim to have the ‘top of your thumb’ of fat.

5) Sodium: Try to keep to highly salted foods to a minimum. High sodium meals can in some cases cause the body to retain fluid in the form of a ‘bloat’.

According to the NHS:

  • A high amount of salt is 1.5g per 100g
  • A low amount of salt is 0.3g per 100g

6) Carbohydrates: In my basic nutrition article I talk about Precision Nutrition’s hand sized guide. They outline how per meal you should aim to have the size of a cupped hand of carbohydrates.

Sugars: A classified carbohydrate,  which can be found in foods in its natural form and in the form of artificial sweeteners.

According to Diabetes Ireland:

  • More than 15g per 100g is considered high
  • Less than 5g per 100g is considered low

7) Protein: In my basic nutrition article I talk about Precision Nutrition’s hand sized guide. They outline how you should aim to have the ‘size of your palm’ of protein per meal.

8) Bottom section and Percentages: I ignore these sections as like I mentioned in my other article everyone has different energy and macronutrient needs based on height, age, weight, and activity level. While the recommended daily intake can be somewhat useful I believe that when it comes to nutrition there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’. Everyone will have different needs. The guidelines given at the bottom of the nutrition label are the recommended daily amounts for all men and all women and the percentages are the percentages of each nutrient per single serving in terms of the daily recommended amount. I wouldn’t treat them as gospel but it is something to consider.

There are a lot of other things that can be considered when examining nutrition labels, but I am hoping that this article along with Nutrition: Back to Basics will be able to give you the basics on how to decode the label and what to do with the information you have decoded.

If you liked this article or found it helpful give it a like and don’t forget to subscribe to emails – if you have subscribed and aren’t receiving emails check your junk mail or you may have to confirm your subscription through this link.

The Girl on the Go xx

 

Tips for a Camping Virgin

This month I tried out camping thing for the first time. I have camped in my back garden but have never done the whole camp site thing so I had no idea what to expect. Based on my experience I don’t understand why it isn’t more popular. If you are considering trying something new, here are a few tips that might help you prepare for it.

  1. Pick a camp site – There are hundreds of campsite all over the States, try to pick one and book your spot. Yes, that is a thing. We made the mistake of not realising you had to book, but luckily we went on an off-peak time of year so they had some availability.
  1. Facilities – Look up the place you are going and see what facilities they have, this will give you a good indication what you will and won’t need to bring. Here is a rough list of what you might want to pack, but you will need different things for different sites.

Living

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bags
  • Torch
  • Towels and toiletries
  • Portable Charger
  • Chairs/ Rug
  • Baby Wipes
  • Insect repellent
  • Bin bag
  • Music Speaker

Cooking – Some campsites will have BBQs available to use. Check their website about what facilities they have before you arrive. You may need to bring a portable BBQ instead.

  • Food for BBQ
  • Plates, cups & cutlery
  • Spatula
  • Cooler box
  • Water

We had the best time and have camped a good few times on our trip because we loved it so much. It is something different and really allows you to totally disconnect from the outside world.

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Camping on Assateague Island, Maryland

I hope you have found this post helpful and maybe convinced you to try it out on your next trip away! Don’t forget to subscribe for emails.

The Girl on the Go xx

Nutrition: Back to Basics

A lot of people starting off dieting or changing their lifestyle are looking for a quick fix, and I was too. Google searching ‘7 Belly burning foods’ will do nothing to help your health and body recomposition efforts, in fact it will probably do the exact opposite. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there are no quick fixes or magic weight loss foods. Losing weight and changing your body composition takes time, dedication and  a willingness to learn. In my opinion, one of the main factors driving the obesity epidemic is lack of education and the public being given misleading information from companies trying to sell you a product. In this post I want to lay out a few basic nutrition principles that I have come to learn over the years which I wish I knew when starting off my health and fitness journey that hopefully will be able to help you too.

  1. Energy in vs. Energy out

A very simple concept that a lot of people tend to over look is energy in vs. energy out. In simple terms think of food as energy. On days that you are doing a lot off activity your body will use more energy than on the days that you are doing less activity. To maintain body weight you must be expending the same amount of energy as you are consuming, to lose weight you must be expending more energy then you are consuming, and yes, you’ve guessed it, to put on weight you must be consuming more than you are expending.

It might seem obvious but being aware of this simple concept and trying to consider it on a day to day basis should make you a lot more mindful about how much you are, and need to consume.

Let’s look at a real example that might make this more clear. If you know you are going out for pizza and drinks tonight while trying to lose a bit of weight (need to expend more than consume), what do you have to do to achieve or come close to achieving your negative energy balance?

You have two options;

  • Get some extra exercise in to expend the energy you will be consuming later on in the day
  • or you can make better food choices, reducing the amount of energy you would usually take in earlier on in that day to account for the pizza and drinks (yes, alcohol contains energy/calories.

I personally like to do a bit of both. I will make sure that I get a good workout in that day, as well as making better food choices. For example, I try to eat more protein as it is keeps you fuller for longer. I will touch on protein a bit more in the next point.

2. Macro nutrients

There are three main nutrients. These are carbohydrates, fats and protein and they are known as macronutrients. Every food has a different macronutrient composition. Here are some examples to show you (these values may vary slightly due to a lot of factors):

Chicken Breast

Protein: 23g

Carbohydrates: 0g

Fat: 1.2g

Apple

Protein: 0.3g

Carbohydrates: 14.6g

Fat: 0.2g

Slice of bread

Protein: 2.7g

Carbohydrates: 10.6g

Fat: 0.4g

Tablespoon peanut butter 

Protein: 8g

Carbohydrates: 7g

Fat:  15g

1 slice of Large Pepperoni Dominoes Pizza

Protein: 12g

Carbohydrates: 34g

Fat: 12.5g

Everyone has different macro nutrient requirements based on their weight, height, age, body composition, goals and activity. Being aware of macronutrients and what the foods you are consuming are made of up of will help you to make better decisions when trying to eat ‘healthier’. I try to make sure that most of my meals include all of the macro nutrient food groups. I will talk about portion sizes and rough proportions in point number 4.

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Homemade protein shake

3. Micronutrients 

While most of the health and fitness industry are obsessed with macronutrients, micronutrients shouldn’t be overlooked. A lot of people forget that if they aren’t supplying their body with the correct micronutrients, all of the macronutrients you are working so hard to have on point won’t be able to be utilised effectively.

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Micronutrients are the nutrients that will help to keep your insides healthy, happy and your systems working at full capacity. Where do you get micronutrients from? Fruit and vegetables. Only recently have I realised the true importance of getting my micronutrients in. I am always sick and hate knowing that every few weeks I will have to drop everything and stay in bed. I have been making a very conscious effort to try and eat one big portion of veggies in with every meal, and honestly I think it has helped my immune system. I haven’t been getting sick as often and when I do, it doesn’t feel half as bad as before.

Portions

Now that you have an idea about energy balance, macronutrients and micronutrients, let’s talk about portions. Like I previously mentioned, everyone will have different needs based on age, height, weight and nutrition goal. One thing you can consider that will give you a rough estimate of how much you should be eating of each food group is splitting up your plate, seen in the below illustration. Disclaimer: this is just a rough idea and is what I personally try to follow.

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Protein = Chicken. Carbs = Sweet Potatoes. Veggies = Peppers & Broccoli. Fat = Coconut Oil which the sweet potatoes were cooked in

 

Another good thing to consider is Precision Nutrition’s hand guides:

Your palm determines your protein portions

Your fist determines your veggie portions

Your (single) cupped hand determines your carb portions

Your thumb determines your fat portions

So a good example of a meal based on these principles would be:

Omelette

  • Veggies: Big portion of a range of veg
  • Protein: Egg whites
  • Carbs: Slice of toast
  • Fats: Butter on toast
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Well balanced meal for any time of the day

I don’t believe in cutting out full nutrient groups, eliminating or reducing carbs seems to be a popular trend among ‘dieters’. As you probably know if you are reading this, diets don’t last. This information is here to give you some tools that will hopefully help to change your habits and overall lifestyle. If you are looking for a 1 week diet to lose weight before your holiday that you are guaranteed to put straight back on you won’t get that information here. Sorry. I am interested in helping the people that want to change their life and who are willing to trust the process. I am no expert but if anyone has any questions feel free to get in contact and I will try to answer them to the best of my ability.

I hope you were able to take away at least one helpful point from this post. Thanks for reading and see you in the next one.

The Girl on the Go xx

 

 

 

 

 

Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

Assateague Island National Seashore located close to Ocean City, Maryland is one of the most spectacular places I have ever been. The Island has over 37 miles of the most amazing white sandy beaches, not to mention the best part, there are more than 300 wild ponies that wander freely through the beaches, forests and saltwater marshes.

 

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Assateague Island 

 

 

Where did these wild ponies come from? There are many theories on how the ponies got onto the island, one of the main ones being that they were on a Spanish cargo ship that sank off the coast of Assateague and the horses swam to shore. You are encouraged not to approach the horses and just admire from a distance as they are known to be quite aggressive.

 

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Assateague Wild Ponies

 

You are able to camp on the island in either a tent or an RV. There are two sections of the island, the ‘state park’ and the ‘national park’. There isn’t a massive difference between the two, in my opinion, we drove through both and actually preferred the ‘state park’ that we stayed in but it is said you may see more horses down at the national end. When we were there we didn’t have that problem, there was a small herd of 8 ponies that hung around our campsite during our stay.

 

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Wild ponies in our campsite

 

We luckily were able to get a lot at the campsite when we arrived. We were unaware that there was such a high demand for places so didn’t even think to book a spot. I would recommend booking in advance if you plan to go to avoid disappointment because not everyone will get as lucky as we did.

Neither myself nor Josh had ever camped before in a proper camp site. The extent of my camping experience was my back garden. Having said that, it meant that I was familiar with pitching the tent but I had no idea what to expect otherwise. I will be uploading a post in the next few days on camping for first timers that will go into a bit more detail on the whole thing, so keep an eye out for that. Long story short the place was amazing, in each section there were indoor toilets and showers with hot water and each lot had a little barrel to light a fire in. It was so much fun and I don’t know why camping isn’t a more popular holiday option. I couldn’t recommend a visit to Assateague anymore.

 

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Camping in Assateague Island State Park

 

I would go back in a heartbeat and for any ‘outdoorsy’ people this place will be heaven to you. There are loads of activities you can do on the island including four wheel driving on the beach, seashell collecting, swimming, kayaking, beach hiking and much more. Being able to stay among the wild horses is a unique experience that I think anyone that has the chance should without a doubt do.

 

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5 am sunrise on the beach 

 

Thank you for reading and I will have more posts coming about on this road trip in the next few weeks so make sure you are subscribed to emails to make sure you don’t miss out!

The Girl on the Go xx

Preparing for a Road Trip

Getting ready for a road trip can be stressful. What to bring?  Where to go? Where do you even begin to start organising? Here are a few easy tips that we decided were the most important after our first few days on the road. 

1) Pick your stops – Do some research and find out where you want to stop. If there are any places, restaurants or things you want to see, write them down on a list and use for point no. 2 below.

We used the website roadtrippers.com  where we had to enter our start and end point and the website generated suggested stops and things for us to see along the journey. I would totally recommend using this website, it gave us some great ideas that we would never have found out about.

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Wellfleet Bay, Cape Cod

2) Map out a rough route – Make a route on google maps. You are able to save maps including points of interest and share them on google docs with the people you are traveling with. This map can be downloaded and used when you are outside of wifi – which will avoid you racking up your phone bill by using data roaming on the road.

3) Accommodation – We decided not to book any accommodation in advance because we plan to decide how long we want to spend in each place when we arrive. We did this because we don’t want to be stuck in places we don’t like for longer than we want. So, we plan to use Hotwire.com and Airbnb for most of our accommodation on our trip. Hotwire.com is a website that sells last minute deals on hotel rooms. We have used it before and have booked 4 star hotels the day before for less than half the price everyone paying – cool right?

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The Masthead Resort Provincetown, Cape Cod @ only $70 per night

4) Music – Put some time into creating or finding a playlist you like or maybe try downloading some podcasts. If your car can take an AUX cable, lucky you. We are going to buy a small speaker and hopefully use that in the car, but if that fails we will have to find some CDs we like – Do shops even sell CDs anymore?

5) Car charger – If you are going to be spending hours in the car you will probably be spending hours on your phone, especially if you have downloaded maps for directions. Make sure that  you get a car charger, I think you can buy them in most gas stations.

6) Snacks – It is worth investing in a cooler box and filling it with water and some snacks. It can be annoying and time consuming having to stop every time you are feeling peckish, especially if you have a lot of ground to cover.

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See you in the next one and to keep up to date with everything that I am getting up to on the road trip by entering your email below and following the instructions to confirm your subscription as well as following me on Instagram.

The Girl on the Go xx

Toronto – What to do

I was lucky enough to spend a month in Toronto this year and I absolutely loved it. I had visited before and honestly wasn’t sold on the place, but I came to realise I was just in the wrong areas. I don’t want this to happen to you, I want you to make the most of your stay, so here are my recommendations of what you should be spending your time and money on.

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Toronto Sign, located beside Toronto’s Eaton Centre
  1. CN Tower

Can you really go to Toronto and not go up the CN Tower? The CN Tower can be seen for miles and is Toronto’s most famous landmark. From the top of the tower you see great views of the city, the Toronto islands and the island airport. I will say it ain’t cheap, going to the top will set you back 35$ CAD. There is a small restaurant at the top of the tower where you can grab a bite to eat, but if you wanna be really fancy the main restaurant is the floor above. It slowly rotates so you will have seen a 360 degree view of the city by the end of your meal. For the adventurous people out there you are able to do an ‘Edge Walk’ on the top of the tower. I amn’t even going to attempt to explain it, the picture below should do the explaining for me.

 

  1. Steam Whistle Brewery

Although I am not a huge beer fan I totally loved this place. At only $13 for the tour, you really get a real bang for your buck as throughout the tour you are given 2/3 free drinks. Yes, you heard me, FREE ALCOHOL! So it is cheaper than going to a pub! The tour lasts around 30 mins which was the perfect length. I visited the brewery on the weekend so the factory wasn’t running but we still got to see all of the machines. However, if possible I would try to go midweek when the place is operating so you can see everything in action.

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Steam Whistle Brewery, Toronto
  1. Harbour front

On a nice day the harbour front is a gorgeous place for a walk, there is usually quite a lot going on down there on the weekends. There are seating areas and little beaches looking out onto Lake Ontario where you can get your tan onnnnn. At harbour front you can get a boat over to the Toronto Islands where you can rent bikes and canoes, it is also a great picnic destination with loads of seating areas and apparently there are BBQs that can be used by the public

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Harbour Front Toronto
  1. St. Lawrence market

The St. Lawrence Market claims to be ‘one of the world’s great food markets’, and honestly based on what I saw I would back that claim up. This amazing old market brings together some of Toronto’s freshest foods all sold from individual stalls. Some of the stalls you will find at the market include a Fruit & Veg Stall, a Juice Bar, a Butcher, Homemade pasta stall, a Cheese Stall and many many more. This place isn’t only for grocery shopping, many of the vendors are there to solely provide to the hungry shoppers. I have been told the St. Lawrence market is known for its Peameal Bacon Buns, so if you are in the area check them out.

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St. Lawrence Food Market
  1. Kensington market

Another spot for the foodies, only this one is outdoor so check the weather before you go. This little area is FULL of loads of little restaurants with so many different types of food on offer you will be spoilt for choice. From what I could tell the restaurants were more for lunch or casual bites as they had minimal seating and a line up process. While you are in the area you should go into the big indoor craft market. This building is home to all the little ‘bits and bobs’ that made me want to buy Christmas presents for people in April …

  1. Queen Street West

In this funky area you will find loads of quaint coffee shops, boutiques and little restaurants. Perfect way to escape the rustle and bustle of Yonge Street. While you are there keep your eyes open for the street art/graffiti that covers most corners.

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Queen Street’s Street Art
  1. Distillery District

I didn’t get a chance to get to The Distillery District, but I have only heard good things. Based in and around a distillery that was founded in 1832, the place perfectly combines the new with the old. Expect to find restaurants, retail shops, art galleries and much more.

I hope this article has been able to help anyone who plans on visiting Toronto. If you have any other suggestions that I may have left out or not had a chance to see feel free to comment below.

Thanks for reading,

The Girl on the Go xx

Protein Powder – Myth Busting

I get a lot of questions especially from girls about protein powder and why I take it. I remember when I first started taking it, I never wanted to take it in public because I didn’t want to have to justify myself to anyone as to why I was taking it. It seems to be this thing that everyone that doesn’t know anything about it has an opinion on it. So I am here to set some things straight. Hopefully this article will be able to give you some evidence based answers on some of the common questions and set some ‘myths’ straight – so next time someone questions you, you can hit them with the #EvidenceBased.

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Let’s get some facts on the table first

Protein is one of three macronutrients, the other two being fats and carbohydrates. Everyone has different macronutrient requirements based on their height, weight and goals. Protein, carbs and fats are the main nutrients that make up the food we all consume on a day to day basis. So if you are getting your carbohydrates from pasta or fruit, fats from peanut butter or avocados and protein from chicken or protein powder. In simple terms, your body isn’t going to know the difference between foods with similar nutritional makeup.

Chicken Breast Nutritional Breakdown (100g):

Calories:  110

Carbs:      0g

Fats:         1.2g

Protein:     23g

1 Serving of Protein powder (the brand I use):

Calories:   98

Carbs:      1.9g

Fats:         1.9g

Protein:     18g

So not exactly the same but you can see the pattern. Both chicken breasts and protein powder have similar nutritional makeup.

Now let’s address the Myths:

Protein Powder makes you ‘Manly’:

Although our bodies are extremely smart, they aren’t able to differentiate a chicken breast from protein powder, even though they both have similar macronutrient makeup.  For example, my body is not going to say,‘  “Right, this is protein powder not chicken so I am going to grow Amy a beard”. I never really understood the whole ‘protein powder makes you manly’ myth, but hopefully that has cleared things up for you guys.

Protein powder makes you ‘bulky’:

I understand why people might think protein powder makes you ‘bulky’. It’s not uncommon to hear hear those ‘broscience’ guys (the industry’s term for people who think they know everything, with little scientific knowledge on the subject) talking about having to take their shakes so they can get ‘huge’. And they are right in some ways, when we work out our muscle fibres become damaged, and after our workout they have to repair themselves. Protein is needed to stimulate the growth and repair process. This is where the protein and ‘becoming bulky’ overlap, but correlation does not mean causation. For both males and females, becoming ‘bulky’ is not easy. It requires years of intense training and a certain diet based on their goals. To become ‘bulky’, you have to be eating above maintenance (more food then your body needs) and be kicking ass in the gym everyday, but even when you are doing those two things it doesn’t happen overnight. Quite the contrary. It takes months to build muscle that you will notice, let alone get ‘bulky’. Not to mention the hormones that come into play, women just don’t have enough testosterone and other male hormones in their body to get ‘bulky’ without being on some kind of substance geared towards making them more bulky.

Whey protein can damage the liver & kidneys

According to Examine.com (an excellent scientific-based source for all things health) whey protein (the most common protein powder) does not harm the liver of kidneys. However, people with existing liver or kidney problems shouldn’t increase protein intake without speaking to their doctor first. But for the average Joe’s with perfectly functioning kidneys and livers, we should be good.

So why am I using protein powder?

I find that protein powder is very useful for helping me to hit my daily protein goals. Some days I will get enough protein from my main meals, and other days I won’t. This is when protein powder can be so useful.  A shake is a great snack, it is portable, filling and tastes damn good! I do like to get my macronutrients from whole, minimally processed food where possible, but from a convenience point of view you can’t fault it. Id much rather reach my protein goal from protein powder, than not reach it at all.

I hope you guys found this post useful and that it was able to clear up some questions or concerns anyone had about protein powder. Any additional questions feel free to comment and I will try answer to the best of the ability. Don’t forget to follow my page. See you in the next post!

The Girl on the Go xx

 

San Francisco in a Nutshell

San Francisco is one of my favourite cities in the States. It has so much character  and it is jam packed with things to do and to see.

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Pier 39’s Seals

 

Both times I have been in San Francisco I have gone on the Big Bus Tour, not only is it a really easy and scenic way to get around the city and get to the main attractions, you also learn some cool facts and history about the place. I know super touristy but the hop on hop off service is perfect for people wanting to cover a large amount of ground in a short space of time. Big Bus Tours are available in loads of cities and you can find out more on their website here. The bus brings you to the city’s key attractions, here is what you have to see at some of the stops, whether you decide to go on the bus or not;

1. Fisherman’s wharf – Pier 39 is a must, although some people might think it is a ‘tourist trap’, it is actually a really cool area. It almost reminds me of some type of theme park/carnival. The place is filled with ice-cream parlours, touristy merchandise shops, candy shops, some cute cafés and some restaurants. It might sound super over the top but it is actually really cool to see and have a walk through.  Not to forget the best part, there are usually close to 30 seals that sunbathe on the floats in the harbour next to pier 39.

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Pier 39, San Francisco
  • Boudin bakery – While you are down in Fisherman’s wharf you have to visit this place. This huge bakery is famous for their sour dough bread, you will smell this place from down the street. You have to try their bread bowls, they take one of their sourdough loaves and cut the middle out and fill it with either Chilli or Seafood Chowder (I preferred the Chilli). Watch out for the seagulls with the remains of your bowls.
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    Boudin Sour Dough Bread Bowls

2. Far side of Golden Gate Bridge – The bus will bring you to a car park just across The Golden Gate Bridge, or similarly later on in this article I mention renting bikes that you could cycle to the other side of the bridge either. In this car park just across the bridge there is a shuttle bus that brings you down to a little town called Sausalito and back. Sausalito is gorgeous and is always 3-4 degrees warmer, it feels like you are jumping into a different country. Sausalito is a lot smaller and feels more European than Northern American.

3. Union Square – I suppose Union Square is the ‘centre’ of San Francisco. This is where you will find all of the shops and big department stores. I didn’t spend much time in this area but if you are in the mood to shop there seemed to be a good selection of stores. There is a little park in the middle of the square which is really nice for having your coffee in.

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Union Square Park, San Francisco

4. Haight-Ashbury – This neighbourhood is the ‘Hippie’ area in San Francisco and it is one of the stops on the Big Bus Tour. Here you will find some cool artsy coffee shops, restaurants and vintage boutiques. Some of Netflix new series ‘Girl Boss’ is filmed here.

Other activities

1. Alcatraz – Alcatraz, the infamous and notorious former federal prison, located 1.25km from the San Francisco shore is definitely worth a visit. You can get the boat (not very pleasant on a bad day) over to Alcatraz just a few piers down from pier 39. I would recommend booking in advance if you are going to go during peak season and I would also advise you to watch the movie ‘Escape From Alcatraz’ before you go.

2. Rent Bikes – We rented bikes in Fishermans wharf and cycled along the Bay to the Golden Gate Bridge, it is a really stunning cycle with only one steep hill on the way there. If you continue along the trail you will come to the area where you get the ‘famous’ picture with the Golden Gate Bridge over your shoulder.

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This picture is actually from the Sausalito side – but same idea. Great picture opportunity!

Food

1. Tony’s Pizzeria – Oh My Lanta… I am going to come out with a huge statement and say that my meal at Tony’s Pizzeria was the best I have ever had. It is a must when in San Francisco. However, it’s an extremely popular spot, we had to wait for a table and we were there only 5 minutes after it had opened for lunch.

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If that isn’t the look of happiness I don’t know what is

2. The Original Ghirardelli Ice-Cream and Chocolate Shop – Go and get yourself an ice-cream sundae in chocolate heaven, you will have to wait to get in so bring an umbrella! You order at the door and then sit down, it is quite an efficient system and they don’t expect you to be sitting around for hours. I loved the Sea Salt Caramel Sundae.

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Ghirardelli Sundae, San Francisco

 

These activities and food places are just the tip of the ice berg, San Francisco has so much to offer and is a truly fantastic city (apart from the cold). If you are heading to the West coast it is a must and I guarantee you will love it. Hop you enjoyed this post and don’t forget to subscribe to emails below. See you in the next one.

The Girl on the Go xx

7 ways to Pack Smarter

I have been so lucky that I have been able to travel and visit so many cool places during my study exchange in Canada, check out New York in 4 daysBoston – Top 5 things to do in Boston and Ottawa in 1 day for more information on the places I visited. I can safely say that all the little trips in the back of others people cars and on budget airlines has forced me to become an expert bag packer and to make the most of my tiny suitcase. Here are my secrets.

Tip 1: By faaaar the most important tip – Roll dont fold. You won’t believe how much more you will be able to fit in a case when your clothes are rolled.

Tip 2: Plan !!! Look up the weather and roughly plan an outfit for every day of your trip – This will help you to avoid packing things you dont need.

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Outfit planning

Tip 3: Fill any shoes you are putting in your case.

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Stuffed shoes. Check.

Tip 4: Wear the bulkiest items you are bringing.

Tip 5: Get ‘mini’ toiletries.

Tip 6: Pack the essentials in your carry on backpack. I often carry a change of clothes in my backpack incase (god forbid) my suitcase goes missing.

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Essentials. Check. (Back pack from Pennies 13 euro)

Tip 7: Carry a reusable bag for dirty laundry so don’t have to sort through them when your home

I hope these 7 simple tips will be able to help you make the most of your suitcase for your next trip away. Don’t forget to sign up for email updates on all things ‘The Girl on the Go’. See you in the next one.

The Girl on the Go xx

New York’s Sweet Treats

This one is for all the sweet-toothed people out there like myself. New York is home to some of the best spots for people like you and me. In my few days there I tried to get to as many of them as possible for you guys and here is my list. Just incase you couldn’t tell from my Instagram account, I definitely didn’t end up sticking to my own How to Stay Healthy Whilst Traveling tips. As they say when in New York…(In no particular order).

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New York – Angelo’s Pizza Broadway – Cheese Cake

1) Magnolia Bakery

By faaaaaaaar the best thing I had in New York came from Magnolia. Despite having a few locations around New York the place was jammed with people trying to get the good stuff – Banana Pudding. Little back story on me. Bananas are the top of a very short list of the foods I don’t like/won’t eat. Despite all of their amazing health benefits I wouldn’t eat one if someone paid me $1,000. But I bit the bullet and tried the Banana pudding from magnolia last time i was there because I love banana bread so imagined they would be similar. I fell in love. I still hate bananas but id say I dream about this pudding once a week. Their peanut butter bars were also amazing. They tasted like Reeces cups on a biscuit. Honestly, to die for.

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Banana Pudding from Magnolia

On a side note this place is takeaway only, but if you are lucky and are in there when it isn’t too busy there is a small ledge where you can stand and eat your cakes.

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Magnolia Bakery – 6th Avenue, New York

Overall 10/10

2) Serendipity

Channelled my inner Kim K and went on a hot date to Serendipity. I havent seen the movie ‘Serendipity’ so I am sorry for the terrible reference. Anyway, we had heard about the ‘infamous’ frozen hot chocolate so we had to try it. I tried to go last time I was in New York and arrived at 2/3pm and there was a 45 minute line out the door. This time we made sure we got there 5 minutes before it opened so we would be in the first seating session. This was on a Friday morning and there was already a line formed when we arrived, I would imagine on the weekends it could be worse.

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Frozen Hot Chocolate from Serendipity III

They do lunch there too, the people beside us got some of it and while it looked good, it was nothing special. Instead, we decided we would go somewhere we really wanted to go rather than just settling for an average lunch here. So onto the Frozen Hot chocolate, DEFINITELY share one! No matter how hungry you are, these things are bloody filling so don’t over do it. I enjoyed it, I would say it is a cool place to go if you haven’t been but I wouldn’t be rushing back only because I didn’t think it was special enough to line up for. See more pictures over on my Instagram.

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Serendipity III – New York

Overall 8/10

3) Dylan’s Candy Bar

This one is definitely not for the people who don’t like sugary things. You can smell this place from down the block, it is jam packed with so many sweets, chocolate and fudge the sweet smells could knock someone out. There are a few locations around New York.

Everything is seriously overpriced but it is worth the visit, there is a wall that shows you what lots of celebrity’s favourite candy is, so that is cool to check out!

Overall 8/10

4) Dó
I went to DÓ to see what all the Instagram hype was all about (fooled no one with that last sentence, the place looked delicious). We queued in a line across the street for 25 mins before we were allowed to go in and order (thought we would be queuing for much longer!). We were given a menu which listed at least 16 different flavours that we could choose from.

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DÓ Cookie Dough New York. French Vanilla Pink Cone with Cake Batter and PB Snickerdoodle

It seems that when we ordered 2 scoops we forgot that you can only really have a few mouth fulls of cookie dough before you feel sick. Two scoops was way too much and you never really hear that coming from me. If you are going SHARE a 1 scoop!!

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Overall 7/10

5) Cakes by Melissa

Cute little bakery found in numerous locations around New York. There was one right beside my hotel last time I was there, which I was in waaaay too many times. They do mini cupcakes and mini macarons. When you walk in you will think that they are too small (trust me I did), but with a cup of coffee one of each is the perfect little treat to satisfy a sweet craving. Not the cheapest but when you are only getting a few it is not too bad.

Overall 9/10

6) Doughnuttery

This little place can be found in the food market below the Plaza Hotel – which I will mention is bloody unbelievable!! It is like a little village down there! So down there, there was a little doughnut stall, which as far as I am told can also be found in the Chelsea Food Market called Doughnuttery. This little stall served mini doughnuts at a minimum of 6. All of the doughnuts were prepared plain and you we chose what flavour/topping/sugar that would be on your doughnuts. There were some crazy flavours on that menu. We got the glazed and the Coco Loco. They were DEVINE. Even better was they were still a bit warm.

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Doughnuttery Menu – The Plaza Hotel, New York

Overall 9/10 

I really wanted to go to The Chelsea Food Market and Blacktap for their famous Milkshakes, so I will be back! I hope this list has been informative and that you enjoy it. If you did like or find it helpful give it a like and subscribe below.

The Girl on the Go xx