Croatia: Expensive but worth it

Ultra

This trip was originally organised around the Ultra Europe Music Festival. This is the 5th year of Ultra Europe and it was held in Poljud stadium which is a 15-20 minute walk from the centre of Split.

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We booked an Airbnb before Ultra was even confirmed and we aimed for the centre of the town. The camping for the festival is actually about a 30 minute drive from the stadium so we thought this was a better idea.

There were 4 of us going to the festival and the tickets were €184 for the three days. We also bought tickets for the opening party ~ €35 and the Ultra Beach Party in Hvar (€114)

The opening party was brilliant. I love techno music and it was a real chilled vibe. Drinks were expensive though. One of the girls spent €33 on a DVRV so I though the sensible thing to do was to buy a bottle of vodka!!

All glittered up for the opening party! Aisling, me, Maeve and La-Reina

All glittered up for the opening party! Aisling, me, Maeve and La-Reina

Then onto the actual festival that went on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It's hard to put into words the experience of a dance music festival. I absolutely love the vibe of events like this outside Ireland. I drank a good bit but didn't really get drunk and I don't do drugs so I was just high on life! The music went on until 5am each day and my body was exhausted from dancing so much!

Here we go! Myself, Aisling and Maeve at the entrance of Ultra  

Here we go! Myself, Aisling and Maeve at the entrance of Ultra

 

My outfit is from Pretty Little Thing. Shoes are Penneys and Glasses are Cari's Closet

My outfit is from Pretty Little Thing. Shoes are Penneys and Glasses are Cari's Closet

I thought the festival was great value as all the top names were there. I liked that it was so close to the city of Split rather than in the middle of nowhere. Drinks were fairly priced but the food in the stadium was awful. Pizza slices on the way there and back were my dancing fuel!

The visuals on the main stage were amazing

The visuals on the main stage were amazing

Day 2 outfit: Boohoo Multi-Way Swim Suit and belt, Penneys denim shorts. The head piece is Pretty Little Thing.

Day 2 outfit: Boohoo Multi-Way Swim Suit and belt, Penneys denim shorts. The head piece is Pretty Little Thing.

Great to see Rory Lynam play the main stage at Ultra!

Great to see Rory Lynam play the main stage at Ultra!

Proud to see familiar faces DJing at Ultra - Rory Lynam and Steven Cooper

Proud to see familiar faces DJing at Ultra - Rory Lynam and Steven Cooper

I don't think Ultra compares to Tommorrowland or Balaton Sound in terms of size - it really is just 4 stages where as the other two are full villages. Ultra has the advantage of being in a city though and it is really good value for the price of it!

Split

We landed into Split (for Ultra) late on the Thursday so didn't get to explore until Friday. Straight away we loved the little streets, filled with character and good vibes. We ate at a highly recommended restaurant called Bokeria. The breakfast menu was delicious. We actually ended up going back for dinner that evening too.

Everything is so picturesque! 

Everything is so picturesque! 

Hungover head on me after Day 1 of Ultra! Top and shorts are Penneys. Sunglasses are Ray Bans. 

Hungover head on me after Day 1 of Ultra! Top and shorts are Penneys. Sunglasses are Ray Bans. 

Brunch - garlic mozerella bruschetta with prosciutto  

Brunch - garlic mozerella bruschetta with prosciutto  

Dinner - Burger and chips... dancing fuel! 

Dinner - Burger and chips... dancing fuel! 

We took a stroll along the promenade which was packed full of restaurants and bars with fabulous views of the marina.

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We also wandered through some of the streets and found some beautiful old architecture. Our minds were in Ultra mode so we didn't actually make the effort to learn any of the history!

Diocletian's Palace

Diocletian's Palace

One of seven UNESCORTED World Heritage Sites in Croatia

One of seven UNESCORTED World Heritage Sites in Croatia

On our third day in Split we went searching for a beach and found a beach bar beside a pier where people were jumping and swimming. There was music and a lot of the Ultra crowd were there having the cure before going again! Our other friends found a sandy beach a little further on called Bacvice.

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Another restaurant we were recommended was Fife so we went here for lunch on the Sunday. I found it a bit basic but good value. We had some fabulous food and cocktails in Brasserieon7, which is at the marina - highly recommended!

Cocktails for Breakfast at Brasserieon7

Cocktails for Breakfast at Brasserieon7

More burgers and chips... I did alternate with Pizza slices too! 

More burgers and chips... I did alternate with Pizza slices too! 

I really liked Split and would definitely go back. There are so many more activities we could have done like day trips, wine tours, cruises. We would have loved more time to explore the nightlife of Split but because of the festival we didn't have much time, despite being there for 4 nights!

Hvar

On Monday morning we got the Jadrolinija ferry from Split to Hvar. Our advice on the ferries is to book online in advance and allow plenty of extra time as they don't stick to the expected journey times at all.

We were late booking the accommodation and demand was high so we had to book a hostel - Hostel Villa Zorana. I was a little wary but we booked private rooms and we were actually delighted with it! The rooms were big enough, the staff were really helpful and the location was perfect. The views were amazing from the balconies.

Happy in the hostel! Dungarees are from Lefties in Portugal and the top is a body suit from Penneys

Happy in the hostel! Dungarees are from Lefties in Portugal and the top is a body suit from Penneys

Straight away I fell in love with Hvar. We wandered into the town that evening (I spent the afternoon catching up on Ultra sleep!) and there was the most amazing sunset. I found out later, there was a fire that caused the striking sunset.

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We picked a restaurant off the cuff as we wanted a mixture of cuisines. The food was fine but the setting in the marina was beautiful. We found a fabulous little bar for cocktails and gins but we had an early night.

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We got up on the Tuesday and found the taxi boats. There are several smaller islands around Hvar with secluded beaches. We paid 40kn (about €6.50) for a return ticket.

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We took the boat to the island Jerolim. It was extraordinary... There were two beach bars on the island and the beaches were actually nudist beaches so not for the prudish! The beaches are rocky so I would recommend water shoes from the start of your trip.

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You can take the boat back at any time or you can move on to the next island - Carpe Diem.

On Tuesday evening we had the Ultra Beach Party. It was very expensive for what we got but the music was amazing and we danced our legs off once more.

Swimsuit from Boohoo - I think this is the only occasion I could wear it!

Swimsuit from Boohoo - I think this is the only occasion I could wear it!

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Prices in Hvar were quite inflated for the tourists and you're looking at 70-100kn (€10-€14) for a G&T, even on the islands.

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On Wednesday, we had a really good breakfast at a place called BB Bar. Then we took the taxi boat to Carpe Diem, which is a beach club on another island, and once again we get like we walked into a post card. The beach beds were luxurious and sea was sparkling. We spent a good bit on food and drink and I even bought a bottle of Moët to toast my aunt's anniversary. There is a pier to jump off and the sea is so refreshing!

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Again, we took the taxi boat back to Hvar before getting a 3-hour ferry on to Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik

We were only in Dubrovnik for a day and half but we tried to squeeze in as much as possible. My friend booked the apartment through booking.com and the location was brilliant. We had amazing views looking over the walls of Dubrovnik. 

I have never watched Game of Thrones but some of it is filmed in Dubrovnik so it may look familiar in the photos!

We arrived late on the Wednesday night so we just walked into the town and had a late dinner. On Thursday, we wanted to squeeze in as much as possible. We started off with breakfast and I even managed to find protein pancakes! I am the worst blogger ever - I never took the name of the place!

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There are lots of steps in Dubrovnik

There are lots of steps in Dubrovnik

Lots and lots of steps!

Lots and lots of steps!

Next up we went to walk the city walls. We left it a bit late in the morning to do it and ended up walking around in the mid day heat. It was 150kn (about €20) each to access the walls. There is lots of climbing to do but the views are magnificent. It takes 1-2 hours to walk around depending on how long you stop for photos etc. There are also a few cafes dotted around the walk. Refreshments were necessary in the heat!

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We then went and found a boat to take us to Lokrum island. This is a nature reserve on an island just beside Dubrovnik. There is an entrance fee for the island. I think it was about 150kn too. I found it a bit expensive for what it was. I saw a few peacocks but other than that it wasn't as nice as some of the islands off Hvar. More rocky beaches and expensive cafes. 

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On Thursday evening we went to fabulous restaurant just outside the city walls (Elaine, if you're reading this - I'm sorry I didn't check the itinerary!). The food was good and the setting beside the city walls was beautiful. We stayed late drinking wine there and for some reason they gave us a big discount on our bill!

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To squeeze in as much as possible, we got up early on Friday and went up the Dubrovnik cable cars. They were right beside our apartment. We paid another 150kn to go up. The views are magnificent. We literally got out of the cable car onto a balcony, took a few pictures and queued to get back on the cable car. Again, I found it expensive for a short experience.

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All in all, from what I saw of Dubrovnik, I liked it. But I did find everything very pricey. Even to use public bathrooms, you had to pay.

Krka Waterfalls

We rented a car from Europcar to be picked up from Dubrovnik airport to get us to Zadar

We rented a car from Europcar to be picked up from Dubrovnik airport to get us to Zadar

On the way up we stopped at Krka Waterfalls (about 4 hours from Dubrovnik). It is a national park that you pay about 180kn (~€25) to enter. You are taken on a coach to the centre of the park. The walk through the forest is stunning with mini waterfalls, lakes and fish. It was really hot so we were dying to find the big waterfalls to swim in!

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We made our way to the bottom of the waterfalls and it was quite busy. We had to take turns watching the bags while we swam. There was a surprisingly very strong current, and once again we were regretting not buying beach shoes at the start of the holiday! The views were fabulous and the swim was very refreshing. 

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Zadar

We left Krka and drove on to Zadar (another 1.5 hours). We arrived in Friday evening to our next AirBnB right on the edge of the river. The location was perfect as it was just across the bridge from the centre of Zadar.

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We found a nice restaurant called 2ribara and sat outside. The staff were rude (to be honest I didn't find the restaurant staff very warm anywhere in Croatia) but the food was good. Straight away we noticed that the prices in Zadar were so much better than everywhere else we had been. We went for a G&T and the prices were half that of Hvar for a Hendricks (about 35kn which is only about €5).

On the Saturday we went looking for a nice breakfast place but we just had a basic brunch and it was probably too hot to be sitting outdoors. We asked about beaches and were told there was one 10 minute drive away or another 10 minute walk away. We opted for the walk and found a beach bar beside a pier. There was a diving board and a man made pool with sea water. I wasn't feeling well that day so I didn't stay long. 

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We had a really good meal that evening in a restaurant called Proto - recommended by one of the girl's sister.

Our last supper

Our last supper

Pork - not my usual choice but it was recommended

Pork - not my usual choice but it was recommended

We ate early and then went to see the Sea Organ and the Sun Salutation. I think these are the main tourist attractions in Zadar. It was very very busy everywhere but it was nice sitting on the steps above the sea organ and listening to the waves creating music. Everybody was quiet listening to it. 

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I probably should have googled the sun salutation as I didn't really understand it. To me, it just looked like a big disco floor! 

Zadar was busy but lively and we found a nice bar for a few G&Ts. Again, really happy with the value.

We still had a full day on Sunday to spend in Zadar and we thought we had pretty much seen it all so we started looking for ideas of somewhere to go. The last thing I wanted to do was get on another boat but I realised that you can actually drive onto Pag island. 

Pag

Pag is just over an hour's drive from Zadar. The drive itself is stunning.

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We went to a beach called Zrce which was definitely more of a party beach. It was full of restaurants, bars and a few beach clubs. We just rented beach beds and swam beside one of the beach clubs. It was empty when we got there but filled up fast. I was raging we didn't go there on the Saturday and make a day of it. We couldn't stay for the day on Sunday as we were flying home that evening from Zadar.

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If you're looking for a party island, Pag is your place!

Summary

I highly recommend a visit to Croatia! I was so surprised at how beautiful it was. It felt so tropical! We could do the whole trip again and still have loads to do in each location (except for Zadar). My favourite place was Hvar. There are so many other places we could have gone too. I will definitely be back!

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Just make sure you budget enough for spending money! It might have been extra expensive while we were there because of Ultra but just to be aware!

Thank you for reading, hope you found it helpful!

Siobhan x

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Tenerife: A Rocky Review

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I ended up in Tenerife after a scan on Skyscanner showed return flights with Aerlingus for only €151 return. I wanted to go somewhere I hadn't been before and some guaranteed sunshine!

I did a little research on the area and decided to stay in Los Americas as it seemed to be quite lively (even though I was travelling alone, I like somewhere with a bit of a buzz). I found an apartment on AirBnB that seemed to be in walking distance of everything. One thing I always look out for is cooking facilities as I like to prepare some of my own meals to keep an eye on my intake. The selling point for me and this apartment was that the balcony had a sea view and this is where I would be able to work.

Fresh off a photo shoot Monday morning, I flew to Tenerife and had great intentions of trying to stay on track so when I landed in Tenerife, I got a taxi to the AirBnb, dumped my bags and decided to go wandering for some healthy food.

I started walking down the strip and I saw PR people outside every restaurant. I was actually ready to be persuaded but I think most people saw me on my own and presumed I wasn't out for something to eat. I went into a restaurant, ordered some 'grilled chicken' (I think it was fried!), some garlic bread (balance) and a large glass of white wine (yolo).

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After a good night's sleep, I went to a gym called Minimal Fitness on the recommendation of a follower from the UK. It was perfect. It had a large free weights area, 2 racks, 2 smith machines and lots of weighted machines. I paid €38 for a weekly pass but it is €8 for a day pass. Just to note that I somehow got very lost after putting it into Google Maps so just search CC Zentral Centre.

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fter training I went to the supermarket close to my hotel and spent ages looking at what was available, while trying to plan my food in my head. The supermarkets didn't seem any cheaper than at home really.

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Once I had unpacked, cooked and caught up on emails, I decided to venture down to the beach and see if I could book some surfing lessons.

I didn't really know where I was going so I just followed the water and I have to say I was a bit disappointed when I saw the beach. The beach was really rocky and I quickly realised I wouldn't be lying on the towel I brought with me! However, the boardwalk along the beach is really nice. It is scattered with shops and restaurants looking over the sea. I walked for a good bit, taking in the scenery and eventually made it back to the apartment.

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Coincidentally, I saw that Claire McGrath was in Tenerife too. She was staying in Adeje with Julie from The Gym Monasterevin and her kids so I arranged to meet them for dinner. They chose a beautiful restaurant called La Forola Del Mar in Adeje. We had a perfect table overlooking the beach. The view got even better as the sun set.

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The food was top class. I chose clams in white wine and garlic sauce and then a sea bass in a salted crust for the mains. We saved the carbs for champagne!! We were last to leave and even had a nice gin to cap off the night. I would highly recommend a visit to this restaurant if you are anywhere near Adeje.

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On Wednesday, I arranged to meet a follower of mine who happened to work with my friend in Australia. Carla was staying in Los Cristianos with her mam so she had suggested going to the water park together which I thought was a great idea! Carla is from Magharfelt between Belfast and Derry. She trains in a cross fit gym there so before we went to the waterpark, we did a session in Minimal and we got on so well!

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We decided to go for breakfast in a lovely restaurant on the boardwalk. I was still trying to be good so I went for scrambled eggs and toast to refuel.

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Siam Park is one of the biggest water parks in Europe. Tickets were €35 each. There is a free bus from Los Americas but we decided to get a taxi and it was only about €4.

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We arrived at about 1pm and spent a few hours going on a few slides. There is the option to buy a fast pass bracelet but I think it had limited uses so we didn't bother. Since it was June and most kids were still in school, we didn't find any of the queues too bad. The rides were all great and there was a good mix - from the Tower of Power to the Lazy River, there was something for everyone. There was also a great selection of food. I thought I would have to get a burger and chips but I was able to get roast chicken and veg.

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I would say we spent about 5 hours there in total. We didn't do any sunbathing but there are beds scattered around as well as a 'Beach' beside the wave pool.

I had to work for the evening and then I decided to take a stroll down to the shops. I was in Pull & Bear when Carla text to say herself and her mother where going for a gin across the road. I couldn't say no! We went to Harry's Bar across from the Hard Rock Hotel. I found this part of Los Americas much nicer. It reminded me of Vegas - but that could have been because of the water fountain displays!

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On Thursday, I trained again and went to get my hair blow dried in a place called New Generation, near my apartment. The staff were lovely! I then spent most of Thursday doing some work, recording videos etc. I went to Papagayo Beach Club to edit some videos and I tried Sushi for the first time. I got a mixed plate and it was nice but I was still hungry after it!

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I had arranged to meet Carla and Marie for dinner that evening. Several people had recommended Bianco to me so I managed to book a table. It is an Italian restaurant in the same area as the Hard Rock Hotel. We shared some Foccacia with garlic oil and rosemary, and then I got the steak with tomato and Parmesan salad. I had to have a glass of prosecco when in a nice Italian! We also shared a dessert - a chocolate fondant, and it was sensational!!

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I think all the restaurants in that block are owned by one company called 'Venture'. We were told that if we took the receipt across the road to Magic, we could get 50% off our first drinks. We went over and I got very excited about the gin menu - They had a huge selection! We ordered three different gin and tonics and I think the total was €22 and that was with 50% off so it was expensive - although the setting was really nice and they were quality gins.

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On Friday, Carla came and met me for one last training session and breakfast before they flew home. I was left to my own devices again and did lots of walking. I booked a surfing lesson for that evening with a company called Palm Beach. I had done two lessons before but didn't really know what I was doing so I was glad to see it was only one other couple and me for the group lesson. I paid €35 and that includes all your wet gear and equipment. 

Our instructor was Italian and she was very thorough and enthusiastic, although a little difficult to understand. We did some practice on the land before heading out to sea. Once we were out there she took turns with each of us helping us to catch the wave. It is so hard to get standing on the board - and even when I managed it a few times, I was falling within a second or two! I thought I would want to do more lessons over the next few days but I was exhausted and I was a little worried I would injure myself. The sea bed was very rocky. I really enjoyed it though!

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I had dinner in the restaurant beside the surf school, some fresh seabass with salad and potatoes and it was just perfect. Then I took a little stroll down to Papagaya Beach Club and had a gin (are you sensing a theme here?!) while I watched the sunset. I was just so happy!

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On Saturday morning, I booked to go on a Kayak excursion with Tenerife Sports Club. It was €35 including transfers to Los Cristianos, which is where we set off from. I was on my own and I was a beginner so the instructor came with me in my kayak. There is also the option to go yourself or go on a stand-up paddle board. There were two other couples and a family of 5 on the excursion. The family were having a nightmare trying to kayak. They just weren't paddling properly and the instructor was getting frustrated with them, as were the others on the trip - they were really slowing us down. Eventually they got the hang of it and we were on our way! We went out to the open sea and headed towards the fish farms to try find some dolphins. I spotted a fin and got excited. We hovered around there for a while, waiting for the dolphins to show but then we decided to move on to get in close to a cave/bay. It was beautiful and calm - so picturesque. When we headed back around the fish farms again, the instructor got excited as he saw groups (flocks!?) of birds near the water, which meant there were fish, and therefore, dolphins near by. We ended up getting so close to two huge dolphins. They swam around our kayaks and I was afraid I was going to get knocked out of the kayak but it really was amazing getting close enough to touch them (but I didn't!). I'd highly recommend this trip. My arms were a little tired by the end and I would think I have strong shoulders! I don't have any photos because the instructor had a waterproof camera but afterwards we were told we cold buy the photos for €20 and after reviewing them, I didn't think it was worth it. 

Saturday turned into a 'cheat day' for me. I was just grazing on chocolate all day and then I decided to go out for a proper meal. I walked down to the nice area again and had a look at a few menus. I ended up going to a place called Monkey Bravo. Somebody had mentioned the Monkey brand to me and I chose the Italian restaurant because I really wanted a pizza. Another reason I chose this place is that there was no PR person trying to get me in!

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The food was really good. I got a garlic and cheese bruschetta with no tomatoes and tomato soup ( I realised the irony). The presentation was impressive. The soup came out in a jug with a knob of garlic butter and croutons in the bowl and then you pour the soup on top. The pizza was really delicious and my mouth is watering thinking back on it as I type.

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After dinner I went to meet one of the couples I met on the kayaks for a drink. I got a vodka... lol jk, I got a Gin! Just the one, then I bought some cookies for dessert and went back to the apartment.

 

On Sunday I wanted to go to the market in Los Cristianos so I checked it on Google Maps and it was about a 30 minute walk so off I went. The market is on Tuesdays and Sundays and has all your typical fake branded stuff as well as some crafts. I wandered around Los Cristianos a bit, stopping for lunch and coffee. It is a nice area, probably nicer than Los Americas.

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I got a taxi back to Los Americas and went out for dinner again. This time I wanted a steak and found a steak house called Empire. Again, it seemed to be part of the Venture group as I was offered the 50% off in Magic. The fillet steak was really good - cooked to perfection and well presented (very instagrammable!) I went for roasted root veg instead of chips and I even managed to stay on track that evening - I got some dark chocolate and went home to work on emails.

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Monday was my last day so I started the day with a training session with another girl from Dublin who got in touch. She had competed a few years ago so it was great to chat to her about it. I went for a wander around Los Americas again in the afternoon before leaving for the airport at about 4pm.

Conclusion

I didn't think I would have so much to write! When I get asked 'How was Tenerife?' I have been saying 'Grand' but on reflection, I had some amazing meals and some great experiences on the excursions. I know I should have done an excursion to go see the volcanos but I couldn't find a morning that worked. In my head I was comparing it to Alvor (see the blog I wrote on Alvor) and I didn't find it as nice. I thought the area I stayed in was very tacky but once I ventured a little further it seemed to get much nicer. If I was to go back I would probably stay in Adeje or Los Cristianos. I would say Las Americas is perfect for a hen/stag party. I saw plenty of them! 

What do you think? Do you love Tenerife? Was I missing something? I'd love to hear your opinions?

Thanks for reading! I actually like writing these travel blogs - even if nobody reads them!

Siobhan x

Alvor: My second home​

I am back with another travel blog! I'm not a very frequent "blogger" but I feel like I've blogged about all the fundamentals of fitness so if that is what you're here for, check out some of my favourites under the 'Blog' section

I have a crazy vision of travelling the world as a travel blogger but I'm going to share a place very close to my heart and that I feel like I know inside out... Alvor in Portugal. My family run a business there and I used to live there in 2011, plus I visit as much as I can and feel like I should have a Ryanair loyalty card for Faro airport at this stage!

After spending 2.5 weeks in Alvor recently, I received so many questions looking for advice on where to stay and what to do so I decided to blog about it.

Alvor is a traditional fishing village in the South of Portugal. Unlike some of the other towns in the Algarve, Alvor still has the authentic Portuguese vibes while still containing enough accommodation, dining and activities to cater for the booming tourist industry.

How to get there

Alvor is in the Algarve in the south of Portugal and Faro is the closest airport. Both Aer Lingus and Ryanair fly to Faro from Dublin and Belfast year round with seasonal flights from Derry, Cork and Knock. Alvor is about 45-50 minutes from the airport if you get a direct transfer on the main road (A22). There are lots of transfer companies but some will stop on every resort on the way to Alvor which will take hours or some will take the R125 to reduce toll costs and this adds on a lot of time to your journey. I would recommend booking with A22 Transfers. It would cost in the region of €50-€60 and can be booked directly on the website or on their Facebook page.

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Where to stay

I usually stay with family but I would have heard honest reviews from all the tourists I've spoken to over the years so here are just a few I'll mention.

Most of the accommodation in Alvor is slightly outside of the town which means a little bit of a walk away but taxis are so cheap (about €4 to most hotels).

The Alvormar is a hotel in the centre of the town. It's a little dated but can't fault on location and I've heard some of the rooms have been updated.

For families, Club Alvorferias is a great budget stay with two big pools and kids clubs etc. It's about a 10 minute walk from the town centre which is a nice downhill walk in the evenings and only a short taxi journey back up. 

If you are looking for something a little nicer, the Dom João II and the South Beach are both on the higher end of the price scale but worth it. Any of the 'Pestana' hotels are usually really nice.

There are also a huge amount of private rentals so it is worth getting in touch with A22 Property Management, OwnersDirect.co.uk, AirBnB or there is even an Alvor Holiday Rentals group on Facebook.

 

Where to eat

Oh wow, how much can I write in this section. Alvor has a huge selection of fabulous restaurants with cuisines from all over the world as well as fresh fish straight out of the harbour and onto your plate.

First things first, before you book your flight, book Ruccula. For years, Ruccula has been the most popular restaurant in Alvor and it is very hard to get a table in the Summer if you haven't booked weeks in advance. It is a family run restaurant and it is the same staff serving since I first went there 5 years ago. We usually get a selection of dishes for the starters but a special mention to the cod goujons. For the mains - the fillet steak is just perfection and it comes with an option of sauces - I usually get pepper and garlic sauce on the side. The lamb is another favourite of the main courses but I find it hard to choose anything besides the steak! The sides are so good too - cheesy gratin potatoes that are served alongside chips and vegetables. The staff are so friendly and there are some small touches, e.g. Sorbet to cleanse your pallet between courses, that make Ruccula the most popular restaurant in Alvor.

A new favourite of mine is Gastrobar 13. Previously this was simply Bar 13 and it's selling point was the cosy garden out the back with its mismatched furniture and fairy lights. But in the last few years it has been relaunched with a full tapas menu while still keeping the cosy setting. The first time we tried it we were blown away. The menu looked amazing and when we tried to narrow it down to a few dishes, our server suggested we had ordered a bit too much! Every dish I tried I loved! I think one of my favourites was the bowl of melted cheese with the bread to dip! Actually one of my friends doesn't like cheese and found the menu a bit limited as there is cheese in a lot of the dishes. This also means that you will end up having quite a calorie dense meal. I didn't go to Bar 13 on my last visit because I was on competition prep!

For a cheap, cheerful and authentically Portuguese meal, I would suggest the Churrasqueira Mercado de Alvor (or as we call it, "The Market"). The speciality there is grilled chicken piri piri (this is the type of Portuguese food that Nando's is based on) but they also do great-value fresh fish. I often got the Seabass while on prep - so fresh and tasty and you see it grilled beside your table. Don't expect much in terms of a fancy restaurant here. It is essentially a restaurant which has evolved from picnic tables beside the grill at the market. But it is great value and a perfect option for lunch or a casual dinner.

For a fancier authentic Portuguese meal, we would often go to A Lota for fresh fish. One of my favourite dishes is fresh clams. They are usually harvested in the Alvor bay and cooked in oil, garlic and coriander. Delicious! Many of the restaurants down near the harbour would serve similar fresh seafood. Another favourite of ours would be O Arco Da Velha.

The locals go to a restaurant called Buganvília which is known for its steak on the stone. It is always busy and there is usually football on the TVs so it can be a little hectic but the food is good.

There are also top quality restaurants covering other cuisines. I love Indian Hut on the Main Street, and D'Alvinos or Ciao Baby for Italian.

Where to drink

If you're looking for night clubs that will take you into the sunrise, you're better off hopping into a taxi and going to Praia De Rocha (about €10 in a taxi) because Alvor's nightlife is good but not crazy - which I love.

There are lots of Irish people in Alvor and lots of Irish bars. It's a bit of a chicken and egg situation - I'm not sure which came first! Luckily they are not cheesy Irish bars, but a place where you can go for a nice drink and a sing song in the wee hours. Hickeys has a lovely roof terrace which is my second favourite place to watch Dublin play (the first being Croke Park). The Church Bar has recently opened beside the church (shocking, I know) but it's another nice bar run by a Dub with a lovely seating area out the back.

If you go away to get away from Irish bars, then I would suggest going to Mouriscos for cocktails. They have a huge selection with top trained cocktail makers. Sunset is another fun cocktail bar just off the Main Street with a great value happy hour every evening and a wide range of novelty glasses (not the type you drink out of!). Sports bar is the party bar and that's where you'll go for a late night boogie. It's fun and loud and open until 4am!

 

What to do

This is where I might be especially biased but Alvor Boat Trips was set up by my aunty Roisin and her husband Luís, who is an Alvor local. They have worked so hard over the years and the business has built an amazing reputation. Roisin always said "Our aim is your recommendation" which resulted in so much success for them. More recently, several more boat trip companies have popped up in Alvor but luckily the likes of Trip Advisor and word of mouth has meant they are as busy as ever. I worked for my aunt for two summers in 2010/11 and learnt so much from her. Unfortunately Roisin passed away last summer but my sister, also called Roisin, now lives in Alvor and helps to run the family business.

They do a range of types of trips. They are famous for their Silves River Trip. This is a half day trip up the river, inland, to Silves. There is lunch/dinner and drinks depending on the time of the day and you are given time to explore the town of Silves.

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Luís has been doing fishing trips for the last 20+ years and this is a fun morning to go try catch your lunch with some experienced fishermen. There are 4 hour and 2 hour trips (for kids).

The most popular and frequent trip would be the coastal cruise which takes you out to the sea and along the stunning Algarve coastline with the opportunity to swim and snorkel around the caves and grottos.

But my favourite would have to be the sunset cruise. It is the same as the coastal cruise but it is in the evening and it's a bit of a fancier affair with bubbles and canapés served to your table on the boat. Perfect for couples or with a group of friends. The drink is flowing and the views are sensational.

Another reason a lot of people go to Alvor and the Algarve in general, is to golf. Unfortunately I'm not a golfer and can't really advise!

If you are a thrill seeker, I'd recommend doing a tandem sky dive! I did it in 2011 and it was such an amazing experience!! Skydive Algarve is in the Aerodome in Montes De Alvor - just on the outskirts of Alvor. It is hard to describe the feeling of free-falling out of a plane but it was the best thing I've done! Then when the parachute is pulled, you're just floating down over the stunning Algarve. Highly recommend it!

There isn't much happening in Alvor during the day and the streets would be quite empty as most people spend the day at the beach or the pool. The beaches are stunning and you can rent a bed for the day for about €10. In August the beaches are just crazy but the beds don't seem to be too busy as the Portuguese and Spanish tend to set themselves up on the beach with their own umbrellas etc.

There is a beautiful boardwalk built into the sand dunes along Alvor's beach which is a nice walk with spots of shade for taking a break. 

For a really nice day out, I'd recommend going to No Solo Agua. This is a beach club in Praia de Rocha with a pool. It is the typical 'instagrammable' location to make all your friends jealous! But the food and drink are really good! They specialise in Sushi, which I haven't tried, but I love the Quesadillas. If you're feeling fancy, they have an oyster bar that you can swim over to and eat Oysters. It is expensive and, depending on the time of year, you might have to pay a cover charge too. When you go in, you are given a card which is essentially a tab. You pay this when you're leaving but be careful, if you lose your card you have to pay an extortionate figure so make sure to hold onto it! Plus it is hard to keep track on how much you are spending. We usually go for a special occasion but if you are on holidays, that's a special enough reason!

Where to train

Wow, I nearly forgot this part! There is an excellent gym called Buganvilia that is kitted out with Hammerstrength equipment. You can pay €5 for a day pass. It is open 8am-10pm Monday - Friday, 10am-2pm Saturday and closed on Sundays.

 

So should I visit Alvor?

All in all, Alvor is perfect for families, for couples, for groups of friends. The only time I might advise elsewhere is for people looking for a "wild" holiday e.g. A hen party might be more suitable to Albufeira and it's crazy night life.

So I hope that covers the basics for Alvor and you found it helpful! I'd appreciate any feedback you might have as I dip my toes in the travel blogging field!

Thank you for reading!

Siobhan x

Dubai: Why I loved it but I could never live there

My first visit to Dubai was in 2007. This was when Dubai seemed a lot further away and a much more ‘foreign’ place. I went with my family for Christmas to stay in a relative’s apartment. It was a fascinating place back then and the first time I had travelled East of Europe. 

Since Emirates now fly direct from Dublin, it has become much more accessible and it has been interesting to see so many people turn to Dubai for their holidays. 

As well as that, I knew so many people who had moved to Dubai. I actually applied for Emirates cabin crew a few years ago as I really wanted to move out there but for a number of reasons I stayed in Dublin. But sure look, everything happens for a reason!

My goal this year is to travel as much as possible and when ‘Lisa Dee’ posted this picture of Dubai, I went on to Skyscanner and had a quick look at fights. I booked direct, return flights with Emirates for only about €450. I then went on to AirBnB and booked a studio apartment close to the Marina for €350 for 4 nights. I felt that was good value! And the timing was perfect as it was just before Ramadan kicked off.

I read Lisa’s blog post about moving to Dubai before I left and it really made me consider it and I hadn’t even landed yet!

Here’s what I squeezed into 4 days in Dubai

Tuesday 

I flew overnight on Monday and landed in Dubai around 8am Tuesday morning. This was a great flight as I slept a lot (waking for food - obviously!!). I got a taxi to the AirBnB where I was met by my host Marnix. The taxi took about 30 mins and cost about 100AED including tip (about €25), although I could have gotten the metro which would have taken over an hour.

The apartment was perfect - a one bed located in the Marina which is close to Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR - a popular beach area). 

I met Lisa and Ruairi and we got a taxi to Nikki Beach Club. Tuesday is ladies day where ladies usually get special offers on drinks but we made a separate reservation for a bed and just paid regular drink prices. The queue was big when we arrived and I was trying to pretend I could handle the heat! Once we got our bed I was delighted. We ordered some cocktails and listened to the funky tunes that the female DJ was playing. I loved the music! We spent the day chilling, eating, drinking, laughing.

I’d recommend going to Nikki Beach or another one of the beach clubs (I’ve heard Zero Gravity and Cove Beach are other popular ones) for a real party vibe! 

WednesdaY

After having a party day on Tuesday, myself and Lisa decided to start our day with some Iyengar yoga at 7am. This was different to any yoga I had tried before! It was all about using ropes and other props to really stretch and ‘lengthen’. I really enjoyed it, especially when I managed to do the butterfly pose upside down! We left feeling exhilarated and a little spaced out as the blood moved up and down our bodies!

On recommendation of several people and Lisa, we went to Eggspectation at JBR for breakfast and it did not disappoint! There was such a huge selection on the menu and you could either go really ‘good’ or ‘bold’ (apparently the fluffy pancakes are sensational) but I was feeling ‘good’ after yoga so I went for eggs benedict with smoked salmon and Philadelphia on rye bread. It came with a side of fresh fruit, which I thought was a little strange, as I accidentally was dipping my bananas in Hollandaise sauce…!

In the afternoon, Lisa, Ruairi and myself went to JBR again to try out the giant inflatable obstacle course - Aqua Fun. The owner, Ahmed, had invited us to try it out. Apparently, because we are fitness bloggers, we would have no problem getting around the course. Unfortunately fitness wasn’t as important as good balance and it turns out none of us were much use! Ruairi was the best out of the three of us, in that he didn’t spend as much time in the water but we all had several falls and slips! We laughed a lot!! I was surprised how much energy we used and I was glad when Ahmed let us skip one or two of the obstacles. We certainly earned our Fro-yo after that!

As exhausted as we felt, we managed to squeeze a little more into our day. Lisa and Ruairi, having lived here almost 9 months, had never been up the Burj Khalifa. Lisa went on GroupOn and booked Fast Track tickets for 145AED each (about €35). These were only valid outside the hours of 1-8.30pm so first we went to the Dubai Mall.

The Mall is the biggest in Dubai and we only passed through it. I wasn’t looking to go shopping but it was interesting to see it, including the giant aquarium. We went outside to see the fountains and there were so many people trying to take pictures and get a spot to watch the fountains (every 30 mins). However once we kept walking a little further over the bridge, the crowds dispersed and there was plenty of room. There are several restaurants outside the mall and we chose a Turkish restaurant called Gunaydin as they had tables outdoors overlooking the fountains and Burj Khalifa. The food was traditional and it was fine, nothing to write home about, but the setting was amazing and they did do an excellent Virgin Mojito. 

After dinner, we went to go up the Burj Khalifa. The queues were crazy and I could see all the time slots were sold out. I thought we weren’t going to get up as we had GroupOn tickets which hadn’t specified a time. But once we showed them, we were escorted straight into the fast track queue and we were up ‘At The Top’ in a few minutes. 

The tickets we bought, and the standard tickets, entitle you to go to the viewing deck on floor 124. We went out and took some pictures. I was expecting it to feel higher but I think that is because all the other building are also so high! There doesn’t seem to be any tour guide or much information given. We enquired about going to a higher floor and we were told that it was an extra 350AED (€75) to go to floor 148! I don’t know what happens 20 floors up but we weren’t willing to pay to find out! We were delighted we had fast track tickets, as the queue to get back down the elevator was really long. Included in our ticket deal was a pastry and a coffee from the cafe at the bottom and I have to say, the chocolate croissant was probably my favourite part of the ‘At The Top’ experience.

 

Thursday

I spent most of Thursday catching up on work but I decided to go check out the Dubai Marina Mall which was a 15 minute walk from my apartment. I was unsure how to dress when going to somewhere like this as I was hearing mixed messages from a lot of people. Now I have concluded that, in reality, ‘anything goes’ as long as what you are wearing is not too provocative. I wore a pair of ‘Mom’ denim shorts and a basic t-shirt from Penneys. I was worried about having my knees exposed but once I got to the mall I saw others dressed in short dresses etc. 

The Marina Mall has lots of popular shops as well as the usual coffee shops and restaurants. I bought a backpack and sports bra from Reebok and made a big investment into my first pair of Lululemon leggings (probably the most expensive piece of clothing I’ve bought in years at 550AED (€135). They feel amazing and sure I’ll get the use out of them?!

Thursday evening, I went to meet my friend Karl in a bar that he goes to a lot called Nola’s in Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT). We sat in the beer garden but it was so so hot and humid with no breeze. It was also happy hour so I had a good few G&Ts! Special mention has to go to the nuts they gave us at the table! I couldn’t stop munching on them!

I was back in the apartment early enough and decided to order some food in. There is actually an insane amount of choice, and that’s just on the Deliveroo app alone. I spent so much time browsing that I realised I wasn’t even that hungry so just went to shop for some ice cream and chocolate (holiday mode had officially kicked in!).

Friday

Fridays and Saturdays are the weekend in Dubai and Friday is usually the day people would go for Brunch. Brunch is usually a set price for all you can eat and drink! I wasn’t really up for a full day drinking myself. 

I wanted to squeeze as much as possible into my last full day. I got up early and made my way down to SkyDive Dubai where they have an outdoor workout area. I met my friend Kieran from ko8 fitness and he put me through a sweaty workout in the sun! It was great to look around and see others doing different types of training. Kieran was telling me about the fitness retreats he will be running in Phuket and I am seriously considering trying it out myself!

When I mentioned I was going to Dubai, Kelley from Chill Salon (in the Marina and in Media City) got in touch and offered to do my hair while I was there. It was perfect as I had attempted to do my own hair on Tuesday and it was just crazy frizzy! The salon was lovely and it was so nice to chat to Kelley as she had only moved over two months before hand. She even had one of her friends bring over two Fulfil bars for me! Such a nice touch! She put my hair in a curl and pin to make it last as long as possible.

Friday afternoon, I met one of my old friends Vicky and we went for afternoon tea in The Palace in downtown Dubai with a group of her friends. For 165AED (about €40), you have a buffet afternoon tea (but not with alcohol). This place was pure luxury! All the food was top class and I have to say I definitely got my €40 worth, especially as we got a discount using the Entertainer app (it seems to be an app to get special discounts in lots of restaurants)! I left the place absolutely stuffed and I also enjoyed the speciality iced teas and coffees. 

While downtown, my friend Jennifer (who knew I knew so many people in Dubai!) suggested meeting in The Black Lion in The H Hotel as they were doing a late brunch deal (250AED/€60 for unlimited drinks 6-10pm) and her friend Shero was DJing. We had a great catch-up and I had lots of G&Ts. By 11pm I knew it was time to go home and before I got in a taxi, I ordered a NKD Pizza via Deliveroo and raced it back to the apartment (The pizza won - my taxi driver got lost!).

 

Saturday

After a few days of over indulging, I felt awful! I just spent the morning packing up but I managed to squeeze in a quick HIIT session at the hotel gym before I left for the airport. I would have like to go to Eggspectation again for breakfast (or even order it in!) but I was still so full from all the food on Friday! I got a taxi back to the airport for 80AED/€20.

Conclusion

I loved Dubai. Everything is pure luxury but it does mean the cost of living is quite high. I can see the allure of going out for a couple of years and to earn a good wage and save money as the wages are tax-free. To me, Dubai is quite ‘American-ized’ - everything is available at any time of the day. There is an app called instashop that delivers groceries so you can get a snickers and a bottle of water delivered to your front door at any time of the day! This sounds like the dream to the lazy part of me!! 

If you’ve never been, I’d highly recommend it but not in the immediate future as Ramadan starts next week (end of May) and goes on for a month, I think. It is a Muslim tradition which includes fasting during the day among some other restrictions. It is also crazy hot during the summer with temperatures reaching high 40s. 

Dubai is fun… maybe too much fun?! I was definitely in holiday mode, so I think I might have missed out on the fitness scene a bit but from talking to some of my ‘fitness’ contacts over there - they didn’t seem to enjoy Dubai that much compared to those that like to drink a bit more. It is mostly young expats out there to work hard and play hard. For me, I would find it very hard not to get swept into the ‘brunch culture’ and forget about the fitness side of things. I feel like I would need extra motivation and discipline to try and live a similar life to what I have at home!

But, I will be keeping an eye on Skyscanner for another good deal and visit maybe in December/January!

 

Hope you found this helpful or interesting! I want to try blog a bit more about my travels and I thought this format might be the best way to do it!

Thanks for reading :)

Siobhan x

How I came home from Portugal leaner than when I went away

Hey guys!

I’m just back from 4 days in Portugal (Thursday Morning - Sunday evening). I was nervous about travelling while on competition prep but with a great coach (Amanda from RecalibratedBodies.com) behind me I knew I could make it work. Luckily when I checked my measurements on Monday morning, all my measurements and weight were either down or the same which is exactly what I wanted to see.

Let me just say, if you are going away on your only holiday of the year, please don’t be this strict on yourself! You’ve probably worked hard for this trip and deserve to let loose a little. You can pull it back when you get home. I am prepping for a bikini competition in less than 8 weeks time so rather than not going away, I wanted to travel while not regressing.

I had planned on recording a vlog of my trip and I had recorded footage of the first day but somehow broke my memory card! I think I’ll put a bit more structure on a blog post to make sure you pick up all the important points. I rarely blog unless I have something I really want to share so it might be worth having a look at some of my older blog posts too. 

When I was packing, there were a few things I brought with me to help me stay on track:

  1. MyProtein Impact Whey - Chocolate Brownie flavour: High in protein, tasty and very portable. I often get asked if you can bring protein powder in your hand luggage and I’ve never had any issues!
  2. Peanut Butter: My favourite source of fat and always feels like a real treat. It can be hard to find jars of peanut butter with nothing added to them in Portugal so I brought my own.
  3. Wyldsson Pro Mix: A great topping for your porridge or even just to have as a snack on it’s own. 
  4. MyProtein FlavDrops - White Chocolate & Maple Flavour: I add these to my coffee to make them sweeter. White Chocolate is my favourite in coffee!
  5. Care Free Smokey BBQ Sauce: I add this to some of my meals for a bit of flavour
  6. MyProtein Zero Noodles: These are a life saver for bulking out your stir-fries for only 7 calories! They are also in a non-perishable packet so perfect for your case.
  7. The Gym Chef seasoning - Tandoori flavour: All good ingredients to add to your meat and veg for lots of flavour 
  8. Uncle Bens Boil in The Bag Rice: I thought these would be handier for cooking than measuring rice out to cook and eat.
  9. Biona Extra Virgin Coconut Oil: It’s hard to get pure and good quality coconut oil in Portugal so I put some in a tiny plastic tub to bring with me. 
  10. Supplements: I brought all the jars that I normally take but I think I need to get a pillbox for next time
  11. Kerrigans Turkey Burgers: I took a pack of 5 out of the freezer just before I left for the airport and they were still frozen when I got to Portugal so I let them defrost and ate them across the three days. I had to share with my sister - she is jealous that they only deliver to Ireland!
  12. Microwave Bags: I got these in Home Store & More and they are so handy for cooking realy quick when you don’t want to add any oils for cooking. They create pressure in the bag and can cook meat and veg in less than 5 minutes! 
  13. Gym Gear: One pair of runners and three training outfits for the three days. I also packed some gear to do cardio outside but the weather wasn’t great. 

 

I thought about the methods I used to stay on track and narrowed it down to these:

  • When booking accommodation, I try find somewhere that has a full kitchen so that I don’t have to eat out for every meal but luckily my sister lives in a great apartment so I knew I would be fine.
  • As soon as I landed I went to the local supermarket and stocked up on chicken, veg, oats, eggs, fruit and salad. 
  • I would pack my scales except my sister had one. No point in planning everything to a tee and then guessing the weight.
  • Instead of having a beer when meeting friends or sitting in a nice location; I had a coffee with flavdrops or a water. The view and company is still the same!
  • I was supposed to have a higher carb day on my first day over but after talking to my coach Amanda about it, I said I would prefer to have a nice steak and chips in my favourite restaurant. We agreed to move the refeed to the Friday and to plan what I was going to have. We even agreed on a glass of red wine to go along with it. 
  • I went out to my friend’s bar two nights and rather than having a G&T, I just had a water. I don’t think it changed the experience I would have had plus it was great to wake up a fresh head.
  • I always train in Bugavilia when in Alvor. It’s a well-equipped gym but it isn’t open as many hours as I like so I made sure to take Sunday as my rest day. 
  • I think I was a little bit more relaxed with my diet. I still stuck to my macros for the day but I wasn’t too strict on my macros per meal. On the first night my sister said she was making a chicken curry and she presumed I couldn’t have any. I asked what was in it and it was more or less along the lines of the stir fry I had planned. By eating dinner with my family I really really enjoyed that meal rather than eating on my own as usual. 
  • I think the biggest thing I did (or didn’t do) was enter ‘holiday mode’. I really wanted to prove to myself that I could travel while staying on track towards my goals. For me, Alvor is so familiar that it hardly feels like a holiday. I was working a lot of the time on my laptop so it wasn’t like I was lying on the beach and saying no to cocktails and ice cream.

 

Some staple meals I had to help me stay on track:

  • Oats & Whey / “Proats”: Probably my favourite meal because it is a great balance of protein and carbs and you can vary the portions to suit your macro requirements. It’s great for travelling because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. I like to put it dry into my lunch box and then when I go through security I ask for boiling water with my coffee and add it in. I put the lid back on and let the oats soak up the water for a few minutes. I use MyProtein Impact Whey in Chocolate Brownie flavour. Highly recommend this flavour if you’re a chocoholic!

 

  • Chicken, Sweet Potato & Salad: Available in any supermarket, I presume! I chopped up the chicken and fried it in The Gym Chef tandoori seasoning and coconut oil. I chopped the sweet potato into chips and sprinkled some piri piri seasoning on them and put them in the microwavable bags. I made enough for two meals at one time so I didn't have to be cooking all the time

 

  • Turkey Burgers & Sweet Potato: As above but I used the BK Flamers instead of chicken

 

  • Eggs: So versatile and available anywhere. Great source of protein and fat or if you want to reduce your fat intake you can just use the whites. For one of my meals I had 3 eggs scrambled and cooked in coconut oil and served with a slice of granary bread that was on MyFitnessPal.

 

  • Fish & Potatoes: Alvor is great for fresh fish so when I wanted to go out for dinner with my friends we agreed to eat at the local market restaurant (This is the kind of place that Nandos is based on - chicken piri piri and chips except half the price!). They also do fresh fish and I enquired what it was cooked in. I was told they just add salt to the fish and a tiny bit of oil to make sure the fish doesn’t stick to the grill. I ordered this and it came with salad and boiled baby potatoes. I eyeballed the 150g I had planned for and gave away the rest. Such a tasty meal!

 

So that's it! I am so happy that I have finally proven to myself that I can travel and stay on track. So much so that I've booked flights to go back before the competition! 

Happy head going home on Sunday :) 

Happy head going home on Sunday :) 

Let me know if you use any of my tips and please share your own tips in the comments if you have any!

Thanks for reading :) 

Siobhan x

PS. If you are interested in online coaching, check out ohfitness.ie/take-action

 

Full Health Screening with Charter Medical - My experience

"Ah it'll be grand.." - My outlook on everything.

However, more recently, I've become a little bit worried about the fact I haven't been to a doctor in so long that I don't actually have 'a GP'. You know those forms you have to fill in and give your GPs name? I give the name of a guy that I'm not even sure is still alive!

ANYWAY, when Charter Medical asked me to collaborate with them to highlight the Women's Executive Health Screening, I thought it was a perfect fit and couldn't have come at a better time. 

Concerns

For those that don't know me, my extended family has been through a lot. I'm so lucky to still have my four grandparents alive and kicking but with two of my aunties dying of breast cancer, this is something on the back of my mind. Due to my recent breast augmentation, I am unable to check my breasts for lumps as easily because of the implants. 

My dad almost died of a brain haemorrhage three years ago and it really does put into perspective that your health is your wealth. While you cannot pre-empt everything, it certainly helps your peace of mind to get a full check-up on how you are now.

The Process 

I arrived into Charter Medical at 8.30 on the Friday morning. I had fasted from everything except water for 12 hours. As soon as I registered with reception I was asked to give a urine sample and then I met the nurse.

The nurse was so lovely! She was confirming with me that I had fasted for 12 hours and I was saying it was no problem except I was struggling with no coffee. She asked another nurse to go get me a coffee so that as soon as my bloods were done it was sitting waiting for me! I have no problem with needles at all so I can hardly remember it happening. The nurse also took my height and weight and hooked me up to an ECG monitor to measure my heart activity. 

Then I went back to the waiting room with my coffee. Another nurse took me in for a lung test. I was worried about this part as I had a chest infection but I was able to do the test no problem. I just had to take big deep breaths and blow into an apparatus. 

No Stone Unturned

Next up was the doctor. She was a very helpful female doctor who immediately put me at ease. We actually had lengthy discussions on health and nutrition for females and I felt like she could have sat with me all day. I discussed my concerns and she said I have nothing to worry about. She told me that women over 50 years of age are entitled to a free mamogram. If there is a direct family member with breast cancer I think you are entitled to one from 40 years of age. If I want to get one before that I can get it done privately but she didn't think I needed to.

She checked my whole body, from my eyesight to my ears, from my heart to my lungs and she even said I was one of the best smear test patients she ever had. I had to share that compliment!!

Due to the fact I felt I had a chest infection, she sent me down for a chest X-Ray and I also had an optional Dexa scan (this checks for bone density). 

Then I was sent on my way with a voucher for breakfast in the cafe across the road - much appreciated having fasted for almost 15 hours!

Results

Yesterday I received a full booklet in the post which gave a summary of all the results and any recommendations they could make based on the most up to date internationally accepted clinical guidelines.

Luckily, I seem to be in the 'Normal' range for all the categories tested. This is everything from fertility levels, to Vitamin D, to Iron Profile. I was actually quite surprised that I wasn't low on anything! I put that down to my balanced diet and regular training. 

I am quite relieved as I am very inconsistent with taking any types of vitamins and supplements but my diet obviously has me covered! 

Reduced Rate

I was quite surprised to hear that at the moment twice as many men come for health screens as women which is something we are looking to tackle. Charter Medical are offering both the Men and Women Executive Health Screen. It is normally €495 but you can get it for €350 if you mention 'Siobhan OH Fitness' when you are booking. Check out my Instagram to have a chance at winning a free Womens Executive Health Screening! 

For more information see the breakdown of what is included below and check out my YouTube video below where I speak more about it.

 

Thanks for reading!

Siobhan x

Womens Executive Health Screening from CharterMedical.ie

Indices Measured

  • Presenting Health Issues / Symptoms Review
  • Medical History
  • Lifestyle and Nutritional Assessment
  • Relevant Family History
  • Medications / Allergies History
  • Contraceptive /Family Planning consultation

Comprehensive Blood Profile

  • Full Blood Count
  • Bone Profile
  • Liver Function
  • Total Lipid Profile (cholesterol and triglycerides, HDL and LDL profile)
  • Fasting Blood Sugar (Diabetes)
  • Thyroid Function Testing
  • Kidney Function
  • Vitamin B12 and Folate
  • Vitamin D levels
  • Iron Studies
  • Ferritin
  • Menopausal / Fertility Hormone Profile, as required

Full Medical Physical Examination

  • Blood Pressure
  • Weigh-in to include BMI
  • Abdominal Girth
  • Lung Function Test
  • ECG
  • Cardiovascular and Respiratory Examination
  • Thyroid Examination
  • Breast examination + Self-Exam Tutorial
  • Abdominal Examination
  • Musculo-Skeletal Examination
  • Pelvic Examination if indicated

Additional Tests & Services

  • Stool Analysis for Microscopic Bloods (Colon Cancer Screening) using non-invasive test
  • Urine test for Diabetes, Infection and Kidney Disease
  • Cervical Smear (if indicated)
  • Dexa Scan for Postmenopausal Women
  • Chest X-ray (if indicated)
  • CA-125 Ovarian Cancer Marker (if clinically indicated)

Time

2.5 hours

Price

€495

 

10 ways I failed to stay on track at the Wedding, and what I could have done

So I spent a fabulous weekend in Arklow Co. Wicklow for my cousin's wedding. I had such a fun weekend with my cousins and extended family. I never get to go to weddings so I was in a bit of a 'yolo' mindset heading away for the weekend.

First of all, to get into good shape, some sacrifices are necessary. However I am a big believer in 'no regrets' so I never want to look back and think I could have had more fun at that wedding if I let loose a little. I've realised that if I do go off track for a weekend, a few more weeks of hard work can pull it back. It is often worth it. The problem arrises, however, when you don't have a few weeks of hard work to pull it back. I've realised that I'm at that age where every second weekend (or even more frequently) there is a wedding, or a hen, or a 30th, or a christening... (note - none of which will be mine any time soon!) 

So I put a list together of everything I could have done better this weekend and what I will do in future!

1. I started 'holiday mode' way too early! I went for food and pints with some of my family on Thursday evening and then woke up too late and hungover to train on Friday morning. Nevermind the extra thousand or so calories I added onto my weekly intake.

2. I didn't train on the wedding day. Luckily I live beside a 24 hour gym and I could have gotten up to train before getting my hair done, which would have done some damage control and set me up for the day.

3. I didn't prep any food. I could have had some meals with me in the car for the day. The wedding was at 1pm so we had a fry in the morning and by the time we ate our dinner it was almost 7pm. I'm pretty sure I had about 6 bread rolls before the 4 course meal!

4. One thing I wouldn't change - enjoying the meal. I will never be the person who whips out the tupperware at the wedding meal. If it is one meal where you go way over your calories, it shouldn't be a huge issue. 

5. I need to realise I wasn't 'staaaaarving' by the time the triangular sandwiches and wedding cake came out. At this stage I had a good few drinks on board and when I see food after drinking I can't control myself. It is such unnecessary calories that I think I need to just avoid in future.

6. I should have aimed for more low calorie drinks. I was drinking prosecco and wine most of the day and then gin and tonics all night. I could have saved a lot of calories (and a lighter hangover!) if I avoided the wine and drank water with dinner. Then I should have gotten slimline tonic with my gins. I only recently saw a video that there is 26 teaspoons of sugar in a large bottle of tonic 'water'.

7. I should have planned what I was going to have for breakfast. I really went to town on the buffet breakfast. And I probably felt worse after it. If I was being smart about it, I should have had eggs and bacon, and avoided the carbs until later in the day. 

8. I should have drank less. But the party kept going in the residence bar?! I don't think I would have had any less of a night if I had gone on the water in the residence bar! They even provided tayto, bread and butter... A brilliant or terrible idea?!

9. I should have gone to the gym! I brought my gear but I was too hungover. If I had gotten a session in, it would have done some damage control for 'Day 2'.

10. I probably did not need the night out in Arklow town on the Saturday night. I had a great day with my cousins and then a lovely family dinner again in the hotel. I could have gone home happy! But... lots more gin & tonics and half a garlic cheese chips later, I feel rubbish! In future I will try stick to one day weddings (unless of course they are my best friends etc) because it even rolled into me getting chips on 'Day 3'.

Have you any tips on how to limit the damage at events? Tag a friend that might find this helpful!

Siobhan x

image.jpg

Two Weeks Post Breast Augmentation at The Avoca Clinic

Hey guys! Just got my stitches out and feeling great!

Here is a video explaining how I'm feeling. If you have any questions just ask! 

Siobhan x

Full Blog Post on http://ohfitness.ie/blog/2016/7/29/two-weeks-post-breast-augmentation-at-the-avoca-clinic

 

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