Ibiza - The Misunderstand Island

Ibiza often has a poor reputation for being a rowdy party island, full of sex, drugs and clubbing and is often the right of passage for most 18 to 24 year olds seeking out their first boozy adventure abroad. With films such as 'It Has All Gone Pete Tong' highlighting the Ibiza club scene, it is no surprise that many people have a misunderstanding of the island, but to me Ibiza is the hidden gem of the Balearics and if you look past the party district of San Antonio, there's so much more to be discovered.

I first went to Ibiza when I was twelve years old on a family holiday and my parents rented a car so that we could see the entirety of the island. We visited the old town, the hippie markets at Es Cana and made our way around all Ibizas famous beaches snorkelling. It was a place that really captured my heart from a young age and somewhere I knew I wanted to return as an adult. I returned when I was 21 on my first holiday away with my then husband-to-be and returned once more for my honeymoon. Each visit to Ibiza has been unique and as welcoming as the previous, the islanders are wonderful and there's a friendly, down to earth atmosphere wherever you go - even in San Antonio and Playa D'en Bossa.

The island of Ibiza is rich with culture and history and has the most picturesque landscapes. There's something for everyone of every age to enjoy and much of the island is unspoilt and very traditional, yet many people are blindsided by the bad press. Hopefully the recommendations below will help highlight some of the beautiful places that Ibiza has to offer.

Dalt Vila

Dalt Vila is a UNESCO world heritage site and is known as the 'old town' of Ibiza. The town has over 2,500 years of history from battlements dating to the 16th century and pottery found as old as the 13th century. The town offers panoramic views of the island and features a plethora  of quaint cobbled streets with candlelit eateries.

ES Vedra

If you enjoy taking boat trips, ES Vedra should be on your ibiza bucket list. Es Vedra is an uninhabited rock off the coast of Ibiza that stands over 400 metres high. The rock is said to be the third most magnetic rock on the planet and is heavily featured in Ibiza myths and legends.  This mysterious rock attracts thousands of visitors per travel season and is a must see due to its astounding beauty.

Es Cana

One of my favourite places to visit on the island are the markets at Es Cana, also known as the 'hippy markets'. These markets date back to the 1960s when painters and artisans came to island and decided to sell their items. This popular market still takes place every Wednesday and features an array of crafters selling jewellery, textiles and clothing from all around the world. It is the perfect place to grab some unique items, while listening to music and feasting on street food.

Cafe Mambo at San Antonio

Last, but definitely not least is Cafe Mambo, the ideal place to sit back and listen to music as the sun goes down. The Ibiza sunset is breathtaking and Cafe Mambo is probably one of the only places you will see such a mass gathering for the sun going down and then a round of applause as it finally ends. It's a great atmosphere and definitely worth a visit.

When I recently went to Ice Lolly's Ibiza style Blog at The Beach, it really did remind me how much I love this island and I really do hope that I have managed to show how misunderstand Ibiza can be. It will always have a soft spot in my heart - for being one of the first places I fell in love with when travelling and also for being the place I spent my honeymoon.  I hope if you do decide to go, you fall in love with it just as much as I did.

Have you been to Ibiza?

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How to stick to a diet when dining out

Dining out when on trying to stay healthy can be every dieter's nightmare.  Firstly, not every menu has a calorie count and secondly, not every restaurant serves healthy food.  It is difficult to sometimes find the right balance when you are not in control of choosing the place that you're visiting.  Having being diagnosed with a stomach issue that relies heavily on me choosing low fat food to avoid flare ups, I know how difficult it is to choose the right meal when there seems to be nothing available on the menu and as a vegetarian, it is even more difficult when most meals are loaded with full fat cheese. 

Look at the menu before you go

Looking at the menu before you head out for your meal will stop you from making impulsive choices and will enable you to analyse what is safe/ healthiest to eat before you sit down. 

Don't be afraid to ask questions

When you arrive, don't be afraid to ask your waiter questions.  Some meals may be able to be adapted to suit your dietary needs and they may be able to answer questions about the healthier options available.

Opt for dressing on the side

If in doubt, always opt for dressing on the side. Salad dressings can add hundreds of calories to a basic salad as they are often loaded with oil. By asking for the dressing on the side, you can be in control of how much you consume.

Forgo the cocktails

As irresistible as they may be, especially on a hot day or a Friday after work, cocktails are often loaded up with sugar and the calories can soon add up. If you're looking for a slimline drink, opt for a gin and tonic or vodka and soda. Also, many restaurants are also now selling skinny prosecco - so it is worth keeping an eye out for it.

Order some table tap water

Drinking tap water in between courses or between bites of your meal will not only help keep you hydrated, it make you fuller quickly, therefore you are less likely to consume too many calories or be tempted to order dessert.

Don't be too hard on yourself

Finally, don't be too hard on yourself. We all have days where we feel like slacking off our diets and as long as you eat healthy and in moderation most of the time, you are allowed a cheat day. Diets only work if you're happy, being too hard on yourself will make you miserable and in turn, can lead to comfort eating.

How do you stick to a diet when eating out?

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Tips on how to stay healthy when travelling

There's nothing worse than feeling a knot in your stomach after eating something you know you probably shouldn't have abroad. You're out of your comfort zone, in a country you don't really know and you don't have all your usual medical supplies, it is every traveler's worst nightmare. As someone who suffers from a stomach condition and has quite a few allergies and intolerances, there has been several times that I have felt worse for wear on my travels - there was one time I accidentally ate Calamari when I'm allergic to squid just before flying back home and I spent most of my time at the airport clinging to a toilet seat looking like a lobster until my antihistamines kicked in - it wasn't my finest moment. In a country that is you're not own, surrounded by food that you don't usually eat, it is very easy to fall ill. In fact according to a survey in 2013, six out of ten of us get ill abroad every single year. To ensure your holiday is as healthy as it can be, I've put together a few tips that I have picked up on how to stay in tip top shape when travelling.

Research the area before you go

Before you travel anywhere abroad, always research the area to find out what you should avoid, whether you need any vaccinations and to find out tips from travellers who have already been there. Some areas may be better for cleanliness than others and so places may be better to eat at if you suffer from upset stomachs.

Take your own medical kit

It is always best to be prepared for every eventual outcome when you are somewhere you are not familiar with. Travel medical kits should always include basic painkillers, aspirin, antihistamines (in case you find out you are allergic to some food you have only just tried),  basic first aid supplies and of course rehydration sachets if you do come down with the dreaded stomach bug.

Be aware of what you eat and drink

Always be cautious of what you eat and drink while abroad. Look for restaurants that are popular with the locals as they will always be busy and the food is more likely to be fresh and read up on how safe the water is to drink, if in doubt, always drink bottled water. Avoid uncooked food as these are more likely to give you stomach bugs and always make sure fruit is thoroughly washed.

Make sure you have your medical insurance

Always travel with medical insurance, even if you are flying somewhere short distance. You never know when something could happen. Also, make sure you read through the terms and conditions of your travel insurance to see what holiday sickness compensation you would be entitled to if you did fall ill. Some policies exclude certain illnesses if you already have medical issues and some insurances don't cover you for accidents if you take part in certain extreme watersports.

What are your tips to staying healthy when travelling?

*Collaborative post

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A Trip to Robin Hood's Bay, North Yorkshire

Growing up, I was very fortunate to spend most weekends of my childhood sailing around the coast of the UK. I love hearing the gushing sound of the waves, the smell of seaweed and sea salt and hearing all the sea birds gleefully chirping and because of all my favourite childhood memories, I'm always happiest when I'm by the coast. Last weekend when the sun was bright and the weather for once was on our side, my husband and I decided to take a road trip to North Yorkshire and called at one of my favourite coastal haunts, Robin Hood's Bay.

Robin Hood's Bay is a small fishing village nestled between two Whitby and Scarborough on North Yorkshire coastline. It is a quaint little village steeped in history from pirate smuggling to where dinosaurs roamed and it has the most beautiful little buildings and cobbled streets, full of independent boutiques. 

To access Robin Hood's Bay you need to park at the top of the hill and it is quite a steep descent down the road, accessed via stairs or the roadside, but the views are breathtaking and from the top of the hill you can see the bay in all of its glory. On the way down the hill there's a plethora of boutiques from chocolates to interior shops and all little shops selling all the usual tourist fare as well as a dinosaur and fossil museum. There's also several little restaurants, many of which serve seafood caught fresh from the bay.

Once you get to the bottom of the hill, there's a slip way leading straight on to the beach and into the sea and neighbouring pubs so that you can sit back, have a drink and admire the scenery. The view on a day where this is good visibility is beautiful and with it not being as busy as places like Scarborough or Whitby, it is a place you can genuinely feel relaxed.  Robin Hood's Bay is a hidden gem along the North East coast and if you ever have the opportunity to visit, I would definitely pop by.

Have you been to Robin Hood's Bay?

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The Refectory, York Review

When I think that there's no more hidden gems to find in York,  I always manage stumble across another one. This time it was The Refectory restaurant at The Principal hotel on station road. The Grade II listed hotel is something I have walked by so many times on the way to train station which is conveniently situated next door and I cannot believe that I hadn't popped in until recently.

The Refectory restaurant was brought to my attention when I received an invite to sample their new spring menu. Created by The Principle York Hotel's brand new executive chef, Jason Wardill, The Refectory's new menu is firmly local at heart with a range of dishes that are created using suppliers from York and the neighbouring countryside. The eclectic menu features an array of a la carte dishes to suit most tastes, all of which are designed to champion Yorkshire and the Yorkshire dales. 

To start our meal my husband and I opted for the sourdough bread and olives. As much as we liked the look of the starters, we decided that we wanted something a bit lighter to share so that we could fill up on main and dessert and I always think that you can really judge a restaurant by their bread olives - I've never had a bad meal somewhere that the olives are fresh and juicy and I always like to see whether a restaurant will make the extra effort to make their bread and The Refectory York definitely passed the test on this one. The bread arrived freshly from the oven which had a wonderful crunch as I bit into it and the dough in the centre melted into my mouth, it was heavenly.

Main course was yet another taste sensation. I opted for the lentil chickpea cakes with spring vegetable and butterbean casserole drizzled with lemon yoghurt. The lemon yoghurt added a zesty flavour to the dish, which worked well against the rich tomato sauce on the butterbean casserole. I loved the addition of the crispy onions on top that added a nice little crunch to the dish and the lentil and chickpea cakes were flavoursome with all the spices and the outer baked layer contrasted with the soft melt in the mouth centre, I really wish I had this recipe to cook at home. My husband went for the 8oz Sirloin steak which he equally enjoyed. The steak was cooked exactly to his liking and served with a hearty portion of triple cooked chips.

I'm not usually a pudding person, but the warm polenta cake had me intrigued so I knew I had to try it. It came drizzled with Yorkshire honey and was decorated with honeycomb and lemon creme fraiche. I've never had polenta cake before and I was really impressed with this dessert, the polenta made the cake moist and light and helped absorb all the sticky sweet honey. I also thoroughly enjoyed the honeycomb, albeit it being a little bit strong on the Yorkshire honey. The lemon creme fraiche then helped the dessert all come together and overall it was a simple, yet elegant dish. James ordered the buttermilk pannacotta, doughnuts and raspberry jelly which was a beautifully presented dish and combined a very understated pannacotta with fun miniature doughnuts and juicy jelly pieces. Albeit the pannacotta being a little bit grainy for our liking, it was again another triumphant dish.

Overall I was really impressed with the menu at The Refectory York. There's plenty of options for vegetarians, they are definitely not an afterthought here which happens in a lot of the finer restaurants and the food was full of flavour.  This restaurant is in the perfect location for anyone looking for a nice meal before heading home after a day in York or equally, great for those who are looking for somewhere fun and sophisticated to start their night out. I would definitely return again.

Have you been to The Refectory before?

*This meal was complimentary in exchange for this review. All words are my own.

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