READING LIST | EVERY BOOK I'VE READ THIS YEAR (SO FAR).

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

If you've been following this blog for a while, you may have noticed I have a thing for making lists about pretty much everything. I mean hey, in the long run I'm sure it will help keep my memory strong and it's always nice to look back on the things you've done/accomplished in life. Watching lots of movies may not be a major accomplishment but at least when I get asked for movie recommendations I can just direct you to this movie review list. Here on the other hand, we'll be talking all about books. This is more of a post to keep a tab on the books I have read, and when it comes to reviewing them I don't think I could provide a long winded post, so these short blurbs will suffice!

they both die at the end

EATING AROUND GIBRALTAR | A SHORT REVIEW OF EVERY RESTAURANT.

Monday, 28 May 2018

So the other night I was round my friend Beccy's house drinking wine and talking about the blog post she had just written on her trip to Las Iguanas and suddenly I thought, omg why don't we make a blog list with all the places we go to eat at in Gibraltar with a little review on each one? We both love to eat, and I love making lists, so why not! For those of you who don't know, I was born and raised in Gibraltar but had spent the last 4 years studying in the UK so for the sake of this post I'm going to wipe the slate clean and pretend this is the first time I am visiting any of these restaurants. It also gives us an excuse to give our food a photoshoot when eating out. So here it is, a review of every restaurant we have eaten/will be eating in this year.


eating around gibraltar

1. FRANGOS


Where: Chatham Counterguard Strip
Cuisine: Portuguese

My experience: From the moment we sat down the staff were attentive, friendly and unlike some other places in Chatham Counterguard, didn't take half an hour to ask for/bring our order. The location is very convenient, so it's a great place to meet for lunch or for dinner if you're looking to carry the night on. I love that I don't have to feel guilty coming here because it's easy to eat healthy - and I get to hit my protein macros! Although I would 100% recommend the chocolate pudding for dessert. My favourite from the night had to be the platter with clams, fish and prawns, the sauce was delicious and I ended up dipping bread in it after all the seafood was gone. Even though this place is Portuguese it's not quite Nando's - I must say I do miss my mango & herb sauce and sweet potato mash so if they would add that to the menu I would be here weekly.

PLEASE NOTE FRANGO'S IS CURRENTLY CLOSED FOR BUSINESS.


frangos gibraltar
frangos gibraltar



























2. TRUTH


Where: Eurotowers
Cuisine: Global - is that a type?

My Experience: Sadly my partner in crime wasn't with me for this dining experience as she was in bed with the flu, but the show must go on. I remember hearing a lot about this place months before it opened, and at that point I wasn't sure if it was a restaurant, a club (anyone else watch Power?) or place you go to confess all of your sins. Even though it's been open for months now yesterday was my first visit where I got to try their cocktails and mains, as I previously had just had an english breakfast. The attention to detail and branding is great - from the staff uniforms, to the branded coasters, the place is very well 'put together'. There's a little pebble device on each table that calls for the waiter when you're ready to order which I thought was a nice touch, and means you're not waving your hand around trying to get the attention of the waiter for 5 minutes. I shared a bunch of tapas including the curried cauliflower with caramelized puree and coconut bechamel, beetroot hummus with flat bread and a selection of Won Tons. My friend opted for the Truth Burger which looked so damn cheesy and I quote her - "I am having the time of my life." The chips were also homemade and fresh, I know this because I ate her leftovers.

Overall I was very pleased with the service, I'd heard mixed reviews about the food but honestly I thought everything had so much flavour and they were all things I'd never tried before. My only disappointment was that my cocktail didn't have any cool effects unlike some of the others, but I guess I should have asked first!






















3. CURRY & SUSHI

Where: 30 Parliament Lane
Cuisine: Indian (and sushi)

My Experience: I pass this place so often and yet hadn't made it a point of going to eat there until now. I probably order a curry once every other month and it's usually when we're having a girls night in so it's not something I usually opt for when eating out. I made the rookie error of deciding to go here the same day as my step-dads birthday tea party. So as you can imagine, there wasn't much room for korma or masala. Whilst Beccy and Lucy devoured their Paneer Makhani and Chicken Tikka Makhan Palak, I opted for the slightly lighter Philadelphia Roll (cream cheese, salmon and avocado). It killed me not to be able to join in with the cheese nan but the two slices of chocolate cake were still laying in my stomach. The sushi was fresh, tasty and they weren't stingy with the soy sauce/wasabi/ginger. I'd definitely like to go back and try the curry next time. It doesn't end there....my sweet tooth and eyes thought 'well there's always room for dessert!' so I asked for a Mango Lassi which is basically a smoothie made up of mango, milk, yoghurt, and a dash of cardamom. As you can imagine, I took one sip and my stomach was like there's no room stop eating G!! so I had to ask to take it to go. 


     



4. THE BARBARY

Where: Deck 7, Sunborn Yacht
Cuisine: Mediterranean/North African 

My Experience: My Experience: I was kindly invited to Sunday Brunch with my friend Gabby (so thankfully I didn't have to look lonely eating by myself) at the Sunborn's new restaurant. This was my first time dining at the Sunborn and although it might be a little pricier than your average Sunday brunch, the quality and variety was worth it. I'd consider it more on the lunch than breakfast scale, because the buffet included (just to name a few) - salmon rolls filled with cream cheese, nuggets, burgers, a variety of hummus, sushi, your standard full english, prawn cocktails, salads, a wide selection of cheeses and ham and my favourite part - a white chocolate fondue  with marshmallows to dip. Dessert also included passion fruit cheesecake,  pancakes, chocolate cake, caramel cake and Haribo sweets - I think these were aimed for the kids but who doesn't love a gummy fried egg? If you're still hungry, you can order a meat or fish platter for an extra £14 per person, we had the meat and the rib meat literally fell right off the bone, very delicious.

The standard price is £24 per person but kids under 12 eat for free. For adults this also includes a welcome drink (cava with pineapple for us) and there was also a gentleman with a very lovely jazz voice entertaining us all whilst we ate. The service was impeccable, the staff was attentive and pleasant and made everyone in that room feel like a VIP - at least we felt like it. I think the only downside to my visit was that I had eaten a bowl of cornflakes at 11am, and so I couldn't sample all the desserts and stayed dreaming about the chocolate cake.


























If any restaurants, cafes or bars in Gibraltar would like to collaborate please drop me a line on gianaspiteri@gmail.com.

G









A GUIDE TO A WEEKEND BREAK IN SEVILLE, SPAIN.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

All my life I have referred to this place as Sevilla, but for international purposes we shall stick to Seville for the remainder of this travel guide. At the beginning of the month we used the bank holiday to take a little trip to Seville so that I could pretend I was in an episode of Game of Thrones and so my brother could throw up his hot dog on a Rollercoaster at Isla Magica Theme Park. Living next door to Spain, means that I've seen quite a bit of the country and I still think Seville is one of the nicest towns. If you're looking to spend a few days here whilst visiting the area here are some of my recommendations on where to stay, what to do and where to eat in Seville, Spain. 

seville

A SUMMER OF UNDERRATED EUROPEAN MUSIC FESTIVALS.

Friday, 25 May 2018

One of my favourite things about summer has to be the plethora of outdoor/daytime music events. There's nothing I love more than dancing (or swaying) away with my favourite people, with the sun hitting my face and a gin & tonic in my hand. Every year there seems to be more and more European music festivals popping up and therefore my list of music festivals I want to go to gets longer and longer. Despite that, I have a total of 0 booked this year, outside of my country anyway! Here's a list of music festivals at/near the top of my list (I've purposely left out Tomorrowland because I'm sure I don't need to tell you guys about that one). 

gibraltar calling

Mysteryland, Netherlands



If you missed out on grabbing tickets to Tomorrowland - then this is like their younger sibling. It still features great international acts, colourful stages and entertainment - just for half the price. We were planning on going to this as it falls on my birthday weekend, but I had to be realistic and have said yes to too many events this summer and will end up being there and being able to afford one drink. 


Dates: Aug 25th - Aug 26th 


Line-Up: Axwell, Galantis, Jonas Blue, Kungs, Robin Schulz. 


Secret Solstice, Iceland



This came up as a sponsored promo on Facebook and I was intrigued. The setting looks amazing and there's something for everyone - electronic, hip-hop, alternative. It's also promoted as Iceland's only cashless festival. So you can top up your wristband online and you're good to go! I've been to a festival where this was the case and it's so handy as you're not having to queue up for tokens or then end up with 10 £1 tokens that you can't do anything with. A study conducted by Data Label showed that 48% of millennials prefer to use 'smart' watch payments whereas 45% of generation X would prefer to use RFID technology wristband entry and preloaded with cash.


Dates: 21st June - 24th June 


Line-Up: Stormzy, Gucci Mane, Clean Bandit, Bonnie Tyler, Steve Aoki. 

Sziget, Hungary



Another cheap and cheerful festival in Europe. This is probably the line-up I'm most fond of and I may try and save all of my blog earnings to try and sneak in this trip. Of course, Lana Del Rey is my favourite artist ever and I'd quite like to see AM, Dua Lipa, Kendrick and Lykke Li. 

Dates: Aug 8th - Aug 11th

Line-Up: Arctic Monkeys, Dua Lipa, Gorillaz, Lana del Rey, Kendrick Lamar, Kygo, Shawn Mendes, Liam Gallagher, Mumford & Sons, Lykke Li

Roskilde, Denmark 


If you're spontaneous and want to plan a trip for next weekend - then head here. They have an eclectic line-up of well known and up and coming artists. In case you weren't sure Roskilde is a place, 35km away from Copenhagen

Dates: 30th June – 7th July

Line-Up: Eminem, Bruno Mars, Gorillaz, Nick Cave& the bad seeds, Nine inch nails, Massive attack, Dua Lipa. 

Exit, Serbia 


I'm very intrigued by Serbia, so I think I'd stay a few extra days to explore Belgrade too. This festival is held in a fortress and has stunning views of the Danube river. You can get flights and accommodation here for under £150 so it's definitely an option if you want something cheap, new and different. 

Dates: 12th July  – 15th July 

Line-Up: David Guetta, Grace Jones, Ziggy marley, Slaves, Solomun, Tale of us, LP, Amelie Lens, Asian Dub Foundation.

Gibraltar Calling, Gibraltar


I obviously had to give an honourable mention to my home country's music festival. We've come along way since 2013 where our only international act was Jessie J. Over the years we've seen everyone from Kings of Leon, Ricki Martin, Steve Aoki, Toploader and Rita Ora. It's definitely a family friendly festival so there's music for all age-groups and you can be certain you won't need to pack a raincoat and wellies for it. Gibraltar's size means you could also walk to the festival if you wanted to from from wherever you're staying. 

Dates: 21st September - 22nd September

Line-Up: Stormzy, Rita Ora, Two Door Cinema Club, Scouting For Girls, Texas.


As someone who studied Events Management, I've always had a keen interest in how festivals are progressing over the years in terms of production,resources and technology (I did write a 12,000 dissertation on them). From holographic concerts to 'doppler labs' where surrounding noise can be reduced and the music bass amplified, festivals are getting cooler and cooler. 


A big thank you to Data Label for collaborating with me on this post and providing the stats/info! Have you guys been to any of the festivals above, what was your experience like? or are you heading to any this year? 

G

european music festivals








THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LOCATIONS ON MY TRAVEL BUCKET LIST.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Up until now, I'd say 70% of my travel has been in Europe. I've travelled to India, Morocco and the United States and as from next year I'd like to start embarking on more trips further afield. Thanks to Pinterest (and half of my Instagram friends who are currently travelling through SE Asia), I've built up quite of a bucket list of some of the most beautiful and interesting landmarks and locations I'd like to visit before I die. From the temples of Angkor Wat to the Gardens by The Bay in Singapore, these are some of the most beautiful places on my bucket list. 

angkor wat
Photo Credit

THE SOUNDTRACK TO MY LIFE, IN COLLABORATION WITH PANASONIC.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

It's funny how music can play such an important role in our life. It hypes me up when I'm getting ready to go out, it keeps me motivated when I want to hit the stop button on the treadmill, it soothes (or adds) to my tears when I'm upset, and it has the power to remind you of situations/life experiences that happened many moons ago. To look back on that, I wanted to create this soundtrack to my life blog post, and tag you guys to share the same (because I'm nosy and could always do with new songs for my playlists). I've written this post in collaboration with Panasonic, and we all know music is best played loud and clear, so I'd recommend getting your hands on a Panasonic Speaker System. Be sure to let me know if you take part in this! Here are 15 questions to the soundtrack to my life. 


record player

TV LIST | A REVIEW OF EVERY TV SHOW I'VE WATCHED THIS YEAR

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

To finish off my entertainment trio, I decided to add a tv watch list to compliment my movie list and reading list. I feel like I watch a lot less TV than when I was at uni, where I literally had a different TV show to watch every night - Monday was Gotham, Tuesday was for American Horror Story, Wednesday was New Girl, Thursday I took a break from all the watching, and Friday was Vampire Diaries. Now I pretty much rely on Netflix for my TV shows and find it hard to watch more than one at a time unless the episodes are being released weekly. Here's my ongoing list for TV shows I've 'completed' this year.

tv list

THE IMPORTANCE OF PUTTING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE.

A couple of years ago, turning down plans because you needed a day to yourself was probably seen as you being lazy or making excuses to not see someone. We've got a bit better at understanding that life can be stressful enough during the week and sometimes we just need a day or two to put our own needs first or to have a break from reality. I thought this would be a good time to share this post as it is Mental Health Awareness Week and their campaign this year is particularly focusing on stress, which 2/3 of us know a thing or two about. I just want to also point out that protecting your mental health is not only necessary if you have been diagnosed with a mental illness. No matter the reason or situation, your wellbeing should come before your career, your social relationships and other unimportant commitments.  

mental health

30 OVER 40'S SHARE WHAT LIFE ADVICE THEY'D GIVE THEIR YOUNGER SELVES.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

It took me a while to decide what demographic to choose for this, and what to name the post without offending anyone. I feel like I may have received hate mail if I included 'middle-aged, old or senior citizens' in the title. So in the end I decided on people over 40 - because by then I feel like people have their s*** together and have lived through their twenties where we're still figuring life out, and their thirties where I guess things start to make sense and fall into place. As much as you and me probably ignore all the advice our parents, grandparents and relatives throw at us, they have essentially 'been through it all' so can offer us quite a few words of wisdom. So I searched for 30 people to share what advice they'd give their younger selves and our generation.

younger self

CARB CYCLING: THE KEY TO LOSING FAT BUT MAINTAINING MUSCLE.

Throughout my teenage years and early twenties (and thanks to TOWIE), I was let to believe that carbs were the enemy. I'm not saying that eating a pizza or bowl of pasta every night is good for you, because it's not and you will notice your junk getting bigger progressively. However, I'm here to tell you that you don't have to follow a 'no carbs before Marbs' diet just to get your body looking it's best. The truth is there is not one plan that fits everyone, as everyone's body is different. For me I've found a combination of intermittent fasting and carb cycling work for me, whereas I know others who practice keto (high fat/no carb) and find that works for them. To put it simply, carb cycling is well, cycling your carbs. If you want to find out more about carb cycling, how I do and examples of carb cycling keep reading my bread loving friends.

carb cycling


What is Carb Cycling?


Carb cycling is essentially 'cycling' the amount of carbs you eat on a particular day. So on certain days you will be getting a higher amount of your macros from carbohydrates than on others. I tend to keep my protein levels at the same amount (130-135g) and raise my fat levels slightly on my lower carb days. It's important to know that you shouldn't be filling yourself with simple carbs and cakes just because you 'can' as you probably won't get the results you're looking for and will be disappointed. 

Why does carb cycling work?


Carb cycling works because it keeps your body guessing and it doesn't get used to pulling energy from one source and more importantly, doesn't stall your metabolism. When on a low carb diet, your insulin sensitivity increases which can help with burning body fat instead of energy. When eating high carb, you produce more of the hormone leptin which keeps you fuller for longer, and therefore you are less likely to binge eat.

The problem with following a low or no carb diet for a long period is that a. your body starts to get used to this and stops burning fat, your metabolism slows down, and eventually you're going to be so deprived of carbs that you're going to walk past a cake shop and run for everything and then need to run for the Gaviscon after. 

Creating your carb cycling plan


There are different approaches to creating your carb cycling plan. Some people change the amount of calories they consume in the day and may also change their fat/protein levels accordingly. Some people strictly do high carb days and days where they consume 0 net carbs. I try and keep things as simple as possible. 

The first thing you want to do is calculate your normal macros to either lose, maintain or gain weight/muscle. This calculator does a pretty good job of working it out for you. 

My protein levels always remain at 1g of protein per lb of body weight so I try to aim for 132g of protein daily. 

According to the IIFYM calculator, my daily fat intake should be 56g of fat

The rest of my calories I will get from carbs which tends to be around 129g of carbs

In terms of calories, I will try and aim for 1400kal. 

How my macros/calories change on lower/high carb days. 


I split my cycle in to 3 amounts - low, medium and high carb days. My macros for my medium carb days usually look like the above, or I try to aim for 100g of carbs. I plan my high carb days (twice a week) when I'm going to be lifting heavier weights and working on the booty (because we want that to keep growing) and on those days I will slightly increase my carbs and lower my fat so my macros look like this:

Protein: 132g
Fats: 25g
Carbs: 150g - 175g 

On my lower carb days, I aim for upper body workouts and cardio. I actually feel more lethargic when I eat larger amounts of carbohydrates so find I have higher endurance levels with these macros. My macros for these usually look like this:

Protein: 132g
Fats: 65g
Carbs: 50g 

In a week my typical week split may look something like this:

MONDAY: HIGH CARB | GLUTES & LEGS
TUESDAY: MED CARB | UPPER BODY
WEDNESDAY: LOW CARB | CARDIO & CORE
THURSDAY: HIGH CARB | GLUTES & LEGS
FRIDAYLOW CARB | REST
SATURDAY: MED CARB | REST
SUNDAY: MED CARB | FULL BODY CIRCUIT

My experience with carb cycling

I know what you're probably thinking, this seems like a lot of work and calculations G. Which is why I don't follow it religiously and there are weeks where I don't follow it at all. I just try and plan ahead roughly whether I'll be having a H/M/L carb day and factor in foods that fit those macros. For example if I know I'm going out for pizza with my friends on Saturday, I'll make that my high carb day & leg day, because I'm deffo gonna be consuming over 150g of carbs ya get me?

I found this has been a good system for fat loss and curving cravings as I know I don't have to say goodbye to pasta, toast / mayo and cheese and such for good. I do find it's a good plan that fits with my fitness regime and will allow me to maximise my results. I am hoping to do this for a month continuously and cut down on the cardio just to see what my 'gainz' are.

As always, this is just a guide from my findings and experience, but it isn't something for everyone! To show my appreciation for carbs in the comments, I'd love to know what your guilty carbalicious pleasures are - for me it's always pizza and cheesy garlic bread. 

G


carb cycling





TRAVEL GUIDE | A WEEKEND OF CHURROS, DANCING AND SANGRIA IN MADRID, SPAIN.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

For those of you who don't know much about me, I'm from the tiny British country of Gibraltar that sits on the southern tip of Europe, bordering Spain. Now that you have that information, I can say that tapas are part of my weekly life because we have a lot of typical 'Andalusian' restaurants in Gibraltar, nestled between fish and chip shops and Gibraltarian favourites. Nevertheless, whenever I travel somewhere in Spain there are always new surprising things on the menu aside from your standard 'Patatas Bravas' and 'Tortilla de Patata' and every city has it's own charm. Ok so enough about food for now, the main reason(s) I went to Madrid was to reunite with my best friend Zoe who I met at University because it was a lot cheaper than flying to Gibraltar or London respectively AND it has been months since I last saw her, which was on our NYE trip to Barcelona. ALSO Lana Del Rey finally made her come back to Europe after 4 years, so of course we were not missing out. I'd been to Madrid twice in the past but this was the first time I actually did all the 'touristy' things. If you're planning on expanding your Spain bucket list, then here's my guide on where to get the best churros in Madrid, where to stay and what to do! 

plaza mayor

Where to stay in Madrid


No matter where you stay in Madrid, the chances are you'll be within 400m of a metro stop. Since we were pretty much just looking for a clean private room, we opted for Hostel Yolanda which only set us back £50 each for 3 nights. The room was basic but catered for our needs - clean bedsheets, a vanity table with a mirror, a full length mirror and a cute balcony to take pictures out of whilst we were getting ready for a night out (obvs). Another hotel that I've stayed at in the past is Petit Palace (Petit Palace Tres Cruces)- which is a chain you'll find in several locations around Madrid and Spain. The outside of this particular hotel looks very fairytale like and quirky, but you'll find that their rooms are very modern and the showers have more than your normal amount of nozzles so it makes for fun washing!

hostal yolanda


Where to eat in Madrid


I'm going to break this up into the four main meals of the day, if like me you like to fill your stomach to the brim when on holiday then you'll be spoilt for choice in Madrid. So on our first morning we had breakfast at La Rollerie, which is a cosy chain breakfast cafe with several of them scattered around the city. Their prices are good and their portions are large. They have everything from traditional 'bread with tomato', english breakfasts, vegan choices and a large array of pastries on offer. Me and Zoe both opted for a 'Espanol' which featured rustic bread, a slice of Spanish tortillla de patatas/omelette, a coffee and a glass of fresh orange juice - all for 6 euros. 

If your palette is ok with having sweet things in the morning, then a trip to Chocolateria San Gines is a must. They've been around since 1894 and serve your standard churros and thick hot chocolate, and also 'porras' which are of the thicker variety. Zoe had never actually tried Spanish churros and thought they all tasted sweet, as in many places they're made with cinnamon and for me personally, don't taste as nice. Be warned, the queues to get a place to sit here are usually out the door, so arrive early so you're not standing outside with your stomach rumbling for half an hour. However this place is open until the early hours of the morning, so you can head there whenever you fancy them.


chocolateria san gines


For lunch....whenever I travel anywhere I do my research to find the tasty, quirky and recommended places a destination has to offer. After watching one too many episodes of Riverdale I was on the hunt for a diner where I could get a burger and shake. Luckily Tommy Nels was right off the Puerta Del Sol and served exactly that. Their burgers were delicious although my shake could have done with some more flavourin, or a cherry on top at least! We had lunch at around 2pm and could have probably been satisfied up until 9pm, but of course I always have to make room for tea and cake when away. If it's innovative tapas you're after then Juana La Loca offers some interesting plates and is a nice cosy place too. Musa Malasaña also creates fusion type tapas and at very good prices - for 30 euros (between two people) you get a varied selection of tapas.

If you fancy hopping somewhere else for some tea and cake, then Lolina Vintage Cafe is great for either breakfast, brunch or tea time. If you're looking to start the night early then they also offer a cocktail and cake offer for 10 euros. Toma Cafe is another good option that offers a range of sweet and savoury options at affordable prices.


tommy nels


For dinner, I'd definately recommend paying a visit to the Mercado De San Miguel, which is a sort of indoor market that has over 15+ bars and 'restaurants' to choose from. The atmosphere in these kind of places is always great but it does get busy so it's not always easy to find a place to sit. If you've been walking around all morning then it might not be the ideal pit stop for lunch, but for dinner it's the perfect place to grab a couple of plates and drinks and gather around a table. 

What to do in Madrid


Madrid is home to a lot of gardens, most notable the 'Parque de Retiro' where you can also have a go at rowing a boat along the...lake?) for 6 EUROS per boat, each boat holds 4 people so essentially you're paying 2 euros each for an hour, which is pretty decent. If you like to get to know your royals, you can also pay a visit to the Royal Palace. An interesting fact we learnt about this place was that if you had a baby and made it sleep in a different room every night, it wouldn't have slept in every room until it was 7, or was it 8?


parque de retiro


As always, we did a 'free' walking tour with Sandemans and our guide was pretty entertaining, he told us all about why Plaza Mayor used to smell so bad including the fact that the statue in the centre used to have its mouth open, and birds used to fly inside get trapped and die, so yeah picture that. We also learnt why 'tapas' are in fact called tapas, but I won't disclose that so you can hear the story for yourself if you go! (or a simple Google will do the trick).

There are plenty of museums in Madrid and a lot of them are free at certain times or to EU nationals (lol you better go quick). Some notable ones are el Prado which is free from 6pm-8pm on weekdays, the Reina Sofia which is free from 7pm-9pm and the very romantic 'Museo del Romanticismo' which is free on Saturday's after 2pm. For a more extensive list you can see TripAdvisor's list of free museum entries in Madrid. We also paid 4 euros (2 with a student card) to get in to the Madrid botanical gardens, which was a pleasant walk around and obviously got us some good shots for Instagram. 


la latina


If you're travelling with kids, or in a group of friends and fancy something a bit of exhilarating, then you can find Warner Bros and Parque de Atracciones in Madrid. The latter has more 'thrill' rides as such whereas WB is home to Bugs Bunny, Batman and all that stuff. So if you prefer more themed theme parks then that might be more entertaining for everyone. 

Some of the more trendy areas in Madrid are La Latina and Malasaña, if you're looking for an area to go out. Me and Zoe did a pub crawl with Madride* which I was kindly invited along to, and hands down it was probably one of the most enjoyable pub crawls I've done. FIRSTLY, because pub crawls always say there's going to be drinking games (everyone knows I love a good drinking game) and they never happen, whereas we actually had a go at a couple in the first bar which worked as a great ice breaker for the group. The drink deals were awesome, we paid 5 euros in the first bar for 1 hour of unlimited Sangria, and in the next paid 10 euros for 1 hour of spirit mixers. You can imagine what we ended up like by the end of the night, or when we had to wake up at 8am to go catch our flight home ha ha ha. 

Last but not least, it's always good to see what's actually happening in Madrid when you're there! Whether it's a football game at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, a concert at the Palacio Vista Alegre, a Whitney Houston musical or a flamenco show - there's always something going on in this buzzing city. I'm also going to leave this lovely photo of Lana here I took, despite having queued for just an hour (and the queue being 800m long) we managed to get a pretty good spot.

lana del rey madrid


parque de retiro


Have you ever been to Madrid? What tapas are your favourites? I think 'aubergine fries with honey' have to be my current ones!

G

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for more to do in Madrid head to my Spain Pinterest board

madrid travel guide


Want to explore more of Spain? You might want to take a look at my Barcelona travel guide or Ibiza travel guide


*items marked were given to me on a complimentary basis for the purpose of this blog post








AT WHAT POINT CAN I CONSIDER MYSELF SUCCESSFUL?

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

A lot of the time I get asked if I think my blog is successful, and if I were to include every blog in the universe I'd probably have to say no - I'm sure Obama doesn't read Tea With Gi and people in Wakanda probably haven't heard of me either. I'm probably not going to win any awards anytime soon or be going full-time, but when I look back at the things and opportunities my blog has given me I can say I have had some success with it. As any good university essay would start, success is defined as 'the accomplishment of an aim or purpose' (Cambridge Dictionary 2018), so really, the only person that has a say as to whether you are successful in life or not, is you, and maybe Forbes. 

giana ootd

First for a little rant on the blogging industry...


If you have a blog, website or brand you will probably be familiar with the terms SEO, Domain Authority, reach, engagement and all that marketing jazz. Last month I was getting almost double the amount of views on my posts (perhaps thanks to Pinterest?) and I got a snazzy new layout that I spent an afternoon customising and formatting. I was having one of those 'pumped' weeks where I was motivated to take my blog to the 'next level' and commit to it 100% every day. Then along came my DA update, where I'd dropped from 22 to 18. For those of you who aren't aware of the term, DA is a tool made by MOZ which ranks how well your website appears on search engines in comparison to other websites, bearing in mind that when bigger sites improve yours might go down, as it's all relative. I wrote a post on things to do to improve your DA and SEO, but APPARENTLY this isn't enough and MOZ must hate me or might also require a human sacrifice to help me improve. For me personally, this wouldn't be an issue if every single brand out there wasn't now asking for a DA of 25 or above. I've been blogging for 3 years, have a pretty engaged and decent following and have travelled around thanks to my blog, so you could say I have achieved some success, but if we're going to just look at the numbers on a scale, you'd think I was far from a successful blogger. Which can get, a little infuriating and disheartening. 

So now that the initial rant about MOZ is over, there are a couple more things I wanted to touch upon on this post, blog and non-blog related. Last year I wrote a post about what blogging meant to me, and what it doesn't, and this is partly the frustration that I sometimes feel in the blogging industry. There are hundreds of people starting blogs everyday, and whilst there is room for everyone to express themselves on the internet, it becomes a harder ladder to climb to 'being successful' when people are cheating their way to the top or cutting corners. Maybe I feel like a stroppy teenager thinking 'IT'S NOT FAIR' when I see someone who has been blogging for 2 months winning awards , being picked for campaigns and going viral and then seeing people who have been posting constant good material for 2 years go unrecognised. Or when a brand specifies '20K followers on Instagram to be considered' without looking at anything else - what if 10K of those followers are pigeons? (who can use iPhones), or all of their posts are made up of Marilyn Monroe quotes? I understand more reach usually equals higher exposure, but nowadays numbers shouldn't be the defining factor, and I'm glad to see there's been an increase in the benefit of using micro bloggers who may not have as large a following but have more of an influence on a smaller group of people (or target market). With the Instagram algorithm and people following/unfollowing I sometimes wonder what's the point? but at the end of the day I need to remember why I and you started this in the first place (hopefully not for the freebies). You write because you want to write and share your thoughts and opinions, having people read my work is just a bonus. Sure it's good to have competitors in business, but when it's something as personal as this it does a whole world of good to support each other instead of tearing each other down. 

On another note....


I moved back home last June after finishing university and one of the only things I dislike about the place is that being from a tiny country means your life is put under a microscope. Everyone wants to know what you're doing for work, whether you have your own house, your own car, a boyfriend/girlfriend and will be silently judging you for your answers. I know this happens everywhere but the chances are you explain yourself once and don't have to bump into them again for another 3 weeks. I feel like there's a lot of pressure for my generation about what you should be doing after university or in your twenties, and if you haven't done X Y Z by the time you're 30 you're considered a failure. I'm 23 and still haven't learnt how to drive, and to be honest the only reason I'm starting lessons next month is so people will STOP ASKING ME. I plan to drive eventually, but I haven't had the need for it yet and there are higher things up on my priority list than spending £4000 on a second hand car (like trips, we all have our vices). 

I may not know how to drive, earn a six figure salary, have a boyfriend, own a house, be able to squat 80kg, ever received a trophy, won in bingo or own any designer belts (gosh this list is getting long I better stop for my own self-esteem) but I do have a job I don't hate, can walk at super speed, sleep peacefully knowing nobody is cheating on me, saving £500 in rent and have people that approach me saying they've related to one or some of my blog posts. Which for me is always a great achievement if I feel I've at least made one person nod their head in agreement, laugh or share a post on their Whatsapp group to laugh at my oversharing (cause hey more views for me). This is not a post to brag about my achievements or what I haven't accomplished, I just wanted to post a little reminder for everyone who feels like they're not where they're meant to be in life, that your time will come and you are the driver of your own success. 

Chances are, you're doing better in life than you think you are. Success is relative and who cares what everyone else is doing around you, what matters is that you set your own goals and create your own achievements, as they're probably going to be different to mine or your best friends. I think that's all I have for now, apologies if it felt like a bit of a mind blurb, I started writing this at 2am when I couldn't sleep, but as always I feel like when my writing is the most honest and non sugar coated.



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