A LOW CARB AUBERGINE (OR EGGPLANT) LASAGNA RECIPE.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

I stopped doing recipes on my blog once I finished university and moved back home, I think the last one may have been a white fish soup one. Truthfully, when I moved back to Gibraltar I probably only cooked omelettes, chicken and made buddha bowls, because with my mum and grandmother around there wasn't really a need for me to cook much. Now that I'm living on my own in Brisbane and have a very nice kitchen to make a mess in, I've enjoyed experimenting with more things and meal prepping and all that grown up stuff. 

If like me, you love Italian food but also know it wouldn't be great for our hips to eat pasta at every meal, then this is a great alternative recipe to traditional lasagna. Luckily, I love cheese equally as much as carbs so even though this is a vegetable substitute it's still delicious and filling. I've also taken the liberty of calculating the macros and calories per serving for you guys (thanks to MyFitnessPal) so if you're tracking/a gym buff don't worry, I've got you. 

low carb aubergine lasagna

INGREDIENTS 

  • 4 Aubergines/Eggplants 
  • 500g of turkey mince (or beef) 
  • Chicken or beef stock
  • Mushrooms 
  • 1 red onion 
  • 2 garlic cloves 
  • Can of chopped Italian tomatoes 
  • Passata sauce (I got Italian herb but you can use any)
  • Bechamel (jar or homemade) 
  • Mozzarella



METHOD  


1. Preheat the oven to 180'C

2. Slice the aubergines lengthwise in 1/3 inch slices. Depending on your dish size you should aim for 15 slices to make the layers. 

3. Wash the aubergine slices, and place them on a sheet of kitchen paper. Drizzle some pink himalayan salt (or your regular salt) and place another sheet of kitchen paper on top. Press down and leave for 10 minutes to drain out the liquid from them. 

4. Heat up a pan with olive oil. Chop up the onion, garlic and mushrooms and toss into the pan. Keep on a low-medium heat and after a few minutes throw the mince into the pan. 

5. Once the meat has turned brown, pour in the can of tinned tomatoes, crumble the stock in and add salt and pepper and any other seasonings you wish to use. Leave to simmer on low heat. 

6. Grab a baking tray and spread the aubergine slices on it. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on each (I use spray) and bake them for 7-8 minutes on each side. 

7. Now for the fun part! Layer your lasagna however you wish. Mine went something like aubergines - tomato - drizzle of bechamel - lots of mozzarella - mince mixture - and repeat.

8. Place dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until top layer is a beautiful crispy brown. 

low carb aubergine lasagna


CALORIES PER SERVING | 527
CARBS | 39g
PROTEIN | 51.3g
FAT | 17.8g


 Have you ever tried to make this before? I'd love to hear your alternative recipes! 

G


low carb eggplant lasagna

5 RESTAURANTS AND CAFES TO VISIT IN MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

When I think of food in Australia - I think healthy, colourful and creative. When you're travelling with a Vegan and Celiac, your restaurant choices tend to be a bit more niche and the menus usually tend to be a bit more creative. Whether you're looking for something instagrammable, or want to eat out without consuming all of your daily calorie intake in one meal, here are some options for every craving. 


Queen Victoria Market 


Ok so this isn't technically a restaurant, but if you're not really sure what you fancy eating then head here where you can choose from more than 10 different cuisines from across the globe. I shared halloumi fries, pavlova and paella with my friend, and I may have had a bubble tea too. There's usually live music too and a bunch of stalls and fresh produce for you to look at. 

queen victoria market


Pablo Escoburgers


My friend came across this place on Instagram after someone posted about their 'controversial' burgers in ode to Pablo Escobar. One of which comes with a dollar bill and a 'line of cocaine'. This was a pretty funky place, and the bartender creates a signature cocktail for you based on your preferences. We ended up spending around $45 each at this place, so it's not the cheapest of restaurants, but at least your burger will look good on the gram. 

pablo escoburgers


Ground Yourself Cafe


We stumbled accross this place on our way to get our nails done, and it was a delight. They have a large breakfast selection, smoothie and acai bowls and a selection of buddha bowls. I got the Superfood Salad lunch special for $10 which came with quinoa, cauliflower, goji, beetroot, kale, pickled grapes, toasted seeds and almond hummus. It was delicious. 

ground yourself cafe


Banff 


If it's Italian you're after, then head to Banff in St Kinda for an inexpensive plate of pizza or pasta. They usually have offers on, such as $7 pizzas on Monday and Tuesday. They have an interesting concept called 'paper bag pasta' where your pasta is served...in a bag. I didn't get to experience it first hand, as I went for the Chicken & Pesto Risotto and it was molto delizioso.

banff st kilda

Sister of Soul 


This was probably my favourite and most delicious out of all of them. Even though we had initially planned to go for lunch, the breakfast menu looked so good that all 5 of us picked something from there. I had the French Toast which was no ordinary french toast, it came with vegan 'honeycomb', gelato, fruit and of course maple syrup (and some flowers that I assumed were edible). The Snickers Smoothie Bowl that my friend chose looked heavenly too. 

sister of soul


Have you been to any of these? What are some of your favourite spots in Melbourne?

G


melbourne food spots



A WEEKEND GUIDE TO SURFERS PARADISE, AUSTRALIA.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

I've been in Australia for about two months now, and most of that has been spent in Brisbane - because of its warm weather, its great nightlife and its proximity to lots of other great places around Queensland. Surfers Paradise is situated in Queensland's Gold Coast and is an hour drive from the CBD. I'd say Australians head to Surfers on the weekend just like we Gibraltarians head to Tarifa. They're both known for their beaches, nightlife, and the perfect windy weather to practice your surfing skills. Here's what we got up to in two days in Surfers Paradise. 

surfers paradise


Where to Stay 


If you stay anywhere along the beach you'll be able to get to everything by foot (obvious I guess). We stayed at K Resort Apartments which was a 5 minute walk from Cavill Avenue where you can find a plethora of shops and restaurants and a 10 minute walk from Surfers Paradise beach.  

We shared a 2 bedroom apartment between 4 of us and paid £35 each for a 2 night stay. The living room was slightly dated but then again all we were really there for was to sleep, make toast for breakfast and pre drink before heading out. The Wi-Fi wasn't free, so we stuck with our 4G. The apartments had air-con and we also had a bathroom each.

k resort surfers paradise


Where to Eat


Since we were on a bit of a budget, we ate in the apartment twice and had breakfast in the room too (and a helping of snacks from 7/11).

Grill'd 

If you're after a burger but want to knock of a couple hundred calories then head to Grill'd. They have gluten-free buns, vegan options and even a low carb bun that makes your burger less carby than a sushi roll. I went for the summer sunset burger - complete with bacon, avocado and pineapple. I also recommend trying the chips share plate which comes with their famous Grill'd chips, sweet potato chips & zucchini chips.

grill'd

SandBar

Located next to the beach, this place is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We came at an in between time of 12pm so all chose an Acai bowl and damn was it good. All bowls were topped with banana, apple, strawberries, coconut, chia seeds, granola (and because I'm a gluttonous individual I also added peanut butter and raw cacao).  If we would have come again, I would have definately gone for a Hawaiian poke bowl.

sandbar


What to do 


Party 

A trip to the Gold Coast isn't complete without a night out (well that's my opinion with most trips). When we were choosing where to 'settle' in Queensland we originally thought of Surfers but heard it was like the 'Magaluf of Australia' so went for Brisbane instead. I must say, I think I had one of my best nights out in Australia there. We went to Sin City and Bedroom and I think I was running out of breath by the end of the evening because I was singing so many damn songs.

If you like your aesthetics then Bedroom is a good choice - there's actual beds in the VIP area and bathroom, and the club gives out free popcorn and candy floss. 

Infinity

If you want to experience the biggest trip of your life in 20 minutes, head to Infinity. Tickets are $26 and the attraction basically takes you through a series of rooms and effects that engage all your senses. Think house of mirrors but even more confusing and weird.  

Ripley's - Believe it or Not!

I lived in London for a year and never made it to this place but I was always curious, so when we found ourselves with some time on our hands we popped in to see what it was all about. There's about 15 themed rooms and interactive areas (and a lot of bizarre stuff to check out).

Surf 

I mean whilst you're here you might as well try it right? We probably didn't pick the best time to do this (a.k.a the day after our night out) but luckily we picked 1pm for our lesson so we had the morning to recover. We went with Get Wet Surf School and paid $60 for 2 hours. We were surprised to find we actually didn't suck as much as we thought we would, and I managed to stand up on my board for an impressive 10 seconds.

get wet surf school


Rent a scooter 

We saw people on these everywhere and there are a dozen shops scattered around the area where you can rent a bike/scooter from. The coast is actually very long, so you could either go on a nice 50 minute scenic walk to Mermaid beach or electric scooter it. 

Crazy Cat Cafe

If you're travelling in a group then one of you is bound to be a crazy cat person (there were two in ours). The Crazy Cat Cafe have either 50 minute or 25 minute sessions and unlike the one we went to in Japan, you're actually allowed to play with the cats and hold them. They have quite a big menu ranging from shakes to lasagna to cheesecakes. 

Q1 Climb 

If you're after the best scenic view of the Gold Coast, you can either climb to it or simply sit at the top of the Q1 building and enjoy a nice meal and glass of wine. The SkyPoint Climb lasts 90 minutes and you climb a total of 300 stairs, so make sure you've had your kale-spinach-superseed breakfast.

iFly 

Still haven't quite mustered the courage to sky dive? Then floating in the air in a vertical wind tunnel is a good alternative with iFly. The price is $55 for 'two indoor sky flights' and is suitable for people of all ages. 

Tan

If you've done all that and wondering what to do with yourself next, then go take a nap on the beach.



Have you ever been to Surfers Paradise? What's your favourite seaside location in Australia?

G


SURFERS PARADISE guide



25 GOT FANS SHARE THEIR EVENING PLANS BEFORE FIGHTING THE WHITE WALKERS.

Monday, 29 April 2019

It's been a hot minute since I've done a blog post asking the readers something, and since I've gone through a slight blog hiatus and have just been spending my spare time in Australia laying on beaches and fan girling that Game of Thrones is back, I thought this would be a fitting question to ask my friends and pester my readers to answer. For those of you who aren't aware of who the white walkers are, just imagine you will be spending your next morning fighting these things and half the cast of the Walking Dead.

white walkers


1. "I'd do Tormund. Then probably call my family to say goodbye. They maybe try heroine." - Nicola

2. "I'd go to all my favourite restaurants and eat all my favourite meals (Bodeguiya, My Wines), then I will make love with my love, then make him give me a foot massage, well a full body massage. Then to help me fall asleep before the big night I'd probably smoke a krippy." - Gabriella

3. "I'd go to Burger King and eat a long chicken, then go to McDonalds for a McFlurry, then Pizza Hut for a slice of Hawaiian. Then go to the petrol station to buy a bottle of Echo Falls Summer Berries and maybe have the company of a nice, suitable, attractive man to keep me company until the sun comes up. Then once the night king has slaughtered me, I'd get him to bring me and Robb Stark back from the dead so we can live happily ever after." - G x

4.  "First I'd fly to Leeds to go sleep with the best lover I've had, and then I'd go and refuel by eating all the gluten infested products that I can't eat but who cares cause I'm going to die anyway." - Mariah

5. "Eat all of the Candy Kittens." - Pavan

6. "I would probably eat my body weight in chocolate and cheese whilst getting drunk and searching the black market for dragon glass. Then make my last meal at La Pampa." - Gabby

7. "Send everyone I know a paragraph of what I actually think of them." - Anna

8. "I'd tell every girl I've slept with that I have chlamydia." - Ben

9. "Probably watch all the Game of Thrones episodes for inspiration on how to survive against the White Walkers. Maybe order a chicken korma as well." - Pete

10. "Tell those I love that I love them/ Make peace with the fact I might definitely die tomorrow . Make sure I have everything prepared. Then sleep with someone. Oh and definitely get drunk, but not too drunk that I'm really hungover." - Jack

11. "Go and spend £1000 on a good bottle of wine." - Brian

12. "I'd stay with the people I love, make love and drink with the people who I will die with the next day. What a night, but what a glorious day to die next morning." - Alex

13. "I'd go to the countryside with my partner and lay looking at the stars, it's what we do when things get tough or tricky. It puts things into perspective, so if it's our last night I'd want to spend it like that." - Lizzie

14. "Have s.e.x., and drink something strong. Let's face it, may as well have fun before it all ends." - Emma

15. "Eat everything I've been craving because who cares I'm going to turn into a white walker anyway" - Christina

16. "Khaleesi." - Arun

17. "I'd do Khaleesi." - Jake

18. "I'd do exactly what Gendry did with Arya, but with Dany." - Umesh

19. "I'd get super drunk to have the confidence to tell my parents everything I did behind their back, and I'd consume an obscene amount of chocolate and carbs. I would build a badass snowman so the white walkers know I mean business. Get to bed early so I could start drinking again before the army of the dead arrives." - Mike

20. "I'd have a fucking long nap. I'm not a Game of Thrones fan but I know enough to know what this means and I'd have a fucking long nap." - Amy

21. "I think I would train hard at the gym, and then eat all my favourite foods incase I die. I don't want to regret the fact that my last meal was terrible." - Amita

22. "Probably ask Dany if I could ride one of her dragons, or at least let me take a ride with her, because it would be a great way to go." - Luke

23. "Spend the rest of my savings on UberEats." - Sam

24. "Probably spend it at home playing Manopoly with my family, that would probably get us through the night." - Alex

25. "Probably go out to my favourite club and get so wasted that I'll be KO for the actual fight and not even be aware of my death." - Chloe

If you haven't seen todays episode yet, I hope your favourite character lives! 

G


SPENDING 3 DAYS IN SINGAPORE (ON A SLIGHT BUDGET).

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

When planning our route before arriving in Australia, everyone thought it was weird we picked Singapore because it's on the more expensive side than other places in Asia. That being said, Singapore is a common place for airlines to stop over before getting a connecting flight to OZ so it made sense. That, and it's a country you can pretty much explore in a weekend if you were very organised and efficient. After watching Crazy Rich Asians, I more or less had an idea of what the place was going to be like, and I was excited to see all the spots we had seen in the movie in real life. If you're looking to explore Singapore in a few days, here are my tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat. 

tea with gi singapore guide

WHERE TO STAY

If you have an unlimited budget for this trip then the best place you can probably stay is Marina Bay Sands. From the pool to the rooftop bar to the views of the Gardens, it really is luxury at its finest. If you're just hopping around Asia or have the budget of a student, then I'd look at staying in Little India or China Town. 

We stayed at Marrison @ Desker and we were a 10 minute walk from the Little India MRT station which had good connections to the rest of Singapore. We had a triple room which was basically one giant bed, a bathroom and a desk. The property had no lifts so we put our gym regime to the test by having to carry our 20kg suitcases to the second floor ourselves. The reservation included 'free breakfast' which was a token for a Indian naan omelette type thing at the restaurant beside, so not the buffet breakfast I had imagined. 

marrison @ desker

We paid £100 each for 4 nights so we got what we paid for really - a place to sleep that had Wi-Fi, hot water and no bed bugs. 

DAY 1 IN SINGAPORE


AM | Gardens By The Bay 

We started out trip by heading to the most photographed place in Singapore - Gardens By The Bay. Here you will find dozens of very tall futuristic trees, gardens and a number of beautiful conservatories. The actual gardens are free to enter, but there is a fee to enter the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. If you'd like, for 12 SGD (singapore dollars) you can also walk from supertree to supertree with the OCBC Skyway

gardens by the bay

Lunch | Satay by the Bay 

We had to walk like 15 minutes to get here from the Cloud Forest (that's how big GBTB is) and in 30 degree heat there's no better feeling than finally sitting down and eating. Despite the name, you can choose from over 30 food stalls here but as suggested, I ate satay by the bay. Here you can get meals from 10 SGD and I got 12 sticks of chicken satay for that. This was also one of the locations where Nick Young and his pals had dinner in the movie Crazy Rich Asians.

PM | Art Science Museum 

You've probably seen lots of futuristically artsy pictures from this place on Facebook and Instagram - and trying to achieve the same photos in real life wasn't very easy. I do always enjoy museums more when they're interactive (am I 4 or 24?) and it doesn't get more interactive than the Art Science Museum. You can colour in animals and watch them appear on a screen, you can move objects on walls and create music by drawing on a screen and so on. For all of you Instagram lovers, there are a number of very aesthetically pleasing rooms. The one pictured below is more of a walk through, and you're allowed like, 10 seconds before you need to keep walking because there'll be a queue forming behind you. 

art science museum

Dinner | 'The Shoppes' at Marina Bay Sands 

If you are on a budget, then the restaurants in this mall are slightly on the expensive side (we're talking £30+ for a plate of pasta) but the food court at the end has a lot of variety and for 1/3 of the price. I had a katsu curry (not exactly the same as the one we get at Wagamama) for 10 SGD which came with miso soup and white rice. If you're frozen yoghurt and bubble tea obsessed like I am, you can find pretty good ones here. 

marina bay sands food court

Evening | Marina Bay Sands Spectra / Rooftop Bar

As you can see from todays itinerary, you're basically spending the whole day in one area as GBTB and Marina Bay are both within walking distance of each other. However if you plan on dancing into the early hours of the morning then you might wanna nip back to the hotel and shower and maybe change from your converse. The Spectra is a light and water show and you can see this from the balcony of the first floor of the mall. The shows are only 15 minutes long but they really are beautiful. After, I definitely recommend having an overpriced Singapore Sling at the hotels rooftop bar. You have to pay $28 to get up there, and you can use this as a token to buy a drink (the cocktail was $31 so we had to add a few extra bucks on top). There is also a more club type area up here if you fancy a dance too. 

Spectra Showtimes

Sun – Thu: 8pm & 9pm
Fri & Sat: 8pm, 9pm & 10pm
Earth Hour on Sat, Mar 30:
8pm, 9:30pm & 10:30pm


DAY 2 IN SINGAPORE

AM | Little India 

If you're looking for some colourful shots for your IG feed then Little India is the place to do so. We did a free walking tour with Monster Tours which gave us more of an insight to what we were actually looking at and the history of Little India in Singapore. Sights included the Former House of Tan Teng Niah (picture below), Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple and Little India Arcade. These tours run on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and they also run tours for China Town, Kampong Glam, Bugis & Bras Basah and the Civic District. 

little india

Lunch | Khansama 

No trip to Little India would be complete without a curry, and we were told Khansama was the best one in town. They have an extensive menu and their portions are big. We made the mistake of ordering a curry each and a rice to share, and to be honest we could have probably had enough with 3 dishes between the 5 of us. Each curry came with a basket of mixed naan breads, so you definitely won't leave this place still hungry.

Khansama

PM | China Town & Haji Lane 

After lunch we took another metro to Bugis MRT and then walked 10 minutes to find Haji Lane - a very hipster spot in Singapore. Here you'll find an explosion of colour, quirky cafes, vintage shops and a lot of drunk travellers. We were exhausted so we also took this opportunity to sit down and have a cocktail in a Spanish bar playing reggaeton and people watch. After this we took the metro to China Town and just had a walk through the area really. Here you'll be able to see Pagoda Street, Sri Mariamman Temple, the former Opera House, a Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum and the 'Street of the Dead'. 

haji lane


Dinner | Maxwell Centre

In China Town you will find a Hawker Centre (indoor/outdoor food court) which is known for being one of the best ones to try genuine Singaporean dishes that are cheap and tasty. The most popular food stall in Maxwell Hawker Centre is the Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice and it did not disappoint.


Evening | Gardens By The Bay Light Show

After seeing this place in the day I 100% recommend going back in the evening and seeing the light show. The shows take place at 7:45pm and 8:45pm and is free to watch, just find a spot by the Supertree Grove and enjoy. The show theme changes so jump on the website to have a look what's on during your visit. 

gardens by the bay night


DAY 3 IN SINGAPORE 


Full Day | Sentosa Island

The main attraction here is Universal Studios, but you can also find Adventure Cove Waterpark, iFly Singapore and a variety of other attractions. The park is probably half the size of the one in Florida, but there are handful of good thrill rides including two rollercoasters, The Mummy one and a super cool Transformers simulation one. 

singapore universal

Lunch | anywhere, it's all going to be overpriced and will taste the same 


Dinner | Chili's 

I hadn't eaten here since I lived in Florida in 2015, and honestly we just went into the first restaurant we saw after leaving the park, and I thoroughly enjoyed my buffalo chicken burger. 


TOP TIPS FOR SINGAPORE

  • Singapore accepts US dollars but for a better rate get your currency in Singapore dollars.
  • The metro system is very easy to use and each trip will cost you $1-3. 
  • From the airport, you can order a taxi from the machine depending on your party size. 
  • It's very easy to eat well and cheap in Singapore, just go from Hawker Centre to Hawker Centre!
  • I know you want a tan, but Singapore is very hot and humid - so wear sunscreen and a hat!

Have you ever been to Singapore? What were your highlights?

G


singapore pinterest





GUEST POST | WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO DO IN IBIZA.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Ibiza is generally known for its endless celebrations, free-love hippies, drunken ravers and pill-driven electronic music festivals. However, the Balearic paradise has a lot more to offer than just its party scene. It’s still a beautiful European island with unforgettable sunsets and white sand beaches surrounded by endless reserves of dreamy ocean water. 

When the sun comes up and your energy is drained from a night of dancing, it’s time to take a nap before heading out to see some of the many interesting places that call Ibiza their home. From world-class accommodation to tasty cuisine to relaxing beaches, here’s my guide on where to go and what to do in Ibiza.

Image Source

Where to Stay


With Ibiza being, well, Ibiza, the last thing you want is to head to bed with the bass from the party next door making new canals through your ears. Fortunately, there are a few great accommodation options that offer the peace and quiet you need after an intense night out. 

For example, Loyal Villas Luxury has a great database of accommodation options for you to choose from, including the renowned Alcestis Villa. This calm, sophisticated villa is nestled in the mountains of Ibiza, offering breathtaking ocean views and world-class amenities. It’s also close to local restaurants, beaches and clubs, making for the perfect retreat.

Where to Relax


Aside from the generous offering of over 50 beaches, Ibiza has a number of tranquil locations that most tourists are too busy to ever notice. This includes cycling and horse-riding trails, hot air balloon rides and humble countryside villages that will refresh your mind and give you a new perspective of life on the island.

If you prefer a more commercial approach to relaxation, it’s no surprise that Ibiza has you covered. Aguas de Ibiza Spa, Rock Spa and Atzaró Natural Spa are all popular choices offering the very best in luxury spa treatments. Aguas de Ibiza Spa even features a gym with meditation, ballet and pilates classes, as well as tons of different bath and shower options.

Where to Shop


Located in Las Dalias is the hippy market, where you can find all sorts of different odds and ends, as well as plenty of local art, clothing and jewellery that’s unique to the island. Be sure to make a stop at the beach town, where you’ll find a variety of great shops, restaurants and bars. Speaking of restaurants, let’s take a look at where you should eat in Ibiza.

Where to Eat


It’s no surprise that Ibiza is home to countless restaurants all vying to fill the stomachs of their hungover visitors. San Antonio’s Skinny Kitchen is a popular option, with hearty meals such as their famous protein pancakes. 

If you’re in Playa d’en Bossa, be sure to stop at Beachouse. Those who find themselves in Talamanca should take a stop at Izakaya, where you’ll be spoiled for choice by the variety of unique Japanese and Dutch fusion treats. 

These are just some of the countless options you’ll have during your stay in Ibiza. With places like these, partying might just become the last thing on your mind. 


* This is a guest post, I ensure all guest posts published on Tea With Gi are suited to my blog and audience *

A 10 DAY GUIDE TO TRAVELLING AROUND THE PHILIPPINES.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

I think the Philippines has to be one of my favourite places in Asia now, and I would love to go back in the future to explore areas we didn't get to cover.  The Philippines are made up of more than 7,000 islands and whether you're looking for adventure, tranquility or history; you'll be able to find it here.  After spending a week in slightly more expensive Japan, we went all out at meal times since we could get a 3 course meal for under £15. Here's my guide to spending 10 days in the Philippines.

tea with gi philippines guide

DAY 1 AND 2: MANILA


When we told other travellers we were spending two nights in Manila we were mostly greeted with the same reaction, why? The Philippines has so many beautiful places that Manila doesn't really top the list, but it was the easiest place to fly into and after all the flying we had been doing we didn't want to have to catch another flight the day after to one of the islands. So we took these two days to recharge at the Hop Inn Hotel, finding great places to eat and doing a few more laid back activities.

manila guide

WHERE TO STAY | HOP INN HOTEL 

This place was incredibly cheap, we paid £20 each for two nights and I'd compare this hotel to Ibis Budget. All the rooms are ensuite and modern, have comfortable beds and working Wi-Fi which is all you need really. The hotel is in the Makati area, which is the business district of Manila so you can expect plenty of sky scrapers, malls and fast food chains here.

hop inn hotel

WHAT TO DO


Ayala Museum - Up until this day we hadn't done anything that cultural on our trip, and with the 35 degree sun hitting us outside we decided to go learn a bit about the history of the Philippines. The museum highlights a collection of archeological artefacts  (such as the golden gush etc), a display of indigenous textiles and crafts and 'Diorama' woodcarvings and miniature paintings. There was a temporary display which I found of particular interest, which told the story about the 'Comfort Women' of the Philippines who survived the rape and abuse of the Japanese soldiers during WW2 and how decades later they were still fighting for justice.

Manila Baywalk - We rented bicycles and rode down the baywalk at sunset, and it was definately one of those 'I can't believe we're here all together in the Philippines' life moments. There are a lot of cafes and restaurants in this area as well as live bands, so it's a good place to spend the evening in. 

Fort Santiago - If you want to see some famous landmarks then the most notable is Fort Santiago. A Spanish fortress that was also used as a jail and now a museum highlighting its history and changing architecture.

Escape Room - If you're finding the heat unbearable or find that you have more time on your hands, then there are over a dozen escape rooms to choose from at Mystery Manila at Century City Mall. For some bizarre reason we went for the 'Annabel' themed doll one and from the moment we got into the room we were already shitting ourselves in the dark and would all scream in unison every time there was a jump scare. We were one clue away from completing the puzzle, I think next time we'd choose something where we could actually concentrate on the clues, instead of being scared to go back alone into a room with all the scary dolls. 

Z Hostel Rooftop - This was our first 'night out' after two weeks of travelling and it was pretty chilled and lovely. The Rooftop bar is full of travellers so if you're looking to meet people it's the perfect spot. The drinks were only £4 and the views of the city were breathtaking. Some nights there are DJs playing and others there were live musicians. The duo that were playing when we were there did a great rendition of Michael Jackson's 'Human Nature' which will stick with me. 

WHERE TO EAT


Even though we didn't get up to that much, we made up for it with eating. Manila has a lot of great restaurants and everything is so cheap compared to the UK. 3/4 of these were GF and vegan friendly (since two of my friends have those dietary requirements). 

Corner Tree Cafe - This restaurant has a wide array of vegan dishes (and non-vegan) as well as a bunch of local 'pinoy' dishes. I had the Kare-Kareng Gulay which is a traditional Filipino stew made with garden-fresh veggies and a zesty organic peanut sauce. I did stay a bit hungry, so as soon as I saw there was a salted caramel chocolate torte on the dessert menu I ordered that after. It was a 15 minute walk from our hotel in Makati. 

Le Petit Souffle - This wasn't very cultural of us but we were in Century City Mall and I had been craving mac and cheese for a long time. Luckily mac and cheese with mushrooms and Hungarian sausage was on the menu. I ordered this and a mason jar of cold matcha latte for a grand total of £10.

le petit souffle

The Wholesome Table - This was probably one of my favourite places we ate at during our whole trip. The atmosphere and decor of the place, the attentive staff, the cheap cocktails and desserts all made it a wonderful experience. The menu is so varied and 'healthy' I had trouble decided on just one thing and would have loved to have gone back. I went for the immune booster soup (because I had a cold) which included ginger, turmeric powder, spinach, kale, coconut cream and lots of types of seeds. For dessert I wanted to try something local so had guinumis - a mix of tapioca, gulaman, pinipig, coconut milk, seeds and ice in a jar.

the wholesome table

Hummus Elijah - Hummus Elijah was a stone throw away from our hotel so was the perfect option after we woke up at 1pm and needed food pronto. They advertise themselves as the 'best hummus and falafels in the Philippines' and I can't confirm that as I didn't try them anywhere else, but they were pretty darn good. We all had Elijah's Combo which came with hummus, 3 falafel balls, a small salad, yellow rice and a pita bread - it was more than enough and only cost us £6. 

hummus elijah


DAY 3 TO 5: CEBU


For our time in Cebu we mainly used Cebu Tours to coordinate our tours as it took the fuss out of finding transport and arranging everything separately. You may notice I don't have any suggestions for places to eat here, and that's because most of the tours also had traditional meals included and aside from that we ate in Pizza Hut. When staying in Cebu there are generally two areas to stay in - Cebu-Mactan (where the beaches are) and Cebu City. We stayed in the latter just because all of our time was going to be taken up by tours so we weren't looking to explore the nearby areas.  

cebu

WHERE TO STAY | PILLOWS HOTEL 

As the name of the hotel might suggest, they are known for having 'great pillows'. They were no match for Premier Inn but we were so tired from the days activities that they could have been the best pillows I'd ever slept on. The hotel is 300m from Fuente Osmena Circle and has a gym, an on-site restaurant and all rooms are air-conditioned and have free Wi-Fi.

pillows hotel



WHAT TO DO IN CEBU


Whale Shark Diving - We had to get up nice and early (3am) for this tour and had a 3 hour drive to Oslob, where all the whales sharks like to party. We had a light breakfast near the beach and then waited for our number to be called. You go out in little boats of 8-10 and then jump off to swim with them. We had two whale sharks around us and let me tell you, the first time you go under water and see that massive thing right in front of your face your first reaction will be, AHHHH!!!! They are harmless and just go about their business. You can hire an underwater camera for £10 and one of the guides will take your photos for you, 380 of them to be exact. 

Canyoneering - So, my stupid ass thought we were doing canoeing, so imagine my surprise when after being up and about for 10 hours we were now going to spend 4 hours jumping off cliffs, climbing and doing a lot of walking on slippery rocks. After all, it was probably the highlight of my time in the Philippines. After spending a week in cold Japan, a couple of hours away from technology and thrill and adventure was just what we needed. Our two guides Albert and Rafi were a laugh and made the whole experience fun and entertaining. I don't know what came over me but for that time I thought I was Lara Croft and was brave enough to jump over a 50m waterfall and swing about like Jane and Tarzan. 

canyoneering

Kawasan Falls - This place was beautiful and lunch with a view doesn't get any better than this. A lot of people come here to spend the day as you can swim by the 3 layered waterfall and the whole area is just very pretty and laid back, with crystal clear water.

kawasan falls

Pescador Island Hopping - We had another 3 hour drive to Moalboal for this island hopping adventure and here we got to snorkel to see sea turtles, thousands of sardines and a lot of pretty corals and reefs. We also came across a very cute puffer fish (you're not allowed to pick anything up but our guide did it anyway and handed it over). 

Skywater Park - This 'waterpark' is located on top of JCentre Mall and is made up of your usual park activities - waterslides, climbing nets, jacuzzis and a swim up pool bar. Aside from that, the park opens at night on the weekends with live DJs and barbecues. 

DAY 6 TO 8: PALAWAN (PUERTO PRINCESA)


As soon as we arrived in Puerto Princesa Airport you could tell it was the most popular destination for tourists as the baggage claim area was full of Osprey backpacks, tanned Westerners in flip-flops and there was an aroma of Hawaiian Tropic in the air. It felt good to be out of the city and see a bit more of the Philippine way of life, which of course meant getting 'tricycles' everywhere we went as things were a little spread out.  

palawan

WHERE TO STAY | MARIANNE HOTEL


Marianne Hotel was probably the most 'out of the city' hotels we stayed at and it was good to just be surrounded by nature. The hotel had a restaurant which we ate at every evening and had a complimentary buffet breakfast included. We arranged most of our tours through Marianne when we arrived and they even provided transport services to El Nido (a 6 hour drive).

WHAT TO DO IN PALAWAN


City Tour - Our hotel offered a city sight-seeing tour and since we got there after lunch we thought we might as well do something that didn't require too much planning and hassle. The air-conditioned (thank god) van took us to the Crocodile Farm, Mitra’s Ranch, Baker’s Hill, Binuatan Weaving Center, Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral, Plaza Cuartel and Baywalk. 

Firefly Stargazing Tour - We had the best home cooked food here, we all went for 3 rounds. There was chicken and potato stew, a coconut, green been and pumpkin curry, and a whole lot of other yummy stuff. We went out in twos on a rowing boat with a guide to see the fireflies, and it kind of felt like I was on a blind date because the guide asked us 100 questions about our lives. His laser/torch was broken so we only learnt about two constellations in the sky, and then I told the story about how I have beauty spots on my chest shaped like Orion's belt and it must mean that I am the chosen one from another galaxy or something. 

Underground River Tour - The UNESCO World Heritage Site is the world's longest navigable underground river and flows beneath a mountain before emptying into the South China Sea. You enter through a cave and then you're surrounded by natural beauty, flora and fauna. Lunch is included in this as a Philippine buffet.

buffet palawan

Honda Bay Island Hopping -  We visited 3 islands on this trip, the first being Starfish Island where we sadly saw no starfish. It did however give us an hour to take our best 'look at me I'm on an Island' photos. The guide told us it depends on the day and if the starfish choose to come closer to shore. The second place we visited was Cowrie Island where we got massages on the beach, drank coconuts and lay like potatoes on the sand. Finally we went to Luli Island - I slept on a hammock and did my best attempt at gracefully jumping off a diving board. 

honda bay

DAY 9 - 10: EL NIDO


Everyone who I'd spoken to who had been to the Philippines said that if we didn't go to El Nido, we'd be missing out big time. As beautiful as it was, I enjoyed Cebu and Palawan equally as much (maybe a bit more because by the 10th day all islands start to look the same to be honest). We took a 6 hour car ride from Puerto Princesa to get here, and in hindsight we would have probably taken the 1 hour flight as it felt like we were riding in a Flintstones car and we were a tad on the cramped side. Nevertheless it made for a funny story looking back. 

el nido

WHERE TO STAY | FRENDZ HOSTEL 


Despite the name, you can have the privacy of your own room at Frendz Hostel but it still has the atmosphere of a hostel where you can meet fellow travellers and save on accommodation costs. The hostel is less than 1km from Big Lagoon and a 6 minute walk from Caalan Beach or Paradise Beach. There is also a pool and a rooftop bar. 

WHAT TO DO IN EL NIDO


Island Hopping - There are 4 tours that are the most popular in El Nido - simply known as Tour A, B, C and D. We went with tour A which took us to 6 different islands. The Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Helicopter Island, Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island and 7 Commando Beach. I'd love to go into detail about each one, but they all seem kind of a blur as I did this trip over a month ago and after a while everything just starts to look the same. The most memorable one to me was Helicopter Island (which gets its name because it is shaped like, a Helicopter) - probably because this is where we had lunch, and I drank a piña colada straight from a coconut. The Secret Lagoon was also pretty cool except it's not really much of a secret anymore as it was covered with tourists. I would do your own research into each one and see which one is more appealing to you. 

honda bay

If you're staying here for a couple of days, you could also choose to spend more time in one island etc. and do things at your own leisure. As with most of these you also have the option of kayaking, snorkeling and other water activities. 

Zip-lining - If you're looking for some thrills and not just being a beach bum, then try zip lining over Maremegmeg Beach. You'll have a birds eye view of the turquoise waters and palm trees and unlike the zip lining I've done in other countries, at least if you fall you fall in water right? There's quite an uphill walk to reach the start of the zip line, and then once you've done it you can make your way to Las Cabanas beach and spend the rest of your day there.

Go to a beach party - If you have the energy after a day out of activities, then the lively bars on Maremegmeg Beach and Corong Corong beach are great places to have a drink and reminisce about your trip or share stories with complete randomers. 

el nido


Have you ever been to the Philippines? What else did you get up to during your time there?



EATING AROUND BRISBANE, A SHORT REVIEW OF EVERY RESTAURANT.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Today marks 3 weeks since we arrived in Australia, and after a month of eating like kings in Asia we realised we'd have to eventually start cutting back on our spendings and start cooking. However, there are so many delicious places that we've already come across that we've decided to take it in turns to pick where we eat out each week. As I did with eating around Gibraltar, here is a short review of all the restaurants we'll be visiting during our time in Brisbane, Australia. 


1. Eat Street Northshore 


Where: 221D Macarthur Ave, Hamilton, Brisbane Qld Australia 4007
What: Everything, literally everything.
When: Friday and Saturday (4pm - 10pm) Sunday (12pm - 8pm)
Yum Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

We thought we'd kick off our weekend with an evening at Eat Street markets - where you can choose from over 100 food stalls. I went there craving mac n cheese, and of course with that many stalls I came across an American one had that mac n cheese topped with bacon and mushrooms - que bueno. This place also has boutique shops, live music and a good selection of new and wonderful dessert options; including kinder bueno churros. Since I was too busy munching down my food to take photos, here is a picture of my friends vegan fish and chips which she has bought the three times we've been there.



2. The Pancake Manor

Where: 18 Charlotte St, Brisbane City QLD 4000
What: Pancakes, salads, and a range of brunch type of food.
Yum Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

When better to visit this place than pancake day? Which is exactly what we did. There were over 15 pancake options on the menu as well as vegan and gluten free options (which kept two of my friends happy). The ambience in here was cool as it used to be a cathedral and I got Harry Potter 'great hall' vibes whilst I was in here too. I opted for a banana and maple syrup combo whereas my friend went all out with blueberries and blueberry sauce.

pancake manor

3. Bourbon Street 


Where: 184 Grey Street, South Brisbane, QLD 4101
What: New Orlean Cuisine
Yum Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I had high expectations for this place because I'm slightly obsessed with NOLA (even though I've never been) and it had been a hot minute since I last had gumbo. I was left slightly disappointed as I found it was too liquidy and the ratio of meat : rice : soup wasn't quite right. Nevertheless I still ate it all, as it was still a warm and hearty dish. Just didn't compare to the previous ones I've had. My friend had the jambalaya and also said it was average as it was lacking flavour and was simply spicy AF. 

bourbon street

4. Mado Turkish Restaurant  


Where: 1-3/15 Tribune St, South Brisbane QLD 4101
What: Turkish
Yum Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

We're all a bit hummus obsessed in my group, so we decided to head here for my friends birthday on Monday. We had hummus dip and homemade pita to start, and then I had the mixed grill platter as my main and boy was this plate filling. It game with a char grill lamb shish, chicken shish and kofte izgara served with rice, salad and freshly baked turkish bread. I could have probably stopped eating after 1/4 of the plate but I'm not one to leave food on my plate (and then complain about my bloating later). 

mado turkish


5. Spaghetti House 


Where: Little Stanley St & Grey Street, South Brisbane QLD 4101
What: Italian
Yum Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I love Italian food, I could probably go to an Italian restaurant every day for two weeks and be able to order different things on the menu that I liked. My problem is, I also like snacking so I find it very hard to go from lunch to dinner without eating anything in between and then when it comes to dinner I'm not hungry enough to fully enjoy my meal. Either way, I was in the mood for pasta so ordered the cannelloni with spinach and ricotta. I have to say it wasn't the best one I've tried, I feel like there wasn't a lot of flavour or tomato sauce and you couldn't taste the cheese much. My friend said her carbonara was ok but not the best she'd had either, but my vegan friend was very happy with her pesto gnocchi. Therefore I give this place a fair 3/5 stars. 


spaghetti house


6. Mucho Mexicano


Where:  Shop 15, Little Stanley St, QLD 4101
What: Mexican
Yum Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I probably eat Mexican food twice a year, and I can't remember the last time I ate tacos. When I saw Mucho Mexicano had an 'all you can eat in 2 hours' Taco Tuesday offer for 25 dollars I jumped on board. There were 5 soft taco options available: pulled pork, chicken, fish, sweet potato and halloumi and a black bean, mushroom and tomato salsa one. Surprisingly the fish tacos were quite nice and the sweet potato and halloumi were also up there as my favourite. I managed to eat a total of 6, which was a decent job on my part.

My issue with the chicken tacos (and my friends fajitas) is that they use chicken thigh so they were a bit...chewier than expected. I think you do get your moneys worth if you have a big appetite or like a variety, as they are essentially mini fajitas but you get 5 options instead of one. I'll have to try the margaritas next time I go.

mucho mexicano


7. Zeus 


Where: 13/14 Little Stanley St, Brisbane City QLD 4101
What: Greek
Yum Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I thoroughly enjoyed this. I made the smart decision this time of not eating after lunch so I could really appreciate and enjoy my dinner. You order at the counter here and my meal was brought to me within 15 minutes. I opted for the 'Zeus pita wrap ($13.50)' which was filled with lamb shoulder, slaw, parsley, house-made mustard mayo and eggplant dip and it was delicious, I could have eaten another one. The only reason I haven't given this place 5 stars is because the halloumi fries were a bit bland in flavour (and before you hit me with 'halloumi is bland' I've had much better ones). They also have a gluten free and vegan menu. 


zeus southbank


8. Pineapple Express Cafe 


Where: 9 Portside Wharf, Hamilton QLD 4007
What: Superfood cafe
Yum Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

We thought for this weeks food outing we'd pick something slightly healthier since I just got a new gym membership and don't want to start the week by pigging out on a three course meal. Luckily, Pineapple Express was just around the corner from our apartment and have a very unique and delicious looking menu. They have pulled jackfruit nachos and burgers for the vegans, acai bowls and smoothies, protein based meals for the gym buffs, and if you just fancy an english breakfast (with a twist) they do that too. I went for the Black Bowl ($16) which uses activated charcoal amongst other fruit for the blended base, and then is topped with coconut yoghurt (this was delicious), goji berries, kiwi and other fruit. I think I'd definitely like to come back and try some of the other items on their menu. 

pineapple express black bowl




Where is your favourite place to eat in Brisbane? Would love more recommendations! 

G


© TEA WITH GI. Design by FCD.