Half Term Getaway to Spain: Part 1

After a very busy month of work, it was time for another one of my getaway trips! 😁 Taking full advantage of my week-long break, I jetted of to a popular neighbour of ours – the exotic county of Spain! 🇪🇸

Hola, Spain! 🇪🇸
Early flight today! 🥱

This time, I decided on a cheap early flight that set off from Stansted airport to Valencia at 7am in the morning (which meant I had to leave home at about 4am in the morning haha 😆🥱 barely even slept lol!) The airport is known for cheap commercial flights, but just annoying it’s a bit far away from the city centre (about one hour of train journey from Liverpool Street Station.)

The view of Valencia as we descended 🛩
Beautiful view outside the balcony from my hotel room
Spanish tostada with ham

Upon descended in Valencia, I visited a local cafe for the Spanish tostada and then the famous beach of Malvarrosa. The weather was sunny but with just enough of breezes in October, so it was a nice day to be out chilling in the sands for some time! 😎

Playa de la Malvarrosa

After a brief break in the hotel, I then walked to a futuristic part of the city where the Hemisfèric and the science museum are located. The area is such an iconic wow factor of the city! 🤩 Felt like I took a time machine straight to the Year 3000 haha!

Valencia Science Museum
The sky garden of Umbracle

My initial plan was to visit the science museum on the first day, but once again (I know it’s a running theme lol) I didn’t pay attention to the fact that opening hours change between seasons (closing time at 9pm in summer but 6pm in winter) 😅, so I decided to then head to dinner early. Though, it turned out restaurants in Spain open really late (most dinner services here start about 8/9pm and finished at about 11pm), so I ended up trying my luck to a few closed doors 😕 before finally stumbling upon an open tapas place called El Temple. (Was wanting to find a paella place but had completely no luck… 😞 ) Though it was still a very nice dinner and I absolutely loved their Patatas bravas! 👍

Quartet of tapas (from top left clockwise): Patatas bravas, squid ink croquettes, grilled prawns with guacamole and grilled pork tenderloin with Camembert cheese and caramelised onions

The first day ended with a rather early night (mainly down to the exhaustion of waking up early in the morning for the flight lol! 😴) In the next morning, I headed to a popular cafe called Dulce De Leche nearby (recommended by the receptionist in my hotel) and decided to do a takeout breakfast on my way back to the museum area.

What a selection! 😋
Bocadillo and carrot/orange/apple juice 🥤 (One of the best sandwiches I ever had seriously!)

After about a 40-minute walk, I arrived back at the science museum and bought the all-around ticket which covered the science museum, Hemisfèric and Oceanogràfic (costing about 38 euros – though I did mange to get a student discount thanks to me now doing my Masters course part-time lol. 👌) The three places are all very big, especially the Oceanogràfic aquarium (which basically it’s a “smaller” theme park on its own) so there is an option to have the ticket covered over 2-3 days in order to allow yourself enough time to see everything gradually. As I was only here for a few days, I obviously opted for the reckless one day option haha! 😂 (Yeah, was exhausted by the end of the day from all the walking I did lol!)

The entrance of Oceanogràfic
Jellyfishes are always so stunning to look at!
Beautiful Mediterranean Sea!
😂 😂
The whole park of Oceanogràfic- it’s massive!
The giant bird cage in the park
Under the dome! (Watching out for 💩💩🤣🤣🤣)
Pink flamingos 🦩🦩🦩🦩🦩
Mine! Mine! Mine!
The famous Galápagos tortoises
Never seen these before! (Apparently there are called Western crowned pigeons)
Sharks and manta rays
Never seen this kind of shark before!
Under the sea

My favourite attraction in Oceanogràfic is the Artic centre, which features the amazing Beluga whales. It was my first time seeing them ever in real life and I was absolutely blown away!

Beluga whale
Amazing Beluga whales!
🐧 🐧
Cute little penguin walk!
Dolphin show! 🐬🐬
Needed to cool down like them haha! 🦭 🦭

Going back to the science museum, I was intrigued by this egg incubator exhibit – everyone was surrounding it and anticipating all these chicks hatching from the eggs and it was such a cute and miraculous thing to see! 🐣 ❤️

Egg incubator in the science museum
Watched this little guy trying to come out for hours – finally it’s here! 🥳🥳
🐣 🐣 🐣
Hemisfèric in the twilight

After finishing the all-around tour with a science movie screening in the Hemisfèric planetarium (it was nice but the film was a little too educational and too work-related for my holiday mood 😝), it was finally dinner time again (and I timed it right to fit the Spanish opening hours that night haha!) and I headed to the beautiful Plaza de la Virgen.

People dancing under the bridge in the park on the way lol
💃 🕺 💃 🕺 Totally feeling the vibes haha! 🤪
Plaza de la Virgen
Beautiful lights in front of Virgen de los Desamparados Basilica
Paella! 🥘 🥘

And at last, I got to try the authentic Spanish paella (which apparently originated from Valencia) to mark the end of a busy day! 😋😋

Day 4 & 5 in Newquay: High Up in the Blue Sky

Beautiful sight of Tolcarne Beach

Despite a potential forecast of rainfall, I was very lucky that my time throughout Newquay was blessed with amazing sunshine and comforting temperatures. Even after spending my first day here visiting all these incredible beaches, I just couldn’t get enough of it! So I decided to continue to head west, passing by Porth Beach again and journey beyond to Watergate Beach. 🏖

Perfect weather for a day out!
Back to Porth Beach
Perfect sunshine! ☀️

Watergate Beach is quite far out in Newquay – about a 30-minute walk from Porth Beach along the high cliffs on the coast, so I definitely did well in my step counts for the day! 😂 On the way, I also passed by Whipsiderry Beach – a quiet, hidden little spot underneath the tall cliffs (possibly the tallest one out of them all I felt!) If you aren’t a fan of stairs, this place is definitely quite a ‘journey’ to get to going down and back up. 😤 (At least it wasn’t like when I tried to climb the Eiffel Tower on foot two years ago…)

Giant rock over Whipsiderry Beach
Whipsiderry Beach
The beach hidden under the tall cliffs (after a VERY long flight of stairs… 😪)
Getting down those cliffs to the beach felt like an adventure though!

Even though the stairs in Whipsiderry Beach completely wore me out, I finally managed to slowly made my way around the coast to Watergate Beach. It was a great spot for me to finally to sit down for some lunch! (Bought a salad meal deal from Tesco, along with my rocky road bar that I kept all this time from Penzance! 😂)

Watergate Beach
Full view of Watergate Beach
Snacking on my rocky road bar on the beach 😬

Watergate beach was very busy which I wasn’t as much of a fan of, so I decided to head back to Porth beach (personally it was my favourite one out of all the beaches) to enjoy the sunshine! 😎

Taking a dip in the water 💦
Sunbathing on the low-tide Porth Beach 😎🏖
Flying high 🪁

After a bit of a nap and sky-gazing, it was almost dinner time! Newquay really had given me a feel of the Mediterranean, so I was feeling a crave for tapas! 😋 Unfortunately, two of the top-rated tapas bar were closed for the day, so I decided to try another recommended place called the Fish Bar. This place is a great value for money, offering a three-tapas tasting platter for only £15 in the bar area. (The main dining area of the restaurant was fully filled.) The food, especially the dessert, was absolutely delicious! So glad to have come to this place after all! 👍👍👍

Which one to choose? 🤔
Incredible tapas tasting platter for £15! 🤤🤤 (In the end, I went with the Pescaito Frito, Gambas Pil Pil and Sesame Honey Chicken Sizzler.)
Spectacular dessert 💛💛: Sicilian semifreddo ice cream bomb with a Limoncello core coated in crushed meringue
Incredible! 😍😍💛🤍💛🤍

The next morning, I had some time to kill before my train around lunchtime, and headed to the Blue Reef Aquarium by Towan Beach. Like many other places now, bookings need to be made in advance online due to COVID restrictions. I booked my ticket two days ago when I arrived in Newquay – still places are limited, so do make sure you book ahead of time if you can. (I initially wanted to visit the day before, but all tickets were sold out within a day. It is half term break after all! 😛)

Kipper in the hotel’s breakfast
Visiting Blue Reef Aquarium 🐟🐟
Sharks over my head 🦈
Haven’t seen a lionfish in years!
I’ve never heard of a Unicorn tang until now
Scary piranhas 😟
Hello again Nemo!
Giant turtle 🐢
Omiros the giant turtle
The story of Omiros 😢❤️
He kept popping his head out from the water! It was cute! 💚

After visit the aquarium, I took a walk down the town centre and got my belly filled before my long 5-hour train journey home. ☺️🚂

Brunch in Fore Street Café Bar before long train ride back to London 🚂 🌃
Mad dash to the train station with my ice cream in hand! 😂🍨🏃‍♂️🏃‍♂️🏃‍♂️Until the next time!

Small Is Powerful

It’s half way through the week. Are you flying through it or crawling your way towards the weekend? Either way it is always important to take time away to relax and treat yourself. Truth to form, I like to do that in the presence of good food.

This evening I visited El Molino, a Spanish restaurant, along Holloway Road in North London. As a foodie, I am always quite greedy in wanting to try everything that intrigued me on the menu, but at the same time am also conscious of how much I may end up eating. This is why I enjoy the inclusion of tapas, since the small plates offer a wide selection of choices without overstuffing you after.

My first tapas was Pinchos de Pollo, a crispy breaded chicken and vegetable skewer topped with gooey cheese.

The second tapas was one of my person favourites here: Pulpo A La Gallega, a boiled Galician octopus served with paprika and potatoes.

The last tapas I ordered was an old Spanish classic: Chorizo al Vino, a sizzling plate of spicy Spanish sausages cooked in red wine.

Who says small isn’t just as powerful in flavours? 😉