My NZ Trip in Photos…

 

img_2910Incase anyone has wondered where I have been for the last 6 weeks, I’ve been over in New Zealand for my mum’s 50th birthday! I had such a wonderful time and I did intend to blog while I was down under, but was so busy I never got a chance!

As I was over visiting family it was a more ‘spending time  with the fam’ holiday rather than a typical sightseeing trip so there are a lot of pictures of going out for lunch and seeing as NZ is well known for it’s coffee, a LOT of soya cappucinos!

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you will have been kept up to date of my trip, but for those who haven’t seen them, here are a few snaps of what I was up to…

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Has anyone been to Dunedin or anywhere else in New Zealand? I would love to hear what you think about it!

Kaitlin xx

 

 

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Cocktails & Fairytales goes to… Madrid

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If you are following me on any of my social media sites, you will be aware from the ‘Holiday Spam’ that I have just came back from a city break in Madrid! Having been to Barcelona numerous times with Hector to visit his family, but Madrid was somewhere we had been thinking about going to for a while. We had been planning on going to Barcelona in April for a wedding, so we decided to expand our trip and squeeze in a few days in Madrid as well. I had never been to Madrid before, so wasn’t sure what to expect, but after this trip I will definitely be back…

Getting there

We didn’t fly there direct from the UK as we were heading IMG_1284there from Barcelona, but most usual airlines will fly there.

We travelled to Madrid from Barcelona Sants station by the Ave train; a high speed train which travels up to 300 km per hour (186 miles…eek!) but amazingly you don’t even notice it.

I would definitely recommend travelling by Ave as it is extremely comfortable and the roomy, leather seats come in either two or one so whether you are travelling alone or as a couple, you don’t need to sit next to anyone. The tickets were fairly reasonable as well, about €85/£67 each. The train we were on took 2 hours and 45 minutes, while driving by car would be around six hours, so it’s a much speedier and relaxing way to travel.

Where to stay

We stayed in Las Ventas, in the IBIS Madrid Centro Las Ventas.

The hotel was in a great location, away from the noisy city but close enough to get there. It was right next to a metro station (you can see it from the window!) and 7 stops away from the Puerta Del Sol, the main area in city centre, getting you there in around 15 minutes. There were a few days that we decided to walk and took 30 minutes on a straight road, Calle de Alcala.

The hotel was great, we got a great price so I was expecting basic budget, but I had nothing to worry about. The room was clean, roomy and was so quiet with the windows closed – which was a miracle as there is a busy main street right outside. The bed was huge and so comfy! We never ate at the restaurant, as there were great wee places nearby (see what to eat & drink) but the bar was well stocked and really reasonable.

Our room was €280/ £220 for four nights. I would definitely recommend this hotel for anyone going to Madrid.

Read my Tripadvisor review here!

Getting around

Metro, Metro, Metro! I can’t stress enough how easy to use and punctual the Metro system is in Madrid. There are trains usually every 5 minutes or less and so easy to navigate where you’re going. We used a 10-journey tickets and they cost €12.50, you can buy one and use it for more than one person. There are so many stops as well, and so close together, so there is really no need to take taxis at all.

What to do

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We were really lucky with the weather as it was supposed to be raining a lot when we were there, but it was sunny most days and only rained a few times!  We walked SO much without even noticing it, walking over 8.5 miles one day. I would definitely recommend seeing the city this way, stopping off for a cold ‘cerveza’ now and again! We visited El Retiro park where we hired a paddle boat which was lots of fun. The lake the boats were in is a good size and cost €6 for 45 minutes which is plenty of time.

Another ‘must-do’ is get a photo with the Oso y Madroño, which is the famous statue of a bear and a strawberry tree and is on the Puerta Del Sol. There is also a point on the square where it is the centre of Spain.

 Madrid is well known for its theatres, so we decided we should really go to a show. The Lion King was our first choice but no surprise it was sold out. We then settled on ‘Los Vivancos’ a flamenco dance show, made up of seven brothers. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I left the show amazed. Combining flamenco with martial arts, I was mesmerized from start to finish – oh and it helped they were topless for the majority of the show…! I would definitely recommend going their show if you can.

 Seeing as we went to a show with shirtless men, it was only fair we balanced it out with a football game. As Hector is a Barca fan, the Real Madrid Stadium was a definite no-no, so an Atletico Madrid game was the better choice! Again, the stadium is really easy to get to by Metro.

Oh, and of course, shopping! Head to Gran Via in the city centre where you will find Zara, Blanco, Stradivarius, Kiko and the BIGGEST Primark I have ever been in my life!

What to eat & drink

Now, this is what I loved about Madrid the most… Just about every bar you go to, you get FREE TAPAS with EVERY DRINK! I am not joking! Depending on the place, it could be a bowl of olives, an open sandwich of jamon or in the case of El Tigre, a huge plate of food.

El Tigre is a dodgy looking, backstreet bar which is famous for its free tapas. Several people recommended it to us before we went and I am so glad they did! It really is one of those places where you will love it or hate it. If you are looking for a quick drink and snack, El Tigre is for you. If it’s a sit down meal with table service, don’t even bother. In fact, if you’re looking to sit down at all you’re out of luck as everyone stands. But for €5 for two beers and a plate of patatas bravas and sandwiches with jamon, cheese, tortilla and chorizo, you can’t complain.

Most days we ended up not going for lunch as we were just wandering around the city, stopping off for a drink every few hours and eating pretty much all day! If you’re looking for somewhere to sit with a drink and people watch I would recommend La Tona, just off of the Plaza Mayor. Depending on what kind of place you are looking for, the Plaza Mayor will be for you or it won’t. It is an overpriced tourist trap and was the complete opposite of what we wanted. I always look for two things when going somewhere to eat – if the menu is in English avoid it and if there are locals there go for it!

Before I went to Madrid, I had heard of their famous dish – a Bocadillo de Calamari, a calamari sandwich. We were recommended to visit Bar La Campana, also just off of the Plaza Mayor as it is famous for its bocadillos.

As a HUGE calamari fan I was so looking forward to trying it and was not disappointed! For €2.70 you get a massive roll filled with crisp and tender calamari. Again, La Campana is a busy wee place where you order at the bar and is suited for those looking for a quick bite.

As for Las Ventas, where the hotel was, there were a lot of places nearby. We never ate in the hotel as the breakfast was €7.50 each for a continental breakfast, and there was a great wee bakery around the corner called Granier.

With a huge selection of pastries and cakes, we went there most mornings before heading into the city centre. It was so reasonable as well, with two coffees and two croissants costing around €5.Try a Torrija – a madrid speciality, it’s like a sweet French toast.

For dinner or drinks, I would recommend Bar Jarritus, just a stones throw from the hotel.

We went there twice for dinner and a few times for drinks, and with six flat screens it’s perfect for anyone wanting to watch the football. The manager/owner (not sure!) was so friendly and remembered us the second time we went. It’s really reasonable, lovely staff, has a friendly atmosphere and perfect for strolling from back to the hotel! Will definitely return next time we are in Madrid.

The Verdict

In case you haven’t already worked it out, I LOVED MADRID. It was one of the best city breaks I have been on and would definitely go back.

The Big Travel Guide: Sabadell, Spain

I developed a love for travelling really young. However I used to get really annoyed as a child when I went on holiday with my parents as they insisted on taking me to places they described as “tourist-free”.Catalan flag picmonkeyThis meant there were no trips to Costa Del Sol or Benidorm where all my classmates were going. What it did mean was hiring a van and driving up mountains, looking for our rustic villa with wild pigs in the garden. (True story btw, see below).

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However, it did morph me into a fearless traveller, with no problems visiting a town where no one speaks English or has a British Supermarket across from the beach selling Tetley tea bags and accepting Sterling. So when my boyfriend, Hector, first invited me to spend a fortnight in his home town just outside Barcelona I jumped at the chance. He warned me that not many people in his town speak English or has even heard of Glasgow and it made me want to go even more. I first visited Sabadell a few years ago and I loved it, even though I was stared at like an alien for being so white.

I was lucky enough to go over with him for New Year, and of course, I had to write a travel guide to persuade you to visit it one day too…

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Where is it?

Sabadell is on the outskirts of Barcelona. Fly into Barcelona El Prat (30 minute drive) or Girona (60 minute drive).

Sabadell is 12 miles from Barcelona city centre, and is easy to get to. This makes Sabadell an ideal place to stay if you want to visit Barcelona, and much cheaper. A train in will take around 20 minutes. Get off at the Plaça de Catalunya and you will arrive at the Las Ramblas. las rsmblas picmonkey

 

Where to stay

I always stay with Hectors family when I visit, however there are a lot of hotels around. I can’t personally recommend any as I have never stayed but check out Tripadvisor or Booking.com.

Where to visit

Head into Sabadell city centre and you will find La Rambla, a smaller version of the famous street in Barcelona. Lined with cafes, restaurants and bars you will be able to rest your legs in between shops. My top picks are Bershka, Stradivarius and of course, Zara, for high street shopping. I always go to Zara when I go to Spain and it’s cheaper than the UK. Another shop I have to go to is KIKO, a budget beauty store. Originally founded in Italy, the nearest store to me is London, so I always stock up when I can. Their make-up is amazing quality and super cheap. All of this was only €38 (£29)!

kiko picmonkeyKeep walking up and you will arrive at the El Corte Inglés area, a big department store, and Paddock a shopping centre with other favourites of mine, Blanco and Pull & Bear.

Have fun exploring all the wee side streets and just have a wander!

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What to eat and drink

What you definitely have to eat when you come to Spain are the two famous dining delights – tapas and paella!

mama paella picmonkeyHowever, what you will not find in Sabadell is overpriced tapas and ‘chicken and chorizo paella’ – something that no Spaniard I have spoken to has ever heard of. Chicken paella yes, but chorizo does not belong in Paella I have been told! What you will feast on is decent sized plated of tapas which are reasonably priced. If you are looking for Paella, try and go for a Menu del Dia “meal of the day” on a Thursday, where most places will have Paella. Most places do a starter, main and dessert and coffee and wine for less than €10. For breakfast, churros are a must.

churrros picmonkeyDelicious doughnuty sticks dunked in warm chocolate will set you up for the day!

As for drinks, it has to be sangria! A delicious concoction of red wine, brandy and fruit. Some places only serve sangria by the jug and if it only for one, order a Tinto De Verano, which is similar but lighter. If you want something refreshing order a Clara, which is Spain’s alternative to a lager shandy, half beer, half Fanta Lemon. Sangria picmonkey

Need a caffeine hit? There are numerous little patisseries where you can sit with your coffee and cake and watch the world go by.Unless you go to Starbucks, you won’t find a Cappuccino or Latte. Order a Cafe con Leche (flat white) or a Cafe solo (espresso) and grab some croissanitos (baby croissants).coffe and croissantito picmonkey

Where to go

  • For a coffee and something sweet I would recommend Sant Marc, a pattiserie chain with cakes to die for!

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Sant Marc Pastisseria, 214 Avenida Barberá, Sabadell

  • Looking for some tasty tapas? Head to Aqui Te Espero, a casual dining tapas restaurant. Just bear in mind they are Spanish sizes and intended to be shared between a group, not tiny UK sizes so if it just the two of you start with a few then you can always order more! I would recommend the Calamares a la Romana. It is my favourite place for some fuss-free, tasty food and I try to visit every time I’m over.

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Aqui Te Espero, 51 Avinguda de Francesc Macià, Sabadell.

  • If you are heading to Aqui Te Espero and you’re wanting a few drink before or after dinner head a few down to La Sureña for a few ‘cervezas’. With its nautical decor and cheap drinks, it is the perfect place to catch up with friends. They have buckets of 5 beers for €4. Pay an extra euro and you get to keep the bucket. Now, do you think it will count as hand luggage…?

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La Sureña Cerveceria, 37 Avinguda de Francesc Macià, Sabadell.

One last thing!

I have one piece of advice for anyone travelling to Barcelona or surrounding cities and that is please be careful with your bags. Barcelona is notorious for its pickpockets. They are so clever and sly in how they do it. Ladies please use an over the shoulder bag zipped up and pulled round to the front of you and lads please keep your phone and wallet in your front jean pocket rather than the back. I took this bag from River Island (£20) and it was perfect for the trip.bag picmonkey

Overall, I cannot recommend Sabadell enough as a place to visit. It is much cheaper and less busy than staying in Barcelona city centre and is only a train ride away. Bon voyage!

Ps. If you have any questions please feel free to comment below or email me on cocktailsandfairytales@hotmail.com! I would love to hear from you xx

Goodbye 2014… HELLO 2015!

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Yes, I know I am a bit late, but better late than never right? I hope you all had a lovely New Years Eve and hope 2015 is a good one. I saw in the New Year over in sunny (and freezing) Spain which was wonderful, but different.

I spent it with around 30 of my boyfriends family and I was introduced to ‘Las Campanadas’, the tradition of eating 12 grapes in the countdown. Each grape represents a month of the following year and means good luck!

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I did manage to stuff all 12 in my mouth, so I am hoping for a lucky 2015 and hope you all have one too!

Kaitlin xx

 

My Favourite Shops in Dunedin: Shopping Haul!

I have to admit, this post is way overdue… as I am now back home in Scotland. However, it was a pretty hectic trip as with my brother being the main focus for being there, my blogging took a temporary back seat… but I’m back! I wanted to share with you my top places to hit for shopping in Dunedin. It is safe to say that Dunedin is nothing like Glasgow when it comes to shops (no Primark, H&M, River Island, Forever 21, New Look…) but the beauty of shopping abroad is that you pick up pieces that you can’t get at home.

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So, for sole purpose of my blog (kind of) I hit the shops and picked out my favourite finds in Dunedin…

Glassons

This is the NZ equivalent of New Look/ River Island and is the best place for high-street fashion.

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Glassons deliver worldwide. Shop online here

Typo

Looking for a quirky gift for that person who has everything? Think Typo! With gadgets, diaries and things for the house, everyone is covered here!

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Typo deliver worldwide. Shop online here

Factorie

Factorie is another high street shop, similar to New Look or Forever 21, with more casual high street pieces.

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Factorie deliver worldwide. Shop online here.

Lovisa

Every time I visit Dunedin I make sure I visit Lovisa, a jewellery shop with designer style pieces, without the price tag. Again, a great place for gifts. They have something for everyone and they wrap up your goodies beautifully!

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 Lovisa don’t have an online store unfortunately! Some of their products can be viewed here.

The Warehouse

Now, the Warehouse gets a pretty bad name from what I’ve heard. It is more like Primark budget but it has everything from clothes to garden furniture. I was in and spotted this super cheap gorgeous nude quilted bag , and even better it was on sale!

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The Warehouse don’t ship internationally. 

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Kaitlin xx

My Favourite Café in Dunedin: Modaks Espresso

Just before I come back to Dunedin, I always have a list of things that I look forward to doing. The list includes; visiting St Clair beach, eating copious amounts of Jaffas and Chocolate Fish and hitting Glassons and Cotton On. However, one place I make sure I visit every time I’m back is my favourite café in Dunners…Modaks Espresso!

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Situated on George Street (the main street) in town, Modaks is a cute, quirky wee café, loved by people of all generations, but mainly a hit with students. It serves breakfast and lunch, and the menu features a lot of vegan/ vegetarian dishes and sweet treats.

The prices are really reasonable and you get decent portion sizes. The milkshakes are huge and are served in old-fashioned jam jars. They have a blackboard full of flavours including Jaffa, peanut butter and mint chocolate.


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The décor is retro and quirky without being try-hard hipstersville. The walls are covered in frames and prints and the seating is relaxed and unpretentious with 50’s formica tables and cosy old sofas. Everyone is thought about here, there are crochet blankies for the smokers sitting outside, a newspaper rack filled with mags for those waiting for their lunch buddy to arrive and old-school arcade machines to keep the kids (and big kids) entertained.

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Now, what to order? You can’t possibly visit Modaks without having their chips. They are out.of.this.world. Coated in a mild spice and served with dips of your choice, (personally tomato and aioli is my fave) they are stacked high and piping hot. Finish them off with one of their famous cinnamon pinwheels.

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The staff are really friendly and the service is great, depending how busy they are,you shouldn’t have to wait long. I don’t know how long we waited last time as I was too engrossed in staring at the Ryan Gosling table marker they gave us…

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And of course, most importantly – the coffee! The coffee is great here, nice and strong. Depending on the weather, if you get a rare warm day in Dunedin the iced coffee is a must. Strong milky coffee, served with two scoops of yummy vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with cinnamon.

Modaks iced coffee

If you are ever in Dunedin, I would recommend visiting Modaks for a quick, but relaxed lunch whilst out shopping. And if you live in Dunedin… why haven’t you been here already?!

Modaks Espresso,  337-339 George St, Dunedin City Centre, Otago 9016, (03) 4776563

My Long Haul Flight Travel Essentials!

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With family in New Zealand, I have travelled over to visit several times, picking up some hints and tips along the way. Having recently travelled over, I thought I would write this post to help others who are planning on embarking on a long haul journey. It can be an extremely boring/stressful/ tiring experience but with the right planning and preparation it can actually be okay. And when there are moments when you feel fed-up, just keep thinking how satisfying a hot shower and bed will be after a 37 hour journey…. Take it from me, its bliss!

Here are my top 10 things I would highly recommend taking with you on your flight…

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Backpack

A comfy backpack is ideal. I once took a duffel bag and regretted it as there can be long walks through the airports at stopovers. I usually take a backpack with essentials that I can keep with me under my seat on the plane and a small trolley case with a change clothes in it that I can put in the overhead locker. I always leave enough space in my trolley to put my backpack inside as most airlines only allow one item.

Eye Mask

These are a MUST for long-distance flights if you want to get some sleep. You will sometimes get these on the plane but they are pretty flimsy and see through.

Comfy clothes

Comfort is the main priority when travelling long haul. I usually wear jeans to board then change on the flight. Trackies or leggings and roomy oversized tee’s are your best friend, trust me. Depending on how long your journey is, a change of clothes is essential. I usually pack a few different tops and trackie bottoms. It’s also a good idea to pack a comfy sports bra for comfort! Wear comfy sneakers or sandals and take slipper socks or light slippers for the plane.

Toiletries

If you are packing liquids remember you can’t take over 100ml and they must be a in a clear plastic bag. I usually have them all packed in a food bag beforehand so they are easy to just whip out when you get to security. I usually take deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, moisturiser and contact lenses solution. Remember any medication you need. Don’t forget face wipes to remove make up/ wipe sticky hands/ clean plane tables. I never travel without wipes and hand sanitiser!

Kindle, Books & Magazines

Depending on how long you are travelling for, you will need to take ways and means of entertainment to keep you occupied. If you have a smart phone, once you are up in the air you can use it for games, watch movies or listen to music as long as you set it to flight mode.

Earphones

Again, you will be given these on the flight to watch movies but they are awful. The sound is terrible and often quite crackly. Your own headphone jack will fit in and the sound will be much better! Noise-cancelling ones are the best as it will drown out any crying babies and the dull noise of the plane.

Snacks

One things you won’t be when travelling long-haul is hungry, as the airlines are always feeding you! On my 37 hour journey I had 1 dinner, 3 lunches and 2 breakfasts, including the buffet at the hotel stopover at Dubai! However, they can be quite heavy so I was just picking at them. Snacks are good to keep you going at the stopover airports, especially if it is at night and everywhere is closed. I once had a 12 hour stopover at Sydney Airport and everywhere was closed because it was night time, so I have learnt my lesson! I took nuts and cereal bars to snack on (just be careful what you take into Australia as their food policy is pretty strict).

Hard boiled sweets

I never travel without a bag of sweets as I am always paranoid I’ll have sore ears when taking off and landing. Werther Originals are usually my favourite and Barley Sugars are great to stop you feeling nauseous. A packets of Halls are also handy to take as the air con in the plane can leave you quite stuffed up.

Empty water bottle

I didn’t think this would be allowed but apparently as long as it’s empty when you go through security I’ve been told that it is fine, but don’t quote me on it. It can be really hard to stay hydrated when you have to keep asking the air hostesses for a tiny cup of water. I saw a lot of other travellers with bottles, so I will definitely be taking one on my return flight!

Travel document wallet

It is so important to keep you passport and tickets safe and handy. A bright travel wallet will be easy to spot when you’re rummaging in your bag and will keep them safe when you are walking through the airport.

 I hope this helps anyone worried about what to pack, and if anyone has any other long haul flight essentials please share by commenting below!

Kaitlin xx
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