Food discoveries in Puente Romano resort in Marbella, Spain

Even though I don't consider myself a foodie I do love and appreciate food so when back in October I was invited to spend a few days in Puente Romano resort in Marbella to try out their famous restaurants I couldn't say no. An idea of spending a few days in the autumn sun, which felt more like summer in the UK, seemed very appealing too.

I was even more excited as I knew my Instagram friends Giulia, Jacintha and Millie are coming as well.

Marbella beach
Puente Romano hotel Marbella

After checking in the hotel our first stop was El Chiringuito, located at the beginning of the beach area. I loved the sea views and the relaxed vibe of this restaurant.

The resort's most famous restaurant is probably Nobu. If you have ever been to any other Nobu locations, you know what I'm talking about. The restaurant is well-known for its classic Japanese dishes cooked with Peruvian flavours, and it didn't disappoint - wagyu beef and black cod with miso were excellent. Nobu is opening their own hotel within the resort too - expected to offer 81 rooms by 2019.

nobu restaurant marbella

Next day we finally had time to see a bit of Marbella that seemed like a lovely Spanish town, during the day there were no traces of it being a party place.

Marbella old town

In Marbella we popped into Doliva for olive oil tasting. We tried a few different olive oils and were surprised to find out that 55% of world's olive oil is produced in Spain. After learning this and trying out the best olive oil, we couldn't leave the shop without buying some oil to take home.

Back to Puente Romano just in time for paella making masterclass. Both rabbit and seafood options were absolutely delicious!

Monkey bar marbella

if you are looking for lighter and healthier options - the resort has them too. Try Rachel's Organic cafe by the pool (pictured below) or gluten-free cafe Celicioso.

I don't usually stay at huge resorts like this one but I was surprised by how many things you can do (it even has a tennis court) and how diverse all the dining options are. Thanks, Puente Romano for a wonderful stay!

marbella beach

Yorkshire in 2 days

Yorkshire might easily become my favourite part of England - with its heritage sites, beautiful landscapes and booming food scene - it has everything to become the next go-to destination. The only downside - it's a little far away for a weekend trip from London, same being an advantage as otherwise most of the London folk would be found there!

After a long drive from London and a cosy night at one of the Northstar Club woodland suites (more on it later), we ventured out to explore the picturesque Whitby.

Whitby view
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Whitby is a seaside town, also famous for its association with Captain Cook who learned seamanship there, and the horror novel Dracula by Bram Stoker making it the destination for the goth weekend twice a year. We didn't visit on a goth weekend but still saw some interestingly dressed people which made our visit even more interesting. Also, I have to note that it seemed like almost everyone in Whitby owns a dog or two.

Whitby
Whitby harbour

One of the most popular sights of Whitby is the characterful abbey ruins at the top of the fishing harbour. The first monastery was founded in the 7th century, although the remains we see today are of the later built 13th-century Benedictine abbey.

Whitby overview
Whitby Abbey

Later in the day we headed to Yorkshire's most wonderful hidden gem - Staithes.  Did you know that Captain Cook, Staithes's most famous resident, worked in Staithes as a grocer's apprentice where he first gained his interest in the sea?

Staithes street view

This view of the quaint fishing village was more I could dream of! 

Overlooking Staithes
Staithes house

On the way back to our charming cottage we made a quick stop in Robin Hood Bay, and in this place, with the most romantic name, I caught this most romantic moment of a couple's wedding photoshoot.

Robin Hood Bay

Our trip wouldn't be so perfect without a stay with the Blue Chip holidays in one of the North Star Club woodland suites. For someone like us, coming from a big city, it was a perfect weekend retreat in the woods. The rooms are equipped with everything you need, and even though it's on a self-catering basis, there's barbeque equipment next to each suite and a communal space with tea and brownies. I really liked all the cosy details in our room, especially the real fireplace. I'd love to come back in summer with a group of friends for a more relaxing weekend in the area.

Those cows were the only neighbours we encountered!

Cows in Yorkshire

Next day York greeted us with rain, compensated by all sorts of colourful bunting and an opportunity to see the Shambles, the best preserved medieval street in the world, less crowded than usual.

York the Shambles
York

To be fair, York deserves a separate blog post as it has so much offer. With this said, I think I need to plan another trip to Yorkshire very soon!

York bunting
York cathedral

Exploring hidden Barcelona with SEAT Arona

Buzzoole

I have a never-ending love for Barcelona. It's amazing architecture, street art, vivid colours and delicious food make my heart beat a little faster. When SEAT got in touch to invite me to explore the city driving their new urban SUV, I couldn't say no. 

Barcelona view
New Seat Arona urban

You may remember that I have already been to Barcelona earlier this year for the official press launch of SEAT Arona, the new SEAT crossover. This time we came back for a test drive and to attend Primavera Club, a music festival where new artists get discovered to further perform at Primavera Sound in summer next year. 

Taking advantage of the sun rising a little later this time of year we couldn't miss an opportunity to photograph the sunrise. Pictures below were taken from Park Mirador del Poble Sec.

View over Barcelona
Barcelona sunrise
Barcelona morning

Another amazing place I only discovered during this visit is Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. The hospital was completed in 1930 to become the most important civil building of the Catalan Art Nouveau movement. In 1997, together with the Palau de la Música Catalana, the Hospital was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO for its unique construction and artistic beauty. 

Tibidabo. One more place to add to your list. There's an amusement park and a beautiful church on top of the mountain that were, sadly, still closed when we got there early in the morning. It's not that I need a reason to go back! Just this view was well worth it.

View from Tibidabo

Flax & Kale is a hipster cafe with beautiful interiors and healthy food suitable for almost any dietary requirements. 

Ugot is the cutest little cafe with a curated vintage interior and delicious food. I'll be back for that burrata with grilled peaches!

Street art. Barcelona has a lot of graffiti pretty much everywhere but my favourite spot was La Escocesa - street art around the area served as a perfect backdrop to photograph  the car.

Seat Arona
Barcelona

Barcelona has always something new to discover, and with Casa Vicens, the first house Gaudi ever designed, opening to the public this month, I am ready to hop on a plane again soon.  

5 days in Moldova, one of the least visited countries in Europe

This August Intrepid Travel commissioned me to work on an assignment on their trip to Moldova. I was caught by surprise and have honestly said that Moldova has never been on top of my travel list. You'll love the experience, they replied. And I did. Here's why.

Moldova Chisinau

Moldova is a small post-Soviet country land-locked between Romania and Ukraine - hence you might have never heard of it. In Soviet times, it used to be, together with Georgia, one of the leaders in wine production. I can see your interest is raising, right?

Moldova is currently rediscovering its winemaking past. In addition to old wineries, new ones, using modern technologies, start opening up - and that makes Moldova a great place to visit for all wine lovers. Did I mention it's super cheap too?

Et Cetera winery is one of the modern wineries located in the south-eastern part of Moldova. I loved the design of the space and all the home-made food that accompanied our wine tasting. That chair made of an old carped caught my attention too.

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Visiting Mitestii Mici is a completely different experience. This state owned winery was registered in the Guinness World Records as the biggest wine collection in the world holding nearly 2 million bottles! The cellars extend for 120 miles, of which 34 miles are currently in use. The cellar network is so extensive that it can be driven by car and the underground streets bear wine related names - like a Cabernet street.

Milestii Mici
Milestii Mici
Moldova capital Chisinau

Moldova's capital Chisinau was almost completely destroyed during the World War II. The city was later rebuilt in a Stalinist style.

For a real local experience in Chisinau head to the main market. It's great for people watchig too!

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Chisinau market

Don't miss Moldova's Orthodox monastery and archaeological complex Orchei Vechi. The cave monastery was built by the monks in the 13th century and remained inhabited until the 18th century. Later in the 1990-es a handful of monks restored it to its current state. You can also visit traditional Moldovan houses.

Orchei Vechi_old village3.jpg
Orchei Vechi_old village1.jpg

This trip was my first experience with Intrepid travel. I loved their commitment to support the local communities by hiring local guides and experts, like the homestay lunch with a traditional pastry cooking workshop pictured below.

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A visit to Moldova couldn't be complete without a day in Transnistria, a country within a country that has its own currency and government, but is not recognised by any United Nations member state. If you would like to know how it feels to live in the USSR - Transnistria is a place to visit. Its capital Tiraspol is not particularly beautiful but you go there for an experience and not to admire the beauty.

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I visited Moldova as part of Intrepid Travel Moldova, Ukraine & Romania Explorer 13 days trip - more information can be found here.