How many Belgian waffles can you eat in 10 hours?

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Do you ever want to feel like a rockstar and go abroad for the day just to eat some waffles? I do.

When I am not coaching, doing uniwork or training – I, like most of us, dream about food and travel.

Why not combine the two?

My friend Sekee and I decided to spend 10 hours in Brussels, Belgium.

Lack of time does not mean lack of adventure.

Fresh waffles, chocolate shops, moules frites and a bar with thousands of beer varieties were amongst our finds.

When we were too full to eat, we browsed the many streets filled with artwork and lace shops, we even made it to the EU HQ before they no longer need to welcome us with open arms.

Thank you for feeding us Belgium.

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Train in Spain

I was fortunate enough to have grown up on training camps around the world. It is safe to say that by the age of 6 I had been abroad more than the average 26 year old.

Someone recently requested I write more about the athletics tracks that I have visited. Unfortunately I don’t remember a lot about being on training camp as a toddler, so this latest piece will be focusing on my more recent camps.

With a Spanish father it is no surprise that most of our camps have ended up in Spain. Here are three places you may want to consider for your next warm weather training camp.

 

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Tenerife 

Extraterrestrial views, hiking trails, heat all year round and an alternative altitude training venue are what make Tenerife special.

Having spent almost a month in Vilafor, a sleepy little village just below the crater of Mount Teide, I fell in love with the place.

We were on an altitude camp, solely training in the crater.

The mountain roads are also frequently used by cyclists. Team Sky were constantly whizzing past us during our stay – So if you’re into that sort of thing get on yer bike!

There are also running tracks at sea level. Whilst there, we visited the track on Playa de la America. It is incredibly popular during peak times, as the Canaries are one of the few locations with heat in Europe all year round. For this reason, I found the track slightly claustrophobic as there were so many people there. Despite this, it was nice to have a little bit of atmosphere after three weeks in solitude on the mountain.

 

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Valencia 

In Valencia, everything was easy.

The main park in the city, locally known as El Rio, used to be a river. Now it is a massive park with a running track in it. The park is big enough to do off-road steady runs without getting bored of seeing the same thing all the time.

The hustle and bustle of city life made Valencia quite a fun place to stay. There were plenty of shops and restaurants to go ‘people watching’ in between sessions, bike rental was cheap which meant we were able to ride to the beach or go on an adventure around the city.

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Benidorm

Just a stone throw away from Valencia, you’ll find the notorious holiday destination of Benidorm.

All jokes aside, Benidorm is underrated and actually a decent place for a warm weather camp. There are very few people on the running tracks, probably because most people are in the bars and it is very cheap.

There are two local tracks, one within jogging distance from the main beaches and one 15minutes away, with more facilities, in the mainland town of Alfas del Pi. If you have a car, there are also a number of trails to run on. The path up to the Light house in Albir is a nice route to run on with beautiful sea views.

 

 

5 Reasons to visit Salento.

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I only heard about Puglia after scrolling through websites to find the cheapest flight to somewhere with sunshine.  Puglia is what we’d describe as the heel of the boot which is Italy.  Salento is the Southern part of that region.  The strange thing that I’ve found is that barely any of my UK friends have heard of Puglia, let alone Salento.  Now that Ryanair fly there, I think that things may change.

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Here are 5 reasons we should, or perhaps should not, be telling our friends about this hidden gem.

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The Beaches

The water is perfect, cool enough to refresh you from the constant heat, clear enough to see the white sand beneath and silky enough to feel like you’re entering into a dreamworld.  There is every type of beach you could ever want; grottos with turquoise waters; White sandy beaches that stretch on for an eternity with crystal clear water; rocky areas to scuba dive; Rocks and Piers to jump into the deep blue sea for a thrill. For all the geography nerds out there, if you visit Leuca the Adriatic and Ionian seas meet and at certain times it has been known to be able to distinguish between the two.

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The People.

In the vast majority of the areas we visited within Salento, the locals weren’t accustomed to meeting many english speaking tourists.  Most of visitors that we came across were Italians from the bigger cities. Due to there being so few foreigners most of the locals could not really speak English. Despite this, we never had a problem. People would always have time to stop and help you or just smile at you and continue to have a friendly sounding Italian conversation with you.

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The Places

If you have a car, it is possible to do a mini road trip of the region.  Salento is stunning. Filled with little stereotypical rustic little towns.  You’ll always find a church in the heart of the town. vintage fiat 500s and various other vintage Italian cars are driven around. My favourote vehicle to see on the road was the 3 wheeler piaggio’s driven by all of the farmers.  Drive anywhere and you’ll find something interesting – an old castle, a religious festival, a cute coffee bar – The simple things were usually the most beautiful.

 

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The Food

You can expect all of the fruit and veg to be fresh, ripe and tasty.  All of the restaurants will be using goods that are in season and produced locally.  Pasta shells, made in the nearby village and fish caught on the same day – Delicious!

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The Tranquility

Because there are very few foreign tourists, Salento wasn’t overcrowded.  There are certain beaches and areas that are in high demand, especially in August.  But most places are sleepy and traditional.  Siestas are very much a factor to take into consideration.  This being said, there are plenty of bars, beach parties and festivals to keep you entertained. Whilst we were visiting, the light festival of Santa Domenica took place.  Huge structures dotted with lights were erected to create an awesome light show accompanied by music. We had no idea what was really going on, but it was so cool.

Pretty Little Lisbon

I have never been to Portugal before. When searching for a birthday gift for my beloved Thomas, the cheapest flight I could find was to Lisbon, Portugal. We once again found ourselves armed with Ryanair tickets, crammed together on a plane, just like the day we met. How romantic.

The highlight of Lisbon for me, was the use of colour on all of the buildings. Cute buildings tiled from top to bottom were everywhere and pastel coloured buildings pink, blue, lilac, yellow and more. My eyes gazing up at the balconies and buildings, poor Thomas found himself being dragged down side roads to look at the pink house, or at the flowers or at the street name made out of tiles. Although there was clearly a lot of thought that was put into the buildings when they were first built, everything in Lisbon seemed a little bit broken. Paint that was peeling, tiles that were missing and graffiti covered the streets – even still, every colour, tile and balcony still warmed my heart in the way that the initial architects intended.

There is more to Lisbon than tiles and paint, but I was too busy looking at tiles and paint to  take in all of the rest.

Until next time.

 

Obrigado x

Pink and blue.

Pastel appreciation.

Clothes out to dry in the rain.

Pretty little details.

Tiles.

 

Gran Canaria Winter Daze


9am the sun is out, I decide it will be a good idea to go for a run on the beach. I have never been to Gran Canaria before, nor have I done much research on the place, all I know is that the sun is out all year round.

It’s January, I spent a week in Gran Canaria. Soaking up the sun at day and at night finishing off my essay.

On this particular morning when I was on a run on the beach, I saw a naked man. I nudged my mum “Mamma! Look.” Then we continued on our run.

Later on the same day we decided to visit the sand dunes. Between the golden dunes and shrubs naked people were walking around. How fascinating.

We carried on happily venturing on our way. Then we finally found out we were on a nudist beach. I always seem to end up on nudist beaches and they always seem to be the best beaches. Maybe we could share them?

There was no point to this story, I just really enjoyed my day on the beach.



The following day we decided to go to a market. I hate markets. Mamma loves markets. I decided to take her on a detour. We ended up in a much more exciting place with the most beautiful flowers and water that was Crystal clear.

The market was overrated.


We then ended up at a fun fair. It was empty. I wanted to ride a donkey, but the man was packing them away. We looked at the Ferris wheel and decided to eat a strawberry lace each. We then returned to the apartment.

Gran Canaria was really fun, I’m not sure what we actually did though.

 

Norway Fact/Ficton

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Norwegians are  born with skis on their feet.

FACT – well kind of… The general consensus is that skiing is a big thing. Norway’s winter Olympic results says it all. Ok, not everyone likes to ski, but most Norwegians can ski and will ski in the winter. Be it cross county or alpine.

 

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It always Snows in Norway

FICTION – Norway is often imagined to be wearing a coat of snow all year round. This isn’t the case. Norway is very stretched out. Up North expect snow to be guaranteed with long, dark winters and the northern lights dancing across the horizon to warm the heart. In the summer expect the sun to never really go down. As for southern parts, snow is hit and miss, it can come and go, but it will be there at some point. It’s also worth noting that summer in Norway is one of the most underrated experiences. Again, it’s difficult to predict how sunny and warm it will be, but Norway transforms itself to an amazing place in the summer. Swimming in the lakes and fjords; Hiking in the dramatic forests and mountains; And a myriad of other outdoor sports are to be enjoyed at this time. Not to mention the availability ‘soft is’ Norway’s equivalent to Mr Whippy nom nom nom.

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Norway is expensive.

FACT – I’d recommend taking out a loan for your trip to Norway! Everything is almost double the prices in the UK. Expect a pint of beer to cost anything from 80NOK upwards, which currently is approximately £6.21. Let’s not even begin to ponder about the prices of real ales. We had a pizza meal, in an average chain restaurant. 1 beer and two pizzas, 1 medium, 1 large 650Nok (£50.51) – Enough said. Don’t let this deter you. The beauty outweighs the price, just close your eyes whenever you have to pay for anything.

 

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Norwegian men are 6ft Vikings with blonde hair and blue eyes.

FICTION – We all have this idea of Scandinavians being incredibly beautiful and tall, with their flowing blonde hair and Viking blood. They actually look like the man in the photo above…

Christmas in Bergen

IMG_1863.jpgHaving spent crucial developmental years aged 9-12 in Norway, the land of months of darkness and then in the summer, the midnight sun up north. Visiting my childhood town of Bergen, a city notorious for rain, was a much needed  homecoming.

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Our first day was spent in pepperkake byen. Bergen boasts the largest town made out of gingerbread, there is debate about whether they are deserving of the title, as certain props in the town aren’t edible. Even so, it’s still huge. The smell when you walk into the room is fantastic. Each of the structures has its own, unique touch. There is everything from gingerbread football stadiums to churches.

IMG_1678.JPGOn the day of gifts, the meal we eat is called pinnekjøtt, directly translated to ‘stick meat’. Dried, salted lamb ribs, steamed for hours on a low heat over freshly chopped birch tree branches. The salty, tender meat, is a beautiful annual tradition. Accompanied by mashed suede and boiled potatoes. Heavenly. Then for dessert. Is a porridge comparable in flavour and texture to rice pudding. However, The porridge is cooled And whipped with whipping cream, to create a cool fluffy bowl of happiness we call Riskrem, or in English ‘Rice cream’. Pouring an undiluted berry cordial over the dish to add more sweetness and voilà, you now have a masterpiece.

This all begins at 6pm, which means that the poor, excited children don’t get to open their presents until further into the evening.

IMG_1770.jpgThe day after we spent the day in Hundvin in a home far into the countryside at the farm of Solveig and her delightful family. We ate freshly fished cod with boiled potatoes and carrots. There was a fried bacon and onion sauce to pour on the potatoes. And a pinnekjøtt meat sauce to pour over the cod. After a few days of over eating, the fresh, organic meal provided by Solveig and Rolf was much needed.

48 Hours in Madrid

 

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The past few weeks have been very busy with university, training, coaching, waitressing and attempting to socialize. Somehow I was able to find 48 hours of freedom. I’m 20, I have no real responsibility, so I decided to do what I enjoy the most – broadening my horizons. Armed with a Ryanair ticket in one hand, a small bag in the other, I was ready to conquer Madrid.

One of the perks of being Norwegian, Spanish, English and Jamaican is that I have family everywhere.

Thursday

Greeted at the airport by my cousin Cris, we jumped straight onto the metro towards town. Nothing says ‘bienvenido a España’ more than tapas. Bocaito, rumoured to be one of the best tapas bars in Madrid certainly lived up to its expectations. Joined by Cris’ housemate Andrea, we indulged in Sangria, calamares, tortilla de patatas and croquetas con jamon. Spanish flavours combined with friendly staff, good music and great atmosphere. What a night.

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Friday

With such little time, one must make the most of the day. Running from Cris’ apartment to El Retiro Park. The sun was out and I was bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to absorb all of the beauty that surrounded me. Upon arrival, I was a little disappointed. Half finished features and sad looking bushes was all I saw. Undeterred, I continued to run deeper into the park. Finally, I found what I was looking for, delightful monuments and buildings, a saxophone playing in the distance; it was time for a break. Stretching and watching life go by, my stomach started to rumble.

The only plausible breakfast I could imagine was churros. Treating myself to a portion of churros con chocolate at Chocolateria San Gines, I was in heaven. They were divine. Unfortunately I couldn’t eat them all and had to leave what I had left.

After showering, I jumped on the metro back into town. The metro was incredibly affordable, with 10 trips for €12.20. I spent a large chunk of my day trawling through shops. The most impressive ones were situated on Calle Gran Via. The converted old buildings with grand staircases elevated mundane high street shops to the status of couture designer boutiques.

La Mistura, a stylish little ice cream bar situated in the heart of Madrid, takes the concept of ice cream to a different level. You get to pick your desired topping and flavour, the two are then fused together. I chose cookies an vanilla ice cream. It was like a more divine, freshly made Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough.

Before I knew it, it was evening. With a bird’s eye view of Madrid from the rooftop of the Circulo Bellas artes, the colours of the sunset made the night sky look like an ever-changing canvas. Accompanied by a chic rooftop bar, I would definitely recommend a visit.

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Saturday

Cris, Andrea and I decided to visit El Palacio Real. This was by far the highlight of my trip. The detail put into every room inside the palace was amazing. Each room had a theme and colour scheme, fitted with exquisite chandeliers and murals. In one room the walls and the ceiling were wholly covered with intricate porcelain décor. Everything was so impeccable, it makes you wonder what the main homes of our monarch’s are like.

Finishing my trip the way it started, we decided to get some food. Mercado de San Miguel was our choice this time, filled with various stalls, we took it as a personal challenge to eat as much as possible. Empanadillas, calamares, pizza and frozen yoghurt were my go to choices. Considering the hustle and bustle combined with the fast turnover of food, the quality was not compromised.

Home

There’s no place like home, but I would have liked an extra 24 hours in Madrid. Next stop Bergen, Norway.

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In Sardinia romance is not dead.

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Even though this is a very late post, Sardinia is a place that deserves a mention.  We visited in July this summer, which was a bit before the high season over there.  My boyfriend Thomas and I are often deterred from seeking a romantic holiday. Paris, Venice, Rome and all the other cities of love seem like a lot of pressure. With reputation comes expectation. Of course they are marvellous places, but their popularity brings hassle for tourists.

Sardinia on the other hand was an incredibly sleepy island. Picturesque in every way from the nature, to the rustic Italian buildings. None of the beaches were over-crowded and the water was like silk. On our last day we managed to find a virtually untouched beach which could only be accessed by foot. A 15 minute walk in the blistering heat until we ended up paradise.

The market (pictured) was a quirky market with everything from antique coffee grinders to cashmere cardigans. Situated in the very charming little village of San Pantaleo on the hills. We actually ended up abandoning the market with our lemon gelatos to explore the rustic streets. Blue wooden doors, grapevines and cute three-wheel trucks were amongst our finds.

Sardinia is most definitely an island for those who want to take it slow and enjoy the many beauties of Italy, without the business of other tourist destinations.