Author Archives: Tara

Tara Travels to : Lisbon

I have just returned from a fabulous trip to Lisbon. It was kind of a last minute decision to go and we were just happy to be getting away for a few days of sun before winter so we decided to try Air BnB for the first time.

Our Apartment

I downloaded the app and entered our dates and was amazed and the amount of places available at the last minute. I decided on our apartment mainly because of the location but when we arrived I was amazed at how lovely the apartment was.
Our location seemed to be in the centre of everything, most of the restaurants that we wanted to try were literally within 5 minutes walking distance. It is a lovely area so maybe best suited to couples or groups of friends, it is quite noisy at night which didn't bother us at all but if you had a family or small children it could be annoying.

Restaurants 

Sea Me
Rua do Loreto
This was directly across from our apartment and was one of my favourite restaurants we went to. It's mainly fresh fish and sushi, lovely drinks and service.
Definitely book in advance.
Mini Bar 
One of Jose Avillez many restaurants in Lisbon. This was probably my favourite restaurant, you can have a tasting menu but we just went with Al La Carte. We picked about 7/8 dishes, all of which were gorgeous and so different.
I would definitely go back here and getting the tasting menu next time. Even though this had a more upmarket feel it was still great value for what we got.
All of Jose Avillez restaurants are meant to be fab so I would suggest checking a couple of them out.
Definitely book in advance.
Boa Boa
We were told we couldn't book a table here and to expect to wait for a table so that's exactly what we did. When we arrived there was a queue of about 24 ahead of us, we ended up waiting for about an hour for a table but had a few cocktails as we waited.
Really nice if you fancy having Asian food and fabulous cocktails.
Don't go here hungry though !
Principe Do Calhariz
We found this place on the way for a drink one of the evenings. There was a guy cooking in the window so there was a crowd of people watching. We stopped and looked and knew we had to come back. This is a seriously no frills place, really cheap authentic Portuguese food.
I definitely recommend going here for a casual night and if you do you have to get the prawns! 100% the nicest prawns I have ever eaten.
La Tanqueria de Lisboa PyC
We went here on our last night and again it was another popular spot, there was a wait of about 20 minutes for a table which was fine as you could have a cocktail and they gave you nachos while we waited.It was proper Mexican food and just abit too heavy for us. I know people will love it so if you like Mexican food definitely check it out.
No need to book.

Things to do

We were staying right in the centre so a lot of the things we went to see and do were within walking distance or a short bus ride away.
  • Take a trip to Alfama, we actually walked here as it wasn't far from our apartment. It is one of the oldest districts in Lisbon and really nice to just walk around and explore the narrow streets. Make your way to the National Pantheon and behind that you will find an absolutely huge market that is really interesting to wander around.
  • Take the tram 28 , these little yellow trams are so cute and this route will give you a good tour of the city.
  • Go to The LX factory, this was definitely a highlight for both of us. There is lots of interesting shops, cafes and bars. Its a nice place to go for a drink or lunch.
  • You have to try a Portuguese tart, one of the best you will find is in belem in a bakery called Pasteis de Belem. There was another gorgeous cafe right beside our apartment that literally only served these pastries and coffee, it was always filled with locals.
  • Have a drink in one of the outdoor bars along the sea front in Cais do Sodre.
  • If you want a beach day get the train to Caiscais, we didn't get a chance to do this but definitely will next time.
  • Get the boat over to Cacilhas, it takes about 10 minutes and brings you to a small fishing port where you will get unbelieveably fresh fish cooked to perfection.
  • Take the train to Sintra and explore the castle and amazing views, definitely wear comfortable shoes as there is lots of walking involved.
  • You HAVE to go for a drink in 'Park' is a rooftop bar on the top floor of a carpark. It is a little tricky to find and isn't really signposted. You will see sign for a carpark and then literally make your way up through the carpark to the top floor. I had the most gorgeous cocktails here. Make sure to go in the evening to catch the sunset and enjoy the amazing view of Lisbon.
There is so much more to see and do so we will definitely be returning to lisbon sooner rather then later. We have been on a few trips this year and both myself and Daniel enjoyed Lisbon the best. I hope you found this helpful! Tara xx

Gym Skin, Gym Make Up and Nutrition Advice from Catherine Carroll

A Lot of you have been asking about what I do to keep fit, what I eat on a daily basis and also about wearing make up to the gym, so I have decided to do one big blog post to cover everything.
I am been a member of Active You Gym for maybe three years now, usually attending around 3 classes a week. In the past I could eat what I want and never bothered with exercise, my diet was terrible consisting of a lot of sugary foods and takeaways. In my early twenties I didn't put on weight, I genuinely stayed around the same weight for years even though my diet was appalling. Coming in to my late twenties I noticed a change and realised my old lifestyle wasn't sustainable and my metabolism was no longer the same so that is when I decided to join a gym.
The main objective for me was so tone up and get healthy, it has definitely been more about making a lifestyle change then losing weight for me. In the past two years I have really put in a huge effort to clean up my diet, sticking to whole foods and avoiding processed food. The funny thing is that I actually eat more now then I did in the past, I am just eating the right foods.
I started personal training at Active You about 9 months before my wedding last year and by the time my wedding came around I felt the best I had felt probably ever. My skin, hair, moods..literally everything was  better then ever and I was fitter then ever aswell. After my wedding I wasn't great for a few months but I started back at it in January of this year and started personal training with my friend Catherine at Active You and she has totally got me back on track. Catherine is a mother of three, looks amazing and is so motivating. She texts me regularly with little reminders and some encouragement and like me totally believes in 'living' and having the odd treat, not being too hard on yourself and just trying your best. If you have a bad day and over indulge, just start again tomorrow and not feel guilty about it.
Catherine is full of great advice so I asked her could she share some tips with you guys. She is the professional and I just try to follow her guidelines and advice as much as possible.

Catherines  Nutrition Advice

1.Have 2-3 litres of water every day.
2.Never go longer than 3 hours without eating.
3.Eat 3 main meals and 2 snacks a day. (Subject to your time available)
4.Eat protein at least 3 times a day, eg turkey/chicken/fish/eggs.
5.Eat 2 good fats a day, eg nuts/oily fish/avocado.
6.Eat 2 good carbs a day, eg oats/quinoa/brown rice/sweet potatoes.
7.Post workout is one of the better times to have starchy carbs.
8.Pack in as much veg as possible, particularly green veg.
9.While healthy treats are a much better option as in its always better to get some nutrition from your treats, treats aren't treats if you have them all the time so keep them to a minimum.
10.Rule of thumb, if the ingredients say MORE than 5g sugars per 100g you should probably walk away. Or keep it for a cheat meal.
11.At least three times a week ensure there are 12 hours between your last meal in the evening and your first meal the following morning. This is allowing your body to detox naturally.
12.Try a new food/meal once a week.
13.Don't eat any food you hate because you won't keep it up! This is your new lifestyle, not a diet!! (no food plan should ever have an expiration date)
14.If it doesn't have a mother or come from the ground don't eat it!
15.Keep coffee/tea to a minimum and try replacing it with green tea.
16.Take a multivitamin and mineral and fish oils.
17.Eat like a king/queen in the a.m. and a pauper in the evening!

Gym Skin

It was actually Catherine that suggested that I write a blog on skincare and make up in the gym, and when I mentioned it online lots of you were asking questions so I will share what I recommend.
Pre Gym
My advice is to completely clean the skin of all makeup especially if you are coming from a long day at work. Remove everything with your regular cleanser, if you are in a rush The Cleanse Off Mitt is handy as it genuinely removes everything with just water so you can do this quickly before your session in the gym.
I usually use Bioderma micellar Water to remove my make up for the gym and then use a small amount of Biofresh Rose Water on a cotton pad and gently sweep it all over.
  • Avoid wearing a moisturiser or rich serum to the gym as it is likely to clog pores and possibly result in a breakout.
  • It is so important to remove your make up before working out, again it will definitely clog your pores.
  • Even if you have little or no make up on your skin it is still important to clean it before working out so there is nothing sitting on your skin that may clog your pores.

Gym Make Up

Ideally it is best to wear no make up to the gym at all, so many foundations are heavy on the skin and will just sink in to your pores as you work out potentially causing you to break out. There are simple things you can do if you really don't feel comfortable going completely bare faced that will hopefully make you feel more confident.

  • If you don't feel comfortable going bare faced to the gym opt for a mineral foundation like Bellapierre Mineral Powder. it contains just 4 ingredients, all of which are kind, gentle, protective and nurturing on the skin. Its non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic so won't sit in or clog pores like other foundations will. If you just have a few spots that you want to cover just pat this on with a fluffy eyeshadow brush like the E25 from blank canvas just to those areas instead of applying it all over the skin.
  • I have semi permanent eyelashes which do make a difference to me when I am going bare faced to the gym as I feel like I have something on. I know some people will not leave the house without mascara on so for the gym I would highly recommend opting for a waterproof one.

Post Gym

What you do post gym is so important for you skin, cleaning your face as soon as possible post gym session is what I recommend. You don't want a combination of dirt, oil and sweat clinging to your skin  and clogging your pores resulting in a breakout so wash your skin as soon as you can. I usually go to the gym in the evening so now is the time I do my night time skincare routine.

  • If you are rushing to work post session bring a mini face wash with you or a micellar water to clean your skin straight after your workout.
  • I like to use Pixi glow Tonic post workout on cleansed skin to close my pores. It is a gentle exfoliator so I use it every other day.

Tara xx

Tara Travels to : dubrovnik

I'm just mid flight returning to Dublin from Dubrovnik after an amazing week away.

Dubrovnik isn't somewhere that was really on my radar or somewhere I considered going before but after speaking to my god mother and cousin and hearing how beautiful it was  I had to check it out for myself.

The Hotel 

It certainly did not disappoint, infact I'm already researching other parts of Croatia to check out for our next trip abroad.

I've said this before but when I'm booking a holiday I spend a couple of weeks researching the best location to stay in, the best restaurants to try  etc and I haven't been disappointed with any of our trips over the years. I would never recommend somewhere to stay unless I was really happy with it. We decided on The Dubrovnik Palace Hotel which I would highly recommend. Every room has a beautiful balcony and sea view, there are 3 outdoor and 1 indoor swimming pool and a private beach ( this was our favourite part) the water is crystal clear and you can see little fish and crabs swimming close to the shore. It's so nice to be able to walk out of your room and to be swimming in the sea in under a minute.

Breakfast was amazing with a huge selection of choices, actually out of all the places we have stayed it was probably the nicest.

Every 15 minutes a bus stops outside the hotel and brings you to the Old town which is about a 10 minute bus journey away.

I would actually recommend this Hotel for honeymooners as it's so fab and I know a lot of brides to be follow me. It's great for families too and the staff were lovely and helpful. It wasn't the cheapest hotel in the area but if you keep an eye online you can get a better price.

Restaurants

The Old town is the main place to go for dinner and there are loads of restaurants to choose from. We would be quite fussy when it comes to food and would always try and go for the less touristy options and see where the locals are eating.

If you go to Dubrovnik you have to go to this restaurant

1.Lucin Kantun : When you enter the gates into the Old town there is a Main Street, some of our favourite restaurants were up the alleyways to the left of the Main Street.

This one was both of our favourite and we went twice. The food is fresh, local produce and the best value of all the restaurants we ate in but also the best food!

It's tapas style so order 4/6 dishes to share and you can always order more.

You will not be disappointed.

2.Lady Pi Pi : Up one of the alleyways to the left at the very top of the stairs is this hidden gem, it's quite a few steps so don't where heels for this one. It's really popular and we did queue for an hour to eat here which is a little annoying but the food is good. All barbecued meat and fish that you can see being cooked in a huge barbecue, it's reasonably priced too and. A gorgeous setting.

3. Lokanda Peskarija : We ate here twice too, once for lunch and once for dinner. It's over looking the harbour and if you are fan of really fresh fish you will love this. The portions are big so you can definitely share. I highly recommend the cuttlefish risotto and the prawns. It's a nice place to sit even with a coffee and people watch. Again this was good value for really good fresh food cooked perfectly.

4.Orsan Yacht Club

We got the bus to Babin Kuk (5 mins from our hotel) and walked to the yacht club which took another 5 minutes. It's another nice little harbour and this restaurant is lovely for lunch or dinner. We went for lunch and then walked the scenic walking route all along the coastline of Babin Kuk. The Copacabana beach is on the route which is really nice to go and lie in the sun or have a drink. We walked all the way around which took about two hours but the views where unbelievable and it's nice and quiet too so you can take it all in. We finished the walk in the cave bar of the More Hotel and had a couple of drinks and watched the sunset. We actually went here a couple of evening for drinks and it's really nice. It's another lovely hotel with gorgeous views and a private beach too. There is a strip of bars and restaurants about two minutes from it.

Note: The old town gets quite busy with tourists and some of the restaurants take advantage of this with high prices and not so amazing food.

Things to do

The island of Lokrum 

This was our favourite place and we got the boat over twice. It's the most beautiful island only about a 20 minute boat ride from the harbour of the old town. You can just walk around the island and admire its beauty and wildlife or find a spot on the rocks and swim in the most beautiful clear sea. There are a couple of places to have a drink and relax but I recommend bringing a picnic and sitting by the sea. There is also the Dead Sea lake which is a gorgeous spot to sit or swim.

If you are going bring carrots and bird food as there are bunnies and peacocks everywhere and it's so cute to feed them especially if you have kids or are an animal lover like me.

The City Walls

This was actually a gorgeous way to spend a few hours. The initial steps up to the top of the walls are quite steep and there are quite a lot of them so definitely wear comfortable shoes or you won't be able to enjoy it. It takes about 2 hours to walk around the city walls, you are up quite high so the views are unbelievable. There are lots of places you can stop along the way for a drink and take in the sights too.

Cavtat

We got the boat here from the harbour and it took about 45 mins. It's another gorgeous spot to walk around or take a swim. There are loads of restaurants and cafes facing the harbour where you can sit and watch the amazing yachts come in. Seriously some of the yachts we saw were insane, definitely over the 30 million mark so if you are nosy and like to people watch ( like me) you will enjoy! We went to the prosecco and oyster bar on the harbour which was lovely.

Note: get the boat over one-way and buy a return ticket in Cavtat it just means you can leave when you want and you aren't tied down to a certain time. There are boats leaving every 20/30 mins.

Tips:

  • Kuna is the currency in Dubrovnik, we exchanged some euros in the airport in Dublin and you can exchange euros over there in lots of banks for 0% commission.
  • The bus system is really convenient and cheap. We got buses everywhere for about €3 return to the old town. There is genuinely no need to get taxis.
  • I know I sound like I'm 100 years old but definitely bring comfortable shoes or you won't enjoy it. There is quite a bit of walking and steps so you will need them. I will 100% pack runners next time.
  • The beaches are rock or shingle beaches and there is no sand so most tourists wore sea shoes which made walking in and out of the sea easier. You can buy them everywhere over there.
  • Go off the Main Street of the old town and wander up the alleyways especially along the coast side as you will find some hidden gems along the way like bars built into the coastline.
  • There are cats and kittens everywhere so if you are animal lover like me buy some cat food and feed them, I couldn't cope looking at the little kittens wandering around.

I have literally written about everything I can think of so I hope this helped anyone travelling to Dubrovnik or thinking of going.

As I said we will definitely be back , it's a beautiful part of the world with the most stunning views and coastlines.

Tara xx