Rio Travel Guide: The Best Holiday Activities

As a city, Rio is pretty unique. It combines rolling hills, breath-taking mountains, luscious beaches and bustling city streets. One minute you’ll be driving along a cliff-side and the next you’ll be in a busy street market. I was lucky enough to explore Rio with Adidas and Nissan, and took note of my favourite spots which I recommend you try.

The Botanical Gardens

Rio has some of the most beautiful botanical gardens I have ever seen. They feature huge fountains, palm tree lined pathways and gorgeous waterfalls. You can actually hike up through the park to some even more gorgeous waterfalls too. If you get peckish, just opposite the entrance is an award winning restaurant Borogodo which I highly recommend you give a go. Booking is necessary though as it is super popular.

Make A Splash

I visited 360 Sports, which is a water-sports centre offering a huge range of different activities. My favourites included fly-boarding and jet-skiing. I loved driving the jet-ski down the river and looking at the surrounding houses and community, it was a unique way to explore the city. They also offer stand up paddle-boarding, kayaking and loads more. If you’re looking for an exhilarating way to spend a day, then it is certainly worth a visit.

Hit The Beach

Rio has a selection of beaches to choose from depending on what you fancy! Each one is surrounded by gorgeous scenery and is scattered with fresh coconut stands, unique cafes and even workout stations (great for an early morning beach-side sesh!). My personal favourite was Ipanema but don’t forget the famous Copacabana. One of the most beautiful views is the sunset on the beach, be sure not to miss it.

Tuck In

The Brazilians know how to do food. While you’re there, be sure to try the local delicacies. They do these amazing puffed cheesy-bready-thingys (technical name right there!) which taste like the badgers nadgers. Another speciality is stuffed tapioca pancakes which can be made sweet or savoury. I personally prefer the tapioca and egg pancakes which are thicker and have a higher protein content. I smothered mine in cream cheese. Yum! Brazilians also love their Acai, and you can grab a bowl of the good stuff on almost any street corner. My favourite place for it was k28 beach bar which serve theirs with lashings of granola and a side of sunshine.

Take In The View

One of the best spots for a view of Rio is up Sugarloaf mountain. You can get there by cable car, but I actually prefer the short hike up the steep mountainside. The view at the top is absolutely breath-taking. You can then get a cable car to an even higher point, and then all the way down if you don’t fancy the hike back to the bottom. If you have time, check out the restaurant at the top as it serves incredible fresh and wholesome food!

Visit The Rodrigo Lagoon

In the South of the city you can find the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon which is a perfect spot to get active. You can either talk a gentle stroll around it, go for a jog or hire a bike from a nearby rental stand. And don’t forget to grab a fresh coconut to rehydrate! The surroundings are gorgeous and you can stop off for a workout at multipack “exercise stations” on the way around.

Party!

You’re in Brazil after all. Get on your dancing shoes and hit the town. I went to a club called Fabrik and danced the night away with a huge crowd of Brazilians (who admittedly seemed quite alarmed by my uncoordinated moves!). Sip on the local drink, a Capirera, in the signature lemon flavour while you’re at it (although the watermelon variety is lush too!). Take note though, Brazilians party later than us Brits and they don’t get to the club until about 1am!

Top Rio Tips:

There are two key things to remember in Rio: traffic and theft. The traffic is absolutely crazy, like literally ridiculous, I can’t emphasise that enough. So be sure to factor in “traffic time” to your itinerary. Also, I don’t want to put you off but thieves in Rio tend to target tourists. So put your valuables in a safe place, don’t flaunt your cash or tech and be sure to keep your wits about you.

Enjoy your Rio adventure!

Zanna xx

September 27, 2016

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Guest Post: How To Spend A Healthy Day In Dublin

Inspired by the success of my Healthy Guide to London blog post, I am starting a series of guest posts where awesome people come onto my site and share their insider tips, tricks and recommendations for where to eat, train and explore in their city! Today we have the awesome Squatting Gym Bunny talking about Dublin!

Breakfast

First things first, a good breakfast is key for the busy day ahead! My top 3 spots are Urban Health for protein pancakes, Yogism with its’ yogasmic frozen yogurt, protein pancakes & a variety of other options, and Eathos where you can gorge on pancakes (surprise surprise!), chia puddings and acai bowls.

Explore

Exploring Dublin is the ideal chance to get in some cardio as with a small city centre it is easy to get around on foot! If you feel like unleashing your inner Bradley Wiggins then Dublin Bikes have 3 day passes available so it is as simple as grabbing a bicycle from one of the many pick up locations across the city!

Picnic in the Park

As lunch time approaches there are a variety of great options to eat ranging from healthy salads (Sprout & Co, Chopped, Cocu Kitchen, Counter Culture) to BBQ/Burger places for the committed carnivore (Pitt Bros, Bunsen, Aussie BBQ). If you want something green, whilst in Ireland, then there are a range of great spots (including Sprout & Co & Green Beards Juicery).

There is nothing better than enjoying a picnic in a park, I recommend St Stephen’s Green located smack bang in the city centre for some al fresco dining! Make sure to have an umbrella to hand, with the unpredictability of the Irish weather I like to always pack one together with sunglasses, a scarf and a hat – be like a boy scout always be prepared!

Cool Down

If you visit on a rare sunny day in the capital then a stop to Murphy’s Ice-Cream is an absolute must, with flavours including brown bread, sea salt and Irish Coffee your taste buds will get a serious work out if nothing else!

See the City from the Sky

If you really want to get to see the city then why not see it from the skies with a visit to the home of our national sport the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) at Croke Park. The tour of the stadium includes a skyline walk of the stadium roof with a full panoramic view of the city. You also get to try your hand, and foot, at hurling (think baseball meets rugby) and gaelic football!

Get Sweaty

There are gyms which have “pay as you go” or drop in rates (including FlyeFit in various locations, RAW, Westwood) they also offer classes so check out the timetables in advance. If unleashing your inner yogi and perfecting your downward facing dog is more your thing then the Sweaty Soul Studio located in the city centre offers a selection of classes and to add to its appeal the delectable Foodie Café is downstairs for some post soul sweating fuel! Or why not unleash your inner gymnast or acrobat with a trip to Jump Zone where you can try out trampolines, dodge ball and a foam zone!

Splash About

If you are more of a mermaid/merman at heart then hit SurfDock Watersports in the city’s docklands to try your hand or paddle at a range of water sports. If you have stronger sea fairing legs then you can take to the open seas with kitesurfing lessons at Bull Island in Clontarf! No visit to Clontarf would be complete without a trip to my favourite shop – Bodyfirst Nutrition – a supplements store that is a treasure trove of protein treats and macro friendly snacks to get some pep back in your step after your activities!

Cliff Walk

A 30 minute commute by train to Bray is definitely worth the journey. The Bray to Greystones cliff walk is the perfect way to blow off the cobwebs after the hustle and bustle of the city. The hour and a half long walk flies by with breath taking views before you reach the picturesque seaside town of Greystones. The vegetarian mecca that is The Happy Pear is a must for some post walk sustenance with eye wateringly good treats including healthy “twix” bars and superfood tiffin!

Night Owl

After your day enjoying Dublin then you can unwind with a pint of the black stuff, which does contain antioxidants and a healthy dose of iron! One thing Dublin doesn’t lack is an array of pubs to entice you in if you want to indulge in a few beverages you can always unleash your inner Irish dancer to burn off the excess calories!

If you want to follow Iseult Cody who wrote this article then you can find her on InstagramTwitter!

September 18, 2016

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10 Reasons To Visit Tinos, Greece

As a seasoned traveller, I have visited my fair share of Greek islands. Admittedly, I previously associated Greece with luxury hotels and pampering beach holidays. That is certainly one side of the tourist industry over there and a side I love to experience, but my recent visit to Tinos gave me a whole new perspective on Greece as a destination. It is full to the brim with authentic greek culture and you can immerse yourself in the local life, you just need to head to the right places and find the right people.

My friend Alice and I recently spend a long weekend on Tinos, a small Cycladic Greek Island. We quite literally fell in love with it more and more every day. It is a bit of a mission to get too, but the journey is well worth it I promise. We flew with Aegean Airlines and then hopped in a Taxi to the town of Rafina before we took a Hellenic Seaways/Seajets ferry to the Island itself. Once you get to the island you are thrown head first into the Greek way of life. Here are my top ten reasons why you should visit Tinos and my recommendations for making the most of your time there:

The Villages

Tinos is renowned for its unique village culture. On this small island there are 48 active villages scattered across the rolling hills and mountains, each with their own individual features and treasures to be found. In the past, pirates invaded this island. As a result the locals created labyrinth-like streets to confuse them and interconnected rooftops so they could escape to their neighbours house easily. Today, this has left behind the most stunning close-knit villages with narrow corridor-like streets between the most picturesque white and blue houses.

The Scenery

The beautiful scenery of Tinos is unavoidable. The roads wind through the hills and mountains, which means even a drive to the local shop exposes you to beautiful views. Many of the hills are structured into step-likes layers for farming, which reminded me of the rice paddies in Vietnam. However, no two valleys are the same. One of my favourites is the valley surrounding Volax village. It is almost post-apocalyptic in nature. It is covered in gigantic round boulders, a geological phenomenon which the locals like to say is the result of the fighting titan Gods. As you explore the island be sure to look out for the beautiful churches and chapels which are scattered across the landscape. There are almost 1,000 and each is unique in its design and features.

The Beaches

The beaches of Tinos are quirky and full of character. Our favourite was Kolympithra beach which is located in a beautiful quiet cove on the island. At one end you can find the Tinos Surf Lessons centre which we tried out with the Trippy.Gr crew. This consists of a camper van converted into a bar and bizarre mushroom shaped umbrellas to relax under. They serve up delicious fresh greek salads and omelettes, and of course have a huge cocktail menu which is scrawled onto an old surf board. You can also arrange water sports here such as surfing and stand up paddle-boarding. It is a perfect spot for sunbathing while still enjoying a taste of the local culture.

The Traditional Hotels

We stayed at Crossroads Inn in the tiny village of Tripotamos. The hotel is very traditional and only has four rooms. Each room is a fully fledged traditional Greek house with its own kitchenette, balcony and living space. Not forgetting the gorgeous view of the valley below. You quite literally feel like a local, living in a quiet village up in the beautiful mountains. All the products in the rooms from the sponges through to the complimentary biscuits and cheese are locally sourced and made. You can even opt to have traditional Tinos breakfast prepared in your room which is absolutely divine and great way to sample the local food.

The Hospitality

The people of Tinos will quite literally fall over themselves to ensure you have a great time on the island. Alice and I were extremely thankful to meet the lovely Sofia from the Crossroads Inn who provided endless recommendations for our time on the Island. As a local she knew all the most authentic spots and she told us about some absolute hidden gems which we would have never known about otherwise. She even helped us get around and provided us with lifts in her car when we needed them. We also took an amazing walking tour with Valentina Gavrielatou (kxgvalia@gmail.com) who took us around the main town and gave us an insight into the local history which we would have otherwise missed out on. We ended up going for lunches and dinners with Valentina and by the end of the trip she had become a good friend of ours.

The Hiking

If you’re looking for an active escape, then Tinos is perfect for you. We went for an incredible hike with our guide Christos Printezis from Footpaths Tinos. He knows all the established routes across the island, as well as the hidden ones. He took us on a 3.5 hour hike through 4 beautiful villages (although he can do shorter ones if you’re less ambitious!). We explored Koumaros, a quiet village with a self-service restaurant – the ultimate sign of community trust. Falatados, a larger village with the most incredible art gallery I have ever been in (more on that later!). Volax, a quaint village inhabited by Mr Iosef who sells locally-grown herbs and spices. He claims these are magical as he picks them at the full moon (he was an interesting character!). Finally, we finished up at Agapi, the village of love, and had an incredible lunch overlooking the valley below. Along our hike we encountered jaw-dropping views and made friends with the local goats, sheep, horses and cows, which all roam free on the land.

The Food

You didn’t expect me to not mention the amazing Greek food did you?! Oh my lord. We tasted some incredible dishes. Tinos have their own cheese. Yep, their own cheese. And its damn delicious. One of our favourite lunches was at Itan ena Mikro Karavi in the main town, which featured this delicious cheese wrapped in courgette. Divine. The seafood is also extremely fresh, and I cant recommend the grilled octopus and squid from Tarsanas restaurant enough. We also ate at a variety of small local Tavernas in the villages. I believe that these are where the best food is found as the owners often rear their own meat, grow their own produce and create their own cheese – meaning that the food is the most natural and fresh around. The best and most authentic meal of our whole trip was from Agnadi restaurant in Ktikados village; a hidden gem only the locals know about. It is quite literally a family cooking in their kitchen and sharing their food with you. There are only a handful of chairs in the restaurant, and the food is comforting and wholesome. I can’t recommend it enough.

The Quirks

Tinos has lots of funny little quirks and stories which the locals will tell you. These include hundreds of beautiful “pigeon houses” which are scattered throughout the valleys – each unique in their design and structure. The villages are also full of local art and exhibitions, with an abundance of marble work and sculptures. Our favourite hidden gem was the Vidalis Art exhibition in Falatados village. It honestly blew Alice and I away. It was a treasure trove of incredible modern art tucked away inside a local mans house. We could have literally spent hours and hours in there looking at all of his masterpieces.

The Weather

Tinos is in the Med, so the weather is pretty damn good. I am talking in the 20’s and 30’s with bright sunshine from March through to October. Perfect for tanoholics. After discussion with the locals, I personally recommend coming to Tinos in the off-peak months of March/April/May and September/October. The heat is still present but there is minimal summer wind and the hills are lush with greenery. Plus it is less busy than the peak months of July and August which means you practically get the island to yourself. Also on a practical note, I do highly recommend getting a rental car to get around the island (we used Vidalis Car Rental).

The Island Life

Tinos is a tiny island. Everyone knows everyone. Crime is practically non-existent. The locals literally leave their cars parked with the doors unlocked and the key in the ignition for hours on end, as they know they are safe. You can’t help but feel comfortable in your surroundings. It is also worth mentioning how wonderfully quiet and undisturbed Tinos is. The tourist industry is present but not overpowering. You can quite literally walk through one of the island villages and not see a single soul. It feels untouched and untarnished.

All in all…

I hope that I have convinced you to visit the stunning island of Tinos. If there is one word to sum up this beautiful place, it is authentic. It is unapologetically authentic. It is the perfect location to disconnect from the chaos of modern life and be sucked into the laid-back greek lifestyle. If you want to experience traditional Greek hospitality, enjoy delicious locally-sourced food and explore an unspoiled area of the world, then Tinos is for you.

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. I want to say a huge thank you for Discover Greece for organising this incredible trip and enabling me to explore and experience a new culture.

September 13, 2016

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A Luxurious Weekend in Gstaad, Switzerland

After a crazy couple of weeks globe-trotting my body started going into meltdown. My throat was swelling up, I was losing my voice and I felt fatigued. The long days, late nights and dehydrating flights were getting the better of me. I was in desperate need of some downtime. Enter stage left, The Grand Bellevue Gstaad, Switzerland. The perfect luxurious and cosy surroundings to nurse me back to health. I’m all for roughing it, backpacking and going off the beaten track; but I also see great value in treating yourself to a pampering weekend away. We all need to be looked after every once in a while, and theres no better setting than the beautiful Swiss mountains.

Getting There

Firstly, let’s talk about getting to the hotel. I flew with Swiss Airlines (who give you free chocolate. Best. Airline. Ever.) and landed in Geneva, meeting my bestie Tally Rye at the airport before we caught a train to Montreux and then the GoldenPass to Gstaad. Let me tell you about the Goldenpass. It is legit. It’s the most gorgeous old fashioned train which winds through the mountains and allows you to take in the gorgeous scenery on your journey. Once you get to Gstaad, the Grand Bellevue team pick you up from the station. (Please note that the station has a cheese vending machine. Only in Switzerland hey!?). On request, they can collect you in their classic Bentley. Yep, a beautiful pristine classic Bentley. With a driver in a flat cap. The drive to the hotel is a mere 5 minutes but I soaked in every second as I doubt I will ever ride in such an amazing car again!

The Surroundings

Once you get to the hotel, the top class service continues. We were shown to our room which was an incredible suite which occupied one of the hotels turrets. It had a plush super king size bed, with the softest duvets I have ever snuggled in. Plus a waterfall shower, a gigantic sofa fit for a king and the most beautiful views of the valley. (Can I also add that the wi-fi is the fastest I have ever experienced?!).

The hotel itself is located pretty near to the centre of town and you can walk in to the high street in a couple of minutes. However, it somehow manages to remain quiet and peaceful. When I say the hotel has everything, I am not exaggerating. I’m talking a cinema, a nightclub, a spa with FIVE different types of sauna, an ice grotto, a hairdresser, a sushi bar, a yacht club, a huge gym, a ski centre, a michelin star restaurant, cosy fires, a whole menu dedicated to different types of hot chocolate.(The best kind of menu if you ask me!). They even have a mini chalet in the garden which specialises in melted cheese fondue. It is heaven. You want it? They’ve got it! I know it might sound daunting that a hotel has such extensive facilities. Personally, it concerned me that it may feel too big, clinical or unwelcoming, as I know huge hotels can be. However, the Grand Bellevue only has a handful of rooms. It is still small. It is still cosy and friendly. It just has an abundance of facilities.It’s the best of both worlds. It is basically bloody brilliant.

The best part? The service. The staff will literally do anything to make you feel more comfortable or at home. They took care of me extremely well when I fell poorly and brought me hot water with honey, lemon and ginger. My saviours. They were eager to help us explore the town and the surrounding area and talked us through maps, giving us lots of personal recommendations and tips. As well as the service, I also loved how the hotel had little touches which made it even more unique. For example, there is a gigantic stone camel called Leonard who you can climb up onto! There is also a house cat which wanders around and loves to be snuggled. Plus the owner of the hotel lives just down the road and often pops in for a chat with all the guests, which adds such a valuable personal touch.

Activities



If you aren’t aware, Switzerland is absolutely beautiful. It feels like you have stepped into a postcard and everywhere you look you are greeted with even more stunning views. Gstaad is close to a whole host of activities from a chocolate factory through to epic castles and museums. Tally and I wanted to truly relax during our time in Switzerland, so we decided to keep it local. During the daytimes we explored the local town which is packed with high end shops (I’m talking Prada, Cartier and Louis Vuitton) and top notch restaurants and delis. There is even a chocolatier which we spent far too much money in, and a health bar which serves up fresh juices and smoothies. We also popped on our hiking boots and headed up the nearest mountains, to take in the breath-taking views of the area. The hotel actually offers a CHEESE HIKE. Yes you read that correctly, a cheese hike. A hike. With cheese. You take a backpack full of cheese and melt it at fondue stations on the mountains. It doesn’t get much better than that. The Swiss know how to live.

During the evenings we relaxed at the hotel and took advantage of the insane spa facilities. We both had aromatherapy massages which were just divine, and exactly what our aching bodies needed. We followed this up with trying out every sauna the hotel offered as well as hopping in the jacuzzi and pool. Walking around the hotel grounds in our dressing gowns and slippers, we felt like total VIPs. Food-wise, we dined at the main hotel restaurant on the first night which served up food which was out of this world; topped off with impeccable service. We loved having an excuse to dress up and put on our favourite outfits. The second night we ordered from the sushi bar and had it delivered to our room so we could eat it in our dressing gowns like absolute ballers! 😉

All in all…

… Tally and I had the most incredible time at The Grand Bellevue. We have quite honestly never felt so pampered in our lives. It was exactly the kind of relaxing girly weekend we needed. The only problem was how short our stay was! We will definitely be coming back with our boyfriends, as the location is so romantic. We want to visit in winter when we can melt marshmallows on the open fires, sip hot chocolate and go skiing in the beautiful swiss snowy mountains. Plus we want to come back in spring so we can do a proper hiking trip and eat lots more cheese and chocolate (priorities!). Basically, we fell in love with the hotel, the town, the people, the food and Switzerland in general. We will definitely be back and bringing our squad with us!

If you’re tempted to go then check out The Grand Bellevue on their websiteinstagram and twitter.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, I am just obsessed with this hotel!

September 8, 2016

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