Today’s mini travel guide takes us to San Sebastian. I have a piece specifically just about the amazing food locations here but here’s some key highlights to introduce you to this beautiful city.
Monte Urgell, after a gentle climb you are rewarded with an old fortress and beautiful views across La Concha Beach.
If you take the coastal path from Hotel Maria Cristina towards the harbor and La Conch beach there are beautiful views of the fishing boats, the historic buildings and Santa Clara Island. A great panaromic photo opportunity.
Check out the success and life story of a famous seamstress, at the Balenciaga museumn just a short drive from the city centre.
If you have time I’d book in for a surfing lesson at Zurriola Beach. Such a great way to fit in something active in a great spot for it. You can also earn yourself some more pinxtos!
Something to drink..
Txakoil, a light sparkling wine is a must here. Even just to witness the impressive way it is traditionally served. They pour it from the bottle at height to release its flavours as it splashes into the glass. It’s worth a try too!
Something to eat..
The food here is simply incredible. There are so many places to try. We booked on to an incredible walking food tour – more on this coming soon!
The charming old city center, Parte Vieja is famous for having the highest concentration of bars in the world!
Kathmandu is a chaotic, noisy and busy city not too dissimilar to other Asian capitals, but also quite perfectly unique. It is often described as the gateway to the Himilaya region, a climber’s entry point to the extreme adventures that lay ahead. As we made our way across town feeling overwhelmed (and grateful for free airport pick up) we were instantly reassured by the welcoming and friendly Nepalese culture.
The capital doesn’t necessarily give you that feeling that you’re in a popular tourist destination. The Nepalese people use it to ‘live’, a hub for trade and business, as well as staging beautiful religious temples and stupas for them.
The main tourist area is Thamel. We stayed 10 minutes away from here so it seemed a good place to head to first, empty stomachs leading the way. Thamel is packed with hiking stores, gift shops, cafes and restaurants. It’s a great area to walk around even though the pavements aren’t very clearly defined! It’s enjoyable to watch the chaos from a rooftop bar. It was here that we tried ‘Momo‘, which is described as a vegetable curry-filled dumpling, a fusion of Indian and Chinese culture. The paneer options were also fantastic. We also got very excited when we noticed there is a local beer named Everest. Cheers to that!
After lunch we made our way to Swayambhunath – The Monkey Temple. An ancient, religious stupa on top of a hill that provides the best views of the capital, with a gorgeous mountain backdrop. It’s worth the hike and if you’ve flown over for the Base Camp trek, like us, you will probably feel obliged to. We’re supposed to be walking 130km so we better not give up now! There are sellers along the steps heading upwards, and guides which we avoided. I think the best value for money in this region would be to use an organised tour company if you wanted to find out more about the architecture. The stupa that presents itself as you reach the top is breathtaking and unique! It is here that we learned to walk ourselves clockwise, and spin the prayer wheels for the first time. A traditional part of the Nepalese culture.
For dinner we tried a recommended vegetarian restaurant called Places in Central Thamel. I’d highly recommend the butter paneer curry washed down with a Gorkha beer, (actually the more popular beer brand!) Seated on floor cushions we really enjoyed the informal setting. Afterwards we ventured to Purple Haze Rock bar for a quick night cap. A girl on the plane had recommended it to us and was a returning visitor to Nepal. The place was buzzing and live music played all evening. We were even approached by a group of Aussies who had scouted the area for a week and had not seen a busier bar so we were grateful for the tip! Deciding it was probably our last evening drinking for a little while we carried on into the evening! Oops..
The next morning we took a tour to two different tourist sights. The first was Pashupatinath Temple, a renowned Hindu Temple and a UNESCO Heritage site, and the second a Buddhist stupa, the largest in the country, Bodnath Stupa. With a tour guide it’s great to learn about the two religious cultures and traditions of the Nepalis. There are the infamous Hindu holy men that spend most of their lives by the Bagmati river and incredible architecture to be admired by the Temple. And the sheer size of the stupa is an experience in itself. Walking clockwise around the stupa you will find a monastery where you can watch the Buddhist monks perform religious ceremonies. The decor inside is beautiful and unique. It is worth leaving 4-5 hours to admire both of these religious sites. There are some perfectly located rooftop restaurants surrounding the stupa for lunch also.
For dinner that night we visited a traditional Nepalese restaurant, provided by our tour company. It offered a great opportunity to meet other mountain trekkers even though it wasn’t our favourite place. Nepalese Thali is a traditional mix of curry, rice, momo and vegetables which is worth finding while you’re in Kathmandu. If you’re spending your time in Nepal on a tour I’d highly recommend the dinner anyway as we spent most of the evening asking tonnes of questions to the group that had just made their way back from Everest!! The stories, although some quite scary were incredible, and a joy to listen to! And told with huge smiles makes it all seem worth it.
After an early night we embarked on our flight to Lukla airport. The scariest airport in the world. Footage coming in the next blog so keep an eye out. I’ll also be posting a photo gallery for Kathmandu!
Packing for Nepal is not an easy task. I started months in advance and was determined to be as cost efficient as possible. I borrowed some pieces from my auntie, trawled through summer sales and took advantage of having Amazon Prime.
After camping for 14 days and trekking across completely different terrain there are a few items I really couldn’t have enjoyed the trip without.
⁃ Merino wool layers – I’m so impressed with how well suited merino wool is for hiking. It wicks away sweat to keep you warm and the more layers the better as Everest base camp approaches!
⁃ Trekking trousers – the ones with the ability to un-zip into shorts! It can be surprisingly warm at times, especially once you reach mid-morning so it’s great to quickly change them into shorts. Within the team they were quite an enviable part of my wardrobe.
⁃ Buff Neck Warmer – the dust is quite intolerable at times, and it’s important to try to avoid the infamous ‘Khumba cough’. If I could do it again I’d buy a patterned one as I noticed lots along the way that were much nicer than my plain one!
⁃ Hats – there seemed to be a constant need for different hats. Whether it’s hot, whether it’s cold or whether you just want to cover up unwashed hair. Bring a few for all weather conditions! I bought a cheap baseball cap at the Thamel market in Kathmandu.
⁃ Sunglasses – the sun combined with the thing air calls for sunglasses! Think of skiing and keep sun lotion on to avoid sunburn!
⁃ Hand Sanitiser – the most useful item. A necessity in this region! There’s rarely any running water for washing.
⁃ Lip balm – my lips were very dry along the trip. And dare I say it so was my nose when we reached the colder parts. I’d probably take one with SPF and some Vaseline or tea tree products for that too!
⁃ Bpa free water bottle – our tour provider gave us boiled water each day and it’s essential the bottles are BPA free when you use the warmer water. I bought one out there but I’d argue if it was BPA free even though there was a label on it.
⁃ Battery pack – it gets very expensive to charge your phones in the remote regions. And they limit the usage to an hour. They didn’t always allow camera chargers either so it’s great to have extra battery packs!
And also some home comforts I really wish I brought with me..
Herbal Tea Bags – although plenty of coffee and tea on offer we wanted to avoid caffeine at high altitudes. A camomile tea would have been perfect!
Granola Energy Bars – as much as were so incredibly grateful for the chef’s cooking on our trek it would have been so nice to have a fruit and nut granola bar to replace the odd out-of-date date snickers bar in between meals!
Mini Face Cream – it’s fantastic to be make up free and give the skin a much needed break from city living. Vitamin D and no alcohol really gave my skin a glow but the high UV levels and dusty paths took their toll too. I really wanted to have a decent eye cream to hydrate!
I’ve handpicked some particular brands that I think would be ideal. I’ll have this with you all next week.
On 27th May 2017 I marked the end of my twenties and joined the ’30’ club. Instead of giving into society’s pressure I asked myself how I would like to remember this milestone and with that I decided to follow my dreams. I love being outdoors, I love a fitness challenge and I felt an urge to travel somewhere different, somewhere epic. That’s where the idea came from to travel to Nepal and trek to Everest Base Camp.
I didn’t know it at the time but I think I might have made the best decision of my life! I want to share with you my adventures and hopefully inspire you to visit this beautiful country.
To start with I want to share with you some photos. Enjoy, CityGirl
I have never felt so beautiful, sitting amongst the stunning scenery make up free and care free.
As much as I hate to admit it, I hadn’t used a shower for a week in this picture. I have never been so grateful for a fleeced headband. Look at these mountains and the blue skies. So beautiful.
These trekking shorts were the most useful item I purchased for this trip. Although not the most fashionable!
I remember using this greeting for the first time in Thailand and thinking this is a beautiful expression that truly represents this friendly and welcoming country – the land of smiles.
If we fast forward a few years, it is now a very recognisable word in western society, predominantly from its use in yoga classes. I was intrigued to learn more about its meaning and if it deserves the instagram ‘glory’ that it experiences today.
Namaste is usually spoken with a slight bow and hands pressed together. In Hinduism it means ‘I bow to the divine in you’
During a yoga class, Namaste is often exchanged both at the beginning and at the end of class. Usually, it is done at the end of class because the mind is less active and the energy in the room is more peaceful. The teacher initiates Namaste as a symbol of gratitude and respect toward her students and her own teachers and in return invites the students to connect with their lineage, thereby allowing the truth to flow—the truth that we are all one when we live from the heart.
In the urban dictionary it is described as ‘an ancient Sanskrit greeting still in everyday use in India and especially on the trail in the Nepal Himilaya’
I’ve always loved the energy it derives during a yoga class but along the Nepalese trail towards the mighty Everest, through the remote towns and villages it warmed my heart to say this word. It’s more than just a hello, a respectable and spiritual exchange between two people from completely different worlds.
Whatever it means to you, as a fellow yogi or traveller I hope it warms your heart like it had mine.
I was so incredibly inspired by the himilaya region, I can’t wait to share more stories with you. A dream come true.We had such a great time at Kathmandu Durbar Square, and UNESCO world heritage site that unfortunately had many buildings destroyed in the 2015 earthquake. With temple after temple to explore though you will not be disappointed.
A trip to Thailand was the first time I packed a backpack and before this I’d only ever visited Europe and America. I was giddy with excitement when I arrived in Bangkok and armed with my list of top things to do I set off to Khao San Road. If there is one defining moment that installed my desire to travel and see the world it was probably here. I was in love with the way Thai culture blended with that backpacker chill out scene, pure chaos yet so calm! I look back and think of how naive I was that this place was such an outrageous experience for me, especially after another 8 years of travelling the globe and hearing how Thailand has westernized since. I was met with so many different experiences all at once, the smell of rubbish and dirt on the streets, alongside street food sizzling on the woks close by, a bob marley playlist pumping from a bar coupled with the urgent demands of street sellers.It was reassuring how easy it is to adopt the backpacker lifestyle, whether you have come from a backpacking escapade across the globe, or like me a three week break from the city grind. In that moment you all have the same experience, the same agenda and that’s probably why the first sensible thing to do was to grab a Chang beer and a Pad Thai and simply get stuck in. I look back at lots of things I’ve experienced over my years, travel, fitness, challenges I’ve faced and I realise that everybody has their own unique experience that should be acknowledged, appreciated and admired by all. Every marathon runner has to start somewhere! I look back at this time in Thailand and remember how proud I was to achieve such an amazing experience and even though it might be considered almost tame to the travelling world these days, that doesn’t mean I’ll forget how incredibly rewarding it was at that time and what a special place it will keep in my heart.And with that I pass onto you a message from my yoga class yesterday.
‘Nobody is better than us, Nobody is worse than us. In fact nobody is equal to us because we are all unique’
Make yourself proud and love yourself always.Citygirl xx
I’m a full time explorer with a passion for adventure and photography. I love being outdoors and experiencing each country with a preference to get off the beaten track.
I also work full time in London and love to keep fit taking part in triathlons and usually spending weekends running and hiking across the UK. I have a passion to be my best self and I hope I can inject some wellbeing into your lifestyle and travel.
Expect regular blog posts, beautiful photography and mini travel guides to help you with your own adventures.