Stories of 2019 #62: Adriatic Explorer with TUI Marella Cruises

We discovered historic cities and picturesque ports along the Adriatic coast on Marella’s Discovery ship last week. I always knew I have had a long romance with Europe’s lesser known cities from four years ago when I went interrailing through Eastern Europe with my friend Eve and we got to see uncovered corners such as Krakow, Sophia and Bratislava. Europe in my eyes is simply beautiful and this cruise did not prove my point wrong.

The Discovery docked in Kotor, Montenegro with the tender boats bringing us too and from the boat

Before we left, none of us really knew what to expect from this cruise. Our family holidays have often consisted of waking up, going for breakfast, sunbathing, going for lunch, sunbathing, getting ready, dinner and then bed. You know, your usual relaxing week away. But seeing as we were visiting all these amazing countries we felt that we needed get off the boat and have a taste of each port. However, dubious as my dad is not too into the whole sight-seeing thing.

Adriatic Explorer itinerary;

  • Fly into Corfu from Luton
  • Day at sea
  • Koper, Slovenia
  • Venice, Italy
  • Split, Croatia
  • Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Kotor, Montenegro
  • Corfu, Greece and fly home to UK 😦

The nice thing we all agreed on about visiting these places on a cruise was we got the best of both worlds. We were able to get off for a few hours and walk the cobbled streets and sip on ice cold beers (or mainly Aperol in my case) in the main city squares. Then when the boys we dragged along with us got bored, we could get back on-board for a few hours of rest and relaxation on our sun beds before the ship departed for the next port of call.

Sipping the world’s best Aperol in Venice

Venice and Montenegro were the ports I was most excited for. Venice because it is Venice… and Montenegro because it has forever been on my bucket list and I have longed to visit the majestic fjords and quaint city of Kotor. But Croatia I had recognised as becoming more of tourist destination now as flights and access to the islands have become much easier and Slovenia I had been to before and was never blown away by the city of Ljubljana but I was going with an open mind with these places.

By the end of the cruise my highlights were of course, Montenegro. It is an utterly breathtaking place and I am so happy it lived up and exceeded my expectations completely. I was surprised by Croatia and I would 100% return to both Split and Dubrovnik and hopefully explore more of this idyllic haven. Both ports had a real buzzing atmosphere, packed with rich histories and both nights had fire-like sunsets – my absolute fave thing to see. And of course, Venice was beautiful but I must say it is only a place I would go to for a day, out of all the ports we visited, with the best part about visiting Venice being the incredible sail away party Marella cruises hosted as we sailed through the Grand Canal of Venice with prosecco cocktails and a live opera singer. Finally, Slovenia as I had expected was a sleepy town, with not too much to do. In hindsight we should have gone on one of the excursions that Marella cruises offer rather than wandering around aimlessly. And Corfu or I mean Corfu’s airport was, unfortunately, all we got to see.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Our home for the week was Marella’s Discovery boat. An 11 deck cruise liner with 918 cabins, seven restaurants, seven bars, a climbing wall, a spa, mini-golf and two swimming pools. We have stayed on TUI cruise liners before it was Marella, as well as other company cruises such as Royal Caribbean but I think this ship was the perfect size in order not to get lost everyday (you would be amazed how hard it is to get your bearings on a ship) and be able to be involved with all activities throughout the day.

Everyone on-board is also part of the all-inclusive package so all drinks and most food is included. We had the premier drinks package so we had more spirits, beers and cocktails included as well as the coffees from the Coffee Port station on-board. This is where you would find me more often than not if you lost me! Coffee bean is my nickname…

Unlimited expresso martinis – yes please!

Food is incredible on cruises… full stop. From buffet options to more formal three-course meals, you cannot fault the food on-board. I read one day in the Cruise News (delivered every night to your room) that the average cruiser puts on 1 to 2 pounds a day! A DAY! And that does not surprise me with the delicious food they plate up every hour, everyday of the week.

Also as a veggie I was worried that I would end up eating chips and salad all week but in the main restaurants (Islands, 47 Degrees and Gallery 47) they had the most amazing vegan/vegetarian options available. Inserting images for you (and me) to drool over… Especially the trio of tiramisu at Gallery 47.

It is not surprise the scales were up when I got home as I flick through these images but with the menu being different each day it is so nice to be able to try all these different dishes. I would never have Russian dumplings otherwise. And yes, that is a tower of Baileys, Amaretto and Cointreau…

It was also my birthday whilst we were on-board and seeing as it was a special occasion we booked into Kora La which is a restaurant were you have to pay a supplement. It is pan-Asian cuisine and the dishes are created by renowned chef – Ian Pengelley. The menu included crusted tofu, satay chicken and several curries accompanied by rice, naan and some veggies. We all thorough enjoyed this meal and all loosened our belts a few notches after. I had tofu to start and then a vegetable kashmiri before a big spoonful of the sweetest, most delicious birthday cake. Happy Birthday to me!

After dinner most nights we would find ourselves having a little flutter in the casino in Live bar before heading to deck 11 where we found, funnily enough, Bar Eleven and we would cut the shapes on the dance floor until the early hours of the morning. Around the clock there is always something going on on a cruise ship! From the morning stretch, to poolside catch-phrase, afternoon bingo and late night discos, I think you find it hard to be bored on-board.

Our cabin was on deck seven and also had a balcony. We have had outside cabins before with no balcony but only a little port hole and I must say, it makes such a difference having that extra little bit of space to sit outside. Also, coming in and out of these amazing ports it was so lovely being able to roll out of bed in your pjs onto the balcony and see the cities as they are waking up.

Early morning docking in Kotor, Montenegro

I loved every moment on this cruise with some very special memories of beautiful countries, breathtaking experiences and an untold amounts of funny memories.

More to come on the ports we visited.

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Stories of 2019 #59: The Best Place for Breakfast in Seville – Filo

Three out of the four days we were in Seville, we ate at Filo. And everyday we both ordered the same thing. It turns out we are not the only ones either mad for this cafe, on TripAdvisor several people had visited on multiply occasions during their short stays. If this does not tell you how good this little cafe is, then I do not know what will!

Both me and Jessamyn, as avocado lovers, have both had our fair share of avocado on toast but then we came across this gem who made it like no other and the future of avocado on toast for us had changed. I just feel like no other cafe/restaurant can now compare. It sounds like I am going a bit OTT here with my statements but I would happily visit Seville again, alone, for this avocado on toast. And if you are not an avo toast fan (aka, my mum) – you are missing out.

Where did I come across this cafe?

Instagram. Like everything I place I find to eat or drink, I have found it on Instagram using hashtags or the location tool. It is actually a pretty useful tool for finding nice cafes and especially vegan/veggie eateries or, you know, a good bar…

As I am into eating healthily, when I saw delicious bowls of greens, granola and bright coloured smoothies, I was sold. Filo became a must visit place in Seville for me. Digging a little deeper, I also found out that it had two cafes and one was literally just around the corner from our hostel and we visited this cafe on our first full day in Seville before getting the train to Cadíz, and then everyday since that first visit (lol).

This quaint cafe is on Calle Hernando Colón down the road from Seville’s town hall. Inside is an intimate eating space with lots of wooden benches and stools. White walls provide the background for the rustic furniture, hanging plants and quirky features. However, due to the cafes small size it can get busy pretty quickly but there are two tables outside and a standing area.



From sandwiches, to salads, to sweet treats, Filo provides Seville with tasty and healthy food from breakfast to dinner. And whilst the decor is simple, the food and drinks are vibrant and freshly made right in front of us! One thing we loved as we now know how to make these slices of avocado bliss.

You order from the till so grab a seat and a flick through the menu. Choose between the various breakfast combinations or if is later in the day, choose between the sandwiches or build your own salad. But be ready to be tempted by all the cakes on display as you wait in line to order. Or if you were fans like us, head straight to the bar and order two energy combinations which includes, dark rye toast, tomato, avocado and seeds alongside freshly squeezed orange juice and an expresso. All for €6.50!

Take a seat, relax and watch the cooks at work whilst you wait for your name to be called. I think on our third return, all we spoke about was how excited we were to eat our breakfast!

The service is quick and it is not long until you are ready to eat and enter a dream like avocado toast state. Even the freshly squeezed orange juice is yum. In Seville their chosen breakfast dish is called ‘tostada’ which is toasted bread topped with olive oil and grated tomato or for the meat eaters ham is added. However, Filo took the tostado up a notch with their choice to use dark rye and add avocado and lots of seeds. We tried a tostado at another cafe but without the avocado and it just did not compare to Filo.

So, if you are ever in Seville and you are amongst the avocado toast tribe be sure to visit Filo for breakfast, lunch and dinner… because you can honestly can!

Stories of 2019 #54: Vegan Sauce Recipes

For the past six months I have switched to a fully plant-based diet. Before, I was mainly vegetarian whilst still eating or drinking dairy produce and on the odd occasion eating some fish. I first decided to try a plant-based diet because of the nutritional benefits but then I began to sway towards the ethical side of a plant-based lifestyle, especially after reading the book, Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.

But what I have loved about following this type of diet is the cooking! I did cook before but I do feel like you have to be more prepared and more willing to cook from scratch. I have put together marinades, used a variety of spices and tried different veggies, fruits and vegan substitutes like tofu and tempeh that I have never tried before.

However, some things have not changed and for breakfast I still remain faithful to my delicious oats that I was having before (the same breakfast for about 5 years now lol) but now, if I have it with milk, I have it with a plant-based milk like almond or oat and then top with nut butter and more often than not, dark chocolate because why not! Recently I have also been making overnight oats which I am currently loving. I put my oats, truvia sweetener, raisins and chia seeds into a jar (which I have up-cycled) and cover it all with almond milk and leave it all overnight in the fridge. Then, in the morning either eat it from the jar or pour into a bowl and pair with coconut yoghurt and banana for breakfast.

Lunch and dinner is a very similar set-up. I have some sort of protein, whether that be tofu, tempeh, lentils, pulses or vegan chicken pieces. Alongside this, I will have a carb which most nights is noodles (soba or udon) because I am literally oodles for noodles. Alternatively, I will have some cous cous or rye bread. I am not really a person to have much pasta or rice unless I really fancy it. I did today, however, have quinoa for a change! Another option if I am at work, at my mums bakery, I will usually have a granary bread sandwich as the bread is vegan and sent in fresh, daily, and it would be rude not to test to products. For the safety of our customers of course… Then alongside these two food groups, I will have a ton of veggies. The usual suspects are courgette, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms and red onion and then, if I am fancying being a bit out there with my veg selection, I may have the odd avocado, sweetcorn, new potato or edamame bean.

Sauce/marinade wise I normally make my own also in preference to buying a jar. I have four favourite, go-to recipes…

Tarami sauce, garlic clove, sesame seed oil, maple syrup, smoked paprika and ginger.

Coconut milk, peanut butter, tamari and curry powder – more thick, creamy and tastes indulgent.

Coriander, pea, spinach and almond milk (add water if a little too thick).

Chickpeas or butterbeans, tahini, garlic granules and some water (hummus).

I usually put these all in my nutri-bullet and blitz it up baby!

Keep scrolling for some plate-spiration, nicely put together with flowers, plants or my legs :).

This post is a bit of a ramble but I wanted to show you how delicious and easy plant-based foods can be to put together. I do have other foods, less often, which are more processed such as vegan croissants, chocolate, vegan yoghurts and pastry but I much prefer to cook using whole foods and delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables.

What is your favourite plant-based dish?

More recipes coming soon…

Stories of 2019 #53: March Photo Diary

The sun has come out to play and generally, everyone is feeling happier. I started the week with a wobble but today (I am writing this on Thursday), I am a happy Inds. I am sat in my room with the window open, where I can hear the birds tweeting and see the sun shining a beautiful light into my room. I have to say this is my favourite time of year. You are done with the cold weather and you can feel it going up few degrees! You get excited for the possibilities of what this summer could bring and find yourself reminiscing on previous BBQ’s and pub garden afternoons with friends, ice-creams by the sea and horrendous burn lines (not tan lines lol). I hope you have been able to enjoy being outside in the sun. Luckily for me, I do not drive so I am forced to get out and walk around in the sunshine with, most likely, a podcast playing in my ears.

In photos (HUJI style, of course) my week has looked like this… True stunner in that first one lol. Probably was I look like 99% of the time… hair-up, headphones on, lazy eye out and about, gym clothes, no make-up – true India style.

Happy Friday everyone! Have a great weekend.

Stories of 2019 #45: Pancake Day in Hitchin

Wasn’t pancake day good! I mean, I and my mum did not even bother to attempt to make them, we chose the sensible choice and decided to head out for elevenses pancakes. We are not just pretty faces, we knew somewhere else would make them better than we ever could!

Already in the area, we went to my absolute favourite cafe – Chia Naturally Healthy. A cozy plant-based health cafe in the center of Hitchin. So aka, we had healthy pancakes…

Every time I have visited this cafe I have had the most delish food so it is no wonder they have been voted top three of The Sunday Times best plant-based cafes.

For pancake day they were also offering not only 10% off pancakes but also had two exclusive flavour toppings. Pancakes on offer were…

Coconut sugar and lemon

Banana, pecan and maple syrup

Cinnamon and blueberries

Thankfully the words, “shall we get two different and share” come out of my mum’s mouth and I was at the counter ordering one maple and pecan, one blueberry and cinnamon. Coconut sugar and lemon sounded lovely too but I mean if I am going for pancakes, I want all the toppings! We also had an English breakfast tea with oat milk and a matcha latte with coconut milk.

My excitement was building when they arrived and we tucked straight into the three-stack, heavily (thank god) topped pancakes. I was in almond butter heaven and we were switching forks trying to decide which ones we preferred. Both equally as good I reckon and thinking to myself what a great idea this was whilst trying to savour every last bite.

Eyes bigger than my belly, I also ordered a slice of their ginger cake to-go… I mean by the time I am writing this blog post (2:30pm) I have had a sneaky spoonful and I mean it is safe to say the cake will not be there for long!

Once again, Chia Naturally Healthy has wowed my tastebuds and I am itching to go back already!

Not only do they do pancakes but they do a whole range of tasty, wholesome food from burgers to smoothie bowls, to beetroot lattes to protein smoothies.

I am beyond happy that this gem is in Hertfordshire and I highly recommend a visit if you are nearby, even if you are not plant-based.

What did you top your pancakes with?

Stories of 2019 #44: Monday Rituals

Monday. Another week has passed and a new one has begun, all set for new goals!

I have started my Monday with fresh bed sheets, a good gym session, and a complete clean-out. Very productive morning I think, for now sitting down at 1pm to write this blog post.

Personally, Monday is my favourite day of the week. I love the weekend but more often than not I find myself on a Sunday night feeling rubbish (normally about what I have eaten) and slightly bored. Followed up by an early night, Monday comes around and you are full of energy – ready to take on the fresh week.

Maybe because I do not currently have a full-time job is the reason why I love a Monday because I do not get the dreaded back to work feeling but even within a full-time job there are ways to improve your Monday.

My Monday rituals;

Change my bed sheets – This little thing can leave you looking forward to getting home and snuggling down surrounded by sweet smelling sheets! A pain at the time, who knew it was such a work-out to fight your duvet into its cover. Nevertheless, I am excited already now I’ve tackled the actual chore of changing the sheets.

Make a yummy breakfast – Pretty much every day, including Saturday and Sunday, I have 40g porridge oats, 10g vegan protein powder, banana, and 10g peanut butter. I am literally obsessed and as sad as it sounds, look forward to breakfast every night before I go to bed…

Write my aims for the week – Just a few things that you would like the week to achieve. Whether that is sticking to healthier meals, go to the gym, see a family member or take time for yourself – write it down and make it happen. This week for me my aims are to apply for jobs (as per) and get back to my blogging.

And be sure, not to forget the previous week. Last week was pretty busy for me with lots of shifts at work and gym sessions in the evening, for the more mundane aspects. But, I also became obsessed with coconut lattes, celebrated my mums birthday, cooked an amazing pie, saw various family members, ate baklava whilst sitting in the gym carpark (all about balance right) and had a lovely hour-long phone call with my bestie. I am so grateful for all the experiences, even if they were not big, life-changing things. They made me happy.

The week ahead is full of more plans with Shrove Tuesday being tomorrow, I and my mum are planning to go out for a coffee. I am on dog duty on Wednesday, Thursday I am meeting up with my cousin and her little one, Friday I am a double shift at the bakery and pub and Saturday I am off out on the town to celebrate my mum’s birthday! And who knows what else will be in between!

So, love Mondays and be excited for what life is bringing you this week.

Do you love Mondays? Or, am I the only strange one?!

Stories of 2019 #26: Week in Workouts 1

For those needing a new workout or fancy shaking their gym routine up a little bit here is what I did in workouts this week…

P.S. some of these are an absolute KILLER!

Monday (cardio – do this workout with a partner and whilst they are running, you do the other exercise until they are finished)

400 meter run x mountain climbers / 400 meter run x burpees / 400 meter run x wall balls (I did 6kg) / 400 meter run x leg raises / 400 meter run x russion twists (I used an 8kg kettlebell)

1 minute plank x 10 push ups – repeat 3 times

Tuesday (Iron class, focusing on heavy weights)

Barbell chest press on floor 5 x 10 / body weight rows 5 x 12 (super set so do one after the other with no pause)

Kettle bell push press 3 x 8 per arm / kettle bell single-arm row 3 x 8 per arm (super set this again)

Plated push ups 3 x 10 (weighted plate on your back)

Wednesday (Rest day. Woooo!)

Thursday (Cardio class again. This one was especially hard so good luck ha ha. I struggled!)

400 meter run / 50 (yes, I repeat 50) jump squats – have 8 minutes to complete twice

400 meter run / 15 burpees / 300 meter row – have 10 minutes to complete twice

800 meter run / 10 pull-ups – have 12 minutes to complete twice

Friday (Weighted, Olympic lifting session)

Floor to overhead press with barbell 5 x 5

Hanging clean and press 4 x 4

EMOM (each minute, on the minute)… minute 1: 10 kettlebell swings on left arm / minute 2: 10 kettle bell catches on left / minute 3: kettle bell swings on right arm / minute 4: 10 kettle bell snatches on right / minute 5: rest / REPEAT TWICE

Saturday (My fav – squat Saturday)

Wall balls (6kg ball) 3 x 15 / back squats (I went up to 95kg, my personal best) increase weight as descrease reps for 10,10,3,3,3 / barbell hip thrusters 3 x 10 / leg extensions 3 x 12 / leg press 3 x 20 (10 wide, 10 narrow)

Sunday… I was going to go but a late night at work meant I did not make the class. But, oh well, I am off to the airport so no time now to try and get my bikini bod!