Friday, 30 May 2014

The Monro Liverpool - Lunch Menu Review

the monro liverpool review

The Monro has long been one of my favourite places in Liverpool to stop by for a drink. Be it the start of a night out, after an afternoon of shopping or a chill in the courtyard. I can’t believe how many times I’ve been here (or how many French martinis I’ve drank) and never actually eaten here.

The Monro is an award winning gastro pub with an ever changing menu of innovative dishes, made with the freshest locally sourced ingredients. Roaring fire places, cosy nooks, a courtyard in what used to be the old stables, this 3 floor listed Georgian building still houses some of the original features it was built with in 1746 – imagine the stories these walls could tell? With so many original features and only a hint of modernity, you could easily believe you’re back in it’s original time dining with the merchants family who would have once lived here.

You know me, I love my food, so when Mr.Man and I decided to treat ourselves to lunch out one weekend, I knew it was time to finally tickle those taste buds and devour…I mean, explore, The Monro's menu!
We chose to eat off the two course lunch menu, which comes in at just £12 per person. They offer a similar deal of an evening too for £14 per person.


monro liverpool lunch menu starter

monro liverpool lunch menu soup of the day

I chose the Parma ham served with quails eggs, sweet potato chips and a baby leaf salad. Mr.Man had the soup of the day, which I believe was a traditional tomato soup with fresh bread and butter.
Hands down, one of the best starters I’ve had in a long while. The quails eggs where cooked to perfection and the Parma ham was so fresh and thinly sliced, just the way I like it. I’m obsessed with sweet potato right now and the chips, though a touch over cooked, were delicious! It was all very light and set me up nicely for my main. Mr.Man said his soup was lovely, full of flavour and just the right amount. The soup was pretty thick too – my favourite kind of soup!


monro liverpool lunch menu fish and chips

We both chose the beer battered haddock with hand cut chips, minted pea puree and tartar sauce. Sometimes you’re just in the mood for good ol’ fish and chips! We’d seen this coming out on a few tables and it looked (and smelt!) amazing. The portion was huge too! The chips were a bit too stodgy and thick for me but the fish was wonderful. After cutting into the crispy batter the fish was so white and flakey, it fell apart at the slightest touch. No bones which was a bonus too! It tasted so fresh and with a dollop of tartar sauce, every mouthful was enjoyable. The minted pea puree was delicious too. I despise mushy peas but this was so thoroughly blended there wasn’t a pea chunk in sight! Very flavorsome and a great alternative to the tartar sauce.


monro liverpool dessert menu

Mr.Man was pretty full after his main but I couldn’t pass up on dessert so ordered myself a cheeky chocolate and hazelnut brownie with chocolate sauce and ice cream. Oh me oh my, it was a sugar addicts delight! The brownie was slightly warm and so moist! Slightly stiff on the outside but still soft and gooey in the middle, just as a brownie should be. I can’t really eat ice cream but I tried a little and it was lovely, Mr.Man tucked into most of that and thoroughly enjoyed it!

The place was pretty busy, it was a Saturday afternoon after all, but we had no problems getting a table and service was pretty swift. I’d love to go back and try their award winning traditional scouse and the classic Eton mess looks delicious! The food was certainly top quality and for that price, an absolute steal!

Have you ever dined at The Monro? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Neal & Wolf Ritual Daily Cleansing Shampoo & Conditioner Review

To say I’ve been in search of the perfect shampoo and conditioner would be an understatement. I very rarely buy the same shampoo twice – my hair seems to have developed a way of repelling shampoos after a couple of uses! I’m always having to switch up my routine. It might be a pain in the backside but it does mean I get to constantly try out new hair care products!

Insert Neal & Wolf. I’ve tried a few of their products in the past and they’ve always been lovely, especially the shine spray so when I had the chance to try out their Ritual Shampoo & Conditioner I jumped at it!

My hair at the minute is very long, way past the boob line and working its way towards my navel. It’s thick too, and in desperate need of a trim (attack of the dead ends!). It’s naturally pin straight but it does get a little frizzy after blow drying. It also gets greasy very quickly too.

I don’t wash my hair every day because we all know how bad that is for our hair, but I do wash it every other day, very rarely going more than 2 days between washes. Ritual by Neal & Wolf is designed to be a daily use shampoo and conditioner that aims to leave hair; cleansed, fresh, full of shine and ready for styling.

One thing I’ve always loved about Neal & Wolf products is the scent. They always smell very floral and fresh – which Ritual does ten fold. There’s something about floral scents that make hair smell so much cleaner, kind of like floral scented fabric softener…or is that just me? *tumbleweeds*

Starting with the Ritual shampoo, I massaged this into wet hair in two stages. First into my scalp, really working it into the roots, around my ears and right under the hair. Massaging the shampoo in, in circular motions encourages healthy hair growth and boosts circulation. Once upon a hair horror I thought vigorously scrubbing with my nails would ensure cleaner hair. It doesn’t. It hurts, you can cut yourself, damage hair at the follicle and cause flaky skin. Don’t try this at home kids! I then worked a second amount of shampoo into the lengths of my hair, rolling the hair in my palms and smoothing down the hair shaft.

After rinsing I worked a generous blob of Ritual conditioner through the length of my hair, combing through with my fingers then twisting the hair together and clamping it. I generally leave this for 5 – 10 minutes, going about my usual showering business, and then rinsing it off right before I cleanse my face.

I always give my hair a good towel dry before blow drying with the hair dryer. As I was drying my hair I could smell the floral scent of the shampoo, delicious! My hair felt very soft and light, which meant I had slightly more fly-aways than usual too, especially on the crown of my head.

After drying, my hair did look very shiny and healthy. The length of my hair was quite smooth and it even seemed to have sealed some of the split ends, giving a smooth appearance. Now, it does say it gets you’re hair ready for styling but there was no way I could do much with mine on the day of washing. My hair felt too clean and slippery. I did put a few heated rollers in which gave a nice natural curl but without half a can of hair spray they didn’t last long!

If you’re wearing your hair loose for a special occasion then I’d say Neal & Wold Ritual has got you covered. Coming in at £11.50 for 250ml it’s a nice treat but I couldn’t use it more than once a week. I much preferred the conditioner to the shampoo, RRP £12.50 for 200ml, but again, it made my hair just too soft for styling.

Have you tried anything by Neal & Wolf? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Monday, 26 May 2014

Lush Brightside Bubble Bar Review

lush brightside bubble bar

It feels like an age since I last wrote a Lush review, especially one that involved a bubble bar!

Truth be told, I got a ton of bubble bars at Christmas that I’ve been working my way through – but who wants to read a Christmas review in May? (If you do however, let me know in the comments below because I’d love to get a lil Christmassy over summer!). Then in March, the lovely ladies form Lush Liverpool gave out some huge chunks of their Brightside Bubble Bar at the North West Bloggers meet. Suffice to say, I’ve had a fair bit to keep my baths luscious of late!

Can’t you tell I’m building up to justify a little trip in Lush to stock up on goodies?

Right, let’s get on with this!

Bath time is a happy time – especially when you start crumbling a bright orange bubble bar under running water. I’m pretty sure it’s been scientifically proven that the colour orange actually fires off receptors in the brain that lifts your mood and makes you feel much happier!  

lush brightside bubble bar review

The bar itself is one massive chunk of bubbling goodness. So big, that I easily got 3 baths out of mine – using the whole thing in one go would be an epic fail! Just a third of this gave my bath more bubbles than it could handle and I had to drain a little water so it wouldn’t go spilling over the edge. Imagine having a bath so big it could take the whole bubble bar? Oh a girl can dream (or oogle such baths on Pinterest!).

 The Brightside bubble bar is made from Sicilian mandarin, bergamot and tangerine essential oils which smell amazing. I love fruity citrus scents and this filled the whole top level of the house! It smelt divine and instantly put a smile on my face. The combined essential oils are not only uplifting to the senses, but they cleanse and tone the skin too. Brightside also contains gardenia extract, something that for over 2000 years has been treating irritated skin, headaches, urinary tract infections and release tension.

lush brightside bubble bar review

Brightside turns your bath a really inviting orange colour too, and in an all white-bath the effect is pretty stunning! Even though it dyes the water, there was no residue left behind after draining the bath!

I’ve got to say, this has been one of my favorite bubble bars so far! The scent alone is a winner for me but after a long soak in the tub with one of these bubble bars my head feels clearer, I feel more focused and relaxed, in a much better mood and ready to take on the day!

Have you ever tried the Brightside bubble bar? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

5 Reasons to start Body Brushing ft E45 and Boots Botanics

body brushing tips

Body Brushing has been a part of my daily routine now for close to 10 years! 10 years! I don't think anything else have ever been a part of any routine for that long! I remember having this funny little palm shaped brush in a gift set I got one Christmas and having no idea what to do with it. Insert a random article in a random magazine that talked about something called 'body brushing'. Well, seen as though I had the tool to hand I thought I might as well give it a go - and I haven't looked back since!

What is body brushing? 

You know how you exfoliate your face? Or buy those exfoliating body washes to use in the shower? It's similar to that, only...drier. Using a stiff bristled brush, you brush from your feet upwards, in small circular motions, working towards the heart. This has a multitude of benefits for your skin and takes no more than 3 - 5 minutes to do your whole body. From the bottoms of your feet right up, stopping at your neck. Avoid the face - you won't like it and it'll do more harm than good!.

Why should I bother body brushing?

Here's 5 reasons why you should start body brushing today!

1. Removes dead skin cells. Are skin is constantly regenerating and shredding layers so that the happy new skin underneath can come through. These flakes of skin sit on the surface of the skin and can lead to clogged pores and spots. Body brushing helps to remove the dead skin as well as buffing away old skin that hasn't come loose yet (I know, it sounds gross but you won't see much of it unless you have very dry skin!) 

2. Boost circulation. Brushing in circular motions towards the heart improves blood flow to the surface of the skin which leaves skin looking radiant and healthy.

3. Prevents ingrown hairs. Because of the stiff bristles, as your brushing along your legs, bikini line, under arms etc, it will help to loosen up and bring to the surface ingrown hairs. By helping to remove the dead skin on the top layer of your skin, it's also preventing these skin flakes from clogging the follicles and reducing the chance of ingrown hairs.

4. Improves your (fake) tan. By removing all the dead skin, your fake tan is going to be applied to happy, healthy, fresh skin, reducing streaks and randomly obscure white patches. They always say exfoliate before using fake tan to make sure your skin is at it's smoothest and freshest - the tan always works better then! I tend to body brush before getting in the shower, then using an exfoliating wash to make my skin as fresh and smooth as possible!

5. Can reduce cellulite. It's not a given but, if you concentrate a little more on the areas affected by cellulite body brushing can improve it's appearance. Not only will it boost the circulation to these areas but it will help 'smooth' the fatty deposits causing the cellulite. It's not a given, heck, even I have cellulite, but it's definatly improved its apperance!

boots botanics body brush

What tools do I need?

I've always been a fan of the Sanctuary and Boots Botanics body brushes. U have quite small hands and the round brushes fit perfectly int my palm making the whole thing a heck of a lot easier! My hand doesn't hurt and I can work my way around my body in all kinds of wannabe yoga positions to reach all the nooks and crannies of my skin! For your back, you can get loofah like brushes on long handles. When choosing your brush just make sure you pick one with good strong bristles. It'll feel a little uncomfortable at first (and if you have dry skin or eczema you might want to avoid body brushing!) but it'll be worth it - just don't brush too hard. Your sking should not be read or irritated afterwards! 

boots botanics body brush

When should I body brush?

I do it daily. And always before jumping in the shower. Then, to lock in moisture I follow with a full body moisturizer. I'm a huge fan of E45, it's fresh, fragrance free, hypoallergenic and quickly absorbed into the skin leaving no grease or residue behind. no matter what other moisturisers I use, I come back t this old faithful time and time again!

Do you body brush? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Monday, 19 May 2014

Birchbox UK May 2014 Harpers Baazar

birchbox uk may 2014

Birchbox teamed up with Harpers Bazaar this month to bring us yet again, another outstanding box of goodies!

I love my Birchbox subscription, it’s one of the few beauty subscription boxes I’ve had were pretty much every sample sent out is used, not left rolling around a drawer. That being said I did consider canceling my subscription for a while as I’ve got so many (non-subscription) products I need to work my way through…but then Mays box dropped through the letter box and well, canceling went out the window!

We’re getting ready to shrug off those Winter layers and head outdoors. Summer is just around the corner and it’s time to get ready from top to toe! This months box sets out to get us ready for a big outdoors adventure this summer!

benefit they're real birchbox uk

Benefit They’re real mascara

Everybody loves a Benefit product in their beauty box, so this ticks a box for me. Jet-black formula that adds volume and length without clumping. Not a new one for me, I’ve had a couple of these in the past but I do really like it so it’ll get used up in no time!

soigne nail varnish birchbox uk

Soigné Nail varnish in Crème Au Beurre

Non-toxic polish that comes in a variety of classic shades. Have to say, I wasn’t expecting a varnish as the packaging was so luxe, I’ve never had a varnish come foam padded in a box before that’s for sure! The shade is a perfect nude with just a hint of shimmer.

aromatherapy associates birchbox uk

Aromatherapy Associates Revive Morning Bath & Shower Oil

An Invigorating blend of pink grapefruit, rosemary and juniper berry to soften the skin and uplift your mood. I won’t lie, I squeal a little every time I get something from Aromatherapy Associates, they’re one of my favourite brands I just wish they weren’t so expensive!

beauty protector shampoo conditioner birchbox uk

Beauty Protector Shampoo & Conditioner

Sulfate free formula to strengthen, nourish and protect strands. It’s also vegan friendly, enhances volume, adds shine, seals cuticles and has UV protection. The list goes on! I love how they sent both the shampoo and conditioner so you get a great idea of how they work together.

liz earle hot cloth cleanser birchbox uk

Liz Earle beauty Co. Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser

After winning its 100th award, Liz Earle has been all over beauty social media of late. I’ve been wanting to try this for an age and they did send a 30ml sample and a muslin cloth so I’ll get a really good go if it! Super excited!

Easily the best collaboration box Birchbox have done since I started my subscription with them and, dare I say it, the best box yet? I fee like I say that for most of the boxes but they all seem so tailored to me personally and the types of products I like to try out an use!

What did you get in your Birchbox this month? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

saloca in wonderland
Want to give Birchbox UK a try? Sign up here!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Glass Nail File Vs Emery Boards ft Leighton Denny and Stylfile

Is it better to use a glass nail file or an emery board?

We all want to get that salon finish at home when we give ourselves a manicure but what tools do the best job? When it comes to my nails, I find the most important tool in my manicure kit is the nail file. What’s the point in pushing back cuticles and wafting freshly painted nails about as if we’re doing a wobbly YMCA routine if, after all that effort; our nails are rough around the edge and cause our perfect polish to chip away?

A good nail filing job makes even polish-free nails look tidy and professional. So, what’s the best nail file for the job? 

The most common files to choose from are glass and emery. 

Glass Nail File

·        Glass nail files never wear down or need replacing – one can last you a lifetime!
·        Gentler on the nail, reducing the risk of chipped and split nails!
·        Much easier to clean and therefore more hygienic.

·        Glass nail files are extremely fragile!
·        Not very handbag friendly unless kept inside a strong, durable case!
·        Much more expensive than an emery board.

Emery Board

·        Extremely cheap to buy!
·        Durable – you can toss one in your bag and not worry about it being damaged!
·        Ideal on thick, strong nails.

·        Wear down after a short while so need replacing frequently.
·        Very coarse so they can actually split the keratin layers on your nails, thus causing your nails to split and chip. In the long run, your nails can become very brittle and weak too.
·        Can’t be cleaned so you run the risk of spreading fungal nail infections (note: if you have a fungal nail infection, don’t file your nails!)

I used an emery board for years! When you can pick a pack of 20 small boards up for less than a £1 you making a pretty budget friendly beauty buy. However, over time, my nails became very weak and brittle, more so over this past year. It got to the point where I didn’t see the point in even painting my nails because the nails where literally peeling away from themselves the split were so bad – it was a waste of polish and time! I tried every Sally Hanson product going, and though that helped make my nails stronger, they were still splitting at the ends! 

Mr.Man had bought his mum a fancy Leighton Denny glass nail file set for Christmas and she couldn’t stop gushing about how healthy and strong her nails had been since using the glass file. Knowing the problems I was having, he went and ordered me one as a treat to see if it would help any. Long story short, it did!
Glass nail files are etched very finely so they shape your nails (all be it slower than an emery board) gentler, which in turn, stops the layers of your nails from splitting. When I slip with the nail file, it doesn’t damage the top of my nails either (I’m a little…clumsy, shall we say?). 

The only downside to glass nail files; I hate leaving the house with it! I know how fragile they are and one drop on the pavement would finish my file off for sure (hell, my phone just about survives leaving the house with me!) My file is in a little case but still, I don’t trust myself! 

Emery boards are great for a quick fix and I always keep a Styl File mini emergency file in my bag. I know it’s not going to break in there and it’ll sort my nails out until I can get home and get the glass file on them! Emery boards definatly have their place in the beauty world, but for me, it’s glass nail files all the way now!

What type of nail file do you prefer? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Monday, 12 May 2014

Oqibo Review - First Impressions


Happy. Remarkable. You.

That's their line, their mission statement, Oqibo's overall goal; to simply create a happy, remarkable YOU. How could I say no?

I want to be happy, remarkable and myself (because who wants to be all clone like?)

The lovely folks at Oqibo sent along pretty little packages with a few samples of their skincare line to the Northwest Bloggers Meet back in March and I've finally gotten around to checking them out. As they're only samples I can't really give a full on, down to the nitty gritty review but, what I can give you is my first impressions of the products - so let's go!

Purifying Cleanser & Toner

I'm all for multifunctional products, especially when you hit the snooze button one too many times and have less than 5 minutes to get out the door and grab the bus! First thing I noticed about this was its peppermint scent. I love peppermint-scented products because you always get that tingly feeling afterwards, which leaves your skin feeling as though it's been blasted with a cold air gun - we all love that feeling, right?

Toner hasn't always been my best friend and I pick and choose what and when I use one, but being combined in the cleanser I figured it wouldn't be too harsh. As fresh and clean as my skin felt after using the cleanser, it did go a little dry around my temples and chin, which gave me the perfect excuse to try the next product...

Intense Moisture Defence

I have oily skin so I avoid heavy-duty moisturisers like the plague, so when I popped some into the palm of my hand I was having a few second thoughts. This cream is very thick. However, as bloggers do, we take one for the team so you do not have to...and on my face, it went. First surprise; my skin absorbed the moisturizer quickly and easily, leaving behind no residue. Second surprise; my skin was not only matte after application, but after a 12 hour shift...STILL matte. I didn't use my blotting papers once all day. Hands down, I haven't been this impressed with a moisturiser for a long long time. I'm hoping it wasn't just a one-shot sample fluke, I feel like I really need to give it another go and find out.

Skin Refining Exfoliator

Since getting the Clarisonic, I haven't been using exfoliators as much as I normally would have so it was a nice change to my routine. First thing I noticed was the exfoliating beads themselves, they're very sand like and harsh, so I was expecting the whole thing to be super harsh on my skin. Massaging it into damp skin, it didn't feel as rough as I expected and after rinsing my skin, my face felt really smooth and surprisingly moisturised! What really surprised me was Oqibo say this product is another multifunctional product of theirs and it can be used as a facemask too. It's packed to the brim with skin loving nutrients and just wearing it as a mask for 5 minutes delivers a skin-loving boost of goodness to your skin - perfect to do just before bed!

Hydra Restore Cream

Oqibo say that in just two weeks of daily use, the hydra resort cream will leave your skin looking and feeling brand new. It's a shame I couldn't get two weeks out of this but I did get two nights. I decided to use it as a night cream as I've been super tired lately and my skin hasn't been waking up its best. After using this one my skin did feel really soft and smooth but I can't comment on it looking too different, maybe I'm just tired beyond repair? I'd love to trial it a little longer and see if there's a difference. It's a lightweight formula, so it might work better as a day cream compared to the Intense moisture Defence (Which, the little card says, does double up as a night cream!)

As first impressions go, Oqibo impressed me beyond measure, especially their Intense Moisture Defence, I'd say that was easily my favourite of the bunch and I would love to get my hands on a little more of it and give it a thorough test run. Usually, products aimed at all skin types don't usually work so well with me and I tend to buy specifically for my skin type. But, Oqibo do aim their products at all skin types and I'm glad I didn't let that put me off!

I know I usually review full sized products, but what do you guys think of first impression reviews based on samples? Let me know in the comments below!

Have you ever tried Oqibo?

Until next time,

saloca in wonderland


Friday, 9 May 2014

Barcelona Haul 2014

I couldn't go to Barcelona and not go in a shop or three. From high street brands to high end designers and boutique little shops down odd little alley ways, it was a shoppers paradise! I'd actually only gone with one store and one purchase in mind but more on that later! I didn't buy a whole lot as we had traveled hand luggage only so very restricted on what we could bring home!

Dress #1

Picked this up in some very random boutique down a side street. Not my usual skater dress but very summery! The material is so thin and flows beautifully, perfect for those hot summer holidays. I usually steer clear of V necks but this one has an elasticated back and straps which pulls everything up and in! I did feel a little more conscious than usual but popped a lightweight scarf on that made me feel a little less self conscious!

Dress #2

Back to my trusty skater dress style, the random boutique shop I found this in had some amazing fabrics but they where all really autumn/winter in colour. My wardrobe is looking a little too dark so I wanted something light and fresh! The skirt of this dress is huge and floats like something off a Disney movie! I'm a sucker for anything with a bird print on it too!

light summer scarves


All are very thin, super light weight fabrics, perfect for Spring/Summer. As sunny as Barcelona was there was still a slightly chilly breeze so these were perfect! The one on the left is from Mango that I picked up in a sale they were having. The other two came from random boutique shops for just 10euro each. Mr.Man picked all 3 scarves, I'm sure he fancies himself a bit of a Gok Wan!

mango ladies sunglasses


Probably the best purchase of the trip, I wasn't expecting much sun so didn't bother packing any but it was shining down all day every day and blinding me! Picked these up in Mango in a sale for just 15euro! They never left my face the whole trip! These should see me nicely through Summer!

Beauty Buys

I was so excited to get myself in a Sephora - and we found three in Barcelona but not one of them stocked Tarte! I got chatting with a guy in one Sephora and he said some brands are exclusive to certain Sephoras and he believed Tarte was only available in the USA stores! I was so annoyed, I was all hyped up for my first ever Tarte purchase but nope, it wasn't going to happen! To make myself feel better (and get a little black and white stripey bag) I picked up Glam Glow and a brush head for my Clarisonic. I also picked up some limited edition foaming shower gel in Rituals (which was too big to bring home :( ) and a gentle eye make up remover by Rituals too!

I didn't go to Barcelona to shop but I couldn't leave empty handed!

What are your must-buys when you travel abroad? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

saloca in wonderland


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Barcelona Trip Report: Day 4

Catch up on days 1, 2 & 3!

Day 4
chocolate danish in barcelona

Started out our final day in Barcelona by skipping breakfast in the hotel and popping into the patisserie next door! Had the most delicious chocolate pastry which set me up nicely for the day. hand on heart, I didn't eat all that healthy for the majority of the week but I was on holiday so decided treating myself was a must!

We headed back to the City Tour bus stop and hopped on the green line bus to check out the other side of the city. There was so much we wanted to do on our last day but we were both extremely tired from the previous days adventures and it was really starting to catch up on us!

april weather in barcelona

We rode the tour bus down towards the beach where he hopped off to have a wander. It was lovely and quiet down here, mostly just us, dog walkers and morning joggers about! We wandered along the promenade for a little while before coming to the next bus stop where we hopped back on the tour bus and went up to the Centre Comercial Glories. The outdoor shopping centre was lovely - I even found a Disney store (nowhere near as good as the one I used to work in!). We stopped for lunch in Norscafe, which is a chain over there. So cheap and delicious! After a quick bite and a wander around we hopped back on the bus and headed towards the Sagrada Familia. I'm pretty sure it's a given that if you go to Barcelona you have to head to the great Gaudi cathedral - but honestly, I wish we'd never got off the bus!

eating out in barcelona

We hopped off hoping for the best but the place was so busy. I've seen busy, I've seen Walt Disney World on days they've had to close the gates and refuse entry because the park is so busy you can't see the floor for all the feet - and the foot traffic around the Sagrada was worse that that! The queue to get back on the bus was twice as many as the bus could carry and the line to just buy a ticket to explore the cathedral was twice around the building and then some! Fail.

external sagrada familia barcelona

I really wanted to head up to Parc Guell but there was no way we could wait for a bus and to walk it was out of the question. So, we walked around 45 minutes, stopped for a mojito and found ourselves back in familiar territory where we boarded the bus heading back towards our hotel with a new plan. We really wanted to take the cable car up to Montjuic and thought we would have time...but traffic was not in our favour. Everywhere was rammed and the bus took forever and a day just to get near the hotel, past the hotel was at least another 30mins on the bus then however long the cable car would take.

Insert Plan C. Back to the hotel, pack our cases then head up to the rooftop bar and get a celebratory bottle of champagne, cured meats platter, take in the epic views in the sunshine away from the busy busy streets of Barcelona and just relax.

cava in barcelona

outdoor dining in barcelona

Day 4 was actually our 1 year anniversary so a little celebrating was in order! We spent a good while up on the roof chatting about everything we'd gotten up to over the past few days and talking about future trips and plans. Cured meats, olives, champagne and good times and a sunset, we couldn't have had a better send off!

Then...there was the great Trip Advisor fail. We picked out a restaurant that was a fair walk away but sounded something pretty special, so we prepared for one last hike across the city. But when we got there it was closed! No opening times or anything on the front, just shutters down and locks in place. Fail. We ended up at a little Italian place back near the hotel for a quick bite and an early night!

Our flight was super early the next morning, so there ended our Barcelona city break. We had the most amazing time and have both said we'd love to go back and check out the things we missed, as well as take in more of the night life around the city. We've got plans to venture across Europe but I know we'll be back in Barcelona some day!

Have you ever been to Barcelona? Enjoyed this trip report? Let me know in the comments down below!

Until next time,

saloca in wonderland

Monday, 5 May 2014

Barcelona Trip Report: Day 3!

If you missed it, you can check out Days 1 & 2 here!

Day 3
barcelona in april

Woke up bright and early, grabbed a quick breakfast in the hotel and headed out to jump aboard the City Tour bus. Thanks to the super awesome location of our hotel, we where situated right across the road from the 2nd stop on the route. The City Tour bus offered two routes, an orange and a green. We decided the best way to see as much of the city as possible was to do one route one day and another the next, so we picked the orange it was the first bus that turned up that day. Passes for the City Tour bus for 2 consecutive days are 10.20euros and you can hop on and off as much as you like - let the sightseeing begin!

olympic stadium barcelona april

Our first stop was the Olympic Park. In 1992, Barcelona played host to the Olympic games and the grounds are still in use today. I've never been inside a sports stadium before and was blown away by the sheer size of the place...and the silence. The whole area surrounding the park was so peaceful and tranquil, lots of gardens and meandering paths, it was lovely. The Olympic Park is up on a hill, giving you some amazing views of the city, it was surreal to be so near yet feel so distant from the hustle and bustle of the city, I couldn't get over how quiet the whole area was. Imagine end-of-the-world apocalypse silence!

barcelona trip report april

We took in the giant 'needle' too which was the focal point of the Olympic games. I imagine in it's hay day it was some sort of water feature but they've since turned it off. The whole area was filled with gardens and benches and we pretty much had the place to ourselves, I loved it! We picked up two seriously over priced cans of coke and took a walk through some gardens until we came to Museu Nacional D'Art Catalunya. Things where a little busier here but still quieter than the city streets!

waterfall barcelona april

We didn't venture into the museum but we did find some stairways and escalators that lead down, and down and the Font Magica Montuic! The Magic Fountain is a huge tourist attraction that we'd planned on heading to; we thought it was a lot further away than it turned out to be! Not only did we have a fantastic view of the Magic Fountain, but we could take it in without having to battle through the crowds congregating down there. And the views of the National Art Museum from here where breathtaking too, a huge fountain that flowed downwards into a thundering waterfall. Everything was so pretty!

After lots of picture taking we jumped back on the tour bus and headed to our next stop; Camp Nou. Now, I'm not exactly the biggest football fan in the world and Mr.Man, as much as he loves football, was happy to miss out Camp Nou as he's not a big Barcelona FC fan, but, after seeing how flabbergasted I was at the size of the Olympic Stadium, he wanted me to see what a really big stadium looked like.

nou camp tour barcelona april

Camp Nou, the home of Barcelona FC, was an absolute bargain to get in, only 23euros per adult. The tour is self guided, taking you through trophy rooms, changing rooms, press boxes, onto the pitch itself and up into the seats. There is no need for ow big this stadium is! I mean, I was expecting big, it was huge! I can only imagine the atmosphere on a match day is beyond electric and something you  really need to experience! I'd have loved the chance to catch a game for that reason alone! Maybe next time!

nou camp changing rooms barcelona

After Camp Nou we grabbed a quick bite to eat and Pans & Company then jumped back on the City Tour bus and just sat back and took in the sights until we reached our hotel. As was becoming tradition we headed up to the roof for happy hour as we perused through Trip Advisor looking for some restaurant recommendations for our meal that night! We settled on Arcano and made a reservation through the app.

Quick change and a wander behind the hotel, we happened upon some great little streets and stores, quite literally fell into the Arc de Triomf, then headed over to the restaurant for our reservation!

Arcano was AMAZING. It was a little hard to find as it doesn't look like a fancy pants restaurant from the outside, but once you step inside, oh my oh my, exposed brick walls, dark furniture, low hanging lights and flickering candles, it was brilliant. We skipped starters, ordered a delicious bottle of wine and tucked right into our main meals. I had steak (no surprise there!) and Mr.Man had the lamb chops. Both came with a medley of seasonal vegetables and a trio of meat sauces. The steak was exquisite, cooked to perfection and so damn tasty I wish I'd ordered a bigger one!

arcano barcelona food review
arcano barcelona food review
arcano barcelona food review

After such amazing mains we couldn't skip on dessert, that would have just been rude! I went for the caramel crepe, Mr.Man chose the Catalan cream. Just thinking about them now has me salivating! So sweet and delicious, I just wanted more and more! I was even handed a rose on the way out!

arcano barcelona desserts
arcano barcelona dessert menu

We ventured out into the night, checking out the litle boutique shops, popping into a gin bar for what I can only describe as 2nd dessert! We had a chocolate orange gin which Huge, and ever so tasty! Afterwards we found ourselves back in Port Vell, legs hanging off the edge of the dock, laying on our backs and looking up at the stars. It was perfect!

Until next time,

saloca in wonderland