Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Aberdeen | Why I Love Inspired Nights Market on the Green

This weekend sees the return of the Inspired Nights Market on the Green in the city centre of Aberdeen. A monthly street food pop up that first started as part of the Inspired Nights weekend back in May, the market has gone from strength to strength. It's a family event, with the Painted Doors team providing entertainment in the form of live art, and best of all it's dog friendly too!
We've witnessed the Pitt x Aberdeen Inspired collab grow over the summer months as we've managed to visit every one so far. At the inaugural market we felt it could do with extra seating, more bins, a bit of music and an outside drinks license and I'm pleased to see that each one of those issues has been addressed.

Bao at Aberdeen Inspired Nights Market on the Green
10 Dollar Shake x Hard Grind pop up Aberdeen Inspired Nights Market on the Green
Barnacles & Bones steak at Aberdeen Inspired Nights Market on the Green

Back in May the drinks were provided by city favourites 10 Dollar Shake at their pop up bar in Hard Grind. We sampled steak & chimichurri with fries from Barnacle & Bones, Melt's infamous brownies and some incredible halloumi bao buns and pork gyoza from the guys at Bao.

Painted Doors Aberdeen Inspired Nights Market on the Green
Eat Van Drink fish tacos at Aberdeen Inspired Nights Market on the Green

June's market saw us pop down on the Friday evening for some delicious crispy fish tacos from Eat Van Drink! Each time the food offerings have been different, with a mixture of local vendors and a few from slightly further afield. The Pitt is actually based in Edinburgh so they've been bringing along a few of their regulars. 

Liberty Kitchen falafal box at Aberdeen Inspired Nights Market on the Green
Rost fries at Aberdeen Inspired Nights Market on the Green

At the most recent pop up we grabbed a seat at a communal picnic bench, sipped cold Porter's G&Ts and tucked into an array of treats - from Rost's halloumi fries to the prettiest veggie falafel box from The Liberty Kitchen. There was a great atmosphere and a real buzz down at the Green. It's exactly what Aberdeen is crying out for and I really hope the Inspired Nights market will return next year too!

Read about our first Aberdeen Restaurant Week experience here!
(another foodie event from Aberdeen Inspired!)

Aberdeen Inspired Nights Market on the Green

Head down to the Green to catch Aberdeen's only night market from 17th-18th August and again next month, 14th-15th September. Find more info on the Inspired Nights Market on the Green Facebook event page!


Friday, 3 August 2018

Spain | The Ultimate 2 Day Guide to Beautiful Ronda

Ronda, Malaga is best known for it's incredibly striking bridge, Puente Nuevo. While the architecture is beautiful, and the main reason the city made it to the top of my must visit destinations, it turns out there is so much more to it. Researching where to eat or where to stay before our 2 day trip was fairly difficult, so I wanted to make things a little easier for you and share what we found in this - my ultimate guide to beautiful Ronda.

This post contains affiliate links. This means that I will earn a small commission from any sale or booking made through the link, at no extra cost to you.

How to get to Ronda, Malaga

The closest airports are Malaga or Seville. We flew to Malaga from Aberdeen with Ryanair, hired a car at the airport and drove to Seville first. After a couple of days there, we made our way to Ronda via the A-376. It was one of the most scenic drives I've ever taken (baring in mind we just completed the NC500!) and we had to keep stopping to take photos.

If you're hiring a car, we always use Gold Car. We got this Fiat for just 7 euros for the 4 days, with insurance and a full tank of fuel adding on about 200 euros. You can check prices and book a car here - I recommend taking the Super Relax insurance!

Read our guide to Seville here!

Where to stay in Ronda

Choosing where to stay in Ronda was easy. We found El Tajo on Booking.com and paid 123.60 euros for 2 nights. We always book our hotels via their site, mainly as we don't have to pay til we get there, which is also why I chose to join their affiliate scheme!

Our room was clean and cosy, with a Plaza de Toros mural making a bold feature wall. Hotel El Tajo is in an ideal location, just around the corner from Ronda's main shopping street and only a short walk from the Plaza and Puente Nuevo. Speaking of shopping, I was surprised by how many good stores Ronda had - don't miss Ale-Hop, Stradivarius or Bershka!

Things to see and do in Ronda

Plaza de Toros

Ronda's bullring is one of the first, and largest in Spain. It was completed in 1784 and is known as the home of modern style bullfighting. Nowadays it's mostly used as a horse riding school. I would never attend a bullfight but found the museum interesting, with it's array of traditional outfits and Spanish regalia. Entry cost us 6.50 euros each.


Unfortunately we didn't have time to visit Ronda's wineries but the region is well known for it's bodegas. Many of them offer tours and wine tasting experiences so it's well worth looking in to. If you're short on time like us, there is a wine museum or you'll find the local wines available in many bars in Ronda!

Arab Baths

The Arab baths, or Banos Arabes, date back to the Moorish times and the ancient underground baths are well worth a visit. Although not in use now, they're well maintained and you can still see the layout of the warm and cold baths, and watch a short video presentation in what would have been the hot steam room. It's only 3 euros to enter, or free on Sundays!

La Casa del Rey Moro - Jardins y La Mina (Home of the Moors King - Gardens & Mine)

From the Puente Nuevo you'll see signs for the gardens overlooking the gorge, and while it might not seem like anything special I promise it's worth a visit! Not only are the gardens beautifully designed with views of the famous bridge and El Tajo gorge, they hide the entrance to a mine. 

Climb the 231 steps down La Mina, which was used to bring water to the city in Moorish times, and you'll find yourself by the river with a stunning view at the bottom of the gorge. The steps are steep and uneven so wear suitable footwear and expect to pay an entry fee to the gardens.

Puente Nuevo, Ronda

As I said before, the main attraction in Ronda is the 200 year old Puente Nuevo or "New Bridge". At 300ft it reaches across El Tajo gorge and the Guadalevin river, to join the Moorish old town and the new town of Ronda together. There are many "miradors" or viewpoints which you'll find easily as you walk around. You'll get excellent panoramic views if you start from the bullring and make your way round to the bridge.

For the ultimate view, I recommend you slip on your trainers and prepare to hike. Cross the bridge and head right, where you'll find the beginnings of the rocky path that snakes down toward the bottom of the gorge. Heading down is not too difficult, although the ground is a bit uneven and slippery in places. The unrivalled views of the Puente Nuevo and it's unnamed waterfall are well worth it.

We decided against hiking back up and simply followed a path that led us around the outskirts of the old pueblo blanca (white village) to the Arab baths. Ronda was surprisingly larger than we'd expected but it's easily walkable, with a few steep sections. Walking is definitely the best way to appreciate it!

Where to eat and drink in Ronda

There aren't many complete guides to the beautiful city of Ronda, that cover more than just the bridge and where to see it, so we had to work extra hard to hunt down the best places to eat. For breakfast we grabbed a croissant and coffee to go from local bakeries, and I highly recommend Confiteria la Campana in Plaza del Socorro. They had the most incredible selection of baked goodies!

Hotel don Miguel

For drinks with a view, head to Hotel don Miguel where you can enjoy a cold beer on their terrace overlooking the Puente Nuevo and Casa del Rey Moro gardens. You'll easily spot the hotel from the bridge. We didn't eat here, although they do serve food and I imagine you'd have to fight for a seat on the terrace on warmer days! Luckily for us it had been hailstoning (yes, really!) when we arrived so we had the view to ourselves.

Tabanco los Arcos

Cross the bridge to the old town and Tabanco los Arcos is one of the first places you'll see. This is a great spot to sample the local Ronda wines! When we visited the wine bar was packed, thanks to the aforementioned hailstones, but we slipped into a cosy table in the corner. I believe the window seats look right onto Puente Nuevo so grab one of those if you can!

We enjoyed some manzanilla sherry from nearby Cadiz and delicious tapas, including this patatas aioli which was more like what we know as potato salad but packed with garlic!

Las Maravillas

In the evening, head to Las Maravillas. A relaxed, casual dining space complete with an Instagram-ready flower wall, serving both tapas and full meals. We opted for a Spanish classic; seafood paella. Any good paella will come with a wait and we enjoyed a local vino tinto during those 45 minutes. The paella for two was fresh, as were the mussels and shrimp cooked through it, having travelled only a short distance from Malaga. Dessert is an absolute must here - don't miss the chocolate lava cake!

Cafeteria Las Campanas

This place doesn't look very special but it's a great spot to sit in the plaza soaking up the sunshine, with a view of the Hercules fountain and the church - Nuestra Senora del Socorro. The cafeteria serves cheap and tasty tapas, and huge glasses of ice cold sangria. What more could you want in Spain?

Drinks & Co

This was my favourite haunt during our time in Ronda. A chilled space with big comfy sofas and an arty vibe. Drinks & Co offer both the alcoholic and the caffeinated variety! Our final night ended relaxing here with a typical Spanish measure (read: huge!) of Nordes gin served with tonic water and orange peel, while Gordon sipped an ice cold beer.

Now I hope you see there is so much more to Ronda than it's bridge! Yes it is spectacular, but so is everything about the Andalusian city. Home to some of the most breath taking sights I've ever witnessed, you must at least take a day trip from Malaga or Seville and experience the beauty for yourself!

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