Hello Edinburgh: Five Things I’ve Learned In My First Week

My first week in Edinburgh has come to an end and I can proudly exclaim that I survived it. Not only did I survive but I actually really enjoyed my first terrifying week in a strange city with unknown people.

What I’ve learned about student life in Edinburgh so far…


1. It’s Okay To Be A Tourist

There is so much going on in Edinburgh all of the time. It’s not just the Fringe or the New Year street party. There is always live music and events (including loads of literary ones) to get involved with. During my first week, my boyfriend and I spent a day exploring the city like tourists including a spin on the big Ferris wheel and a trip around the National Scottish Gallery to admire some Renaissance paintings (p.s the organic brownies at the NSG are 10/10) I know that I have not even begun to see the tip of the Edinburgh culture iceberg and that excites me! It’s great to resign myself to being a tourist and allowing myself to enjoy the beautiful aspects of this city not just as a residing student.


2. You can make any house a home.

It turns out that it is possible to turn old and slightly gross student accommodation into your own little slice of paradise. I was so worried about leaving the safe haven of my hometown for a new city but I’ve managed to make my flat a place where I’m comfortable and can enjoy some peace from the stress of academics and working. I’ve learned that you don’t need to be moving into the most glam accommodation to make it feel like home. I’ve been filling my room with lovely candles like the ones on my July 2016 Homespiration: Candle Edition list and goodies from the wonderful The Fuzzy Bee Paper Company. I’ll be writing more about turning student accommodation into a home you can feel proud of in the near future.


3. You need to have a strong app game.

To survive life in Edinburgh you will need to get the Bus & Tram app. This has been a gift sent from heaven over the past week. I genuinely think I’d be lying in a ditch in the middle of nowhere right now if I didn’t use this handy travel tool. I use the ScotRail app too. It’s great for working out the quickest and cheapest way to get outta town. And, of course, there’s trusty Google Maps! Pro tip: plug your earphones in and let the robo-voice tell you where to go so you don’t look like a total newbie staring at your phone screen as you try to navigate the unknown streets. If you’re moving to a new city, Edinburgh or not, check out the best travel apps for your phone to make moving around the city a much more pleasurable experience.

4. You need to be savvy with your food.

This week, I’ve learned that it’s not always easy to transition from home cooked meals to scraping together whatever you can. Everyone knows students live on a strict budget and a diet consisting of Pot Noodles and cheap rosé wine. I’m trying to challenge the stereotype of the student who can’t and won’t cook by finding cheap ways to cook healthy and tasty vegetarian food. I’ll be doing a series of blog posts on student cooking which started with my Creamy Coconutty Curry recipe. Keep your eyes peeled for my tips on using leftovers soon (including this yummy potato salad you see above)


5. You’re not alone; everyone else is scared too.

Taking any step in a new direction is scary. Whether it’s a new career path, a new home or a new course, stepping out of your comfort zone is not something we humans like to do very often. But when you open your eyes and look around you quickly realise everyone’s in the same boat and if you talk to people you’ll discover that everyone is experiencing to anxiety-inducing changes all the time. As I was told in a lecture today, you either cope with change, adapt to change or lead the change. P.S: do the latter. It’s not easy but I’m learning to roll with the changes and take comfort in the fact that I am one of many!

Follow my journey from small-town home-bird to cultured chica in my country’s capital via FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

If you have any tips for living in Edinburgh or just advice on student life in general, please get in touch!

Eating Veggie in Marbella: Terra Sana

Consistency Is Key

I’ve been eating in Terra Sana for years. In particular, my family love the breakfasts they serve: fluffy french toast with fresh fruit and golden syrup – yum! Terra Sana is renowned for healthy, simple and ethical eating. If you google vegetarian food in Marbella then Terra Sana will come up time and time again. The atmosphere is relaxed and the company slogan is “food for the soul” which more or less sums up the vibes and the food they serve.

There are several venues to choose from depending on where you are staying on the coast: Benalmádena, Plaza del Mar, Miramar, Marina Banus, La Cañada, Nueva Andalucía and Laguna Village. I’ve eaten in a few of their restaurants and each time they provide consistently good food and chilled out vibes although I personally prefer their sea view destinations to their shopping centre locations.

Setting the Scene

Unlike many places in Costa Del Sol, Terra Sana is not about the flashy lifestyle of the rich and famous. It’s down-to-earth: you are seated at rustic wooden tables and artsy, hippy decor adorns the walls. There is nothing pretentious about their venues; instead they focus on an earthy atmosphere. You can walk straight off the beach with sand in your toes and salt water in your hair and still feel comfortable.

Veggie Options

As I previously mentioned, Terra Sana is famous for their vegetarian cuisine. Their funky health-conscious food lends itself well to a vegetarian and vegan diet making it the perfect destination for anyone adopting a meat-free diet on the coast. They offer an incredible selection of breakfasts, salads, wraps, smoothies, juices and, for the hungrier diner, there are even pizzas and burgers.


To start with we shared the Terra Sana and Sydney Salads with some cajun spiced chips on the side. Most of you will agree that salads are not often the most exciting option on the menu, especially when you are vegetarian. However, these salads were incredible. The Terra Sana was a mixture of avocado, tomato, feta cheese, dates, cucumber, red onion, black olives and mixed nuts on a bed of mixed lettuce leaves with a summery dressing. If like me, you love nuts and the flavours of a Greek summer then this is the salad for you. The Sydney boasted a great big hunk of warm breaded goat’s cheese with avocado, pear, toasted walnuts, spinach leaves, lettuce hearts, croutons and balsamic honey dressing. My sister has since had to go back to Terra Sana just to get another taste of this amazing salad. It left us scraping the dish for every last bit of hot, creamy goat’s cheese with that delicious tangy balsamic dressing – delicious! You do not need to be veggie or on a diet to enjoy these salads.


I split a wrap and a pizza with my sister because we wanted to try out more of the veggie options because there was plenty to choose from. We opted for the Wrap Around which is a flour tortilla absolutely stuffed with an incredible smoked aubergine relish, spinach, avocado, tomato, red onion and cream cheese. The only downside is that it is served cold – we would’ve liked a hot wrap but that’s more of a personal preference. I could have eaten that lightly smoked aubergine relish by the bowl. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, there was also the Tofu Wrap. It will transport you to Asia with smoked tofu, rice noodles, spiced peanuts, shredded Chinese cabbage, bean sprouts, coriander, red onions, red peppers and chilli jam all wrapped up in a tortilla wrap.

Burgers, Pizzas & Stir Fries

My sister and I also split the Zeus pizza which boasted Mediterranean roasted veg, pesto, mozzarella, goat’s cheese and a balsamic dressing. I hadn’t noticed the pizza didn’t come with a tomato base when I ordered. This was strange at first but once I had accustomed my taste buds, this was a lovely fresh pizza with a crispy cracker-like base. Our other vegetarian guest tried the La Sierra pizza which was topped with balsamic mushroom with rosemary, goat’s cheese, mozzarella spinach and pine nut. He also remarked on the uniqueness of their pizza options. Do not go looking for indulgent (and greasy) pizzas that you might find in Pizza Hut or Dominos. This is a health-conscious pizza if such a thing exists.

You can also choose from: a Mozzato pizza (standard cheese and tomato), the vegan Buddha burger (tofu burger with lettuce hearts and apple slices) or a vegetarian spicy stir fry straight from the wok.

Overall Impression

I will admit the food at Terra Sana is somewhat of an acquired taste and I do not recommend it for fussy eaters. However, if you are looking for vegetables, fruit and flavour galore with a focus on ethical and healthy eating then this is where you need to go. Is it vegetarian-friendly? 100%. Is it a cool and fun place to eat? Definitely. Is it indulgent? No. Is it for everyone? Probably not. But a wrap stuffed full of fresh veg with a fresh fruit smoothie does not go amiss as you watch the sunset after a long, hot day on the beach.

Check out Terra Sana on their website. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Have you been to Terra Sana? What did you think? Send me your pictures.

Eating Veggie in Marbella: El Oceano

Welcome to Marbella

Travel blogs were never part of my original plan when I started my blog but I have posted reviews of vegetarian eating at home in Glasgow so I don’t see why I can’t take my restaurant reviews over to the Mediterranean. Throughout my final few days in Calahonda, Marbella I will be reviewing the vegetarian options in a couple of beautiful Costa Del Sol restaurants.

I’ve been visiting Calahonda, a small town between Malaga and Marbella, for twelve years now and I admit that the sunny Spanish coast is not famous for its vegetarian dining in the same way that a city like Berlin is. You can visit Iceland in Fuengirola to stock up on your frozen mince and chicken pieces and cook some of my vegetarian recipes if you are self-catering. However, if you look hard enough you will find some gems and the stunning beach resort, El Oceano, is one of those hidden treasures.

First Impressions

When I discovered my family had booked a table at El Oceano hotel, I was slightly disheartened by the menu. There were no set vegetarian options but it did say that the kitchen prepared vegetarian options on a day-to-day basis for any vegetarian guests. I sighed. This usually means the chef will stir fry some vegetables and try to pass it off as an acceptable meal while my fellow diners scoffed on confit of suckling pig and crispy Thai fish cakes.


Setting the Scene

El Oceano is a stunning beach-side hotel with luxury accommodation, a beauty salon, a restaurant and poolside bar. The decor is subtle: neutral and light colours reflecting the permanent sunshine that pours in from the conservatory restaurant. While it is definitely luxurious, there is something rustic and vintage that really appeals to me in a world of polished and excessive glamour that you associate with Marbella.

Dining in the restaurant, you are immediately met with wall to wall views of the breathtaking, unspoilt blue ocean. Paired with relaxing live music from slow jazz piano to funky soul singer, Frankie B, it is the perfect setting for eating with family and friends.

Veggie Options

The first thing I did when I was seated was ask a server what the vegetarian option was. There were three vegetarians dining in our group so we were anxious to find out. My fears quickly dissipated as the friendly Spanish waitress informed us that there was a vegetable lasagne, penne arrabbiata, a vegetable curry, mushroom risotto and a goats cheese dish to choose from. It is so rare to get such a great selection and all three veggies were delighted to be able to order three different dishes.


Cheese & Leek Parcels

To start with I ordered a cheese and leek parcel with a subtle cheese sauce and tomato chutney. My only fault with this dish is that there wasn’t enough of it! The filo pastry was crisp and I couldn’t get enough of that cheese sauce; I was scraping every last morsel off the plate.


Mushroom Risotto

For my main course, I chose the mushroom risotto. I’ll admit it is a safe vegetarian option in any restaurant but El Oceano put a different spin on a timeless classic. The creamy and indulgent risotto was topped with chunky grilled courgette and cherry tomato which gave texture and flavour to what can otherwise be a same-y dish. Again, I could not fault this meal. It was tasty, light and satisfying. My other veggie diners opted for the vegetable lasagne and penne arrabbiata. While these are also safe dishes, El Oceano delivered on flavour and Jonathan remarked that it was the best vegetable lasagne he had ever eaten.


Puff Pastry with Strawberries, Cream & Cotton Candy

I had spotted this dessert being served to other tables while we ate and had marvelled at the little drop of fuchsia candy floss on top. Sadly, my candy floss had deflated somewhat by the time it had arrived but otherwise this puff pastry dish was a culinary delight. With fresh strawberries and cream, it was a refreshing and light way to finish off my meal.

Overall Impression

There are no settings quite like El Oceano on the coast. The ocean views are simply stunning. The live music and friendly staff create a vivacious atmosphere without overwhelming you. For someone who isn’t particularly impressed by the excess and VIP lifestyle of Marbella, El Oceano exudes luxury and elegance without compromising those rustic beachy vibes.

As for vegetarians, El Oceano is probably the most impressive destination for veggie and gluten-free options that I’ve visited in my twelve years visiting the coast. Catering to your dietary requirements is not an issue here and you will not be made to feel like a less valid diner because of your lifestyle choices.

To reserve a table at El Oceano for your next visit to Costa Del Sol, visit their website or Facebook page

Have you visited El Oceano? Let me know about your experience and send me your photographs.

The view from Eleanor Mullally-Staunton’s table on her latest trip to El Oceano. Eleanor is vegetarian and recommends the vegetable curry!