Wednesday, 14 March 2018


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Seville was never on my list of places to visit, but after serendipitously ending up here, I've come to realise it should have been. Other Spanish cities like Madrid and Barcelona hog the spotlight, but Seville is the country's hidden gem.

In this post, I'm highlighting the spots that make Seville so special. Let's jump into it...

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Plaza De España

What? Traditional Seville architecture and handpainted tiles.

When? Anytime, it's open 24 hours. But of course it's best during the daylight hours.

Where? Distrito Sur / South District

Originally built for the Ibero-American Exposition in 1929, today the Plaza de España is a tourist hotspot, and for good reason. It feels like a Disney princess's castle, with its towers and handpainted tiles that line the fountains, bridges, and street lamps. The effect is truly whimsical. You'll want to pack your camera for this one.

Brush up on your geography by perusing the 48 painted alcoves. Each one represents a different Spanish provience, apart from Seville, that is, because its shoutout is the plaza itself.

If you're looking for an activity to do, you've some options. For one, you could rent a cute rowboat and drift along the moat. If that's not your thing, head over to the María Luisa park to rent a bike - regular or tandem! - and cycle around the plaza.

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Seville Cathedral & Giralda Tower

What? The world's largest gothic cathedral complete with a eye-watering golden alterpiece.

When? Monday, from 11.00am to 3.30pm; Tuesday to Saturday, from 11.00am to 5.00pm; Sunday, from 2.30pm to 6.00pm.

Where? Casco Antiguo / The Old Quarter

I’m not the biggest history swot by any stretch, but there’s no denying the story behind this cathedral is fascinating. It began as a mosque, before Christians took over and transformed it into a cathedral. Today there are elements of both religions in its design and appearance. Be sure to take a guided tour, or pick up an audio tour, if you want to learn about the cathedral's history.

But the reason Seville's cathedral is a must-see is simply because of its scale, and for that reason you probably won't miss it! It’s one of the biggest cathedrals in Europe, and the largest gothic cathedral in the world. Inside, you'll find the Retabol Mayor, the main alter. It's an overwhelming, massive golden structure showcasing scenes from the life of Jesus, and according to it's the largest in the world. The Spainards certainly don't do Christianity by halves.

If you want to save your euros for your cervezas (beers) you might want to make like a local and attend Sunday mass at the cathedral. That way, you can see inside for free, if you don’t mind sitting through mass in Spanish, of course!

It is worth buying a ticket, though, as it will allow you ample time to explore every nook, take in the artwork, and grant entry to the Giralda Tower. The tower is another must! You’ll climb to the top over 34 successive slopes - not stairs - and be rewarded with an incredible view of Seville from above.

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The Metropol Parasol

What? Wooden mushroom-like structure with a view that'll get you high.

When? 10am - 11pm (11.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays). But the best time to visit is sunset.

Where? Casco Antiguo / The Old Quarter

Speaking of views, you’ll find my favourite atop the Metropol Parasol. Nicknamed Las Setas (The Mushrooms), they’ve been reluctantly embraced by Sevillanos. The structure, which was completed in 2011, is far from traditional Spanish architecture and even looks a little out of place, but that’s part of its charm.

Besides, what makes it isn’t what it looks like from the ground, but how it looks from above. For just €3 you can take the lift to the observation deck where you’ll discover a 360° view of Seville. Visit at sunset, use your ticket to grab your discounted tinto de verano (red wine and lemonade), and watch as the city drifts into dusk.

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The Alcázar

What? A Moorish palace turned Christian palace turned tourist hotspot.

When? October to March: 09.30am to 5pm. April to September: 09.30am to 5pm.

Where? Casco Antiguo / The Old Quarter

Once a Moorish palace, it ended up becoming a Christian king's dwelling, and today its doors are open to regular Joes like you and I. Wandering around the intricate rooms you can't help but imagine you're living some luxurious life in the past. That, or you'll picture yourself in Games of Thrones, since this was the filming location for the Dorne scenes.

If you're doing Seville on the cheap, take note: you can visit for free on Mondays at 4pm. But make sure to book in advance on the Alcázar website, because there's rarely free tickets left at the door.

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There you go, the spots in Seville you shouldn't miss. I'll admit, these are all touristy, but must-see places usually are. For my next Seville post, I'll be sharing some spots that the locals dig - so don't worry, we'll get you off the beaten path yet!

Until then, you can join me on my travels on Instagram. ¡Hasta luego!

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Saturday, 10 March 2018


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The flight schedule to Seville isn't great, so when my friend Michelle came to visit she actually flew via Málaga. What a perfect excuse for me to grab a train over to see the city!

I knew next to nothing about Málaga before I arrived. All I'd heard was that it's a popular party-spot, so I wasn't expecting much culture or much to do in the daytime. How wrong I was...

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Explore the Alacazaba + cool off at a cafe with a view

If you ask me, this is the thing to do in Málaga. For €3.55 you'll get a ticket that grants entry into the Alcazaba and the Castillo de Gibralfaro (more on that later). Firstly, let me reiterate, that's under €4 for TWO historical tourist attractions. After living in New York and Dublin, Spanish prices will never fail to shock me.

The Alcazaba was a Moorish fortress, and today it is beautifully restored and preserved. Photo opportunities aplenty, you'll easily whittle away a couple of hours here exploring the palace, courtyards, and towers.

If you're there on a hot day, like we were, you'll be needing some time to cool off after exploring in the sun. At the very end of the Alcazaba, you'll find a cafe serving soft drinks, cold beer, and cider. We opted for Kopparberg, sat in the shade, and enjoyed the view.

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Crown yourself king of the castle at Gibralfaro

Once you've ticked the Alcazaba off your list, it's time to climb the 130 metres to the top of Mount Gibralfaro. It doesn't sound that high, but in the sweltering heat it's quite the trek, so bring water. And maybe don't wear faux-leather pants like I was wearing that day, but that probably goes without saying...

On the way up you'll be treated to stunning views and, if you're lucky, buskers playing classical music. Which would have been absolute bliss if I wasn't so unfit and hence concentrating solely on putting one foot in front of the other. Ahem, anyway...

Eventually you'll arrive at the highest point where you'll find the castle, and, of course, be spoiled with even more incredible views. Roam the castle walls and pretend you're royalty, you deserve it!

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Get high on the Mirador Princess

Wrap up your day with a ferris wheel ride on the Mirador Princess. With the sea on one side and the city on the other, sunset is the perfect time for a journey up. We fitted it in at nighttime, though, and it was just as magical.

I'm not sure if it's because there weren't many tourists about when we were there, but we got a whole booth to ourselves! And we looped three times, so not only did we get a chance to admire the city's lights from above, but on the second loop we took selfies, and by the third we were blaring tunes and bopping. I imagine the experience would be a little different if it wasn't off-season and we were paired with other tourists, but I still think it would be worth a trip up regardless.

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And that's one day well spent in Málaga. Next time I visit I'll try to find some hidden gems, but for now I'm happy that I've seen the must-see spots. For more of my travels, follow me on Instagram and YouTube.

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Monday, 26 February 2018


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After years of tweaking, I like to think I've settled on a system for a beautiful, bright Instagram feed. Today I thought I'd share a little tutorial on how you can edit your photos in a similar vibe. So grab a cup of tea and get your creative cap on, it's time to edit some photos!

Back in the day, I had one rule: all Instagrams should be taken and edited on my phone. But after my good phone broke, and I was left with a 2 megapixel cameraphone, I thought it was time I started to share my DSLR photos. That's why the majority of this tutorial is in Lightroom. You can get a free trial of Lightroom here, but even if you don't use it, you can still read along to see how I edit and apply this to whichever editing app you use.

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Step 1: Basic Edits

Colour Balance

First up: the basics. Begin by getting the colour balance to where you want it. For me that's a little on the warm side, so I move the slider to the right to bring out those orangey tones. If your thing is cooler shades then feel free go for that, just remember to not over do it! This is the easiest mistake to fall into when you're starting out, I would warm up my images far too much. Less is more, if you're going for a beautiful but natural edit.


The exposure for this image was spot on, so nothing was needed there, but if it was a little on the darker side this is where I would lighten it. Brighter images tend to do better on social media, so unless you're going for a moody theme, you might want to err on the bright side.

Highlights, Shadows, and Blacks

In almost every photo I end up bringing down my highlights, as this brings back the detail in the sky. I also usually up my shadows to brighten the shaded part of my image, but lower the blacks to remove the faded feel caused by upping the shadows. Of course, it's all about playing around to find what you like, so don't take my method as gospel!


In every landscape photo I up the clarity, at least a little. It's another step that is easily pushed too far, so try not to go overboard! If you're editing a portrait, you might want to skip this step entirely, it will only bring out the subject's flaws. Or if you know your way around Lightroom, you could always boost the clarity and then rely on the adjustment brush to paint away the clarity on the face, but that's getting a little advanced for this tutorial!

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Step 2: Adding Contrast

Tone Curve

Use a slight s-curve to add in contrast. You can do this by clicking 3 extra dots into your curve (the top and bottom ones should already be there). Lower the second from the left slightly, you're deepening the blacks and shadows. Next, raise the second from the right slightly, so you have something similar to the above curve. Now you've lightened the whites and highlights and, voilà, you've added some subtle contrast into your image. You can push this even more by hopping into your red, green, and blue channels, and creating a similar s-curve.

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Step 3: Adjusting the Colours

Orange and Yellow

This step is perhaps the most subjective, since it really comes down to what colour combinations you personally go for. For me, I like my oranges and yellows on the redder side, which is why I slide the orange and yellow hue to the left. Also, since I like my images to be bright, I usually up the luminance for these colours.

Aqua and Blue

I like to take some of the magenta out of my aquas and blues, and you can do this by moving the relevant hue slider to the left. Sometimes I lower the luminance here, if the sky has been blow out by exposure edits, but this wasn't a problem in this photo so instead I actually upped it! There were no aquas in this image which is why I haven't adjusted them here

This colour combination is a trend right now, you know the one, where the sky is an unholy aqua colour and everything else is super orangey-red for some reason. I keep the effect subtle so it seems natural and doesn't look like one of those cliché images.

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Step 4: Sharping the Image

This step still amazes me to this day... I just can't get over the fact that you think an image is sharp, but then you use this tool and realise it was blurry AF. Wow, I really am an editing geek.

Anyway, enough gushing over the tool, this is how I use it: So see that square with the four lines coming out of it (in the top left corner of the adjustment section)? Tap that and then click a point in the picture that you want to see in detail. Choose a part of the picture that has a lot of detail so you can see what effect your changes are having.

Now, it's time to get to work. I usually up the amount slider by quite a lot, and up the luminance by a little. This will depend on your camera though, so take care and see what works for your image!

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Step 5: Adding Saturation

I use the Camera Calibration tool to add some saturation into the final image. Depending on the picture, I also do little adjustments to the hue. There's not much more to say about this step as I don't have a go-to method for this one. As always, just tweak until you've achieve the look you're going for!

This is the final Lightroom step, so it's time to export your image as a jpg and send that image to your phone so you can upload it to Instagram! Don't forget to save a Lightroom preset so you can easily apply this edit the next time around!

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Step 6: Adding a VSCO Filter

In case you didn't know, the VSCO app is the Instagrammer's BFF. A powerful editing tool, you can do basic adjustments and choose from some pretty filters, all from your phone.

You could easily skip this step, heck, I could probably skip this step, but habits are hard to break. By adding my favourite VSCO filter, I am certain that the image will fit in with the other images in my feed.

Personally, I bring my photo into VSCO to use the A6 filter on my already edited image. You can download A6 from the VSCO store for free. Of course, you should choose the filter that is most your style, you'll probably be using it for every post after all! Depending on the photo, I may bring the effect opacity down to around the halfway mark, or if I like it at full strength I'll leave it at that. Once I've settled on the filter opacity, I'm all set to save the image to my camera roll, and upload it to Instagram!

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Okay, okay, I know that sounds like a whole lot of work for one Instagram post. But once you've found the edit you like, you can save it as a preset, and every photo after will be a simple case of choosing your preset and making a few additional tweaks depending on the image.

I hope you found this tutorial useful, do let me know in the comments. Make sure to follow me on Instagram and Bloglovin, to hear about my follow up post on laying out a beautiful feed. Until then, adiós!

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