Tapas in Granada

Europe, Food, Sightsee with Sophie, Spain

I’ve been in Spain long enough to know that I don’t need to budget any money for food. All I need to do is budget for some drinks and the food will come along with it. That’s right, my friends. For those of you who have been living in the dark this whole time, it’s time to come to the light. It’s time to learn about tapas.

Free food. With your drink of choice. Tapas are popular all over Spain, but Granada is especially well known for their tapas.

You can get all sorts of different tapas. Some bars will give you a set tapas menu. Other times, the kitchen will just surprise you with whatever they’ve made for the day. Or, if you find the super special bars, they’ll bring you a different tapa depending on which drink number you’re on. So obviously you have to order more than one drink to get the full experience.

I heard about Granada’s tapa reputation from some travel blogs that I researched on my way there. I decided to test these travel blogs and see if they weren’t just all talk.

I pulled together my own list of bars to explore with my friend and we went on a tapas binge. Here are some of our favorite places:

Chantarela : By far, my favorite tapas spot in Granada. The second I walked in, I met a local who proudly told me that I found the best tapas place in all of Granada. He was right. This place is incredible. You have no idea what the tapa will be, it’s up to the kitchen to decide. But you won’t be disappointed. My friend and I ordered a glass of wine and waited anxiously to see what tapa would appear. The kitchen gave a different tapa depending on which drink number you’re on. The first tapa was a slow cooked pork. I know this photo doesn’t do it any justice…I should have put my head in this photo to compare the size. The plate was huge. There was so much food, we could barely finish the tapa between the two of us. It was also some of the most incredible pork I’ve ever had. Unfortunately we didn’t stay long enough to see what the second and third tapas are, but from what I saw around the restaurant, it looked amazing.

*Sophie’s Tip* This place is a favorite among the locals. If you’re going on a weekend, it will be packed. We could barely stand at the bar, it was so crowded. We went on a Friday night at around 7:00pm. If you’re not a fan of crowds, try and avoid the busy times.

La Riviera: This place already has over 1,400 reviews on TripAdvisor for a reason. Several travel blogs I checked out noted this place, so I figured it was worthwhile. It was added to our list of tapas spots. They give you a set menu to choose your tapa. We ordered the carne en salsa, which did not disappoint. The dish is quite common in Andalucia — it’s a slow cooked pork in a delicious sauce, usually paired with some fresh bread. It’s available on most tapas menus, so it can’t be hard to miss. You’ll definitely want to try it out. Check out La Riviera, order a beer, and grab a bite of the carne en salsa.

Bar Babel World Fusion: If you’re tired of the traditional Spanish tapas, you can check out Bar Babel for some tapas around the world. From Mexican-inspired to Thai-inspired tapas, they’ve got it all. I grabbed a falafel tapa, which was pretty good. Would definitely go back to check out the other ones.

Andalusí Nujaila: If you’ve been tapa-ed out, you can take a quick break in the Arab Quarter, where tons of Arabic tea shops and restaurants are available. Andalusi Nujaila was my favorite tea shop. It had some incredible pastries that I paired with my Pakistani tea. Super good. The owner is incredibly friendly as well. I wish I could’ve tried all the pastries, there were so many to choose from. Be sure to take some to go if you’re road tripping around southern Spain. A great road trip snack!

There are tons of other great tapas places to check out in Granada. I’ll keep updating with more recommendations soon!

Where to Wine

Europe, Food, Sightsee with Sophie, Spain

When I travel in Europe, I prioritize my coffee and wine over food. I usually just end up “wining” without the “dining” which might not be the healthiest approach to travel, but it can be economical. It’s especially economical in Spain, where wine is cheap and good. There’s no way you can travel through southern Spain without stopping at a couple places for wine hour, which tends to be almost any time of the day.

Here are a few of my favorite places in Mijas:

Pampa — Tablas y Tapas: This place quickly became my favorite, even though it was one of the last restaurants I checked out. As someone who works remotely, I tend to judge restaurants based on the comfort of chairs and access to an electric outlet to charge my laptop. This place had both, and great staff. They even remembered my name a month later when I went back for the second time. They have great coffee and great wine, which fit my budget quite nicely. If you have a chance, grab the cava sangria. It’s amazing.

Tomillo Limon: This is easily a crowd favorite for all the students at Global U. The owner of the restaurant is extremely friendly, the food is great, and of course, the wine is spectacular. I enjoyed getting my work done at Tomillo Limon while sitting outside on the terrace witha vino rosado. I didn’t try too many of the dishes, but I heard the patatas bravas are to die for. I tried the Sri Lankan chickpeas and — as an Asian cuisine connoisseur — it was quite authentic. Definitely give it a try.

La Boveda del Flamenco: If you enjoy restaurants because of their location, this is a good place to hit up. It’s right around the corner from a panoramic view of Mijas. This place has great outdoor seating, perfect on a sunny day. The free olives are always a plus.

La Bodega del Pintor: Not in the wine mood? Gin & Tonic would be your next go-to. Check out La Bodega del Pintor for an awesome G&T. This place never disappoints. With a cute terrace in the front and a beautiful garden in the back, you really can’t go wrong.

Aroma Cafe & Secret Garden: I thought I knew what a garden was before I walked into this Secret Garden. I was completely wrong. This is one of the most beautiful restaurants in Mijas. I had the privilege of joining a group of Global U girls here for one of our last nights. I felt like a princess walking around the Secret Garden. This is a perfect place for a fancy date night. The food is delicious and of course, the wine is fabulous. If you’re coming to Mijas in the summer, you won’t want to miss this place.

Notice I didn’t mention anything about tapas around here. That’s because the best place to find tapas are in Granada! Check out my post all about tapas here!

Cafe con Leches – Sophie’s Staple

Europe, Food, Sightsee with Sophie, Spain

Every time I travel, I always make sure to reserve a special budget for coffee. In Spain, my coffee budget goes straight to the classic “cafe con leches.”

I discovered “cafe con leches” during the Camino de Santiago and since then, I’ve been on a mission to find the best one in town. So naturally, I have to try them all out in Mijas.

Sunrise walks through Mijas. Followed by a perfect cafe con leche at a local Spanish cafe.

Tomillo Limon — The first place recommended to me in Mijas. A great tapas restaurant — their coffee is also fabulous. Perfect place to visit if you need to get some work done on the computer. Plus you get a free cookie. Bonus!

Tapintxos — An adorable cafe and tapas bar right in the middle of Mijas. Another great place to sit down and get some work done. Perfect for a mid-day cafe con leche break.

If you’re ready to change things up, grab a Cafe con Baileys at Maria’s. Some of the best prices for coffee in the area. This is a hot spot for the locals. It’s one of the cutest local bakeries in the area. Not the most ideal for camping out and getting work done, but perfect for grabbing a coffee and croissant. Take a sunrise hike up the hill, stroll through the streets of Mijas, then grab a Cafe con Baileys to top it off. Can’t go wrong with that!

On the go? My favorite cafe con leche in the area was at Maria’s — only 1 euro. Perfect for the midday pick-me-up.

Bella Vista — Otherwise known as the Orange Chair cafe. The owner of this cafe is one of the friendliest in Mijas. If you tend to camp out at coffee shops (working remotely, yay!), you might score some free cheesecake here. The owner likes to practice his English, so be prepared for some fun comments. Not a bad place to work on your computer while enjoying the beautiful view of Mijas.

Not a fan of cafe con leche? There’s always time for tea instead! The tea in the area has a lovely Moroccan flair. Check out El Camino, which is right on the side of the second roundabout in Mijas. The owner is extremely friendly and will give you some great travel tips if you’re interested in visiting Morocco.

La Boveda del Flamenco — Right in the heart of Mijas, this is a perfect cafe to sit outside and soak up the sun. This is one of the first places I checked out in Mijas after my sunrise hike. Just around the corner from here is a beautiful panoramic view of the area.

Go around this corner to check out the panoramic view. Absolutely gorgeous!

Not a coffee or tea fan? Check out my review on some of the cutest wine and tapas places in the Mijas area!

Hiking in Mijas

Europe, Hiking, Sightsee with Sophie, Spain

It’s not too difficult to find a trail around the Mijas area. All you do is head towards the mountain and you’re bound to hop on one of the many trails. Be aware of the mountain goats — they tend to jump out when you least expect it. They’re also everywhere.

Lots of the trails lead you to other towns around Mijas. It’s the perfect way to tour the area and hop from town to town. Or you can use the trails to find a good lookout point for a decent sunrise or sunset. You’ll be able to see the mountains of Morocco from a high point. Definitely a must-see! There are trail signs everywhere, so there’s no chance you’ll get lost. My top recommendation —

  1. Download Maps.Me and then download the area where you are
  2. Find a peak on Maps.Me, select the “route to” option, and route will be created
  3. Follow the route and you’ll get to your peak!

Maps.Me is a great way to keep you on the trail if you’re on a time crunch and need a decent estimation of distance/time. Some of the top trails I hiked while using Maps.Me navigation were:

  • Cerro del Moro Peak [great spot for watching the sunrise and getting a good view of Morocco!]
  • Cerro de Medialuna [lots of runners and cyclists on this trail]
  • Mirador Cantera [a fun lookout spot, easy hike]
  • Pico Mendoza [good view of the Mijas town]
  • Sierra de Mijas [another easy hike around the Mijas area]
  • Viewpoint off of Ruta Cruz de la Mission [perfect picnic / sunset area]

New to trail running? Looking for some decent running shoes that you can use on multiple terrains while traveling? Check out my Inov-8 Shoes. I swear by these. These babies have come with me on the Camino de Santiago, through the Annapurna trails in Nepal, up my daily Manitou Springs incline adventures. They’re super light and durable. I ordered 3 pairs of them so I’ll have back up when I wear them out. I never skip town without them.

Life’s too short to miss those sunrises. Get on out there!

What brought me to Mijas? Check it here.

My Story with Mijas

Europe, Sightsee with Sophie, Spain

Why I Went

I was accepted into the Global U program and received the opportunity to live in Mijas for 3 months. Global U is a 9 month gap year program for students ages 18 – 23. Its focus is on equipping students with entrepreneurship, computer programming, and leadership skills needed to start a business or nonprofit. We spent 3 months in Mijas working with world-class mentors to receive guidance on our passion projects that we’ve built. If you’re interested in an alternative approach to education, check out Global U! You can learn more about my passion project here.

What I Did

When I wasn’t in class with Global U, I was out and about trying to explore everything that Mijas had to offer. It’s an adorable, charming town filled with great cafes and stores. It’s also strategically located near a set of mountains that are packed with trails — I certainly took advantage of that. Sunrise runs are the best here!

Who Should Visit

This is a great little town for a relaxing weekend away. Road tripping through southern Spain is definitely a must — and Mijas should be a destination on the list. You can hit up a lot of places in this area — Benalmadena, Torremolinos, Fuengirola, and Malaga.

After a morning hike in the mountains, you can come into the town for an afternoon glass of wine and plate of tapas. Did I mention that you can see the mountains of Morocco from here?

Check out some Mijas posts here!

The Shipbreakers

Asia, Bangladesh, Places, Sightsee with Sophie

If you google, “Shipbreakers” you’ll stumble upon Paul Goodman’s film, Shipbreakers, that highlights the profession of ship breaking. Ship breaking is a big business — it’s also one of the most dangerous professions. It’s the process of dismantling big ships and selling their parts for scrap. It is extremely labor-intensive and extremely dangerous. With the cheaper labor costs and fewer health and safety guidelines in countries like Bangladesh, the ship breaking jobs often end up here.

The four largest ship breaking nations are India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and China — in total, they handle an estimated 85% of the world’s ship recycling (National Geographic).

Ship breaking continues to be on the rise with growing international trade and global shipping. It provides employment to thousands of people each year in developing countries and also builds the steel industry.

Workers constantly face the dangers of falling material, fires, and electric shocks.

Naturally, Nihab and I decided to visit the ship breaking yard in Dhaka. We hopped on a boat and headed towards the area, where we were exposed to the dangers of the ship breaking industry. It was incredible to see the work done in this area. We jumped right into filming and grabbed shots of the workers in their environment.

The ship breaking industry will continue to be on the rise as the global trade increases. More exposure needs to be provided to show the poor working environment, lack of safety equipment, and long hours spent by the workers in this area. There’s always a risk of something going wrong.

What a surreal experience to walk through the ship breaking yard of Dhaka.

Books Unbound

Asia, Bangladesh, Sightsee with Sophie

What We Do: We provide informal learning opportunities for marginalized communities

Current Projects: The Rohingya Project in Kutupalong, Bangladesh. We developed a Rohingya Picture Dictionary to provide informal learning opportunities to the Rohingya refugees.

How You Can Help: We are raising money to design and distribute a Bengali Picture Dictionary so we can reach the local community in Cox’s Bazar.

Help us support the kids in Cox’s Bazar

Curious about our ongoing projects? Join our email list to learn more about our work!

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Tea Time!

Asia, Bangladesh, Food, Sightsee with Sophie

What time is it? It’s probably tea time. No, it’s definitely tea time. Especially in Cox’s Bazar. I’ve lost count of how many cups of tea a day I drink. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, sure the tea here is drowning in sweetened condensed milk and packed with loads of sugar. But that’s what keeps you going when you’re in Cox’s Bazar. That and my favorite energy drink, Speed! If you haven’t already, check out my tribute to Speed:

Back to the tea! If you spend a week in Cox’s Bazar and don’t drink a single cup of tea, I really question whether you even stepped out of your hotel room. That’s the first thing you should do when you arrive. Walk the streets and look for the finest tea shop around. There really are a plethora to choose from.

You can go for the fancy, luxurious tea-and-saucer in an established restaurant with plastic tablecloths.

You can take the alternative approach and sit in a makeshift tea shop, holding a scolding hot dixie cup of tea. You spend your time paranoid that the water will burn through the plastic. Don’t worry, it rarely does.

The best part about “tea time” is that it can happen any time!

Nihab knows when it’s time for tea: after a long day of filming.

The Perks of Drinking Tea: Making Friends

If you’re chilling outside with a cup of tea, chances are you’ll make a couple friends.

Sometimes you’ll have babies thrown into your lap with no questions asked. Then you sit in a panic as the mother disappears for 20 minutes and you are seriously contemplating whether she just gave you a child or not. This brings up more questions about what to do — Are you ready to raise a child? What name would you give the child? Did this mother really just leave her child for you? Is she ever actually going to return…?

[good news] She returns — after she ran to the market to buy her child a new dress and asks for a photoshoot in the new dress. You breathe a sigh of relief when you realize that you won’t be raising that child after all. You can continue your globetrotting life.

All of that happened over a simple cup of tea. Brilliant.

The Coffee Alternative: SPEED!

Asia, Bangladesh, Food, Sightsee with Sophie

Before we get to talking about the tea in Cox’s Bazar, I just want to acknowledge that, contrary to popular opinion, there is more than just tea to drink in Bangladesh. I was introduced to a drink here that supplemented my coffee addiction while on a tight budget.

That’s right, SPEED. The world’s greatest energy drink. Let me preface by saying that I am strongly against energy drinks. Monsters, Rockstars, BLEEEEH. I would never go out of my way to drink them. I never intended to go out of my way to order Speed. This is how the addiction began:

If you’re unfamiliar with my Rohingya Reunions, you can find it here. It’s basically the reason why I came to Bangladesh in the first place: to find my Rohingya friends. The thing is, I have a lot of Rohingya friends. And every single time I visit their homes, what do they offer me for a beverage? SPEED.

Of course I’m in that awkward spot where I want to be culturally sensitive all the time…so I drink and eat pretty much anything. So if I’m visiting 4 families in one day, I’m averaging 4 – 6 bottles of Speed that day.

As you can imagine, the addiction starts quickly. If you’re in Cox’s Bazar, I recommend trying Speed just for the experience. But chances are you won’t be sitting with Rohingya friends who give you bottles of Speed everyday. So you’ll be fine. One Speed didn’t hurt anyone, right?

I’m not even being sponsored by Speed to advertise. But now I think I should. Let’s let the white girl represent Bangladesh’s #1 Energy Drink.

Food in Cox’s Bazar

Asia, Bangladesh, Food, Sightsee with Sophie

I was going to describe Cox’s Bazar’s food in one word, but then I found a billboard that speaks for me, so here you go:

That’s right. Oil. So much oil that they’ve even got a huge billboard in town to advertise. I wouldn’t recommend coming to Cox’s Bazar if you’re on a strict diet. There’s no way to avoid the oil…but once you embrace the oil, you can embrace the luxuries of Cox’s Bazar cuisine, which includes:

Samosas!

You know they’re good when they’re served in the newspaper and plastic bags and are still burning hot with oil seeping through. Be sure to grab them in the morning when they’re freshly made! There are usually several other snack options if samosas aren’t your thing. Definitely a go-to snack to carry with you before you end up stuck in traffic for 3 hours on your way out of town.

Here’s another popular street food to try. I always ask for extra chillies for that extra spunk — but I have an insanely high spice tolerance. So don’t try this at home. Side note, if you’re really lucky, they’ll even package your snack with recycled condom packages. That’s called being resourceful.

Speaking of being resourceful, don’t forget to throw away your trash at one of the several garbage locations in Cox’s Bazar. You can’t miss them. They’re open-mouthed penguins with a sign that says, “Use Me” to which you proceed to “use” the penguin by dumping your trash in its mouth. Definitely my favorite part of Cox’s Bazar.

But now let’s talk about the real food. Roti. Naan. Paratha. All the bread. So so good.

I recommend you just take a stroll around Cox’s Bazar in the morning to find the best roti stalls. You can’t go wrong.

Cox’s Bazar main road

But if you’re really searching for really good stuff, it’s better to head out of the city and into the villages. That’s where the magic is. And you can enjoy the sunset as well. Bonus!

But here’s the real advice. If you truly want some good, good food, you better find a way to get invited to a local’s house for dinner. Homemade Bangla food is absolutely incredible. Let’s hope you’re not a vegetarian, because the chicken curry is always amazing. You can’t walk away without 2 full plates of rice. Really, you can’t. They will make you eat it all.

And if you make a request, you might able to receive roti-making lessons. Apparently I’m not that skilled in making roti. It was rated 4 out of 10. The shape of my roti was compared to the continent of Australia. If you can try making a less Australia-like roti, then you’re already 10 steps ahead of me.

But yeah, we have a lot of food here. A lot.

Most of it includes potatoes and oil, which isn’t bad for a time. Just find that healthy balance. Go out and find some mangos.

They have mangos everywhere. Big mangos, little mangos (seriously, I almost died when I found these baby mangos). Don’t worry, not all mangos are this small. I just don’t happen to have many photos of mangos.

Now we have to talk about how to complement all of this lovely food with some fun drinks! Check out my Drinks post!