How I celebrated my first Birthday as a vegan abroad

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I feel like the luckiest girl alive at the moment … the weather has been wonderfully sunny, I’m constantly being inspired by my blog and social media accounts, there’s plenty of fruit in my kitchen, and I have good books to read. Oh, and it was my Birthday just the other day, so I’ve been treated like a princess by family and friends near and far. My parents and Grandma are contributing towards my bike fund so I can get a new bike when I’m back in the UK in September, and my boyfriend bought me a kindle and planned out the very best day out for us to enjoy. Being thrifty with your money means that on special occasions you can afford to celebrate without breaking the bank! There are many ways to enjoy a day out on a budget, and this was our day.

For breakfast, we ate a filling breakfast of watermelon, and bread with olive oil (perfect Mediterranean foods!), and of course  we drank about a liter of water each. In warm countries like Spain, especially at the moment as it is so hot, it’s really important to stay hydrated. In order to save money whilst we were out, we made a packed lunch. More bread, more fruit, crisps, chocolate (bad idea, it melted inside the bag!), and bottled water. Then, we went across town to catch the bus to the mystery location. I didn’t know where we were going as I wanted a surprise!

It was still relatively early in the day when we arrived at the botanical gardens, but it was already really hot. It was forecast to reach 34/93 Celsius/Fahrenheit which is really hot for me considering I’m used to the cooler temperatures of Iceland/UK! So, we were spending my Birthday at what I think were the best botanical gardens that I’ve ever been to. Jardín Botánico-Histórico La Concepción is situated just outside of Málaga city, on the edge of the Montes de Málaga National Park. It would have been great to see some of that in the same day, but the gardens were just so huge there was no way we would have been able to fit in both activities. It cost five euros each to enter the gardens, and it was definitely worth it.

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We saw loads of wildlife, including frogs and turtles. There were also brightly coloured birds and bugs flying around, and we even caught a glimpse of a snake in the undergrowth (that terrified me, I have an irrational fear of snakes).

There’s something about plants and nature and being away from the city that makes me feel so happy and relaxed … I can’t explain the feeling, but I was overjoyed just to simply walk through the forested paths. I was a bit snap-happy, I couldn’t stop taking photos of all of the wonderful things!

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The gardens were not just plants and trees. There were a number of ponds, fountains and waterfalls to enjoy as well.

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Carnation Pool

Carnation Pool

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And, because we probably have some kind of death wish, we attempted the hilly forest route around the edge of the gardens in the heat of the day.

Forest Route sign

Forest Route sign

Scenic views

Scenic views

Before we left the gardens, because I didn’t want to leave, I was having too much fun, we got juice from the garden cafe and sat at a shaded table in the corner, near one of the greenhouses. Altogether, the day out (not including the cost of the picnic, but it was mostly bread and fruit which is super cheap!) came to around 8.50 each (give or take a few cents). This included the buses to and from the gardens, our entry fee, and the orange juice). Because I was the ‘Birthday Girl’, Josh paid for me.

Fast forward a few hours (getting home, drinking my weights worth in water, sitting underneath the aircon, and having a nap), we went out for dinner as my mum had sent us twenty euros to treat ourselves with. Being vegans who like our food, and in large quantities, we actually had two dinners!

We had never tried tapas before, and in the centre of Málaga there is a 100% vegan tapas cafe, called El Piano. I think it has a sister branch in York, UK, if anyone is interested. Anyway, it was really cheap, four tapas and a bottle of water for just over five euros. Unfortunately, we underestimated how small tapas was, and even though it was delicious, it just didn’t fill us up.

vegan tapas - falafel, potatoes, mushrooms and chili

vegan tapas – falafel, potatoes, mushrooms and chili

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falafel dips

Luckily, Málaga is quite a vegan-friendly place, and just around the corner there was a vegetarian restaurant called Canadu, which had lots of vegan options, including a vegan chocolate brownie. It was about nine euros each for a meal here, but they were reasonable sized portions. We didn’t order any drinks, we are on a budget after all! (we did order the brownie for dessert though, who can resist?!)

dinner no.2 - pesto curry rice with tofu, mushrooms, and nuts

dinner no.2 – pesto curry rice with tofu, mushrooms, and nuts

Spanish people tend to eat dinner quite late, so keeping with that tradition, we didn’t finish our meal until almost midnight. It was marginally cooler at night, but still really hot. I’ve been sleeping with nothing on, with no blankets, for the past two nights. Anyway, stuffed after our two dinners and dessert, we went home and played on video games before going to bed.

It was the Best Birthday Ever, and it was full of love, happiness, exploration, plants, and most importantly– vegan food! It’s true … experiences are worth so much more than material goods. Live minimally, within your means, and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings. It’s all worth it, and I think anyone can achieve this happiness.

What kind of things do you enjoy doing on your Birthday? What has your best Birthday experience been and why? Share your memories in the comments, I’d love to read them.

I now have instagram! If you like photos of vegan food, nature, travel and other kinds of awesomeness, please follow me

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