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While Spain may lend itself to images of inert, bronzed bodies on the beach and the quiet lull of an afternoon siesta, don’t let the country’s laidback character fool you. For adventurous travellers looking for an entirely different angle to sunny Spain, there is plenty to do, from kayaking around the bays and snorkelling around the beaches of Menorca, climbing Montjuic in Barcelona, doing a day’s hike in the Sierra de Guadarrama near Madrid, to biking (and drinking in) the La Rioja wine country.

Day 1

On your first day in Spain, you’ll land in Madrid. The city is filled with art and culture, so put your walking shoes on and take a wander around in the morning. In the afternoon, take the train to the little town of Cercedilla, where many of the spectacular hikes that criss-cross the mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama start. Trails are colour coded and maps are easy to follow. Locals recommend Los Miradores, a 9km hike that takes hikers through serene pine forests, and up deserted mountain paths.

Day 2

Madrid’s Parque de Buen Retiro, or the Park of Pleasant Retreat, is the city’s green lung. Here you’ll find locals jogging, families picnicking and lovers rowing across the lake in the middle of this lush park. Landscaped lawns, marble statues and tidy paths make exploring the park an absolute pleasure on a sunny day.

Day 3

From Madrid, move onto Logrono, the capital of La Rioja – Spanish wine country. The city offers free bicycles to tourists who sign in and apply for a card from the Logrono Tourist Office. The flat roads, light traffic and world class wineries all within nearby cycling distance make for a fantastic experience on two wheels.

Day 4

A short 3 hour train ride away from Logrono is Barcelona, the heart of Spanish Catalan country. Montjuic, a major Barcelona landmark, is a hill that towers over the city from the southwest. To climb Montjuic, you can either take the easy option of using the series escalators that run up the hill from Palau Nacional, or you can attempt the hour or so hike up instead. The views are worth it.

Day 5

Barcelona offers an easy introduction wind surfing for amateurs via the gentle waters of the Base Nautica, located between Mar Bella and Bogatell beaches. If you already know how to windsurf, you can hire equipment by the hour; otherwise try kayaking or taking a sailing class instead. The calm waters of the Mediterranean are a calm respite away from the hustle of the city.

Day 6

Ferries and short flights run daily from Barcelona to the Balearic island of Menorca, where sun, surf and sand await holiday makers. Kayak, snorkel or dive the turquoise waters off the beaches here. Colourful sea life and coral reefs abound underwater.

Day 7

For a different view of the island, cycle the Cami de Cavalls, a bridle track that rings the entire island of Menorca along the coast. The track passes along some stunning views and provides access to pristine, isolated beaches that are otherwise unaccessible by other means. From Menorca, catch a short flight back to your starting point, Madrid, before departing for home.

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Making Your Own Fancy Facial Toner Is Easier Than You Think

To the uninitiated, toners may seem like a fancy, indulgent skincare product with no clear purpose. But the truth is that toners have been around for thousands of years, and working-class women have been making their own products for equally as long. A facial toner soothes, smoothes, and restores the skin, and it doesn’t need to have a paragraph’s worth of unpronounceable ingredients to be effective.

In fact, making your own facial toner is a lot simpler than you’d imagine — and as a DIY product, it’s cheaper and more sustainable.

Why Use Facial Toner?

Elaborate skincare routines have surged in popularity in recent years, and some of them can seem mighty excessive, but toners are one of those products that even the most basic, no-frills woman will appreciate. They hydrate the skin while also removing dead cells and excess oil from the surface, leaving you with a smoother, brighter skin tone. Ideally, you should use a toner right after you wash your face, but they also provide a great pick-me-up throughout the day — crucial in hot weather!

So why make your own? In short, because this is a truly simple product that doesn’t need to be bought in a store. You probably already have the basic ingredients in your kitchen.

These days, store-bought toners are much more gentle than they used to be, but they still often contain alcohols, synthetic fragrances, dyes, and other ingredients that you may not want on your precious face.

How to Make DIY Facial Toner

DIY facial toners utilize just one active ingredient: apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is not only a great toner, but it also has the added benefit of balancing the pH of the skin. Here’s how to turn it into a facial toner that meets your specific needs.

  1. Make the base.

Simply mixing apple cider vinegar with filtered water will get you the base for your toner, and the best part of DIY is that you can customize the formula for your skin type.

For sensitive skin: Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 4 parts water.

For normal/dry skin: Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 2 parts water.

For oily skin: Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 1 part water.

It’s best to start with less apple cider vinegar, then work your way up; do a patch test to be sure.

You can also replace filtered water with herbal tea, such as green tea, if you prefer. Green tea is anti-aging and contains helpful antioxidants, but it does need to be stored in the fridge.

  1. Add customized ingredients.

Once you have your base, you can add other ingredients to your toner to customize it for your needs.

Flower waters: Add 1 tsp per 8 oz of toner. Rose water or orange blossom water are ideal candidates for this — they’re natural toners in themselves, they hydrate and cleanse the skin, and they’re anti-inflammatory.

Essential oils: Add 2-3 drops per 8 oz of toner. Your best two options are tea tree oil and lavender oil. Tea tree oil packs more anti-inflammation, while lavender oil soothes the skin (and smells wonderful). However, there’s an essential oil for seemingly everything under the sun, so feel free to branch out.

  1. Package your toner.

Once your ingredients are mixed together, store your toner in a sealed glass or plastic container. A spray bottle works well, but isn’t necessary. It doesn’t need to be stored in the fridge (unless you used tea in your recipe).

That’s it — you’re done!

To apply, simply mist directly onto the skin or apply using a cotton square. Apply after cleansing the face or to refresh yourself throughout the day.


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