Trip Recap #2: Barcelona

Hola Amigos! It’s now time for the second half of my trip recap: Barcelona.

Similar to my last post, I’ll give you some food photos, some fun pics, and then a few thoughts and observations from my 3 days in Barcelona. This time though, at the request of some of my awesome readers, I’m giving you a few more food pics.. And while I guess this isn’t a traditional What I Ate Wednesday post, it’ll do for now. With my own little spin, I present to you What I Ate Wednesday… on my trip! Ready?

Just like in Paris, there was certainly an overabundance of cappuccino involved in Barcelona, and each place was even better than the last:

This was at a little cafe near our hotel (Hotel Guillermo Tell), that we returned to several times. Perfection! 

And then, of course, how can you go to Barcelona and not have Churros…

Health food they are not, but when served with a mug of warm, gourmet chocolate for dipping, how can you resist?

And then there was my adventurous Tapas meal…

Traditional Catalano sausage (and blood sausage). Not my cup of tea, but hey, at least I tried it! 

Grilled squid… Actually quite good, once you get past the texture. 

Potato Meat Balls… Delish! 

A delicious goat cheese and tomato salad. 

One of my favorite things that we had several times was the Tomato Bread:

Simple, but mouth-wateringly delicious. Served here alongside a spinach and goat cheese salad (can you tell I kind of have a thing for goat cheese?) 

A little “Meat Pie” I got from a sidewalk cafe:

This was beef covered with olives, onions, a layer of potato, and then a very thin layer of cheese on top. Kind of like a Shepherds Pie, but with a little twist! 
On our last night there, we waited a little bit too long to start looking for dinner, so in my beginning stages of extreme-hunger-rage (EHR…It’s real), I decided on a meal that I was more familiar with:

But it didn’t disappoint! Wonderfullly cooked salmon with a side of steamed veggies…I was craving veggies so much at that point I’m pretty sure I inhaled them 🙂  This was also served with a side of Tomato Bread…I couldn’t resist! 

And of course, let’s not forget to mention the main course of the trip: Sangria!

We sat in this courtyard drinking this little pitcher of sangria for about 2 hours on our first night there, while listening to music and people-watching. I couldn’t have asked for anything better!  We actually loved it so much we went back for more on our last night. Perfect end to the trip. 

Now that I’ve made some of you drool a little bit (come on, even if those grilled squid didn’t  strike your fancy, I know you can’t resist All of this goodness), let’s chat a little bit about what I learned in Barcelona.  First of all, I’m not even positive that I can actually put what I learned there into words, but I’ll give it a good shot for you fine folks 🙂

  • Smile: Honestly, people in Barcelona seemed so happy as a whole. We saw mini parades, music troupes, street musicians, and everyone seemed like they were celebrating something. From tourists, to locals, to foreign shop keepers, it was tough to find someone having a bad day! That’s a little bit more than I can say for the stereotypical New Englander who is too busy rushing everywhere to stop and give out a few smiles. So slow down there, and show someone your pearly whites why don’t ya!
  • We Don’t Need To Eat So Much: Ok, I didn’t actually learn this there, but the observation deserves a little attention here. Every time we went out to eat, no matter the type of restaurant, we were both given the perfect amount of food to satisfy us. No heaping portions, no giant plates, no meals big enough to feed a whole family. It also bears mentioning that it was extremely difficult to find overweight and obese locals… Maybe it’s because people over there haven’t grown accustomed to the giant serving sizes we see in America, therefore they actually stop eating when they are satisfied?
  • Churros look really funny but they taste like a dream. ’nuff said.
  • Brighten Up! If there is one thing Barcelona isn’t, that is drab. The city is full of color everywhere – on clothing, art, buildings — Everywhere! Sure, Gaudi had a lot to do with that, as his colorful (and beautiful) buildings and mosaics are sprinkled throughout the city, but there’s also more to it. Beyond the bright colors everywhere, the people of Barcelona exude a certain sense of happiness, brightness, pride and celebration that I haven’t seen before. It’s not difficult to walk around that city and find something of exquisite beauty, but beyond that it’s also very common to find people singing, dancing, and enjoying life. How awesome is that?
  • To be so awesome, you must never sleep: Seriously. I don’t know when people in Barcelona sleep. They don’t go to dinner until 11 pm, even on weeknights, and then they stay out until the wee hours of the morning on a regular basis. Even the night we walked back home at 3:30 am the streets were still packed with people. When do they sleep? And is not sleeping really the key to all that happiness?
  • Enjoy the moment: As I mentioned in my last post, I noticed that people over there seem to take a little bit more time to enjoy the smaller moments throughout the day. I tried to do this as much as possible while I was there — just sitting and letting everything soak in instead of worrying about what I was going to do next. This is something that we can all try to do more of in our daily lives I think. If you’re always looking towards the next thing, you may miss what’s right in front of you. Just soak it up!

Enjoying the view and the beauty of Guell Parc from this beautiful Mosaic Bench that Gaudi built 

Another Gaudi structure, this one right downtown. The colors and shapes are breathtaking in person! 

Enjoying some of that delicious Sangria! 

To wrap this up, traveling can be life changing if you let it. Even if it’s just a quick trip like the one I just took, immersing yourself in new cultures, eating new foods, speaking or listening to new languages, and trusting yourself to find your way around a new and unfamiliar place can all change you, even if just a little bit. I know I’ll savor this trip forever, and I’ll think of these memories and images often. And I know, without a doubt, I’ll be back.

Where is your favorite place you’ve travelled?

I’m Baaaaack!

Well, Hello everyone!!

I’m back from my little jaunt to Europe, and I am definitely not in the swing of normal life yet, so this post will definitely be a quick one.

Lori and I on our last night in Paris 

I flew in on Monday afternoon, and dragged my jet-lagged, half delirious self to work yesterday, so I have not had time yet to upload all of my pictures to share with all of you. Hopefully I will get some time to do that tonight, so I can be back in the next couple of days to show you some of the delicious foods I tried while I was away!

To give you a little sneak peek, let me just tell you that there was an over-abundance of bread,  goat cheese, sangria, and cappuccino involved. And I savored every last crumb, and every last drop of all of it, because there was no use fretting over calories and macros while I was in two of the  most beautiful cities on earth!

There is one thing that I don’t need any pictures of to talk about though. And that is the absolute amazing time I had in both cities! Paris is Paris, and it will always be one of my favorite places in the world. But Barcelona absolutely blew me away. The people were so friendly, so relaxed, so helpful, the scenery was breathtaking, the food and drink were incredible… Just the atmosphere there was indescribable. I have never been to a foreign city where I felt so comfortable, so relaxed. It truly was the type of place I could stay forever!

Enjoying a glass of Sangria at my favorite little outdoor bar patio 

One of the most wonderful things about the trip was being able to just relax and escape from everything. I did not work out at all while I was there, and I consumed more bread and pastries than I have had in a long time. And you know what? I’m absolutely fine. I did not stress about food, and did not stop to think about working out even once.

Sure, I would take stairs instead of escalators, but that’s part of my normal life anyway. We were also walking a ton each day (except for our epic beach day in Barcelona…but that’s another story for another time), so we were active without even trying.  So while I was not working out, and was eating pretty much everything in sight, I also found myself listening to my body better than ever before. I found myself tasting things more than I usually do, and enjoying the experience of the food/drink, such as sitting and enjoying a cup of cappuccino for an hour rather than gulping it down in 5 minutes.

The beauty of Barcelona was that everyone seems to live that way. They seem to just enjoy life and everything that comes with it, which is a lesson that I think we can all stand to learn every once in a while! Instead of worrying about the little things, sometimes it is completely necessary to just slow down and enjoy the present, and to really take in what is going on around you. I found myself just sitting places and trying to soak up every moment, every minute that passed so that I could remember how it felt to be there. How often do you do that in your every day life?

I’m not saying that we all need to sit for an hour with each cup of coffee that we drink, because there’s not always time for that, but there is definitely something to be said for that type of lifestyle. So take a few moments today and enjoy what is going on around you… Notice the sounds, notice the flavors in your next meal, notice your feelings and mundane thoughts. Just be.

It may sound cheesy, but I’ll take cheese over stress any day 🙂

Bon Voyage!

I know I promised one last post before I left for my trip…

But…

I lied.

Sorry!

Honestly, I spent all weekend enjoying the sun, packing, and running last minute errands, and did not have much time to sit and write!

Rest assured that I’ll be thinking of all of you as I’m galavanting around Paris and Barcelona over the next week. I’ll be eating and drinking cheese, crepes, wine, and sangria to my heart’s content, but I’ll be sure to take pictures of a lot of the delicious food I get to enjoy so that I can share with you when I get back!

.Will be there in a week!

I will be taking this week completely off of working out. I haven’t had a week totally away from the gym for an extremely long time, and I’m going to use this week to totally “reboot” my system, so to speak. We’ll be walking a ton every day, so I’ll still be very active, but no external resistance, no weights, no crazy compound movements. Does that make me a little anxious? Heck yeah! But I’m also looking forward to having all of my time to explore these two beautiful cities without worrying about getting my workout time in.

la pedrera. barcelona, spain

Can’t wait to see all of the Gaudi architecture in Barcelona! 

And with that, I’m off! I’ll try to post some pics and maybe a few words here while I’m gone, if I can get some good wifi. If not, I’ll return next week with some glorious photos and hopefully some great stories!

Have a great week everyone!

Living The Good Life

There are so many things I love about Boston. Countless, really. I have lived in and around this city for 10 years now, and I still can’t get enough. And after all this time, one of my favorite things about Boston remains the same:

Restaurant Week

3-Course meals at some of the best restaurants in the city, for a fixed (and reasonable) price? Yes please?!

And this week, my friends, is upon us once again. Twice a year I get to indulge in restaurants that normally I can’t afford, and also have the perfect excuse to try not only dinner, but some fantastic appetizers and desserts as well. It really can’t be beat!

Last night I went out for Restaurant Week with two of my girl friends from back in the ol’ college days, one of whom just moved back into town and one who is about to move away (again)! So not only was I excited for dinner, but I was excited to see my two lovelies as well. We ended up going to Masa, one of my absolute favorite brunch places in the South End. Although I’ve been there for brunch about 10,000 times, I’ve always been dying to try dinner there but just haven’t made it.

It was worth the wait.

The Restaurant Week menu had several options for each course, and they all looked absolutely delicious. Here’s a rundown on the yumminess we experienced (although I really wanted to eat EVERYTHING on the menu…alas I could only choose one at each course) Also keep in mind that I personally believe that Restaurant Week is absolutely not the time to be strict with calories, macros, etc. Just enjoy the Heck out of it.

Appetizers:

Kristin and I both chose the Scallops and Barbecue Duck (YUM). It came in a sweet corn cream. To die for.

I apologize for the blur, and the fact that I had already had a bite before I took this picture. I just couldn’t help myself with those tasty scallops in front of me 🙂  The scallops were cooked to perfection, and the duck seriously almost melted in your mouth. SO tasty.

Natalie had a delicious looking butternut squash soup with apples, sweet onions, and red sage.  (Sorry, no picture of this one)

On to the main course:

Again, Kristin and I stuck together and each ordered the Southwest Style Steak Frites, which came with a scrumptious arugula salad. DOUBLE yum.

Again, sorry for the lack of a quality picture, but I was really trying to take these quickly before it got annoying.

Oh those fries… the hand cut fries…

Natalie ordered the blackened seared Ahi tuna steak which looked mouth-wateringly good… and got very good reviews from Miss Natalie!

Now for the most important course: Dessert

This time Natalie and Kristin ordered the same and each got the molten chocolate cake with raspberry sauce

And I ordered the caramelized banana diavlo bread pudding.

I know, I know, kind of a risky choice. But OMG guys. This. Was. Good. It may not photograph well, but it was a mix of about 5 different flavors, all of which complemented each other extremely well. I highly recommend this if you’re in the Boston area!

Overall, wonderful dinner at Masa with the ladies!! Some very well prepared food with a little southwestern creative flair and lovely presentation; we were all more than satisfied (and stuffed) at the end!

Now to cap this post off, I’m going to apologize in advance because I really just need to go off topic and do a little bragging. Sometimes a girls gotta brag, right?

I’m actually so excited I can hardly contain myself writing this. Why so excited, you ask? Because earlier this week, along with one of my very best friends, I booked a trip in May to Paris and Barcelona!!!!

RIGHT?!? This dude’s excited.

I don’t think there are enough exclamation points in the world for how excited I am.

I’ll write a bigger post on this when the trip gets closer, but I just had to let you guys know. We are just past the 2 month mark, and then overseas we go! Woo hoo!!

Yes, Paris, I am coming back to you. And Yes, it will be glorious.

Happy Friday, everyone!!