Tag Archives: Barcelona

Barcelona, 2013

From one of my favourite cities to another, my husband, daughter and I flew from Paris to Barcelona. I was so glad to be able to show my daughter two of the places in the world I loved the most.

We stayed I a fabulously comfortable modern apartment in the theatre district where we could see Montjuic from the balcony. The little alleyways were just as authentic as I remembered them and Guadi was just as prevalent.

Pulau Guell was spotted everyday on our way to the famous La Rambla- where we saw Casa Balto and La Pedra. La Segrada Familia was still under construction of course, but an impressive sight as ever.

We saw the fountains of Plaza de Catalunya and the new fashion label Desingual that was making a colourful appearance. Daytime tapas was taken inside Mercat de la Boqueria where we took in the tasty looking displays of vegetables, cold cuts and chocolate.

My friend Ernest invited me over to his place for dinner to meet his wife and new baby daughter and to catch up with Jordi, Leigh and Lidia. It was 9pm- early for Barcelona, but late for my daughter who had already been asleep for 3 hours by then and had to stay behind with my husband. It was great to see them all.

The next day we took the bus to one of my favourite places in the city- Parc Guell. The colourful gatehouses were still there and the view from the balcony was better than I recalled. It was such a buzz to sit on a beautiful mosaiced seat with my family and walk up the dragon sculpture steps.

Back down the hill, we had dinner in a local Tapas restaurant where the lovely waitress wanted to take our daughter home.

On Ernest’s recommendation, we headed for Barcenoleta the following day. I had been to Port Vell and the beach before, but had not heard of the quaint village last time I was here.

The open town square was a hub of family activity along with the huge modern market. We had a leisurely lunch of cocktails and paella at a restaurant on the beach. It was a delicious and fitting end to our enjoyable and relaxing Barcelona sojourn.

Related posts: Europe, 2003Spain 1997, Part 1: BarcelonaPeople vs Place

Change is the new black

This year has been a year of changes for me. One of realisations, discoveries and learnings.

I have realised the strangeness of my past and accepted those things I cannot change. Rather than dwelling on what was not, instead I am looking towards what can be in the future and how I can change the patterns of the past.

I have discovered strength in myself that I never knew I had, as well as several professional strengths that I sort of knew were always there. Clarity of, and confidence in, these strengths is what will lead me to my next adventure in the New Year.

I have learnt how to be flexible and change my approach. A different path forged can sometimes be lonely, but prioritising what is important to you helps lead the way.

I have realised the greatness of people around me once again. Conversation, human nature and the desire of the majority to be friendly, helpful and kind.

I have discovered the joy of a little growing person who I actually get a kick out of spending time with. Going to the movies, the zoo or just being at home.

I have learnt a new appreciation of the city I live in. Drinking, dining and boating on the harbour. Date nights, work outings and hanging with friends.

The biggest change has been the discovery of exercise. That’s right, you heard it here first, this non-gym goer now has a personal trainer and loves it!

This year has also been a year of domestic travel. Back on the wine trail in Tasmania, the Barossa and the Hunter Valley with good friends and my small family of three.

Next year I look forward to more of the same, plus hopefully more international travel to destinations unknown. I can’t wait to realise my own potential, discover the value of a mentor and learn more about other people and places.

I have definitely achieved my end of year goals from 2014 of trying to appreciate the little things and dream bigger about the big things, beyond even what I had thought was possible.

Yes, change has definitely been the new black for me in 2015 and may 2016 continue this exciting trend.

Catch you in the New Year, and as always, thanks for reading.

Disclaimer: I can’t take credit for the title of this week’s blog post, but it got your attention didn’t it?!

P.S Thanks to all the website owners that have published my 2015 travel tales from Barcelona, traveling with kids, Sri Lanka and closer to home.

Related posts: Work, work, work, To Belong, Having it all?, Reinvention, Sydney vs MelbourneNew beginnings, Nostalgia, Pride vs The fallPeople vs PlaceDiscovery,  It’s a Sri Lankan Thing, Kid at Heart, Dreams vs Reality, Happy Holidays 

It’s a Spanish thing

I love Spain.

I love the colour, the life and the fact that people mistake me for being Spanish.

Flamenco dancing spectaculars, drinking Sangria and late night starts.

Tasty tapas, seafood paella and crème Catalan.

Nobody worries too much about owning property- why buy when you can rent right in the middle of the city where you want to live.

Parc de la Citadella where the cool kids hang out, Otto Zutz nightclub where the tourists go to party and Zara for all your fashionable needs.

The iconic La Rambla, the smells and sounds of La Boqueria and the friendly waitress in our local bar.

I love Barcelona, especially Parc Guell, and every time I go back I discover a new side to the city.

The brilliance of Gaudi, the deck chairs on the curving beaches and the famous 4 Cats bar.

The Moorish delights of the Alhambra, so many fountains and gypsies living in cave houses.

I am fortunate enough to have some Spanish friends who have shown me parts of Spain that I would not have otherwise explored.

The views from Mount Tibidabo, the sad story of Punta De Sau and the tradition of Plaza de Torres de la Maestanza.

Busy Madrid, beautiful Granada and cultural Seville.

I like the streets and alleyways of the cities and the gothic architecture of the churches.

A summer retreat in Xabia, white washed Spanish style villa’s and tall cliffs crashing into deep blue sea.

The lovely language, the good looking ladies and the passionate people.

It’s not just a country, it’s a way of life.

Endless fun, long summers in the cold climate of Europe and a no worries attitude that suits my Australian ethos.

I look forward to returning to Espana and discovering more about this wonderful country.

Related posts: It’s a water thing, People vs Place, It’s a French thing, Europe, 2003, Spain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond Barcelona, Spain, 1997, Part 1: Barcelona

Europe, 2003

Leaving my parents in England visiting family; I went to Barcelona to party with local friends Ernest and Jordi. Ernest and Jordi were students of Leigh (who I had stayed with last time I was in Barcelona). They had recently travelled to Australia and were now back in Barcelona at university.

This time, I stayed at Ernest’s house with his parents and sister. His mother, Lidia, took me to a modern flamenco show one night. It was very different to what I had previously seen of the traditional dance in Seville, kind of like the difference between modern dance and traditional ballet.

Ernest and Jordi took me to Parc de la Citadella which seemed to be a bit of a student hang- out. There were musicians, fountains and modern statues. We went to Zara and complained about how much the prices had gone up since the introduction of the Euro the previous year.

We went to Parc Guell for its famous view of Barcelona and I was in love at first sight with the place. I marvelled at the pillars, tunnels and ceiling detail underpinning the balcony and the brightly coloured gate houses. My favourite part was the lizard statue on the staircase.

As previously mentioned, the real life in Barcelona starts at night, and this trip was no exception. Most nights we partied too hard, got up too late the next day and missed the entry times for Gaudi’s other masterpieces such as La Pedra and Casa Balto.

We walked La Rambla at night and went to the Mercat del Born. I witnessed the best fountain show I have seen- La Font Magica at Placa de Espanya. The coloured fountains were magnificent and perfectly timed to the music.

There were many new bars on the beach were you could sit on a deck chair with a cocktail and we danced the night away at Otto Zutz nightclub.

I flew back to London for more bar hopping with my friend Selina who was living there with her boyfriend at the time and to travel to Weymouth to visit my grandmother.

Fog in London delayed my flight back to Australia in Paris for 2 days. I was put up in an airport hotel and eventually flown to Melbourne instead of Sydney, but there are worst places you can be stuck in than Paris, that’s for sure!

I went to Sacre Cour to marvel at the white washed building and a view of Paris that was new to me. I wandered through the Monmarte district taking in the artistic alleyways, Moulin Rouge and Monmarte Cemetery which was beautiful in its own way and full of cats.

Flying out of the ridiculously hard to navigate Charles De Gaulle airport on the way home, I hoped that I would never have to go through there again. The only way to get from one terminal to the next was by a bus that only traveled in one direction which almost made me miss my flight again!

This post was republished to the Social New England paper.li

Related posts: Vietnam, 2003, England, 2002, Spain, 1997, Part 1: Barcelona, France, 1997, Part 1: Paris, England, 1997, England, Singapore and Malaysia, 1988, Travel rememberings, I first started travelling

The Fashion Files

As I have previously stated, I am not much of a consumer. I don’t keep up with fashion and prefer to wear the styles and colours that suit me. I detest the societal pressure to look model thin and the requisite downsizing of sizes that goes with it.

That being said, I am so excited about the new H&M store that is opening in Sydney’s Macquarie Centre this Thursday. I haven’t been this excited since…well, since the first Australian store opened in Melbourne and I went to that one- currently the biggest H&M in the world as the young helpful sales assistant informed me. My favourite section is the comfy casual Logg clothing that I recently found in the Orchard Rd store in Singapore.

I first discovered H&M when I travelled to England to visit my grandparents. I just found that the pants fitted me better in European clothing brand shops. I was also taken to Zara on Oxford St, purchased a black ruffled skirt and a love affair with Spanish clothing brands commenced. Every overseas trip since then has included a trip to Zara and H&M in Europe, Asia and the Americas wherever possible.

After purchasing a t-shirt with an underwater fish scene in Las Vegas, I found the sub-brand Trafaluc and it is now my favourite section in a Zara store. When Zara opened in Sydney I was ecstatic, but this enthusiasm quickly turned to disappointment as I realised that in the tradition of many fashion outlets in Australia, we were at least one year behind all the European fashion.

The same could be said of the Sydney Mango shop, which went one step further and held leftover stock from Europe as far as I could tell as I found the exact same pair of black high heels that I had bought the previous year in Belgium. They used to have a great shop on the Gold Coast, but have now closed this along with all their other shops except for the flagship store in Melbourne and now distribute through David Jones.

On a recent trip to Barcelona, I saw the Desigual label. Very pretty and colourful, but a little too young and hip for me!

Now if I could just take a mental picture of my wardrobe so that I don’t end up buying the EXACT same top twice that would be great.

Related posts: O-P-I- don’t mind if I do, Kicking goals

Random Public Holiday Ramblings

Today is public holiday Monday here in Oz, so I was going to take the day off from blogging too, but instead I thought I would just share some random ramblings for something a little bit different. So here we go- my first free style blog experiment…

Public holiday Monday used to equal a good excuse to drink lots and for an extra weekend day- now that I have a two year old- not so much!

What is the Labour Day holiday for anyway? According to Wikipedia it commemorates the achievements of the Australian labour movement. That is the eight hour day movement- which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest.

Sounds pretty good to me! So- what movement advocates a four day working week? Cause we really should get on that. Not that I can complain as I only work part time these days anyway.

This weekend also marks the start of day light savings. This indicates the start of summer for pretty much everyone on this side of the world and it kicked off with a vengeance this year with a 33 degree celsius day.

And who do we have to thank for the brilliant innovation of daylight savings time? A New Zealander as always- George Vernon Hudson- who first thought of it in 1895. I wonder if Aussies try to take credit for this too along with Crowded House and Russell Crowe.

I totally picked the Amazing Race Australia winner and the runner up for The Bachelor Australia. Does this mean I watch too much reality TV? Perhaps.

I was particularly impressed with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting that Blake (the Bachelor), was 31 and 32 on the same day in separate articles. Fact checking much?

Apparently there is a big Bachelor scandal that is going to be discussed on The Project tonight and can be purchased in today’s Woman’s Day.

No- I haven’t rushed out to buy a copy because really- how scandalous can it be? More than likely it is all just a media beat up to distract from the fact that the show had poor ratings and an even poorer ending. And as they say- all publicity is good publicity.

The new Survivor has just started so I will have to predict the winner for that too. It is harder to predict, but hopefully I will get the trifecta.

And where are the now not so new US seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette? We are almost a year behind now! And what about the new season of The Originals that is supposed to start tomorrow?What’s going on channel Go? And you wonder why people download shows instead.

At least Fox 8 has had the foresight to buy Vampire Diaries fast tracked from the US so that it aired on Friday. Very happy Jan.

I saw Gone Girl at the movies last night. I read the book this year when a friend gave it to me for my birthday. It was one I never would have thought of  even thought of buying as I usually avoid the best seller list, but it kept me guessing and was very dark and intriguing. And I must say that the movie was even scarier without all the internal monologue that you get in novels.

I’m currently enjoying reading The Time of Our Lives by Jane Costello as it is chick lit set in one of my favourite cities- Barcelona. The characters are staying in Barceloneta- a place I only recently pleasantly discovered on my trip last year on the recommendation of some local friends. Top spot.

I’m loving Twitter at the moment- Twitter is where it’s at! Good quality networking for bloggers and great content- if you are following the right people for your interests of course! Instagram also seems to be a good one for the more visually inclined- I’m more of a words person, but do love a good photo too.

This summer I am looking forward to more beach time and it looks like a lovely day out there- so it’s time to get off the virtual world and enjoy the sunshine in the real world. Have a good long weekend peoples!

Related posts: The New Amazing Race Australia, The New Bachelor Australia, TV Replays and Movie Marathons, Books, books and more books

Spain, 1997, Part 1: Barcelona

Sarah and I arrived in Barcelona train station to lots of paraphernalia about the 1992 Olympics which still remained on the walls.

We walked through the famous Las Ramblas (not knowing what it was at the time) to meet one of my Dad’s friend’s from Weymouth- Leigh- who had a flat right in the middle of the city and was letting us stay with him.

Leigh took us to Sagrat Cour at Mount Tibidabo for a view of Barcelona. We also went to the monastery at Sant Cugat and ate patas bravas in the town square.

The real life in Barcelona begins at night and Spain is the home of the free pour.

So, that night we went to 4 Cats– the bar that Picasso used to go to, Barri Gotic at night and the Dipuctacion Provincial with the balcony where the football team stand when they win a game which a very important landmark to Leigh and most of the locals who are lovers of football, but not to me who didn’t know the first thing about soccer.

I was much more interested in the French bar that we went to next that was called Pastis and sold wine out a barrel. Leigh took us past the Columbus monument and to the newly renovated port area with modern architecture and neon lighting.

Finally, we went to dinner at midnight. This seemed ridiculous to me who is used to eating dinner at 6pm, but in Barcelona, to have dinner at 11pm is normal and to go home at 4am is an early night.

The next day, Leigh took us to the small town of Vic and Ponta de Sau which is a village flooded to make a dam. You can still see church steeple sticking out of the dam lake. Very eerie.

We continued our tour of drinking plus a little sight-seeing with lunch in a hotel near the dam lake and onto a bar overlooking Barcelona at night called Bar Tomas.

1am found Sarah and I at the Bikini night club with its pink neon sign and boys telling us that we had beautiful eyes, although I am not sure how they could tell on the strobe lighted dance floor.

Sarah and I met up with one of my Australian friends from high school at cafe in front of Segrada Familia. He had fallen in love with a local and was now living in Barcelona.

We went to Montjuic Olympic park to see the Olympic stadium and the telecommunication tower that was the symbol of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.

On numerous occasions, the locals thought I was a native Catalan, which may have contributed to Barcelona becoming another one of my favourite cities in the world. Perhaps I had found the city where I belonged? If I could keep up with the night owl hours.

Republished on Travel Spain daily paper.li.

Related posts: France, 1997, Part 2: The South of France, France, 1997, Part 1: Paris, Belgium, 1997, Holland, 1997, England, 1997, I first started travelling, By special request, Home is where you make it, I first started writing