Back On the Wagon

Our trip to Barcelona was a wonderful break. And not just a break from work, the kids, and our regular routine. It was a break from the squeaky-clean eating habits that I observe in my day-to-day life. Not only did I have red wine with every dinner, but also croissants, chocolate croissants, French fries, cookies, potato chips, sugar, dessert and caffeinated tea.

And you know what? It felt wonderful!download (30)

It felt terrific to eat anything I wanted. I felt kind of rebellious and I felt a freedom that I have not experienced for a long time. I didn’t worry about glycemic index, refined sugar, enzymes, fat, and caloric intake. I didn’t worry about anything. I stepped completely out of my regular routine and my holiday was fabulous!

jucing-greensWhen we got home I simply didn’t have the energy to return to my regular eating style of mostly raw food. However, today I awakened with a craving for greens and for raw food. So, after dropping the kids at school I stocked up on organic produce, a big try of wheatgrass, and a beautifully green tray of pea sprouts.

I had a 4-ounce wheatgrass shot for breakfast followed by my raw plant-based smoothie. And, as I write, I am indulging in a bowl full of organic red pepper, avocado, and pea sprouts with cold-pressed olive oil, the juice of an organic lemon and Celtic sea salt sprinkled over the top…absolutely delicious!

And, truly, I think that today’s raw food tastes that much better because I allowed myself to visit the ‘other side’ of eating and then to return home again.

Next stop…a raw lemon cheesecake!download (31)

Advertisements

Jet Lag

I had absolutely no trouble travelling east. Traveling west, however, is a completely different story.

After a fabulous workshop today I am, quite simply, too tired to do anything but go to bed. Radical Acts will just have to wait until tomorrow.

My cozy bed beckons…goodnight!

Unpacked and Upright

I am sitting in my favorite blogging spot with a cup of tea and my beeswax candle burning. It has been over two weeks since I have sat in this spot but it feels more like two months. In two fabulous weeks, I have been up north to ski with the family, I have been to London, England and I have been to Barcelona, Spain.world-tour-and-travel-destination-high-definition

As I reflect on my two weeks I feel a deep sense of appreciation for the opportunity to see, to do, to taste, to drink, to discover, and to travel.

Now, I am settled in at home. And, thanks to the miraculous antibiotics I started 24 hours ago, I am feeling so much better than I was at this time yesterday. My bags are unpacked, the laundry is done, and all my ducks are in a row.

The fact that I am unpacked and upright means that I can hit the ground running tomorrow morning to run a workshop in Toronto. And, I couldn’t be more excited to get back to the work that I love so much!

Perhaps that is the best feeling of all…that, at the end of two weeks holiday, I am as excited to get back to work as I was to have two wonderful weeks stretching out in front of me.download (17)

Bleary

A twenty three hour travel day yesterday.
Came down with a bladder infection about halfway through the flight from London to Toronto.
Saw a doctor this morning. On some good drugs.
Appreciative that my body waited until I was back in my own country to come down with this infection.
So happy to be reunited with my three cherubs!
Completely exhausted and feeling pretty crappy.
No idea what time my body thinks it is. Trying to stay awake a little longer.
Is 7:30 too early to go to bed?

Going With the Flow

We went to Cal Pep for dinner last night and, I have to say, I don’t think I have ever enjoyed myself more in a restaurant!

Cal Pep, by reputation, is one of Barcelona’s best Tapas restaurants. Cal Pep opens its doors for dinner at 7:30pm. And when we arrived at 9:00pm, the place was absolutely hopping. The restaurant seats about twenty customers who all sit diner-style at a long counter and have the opportunity to watch the two Tapas chefs work their magic. There is very little room behind the counter for the two chefs, the four serving staff and the three bus boys but they seem to manage as if it is a well-practiced dance.

We only had to wait ten minutes or so to find a spot at the counter. Less than fifteen minutes later the place was suddenly packed with tourists, most of them Americans as, we discovered, they had just started their Spring Break. And because the restaurant is so small, I had the opportunity to listen in on all kinds of conversations as the people waiting behind me were less than a foot from my back.

Simon was seated beside a young German woman on his other side and, thanks to her flawless English, they got chatting and spent the better part of the meal in animated and intriguing conversation. Simon’s conversation with her meant that I was free to watch the goings-on around me without feeling I was ignoring my partner and I, in turn, did not feel the least bit ignored.

I think the most amusing aspect of Cal Pep was the ordering process. One of the waiters approached us and asked, in broken and heavily-accented English, if we had any allergies or, God-forbid, were vegetarian. We knew better than to launch into the long list of allergies…gluten, dairy, corn…and just told him that I am a vegetarian but that fish and seafood would be perfectly acceptable. He spent a determined few moments asking if I could have a little bit of ham, a little bit of pork or even just a bit of chicken. We assured him that none of the above were preferable but to go-to-town on the seafood. He seemed a bit disappointed in my meat-free insistence but finally acquiesced.

Simon and I turned to each other laughing as we recalled the funny scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding…’that’s okay, I’ll make lamb’.

Once we had established allergies and preferences, I assumed we would get a wine list and a menu. However, neither of those things happened. The waiter asked us whether we wanted four of five Tapas dishes and what we wanted to drink. We told him five Tapas, beer for Simon and red wine for me.

And that was the end of any input from us. While we waited for our mystery order to start arriving, we noticed that the Spanish-speaking patrons were not only offered menus, but wine lists as well. At Cal Pep, life is moving far too fast to accommodate us fumbling English-speakers so they take full and unapologetic control.

Hilarious!

What I have not mentioned yet is the owner of Cal Pep who is a short and rather rotund man dressed in his chef whites. He has big glasses, a loud voice and speaks absolutely no English. He commands the chaos like an army general and nothing escapes his notice. Every few minutes he will clap loudly when one of his staff needs to attend to something or other.

While I observed the jovial and steely owner, plates started materializing in front of us and my wine was produced from an enormous bottle. I had absolutely no idea what type of wine it was but I was certainly not challenging the authority of the staff on their choice for me! The food was absolutely delicious and piping hot. Watching the precision and talent of the cooks was inspiring and the barely controlled chaos of the tiny restaurant was utterly bewitching.

Simon was still busy with Cristina, the German woman, so I just ate my meal and basked in the chaos.

Just as I was launching into my artichoke chips, I was aware of a commotion behind me. Part of the Cal Pep protocol is to enter the restaurant and walk to the end of the line behind the diners along the counter. As soon as places become available at the counter, the ones furthest into the restaurant are seated. Apparently, the system had become a little mixed up and a loudly insistent man from Manhattan was voicing his disapproval at the fact that there were people in front of him who had arrived after his party, which consisted of his teenage daughter and heavily bejewelled and gorgeously coifed wife.

Watching one of the waitstaff try to explain that he was aware of the order of patrons and that they would be seated before the party in front of them was fascinating. It was completed with finger actions of walking people, whistling and a funny kind of humming. As the American man was directly behind me, I had front row seats to this comical attempt at communication.

As luck would have it, the Manhattanite was eventually seated beside me, so I had the opportunity to witness what I knew was coming next. What I found particularly interesting was that the owner quickly materialized to take the order from the Manhattan family. There was much back-and-forth in loud Spanish and loud English.

Why is it that when someone clearly does not understand our language, we think that talking louder will smooth out the communication?

Eventually, a wine list was produced and selections were made. The Manhattanite had to fight hard to get a bottle of water as the owner seemed to be trying to communicate, as he patted his round belly and had his hands to his throat, that water was not good for anyone, and that they should just stick to wine.

The man was not amused by these antics but I was transfixed…and they hadn’t even tried to order food yet!

I’m sure you can imagine the tug-of-war that occurred over the food ordering. And, to add insult to injury, the man’s teenage daughter was a vegetarian and no amount of hand gesturing, waving of arms, or belly-patting from the owner was going to budge her, or her infuriated father, on her eating preferences.

By the time the Manhattan family’s food arrived, the man was so angry that I am sure he had to choke down every bite of his food. As I compared his dining experience with mine, I realized that where I had had fun letting go of control and going with the flow of Cal Pep, he had tried to assert control over an environment that was, unapologetically, having none of it.

As we made our way out of the bustling restaurant and into the narrow alley outside the restaurant I was absolutely delighted to have spent our last night in Barcelona in the company of such diverting, delicious, and hilarious surroundings.

And it reminded me how much fun letting go of control and going with the flow can be! And, truly, if we can’t let go of control when we are in someone else’s intriguing culture, then when can we?

20140321-164919.jpg

20140321-165236.jpg

20140321-165309.jpg

Last Day Fun

When we awakened this morning, Simon and I made a conscious decision to do far less walking today than we did yesterday! And so, with this intention in mind, we purchased ‘Hop-on, Hop-off’ bus tickets so that the bus driver could take care of getting us to the sights and we could just enjoy them.

We have had a fun and hilarious day together for our last day in Barcelona. Simon was at his very funniest and I feel as if I have spent the whole day laughing like a lunatic!

It is a little cooler today but the sun is still out in full force. We are heading home to temperatures that are at least 20 degrees colder than what we have been enjoying here, so we soaked in all the sun we could.

We finished our day in the Barceloneta district down by the beach. A couple of yummy Mojitos and an order of fresh cut fries in a funky surfer/skater bar. Then a walk along the boardwalk to home.

After a quick shower, we are going to head out for dinner to a restaurant a few alleys over called Cal Pep. It is reputed to be the best tapas in Barcelona and fills up fast. We tried to eat there the other night with Simon’s colleagues but the bar-style seating did not lend itself to a party of six people. It has a lively atmosphere and a delightful chef who circulates with a big smile on his face. We are excited to eat superbly and to celebrate our fabulous visit to this wonderful city!

Big day of travel ahead tomorrow to get home to our three boys! 🙂

Here are the stops we have made today;

20140320-161815.jpg

The Catedral de Santa Maria around the corner from our apartment

20140320-162437.jpg

The stunningly beautiful Catedral Barcelona

20140320-162557.jpg

On the steps of the Catedral Barcelona

20140320-162637.jpg

Simon hamming it up with his tiny coffee…certainly not a Tim Horton’s medium!

20140320-162808.jpg

The Palau Nacional de Montjuic

20140320-180823.jpg

A vegetarian and allergic to cheese…these meat and cheese cones will not be my afternoon snack!

Uphill All Day

Simon and I just got home from our dinner in the Barceloneta district of Barcelona and we are both completely pooped! As we made our way up the steep and numerous stairs to our apartment a few minutes ago, Simon’s Nike Fuel Band informed us that we have done 17,700 steps today. What the fuel band did not tell us is that most of those steps were up some of Barcelona’s steepest climbs!

I am so tired I can hardly see straight so this post will be mostly pictures.20140319-223511.jpg

Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf on our way to the Sagrada Familia.

When we arrived at the Sagrada Familia at 9:30 this morning there was already a long wait for tickets. However, it was there was well worth the wait. I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of Gaudi’s basilica. The whole structure was unlike anything I have seen before.

The stained glass windows were particularly beautiful and the play of light coming through them was breathtaking. We were also amazed at the intricate stonework on the outside.

20140319-224826.jpg

20140319-224846.jpg

20140319-224900.jpg

After leaving the Sagrada Familia, we decided to head to Parc Guelle, another of Gaudi’s masterpieces. What we did not realize is that it was a very steep and very long climb to get there. Here is a picture taken near the top of our climb. Barcelona is spread out behind Simon and the Sagrada Familia is way in the background over Simon’s left shoulder.

20140319-225742.jpg

Parc Guelle was a delightful visit and the whimsy of Gaudi’s architecture made us feel as though we had stepped into a Dr. Suess illustration.

20140319-225942.jpg

20140319-225958.jpg

20140319-230005.jpg

By the time we got home we were totally pooped. Simon headed for a siesta on the couch and I headed for the sunny rooftop. There is nothing beautiful about the rooftops of Barcelona but it was wonderful to bask in the afternoon sun, enjoy the view, and listen to the various church bells pealing all around me. I also love the skateboard shelves on the wall of the patio…makes me miss my Max.

20140319-230407.jpg

20140319-230416.jpg

After a nice long soak in the little bathtub, I was refreshed and ready for seafood paella in the Barceloneta district. At 8:30 at night I am always amazed how empty the restaurants are except for us tourists who do not tend to eat dinner at 11:00 at night!

Off to bed…last touring day tomorrow! 🙂