Category Archives: Europe

Italy {Pictures}

MILAN

IMG_9819 IMG_9832 IMG_9867 IMG_9873 IMG_9877 IMG_9900 IMG_9928 IMG_9962 IMG_9969 IMG_9807 IMG_9905 IMG_9946 IMG_9976

LAKE COMO

IMG_0131 IMG_0117 IMG_0100 IMG_0037 IMG_0017IMG_0119 IMG_0107 IMG_0042 IMG_0059 IMG_0071IMG_0187

Someone I Once Met: Mr. Marijuana

Let me begin by excusing myself for allowing my wanderlust and creative writing to fall by the wayside. I also want to take my hat off to anyone who has ever worked full time and studied on the side. Or even better, anyone who has worked full time, raised a family and studied on the side. I have no family to raise and still I find it tough to find time for creative projects. So here’s to all you go getters doing all the things to better yourselves, altering priorities and giving things up. For a while.

So in today’s short little introduction to someone I once met I bring you Matt. Matt sprang to mind the other day when I was pondering my new and improved mindset regarding my stance on the legalization of marijuana. For those of you who are not yet aware, I recently decided to be more vocal about my position on the topic of legalizing pot. I’m all for it. I have many reasons and perhaps I’ll focus more on them in future posts.

I realized that the reason Matt holds a special place in my memory bank is because of marijuana. You see, once upon a time in 2013, I arrived in Barcelona for an extended vacation. I booked into a hostel and continued to stay there for a little over a month. At some point, my path crossed Matt’s.

IMG_8952

Barcelona is one of Europe’s biggest tourist attractions. Everyone comes to admire the works of Gaudi and the fantastically historic gothic architecture. What people don’t realize is that Barcelona is the new Amsterdam. One is able to buy marijuana over the counter so long as you’re a member of one of the many ‘clubs’ (Think ‘Amsterdam coffee shops’). The laws regarding pot are hugely relaxed in this area and as a result there exists an intriguing and ever-growing cannabis culture. For this reason, I beg any potential reader to understand that my, or anyone’s use of pot in Barcelona, is not an illegal activity.

(For a better understanding of Barcelona’s weed scene- I go into more detail here.)

Matt is a fan of weed. I realized this when I walked into our shared dormitory and was hit by a pungent, yet not offensive aroma. Matt, the culprit, had been puffing on the balcony. At some point during his stay we must have had a conversation about it and our respective stances on the plant, although my memory of it seems a bit fuzzy.

Since no-one’s hostel stay was as long as mine, Matt and co. came and went. I didn’t get to say goodbye, but under my pillow I found a small gift. Since he was flying out and since one can legally transfer the toxic liquid that is alcohol from one country to another but do no such thing with marijuana, He left me a little surprise.

IMG_8741
There was no accompanying note and there was no need for one. Matt had left me his pipe and left-over ‘stash’ as a parting gift. All I have is a faded memory of him, in and out the dorm room, and a strong appreciation for his simple gesture. I don’t have much more to say about Matt or our mutual experiences, it’s literally that small little anecdote. But I do think the fact that it has stayed with me regardless (the impression not the weed), speaks volumes for how much this subject means to me.

Marijuana/weed/pot/The Devil’s Lettuce is completely and utterly a symbol of peace and healing (and friendship), and so far from the demonized ‘drug’ we’re made to believe it is. If I think about it, I’m actually impressed by the power of propaganda- because that’s all it is. False information fed to the masses which we in turn lap up. But let me leave you with this; if you truly believe in the offensiveness of marijuana then you’re showing the same ignorance as Nazi lovers did when they blindly followed Hitler and his colossally unfounded bullshit. And I think Matt would agree. *Ends rant.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

On eating my weight in cheese and other French stories

With anything in life, things have to be pretty great to keep people coming back for more. If she’s good looking, you’ll be back for more. If her brain’s pretty good too – we know where to find you. And if she can cook! Well now there’s almost 100 percent chance of this hypothetical relationship working out.

France2014_33

Countries are no different. Take France- people come, go and come back again for more. So much so that it is by FAR the most visited country in the world. It’s 84 million tourists per year way surpasses the US as runner up with a measly 15 million. France has earned it’s position!

The cafes, the pastries, the notoriously cute pastel coloured shutters, ancient alley ways and cobbled streets. Well perfumed people. Chic looking infants out-growing their Levi jeans faster than you can say ‘baguette’. Their equally as stylish parents. Free wifi at McDonalds. Good McDonalds. Macaroons. All French Food. The language. Overflowing national pride. And you can’t ignore the animal lovers. There must be more animal lovers per square kilometer than any other corner of the earth.

In the same breath, it might be nice to see fewer dogs in prams. When did dogs stop running alongside their jogging owners and be pushed in prams instead?

While we’re here, I personally (physically) could do with less pastries made up almost entirely of butter. Here’s looking at you croissant (remember to rough up the back of your throat when you say that).

Also, just like I could do with less Capetonians going on about their fantastical…… everything,  French people could tone down the ‘can’t beat our food and wine’ attitudes. Ze wine, ze cheese, ze Fois GROIS! Ze best! There’s something quite obnoxious about it all- be you Capetonian, French or just a nauseatingly proud mother. I dunno, to me, hyper-nationalistic people are about as annoying as someone who can’t hide the fact that they find themselves attractive.

As a possible after effect of all this love, the French have developed a unique character trait whereby they prefer to speak French and only French. As a country that attracts more tourists than any other in the world, it might be in their favour to be more open to the English language. And I’m not saying everyone go and learn it all- I’m just saying don’t treat it like an infectious wound that might take over completely if you get too close.

To ensure starting off on the wrong foot –ask a Frenchman if he speaks English. Then watch for that split second of what looks like a mixture between discomfort and annoyance before they say ‘no’. At this point try and work into the conversation that you are South African and not in fact British. This might salvage things a bit and prevent you from being shut out as effectively as the pastel shutters do the sun. Ze French don’t like ze Roast Beef.

But when you think about it, if you’ve got the world falling at your feet, jumping through hoops for their visa in the hopes of eating their weight in cheese – you can do and be whatever you like. And even though I’v successfully ranted and lets be honest, generalized, there are a number of French people who occupy a special place in my heart. You know who you are- please do not be offended. There might not be a more picturesque and cultured corner of the world, you guys have every right to be proud.

France2014_226France2014_192 France2014_185France2014_95 France2014_91 France2014_59France2014_130France2014_173 France2014_138 France2014_115France2014_320 France2014_295 France2014_292

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Making the Video “Eye Spy”

Not too long ago, in a not-so-picturesque town on Spain’s Costa Brava, two green/budding media enthusiasts made a short film.

Aside from learning a lot about filming, editing and each other, I also learnt that Google Images can often be misleading. I guess any seaside village in the middle of Winter would be a little dead and gloomy. (Then again, I got no gloomy-feeling from my Winter trip to San Sebastian so I guess we’re back to “dead-and-not-so-picturesque”.)

That being said we didn’t come away empty handed. We picked this town randomly from a map for a reason- we needed to get out of Barcelona for a bit and wanted to make a video. Canet de Mar seemed the best option considering its proximity to the city- and off we went. Go Pro, Canon G12 and 650D in hand, we arrived ready to make miracles.

And that’s almost exactly what had to be done. There was close to absolutely nothing going on in our chosen little coastal town which made it difficult to film anything. In the end, we chose ourselves as subjects and that’s why you see so much of us in the film.

Less than 24 hours after arriving we had seen what there was to see and done our best at capturing it. We hopped back on the train to the city we were trying to escape. Luckily for us there was a lot going on back in Barcelona and for that reason alone we were able to gather enough footage for “Eye Spy”.

Although the weather didn’t play along, we did what we could to put together the best of our clips, sorting through all the over exposure and grey to bring you “Eye Spy: 48 Hours in Catalunya”.

IMG_2777IMG_2801IMG_2842 IMG_2834IMG_2863 IMG_2849IMG_2886IMG_2944IMG_2950

IMG_2956

Here it is! A look into 48 hours in Catalunya, Spain. Brought to you by Wanderlust and Driftsole Media.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Boys and Their Toys at the 70th Anniversary of D-Day

By James Bourhill

Normandy, the 6th of June, 2014.

I’m sure that for those who were at the ceremonies in and around the cemeteries, there was an opportunity for reflection, but only invited guests, royalty and the like, were allowed access to these events.

For the rest of us rubber-necks, there was plenty of action but little opportunity for reflection. By all accounts, the TV coverage was superbly sensitive, but what follows is my personal experience on the ground.

2014 or 1944

On the afternoon of 5 June, without any planned itinerary, I decided to head for Pegasus Bridge on the River Orne. This is where British paratroops landed virtually on the bridge, took their objective and held it until the commandos arrived to relieve them. I like to think that I am somehow connected to Brigadier Simon Fraser who led his men from the beaches with his piper, Bill Millin, playing.

En route to Pegasus Bridge, I got caught in a massive traffic jam and had to park on the side of the road. The attraction was a mass parachute drop, and I was just in time to see it all. First there was a flypast of two Spitfires with the distinctive D-Day stripes on the wings, they growled low overhead a few times as if attacking ground targets.

Then, as they probably would have done seventy years ago, they waggled their wings and departed. The first paratroopers jumped out of an old DC-47, then came about eight modern giants, each carrying thirty men. They dropped into a field of wheat in the same spot where the originals landed on the night of 5/6 June 1944.

Like them, I walked the rest of the way to Pegasus Bridge.  The road was bumper to bumper traffic, much of it consisting of beautifully restored military vehicles. The sheer number and beautiful condition they were in is what left me with my over-riding impression of the event. This and the thousands of men women and children, dressed up in period costume or military uniforms, riding on the vehicles or pissing it up in the beer tents.

Ladies not to be left out

The most popular street food on sale was a boerewors roll or rather a baguette with spicy sausage and fried onions piled on. Also doing a great trade were the souvenir shops, selling T shirts, mugs, flags, toys and lots of army memorabilia. Which brings me to my second key observation.

It seems that for many this is a celebration, not of peace, but of militarism. This is not a judgement, just an observation. Military men were everywhere. Old soldiers, serving soldiers and wannabe soldiers. At worst, it is a gathering of cult followers, at best they are primarily enthusiasts, collectors and restorers of vintage vehicles

Timewarp

At midnight there was a fireworks display at each one of the landing beaches along the 80 kilometre front. I decided to try Omaha Beach because it is a bit more remote and it is where the most dramatic events of D-Day occurred.  There were no noisy crowds here, perhaps a thousand or so pilgrims picnicking on the beach or walking along the water’s edge imagining the scenes which took place here.

The fireworks did not disappoint. The ground shook with the explosions, giving an inkling of what the German defenders must have experienced under the opening bombardment.

As you can imagine there was no available accommodation, so when the fireworks were over, I went back to my car and slept right there. I wasn’t the only one. A policeman armed with a flashlight came to tell me that I was welcome to sleep there but I needed to be gone by 6.00 a.m. Otherwise I would be compelled to stay exactly where I was for the whole of the next day since no vehicle was permitted to go anywhere. There was no negativity on the part of the police or other officials, rather an attitude of “welcome to our liberators”.

Speaking of police, I have never in my life seen so many cops. All the way from Paris, busses and vans transported a large portion of the gendarmerie of France to protect the likes of Barak Obama, Vladimir Putin and Prince Charles. There were thousands of immaculate, fit, young policemen ready to protect and serve.

To their credit, the townspeople tried hard to accommodate the influx of visitors. As the announcer quipped, “we were not expecting such a large crowd, but when you arrived here in 1944, we were not expecting you either”. The entertainment for the occasion included a concert show in exactly the same spot where a performance was put on for the troops. An old photograph shows the men sitting on vehicles and on the ground in front of an improvised stage in the town square.

There were 1,200 American “musicians” in town which consisted almost entirely of high school marching bands. There was going to be a parade of these marching bands. It was going to be an “unprecedented sight” and worth waiting for. Against my better judgement, I stayed on and missed my chance of getting out of town before the mad rush.

What a disappointment for all those thousands of people who waited and jostled for a view.  At the best of times, an American marching band with their bling uniforms and feathers stuck onto cardboard hats are a bit of a joke, but on this occasion they were wholly inappropriate.  Never mind the carnival style marching, I was fascinated by the appearance of the kids themselves.

They bore no resemblance whatsoever to the lean and mean paratroopers who marched through the town on a previous occasion. This pimply lot looked as though they had never missed out on a MacDonald’s meal, and could never possess the fortitude to run a man through with a bayonet. But this is what the German intelligence effectively said about the American soldiers back in 1943.

Among the Band-of-Brothers lookalikes, it was easy to forget the real human beings who dropped in seventy years ago. One such example was a parachutist who got snagged on the church steeple and remained there during the fighting. The ringing of the bells deafened him but he survived to jump and fight again and again. He died of cancer in 1969 at the age of 57. The commentators and journalists who did the story well, concentrated on the stories of such individuals.

Hanging from the bell tower_1

Hanging from the bell tower

So was it a celebration of a commemoration? I suppose that it is a lot like Christmas. Only a few think about the true meaning. For the rest it is all about consumerism and consumption. I reckon that if I was one who had parachuted into the night or who had bled to death on the beaches, or who had been bombed in my home, as happened to thousands of French families, I wouldn’t care how the day is celebrated or commemorated, so long as people (especially children) learn something.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Tagged , , , , ,

A Few Words Before Departure

Barcelona has been kind to me for the most part. I arrived two months ago to pursue a new relationship and accumulate a few teaching hours to keep my head above water financially. I managed to wrangle 9 hours of English lessons a week  and pursued the relationship successfully. Actually, Barcelona has given me everything I wanted.

IMG_9859

Although everyone says it all the time it remains unbelievable that times moves so quickly. Monday becomes Friday, then its Sunday and soon its December and we’re left wondering where yet another year has gone. I can only hope that the majority of you are using your time wisely since its so obvious that we have so little of it.

There are a few aspects to my current life that I reckon are important enough to mention here on my lust book.

1) In a few days time I’ll be landing on my first bit of Asian soil. I’ve ‘avoided’ Asia in my travels for reasons I can’t explain. At first it was to avoid the ‘obvious’ destinations like South East Asia, I wasn’t feeling particularly sheep-like. But I look forward to my Asian debut and I’m sure once I arrive I will wonder what took me so long to get there. I’m prepared to be blown away. {Don’t worry South America, you will always be dear to me}

2) Then another biggie is that a few days after my arrival in India, I’ll be meeting up with my brother whom I haven’t laid eyes on in two and a half years. A lot of the people that I’ve taught have openly wondered how one can travel the world like I do ‘guilt-free’ basically. They want to know how it affects my family life and I know some of them feel sorry for me. And they aren’t completely wrong- the lifestyle does detract from your family life.

But a life abroad is also allowing my brother and I to reunite in a foreign land that is known for it healing powers. Where we will spend two months exploring, learning, soul searching, catching up and making memories. Its not the same as meeting up for a weekend at the coast- this is real adventure.

3) I subtly hinted to my partner that the opportunity to travel Incredible India with me was presenting itself and it would be silly not to take it. A few weeks ago he listed the pros and cons of coming/leaving Barcelona for good/starting a new life with me somewhere new and luckily he convinced himself easily. So, in a nutshell, I will be with two very special men in India and not to mention my mother who will be joining us for two weeks. Sounds like a recipe for bonds-ville.

Travelling brings people closer together

Travelling brings people closer together

4) I have been investing a lot of time (and money) in improving my blog. I’ve moved to self hosting and as a result have been inundated with the problems that come with it. There is always an obstacle to overcome, and thus, something new to learn. I might not have a desk job and work nine to five, but I am working hard at achieving small, reachable goals which I do believe is more than some can say.

I hope I haven’t completely bored you with all my personal updates, but there you have it.

So long Barcelona, its been (mostly) a pleasure living in your busiest district. See you in India!

IMG_9318

Your random squares with interesting features have been epic

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Wanderlust Souvenir Giveaway!

{To participate, go to my Facebook page here}

Here I am on the Balcony of my apartment in Barcelona. With me is a wallet begging for a home.

IMG_3269

Lets rewind a little bit. Recently I’ve been thinking about holding a competition, a giveaway more like it. A chance for me to send a randomly selected follower a little souvenir from my current location. This is the first time I’ll be doing it, but hopefully not the last!

When I stumbled across a local store called Vaho, with its walls covered in colorful wallets, I had to step inside. Because, well, I needed one.

IMG_3313

I could see from a distance that each wallet, or item for that matter, was unique. Made from advertising canvases across Barcelona, everything they produce is sustainable. In the sense that its both recycled and strong. I needed a new wallet and thought you guys might too!

IMG_3310

So I approached them and asked how they would feel about sponsoring me a second one that I would offer to you guys.  Their online store means you can buy their stuff no matter where in the world you are- and you can design a custom made one too! Take a look at their shop here.

To enter is as easy as this:

1. Answer this question by commenting on the giveaway post on the Wanderlust Facebook page: “If you were born in Barcelona, what is your first language most likely to be?”

2. Share the post on Facebook.

3. For extra brownie points, invite 5 friends to like Wanderlust.

And that’s it! Each person who comments on the post will be in the running to receive my Barcelona souvenir 🙂

 

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Eye Spy: a short film

One wintery weekend in the Spanish state of Catalonia, a creative collaboration happened between Wanderlust and Driftsole Media.

I’ve always been a fan of making videos, but they’ve never been something I’ve put a lot of emphasis on. Its an art that requires a great deal of knowledge, practice and patience. Luckily for me, I’ve teamed up with one of Driftsole’s co-founders, Reece Wartenberg, who meets the requirements!

We spent 48 hours capturing our movements and those of people around us.

Eye spy is the first of many inspired videos to come.

Be sure to watch in HD.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Citizen of the World: Recapping 3 Years on 5 Continents

“I’m South African. I’ve lived abroad for over three years. I like travel, writing and photography. Those three loves are combined in my blog- read it, don’t read it. I’m not sure what’s next.” 

These seemingly random sentences usually follow one another in a conversation with someone I have recently met or am getting to know better. While talking about my adventures used to thrill me, now it just seems to roll off my tongue, parrot fashion-like. But recently I’v been thinking…. I’m about to make my Asian debut with a trip to India. Soon I can say that I’ve visited (and mostly lived) on 5 different continents in the space of three years. That, excuse the lack of modesty, is pretty damn insane! IMG_0124 What is especially insane is that I find it hard to see it that way. The past three years of my life have been a melting pot of extremes; cultures, climates, emotions and more. I’ve hassled with visas, bureaucracy and job hunts. I’ve learnt new languages and felt their barriers. I’ve made friends and enemies and left them all behind- quite possibly never to be seen again. And in the rare moments I allow myself time to think back, I slowly begin to appreciate what I have done, and what I have done for myself. After all, we only really appreciate things with a bit of hindsight and nostalgia. When you’re living it, it couldn’t seem more normal.

So lets recap.

It all began one wintery day in December 2010 when I touched down in Denver Colorado – final destination – Steamboat Springs. With three of my best friends beside me and a very menial four month job ahead of me, I could only imagine the fun my first ski season would bring. I learnt to ski, how to separate trash from compost from recyclables, how to adjust my accent so Americans could understand me, how to keep calm when said Americans knew so little about South Africa and how to live each day with my eyes and mind wide open. These, I can safely say, were the best days of my life. Stress was not a thing, the only scary thing was how easily I felt I could fall into the lifestyle of ‘ski bum’. IMG_0417 In April of 2011 I found myself back in South Africa feeling depressed. I read, googled and researched how I could get back to Colorado for the next season. But no amount trying would change the fact that it was impossible. All things considered, I would not be able to live and work in Colorado again. It was a sad realization. Either way, I was hell bent on following my travel urges, I just needed to find a new destination.

So many people were hopping on the South Korea band wagon, and I just simply wasn’t interested. However, I did realize that as a penniless travel hopeful, wherever I went I would have to work. And the only work I could easily do abroad was teach English- just please not in Korea. How about South America? And back to the drawing board I went. Yes, South America sounded good to me- culturally and linguistically and cool-factor-ly. Google told me that Chile was the best option for ESL teachers. And it was decided, I’d be going to Chile for the whole of 2012. But not before I slaved away in a terribly hostile restaurant environment for 6 months in Pretoria.

January 2012. How my parents put on such brave faces when their young daughter got on a plane bound for Chile is beyond me. After all, it is hard to ignore horrific stories of human and drug trafficking that plague the American sub-continent. Beyond that, I had little planned and I spoke no Spanish. If something had happened I may be of a different opinion, but from where i sit today I have only gratitude and pride for my parents selflessness. They knew how important it was to me and not once did they attempt to stand in my way.

IMG_2456

While my parents would always be there for me- the same could not be said for the boy who made up the better half of my early adult life. He was the ‘perfect catch’. But perfect catches have a way of getting caught, and it wasn’t long before I faced the dreaded “I’ve moved on” email. I was under the impression that I’d find my own new (latin) love but oh how wrong I was. The closeness at which I came to moving on can only be measured in tens of miles, and I spent 2012 in a string of loveless flings in the hope of finding one I cared about.

In between all that, I laughed, partied, explored an entire country, learnt Spanish, made friends that felt like family and ventured, solo, into Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. I was so happy living in Santiago, Chile, that I seriously considered staying on there. But as much as I would have loved doing just that, I longed for something different, something new. And so I returned home once again to figure it out.

IMG_4714

Early 2013 was spent half considering settling down and getting a real job and half considering continuing my nomadic lifestyle. I moved in with my girlfriends who now all happened to be in Johannesburg ‘making a go of it’. That fact alone helped me lean more towards wanting to stay. Its all too obvious that life moves on without out you and that friendships form and strengthen when you’re gone- just not with you. I loved having my friends around me again- after all- they’re the ones who helped make my ski season what it was.

But somewhere between not feeling completely satisfied with my travel accomplishments and a rude reminder about the reality of violent crime in South Africa, I decided I had to head out again. If I was so uneasy about staying it was clear that whatever (travel/lost/wandering) bug I had caught wasn’t yet out of my system.

It was back to the drawing board. Again I had no money and wanted to be abroad and after a catch-up phone call with a friend, I was persuaded to join the yachting industry. Working on board yachts in the Caribbean and Mediterranean  gets you a lot of money. One is paid stupid amounts per month (not to mention guest tips) to scrub, clean, iron, wash, smile and serve millionaires who choose to holiday on a floating hotel.

I saw an opportunity to work abroad while seeing exotic places and earning more money I could ever wish for, so I invested in myself by doing the basic courses and headed to the South of France. For one month I walked, asked, inquired, begged and eventually proved someone of my worthiness. Its a tough industry to get into, but once you’re in you’re in (assuming you’re not incapable of retaining a job).

IMG_8169

After my first guest experience I knew I wasn’t cut out for this job. And while many people are happy in the lucrative yachting industry, there are an equal amount who cannot see the value in it. Not even the money. After such a free and positive experience in Chile, I was so out of my comfort zone and towards the middle of the season I knew this would be my first and last. Not least because I didn’t enjoy seeing the world that way- your time is not your own and neither, quite frankly, is your life. I knew it was time for the drawing board again, at least this time I had money.

By October 2013 I was so tired out by 5 months of hard labour that I decided to take some ‘me’ time and venture off somewhere. Actually travel. Explore places and not just drool at the sight of them from my anchored boat. I decided on Barcelona for various reasons. Barcelona was easily accessible from the south of France, I could practice my rapidly fading Spanish, and finally, there was someone there who I desperately needed to see.

***Insert new dynamic. I spent a lot of time on social media during my season on board. At times, in hindsight, I was extremely lonely. It was a new and horrible feeling of negativity that I wasn’t used to. My previous experiences had all been so positive. On Facebook I linked up with an old acquaintance.

We had last been in contact at university and almost 6 years later, here we were talking about our respective blogs. This friendly social media encounter re-introduced me to someone I realized I knew nothing about. He had me laughing, feeling challenged and supported. I saw something there and saw it so clearly that I had to go see him – in Barcelona.

IMG_8952

If anyone felt anything it had not yet been mentioned- and then I told him I’d be staying for a month. I knew I needed more than a few days to let him see what I did. Six weeks later I returned to South Africa, puffy eyed and unaware as to when we’d be seeing each other again. It didn’t take long before we knew- this ‘being apart’ nonsense wasn’t going to fly.

Fast forward a couple weeks and I’m back in Barcelona, from where I write this (long) post. As much as I am an advocate for solo travel there’s no shame in finding the perfect (travel) partner. Someone who is just as discontent with letting the world pass them by. Its not long before I say farewell to Barcelona for a second time and arrive in India. I couldn’t think of a better place to take this relationship, which is essentially still an embryo, and help it grow.

IMG_9858b

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Un Cafe con Leche, Por Favor

Barcelona offers a lot to a lot of people. You’ve got Gaudi and his colourful, wacky architecture dotted around the city. You’ve got the Gothic quarter which dates back to Medieval and even Roman times with its labyrinth of tiny streets. There’s the beach, the cathedrals, the tapas and the wine. And hopefully one day I’ll get round to writing about some of those things. But today I’m here to talk about coffee.

I’m a tea person. I want tea when I wake up in the morning- milk and one sugar. Everyday for the first 18 years of my life, I woke up to a mug of hot tea next to my bed. I love tea. But in Barcelona I’m getting in touch with my unexplored coffee side- and for good reason. You cannot walk a block without passing a well established cafe that offers good coffee with whatever else they’ve got going on.

IMG_0391More often than not, cafes are synonymous with delicious pastries that take a lot of will power to overlook. I was pleasantly surprised but also confused upon arriving in Barcelona. I’d just come from France- land of the pastries- to find that neighboring Spain offers almost as high a quality and possibly a higher quantity of pastry shops. The main difference being that France own the bragging rights and according to the rest of the world- are the specialists in this area. And while this may be true, Spain comes in a close second, scoring extra points for humility.

IMG_2243Spain possesses a vast vocabulary when it comes to all things coffee, ordering a plain “café” will get you quizzical looks from the server. There are a variety of ways to enjoy your cuppa. The most popular choice is ‘cafe con leche’ (coffee with milk) which is an espresso with hot milk added. ‘Cafe solo’ would be your Espresso, Cafe Cortado is ‘stained coffee’ where just a drop of milk is added to the espresso. If you’re after a milker option the uncommon, latte-like, ‘Leche Manchada’ is a little coffee and a lot of milk. Cafe con Hielo or Coffee with Ice is an espresso poured over a block of ice. Cafe bonbon is sweetened with condensed milk. Cafe bonbon con hielo- sweetened coffee on ice.

*I’m a cafe con leche girl. 

Coffee culture thrives so well here that you can make it your mission to visit a cafe daily and not go to the same one twice – they are literally on every block, on every street, in every neighborhood.  They come in all shapes and sizes and of course some are better than others! We used to frequent the one featured below because of its close proximity to our house (15 steps away). Its definitely one of the quirkier cafes with a homly seating arrangement- popular for meet up groups and working on your laptop. But there’s definitely better coffee to be found- so we continued our search.

IMG_9358By the time I leave Spain I imagine I would have spent a fair amount of money on the coffee hunt, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Cafe culture is special and brings people together- don’t mind if I do. 

IMG_2556**This just in: Just finished one of the better coffees since arriving here. From a very unsuspecting cafe filled with locals. Thats when you know. 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,