Tag Archives: Spain

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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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

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Wanderlust Giveaway Winner!

For those of you who have been living under a rock or just haven’t noticed whats trending on all social media platforms, I recently held a mini competition/giveaway thing. For the rock dwellers; the idea was to get people to answer a simple question which put them in the running to receive a souvenir from my current location.

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While my current location recently changed from Spain to India, the souvenir, competition and winner that was randomly selected (on excel) remain the same. Sarah Britton of Cape Town, South Africa- congratulations!!!!

Sarah, its as if excel knew you were using a pencil case for a wallet!

Vaho, I couldn’t thank you enough for parting with one of your lovely wallets all for the sake of my little giveaway.

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‘Till next time Barcelona! Now its time to keep my eyes open for the next souvenir… from Incredible India.

 

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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.

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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!

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Your random squares with interesting features have been epic

 

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Someone I Once Met: Chef on the Road

Thomas Zacharias is not a name you’d associate with someone born and bred in India. His lack of strong accent and head wobble are also deceptive.

I met Thomas in the small seaside town of San Sebastian, Spain, late last year. Our hostel stays overlapped by one night and its in the one hour I got to spend chatting to him that realized I was sitting with a very strong candidate for SIOM!

Thomas is head chef in one of India’s top restaurant’s The Olive Bar & Kitchen- once again- not very Indian. His specialty is European cuisine and it was on his 3 month culinary expedition that our paths crossed. Thomas blogged his way through Italy, France and Spain; eyeing out, helping out, getting ideas and basically just eating as much as he could. The hope was that his acquired knowledge would be priceless when it came time to open his very own restaurant.

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Our hostel in San Sebastian was very homely, and it was not unlikely that the long term stayers (sometimes also known as employees) would aggressively encourage you to stay on. I witnessed this happen to a few people, myself included, but it was the effort put into the request for Thomas to stay that really astounded me. People who had known Thomas for more than 24 hours knew it was in their best interests that he stay.

There was not much left of Thomas’s culinary trip- just a week or two dashing around Spain before finishing up in Barcelona and then heading home. And who was in Barcelona? You guessed it- me! Mine and Thomas’s paths crossed again, this time left a little less to chance. He settled on a well known Tapas bar and off we went- two travel and writing enthusiasts joined up in Barcelona ready to spoil our taste buds.

And as if I wasn’t already aware, I was reminded that when an establishment doesn’t offer visible prices, you the customer are going to pay pay pay. And 80 euros later, that’s what we did.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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 🙂

 

 

 

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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.

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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. 

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Expats Perfect Catalan Dish- Cooking Rabbit in Barcelona.

One of my gripes/ guilts about living abroad is not putting enough energy into soaking up the local culture. Its easier than you’d think to just surround yourself with expats and forget that you’re in a country with a culture completely foreign to your own. This is the case not only for ‘westerners’ like Americans, Aussies and South Africans- Spanish speakers of different nationalities also find it difficult to assimilate into each others worlds. Here in Spain, Catalonia in particular, groups of Argentinians and Colombians gravitate towards each other just as much as the rest of us do.

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In an attempt to be more culturally aware (and also an attempt to feed our curiosity), my apartment of expats decided to cook a typical Catalan dish…. Estofado de Conejo en Tomate (Braised Rabbit in Tomato). The majority of us were up to the challenge of eating this gamey meat, a select few were less enthused. In Spain one can buy a rabbit alongside chicken and other meats in the supermarket. It’s easily identifiable.

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A wounded group of people followed through with their plans to prepare the meal. A farewell party the night before meant none of us were on top of our game and the effort that goes into food preparation didn’t go unfelt. For those not keen on consuming rabbit, there was a chicken alternative. While this meant double the workload it also meant we didn’t go hungry. There’s not much meat on a rabbit you see.

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Basic ingredients included: Rabbit (or chicken), tomatoes, celery, garlic, onions, white wine, bay leaves and a few other herbs (when in doubt use whatever herbs you can find). We chose potato wedges as a side dish which ended up working well with what was essentially ‘Rabbit Stew’. 

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Luckily for the rest of us, those doing the cooking aren’t half bad at it. Although calling a ‘recipe’ ‘directions’ is never a great sign so naturally I had my reservations. While we’re all meat eaters and very familiar with an uncooked chicken or whatever else, a dead, skinned rabbit, with head still intact, had us all intrigued. We may have even made it ‘run’. 

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The result was delicious! There was a lot not going for this dish- rabbit, being cooked by rookies, all of whom were men, all of whom were hungover and tired. But I salute them- tell me this doesn’t look good!

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Unfortunately cooking and eating typical Spanish dishes doesn’t improve my Spanish. It seems to be regressing. But I’ll keep you updated. 

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The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly in San Sebastian

By the time I had to leave San Sebastian I was in love. Then I got on a train and laid my eyes on the interior parts of Basque Country and felt even more love for it all. The lanscape, with its rolling green hills and autumn coloured trees, dense wooded areas and old country houses reminded me of Oregon and England simultaneously. Like a combination of these UK and US based places rolled into one and flung across to Spain’s north east coast.

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Looking onto the smaller ‘surfing’ beach from the landmark hill that divides San Sebastian in two.

San Sebastian sits on the Atlantic Ocean, only about 100km’s from the French border and 600km’s from Barcelona on the Mediterranean. After having spent a month in Barcelona, other traveller’s San Sebastian stories seemed reason enough to choose it as my next destination. And I haven’t made such a good travel-related decision in a long time. San Sebastian blew me away.

Literally and metaphorically. I wasn’t welcomed with the best weather, to say the least. There were moments of borderline gale force winds, which on one particular night had me cowering under the covers after attempting to go out. At one stage, on a walk up the town’s iconic Jesus-statued-hill, I failed to exit the labyrinth of roads and pathways successfully while having the wind and rain let me know who was boss.

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The town’s Maritime Museum and Aquarium. Just as cool inside as it is outside.

The wintery weather wasn’t a dampener for me. The clouds, rain and stormy seas almost add a certain charm to the place. Perhaps my love for the English countryside and the USA’s north-west coast is what’s got me feeling so passionate about San Sebastian. Those of you who have seen England’s rolling green hills will have a pretty good idea of what I’m talking about. For those who have watched the Twilight saga…… its filmed in Oregon.

The reason why San Sebastian is doable and lovable in spite of the weather is mainly because of its gastronomic situation. Certainly the culinary leader within the country, this unassuming town recently surpassed places like Paris and New York in becoming the ‘world’s greatest Gastronomic destination’.

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San Sebastian is known for it’s ‘Pintxos’ (Pinchos). Tapa style/ finger food.

It boasts more Michelin Stars per capita than anywhere else in the world and attracts all kinds of people, from the average traveller, to the food-loving-traveller, to the travelling chefs of the world who want an insight into San Sebastian’s food scene. I met one on my first night- an Indian chef of a European Restaurant in Mumbai. His culinary-eurotrip had him shadowing in all kinds of top notch restaurants across the continent. Follow him here, you wont be disappointed!  

If you happen to be as much of a surfer as you are a food-lover (and you also don’t mind the odd bit of rainfall), then San Sebastian is the place for you. I counted at least 20 surfers out in the water, even with the weather as it was. Perhaps its the laidback ‘surfer atmosphere’ that is attractive about this place. Who can resist chilled vibes with good food?

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Getting to San Sebastian from Madrid, Barcelona or pretty much anywhere in Spain is fairly easy. There are buses and trains that run there frequently. The bus option being the cheaper one. The cheapest option however is the online carpooling site blablacar.com. People already travelling to your destination will post an ad with details like time, dates and price. Just be sure to confirm how much luggage you’re travelling with in case they can’t accommodate it. Drivers can be ‘vouched for’ or ‘verified’ by others who have travelled with them before. I Paid 100 euros (cringe) for a return train ticket to San Sebastian from Barcelona. Carpooling would have cost me half of that.

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