Sorry for the lack of updates but it's been BUSY with visitors! Been exploring Paris, went to Amsterdam (and cheered team Holland to World Cup victory!) and am heading to the south of France tomorrow morning for a few days in Nice and Saint Tropez!
Yesterday, Men's Fashion Week in Paris kicked off along with the biggest day of workers' protests of the year. It's also a heat wave. That makes for lots of sweaty, angry, beautiful people all over Paris! No complaints here.
After getting in at 6am after Jessica's awesomely fun birthday spectacular (and then sleeping off a hangover until the early hour of 2pm), I hit the streets to get all fashion-y for a minute. Just about every street in my neighborhood was blocked off with parades and protests and processionals so I literally had to walk through the middle of the parade to get where I was going. Don't worry though, I pumped my fist in solidarity with the strikers. And snapped some pics!
Made it through the ruckus and headed to the Gaspard Yurkievich show with my friend Cassidy who just arrived into town. Show was great! Collection looks good! So do the models!
Et apres! Versailles! Jessica and I hopped a train to Versaille (after she suffered through trying to figure it out when most trains were closed due to the strike) but we made it! And we had the best crepes in the Paris region and then enjoyed the best fireworks show, set to a live orchestra! Incredible!
So, Grams and her granny pal parted ways to catch a cruise to Monte Carlo (yes, exactly) and I was left to my own devices in Barcelona. I spent the next 4 days jumping on trains to beaches, chatting up locals, soaking and steaming in Arabian baths, watching World Cup, and eating, eating, eating! GOOD times.
My friend, Michelle, and I grabbed the train to Sitges, a little beachside paradise about 35km south of Barcelona. Such a charming little town and so beautiful! We ate lunch with the locals at a little fish market restaurant (marisqueria). Basically, you pick out what fish you want from a table of varieties on ice (we got calamari, muscles, prawns, and something else I'm not sure of) and they ask if you want it grilled or fried and 10 mins later, you get a plate of piping hot fish and a basket of bread. Sooo awesome! If you are ever in Barcelona or Sitges and you like seafood, you have to go here! It's called La Paradeta.
Then, we headed down to the beach and soaked in the sun and swam in the Mediterranean! Amazing.
Back in Barcelona, I stumbled upon a lively Mexican bar where the local Barcelones gathered to cheer on Team Mexico in the World Cup. It was a huge party and everyone was draped in Mexico flags and sporting their Mexico colors. At the height of the game, the power went out in the bar and the crowd erupted into shouts and they all started chanting "Gratis Beer! Gratis Beer!" When the power came back on and the game was restored, everyone went wild! Basically, amazing (again).
Another highlight of the trip... I went to an amazing Arabian bath house called Aire de Barcelona. Using the Arab tradition of Hammam, the ancient, centuries-old bath house has 6 pools in varying temps from freezing (literal ice is melting into the shock pool) to hot and steamy and with different levels of salt and herbs for clarifying, detoxing and general magic-making. Also, a rad steam room. Basically, you cruise around from pool to pool and go from hot to cold all in an incredible, cavernous bare-brick stone building that's below street level. So cool and so relaxing. Highly recommended! And not too $$ either!
*photos from the Aire de Barcelone website
The rest of the trip, I just relaxed on the beach, explored El Born, made some new friends with some locals whilst eating tapas, enjoyed meals and my cute hotel with my awesome balcony and view.
Hi! I've been back from Barcelona for a week but it's been a whirlwind of visitors so I haven't had much time to do this old bloggin' job and update all you adoring fans with pictures of adventures. So, here is installment one of Barcelona! And then I need to go celebrate my friend Jessica's birthday here in Paris! Happy Birthday, Jess!!!!!
So... without further ado, may I present you with BARCELONA!!!!!
So ugly, right?
I love the whimsy of the Gaudi architecture with the beach culture here. This photo is taken from the top of Parc Guell, overlooking Barcelona to the sea.
Ok, so I arrived in BCN and jumped onto the train to my friend Michelle's house. I had to mentally switch from French to Spanish and somehow found my way. She welcomed me into her lovely home and we hit the town! A two-day fiesta of food, wine, cava, sangria, tapas, boquerias and Gaudi, Gaudi, Gaudi ensued. I think I walked half of Barcelona! Blisters to prove it. Also, I ate continuously the entire time. Tight pants to prove it.
This crazy, insane, AWESOME church-in-construction is Gaudi's magnum opus and has been in-process of being built for over 100 years already. It is essentially a giant construction site you pay to enter but it is mind-blowing. The interior of the temple is like walking into someone's dreams and imagination, part Dr. Seuss, part Alice in Wonderland, part Fantasia. There are speculations that this might be completed by 2030 but lots doubt that.
I hope that someday in my lifetime, I will be able to return to Barcelona and see the finished masterpiece.
This park is so cool and interesting. Winding pathways, intricate tilework, fantasy Gaudi buildings, and views of all of Barcelona. I laid on a bench in this park for a couple of hours, reading a book and listening to a guy do a marionette concert of all Beatles and Kinks cover songs. Fun!
And then... Grams rolled into town!
Barcelona didn't know what hit them.
Grams and Ruth, a couple of firecracker old ladies, hit the streets with me as their tour guide. We walked the markets, rode the double-decker bus to every corner of the city, caught a flamenco show, ate and drank lots and lots (do you detect a theme?), and Grams, of course, fell in love several times.
Grams fell in love with the gyrating male star of the show and yelled out, "Here I am, Pepe!" much to the delight of everyone onstage and in the audience.
Grams cheers on her man.
Maybe we both fell in love a little that night.
Grams makes new friends wherever she goes
Ruth shows us how it's done when you're 81 years old and in Barcelona.
Port Vell views
Impromptu afternoon parades
Grams' Night Out
On their last night in town, Grams and I decided to blow off some steam and hit the bars. And, of course, Grams was a very popular lady. Here are some photo additions for her "Wall of Shame."
Grams told this guy she wanted to have her photo taken with "the best looking guy in the bar" and all of his friends died laughing. She really just wanted a pic with a guy wearing a ridiculous silver sparkle outfit.
She tried to marry me off to this guy, a Dutchman who lives in Nigeria and travels everywhere with an armed bodyguard and two armed cars. I'm pretty sure she changed her mind and wanted him for herself in the end. That's just how she rolls, folks.
Grams and the bartender really bonded. He bought her a drink. She posed with him. This photo is supposedly up on the bar's facebook page but I can't find their page.
Anyone know how to find O'hara's Irish Pub Barcelona on fb?
Time to call it a night!
All in all, we had a great time. Despite one little incident (where Ruth and Grams got lost and had to get the Barcelona police to help them find their hotel!), we had lots of fun, saw just about every inch of the city, and Grams stole the hearts of countless men.