barcelona

the journey got delayed by an hour when our plane couldn’t take off because of the early morning fog. but, we got there eventually.

the ticket machines at the Aeroport station wouldn’t take credit cards so we waited behind the the couple buying tickets at the ticket office – only for this old man to jump in front of me as soon as they leave. andof course, the ticket office do not accept credit cards either.

so we got our T10 tickets (valid for 10 journeys on zone 1 of the Metro at E7.20 each) and made our way towards Barcelona Sants station where we can change for the Metro.

first stop was lunch at the Mercat la Boqueria along La Rambla. Really crowded. So we made our way to the sides of the market were the restaurants were and beelined to this place with one available table. hmmm…should have looked at the menus first as this one only serves tapas. we were hungrily looking at the huge servings next door, as our small plates of gambas, calamari and sardines arrived. mentally calculating how much this would cost as we were a bit unprepared with cash, naively expecting that credit cards would be readily accepted anywhere as in most european cities. but the food was good, even if it left us some E50 poorer and still hungry.

you should see the huge legs of jamon and big nets filled with different types of snails at the market. as well as the endless stalls of fruits and really fresh looking vegetables. but we weren’t here to shop (shame).

naturally, next stop was the money changer and the cash machine (there’s one near the la boqueria if you turn left as you exit).

barcelona, at least for us, was marvelling at its architecture. the ornate ironworks in balconies that reminds me of old spanish houses in manila, and of course, celebrating it’s most famous landmarks by Gaudi.

Sagrada Familia. the towers. the snails and the frogs. the building is best seen from the outside. make your way around it, as it changes on every angle. the modernism. the scaffoldings that tells you it still isn’t finished yet, more than 100 years after Gaudi’s death. E10 to get in. another E2.50 to go up the lift and make your ways to the spiral steps to the towers. prepare to wait in line, though. we didn’t go up. and with the spanish people’s aversion to queuing, i just hope there aren’t any locals there.

Casa Batllo. a building meant to be experience and touched. striking and very modern. an irony, considering this building has been standing there for a century. feel the door and window handles – all meant to be ergonomic. the changing colours of the tiled walls and the stained glass. this building will tell you how much of a genius and ahead of his time Gaudi really is.

we had coffee and spanish sweet bread in one of the cafes just off Passeig de Gracia. and then made our way to the hotel – Novotel Cornella. i only realised it was a distance off the city centre only after i booked it.

Cornella is probably about 30-40 mins by Metro from the centre. Quiet, residential area, with apartment blocks looking a bit better than its versions in the centre.

trekked our way back to the centre after checking in to find dinner. Barceloneta is worth seeing if you share our love for seafood. We spent probably most of the couple of hours in the restaurant trying to finish this cauldron-full of arroz con bogavante. creamy rice (if a tad too salty) with huge pieces of 2 lobsters. now, this was a proper spanish meal. i just wish there was 4 of us to finish it.

walked along the marina of barceloneta. street fireworks. the fair. the well-lit museum. the posh looking restaurants around its walls. the cool sea breeze. the yachts and the boats. watching people.

the metro runs continously on this saturday night. it was well past midnight and the trains were still quite crowded. a lot of young people on their night outs. the elderly on their night walks.

the night was restful. if a bit too short. woke up a bit late. took a bath and a shower. and off to have a leisurely breakfast downstairs. small sausages and eggs. naranja jams and bread. pastries and some melons. coffee. view of the pool and the gardens. the spanish sun shining hard.

checked out and made our way back to the centre. still a few hours left before catching the plane home.

we walked the length of La Rambla. crowded. street artists. market stalls just starting to set up their wares at noon.

El Barri Gotic. Rough looking most especially when the shutters are still down. grafitti on the shutters. urine stains on the walls. cobbled streets. old buildings.

and if you find this chocolate shop – cacao sampaka. grab some ice cream. and take home tablets of gourmet chocolates. one of the best.

i do try to avoid restaurants along major tourist areas as they always turn out to be a disappointment. but a bit short of time and already at the Catalunya end of La Rambla, we settled at one of the restaurants there… ven the calamari was unimpressive.

spent a bit of time walking along Placa Catalunya and then it was time to catch the train to Aeroport.

itchy feet did get a scratching. been waiting for a whole week. only for it to end after a night’s sleep. now going back to life suspended. the bus meandering its way around the roundabouts. the weekend rail works and the extra longer journeys back from the airport. hungry and tired.

only if going back is as fun.

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haven’t been in enough airports

it’s probably the buzz in the airports. that’s why travelling by rail or car just always leaves me wanting. it makes me feel excited and sad. panicky and hyper. i don’t really mind the stress – of packing and making it on time and the lines to check in or through security, in the foreign exchange or even at the cafes.

i love the journey. the excitement of getting there. and the sadness of having to go back to real life.

the earaches. the nausea – caused by being up in the air or just by nausea-inducing seatmates. the bland, overcooked food, or mayber none at all. the hard roll and the even harder butter. but, if luck smiles, they might just have surprisingly good desserts. the movie marathons on long hauls. the uncomfortable chair. all i’ve learned to accept as part of the package since i can’t afford any more than economy (but really, you can’t make me pay twice the price if there’s a cheaper option, the miser that i am).

and when you get there. when i get there, i’m just never too tired. the people. the food. the culture. the sights. even the air. it gets more and more familiar the more you travel. even when you’re some place for the very first time.

it’s no longer about the souvenirs. nor the pictures and the videos. i no longer need proof to say i’ve been. it’s the experience and the memories made. the feeling that’s always different. it’s what you remember from amongst the common and the seemingly ordinary.

the freshness of mornings in grindelwald. the breakfast croissants in paris. even the taste of that oughful liquor-laced coffee in venice. the colours of burano. the racism in singapore. the anxiety in luxor. good things. bad things. it’s a patchwork of memories. and things i could hardly capture in photos.

cashmere

i can still remember scouring the toy shops trying to find a gift when she was born.

i can hardly remember what i bought her then or how she had looked like. i could remember thinking she could be mistaken as my daughter, with some 20 years between us. i remember her father being almost ecstatic to have finally had a daughter after all those years.

it’s just so surprising that she’s entering her tweens now. and is almost a young lady. with a pretty face and a suite of admirers to boot.

i don’t even know if she had found her way to this blog. but in case she ever did, this is my wish for her…

i had always wished i could be your big sister that you never had (and you the sister i never had). but being so far away, i can only pray for you and hear about you from afar.

i wish you a future your brother and i can only dream about.

i wish you happiness. but not to spare you from life’s heartaches because that is life’s way of teaching you.

i wish you to learn. that academics are just tools. and that wisdom doesn’t always come with age. learn from what your elders tell you. but listen more intently with your heart. decipher the hidden truths.

i wish you to find your own definition of life and your purpose. and never let fear stop you from living it.

i wish you will never be afraid to speak your mind. even if others rebuke you.

know that experience is your best teacher. let it shape your mind. but never forget to shape your soul.

you will falter. and you will make mistakes. and though it will probably break our hearts more, i cannot wish otherwise.

i wish you to never forget, many people love you. and your brother and i…we’re just an email away.

happy birthday.

the travel bug is bugging me

seriously trying to shake off this itch in my feet. been looking around several websites now trying to find a cheap weekend getaway. i’d really love to go to prague, or rome, or maybe oslo … errmmm … anywhere but here really.

kaso nowhere’s really that cheap.

my mind says stop.

we’ve just blown serious money on a couple of ergonomic chairs for home this weekend (thinking hard that our backs have been troubling us for a while now and mentally dividing the price by the number of years we’re supposed to enjoy it had calmed me down a bit).

we also want to go home early next year.

and we are still scraping by saving as much as we can to afford a house in london next year.

have gone as far as asking the husband if we should have a short break before our weekend classes start.

i.really.should.stop.

and this is coming in the post…

The Infinite Circulon range. pero just the sauce and covered saute pan lang. someday na yung iba, or another brand kasi this ones only go as large as 24cm. i hope this one lasts longer than the cheapo Argos ones (I was cooking sago and burnt it, when I cleaned it, the nonstick coating came off) and not as hard to clean as the IKEA-stuff (the stainless is so stained na).

Pero, I wish I could buy the Le Creuset ones. Or proper cast iron ones. Pero they’re just so heavy. I don’t think I will enjoy cooking in those. And with electric hob pa, it will be a pain to heat up. Justification lang, kasi I really can’t afford them. he he.

finding the hidden domestic un-goddess

i’ve always loved desserts. And because I just can’t make do with the supermarket’s sickeningly sweet wares, or can’t afford to regularly buy the few good ones I’ve managed to find, I started to to bake. I’ve always watched my mom bake when I was a kid. and so i never really went through any disasters when i was learning to bake on my own.

It’s what I do on quiet, boring weekends when I used to live in Stevenage. But since I came back and settled in the not-so-homely-kitchens of rented flats in London, I lost the will really. That, and I have also sold all my bakeware when we moved out.

So I am starting from scratch again. And wanting to eat more healthily (not in term of calories, mind you, just less sugar and preservatives from the store bought ones), I wanted to go back into baking again. And start replenishing my bakeware. Hopefully, with better ones this time.

I have bought a silicon Antony Worrall Thompson 6-muffin pan. I was a bit apprehensive putting a plastic in an oven. I was imagining I would end up with a plasticky-taste and a melting new pan. I tried Nigella’s chocolate chip muffin recipe here. Replaced the milk with low-fat soya. Dropped to only 75g of muscovado sugar (I hate the highly processed and bleached white sugar). and made do with only drinking chocolate (pero organic and fairtrade naman) and 100g of cheap chocolate chips as that’s what’s in the cupboard. I only half-filled the cases as I’m not a real fan of muffin-tops.

It turns out great. No plastic taste. And the pan did not melt. I did not use any paper muffin cases (as i always thought they’re a waste of paper and only made the muffin harder to eat). The muffins just slides out. No knife-poking at the sides needed! No more warped pans as well as this is what happens if you don’t fill out all the muffin cases (you should fill them with water daw so they don’t warp, but i’m too forgetful and i almost ended up scalding myself with the hot water the last time i did that). Kaya lang the muffin peaks were at one side instead of the middle, kasi the pan wobbles as i put them in the oven.

Next time, I’m trying Nigella’s recipe again but with better cocoa and chocolate chips…and no photos.  I don’t want them open for criticism he he he.