Posts filed under ‘Life in Spain’

Mataró

On Sunday we headed off to Mataró to see my friends Sara and Andres. It turned out to be a gorgeous day and we spent quite a bit of time by the beach.

We passed through one of the tunnels under the highway and I was really impressed by the graffiti on the beach side.

We just wandered around a bit before heading back to their apartment for a wonderful lunch. Alex HAD to get some recipes for the salads and pasta they served.

They have an amazing view from their apartment and yes, that is the Mediterranean in the distance.

We left Mataró around 6:00 PM and when we arrived in Barcelona we walked up Psg de Gracia to Diagonal. There was some sort of party going on to celebrate Portugal. We were meeting Sebastian, Jackie, Sylvie and Julian up there. There were lot’s of people and live entertainment (check out Alex’s blog for more info). This group was playing fado.

We had to stand in line to buy tickets for food or drink and everyone had the same ideas at the same time.

We bought tickets for ginjinha, a liquer unique to Lisbon, and I must day pretty strong. Being in a party mood we soon met more people and I hope the following photos will show just how much fun we had.

The beginning of the evening when we were still in control……

Sylvie and Julian

Crowds were getting larger and food was in demand………………

Sylvie and Sebastian, still early……………………

Sylvie and her bottle of ginjinha……………….

note the blur, the evening is moving on

Here you can see the evening is well on it’s way…………………….

Alessandro, one of the friendly people we met there, he was just too funny…………

The last subway home, good thing they had safety belts so some of us could stay standing

By the way, when we got off at our stop they closed the gates as we exited the station so we were pretty lucky we didn’t have to walk home.

LIFE IS GREAT

June 11, 2008 at 10:17 am Leave a comment

Wednesday, May 28th

Not much going on here until today, when I talked Alex into taking off the afternoon and walking up to Gracia, our old neighbourhood. We walked along Psg de Gracia and found they had placed enormous bronzes along the way. It made the walk up there quite pleasant.

Lot’s of work going on up around Diagonal and there were the marked trails for metro users to connect to different trains. I remembered those from when we lived here.

It’s quite the walk up and at some point we decided to stop for a cortado.

We were actually making our way towards the Gelateria in one of the plaças in Gracia and walking along the narrow streets brought a lot of memories back…….

Well, we got to the Plaça but decided to have chocolate instead. This place was frequented often when we lived here and has absolutely amazing chocolate…….

Once finished, we started making our way back down towards Raval. Alex wanted to go throught the plaça with the clock tower. These plaças are gathering places for families and their children and Alex loves taking photos of the kids playing. Needless to say, Alex made more friends there and took lot’s of photos too. Check out her blog for more on the day.

We found a Bycing stand and rode bikes back home. Once home, Sebastien made an amazing dinner for us. It was a good day………

May 29, 2008 at 11:22 am Leave a comment

Photo recap of our year in Barcelona

Here’s a little photo tour of our year in Barcelona. I still have to add a few pictures – there’s nothing from Tarragona for example, where the photo on this blog’s banner was taken, or of the many friends who came to visit. I’ll add those later on. Click on the picture and a slideshow will open.

Year in Barcelona slideshow

Hmmm, none of the comments I’ve added to the pictures show on the slideshow. If you want more context you can check the picture here.

April 14, 2007 at 4:06 pm 3 comments

The birth of a research assistant

I had been planning to go to Girona to collect some documentation for a long time now but couldn’t figure out the best time to go. As usual, the decision was made for me when I found out that a famous Spanish historian would be giving a public lecture in Girona on Thursday night. Perfect, I thought. We’ll go to Girona, I can do research during the day while Alan wanders around, catch the lecture at night and we could spend the night. With that in mind we set out on Thursday morning.

I found a very nice two-star Pensión near the cathedral. Pensión Bellmirall is in a 14th-century house on a nice side street. We were very pleased with our room:

Room 2 at Bellmirall

After checking in, we set out to the Archivo Diocesano de Girona, where I had to collect some documents. Alan didn’t really feel like wandering the sights on his own so he volunteered to take pictures of the documents I needed. Since this was the first time he handled 14th-century documents, he was in constant awe. I’m always telling him about the neat books and documents I see people working with at the archives here in Barcelona and he was pleased to have the opportunity to handle some of these himself.

Register of Letters from the bishop Opening the books

This one still had its original cover:

Pink cover for an account book

Every once in a while we would find little drafts and notes stuck inside the books:

notes

I was very pleased at the two archives I needed to visit. The people at both the Archivo Diocesano and the municipal archives were very friendly and nice. There was no red tape to speak of – no one demanded an introduction, reference letters and the like – and I was allowed to bring anything in the room. Very low profile. Both archives are also up to date with their use of technology and are working hard to digitize their documents.

After the work at the archives was done, we went out for lunch and took the afternoon off to explore the city a bit. The old town of Girona is beautiful and considered one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. The city is also considered the best place to live in Spain. We had been there before and you can see some pictures here and here.

I really enjoyed our time there, maybe I’ll make the Jewish community of Girona my second project… That way we could spend a year there 😉

Despite feeling guilty for abandoning my main research here in Barcelona for a few days, the trip was successful and we can home with a few hundred pictures of documents that I can use for my thesis… And Alan has been named my official research assistant 😉 Go here for Alan’s take on his new job. Now, if only I could teach him paleaography….

March 17, 2007 at 2:06 pm 5 comments

First morning

I stepped outside at 8:45 in the morning. Outside, the streets are alive with people. The first thing I notice are the children – the streets were filled with little ones going to school. As I closed the door behind me and stepped onto the street, two little Pakistani girls walk by accompanied by their mother; the girls were singing Barça´s anthem as loud as they could. I smile as their childish “Barça! Barça!” recede into the distance. Welcome to the Raval.

February 27, 2007 at 1:32 pm 3 comments

New Camper shoes!

When I got to Spain, a friend of mine in Canada mentioned I should look for Camper shoes. “They are amazing!” she said. Unlike many women, I’m not into shoe-shopping that much. It’s not that I don’t like shoes – I love them – it’s just that my mother was always like Imelda Marcos and since we wear the same size, I’ve always just borrowed her shoes. It wasn’t until I immigrated to Canada that I discovered that I actually only possessed two pair of shoes! I’ve bought some since then but somehow the habit is just not there.

Anyways, I checked out those camper shoes sometime back in the summer and I fell in love. They are so much fun!! Here’s the pair I bought back in the summer:

My first camper shoes!

The original Camper Store hails from Mallorca and in 1981 the first branch in Barcelona was inaugurated. Since 1992 it has spread around the world and they have become quite popular lately.

I wanted to get a pair of boots and couldn’t decide between two. So Alan offered to get me one pair as an advance birthday gift and I got myself the other one. Here they are:

Cute boots

Back Boots Alan gave me

The soles are what really marks a pair of Camper shoes:

soles 1 soles 2

February 22, 2007 at 8:59 pm 10 comments

Moussa ag Assarid

La Vanguardia is a castilian-language newspaper from Catalunya that I often read when having lunch at the bakery near the archives. The backpage always has an interview with some interesting person with a fascinating life. Usually people who make a difference in their communities.  Today’s feature was about Moussa ag Assarid.

MoussaLike his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Moussa was a shepherd in the sahara, part of a nomadic Berber tribe called the Touareg.  One day, when he was a child, the Paris-Dakar rally went through his camp and a book fell out of a French journalist’s bag. Moussa rushed to return the book to her but the journalist gave it to him as a gift and explained what it was about. It was the Little Prince. He vowed one day he would be able to read it himself. Two years later, after his mother died, he convinced his father to let him go to school. He walked 15 km every day until a teacher took pity on him and gave him a bed. A lady in the village fed him. His persistence paid off, he won a scholarship to study in France, has written a book and now studies management at the University of Montpellier. His book, Y’a pas d’embouteillage dans le désert! Chroniques d’un Touareg en France, became a huge hit in France and Moussa uses his new-found popularity to speak in defence of the nomadic pastoral tribes that live in the desert of North Africa.

In Europe, he cried when he saw running water for the first time. Until that day, he says, “every day of my life had been spent in the search and collection of water”. His mother died in a drought when he was twelve. Seeing water run from faucets was too powerful for him.  It still pains him when he sees elaborate water fountains. But what shocked him the most was the materialism of western society, the fast-paced life, our inability to live the here and now. The lack of human contact that lead so many to pay so that specialists can listen to our problems.
Moussa’s life is  one of those inspirational stories that make us think about our own life and sense of priorities. He’s going to be here in Barcelona next monday and we hope to catch his photography exhibit at Baïbars bookstore.

Click here for an interview with Moussa in French.

In Spanish, his book is called En el desierto no hay atascos: un Tuareg en la ciudad

February 1, 2007 at 8:43 pm 1 comment

Calçots

We are leaving soon to Valls, a town near Tarragona for their famous calçots festival. I’ll write all about it when we get back, but for more info you can check out:

Festa de la calçotada de Valls

Sal DeTraglia’s Virtual Tapas Bar

calçots

January 28, 2007 at 10:03 am Leave a comment

Meeting friends from the blogosphere

Bruna is a Brazilian web designer who spent many years in France and now lives here in Barcelona. Cris is a Brazilian chemist, who lives in Paris where she does a master in chemistry and works for L’Oreal. We first met in the blogosphere and today we met in person for the first time.

Girls out for lunch

I discovered Bruna’s blog when I was searching for info on living in Barcelona. Somehow her blog came up and I got hooked right away. She seems to be a very positive and adventuresome person, and we would post the odd comment on each other’s blog. She’s also a great writer. I’ve discovered Cris’s blog through Bruna’s site recently and have enjoyed reading her impressions of Paris, a city I love.

Bruna and I have been trying to get together for a while and with Cris in town for a few days, we decided to grab the opportunity and have lunch together. We went to Wushu (no, it’s not the only restaurant in this city! this time it was Bruna’s fault; she suggested it) for lunch where Cris and I had the special of the day:

Curry Rojo con Ternera

Curry rojo con ternera & boniatos (red curry with beef & sweet potatoes)

While Bruna had this wonderful dish:Curry Verde con Gambas y Vieiras

Curry verde con vierias & gambas (green curry with shrimp & scallops) [must have it next time, it looked very yummy]

For dessert, we all had the dessert that came with the special of the day:

Tatin de Manzana

Tatin de manzana con gelado de coco (Apple pie with coconut ice cream)

We walked out very happy and I wish I could have gone with them to explore the city. Alas, I had to work…

But now that I know where Bruna lives and since she swims very near where I work, maybe we can get together more often 😉

January 26, 2007 at 7:16 pm Leave a comment

Paella Day

Thursday is Paella Day here in Barcelona (maybe in all of Catalunya?). Every bar and restaurant that serves a menu del dia (those lovely three-course meals with drink and bread that one can get for as little as 7 euros) has paella on the menu on thursdays. Nobody really knows when/how the tradition started but it’s been around for as long as people can remember.

Paella is one of those emblematic foods that became the gastronomic symbol for a particular country, much like feijoada in Brazil and curry in India. Like the curry it’s a pretty general dish rather than a particular recipe (it basically mean rice cooked in a paella – a wide, flat dish) and like the feijoada, despite being known internationally as the country’s national dish, it hails from a specific region and it is better known (or better period) in some regions than in others. I don’t think I would go for a paella in Madrid (as I wouldn’t go for a feijoada in Manaus), but I wouldn’t miss one in any Catalan or Valencian seaside town.

In Barcelona, there’s paella for all tastes. There are expensive ones at the seafood restaurants around Barceloneta, there are crappy, horrible ones at touristy restaurants across the city (stay as far away from restaurants with a placard in front with several pictures of paellas saying “El Paellador” or some such name), and homey, honest ones at bars & restaurants for lunch. I tend to favour the latter. So on thursdays Alan comes to meet me at the archives, we go over to one of the many bars & restaurants nearby and have lunch together. Today’s paella had seafood (shrimp, bits of calamari, mussels, clams…) and meat. I had a salad to start – they call is a ensalada verde but it resembles very little the green salads we eat in canada; the lettuce (that’s the green part) comes covered in tuna, cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, olives, onions, corn nibblets, bits of pickles, chicory, endives, etc… – followed by the very juicy and fresh paella, acompanied by peach juice and finished with yogurt. All for the modicum price of 7.50 euros. Hmmm, as Borat would say – I LIKE, very MUCH. Long live Paella Day!!

Here’s a picture of Sebastian and Patxi making paella & black rice when we first met:

Chefs at work

I have to get him to teach me how to make it….

January 25, 2007 at 7:46 pm 3 comments

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