Weekly Photo Challenge: SIGNS

This is one of my favorite SIGNS.  Although the meaning must have been clear to the city government in Barcelona who determined it should be there, I believe there could be several interpretations.

No tourists taking pictures allowed!

No tourists taking pictures allowed!

So, what exactly is verboten?  The shorts?  The backpack? Socks with sandals?

This sign is in the El Born neighborhood of Barcelona, in an alley behind Santa Maria del Mar church, where there were no tourists (or people of any kind) or interesting sights worthy of a photo.

But, if you see the guy in this SIGN, PLEASE take a picture of him!

Weekly Photo Challenge: NIGHTTIME

As this week’s photo challenge NIGHTTIME asserts, photos taken at night have a totally different aura than the same photo taken during the day.

These are my Night (and Sunset)  photos of San Sebastián, Spain, a beautiful and lively city that actually does have a different personality daytime to nighttime!

(Click on them to get full impact!)


Weekly Photo Challenge: FROM ABOVE

This week’s Photo Challenge, to photograph something FROM ABOVE, instead of straight on, from the side, or any other angle allows me to show you pictures of the thing I (unknowingly?) seem to photograph a lot…Food.


Hmmm…now if you’ll excuse me, I suddenly got very hungry!


Weekly Writing Challenge: A Splash of Color

The vendors’ stalls in El Mercat de La Boqueria in Barcelona breathe life into color.

Once inside, you realize that you have never before seen red, until you saw the strawberries in front to you…you’ve never seen orange until that piece of Valencia next to it.

Splash of Color, La Boqueria

The myriad of fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, cheese, coffee, cafes, tapas…each vendor hawking his wares, looking you in the eye to make sure you understand that theirs is the best, the freshest, the tastiest, beyond compare.

Si, Señora, these are the best!

As soon as you enter La Boqueria, you are swept in, like a pebble in a river’s current, and the smartest idea is to go with the tide.

So many different colors of tomatoes

The fruits and vegetables bloom in the ultimate expression of their given colors…

while the grays, whites and pinks of the squid and octopus are pulsing as they writhe to escape the fishmonger’s table.

The colors fill the air, surround you and get into your nostrils as you inhale…

LIVING color…vibrant, palpable, LIVING color.

Weekly Photo Challenge: BIG #2

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, is, itself, a work of art, as this glistening titanium structure flows, just like the river it rests upon.  Standing sentry around its perimeter are sculptures by Jeff Koons and Louise Bourgeois that are beautiful, colorful, magical and certainly BIG.

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao

Jeff Koons, Puppy

Jeff Koons, Tulips

Louise Bourgeois, Maman

Chefs, grab your ladles

Much has been written about the gender wars when it come to cooking.  Who makes a better chef, a man or a woman?  Who pays more attention to detail? Does one gender have a natural penchant for cooking? (A-Hem) and so on…

But the real question is…why isn’t my husband making dinner more often? (No, actually, truth be told, I can’t say that…at all!  Steven is an excellent cook and I probably just got myself into a lot of trouble)

But what I mean to say is

Barcelona is a center of culinary delight.  The freshness that spills out of markets like La Boqueria and Santa Cristina is testament to that.  So what better place to learn some of the secrets of their ‘cuina’ (yeah! I know a word in Catalan!) than cooking school?

Steven and I went to the ‘Cook & Taste’ cooking school in Barcelona and learned some Catalan specialties…divine!  We also learned the answer to that long-debated question, who makes a better chef, a man or a woman?  The simple answer is…

Whoever puts down their wine glass long enough to get the work done.  In the case of our Catalan cooking class, it was definitely the men!

10 of us, eager students and food lovers, arrived at 11 a.m. where Maria, our instructor, had laid out all the items we were going to need to cook each dish.  She went through them one by one, starting with the Romesco sauce for roasted courgettes (zucchini).  Once she had demonstrated how each dish would be cooked, she invited us to start pouring our wine (Spanish, of course); after all, what self-respecting chef cooks without wine?

We laughed and savored our way into Catalan cooking and eating until well after 4 p.m.  We were stuffed and swore off eating…until about 9:30 that night (it is Barcelona, after all).

Maria, I need you for a dinner idea tonight!

(Click on image below for slideshow)

Next time you are in Barcelona, you can find them at:

Cook & Taste   Tallers de Cuina – Cooking Workshops

Paradis 3, 08002 Barcelona

T. +34 933 021 320         http://www.cookandtaste.net

(Have you ever been to a cooking class when traveling?  I would Love to hear about it!)


Pausing, at San Bartomeo

As I empty the last bit of laundry from my suitcase, retrieve the last sugar packet from that cafe in France or Spain…


sugar packets are great souvenirs.  Next week when I open the packet from

Cafe du Coin, in Pau, France, into my cup of espresso, I am Instantly back there!

No, this is Not your grandmother’s sugar-packet-hoarding a la Miami Beach)

Anyway, as I was saying, as I unpack the last six weeks and simultaneously ‘re-enter’ what we left behind, I find myself very reflective and moving at

a slower pace.  Six weeks is a long enough time to really get in sync with your host culture, which is exactly what we did.

This wasn’t really a vacation so much as an adventure, a journey, an experience…

and in the process we learned a lot about ourselves, each other, France, Spain, the U.S., the meaning of language and the value of time.  We already

knew a thing or two about all of those things, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded.

As I used to tell returning study abroad students who were having some difficulties after returning from a semester, often times a difficult ‘re-entry’ is

the sign of a wonderful and/or intense experience…

I believe that is what we are experiencing now.

Stay tuned for the results of the 6-week, carry-on challenge!