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True dat!

Beach Body? I Call B.S!

This morning while having my morning coffee and browsing some of my favorite blogs, I came across a really interesting article by a very cool woman. She was discussing a very “hot” topic at the moment – beach bodies. Of course, because we are coming into the season of sun, beaches and hot weather, many women (admittedly, myself included) are eating less and moving more in order to get into that “perfect shape”.

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Yep, let’s buy little girls Barbie dolls..

Now, let me start by saying I really do enjoy the exercise I choose to do. Fitness aside, it reduces my stress levels, makes me more productive with work and just generally makes me feel better. I think it’s really important to stay healthy, by eating well, doing yoga, running, whatever it is you like to do. I wanted to make this point clear before I continue.

HOWEVER – After reading this article, I had a serious change of heart when it came to this rather silly term that is used so much this time of year. And you know what term I’m talking about. Beach body. Bikini body. One in the same. I will foolishly admit I have probably used this term many times, without even thinking. I really applaud the young woman who wrote that article, because I really believe her post made me just a little bit wiser.

The article makes some very obvious points, but since our society is a mass group of followers, we don’t really get it until someone spells it out for us. How can one really define “beach body”? Basically what society tells us, is that a beach body is a perfectly curved (or lack thereof), toned, bronzed body that you must work very hard to attain,  especially for that hot, glorious time of year. A perfect picture is painted for us and if we don’t fit that outline, we simply don’t belong or deserve to be on a beach. When you think about, that is really exactly what they are saying with the mass use of this term. And seriously, what kind of shit is that?

Worth a good laugh!

Worth a good laugh!

I feel so incredibly moronic for supporting this notion of a “beach body”, whether that be reading an article about how to get one, using the term, whatever. It is just such an asinine concept to support.  Maybe I am being too harsh on myself, because to  be honest, I don’t think I have ever been too consumed  with this idea. The main reason this article I read hit home, so to say, is because I wrote an article just a few weeks ago titled “The Summer Diet for Liquor-Loving Women”. Now, this article was really supposed to be funny while giving some serious tips on how to live healthy during the summer months of drinking excessively. After reviewing it, I am happy to know I did not use the term “beach body” although I feel I may have referred to it. Because of that, I wanted to write a follow-up article outlining my feelings on this topic (now that I have been enlightened) and re-assure anyone reading, that I really don’t support this. I was happy to read at the end of my article that I actually conclude with, to quote myself, “Furthermore, summer is meant to enjoy so don’t stress about having the best bikini bod on the beach, just stay healthy and drunk, and you will have a kick ass time!”

And I stand by this. Just imagine how boring and mutant-like it would be if you were sitting on a beach, and everyone looked the same. That’s just weird. And when you think about it, that is exactly what the media/society is suggesting we do. Luckily, reality is that it will never be like that, as it shouldn’t. We are all unique and have our own special qualities. Some have red hair, some have blonde. Green eyes, brown eyes. Short, tall. Size 4, size 14. Let’s quit it with judging people and comparing them to ourselves, like a famous line I once heard, “The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with ourselves”.

I will conclude this article by giving a thanks to the author of that eye-opening article  I read this morning. She really gave me a new perspective on something really important, with her words, and what a gift that is. Hopefully I have done the same for whoever reads this. I hope to see all y’all peeps on the beach this summer, flaunting what yo mama gave ya! I surely will be, and if you see me, stop by and say “Hi”, because  I will most likely have some wine or cava to share. After all, “you already have a beach body. All it needs is the beach.”

True dat!

True dat!

If it wasn't for Canada, we wouldn't have these guys!

North America vs. Europe

After galavanting around Europe for the last three years, I have really started to see the difference between my awesome home country (Canada) and Europe, as a whole. I would never change the fact that I grew up in the amazing country that I did, but living in two totally different continents really gives you a different perspective on oh so many things. While I never could have fathomed these differences just travelling back and forth, in comparison to living a daily life, I thought other people may be interested in knowing the differences between the two (strictly my opinion, of course). So, I have thought of the biggest differences between North America and Europe, and crafted it into a lovely blog post for you to read, while you are in your car during rush hour or sitting at in the park browsing the interwebs…

Live Life to the Fullest

Having lived in a few European countries, I can definitely say the quality of life is better. Why that is, well, that’s a whole other blog post, but I can indulge in this topic a little bit. I think life in North America is a lot more money/business-driven when you look at it from a grand scale. I am catching myself here because while living in London, I really had this very same ‘Go Go Go’ vibe – but to be honest, I think London, and UK in general, is more influenced by America, more than any other European city. Aside from that, I feel the general atmosphere in most European cities is much more focused on just generally enjoying life more, spending more time with family/friends, and not taking life too seriously.  As much as I love a fast and motivating setting, I think it’s a lot more important to “stop and smell the roses”. People really seem to embrace that notion. I feel that in N.A, people are very focused on the “get up,  work, go to bed, repeat” way of life and it really makes you forget about what’s important. Yes, we need money to survive, but maybe if we weren’t so consumed with buying shit we don’t need, we could care a little less about flashy things and more about the people around us. This brings me to my next point…

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Living it up! Beach Lyfe

Less Shit

Yes, I say it bluntly and maybe the subtitle can be seen as rude or derogatory, but nothing else makes my point any clearer. When I lived in North America, it’s all about stuff. Anything from nice cars (maybe 3 of them), fancy kitchen tools (that you never end up using), 25 gadgets that do who-knows-what, to buying a million different hair products, moisturizers, nail polish, and so on (clearly speaking from a women’s perspective here). In N.A it is such a consumer-driven society, what we own for some reason gives us our self-worth. And at the end of it all, we have so much shit filling up our big houses, and no savings to give us a quality life. Now, I am obviously not speaking for everyone but I know the majority lives like this.

My priorities and spending habits changed completely once I moved to EU, but I am just as guilty as most the majority at one point in my life.  I have always hated Wal-Mart and have barely shopped there, they are horrible on so many levels and most importantly to this article, they fuel these overspending habits. I remember one time I actually went to Wal-Mart to get something for my house that I couldn’t buy anywhere else, no clue now what that was, some $60 item.  No word of a lie, I left there and I spent $500! My friend Joe and I looked at each other, thinking the same thing – “What have you done!?”- in a totally exaggerated way. We thought it was funny at the time. But really, what did I do??? I felt like such a moron, I’m pretty sure I never went to Wal-Mart again after that.

Anyway, back to the point. People in EU, from my experience, really live within their means. You don’t use credit cards like we do in N.A, you don’t finance a car you can’t afford in the first place. You simply spend what you have on the things that you need. Such a simple system yet it has been obliterated by mass consumerism. This is one thing I will definitely never miss.

 Be Naked!

Want to walk on the beach… naked? No problem (not from what I’ve seen, anyway – balls out). But really, life here in EU is just much more liberal. I know where I am from (Ontario), we have super strict liquor laws, for example, whereas here, generally, you can buy booze anytime, almost anywhere, and you can drink it on the street, too. That being said, there are the anal areas on Europe as well, Sweden has the same law structure with alcohol as Ontario, but I am not sure anywhere else in EU is like that. I honestly can’t think of many other examples when it comes to how liberal N.A is vs. EU, I guess it’s just a vibe you get. I don’t know. I would like to end this by saying though, that Canada has a very liberal spirit as well. People are very accepting, generous and would pretty much help you in any situation (“If you want you can have all my money, and my leg, eh?”).

Um awkward... Is this sheesha...or..?

Um awkward… Is this sheesha…or..?

Active Living

I know this point is only valid simply because the infrastructures in EU and N.A are different, but it is still a major point for me. When I lived in Canada, I drove everywhere. It was next to impossible to have a life without a license and a car, because things are just not as close nor do we have as common and as efficient public trans. Hopefully in the future this may change, because I really feel my life is made so much better by not having to drive everywhere. On the contrary, I really do miss driving as I literally never do over here, and it would be great to have a vehicle  for long summer drives and random road trips, but I would never want to go back to driving as much as I did. Depending on the city in EU, you can pretty much walk or take the tube anywhere. It’s generally much cheaper than driving and you can avoid the annoyance of traffic and bad drivers. Hope I am not sounding too negative, I am just having flashbacks of driving many times in Toronto with morons who cut you off or just don’t know what the hell they are doing. Ok, rant over :).

Overall, I really find the concept of walking everywhere appealing, and probably contributes to that better quality living (for me, anyway).

 

Ok, I now realize maybe I am hating on North America a little too much in this article. Please, to everyone who reads this, believe me when I say that I absolutely love my home country and wouldn’t trade my previous life there for the world. But, as I said at the beginning of the article, when you live in two different places, you really start to see things differently and you can’t help but compare them. Also, who knows, many may disagree with me on everything I have written here. And that’s ok! This is strictly my view and I think it’s interesting to see how other people view the world. That said, thanks for reading, and please comment below with any feedback. Maybe you have also lived abroad and have some input, or you just want to tell me how wrong I am. Good or bad, I would love to read it! Cheers everyone …And I am proud to be Canadian (Living in Europe) hehe! 😉

If it wasn't for Canada, we wouldn't have these guys!

If it wasn’t for Canada, we wouldn’t have these guys!

 

 

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Be A Fashion Rockstar: Top 5

When summer finally arrives, nothing gets me more excited than the fun fashion, both new and old, that are waiting to be worn and discovered. Sure, picking up your latest Vogue would give you a clear, organized outlook on what styles are hitting the street for the most active season of all, but why stop there?

I say, take it to the streets –  Literally.  One would say the looks found in your favorite fashion mag would be refined to the designers’ and editors perspective – and I tend to agree. While these lively pages of excellence are a definite source of inspiration, your creativity tells you, “reach outside of the well printed and orderly box”.

If you live in any major cities, then you are among the lucky ones. This, is where people fear no judgement when it comes to fashion, purposely going against the grain for the sake of reaction or just simply, to be unique. This is the crowd I find myself among.  Those not afraid to experiment, take a chance, where it often results  in looking fabulous. So, where do I get my inspiration?

The answer is simple, everywhere. From the pages of magazines, to the Barcelona boardwalks where trendy women strut their stuff, to the hipster hangouts where you see truly unique vintage in even more outrageous combinations. This is real life, and compared to a somewhat detained magazines, I say this is the number one source.

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Another Love – Printed Pants! Owls! Yayyy

So, from my hours sitting outside writing at my favorite cafe, people watching, sporadically browsing Elle or Vogue online, combined with my own fashion intuition, these are my top five trends I’ll be rocking this summer…

Band T-shirts 

I know, a thing of the past for many, however I haven’t been able to let go of this classic since I started to embellish and destruct my band shirts in 2007. You know how the say,”rock n’ roll never dies”? Well I am a firm believer, and this theory can easily translate into, “rock n’ roll t-shirts never die”. It may be a far stretch, but I think we can make it happen, rock sistas.

For me, when sporting a band/rock t-shirt, it simply has to be cut-up or modified, in some way. I have this stigma that just wearing a t-shirt makes me look like a ‘tomboy’, it just has to be spiced up. There are a million ways to do this, and rather than turn this article into a DIY t-shirt post, I will simply link to a great article I found on this topic.

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My favorite band T with my own touch of the scissors 🙂

Long-sleeve, Over sized, Button-ups

I have to be honest, I don’t know if these are considered fashionable to the wider style audience, but I happen to think they are great. Especially in the summer! Think, beach cover up, but not just for the beach. I know this past winter season the denim shirts for women were a big hit – and I don’t think that trend is ready to die yet! Right now I am literally eyeing my boyfriends denim button up, that is clearly a little over sized on me, and to that, I say “perfect”! I also have a real love for the basic white button up, over sized in thin, flowing fabric. Hey, I would think this could look very ‘rock chic’ with a band t-shirt…

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Over-sized button-up with crop top & high waist skirt

Head Scarves 

I am starting to see a pattern in this blog post, which is that each style I am listing is something I have loved for many years. And if you could guess (or have known me over the past five years), I LOVE head scarves. You can really get creative, with patterns, how to tie them, the size, how to incorporate with your hairstyle, the list goes on.  I have seen something new (for me) here in Barcelona when it comes to headscarves – wrap them like a turban! Ok, sounds weird but I am telling you, it looks awesome! Wear your hair down, long, or tuck your hair up. Takes some practice to master it, but I am a big fan.

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Loving my fun head scarves & trying hard to look fabulous

Long Skirts/High Waist/Crop Top

This is definitely a 2013 Summer trend. Lately I have noticed all of my favorite clothing stores are selling a vast variety of little crop tops for summer. And, while these tops are both very cute and a little too show-y on their own, I say to simply pair it with a long skirt, keeping it somewhat conservative, and pulling it up so it is more high-waisted. Throw on one of my favorite over-sized button-ups, and you’ve got a great summer beach-y look.

Collar Necklace

If you have looked at any fashion magazines over the last year, you have seen the collar-style necklaces. I have to say, about three years ago I had an idea to cut off only the collar from a really cool 80’s denim shirt. I stitched a small patch on it and wore it as a necklace-type accessory. Maybe I have a psychic-fashion sense, or maybe I should give up blogging and be a designer, I don’t know, but what I do know is the collar looks really cool with any low neckline top. Find an old collared shirt and try it 🙂

I hope you enjoyed reading about my summer fashion passions as much as I enjoyed writing about it! Fashion is simply another form of creativity and I love to see what other people do to be different 🙂

Please comment below and tell me what trends you like or don’t like, Share with me your fun and creative fashion ideas!

gangsta-funny

Adventure Into My Fun Drawer

… And no I don’t mean that fun drawer, Sicky! If my misleading title totally turned you off from this article, give it a second thought. The tale I am about to embark in, is genuinely about a fun drawer. Let me explain…

No matter what country I have found myself in, once nested in like a little gypsy, I always seem to have that one drawer dedicated to fun. These fun things come in all shapes and sizes, which I have accumulated in a vast variety of different places. They are not expensive, nor valuable or even useful, and yet these abortive (haha, thanks Thesaurus.com) objects just can’t be thrown away. And for one simple reason: Memories.  Hitting up the dollar store before an epic party night, leaving with some plastic bling and a syringe shot glass? You bet! It’s fair to assume that with random objects like these, along with a 26er of Captain Morgan Spiced (naturally, empty by 3 am), I wouldn’t remember much – Au contraire, mon cheri!

Anyway, opening this beloved drawer today gave me a blast from the (not so distance) past, and I though “hey, let’s write a blog post about my ever-growing drawer of random sh*t!”. And here we are. I took the liberty of giving you a real inside look (literally) of my fun drawer…

Hope you like my fun drawer as much as I clearly do. Tell me, do you share the same passion for ridiculously random objects? Comment below and tell me what funny things I may find in your fun drawer (Keyword – Funny!)

Ciao, Sexual Chocolates!

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The Summer Diet for Liquor-Loving Women

Ahh April! The month where every woman rushes to lose the winter weight so they can look like sexual chocolates in their skimpy summer clothes and eeny weeny polka dot bikinis. Of course, I am speaking for myself but I am sure many others can relate!

As I gather the courage to sign up for my local gym and promise myself to go everyday, I realize sweating my ass off on the treadmill (high incline, naturally) is not the only component to this rapid ‘get fit’ challenge of mine. So, I now muster up the will to eat extra well and decrease the portion size. In my experience, all goes well for the first 24 hours, and then the potential results of this fit challenge become cloudy in the deprivation of carbs and alcohol. Does this sound like you?

If you’re like me and certainly enjoy a cocktail (or 5) as well as food aside from just steamed veg and cucumber water, then you are reading the right post. I have come up with some useful strategies to keep you enjoying your summer without the shame of too much alcohol and late-night munchy weight gain. You’re welcome.

1. Real Fruit & Boozey Smoothies

There is nothing I enjoy more than a delectable fruit cocktail while tanning in the sun, listening to some rock n’ roll. If you like the same kind of simple treats, you may opt to buy the pre-mixed daiquiri or pina colada mix – which, in case you didn’t know, is filled with sugar (the bad kind) and empty calories. This is sure to stop you dead in your tracks when trying to keep a good shape in the summer months. Not only that, but it is straight-up bad for you. Maybe if you just had one, that wouldn’t be so bad, but come on, no one ever has just one. My solution? I stock up on loads of fruit, the best being pineapple, mango strawberries, raspberries, banana, coconut, throw them in a blender with some vodka and ice, mix er up, and bam! You’ve got yourself one wicked cocktail! You have all the yummy natural fruit sugars, paired with a low-calorie alcohol like vodka. This tantalizing mix gives you no shame when your downing the fifth cocktail. 😉

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Pineapple Mango Vodka Smoothie! Mmm

2. Smoked Chicken

This is something I have only recently discovered, and it is truly amazing. Apologies if you are vegan/vegetarian, as this won’t appeal to you, but if that’s not the case, you’re in luck! Smoked chicken is a great item to keep in your fridge, as it is already cooked and can be eaten cold in a colorful salad, or heated up quickly with a yummy stir fry. Because it is smoked, it can be kept for longer the raw chicken, which comes in handy if your having a lounge day on the beach or stumble in at a late hour, craving something quick and filling (ah, we’ve all been there!). Last attempt I have in convincing you this treat is a must-have, most importantly, is the taste! The flavor is much better than if I were to cook the chicken myself, and the calorie content is also low since it was smoked and has no added oils or butter. I wish I was being sponsored by a smoked chicken brand, because I am clearly a passionate advocate!

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3. Healthy Beach Snacks

This tip is a no-brainer, but maybe can be made a little more tasty and less like rabbit food. Personally, I love vegetables, raw, steamed, cooked, whatever. Veggies and fruit are a great snack for when you are basking in the sun, simply because it is light, and eating a heavy kebab on the beach will probably put you into a coma (speaking from experience). Take some time before you head to the beach and prep some veg in a tasty way, check out my friends vegetarian blog (in Spanish, so just Google Translate if needed) for tons of great recipes for anything-but-boring veggie snacks. If you can manage to keep it cold enough, why not bring some of my boozey fruit smoothies with you as well!

4. V-v-v-vino!

Ohh, how I love my vino! Cold, refreshing and low-calorie, this is yet another great beverage to have on those hot summer days. Yes, I am sure I sound like a straight-up alchy, but the summer is for drinking and I personally give myself props for doing it in the healthiest way possible 😉 . Generally, a glass of vino is a mere 80 calories, so a great choice for a summer drink (or year-round!). They way I see it, when you’re out in the sun, you are sweating a mass amount of calories anyway, so this can’t be of any great harm. On the contrary, I am going to sound like my mother and remind you to also drink lots of the H20 to keep yourself hydrated (if only wine did the same!).

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5. *Fun* Exercise (Yes, I said fun!)

I swear, it exists. I am a true fountain of energy myself and get quite bored just laying in the sun all day, so I like to  keep it interesting. At the beach? Bring a volleyball or paddleboard and have some game time with your friends (especially after some drinks, this is a great time). This will obviously burn some calories and keep yourself alive throughout the day, not to mention give you an excellent tan. If you don’t happen to like sand sports, go for a nice swim in the sea! This will just as much keep you energized, while also being a great way to cool off. If you prefer the pool to the sea, play Marco Polo!!! Ok, I sound like a 5 year old but seriously, so much fun. If you’re not familiar with the game, just look it up, it’s easy. Marco is ‘it’ and must close their eyes while saying ‘Marco’, and the others have to answer ‘Polo’, and if Marco touches you or catches you out of the water, you are now the Marco. Simple enough! If you doubt me, try it, then tell me you didn’t have a blast! 😉

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While many of my ideas are not the most original and some, quite obvious, actually doing these things make a mile of a difference when it comes to keeping fit in the summer months. How can you debate ideas that are so simple, fun and utterly tasty? Maybe as the summer goes on I can come up with some more creative ideas, but for now I think this is a great start. Further more, summer is meant to enjoy so don’t stress about having the best bikini bod on the beach, just stay healthy and drunk, and you will have a kick ass time!

What did you think of my tips? Would you try them, or do you have any to add to the list? I would love to hear so comment below! And, of course, have a rockin’ summer!

barcelona-travel

Barcelona: El Gotico Top 5 Hot Spots

My second favorite area of Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter (or in Spanish, El Gòtico)! I would say it shares the very similar charms of Gracia; Small streets, Spanish/Catalan culture, and unique bars and restaurants. One difference from the two cultural wonderlands is, the Gotic Quarter is much busier with bustling tourists – but don’t let that scare you. Here’s a list of the top 5 spots I personally recommend in the Gothic Quarter of lovely Barca:

La Locanda Pizzeria –  Carrer Doctor Joaquim Pou, 4, Barcelona, 08002

One of the best Italian restaurants in Barcelona, this spot boasts a relaxing and young environment with some excellent food to go along with it. Barcelona is one of the best cities I have ever had pizza in, and this place, among others, really lives up to that reputation! You will literally find about four pages of different pizzas, varying from the tomato base, white sauce base, to just straight cheese and toppings. They also offer many other great Italian dishes (and wine on course), but I always stick to the pizza!

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Jupiter pizza at La Locanda

Bun Bo Vietnam – Carrer Sagristans, 3, Barcelona, 08002

Vietnamese food in Barcelona? Sure, why not? I know everyone that comes to this great city has their mind set on tapas (of course!) but if you are here for a long enough visit, you may want to try some other cuisines. Bun Bo is one of my favorite restaurants in the city, it has a cozy, colorful Asian atmosphere and the food is top-notch. If it’s a nice day out, you can even sit outside and admire some of the old buildings to be seen in the El Gotico. This place is also very reasonably priced, at say €20 a head. I recommend going for the Summer Roll appetizer, and the curry is also a great choice.

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The inside of wonderful Bun Bo in Barcelona!

Bar 32 – Carrer Ample, 32, Barcelona, 08002

I can’t speak for the food at this bar (although I am sure it’s great!), but the atmosphere and drinks are fantastic. Bar 32 is actually an Irish pub/cafe that sits right in the center of the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter. Being as I am a frequent visitor, I can say you will most likely be welcomed by some very friendly and fun Irish folk, who will gladly serve you up something cold! It is very popular with the many Irish/English/Scottish people who inhabit Barcelona, and there is a blatant vibe of real community here. Take a table for your group, or sit at the bar and chat with the bartenders, give it five minutes and you will truly feel like you’re speaking with your best mate!

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Ladies Partying, Bar32 Style!

Milk Cocktail Bar – Carrer Gignàs, 21, 08002 Barcelona

Milk, also run by an Irish couple, is the definition of ‘swank’ and 50’s retro design (my favorite!). The coziest of environments, you can expect some lounge-worthy couches with eccentric pillows, making you feel right at home. What makes this experience even better? Well, cocktails, of course!

The Spanish favorite (derived from Mexico), La Cucaracha cocktail (Don’t let the name frighten you!) is a real winner and personal favorite; Tequila, passion fruit (both the fruit and liquor :)) with apple and lime juice. YUM. If you don’t want to be knocked on your ass after the first drink, you can always go for a classic, like a Daiquiri, Margarita or Pina Colada (all for very reasonable prices!).

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Milk Cocktail Bar

Macarena (dance club) – Carrer Nou de Sant Francesc, 5, 08002, Barcelona

On the edge of the Gothic Quarter, near Las Ramblas, sits a small and mysterious club with party people in its surroundings. This, is Macarena. For both the locals and Barca enthusiasts, this is an all-time favorite spot for dancing to electronic beats, which are often the sounds of local DJ’s. If you are from North America, like myself, when you hear “club” you think of a massive venue. Not here! It has a capacity of 300 persons, which gives people enough room to enjoy the venue.

A great aspect to this club, is the atmosphere. It is not your typical club, where guys are desperately trying to pull a hookup, people standing at the sidelines, irritating loud mouths; You will find none of this here. It is simply people who love music, and love to dance to music. If this sounds like your scene, it is definitely a spot to visit!

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View of the city!

 

While it’s hard to name only five top places in the wonderland that is El Gotico, this article is my greatest attempt. If going to a new country or city, it is always good to have some kind of “plan” detailing the right areas and locally-loved spots. That said, use this article as the basis for your journey. Now that you know these great places, keep in mind, there are so many more! Exploration is key, and the Gothic Quarter is a great place to start off!

Did you take my advice  and visit these areas, or have you been to them before? I would love to hear your feedback, good or bad, so please comment! Hats off to your journeys ahead..!

 

blame-canada-nickelback

Spanish Guy Does Canadian Nickelback

If you’re a Canadian in Spain, don’t let them know. They will think you are related to Justin Beiber and sing Nickelback to you. Just tell them you’re American, everyone assumes you are, anyway!

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Barcelona: Gracia’s Top 5 Hot Spots

Ready for hippies, cheap drinks and a helluva grand kebab? Seems you’ve come to the right place! Bienvenidos a Gracia!

One of my top favorite areas of Barcelona, Gracia, is the most culture-filled and non-tourist area of the city (in my experience!). It’s a small district at the top of the city with the best places to eat, drink and hang-out. Hipsters, beers and ganja color this area, with a delightful charm. They have a plethora of squares, or placas, where you have everything you need for a (foggy) night out. Let’s indulge:

Pizzalabina Pizzeria – Carrer de Verdi, 40, Barcelona, 08012

Thin-crust pizza with more toppings that you’d imagine, this is the best pizzeria in the city. Most pizzas range from €10-15 for a whole pie, and one can easily eat a whole one (trust me, it will happen). Top that off with €6 jugs of some potent sangria and a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere, and you’ve got it made! Salud!

Ugarit Restaurant Siri – Carrer de Verdi, 11, Barcelona, 08012

Just a little ways downwards of the pizzeria, is Ugarit. This place features Syrian cuisine, which was a first for me, and I loved it. Maybe a little more pricier for the Gracia area, the dishes still have a great price point, anywhere from €15-20 for a dish of truly great food. The fact that they have about three locations in Gracia alone, may assure you that this place has some frequent visitors. Quick tip, I would highly recommend the chicken shawarma dish!

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Chicken Shawarma at Ugarit!

 

Gasterea – Pintxos/Tapas Bar – Carrer de Verdi, 39, Barcelona, 08012

Yet another great place on Verdi, this is my favorite pintxos/tapas place yet! Gasterea is the real experience, too. This spot boasts the classic, long and narrow bar with an opposing ledge  for standing and eating. That may sound unappealing, I thought so at first, but it makes the experience truly unique. To compliment, bustles of locals and the buzz of conversation. Keep in mind, this place is open 7pm – 1am (Mon, Tues, Thurs) and 7pm – 2am (Fri-Sun).

This place is not so much a tapas bar, as it is more of a pitxos bar. This basically means that all the typical tapas are actually placed on a small piece of bread, with a toothpick through it (‘pintxos’ in Spanish means ‘spike’, hence toothpick). The price can’t be beat, as dishes start from a mere €1.90 per plate, and vino, served in the authentic Spanish glasses, is just as inexpensive. Do me a favor, when you go there, order ‘alcachofas fritas’ – fried artichokes – best thing you will ever have in your life!

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Amazing pinxtos – Deep fried artichoke!! To die for…

Kebab Shop –  Carrer d’Astúries (right off of Gran de Gracia, Fontana Metro Station), Barcelona

There are not many things I love more in life than a good kebab, and this place takes the win! Also located on the edge of Gracia, it has the best one in town, and great tzatziki sauce to go along with it! For €4.75, you’ll have a 4-star kebab (yes, they exist) in an authentic Turkish hole-in-the-wall. To go with that, some great vino blanco and some spinach/feta burek (Eastern Europe pastry – To die for!).

I can’t give the name or exact address (I forget the name) but the directions are simple: Going upwards in the city on Gran de Gracia, take a right at Carrer d’Asturies (look for Fontana Metro station), and walk about 20 feet, where you will see the restaurant on the left! I will update this once I find out exact name and street number.

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Ladies!!

 Bobby Gin – Francisco Giner, 47, Barcelona, 08012 

So, you’re in Barcelona. Enough with food. I want to get some dranks! Well, if you happen to be in Gracia, which I assume you will be, then get your ass over to Bobby Gin! Do it the rockstar way and go for the cocktail dinner. I guess I should mention, if you don’t like gin, this may not be the best place to go (but, who doesn’t like gin?!). Even if you don’t like gin, you should try a drink here, because chances are, the drinks here will make you a gin-aholic. They have every kind of gin you can imagine, and they make it in a mass variety of ways. Starting with the classic gin and tonic, or a fruity chardonnay-infused gin cocktail. Expect to pay €10 per drink, with is definitely pricey for Spain, but for good reason – Totally worth it and you may get pretty hammered. Ok, enough with Bobby Gin, it’s still early here and all this talk makes me want a gin and tonic…

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And there you have it! You now have a great starting point/guide to one of the best areas of Barcelona! Now get out there and enjoy it 🙂
If you happen to visit any of the places I have recommended here, I would be so happy if you shared your experience! Or, simply let me know if these places sound great or not! Cheers! And God Save the Gin!

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Top 5 (Tourist) Things to do in Barcelona

Barcelona; The city of art, history, beauty, (seasonal) warmth and great Sangria. On your visit here, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with what to do, see, eat, and how many types of Sangria they have (50+ kinds – true story). So, as a travel enthusiast and minor Barca expert, I am fulfilling my foreign duty to the masses, by telling you exactly what you should do when you get to this Wonderland. Top five, Let’s get started…

 

La Sagrada Familia (church) – Calle Mallorca, 401  08013 Barcelona, Spain

Close Up Church

 

Beautiful church by Antoni Gaudi that is a must-see and maybe one of the biggest tourist destinations. Its construction started in March 1882 by architect Francisco de Paula del Villar where he then, in 1883, commissioned Gaudi to continue its construction. Gaudi worked on this masterpiece until 1926, where he then passed, and to this day is being finished my architects and students, alike. After all, Gaudi once said, “The expiatory church of La Sagrada Família is made ​​by the people and is mirrored. A work that is in the hands of God and the will of the people”.

 

Not only is it amazing from the outside (front and back), but the inside is even better. Entering the church will usually require you to wait in the queue however it generally moves quickly, and costs about €15 for the basic tour, which can include a headset with audio, overviewing the background of this historical gem. If you are going to take the time to venture inside (which you should!), I strongly suggest you go after 2pm, so you can travel up the towers. Just the basic inside tour will allow you to see the amazing stained glass work and eccentric internal architecture, quite possibly being the most amazing thing you have ever seen!

 

Park Guell (park) –  Carrer d’Olot 5 08024 Barcelona

Park Guell

 

Centered at the top of the city, past the wonderful district of Gracia, is Park Guell. Also one of Antoni Gaudi’s works of art, this is a park you should go to and get lost in for a day. Being at the top of the city, you can expect fantastic views of the city, right down to the Balearic sea. Entrance is free, however I recommend bringing some coins as you will see many local performers that are unlike the most typical.

 

Walking through the park reminds me of a certain classic Disney film – Alice and Wonderland. You are surrounded by greenery, beautiful plants, amazing Gaudi architecture and sculptures. If you want to relax with a drink, soaking in the beauty, there is a cute outdoor cafe where you can sip Sangria!

 

Port Olimpic (The sea!)

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I don’t think I need to say this, but if you are planning a trip to Barcelona, the beach is somewhere you just have to go! As a tourist, most people will think to go to the main city beach, Barceloneta. Although very nice, it is incredibly packed when the warm weather sets in, with both other tourists and the many peddlers (If you hear “Agua, cerveza, beer”, do not make eye contact). When planning a day at the beach, you should definitely bring an umbrella, water, snacks, beer, and of course, cava (Spain’s version of champagne – and better!).

 

Once you are packed and ready to go, you can either take the train or, much easier, a cab. If you take the train, try your best to take it from the yellow metro line (L4) which is accessible from most areas, specifically the core of the city, and get off at Port Olimpic. The beach is not far, and to be honest, the easiest thing to do is just follow people who have umbrellas and beach gear! This beach, allbeit still busy, is much better than the main city beach, also being cleaner. This is a great spot to tan your day away, with the glorious Balearic sea only steps away.

 

Montserrat (mountain)

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Described by many as the “sight of a lifetime”, Montserrat is Spain’s first National Park and comprises a multi-peaked mountain, specifically three main ones. It’s most often described, visually, as “pink peaks”, as the peaks are slightly pink (duh?). This is definitely a full-day trip if you want the real experience, so keep that in mind.

 

The easiest way to get here, is to take a train from Plaça de Espanya. You can then take the rack railway, which would mean you get off at Monistrol de Montserrat. Or, you can go the adventurous route, and take the cable car by getting off at Montserrat Aeri (don’t do it if you are afraid of heights!!).

 

The mountain is truly unlike many things you have probably ever seen, like a thousand natural sculptures with a spectacular view of this great city. Convinced? 😉

 

Las Ramblas (street and market)

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For a resident of Barcelona, the last place you may want to go to is Las Ramblas if you’re agitated by pushy shop owners, a fast walker, or generally dislike massive groups of people. If you haven’t caught on yet, I am a bitter beotch when it comes to tourist areas like this one. BUT, don’t let my negativity influence you – Las Ramblas is a must-see street that you need to visit while you’re here.

Where do I start – Street performers, gorgeous flower stands, music, art, you name it, it’s probably here. Take an hour and just travel down this yellow brick road, you may not be in the market for overpriced souvenirs, but it’s worth it. There is also a fresh market on this street (I can’t give exact number) but if you ask, someone will point you in the right direction. In my opinion, the market is a must!

One last piece of advice: Keep your pockets empty, your bag closed and around your shoulder, and don’t let the street peddlers distract you. It is not as scary as I make it sound, however these are just the best precautions. Pickpocketing here is an art, and it will happen without having a clue, so just be careful!

 

This list of Barcelona sights is very much like my visits to Las Ramblas – Short and sweet. It would certainly be impossible for me to give you every go-to spot is Barcelona in just one blog post, so let this post me the first of many more. I have only covered the most popular landmarks of the city. I haven’t even started on the restaurants and bars! Stay tuned tomorrow for my next post on some more area-specific top visits!


Ciao, ¡salud, Peace & Kitties!

 

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More Onesies Less Elevator Noise

That’s right. A self-reflection article should have a clever title that makes people think, and this title is exactly how I am feeling right now. I am someone who gets very overwhelmed by all the choices and amazing things around me. The realization that I need to focus and tune out is much overdue, and on this sunny and enlightening Friday at precisely 11:09 am, I start here.

In a modern world such as the one many walk on today, year 2013, we are blatantly forced to consume multimedia messages, day in and day out. Thousands of images on Facebook telling us what we ‘Like’ so we can save the world, support religious culture and of course, the most grumpy cat on the internet. Technology moving so fast, you could leave the modern world for a mere week and when you return, you’re considered part of the stone-age. So many choices on what food to eat, from which restaurant, following which food trend of the moment. No wonder we often can’t make decisions quickly enough to keep up with our fast-paced society.

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The Next Grumpy Cat??

If what I am describing is any relation to how you feel on a weekly basis, you are not alone. I believe there are millions of people, in our modern-world bubble, racing against their minds and our so well-developed culture. I also believe, as amazing and predominate the human species is, we are going in the wrong direction. Completely.

The faster we run as a modern human race, the faster we consume, the faster we dispose and ultimately, the faster we lose our minds and the world in which we live in. Ironically, losing our literal minds is not such a loss, as there are robots being developed as we speak (by modern-day humans). As I know everyone has read on Facebook or somewhere of the sort, we are destroying our world and ourselves. I am not here to preach to you, just put it into perspective. The fact that, yes, we are overwhelmed by messages from every direction, allows us to forget the most important one of all. We can’t live the glorious lives we do, without the use of the planet we walk on.

Wear more onesies and you eliminate one extra choice you have to make during your compounded day. Block out the elevator noise and pay attention to what really matters (whatever that is, in your mind).

Source: dexikas.blogspot.com

**article was inspired by not knowing what to wear on the first spring warm day, and trying on clothing choices for too long until I realized how much of a waste of time it was. Then, I put on a onesie and life seemed so much simpler and the clothing choice was made. Secondly, knowing how much I need to better focus on my tasks at hand, I decided to block the elevator noise.

 

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