Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 14th in Barcelona!

We planned to get up early to go to La Sagrada Familia but we slept in until 10 am (Spanish style). We had a quick breakfast at Bellapan across the street. I ordered a bocatillo (jamon y queso). After breakfast, we walked to Casa Batllo but decided against paying the 17 euros each.  Instead, we took lots of pictures outside the house. We read in Rick Steves' guide that if you have to choose between Casa Batllo and Casa Mila/La Pederera, go to La Pederera. (It's also slightly less expensive at 14 euros a person. At this time, it was approximately $20 each. ) The rooftop and view were phenomenal, but still overpriced.  Regardless of the heat, we also had a lot fun taking pictures on the roof!  Around 1pm, we walked to La Sagrada Familia, 
 where it was super crowded but worth the 15 euros, in my opinion. When you step inside, the ceilings are soo intriguing it's hard to look away. Mr. F and I thought it was striking and very different from other (older) European churches. The Gaudi side of the church is the most impressive.  There is so much detail that I'll let my photos talk, instead of trying to describe this amazing architecture.  There were models in the basement that were equally as impressive. We took the Nativity elevator up to the top of one of the spires... It's said the construction on the church is suppose to be finished in 2026, 100 years after Gaudi's death. 
We were extremely tired after all of our walking around in 90 degree heat, and intense heat. We had a late lunch, Spanish style, at Qu Qu on Passeig de Garcia, which is down the street from Casa Batllo. (Rick Steves also recommended this tapas place and we loved the fried artichokes.) 
After our siesta, we walked to a local gin joint near our hotel and had amazing gin and tonics before a late dinner. This is a Pomelo, which is grapefruit puree and Hendrick's gin. When Lolita's opened at 8pm, we ordered pimentos (fried green peppers), peas and quail eggs,  and for dessert we had the "pink panther".  It was basically a mini cake with pink chocolate frosting!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

El dia segundo en Barcelona

We slept for 12 hours our first night in Barcelona. (On Monday, June 13th!) When we wandered out of our hotel for coffee, we found an adorable panderia (bakery) across the street, called "Bellapan". We ordered danishes and cafe con leche for breakfast before walking down Av del Paral.lel. 
While trying to find the cable cars to Barceloneta, we took the Funicular de Montjuic. When we got to the top, it was a pleasant surprise to arrive at a lovely hillside and park. As we wandered around the castle grounds, we saw beautiful flowers (some eaten by pet pigs), and amazing views of the city. 
We even saw the cable cars going to the beach peninsula (Barceloneta) but we were having too much fun to leave.
We went into the castle, which was once a prison and torture site during the Franco era!  
We mostly enjoyed the fantastic views!

We also enjoyed the sentry towers too!
 After wandering past the Font de Magica, which was not on, we found that Quimet y Quimet was finally open! We had an amazing cheese plate with port jelly and nuts. We also had bread drizzled in olive oil! We also had pate on toast with soy sauce and sweet onions! It was lively and standing room only and the perfect way to try new tapas! The walls were lined with many Spanish wines and we even bought a delightful bottle of Sauvignon Blanc called, Torres FransolaAfter a brief siesta, we decided to seek out another recommendation from a friend called Tapas 24 Wow, we were in yet another tapas foodie heaven! We had little sandwiches with jamon y queso called, bikinis! We had patatas bravas.  The most amazing dish was dessert (postres). It was chocolate pudding with sea salt and olive oil, topped with sweet toasted bread. It was muy delicioso!

I'll post more about our trip tomorrow. Hasta Manana! 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Drool-worthy food and random thoughts

Mmm, maybe because it's humid and I'm craving something cool, but grilled tofu sounds amazing right now. [Here's the recipe too!]

What's your go-to-summer food?

Mr. F and I are on the 4-Hour Body kick and eating super healthy this summer. The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming SuperhumanI'm hoping we can stick with it longer than the South Beach Diet.

[source] Fortunately, this "rapid fat-loss" diet, actually keeps me full (with many servings of slow-carbs, like beans and almond butter) and not crabby/starving.

The best part of this regimen is the "Mininum Effective Dose" (doing the bare minimum to gain the most desired outcome) and having one day off a week.

Here are some of Timothy Ferriss' other helpful tips:

Five rules for cutting body fat:

1. Avoid "white" carbohydrates

2. Eat the same few meals over and over again

3. Don't drink calories

4. Don't eat fruit

5. Take one day off per week

Mr. F and I are already noticing a big difference in our muscle definition and lack of cravings. I'm super psyched to read more of the book to 'perfect my sleep', 'run faster and farther', and to generally get stronger. Have you read this book?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Our first day in Barcelona

On June 13th, we left our apartment in River North around 10:30am and caught the Blue Line to O'Hare. We had deliciously-bad-for-you double hamburgers at Johnny Rocket's before boarding the plane to Philidelphia. We left Philly at 6:30pm and arrived in Barcelona at 8:30am on Sunday, June 14th. We took the train from the aeropuerto and didn't know what stop to get off at, but fortunately we got off at Passeig de Garcia, which is near Casa Batilo. Since I recognized it from the guidebooks, I was able to figure out that we were only a 10 minute walk from the hotel.  Unfortunately, when we arrived at the Hotel Market, at 11 am, our room wasn't ready.  
We walked around the Sant Antoni neighborhood, and down Las Ramblas, to the port, and saw cruise ships loading. We were becoming super crabby and dead on our feet, so we went back to the hotel at 2pm. 
 We took a siesta for 2 1/2 hours. Around 5pm we worke up and felt more normal, so we tried to find a place that was recommended to us, for dinner. 
 We walked to Quimet y Quimet in the Poble Sec neighborhood but it wasn't open. El Caballito Blanco in the Eixample neighborhood also wasn't open on Sundays, so we went to the restaurant next door. We had phenomenal cava too. 
The food was okay at Los Barriles but we decided to stick to our list of recommendations.
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped for gelati! We had un pequeno dulce de leche y pistachio. 
At 10pm we were pooped and fell asleep immediately!

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