Browsing Tag


0 In style/ travel

WiW: vacation capsule wardrobe

Choosing what to pack and wear in Paris and Barcelona was a daunting task. Visiting such epic style capitals, I wanted to look pulled together, but realistically needed a wardrobe that would be comfortable for long days, crazy amounts of walking, and temperatures ranging from 38-86′.  Though I checked a bag,  I kept it light/ left room for souvenirs. David almost always carries my bags when we travel together (especially up four flights of spiral stairs),  but on principle, I don’t travel with more than I can manage myself.


I wanted to pack a capsule of clothes that intermixed well, layered effectively for warmth, was versatile to accommodate our unplanned time, and felt equally chic and comfortable. A reformed overpacker, I really tried to streamline for this trip- and I succeeded, because 6 pair of shoes for more than two weeks is a major accomplishment for Imelda right here.


Here’s what I packed:BPflatlays-sweaters

Gap sweater, Asos sweater (similar), Target cardigan (similar), H&M jeweled sweater (similar)


Old Navy chambray, lipstick print blouse, SheIn buffalo plaid flannel [size up!], Topshop scalloped shell. Old Navy black and red-striped long-sleeved shirts, black and grey tees.  James Perse white, Petit Bateau striped, Zara yellow teeshirts


Kenley Collins for Unique Vintage skirt , homemade tulle tutu skirt (similar), American Eagle floral skirt (similar). Hue leggings, Old Navy midrise Rockstars, JBrand coated skinnies


Forever 21 maxi (similar), Asos silk dress (similar), Kate Spade Saturday striped (similar), H&M lace (similar) dresses


Tulle coat via Hautelook (similar),  SheIn cape, sole society scarf, kate spade purses


Converse, Victoria’s Secret heels (similar), grey and black booties, similar gold sandals, similar metallic tennies.


And here’s how I wore it…


… for a chilly morning flea marketing in Vanves, soaking in the sunshine between museums,  accessorized with pearls and sheer glee at being in Paris.


… topped with one of David’s shirts (capsule wardrobe freebie!) to shop, all fancified for date night at Tickets, graphic pops of red for exploring and simply layered for a morning of outdoor art.



… with a little sparkle for dinner in Montmartre, windblown and undone by the water, hiding bike shorts underneath stripes {RIP Kate Spade Saturday}, and florals to flirt shamelessly with my sweet husband.



bundled up in black but always with a bright lip, keeping it super-simple for supper, layering my favorite basics for a look that’s anything but, stacking texture and patterns in claret and cream.

…and mixed and remixed lots of other ways. You can use the sidebar tags [off to the right] for Paris and Barcelona to see what I wore where.  If you are packing for a long or varied trip, I hope this helpful. My best advice is to bring half of what you want, culling the duplicates. You’ll always have room in your bag for new purchases should you find the need to shop!


This was such an amazing trip, and reminiscing over it as I blogged has been so lovely. I’m dying to go back already, but we have lots of upcoming travel planned and a few weekend getaways to share….

1 In travel

Eurocoes: loves, lists, and logistics

leaving-paris sncf-gare-du-lyon cute-french-train-station

Our Europe trip was my first experience with international train travel, and I loved it! Having preordered our TGV tickets, it was fabulous not to check in hours before departure, to pass through gorgeous countryside, and to arrive and depart in city centers rather than the outskirts of town.

small-spanish-town-from-train french-country-side cute-spanish-town-feild-eurorail fast-train-to-barcelona

En route to Paris, we’d planned for train time happy hour, so we had cava and incredible Spanish snacks for our moving movie date. I cheesily insisted on Amèlie, but David drew the line at Moulin Rouge. On the return trip to Barcelona, we breakfasted on pastries and the best of our remaining French fridge contents – blood orange mimosas for the win! Our car was mostly empty, so we stretched out and slept, since we’d left the Marais for Gare de Lyon before sunrise, and had a bonus half-day in Barcelona ahead  before our latenight flight.

bonus-barca-park-cava Parc-de-la-Ciutadella-rose-cava Parc-de-la-Ciutadella-siestacan-paixano-rosat

We stashed our suitcases in lockers at Sants and then hopped straight onto the metro for a last lap of our Barcelona favorites. We hit a few shops before Can Paixano, and it was so jam-packed that we took our wine and meal to the Parc de la Ciutadella. It was lovely to have a leisurely lunch, to sit and soak in the Spanish sunshine on our last afternoon of vacation. We took a last long walk around the city, before returning to La Boqueria for one more fabulous dinner (and plane snacks, obvi). Bellies full, we fetched our bags at the train station and were bound for the airport.

You may recall that I found an incredible deal on plane tickets. Real talk- they were such a steal because the timing and flight patterns were far from fantastic, including a midnight BCN departure and connections through Moscow. For the geographically unfamiliar, Russia is well past mainland Europe and connecting there’s a total timewaster.  But half price was worth the few hours, so off to kill time in the rather underdeveloped Moscow airport we went. Side note: I actually wanted a much longer layover and to explore Moscow, but the single day visas for Americans were SO prohibitively expensive, we couldn’t justify many hundred dollars for the one day. 

nothing-in-moscow-aorport  moscow-airpot-vending-machine-modelputin-tee-shirt-vending-machine

Vending machines of Putin teeshirts were just one of many amusing things we encountered during our airport explorations. People-watching and snack and souvenir shopping were both quality entertainment. The eateries were pretty spare, with some businesses closed and others renovating, so frozen yogurt and Burger King (for the first time in decades- it was freshly made and honestly better than we remembered) were our snack pack reinforcements.

On our return leg, we had a gorgeous sunrise landing into a 5 hour layover at SVO. We promptly checked into the V Express capsule hotel in Terminal E. There, the princely sum of about $50 afforded us a ‘business triple,’ a simple, super clean, cruiseship-reminiscent room and private bathroom. We put our feet up, snacked and stretched, then passed out for a good long nap. We woke to shower, then checked out and boarded our flight back to LA. It was a really convenient stopgap, even though I used up all the hot water on David… oopsie.

legs-up-airport-hotel moscow-airport-capsul-hotel

Speaking of rest, it was nearly midnight by the time we had cleared customs upon arrival in Barcelona, so we spent just that first night at an Ibis hotel. We just wanted inexpensive, clean, comfy,and central, and it was nice to get a good sleep and shower before checking into our apartment and getting acquainted with the city. We rented both our apartments from Airbnb, as we tend to do. Our Barcelona flat was phenomenal: huge, beautifully kept and very professionally managed- a few blown lightbulbs were replaced within hours. Our Paris apartment, not so much. We expected it to be petite, with a fourth floor walk up, and a big window overlooking the lively street.  We didn’t expect it to be dim,  a bit grim, and filled to the brim with the owner’s belongings (David lived out of his open suitcase, I cleaned off a few bookshelves to unpack into), the shower drain to be clogged, or the owner to be generally unconcerned with responding to us or water damage in his bathroom.  But c’est la vie- it was rather inexpensive and we loved its location in the heart of the Marais.




And, because I love some listmaking, a 5×4 on our time in Europe.


Memory Makers

  1. That first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. David was navigating as we walked around on our first night, and I spotted it as we rounded a corner. If it’s possible to both squeal and lose your breath at the same time, that’s what I did.
  2. The tasting menu at Tickets. Worth every Euro- David and I agree that it was one of the best meals we’ve ever eaten, with spectacular styling and service. And meeting Ferran Adria in the flesh was such an amazing coincidence- beyond my wildest imagination.
  3. Our morning with Lisa. Paris was incredibly romantic, and it shines through in those images.  Our vacation there was such a dream-come-true for me,  and it’s just so special to have it captured in a way that’s beautiful, but authentic.
  4. Admiring amazing artwork and architecture while hand-in-hand with my husband. He’s such a great partner in the craziness that is life, so it’s especially nice to take our time and just relax and enjoy, to let the experience wash over us.
  5. Embodying Madeline. I grew up devouring books about ‘twelve little girls in two straight lines,’ and my blue wool coat struck a familiar note. It’s more than a little dorky, but I loved dressing for breakfast one morning with the residents of a vine-covered Parisian boarding school as my inspiration. madeleine-2


 Merdé moments

  1. Dropping my iPhone and cracking the screen getting out of our Uber at LAX. Replacement screens were slow and spendy in both cities, according to our inquiries, so I just tolerated it, taped the spreading cracks along the trip, and got it fixed back in the States.
  2. Realizing upon our arrival in Barcelona that Googlemaps is not properly enabled in Spain, and that I wouldn’t be able to access the annotated, color-coordinated, fully mapped out trip agenda I’d worked so hard on. I melted down- it had been a very long travel day.
  3. Crossing the street one afternoon in les Halles, when I locked eyes with a homeless man.  Unfortunately,  it was as he was relieving  (and fully exposing) himself in the middle of the crosswalk! The policeman standing on on the corner was very unconcerned when I informed him, to David’s amusement- I was more than a little shocked and grossed out!
  4. We only took cabs to and from the airport, relying on metro and our legs the rest of the time. I used the Taxi G7 to reserve our cab to Gare de Lyon, but didn’t get a confirmation, so I refreshed it. David was greeted with quite the sight when he took our bags down that morning: two cabbies arguing loudly over who deserved our fare. We got dinged with a couple Euro fee- for technically canceling the second car, but it was quickly and easily resolved.
  5. Chatelet. The metro station was under construction, and it took forever and a day (at least 20 minutes) to navigate transfers through and was just a timesuck. I may have had a hangry tantrum there while David laughed in my face, and took mortifying

Regretfully missed- saved for our return to Europe

  1. Versailles. With so much to do in Paris, I couldn’t bear to allot the day to make the trip out. But I drool over ornate Baroque styling, and cannot wait to see all of that gorgeous gold-and-garden goodness with my own two eyes.
  2. Country time. On the whole, I would have loved a few more days for making day trips and visiting the countryside. I’d adore a day in Monet’s gardens at Giverny (the Orangerie was practically a religious experience) or tasting Champagne at the caves in Reims. We also talked about spending a night or two in the South of France or at the Spanish seaside, but couldn’t be away any longer.
  3. An immersive foodie experience. Ideally, it would be David Lebovitz’s gastronomy tour, but I’d be happy with an intensive pastry course, truffle-hunting in the hills, or another indulgent learning experience along those lines.
  4. Cooking, in general. The Boqueria is the most amazing market, and the marches in Paris weren’t shabby either, overflowing with scrumptious and well-priced raw materials. We had kitchen access, but had too many yummies on the list to eat out to do much cooking at home. I can’t wait to make my groceries there, and the delicious meals that will result!
  5. Sport. We made serious effort to attend a live sporting event while in Europe, but it just didn’t work out. We couldn’t find a pair of decently priced seats for the FC Barcelona home game. So we bought great seats to a Paris Saint-Germain home game. Shortly before our trip, they qualified for the European League championships and our game got postponed until after we returned to the States. It was so unlucky!


And once more, with feeling

  1. I’d get on a plane tommorow just for the repeat eats. My mouth waters thinking of mango-passionfruit caramels from Jacques Genin, flaky laminated pastries, fresh-caught uni, Cava Rosado, and authentic Jamon Iberico. Gimme.
  2. We’ll definitely invest in the Paris Museum Pass again. Cutting the lines was glorious, and it is such an good value if you are visiting several museums or monuments.  We especially loved the freedom to see as much or as little of as many places as we wished.
  3. I’m going to up my shopping game big time, and save my pennies in advance. Knowing all the goodies that exist, I’m reminiscing over antique linens and furniture and lusting after shoes handmade of Spanish leather, authentic vintage couture (maybe another Chanel purse?) and burnished copper cookware. And I’ll certainly have a long list of beauty products to buy and replenish.
  4. We’re going to keep star collecting. We love good food at all price points, but made a point of eating a Michelin-starred meal on this trip, and adored the experience.  I’d love to visit other restaurants of that caliber, and collect as many stars in Europe as budget allows.
  5. I’ve mentioned before that we don’t love most tourist attractions, and prefer to try and live like locals. But sometimes it’s the tourist traps that are fun. I love striking the balance between mainstream and offbeat, so we’ll always feel free to skip any attraction that doesn’t genuinely excite one of us,  and build in extra time to wander aimlessly and explore freely. And people watch. That’s a must.





2 In food/ travel

The best Tickets in Barcelona

barca-tix-INTOne of the things I was most excited about on our Eurotrip was eating at Tickets. In all seriousness, I set an alarm to wake at 2:55 am one night two months before our trip to score the reservation, and it was worth every bit of wasted sleep.barca-tix-porkleg

As a foodie, this was a serious bucket list item for me. I was on the waiting list for a reservation at el Bullí when Ferran Adrià announced its closure, and was heartbroken at the thought of having missed my chance. So this, his brother’s restaurant, was the next best thing. The Michelin star was reflected in well-executed decor and lovely service. And as we settled in to our seats at the open kitchen, to watch the chefs execute our tasting menu and enjoy our caparainhas, I knew we were in for the meal of a lifetime.


Mini airbags de queso were served on a platter of rock salt.  Filled with Manchego foam, topped with aged Manchego, caviar, and pimentón, it was a cascade of flavors and textures.

barca-tix-olives barca-tix-oliveeat

Then I had my mind blown by the legendary el Bullí olives.  Alignate spherification encases an intense olive purée just until it dissolves on your tongue. I am no olive fan, but these were glorious and a little bit life changing.


Our oyster course included two delicious variations. I especially loved the second, where the oyster was served with its pearl  (spherified champagne and powdered silver). Full disclosure, I might have been influenced by the darling waitress who suggested it was because I was una princesa and complimented my skirt.


Monica was the most perfect waitress ever, for the record. So solicitous about indulging our palates and preferences throughout the tasting menu, and so enthusiastic when discussing the food with us, but never a bother.  We exchanged addresses and emails, I adored Moní that much.




She’d just brought me my next cocktail, with a dragonfruit base and dry ice cloud, when I was admiring the fancy gold-wrapped jamón iberico gran reserva on the counter. I watched as another waiter lifted the entire ham and its stand to deliver to a nearby table, and I nearly fainted when I realized who was sitting there… Albert and Ferran Adrià.



I’m not typically the type to get starstruck, but Ferran Adrià is practically a god. Some people hunt big 5 game, but my big five is Choi, Chang, Bourdain, Ripert, and Adrià. The hero worship is real. So after I worked up the guts to stop creeping and staring at the master of molecular gastronomy, I was grateful to have Monica to translate. I was practically vibrating as I held his hands and fawned and babbled about how he inspired me and food and love and cried a little and god knows what all else- sucked to be David attempting to get a picture of my hot mess, and I was too much of a wilting violet to bother him again. The entire exchange is a blur, but I will never forget it as long as I live.


It seemed almost silly to eat when I was so excited, but the next arrival brought my attention right back to the plate. Crunchy pizza with Bufala straciatella is one of the most popular tapas on the menu, and it was easy to see why. Shatteringly crisp crust, brightly flavorful dehydrated tomato dust microbasil and spherified basil oil are topped with strands of creamy burrata. It was at the same time both definitively a margherita pizza yet completely unlike any pizza I’d ever had.


Scrumptious smoked eel mini sandwiches were accented with shiso leaf. The bread was an ultralight and crispy air baguette, a perfect contrast to the tender unagi.


Crabmeat and vegetables were delivered in delicate cucumber rolls,  served floating in a watercress broth.



This dish was dubbed the Nordic landscape. Veal tartare, lingonberry, shallots, soft smoked cheese and greens were piled upon a dark crisp bread and dusted with sherry vinegar  ‘snow.’   We were loving the experience of eating with tongs rather than traditional cutlery.


The suckling pig mollete was a delicious grilled jamón y queso sandwich. The tender bread was totally unique to me, with the delicacy of a steamed bao but the crumb and crust of an English muffin.


Roasted sunchokes and celeriac were drenched in a rich truffle purée. My mouth is watering just remembering- I’m pretty sure I fought David for the last bite of this goodness.

barca-tix-unipasta Korean king oyster mushrooms were spiralized into spaghetti, and serves  in a creamy Parmesan porcini sauce. The texture was just impeccable, and the umami was so perfectly highlighted.


Spicy fresh tuna tartare  was served on a nori mille-feuille with popped tapioca. Fresh and delicious, the different textures combined beautifully, in a way that recalled California sushi bar tuna crispy rice.


Maresme was bright and refreshing. Whole Catalán green peas floated in delicate pea soup, drizzled with fennel jus and and sprinkled with crunchy pancetta.

Even dessert was a three-course affair- my sweet tooth was thrilled! The first was caramelized carrot cones, with a fluffy queso center. All the best aspects of carrot cake and cheesecake, they were served planted in chocolate soil.


The meringue churros were positively meltaway. I could barely stop nibbling to dip them in the rich spiced hot chocolate, but I was glad I did- the two together were incredible.

A seriously scientific candy bar, the molecular chocolate eclair  was just plain delicious. Crispy rice and a peanut butter center enrobed in chocolate may sound typical, but it was outstanding.


A dessert drink to share rounded out our meal.  Cocoa and citrus combined with cachaça for a cocktail that managed to be equally rich and refreshing. And then my new friend Ferran sent over shots of his family reserve orange-and-limoncello and I was so flattered I could have died right there on the spot, and I’m certain I would have ascended straight to heaven.

barca-tix-outside barca-tix-afterdinner

After such amazing food and drink and the emotion of surprise hero worship, you could have stuck a fork in me, I was so done. Our incredible dinner experience had stretched more than four hours, so we paid the (substantial) bill and headed out for a moon-and-neon-lit walk home.


1 In travel

Barcelonian beauty


Our apartment on el Born was super centrally located in Barcelona, and the perfect base for running all over the city and getting to the different places we wanted to visit. But the Gothic Quarter was truly beautiful in its own right, and I loved making it our home away from home.


Being right in el Barrí Gòtic meant that we walked around a corner and ran straight into the Barcelona Catedral. Stunning does not even begin to capture the vision.  The detailing on the cathedral was so intricate, it was mesmerizing- like the most beautiful hand-tooled lace. I swear, I was more interested in Christian houses of worship on this trip than I’ve ever been before or since! 



As we walked through our neighborhood, I kept exclaiming over one pretty detail after another.  I was obsessed with the flowers and the wrought iron,  not to mention those quatrefoil sidewalks.  In typical blogger style, I get excited over gorgeous doorways. I hate being so basic but I can’t help it when they are this pretty!




I make a point of visiting parks and community spaces when we travel, and nearby Parc de la Ciutadella was no exception. It was the perfect place to sit and soak in the sunshine for a bit, to plan our next activity or rest our feet.


Walking between nearby buildings, we came across a little courtyard. We’d sometimes sit for a moment there, and enjoy watching the world go by. One day it was occupied by by some Spanish children and a gentleman with bubbles. Like kids the world over, they were pretty cute, and an audience gathered to watch them frolic.


We made sure to go walking down by the Balearic Sea. Barceloneta along the water was so beautiful, and the docks were filled with sailboats.  The breeze was brisk and the weather was too cool for beaching and sunbathing, but we still reveled in the salt air.


We’d planned to check out Sant Pau Recinte, but arrived to find they were closed for a private event.  I’d heard raves about the interior architecture and gardens of this former hospital, so I was disappointed to miss out on those. But we enjoyed the beautiful exterior and made the most of it.


 While touristing, we made a spontaneous executive decision to skip Palau Guell. The afternoon line seemed longer than reasonable and we’d walked our feet sore, so we decided to prioritize happy hour. We grabbed a few quick pictures and headed for siesta time at home.



A little leisure time was perfect, because we had amazing dinner reservations that night.  Get excited, because details on that’s up next…



1 In style

WiW: barcelona evening

 In general, I dressed pretty casually while we were in Europe.  As much as I’d love to be one of those bloggers twirling in a couture gown in the Palais Royal, that’s not realistic for my current lifestyle, or our vacation style. It’s more moto boots than Manolos. That said, we planned a few fancier outings, working on our Michelin star collection, and I was excited to take the opportunity to dress up and swan around.   


My mom is a couture seamstress, and in weak imitation, I’ve been trying to teach myself to sew. Inspired by Degas’ ballerinas, I got a bee in my bonnet about the perfect shade of blush, and went to town with my sewing machine. I really should have just bought it rather than DIY, considering the literal blood, sweat, tears, and wine it took me to turn a dozen yards of tulle and a few more of silk into clothing. And frankly, don’t look too closely, as it’s a bit janky in places, but everyone has to start somewhere.


Even the fancies needed to work within my travel capsule wardrobe (working on organizing that post for y’all), so I paired the ballerina skirt with my chambray oxford. My black wool cape was the perfect topper when the chilly breeze blew. I only took one pair of heels to Europe, choosing these suede t-straps for their neutral versatility, surprising comfort, and walkability on cobblestone streets.

I loved this comfortable yet ladylike look, and it’s so fun to wear something you made with your own hands. With all the elements being repeatable, it was the perfect outfit for a vacation date night, and I couldn’t help feeling like una princesa.

Shein cape | Old Navy chambray | similar skirts | VIctoria’s Secret suede heels | Kate Spade glitterbug clutch


0 In travel

some spanish shopping

I’m not quite joining shopaholics anonymous, but it’s common knowledge that I like to shop. I’m pretty value-oriented rather than frivolous when it comes to my purchases, so fortunately things don’t get too out of hand. Finite amounts of luggage space and David’s patience also kept my consumerism under control, but I definately hit some lovely shops in Barcelona and have a few good spoils to show for it. 

La Manual Alpargatera was right at the top of my to-do list. My shoe collection is well over 300 pairs, so you could call me a shoe freak- and you’d be dead on.  Coupled with my dedication to shopping local and supporting traditional artisans, I might have gone a little espadrille crazy.   


We arrived right as they were reopening after siesta, and a small crowd had gathered.  You receive a number upon entrance and select your styles, so you can specify sizes and colors when they call you. I was purchasing multiple pairs in an assortment of sizes and styles, and was very impressed with the attentive and patient service despite the waiting queue. I scored several colors of traditional espadrilles for myself, as well as for friends and family, and was a big fan of the lace-up style David chose.


But when I saw the glimmery muted gold sequins, I was sold. ? On two pairs, technically- needed to hook my bestie up too! And remember that espadrilles are made with natural fibers and will stretch, so don’t size up if they are snug while shopping.  


 We have Desigual here in the States- standalone stores and randomly in some airports. I’ve shopped there before, but the stores and selection are significantly larger within Spain. I like their funky styling, but I just looove their ad campaign with Winnie Harlow. For the unfamiliar, she’s an African American model with an advanced case of vitiligo. She is astoundingly gorgeous, and beyond inspirational when it comes to loving the skin you’re in.  I loved seeing her fierceness all over the city- sometimes typical can just be boring. I will say that I find it disconcerting that Winnie anchors the Euro ads, but isn’t featured here in the US. Wish she was- she’s beautiful, and anything but basic. 

We also wandered in and out of shops along our walks.  While some shops were annoyingly touristy, I came across a bunch of little gems.  There’s lots of great shopping in el Born- part of the reason we chose it as our home base.  Carrer de Montecada wound up being one of our beaten paths, because it combined convenience with good shops and great people watching.  We came across the most amusing puppeteer, and spent a little time enjoying the show. 


 Art Escudellers was recommended for having quality Spanish crafts and artwork, rather than the more chintzy stuff sold in every other storefront. I lusted over incredible hand-blown glassware and admired gorgeous ceramic serving dishes and the most intricate mosiacs. I took home a pretty hand-painted Star of David round with gold accents, thinking it would be perfect for the holidays.

El Coral is just a little nook, but don’t be fooled- it is home to some gorgeous artisan jewelry. Lots of local raw materials, like coral, pearls and other stones, all at some seriously amazing prices. I contemplated an incredible branch coral statement necklace, as well as a strand of amber-colored pearls, but decided to keep it simple with a new pair of white pearl studs. Classic and classy, they remind me of Barcelona every time I wear them, which is often. 

Ale-hop is an inexpensive little chain, full of gems mixed in with the junk. I picked up a few scarves and some costume jewelry there, postcards and a few kitschy souvenirs, like a miniature snow globe for my niece’s collection.  I think my favorite purchases were a Dali-inspired melting clock for our bedroom bookshelf, and quirky white sunnies.  I actually bought them, managed to crush them in Paris, and went back for a replacement pair when we returned to Barcelona. They’re nothing fancy- I think I paid a whopping five euro- but I think they’re fun!

I also hit up Mango, Boo, Stradivarius, Boohoo and the other Spanish high street heavy hitters. I checked out Le Swing and Blow to see how the Spanish did vintage, and eyed the most gorgeous lacy bits at TCN.  I like my souvenirs to be wearable, edible, or memorable- I want to feel like I’ve taken a city home with me. I was pleased with my packages- lots of good stuff, no touristy junk- my choices were purposeful and pretty.

Except for not getting to bring home a ham from la Boqueria– still sad/mad/hangry about that.



2 In travel

eating across barcelona

Let’s be real. As I’m sure you’ve clued in by now, I live to eat. Delicious and high-quality food is one of our priorities in life, and a cornerstone of vacation planning. I do serious research (family, friends, tripadvisor, metafilter, blogs) to find the yummiest noms, then we map it out and hit as many of those places as we can.


Can Paixano, the most amazing little xampanyeria and eatery was our neighborhood favorite, and will likely be my first stop on our next trip to Barcelona. I was and remain obsessed.  It’s a narrow little place, standing room only at the counter to eat yummy charcuterie, grilled sausages, and entrepans, the most scrumptious toasted sandwiches, all washed down with coupes and bottles of their house-made cavas

We went nearly every day in Barcelona, if not to grab a bite, to purchase bottles of my absolute favorite, cava rosat. (I taste-tested all of their varietals to be sure ?). I even went so far as to price out shipping a case back to the States, and settled for taking several bottles with us. Amazingly delicious, and so inexpensive you want to double check the conversion rate. 


We were totally spoiled going daily and at off hours, though- and totally astonished by the sardine-packed bar and the long queue when the weekend rolled around. In that case, it was cava to go, and cocktail hour back at our loft. 

We went out of our way to check out Horchateria Sirvent. I’m a big fan of (rice-based) Mexican horchata, so I really needed to compare the Valencian version, which is made with tigernuts. This third generation family owned shop is legendary, so off we went.

It was absolutely incredible- so flavorful and creamy! It honestly reminded me more of my mom’s Trinidadian punche de creme than any horchata I’ve had. I think it may have ruined David for Mexican horchata forever, and I can’t really blame the man.

This horchateria is out near Sant Antoni, in a residential area away from the tourist madness. We try to spend time living local on our trips- I love heading away from the crowds. I’ll note that this was one of the only places we visited where no employees spoke any English. I took Spanish through school and college, and made a point to review before our trip, so I’m decent (though far from fluent.) But I got tangled up with some bits of Catalán, and David, I, and the darling shopgirls all had a good laugh.

The most delicious treat was the granizado de café. It was frozen black coffee (like a slushie), with their rich horchata as creamer, and it blew my damn tastebuds. Seriously, I demolished it so fast that I forgot to share with David (and gave myself brainfreeze). Of course, that meant another round to go, much to my delight. Proof that asking your server their menu favorite can really pay off.

Can Majo was the perfect spot for dinner down by the water. We walked around Barceloneta, then along the boat docks before settling in for an intimate and scrumptious meal. It was touted as the best paella in Barcelona and was easily the tastiest I’ve ever had- mouthwateringly savory, impeccably cooked, with astonishingly fresh seafood.


We also had some tasty olives (which is major, if you know me) and fried baby smelt. David had been craving fried tiny fish since we had shared some with a new friend at La Boqueria, but we’d only come across them premade and under heat lamps, which isn’t our style. These little fishes were freshly flashfried- juicy and tender inside of a shatteringly crisp exterior, piping hot, and we scarfed them.

We also loved El Xampanyet, despite the lack of pictures- we tended to go late at night, and neither the packed bar nor dim lighting was conducive. The menu is tapas and conservas, which are canned Spanish delicacies. It may seem strange to go out to eat tinned food, but this was nothing like the canned food we see in the US- trust. The presentations were elegant, the flavors diverse and vibrant and not the least bit tinny tasting. We devoured several kinds of jamón iberico, stuffed octopus and calamari, anchovies and artichokes, pimientos stuffed with queso and patatas bravas, and an obscene amount of tender white asparagus.

I swear, I’d move to Spain just for the cuisine, and be fat and happy all my days. We literally did not have a single bad meal. And y’all: we, hands down, had the most incredible meal of our lifetimes on this trip, and I don’t say that lightly. Sharing that soon…

0 In travel

barcelona apartment – a little gaudí but just our style

I adored the lovely condo we rented in Barcelona via Airbnb. Located on el Born in the astoundingly gorgeous Barri Gòtic, the old Gothic quarter, the location could not have been more prime. It was hip and sociable, but not as overrun with tourists as las Ramblas, and conveniently located to just about everything. The management company was super helpful, and the apartment was even nicer than it appeared on Airbnb. Victory was ours.


The most precious balconies overlooked our narrow street, and I loved throwing open the French doors and watching the neighborhood bustle by below.  It was the perfect place for a glass of cava and a snack when we came home for siesta in the afternoons, and it was here that a crop of itchy hives clued us in that I was either sensitive or allergic to the grosellas (redcurrants) I had brought home from la Boqueria to nibble.  Thank goodness for benadryl.

We also spent siesta time at the apartment admiring the gorgeous reclaimed hardwood ceiling.  With all the walking we were doing (over a dozen miles most days), our dogs were barking! So we made sure to take breaks to elevate them when we could.

With two bedrooms, one on each floor, a giant living space, and lovely open kitchen, we had way more space than we needed. I saw that coming, and offered the room up (seriously) to several friends and family members if they would meet us in Spain, but no one took us up on it… I think they thought I was joking? Regardless, I was happy to use the upstairs bedroom as a dressing room, and David was happy to have the bomb zone corralled.  The decor was intermittently simple and sassy, with clean lines and splashes of leopard fur and neon. I loved the hell out of the chaise lounge- it was the coziest spot when this girl needed to get her nap out.

And the sitting room, neon Jack Daniels sign and all, was the perfect place for us to test our new tripod with some shenanigans… par for the course.


I could have stayed forever in Barcelona, and I’m sure our welcoming temporary home played into that. It’s generally pretty solidly booked, but I’d certainly make the effort to stay there again when we return.


0 In style/ travel

WiW: barcelona daytime


We did a LOT in our time abroad (let me know if you’d like me to share our itinerary), which made for several early mornings and long days. And some days, that meant temperature changes of 30 or more degrees within a single outing. Hellloooooo layers!



 I’ve got a ‘shape like a Coca Cola bottle,’ as Mr Killa would say, which can make layering and dressing warmly tough. It quickly goes from cute to dumpy, and then I start looking like Randy in his snowsuit in A Christmas Story.



But snug layers lay smoothly, and that’s what I used to still look fit and feminine as I kept warm. Two pairs of opaque tights paired with warm socks kept my legs and toes cozy. A thin thermal shirt went under my sweater, and despite its ladylike styling, this coat is well-lined and really warm, while compact enough to toss in the backpack when temperature rose.


Gap sweater | American Eagle skirt | Tulle coat via Hautelook | Hue tights | Breckelles booties | Uniqlo heattech tee |  similar Kate Spade purse | Charming Charlie necklace, ring, sunnies

I’ll rewear this outfit this fall- it’s just  comfortable for a long day, so well-suited to the temperature swings when going in and out of the cold, and still looks polished. 


0 In travel

la sagrada familia


This is one of those times where no matter how gorgeous the photo, it is impossible to do the insane beauty of this place justice.


The size and scope of the church from outside, and sheer quantity of artwork within, is really simply beyond.  More than once, I looked up and found myself completely awed.


 We had one or two people advise us to skip the Sagrada Familia, or to only do an outside walk by. I can’t imagine feeling that way! Granted, it was crowded with tourist and school groups, and not exactly what I’d consider a peaceful place of worship.


But surrounded by rainbows of glorious morning sunshine streaming through all the stained glasswork, the hubbub seemed to fade.



It’s crazy to me that after 133 years, there is still 15 or 20 more of construction ahead, but I understand when I see how incredible it is, and it will be even more so when the scaffolding and curtains are removed.


It’s crystal clear to me how and why this is so renowned. It is gloriously beautiful, and seeing its growth towards completion is one of the (many) things I’m looking forward to about a return trip to Barcelona.


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