Dublin + Barcelona: Cuid/Parte 3

A little note on hostel breakfasts: Yes, it’s nice when your hostel claims they can offer you free breakfast each morning, but know that because it’s included, it will probably consist of white bread and a pitiful selection of spreads. After reading my journal entry about that heavenly Irish Breakfast, I’d like to share how both of my Dublin and Barcelona hostel breakfasts compared to that one-of-a-kind feast.

My white bread pb&j had about 0.5% the soul of my last meal.

You’ve been warned.


Somewhere along the way between turning down a trip to the “must do” Guinness factory and excusing myself from a pricey ticket inside the “unmissable” Casa Mila, I realized that I have to travel for myself. Of course I’ll have to weather the disappointing looks when I tell people I didn’t do X and went shopping instead, but that’s how it goes. For some reason in Barcelona I got caught up in seeing all the academicky, artsy stuff and prioritizing that above pleasurable things like wandering around the El Born neighborhood. When it clicked that, to me, those activities held equal importance and that that was okay, I felt free. Like everyone says, you can’t travel somewhere with limited time and financial budget and do it all. You must believe you’ll be back or else you’ll go crazy. So that’s what I’m doing.

cliche travel photo shot

cliche travel photo shot. Choosing to explore the plentiful art, clothing, camera, and altogether fascinating shops in El Born instead of seeking out more Gaudi out of feelings of obligation

So, if we’re still talking about negative psychology of travel, I’ll mention that for the better half of my first day in Barcelona, I wasn’t completely happy because of all the pressure I felt to ENJOY. SO many people had told me I’d adore it, and while that’s a good thing, it’s also proof that the city is wonderful and if I don’t find that magic then I didn’t do it right and wasted all that money. Yeah, my head isn’t always the most cheerful place to be. But rest assured, I most certainly did find its magic. I think it first hit me at the Casa Ballto. Gaudi’s genius left me simply flabbergasted.

Hold your horses! We’ll get there in a moment.

I started off with a disappointing walking tour that I left in the middle of, preferring to seek out a cafe other than the affiliated one the company herds everyone into. Summoned some Spanish from the depths, which I thought it’d fallen into eternally, and ordered a sauteed zucchini tapa and fresca sandwich with tomato, brie, and avocado. Now, that type of sandwich doesn’t merit much interest off the bat. But what made it so special is that upon my first bite I thought of citrus and intensely fruity flavors: the tomato had obviously been grown in a more natural place and WOW were the results noticeable! Yes, the tomato actually tasted like a fruit!

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Went for a stroll along the Ramblas, a pretty paved walkway mostly for tourists and pickpockets. I guarded my purse like a mother hen. After going the exact wrong direction, I turned around and found my foodie destination: La Boqueria! A big organized market where the front shops cater to tourists and the back ones have chicken feet and pig snouts on display. You know where I made a beeline. (Also FYI the juices in the back were 1/3 the price of the front ones)

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Stopped by the whitewashed and striking contemporary art museum of Barcelona, MACBA. It was closed but still very lively with a gaggle of skaters taking advantage of the geometrical platforms around it.

DSCN1187Strolled down the street and found an art exhibit at the university. Wasn’t too into it but turned it into a fantastic nap-and-rally site! There were various installations all honoring/connected to a German writer named Sebald and one was a long movie with large portions of soothing classical music flowing through it. So, I plopped down in the movie theatre-like seat and enjoyed a very needed siesta.

Next stop: Casa Ballto. AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING.

caught between wonder, happiness, and shock

Amazing.

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After gazing at the Casa Mila, I found a fun tapas place for dinner. Partook in some braised artichoke hearts, steak tartare, and calamari with a glass of Catalan cava. Called it a night and went home to prepare for my next huge day.

Casa Mila

Casa Mila

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enamored with tapas


Leave for home tomorrow! So I’ll probably post my last trip post in a couple days. So long, London!

What, you thought I was travelling by airplane? Of course not! TARDIS is the only way to go!

What, you thought I was travelling by airplane? Of course not! TARDIS is the only way to go!

Dublin + Barcelona: Cuid/Parte 1

Remember that post where I fangirled about how you’re literally what you eat and if you eat an octopus, that renders you part Octopodiforme? Well, after marvelling through Dublin and dancing through Barcelona, I’ve come to report my current physiological makeup:

-Smidge of Guinness (NOT A FAN. Sorry world.)

-Pinch of Irish Breakfast (Final step of falling in love with Dublin.)

-Pint of bottled water (Barcelona’s water isn’t very good so everyone shuns the tap)

-Four cubic centimeters of pretty subpar churros and chocolate but it’s okay because that was enough to shower me with praise for greasy sweet chocolatey confections and when I meet them again someday, it’ll just be that much better.

-Scoop of tapas: Fried calamari ( ❤ and yes, that makes me part mollusk), steak tartare, tenderly braised artichoke, Iberian jamon…) As Molly from Spilled Milk might say, I believe tapas are akin in theory to “perfectly engineered food products” because they deliver optimal gustatory adventure, entertainment for your tastebuds, and variety. Everywhere else it seems we get one main plate of homogenous food with comparatively fewer flavors to transform a porcelain disc with edible stuff on it into a joyful experience. Tapas are about joy! and appreciating life! But more on that in my Barcelona post.)

If for some reason you can’t adequately create a mental image of my current appearance from that description, I suppose I’ll throw in some actual photos for you. I guess.

Speaking of, embarrassingly enough, a high proportion (in my standards) of my pictures are selfies. Because I didn’t have a travel companion to bug for snaps, I used a trick from Erica that lets you capture your background and your face in one convenient shot. Beware: This caused a few usually concealed second and third chins to come out and play. Perversely interested? Stay tuned.

Add the Barcelona Cathedral in the background and that’s pretty accurate.

All in all, I loved travelling alone. Often I’d happily lose myself in thought and introspection, which you all know is my cherished hobby. My days were incredibly spontaneous, loosely-structured, and without constant conversation that often demands a good load of energy from my introverted self (although have no doubt that I love spending time with friends!) One day I spent a good 20 minutes searching for a genuine tapas restaurant, whereas I’d probably have given in much sooner to mollify my companions’ empty stomachs and exhausted psyches. (How cool would it to be named Psyche?) Asking for a table for one was never uncomfortable, as I used the opportunity to thoroughly soak up my surroundings and have a think about my day, often journaling concurrently.Throughout the whole trip I was very happy and as I believe happy girls are the prettiest, I encountered some unexpected kindness that I attribute to my elevated attitude. Those stories will come.

And here’s a few preliminary photos to start off this whirlwind adventure!

First pic: Dublin hostel selfie

First pic: Dublin hostel selfie

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River Liffey

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2nd-to-last house is floral!

Headphones in/podcast on/life is good

Headphones in/podcast on/life is good

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Gaelic looks like a fairy tale tongue

Irish humor?

Irish humor?

Historic Irish Marriage Referendum Passed!

Historic Irish Marriage Referendum Passed!

un gato with no name but a passion for fashion

un gato with no name but a passion for fashion

BARCELONA you stunning city, you.

BARCELONA you stunning city, you.

So I roasted a pigeon

Yup.

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Just to be clear- I bought it! Didn’t swipe it off a fountain or anything, don’t worry.

It was not a winner. The recipe I followed undercooked the few meaty parts of it while leaving it with an overcooked-feeling texture. Poor bird: few appreciate it alive, and fewer on a dinner plate.


Just in time for my concluding trip to Ireland and Spain, I wrote an article for an online women’s magazine called She’s Poised about how to balance staying present while documenting a moment. This is a problem that my friends and I are often confronted with when travelling- how many pictures should I take, and how much time should I reserve for purely being in the moment?

What makes this website exceptional is the refreshing way its contributors deliver sophisticated yet relatable information about various topics from dressing for work to finding New York’s best egg cream to celebrating historically monumental women like my homegirl J Child (the video in this post is actually hilarious.) The icing on the cake is the warmth exuded by the articles’ titles: “How We ___” feels like a mother or aunt teaching you as compared to the condescending tone of “How to ___” that’s common elsewhere.

Here’s the link!

Thanks again to Lauren for reaching out and taking me through the process of brainstorming, editing, and finally publishing the post! While it’s pretty common these days for bloggers to make guest appearances on other blogs, it was a personal first and I feel honored.

The website is written by women, for women, which mirrors my beloved RookieMag’s by girls, for girls philosophy. I’d like to think that She’s Poised, BUST magazine, and some other materials will be my media-related stepping stones as I gradually age out of adolescence and wistfully leave behind websites and reading material that thrilled my teenage self a few years ago. I will always love and cheer for Tavi, but RookieMag is pretty much in my past now. Yes, it is sad. And just one of the things that has changed about me since I first embarrassed myself in that British Sainsbury’s and started growing into a different version of myself.

(But seriously, read Tavi’s Editor’s Letter about Forever. While she wrote it while on the cusp of adulthood, another transitional rite of passage, she says much about what I (wish I) could (so eloquently) write about this period of my life coming to an end, appreciating it, mourning it, archiving it, etc.)

Photocapture from Tavi’s genius post “How to Bitchface: Channel your inner Martha Stewart with this crafty DIY.”

My Vassar flatmate left yesterday 😦 Eleven days left…

So I joined the Medieval Re-enactment Society…

Lady Sophsalot?

Lady Sophsalot?

Didn’t see that coming, didja?

At QM, you have to pay to join societies (ugh in the short term but some are really inexpensive, and this may eliminate any need for a ghastly “student activities fee” that some colleges *ahem* impose.) This one cost a measly pound and the booth attendants seemed like a lot of fun when one eagerly approached me about joining and the other proudly brandished her homemade sword.

Ok hold up- YES I’m telling the truth about joining!

On a similar topic of surprising purchases, let’s talk about what I paid five quid for at the Chatsworth Market last weekend. I’ll give you a hint:

-Two words

-First word: A color

-Second word: Pudding.

-Possible association: Haggis. (Worth noting I tried my first scotch egg too! And it was made of haggis as well, so I killed to birds with one stone. It was tasty!)

Ready for the answer? You may be as shocked as I was, when I reached into my pocket for the coins:

BLACK PUDDING. (Made that a link so you can explore it on your own.) Let’s just say I won’t be anemic anytime soon… Well, once I actually work up the courage to cook it up!


Enjoying my classes and meeting more people each day. Today I clicked with another person- the second theater student I’ve bonded with! Coincidentally, her best friend works in a lab at Berkeley studying frogs, so I have an inkling that we’ll get along well on our trips to London’s museums for class.


Here’s a little video of my front-row seat in a double-decker bus heading up to Hackney on Sunday morning.

No shame when no one knows your name HOLLA STUDY ABROAD

No shame when no one knows your name HOLLA STUDY ABROAD

This one’s for Veronica ;) LONDON FOOD! Part I of ∞

And now for the post with lots of juicy details and tender moments: FOOD IN LONDON!

Looking back at the rather curtailed collection of pictures I’ve taken thus far (mostly in an effort to make the shiniest moments stand out and leave the rest to memory or the pen,) a striking amount are of food. But are you surprised, really? Look who’s writing this blog, here. That’s right.

So how should I start my food adventures? How about with some quaint tea sandwiches and desserts?

mmmm tea and goodies!

mmmm tea and goodies!

This is a snapshot from the tea I experienced on the boat cruise on the Thames. Nothing to faint over, but lovely nonetheless: a welcoming cup of Earl Grey paired with a healthy assortment of sandwiches, ranging from salmon and cream cheese to egg salad with ginger. The desserts were little brownie bites with dollops of dense clotted cream or pieces of banana bread. On top of the tower were awkward-to-eat numbers with butter and jam in the middle. Delightful.


I made efficient use of my first weekend here with a trip to the legendary Brick Lane market, known for its troves of vintage clothes as well as the usual craft and food stands. Before I left, my flatmates Joe and Katie advised me to try Beigal Bake’s hot salt beef bagel. When I found the place, the line was out the door, so I knew it was worth it. Before even tasting a bagel, I ordered a half-dozen in addition to my commanded lunch. Let me tell you, that hot salt beef bagel was

amazingThe blessed culination (yes, getting poetic here) was delivered in a paper bag but anything else would’ve tried to unwisely take away any admiration from the culination in hand. An incredibly doughy bagel encased a handful of hot salt beef (much like corned beef in the US) and an overzealous coat of mustard completed the masterpiece.

A note about the mustard, if you ever find yourself in that Shoreditch sanctuary: Unless you ask for mild, the condiment you will receive will not only clear your nose, send tears down your face in multiples, but it will also demand acknowledgment from your stomach (make it hurt a little, at least for me.) Beauty Foodie is pain. But it’s worth it, for the devoted.

This is the time when I’ll let Yelp do its thing. Enough said.


I’ll also put this here. Seen on Brick Lane. Have a laugh.

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I also passed the notorious and new cereal cafe. Read about it here if you wish. I didn’t go in (long line), but looking inside was enough for me. I’d rather sacrifice an overpriced bowl of cereal for a visit to the CAT CAFE any day.


While at the Sunday UpMarket, I bought some cool earrings and enjoyed a walk through the sensory shower of ethnic food stands peddling all types of world cuisine. I snapped a few pictures of the especially interesting Singaporean and Ethiopian stands before I was caught in the ever-flowing stream of shoppers moving the opposite way. Death, taxes, and assertive market-goers, man.

I wanna try Ethiopian food with all my heart

I wanna try Ethiopian food with all my heart

Singaporean delights

Singaporean delights


Grocery note: I’ve taken to British yogurt and English cucumbers (which are the norm, here, obvs.) The great part about them is that they’re about twice the size of boring US cukes so that means DOUBLE THE CUKINESS! I love cucumbers.

thanks, Nordic Recipe Archive, for so purely displaying the mighty differences between the English (center) and sad, sad American (warty and sad at the bottom) cucumbers. To add insult to injury, English cucumbers are also proud of their nickname as BURPLESS. Even the veggies have manners over here!!

If you’re as wacky as me, you’ll find this webpage on cucumber information an interesting read. Or just proof that I’m bonkers (sort of true.)

Another great part about Queen Mary is that walking down the main road gives you a great view of the building known as the GHERKIN! HOW PERFECT IS THAT? My respect for pickles is climbing every day, I think.

a giant pickle-inspired building? YES.

My usual view of that wonderful building

I’m also overcome with gladness (and happiness, when I bite into them) when I see persimmons at the supermarket. I also bought and ate three “fresh” figs today at Sainsbury’s just because I’ve never eaten a non-dried fig before (I don’t think.) When it comes to ripening, I’ll let M&S share my tale:

❤ 4evr&alw8z, persimmons ❤


Ok, let’s wrap this puppy up. But before that, here’s a picture of me in front of the cafe next to Sherlock’s and Watson’s residence in the tv show “Sherlock”:

sherlockcafe

As we serendipitously stumbled upon that on our way to a pub, later that hour I tried steak and kidney pie. My friends keep remarking on my “adventurous eating” (brought up after my British-food-acquainted friend and the cashier both expressed their dissent for the dish before I proceeded to order it.) I see meals as great opportunities to take safe risks and reap possibly high rewards. Why eat the same thing every day when there’s an endless list of tastes you can encounter!?

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A bit prettier than it tasted.

In the end, I was pleased with my choice to sample a nationally celebrated food. I cannot say so much for the kidney pieces themselves. But that’s alright- more opportunities to sample other dishes!


And now a little palate cleanser to send you off and remind us that indeed, food does come from somewhere magical:

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“Belle est la nature”