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!

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Fifteen Days Left to Pretend I’m European

just for kicks

Nothing groundbreaking has been happening around here lately. However, if you enjoy “right place at the right time” stories, astonishingly talented dancers, and cheeky octopi, stay tuned.

On a recent trip to the Somerset House, a space that has various art exhibits, King’s College facilities, offices, and a lively fountain in the center, I meandered into an exhibit about war. While it wasn’t very moving in my experience, I did wander in just in time to sight the artist! She was ushering around two important-looking men. Unfortunately I didn’t connect with the pieces enough to ask her questions, but it was still a cool happening nonetheless! Maggi Hambling‘s work has been featured at some pretty you-know-you’ve-made-it places like the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, the Tate, and the British Museum!

Next up is a visit to the theatre to see Billy Elliot. I went in with few expectations (little prior knowledge) and was absolutely WOWed. Jaw dropped like a piano on a splintering rope. The boy who portrayed Billy was phenomenal. The musical itself was a joy to watch, even with our necks craning from the cheap seats. We laughed, cried, and couldn’t get enough of the encore (anyone know what I mean?)

On the way there, Erica and I stumbled into a garden near Embankment and found a giant chess set!

DSCN1017 DSCN1018-001Today I took my third trip to the Borough Market in search of some slightly pricier, luxurious groceries to sustain me for my last full week in London. Splurged on some cacao nibs for this recipe and za’atar to liven up hummus and other dishes. To everyone else, a hut full of stacked spices might seem uninteresting, but it thrills me. It’s like a library of often underappreciated special touches that exist in a panoply of colors, smells, and shapes. The origins of each add a narrative aspect, and there are limitless experiments one can undertake in order to understand even one spice!

it's like a cavern of dry potions!

it’s like a cavern of dry potions!

I think I’m so drawn to markets because they seamlessly fuse biology and food, two of my favorite things. They’re an informal type of museum. Case in point: This phenome-mollusk.

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I spy a very photo-ready fish on the left.

Stay with me while I quickly freak out over the magic of octopi. Not only do they torpedo around in the water with eight arms and a pocket full of INK ready to blind predators, but we can eat them. We can actually incorporate them into US! How can you not go bananas when you realize that by heeding the phrase “you are what you eat”, by eating an octopus, you inherit some of its glory? I digress. Nay, as one very funny blogger said the other day, I digest.

Let’s have a jiffy of Octopus Appreciation.

 

 

 

a blanket octopus!

That’s about it for now. More studying (for this test, I’m doing a ton of intense thinking about the Anthropocene and naturecultures and multispecies ethnographies.. I go through cycles of soul-drenching inspiration and stupefying intimidation) and preparing for my trip to Ireland and Spain next Saturday (!) and seeing my aunt and uncle next week and getting excited to go home!

Smidgen Stories

On Tuesday I won the BBC ticket lottery and saw a live recording of a BBC Channel 4 radio show! In addition to seeing the mostly invisible aspect of radio broadcasting, I saw some fantastic views of the rooms featured in the BBC news including the main desk where the anchors sit and the background loaded with workers collecting information about UK and world current events. Couldn’t take pictures of those areas, but luckily this experience didn’t end without a few greatly appreciated Doctor Who decorations.

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Yesterday, I got another haircut as a hair model for an academy. I’m telling ya, this is a great gig if you want to save money in exchange for a few hours of your time. My first experience took three hours for a high-fashion hairstyle that was priced around $100 but, for a hair model, was free. This experience was $25, took 2 hours, and will land me a spot on the academy’s website! I am such a fan of well-timed haircuts. It’s such a permissible way to feel pampered and like a million bucks!

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Foodie adventure time: BAO! Upon hearing heaps of great reviews coupled with a resilient craving for pork buns, I braved the queue and received this fella:

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the classic pork bun

I’m sad to admit it but it didn’t live up to my expectations. However, it was still lovely to nosh on and a great reminder that “top 10” lists aren’t sacredly true for everyone’s taste. That applies to destinations, music, food, and whatever else you can rate.


Next comes some snapshots of the gorgeous Green Park followed by pictures inside the imaginarium that is Fortnum and Mason.


Here is a glimpse into the London area of Brixton. The market there is teeming with life and spirit, as are the people who are currently fighting to prevent their market’s heart from being ripped out by the man. Really sad stuff. There’s a petition to sign if you like it when towns have souls.

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Finally, I’d like to end with some pictures of QM’s somewhat oddly-located cemetery. It’s smack in the middle of campus and it’s there because they didn’t want to disturb ages-old graves, which is a great call on their part even if it does make the campus a touch strange. But anyway, this cemetery is a wonderful way to include death in daily life, so to speak, in contrast to how we usually hide it away until we must deal with it when something dies. From a philosophical biologist’s perspective, it’s also wonderful to see a symbolic coexistence of life and death in the form of graves and flowers. It reminds me of a poem we used to read on Rosh Hashana about how life is intimately entwined with death. I don’t remember it exactly, but it depicts how a tree lives on eternally after it dies. Some of it returns to soil, ready to nurture new seeds. Its fallen trunk acts as a shelter for rabbits, and so on. The cemetery can also be construed as a way to refocus on the greater themes of life after stressing over finals for weeks.

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Happy Spring and Finals season!

After seeing an IMAX about space and nearly crying during its trailer because space is so beautiful (that’s another story), let me just remind you all that you are made of stardust and your last inhale probably contained an atom that also passed through the lungs of Cleopatra and that we are the universe attempting to understand itself.

Happy Thursday! 🙂

 

 

Summers in the Cities

Starting to think about some very enticing thoughts about home these days. Officially reached the 3 month mark. Excited to see my family, my friends, my town in the summer… telling friends about awkward run-ins and runnings-away-from with high school peers and teachers and knowing they’ll feel almost as uncomfortable as I did in the moment… circling around downtown in search of a parking spot… no homework… and ah, SUMMER!

Random sidenote: Can anyone give me a clue about why I got 255 hits on this blog during one hour last Sunday? I think it must be a glitch or some bot because it’s ridiculous.


Also decided on my last hurrah trip! Let’s play a game to figure it out!

Days 1-3: When you multiply something by two, what are you doing to that number? Remove the O and the G  on the end.

Final answer?

DUBLIN! 

The next destination’s linguistic clue: If you send something in the mail, it’s a _____. Subtract the first letter, change it to B. Next 2 syllables: You have a Boston accent and say that you are the possessor of something; you are its ______.

Answer is…

BARCELONA! 


And finally, some pictures! First are some from the incredible Camden Lock Market and a cool hippie crunchy granola place Michelle and I went to, feeling proper Wesleyan-y once more. This place was on my bucket list from last post (Inspiral Cafe) and I’ll leave the rest to the pictures. Pictures from the market and Regent’s Canal follow, then a snapshot from the top of Primrose Hill. It was taken on one of the first truly summery days of the year, where the sunlight streams from every direction, couples picnic and cuddle, the babies and dogs come out to play, and the park is so vivid that it seems that this is where the greener grass has been all along. (Except when it takes you a 45 minutes to traverse the park and get to tube!!!)

mmm.

mmm.

I might be attending a Pignic

Yes, you read that correctly. PIG-NIC! Let’s hope my odds of being picked aren’t slop or else I’ll try to make myself feel better by bacon all day and hogging the cookies.

And now for an extremely random picture that was inspired by my search for pig pictures and the realization that I’d recently snapped a sort of applicable photo to go along with an especially divine porker:

headwearqueens

don’t ask. just glam.

Shoutout to Cristina for all the pig mentions. Miss you, girl.


In other news…

So much has happened over the past week! Another reason why I really love living in London. I’m thinking that, until I get older and tired (perhaps 30), a city might be the best place for me to live. I’ve awakened a greedy, culture-hungry piece of myself that is generously assuaged by London’s never-ending stream of activities and goings-on. Like…

-The Columbia Road Flower Market! Located in the ever-hipster area of Shoreditch, this flower market was bursting with flowers, fun ditty shops, and people who near gridlocked the passageways. I wasn’t able to traverse the market through the middle path because I get too impatient with slow walkers I can’t circumnavigate, so my pictures aren’t full of florals but they’ll do.

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so spunky. can’t call them ugly because they’re just too proud of their over-denimnity (say that 5 times fast)

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Yellow!

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some fun singers at the market

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good one!

And speaking of Shoreditch, I was able to finally make a visit to the CAT CAFE!!!
(intentionally filling the next 5 scroll-down-blog-seconds filled with cats so y’all can freak out and know that this is a safe space. K GO!)

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Ok, now for the cat cafe pics!

I went with my friend Rebecca and we had a good time. I was sad to see most of the cats sleeping or laying around, seemingly empty of energy. When we left, a waitress took a laser pointer and that cat went to town. However, overall it was an experience shaped by the calmness of the music and animals, the obvious glee of all the cat-lovers present, and the hilarity of how worked-up everyone got as soon as a feline so much as moved their paw. It was absolutely a cat-lover’s sanctuary. (I’m not much of a cat lover but I can appreciate them as much as the next person with a soul and like for pretty furry things.)

and two of my favorites…

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Bubble wrap cat!!!

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the cat waited expectantly at the door, which read “Staff Only”. Once a waitress opened the door, the cat scurried in, proudly asserting its position as “staff”.


Finally, yesterday I went with my Museums of London class to the Tate Modern. My group analyzed an exhibit about dreams and poetry, which focused on surrealism as a jumping-off point. Super interesting. Before that, a trip to Borough Market, an indoor food playground (not actually. I wish), brought me to some delicious Dutch redcurrants for snacking and cheese for an upcoming frittata. A giggle-inducing picture ends the post, and a snap of the Globe theater for my Auntie J precedes it! Next post will feature my trip to Oxford (BEAUTIFUL) and other surprises!

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The Globe Theatre

love it.

love it.

good friends + good markets = good life