Saturday, October 10, 2015

Wine and Wandering in Barcelona

Extra wine and wandering to make up for the lack of workouts ;)

I mean it on the extra wandering - my friend’s fitbit count was in the 20,000 steps range every day!

Despite starting with a 3-hour delayed flight, I had an amazing long weekend with friends in Barcelona - the kind that makes me want to pick up and move there for a few months!  I would definitely have to buy a bigger jean size though, to allow for all the extra jamón (aka meat candy) and wine.  

Since we all arrived really late on Friday, we wandered in the streets until we found an open tapas/wine bar and started off the trip with a lovely late night meal - I can’t remember everything we ordered, but there were jamón Ibérico croquettes, octopus, and a grilled goat cheese salad with figs and honey, all washed down with [a couple glasses of] a beautifully smooth Tempranillo Grenache (I think it’s granacha in Spanish - * edit - it's "garnacha" ;) *).  A perfect meal and a good night’s sleep for a big first day ahead of us!

Exploring Park Guell and Gaudi House Museum

After a lot of walking, we went to Cerveceria Catalana at a friends’ recommendation - and, just as she said, there was a wait for a table, but it was 1000% worth it!  The restaurant serves upscale tapas (small sharing plates), with a large selection of fresh delicious, seafood.  We loved it so much that we came back here for our last meal in Barcelona.  Some favorites (basically everything we ordered!):  grilled octopus, calamari, padron peppers, patatas bravas, prawn skewers, pan con tomate, cheese, crispy camembert (cheese coated with peanuts and topped with jam) and of course, jamon Iberico (<-- we ate a jamon plate roughly twice per day and I’m not even a little bit sorry).

Casa Batllo

Dinner was at the famous 4 Gats and the highlight was the gin and tonics - they don’t even have a cocktail menu, and if you ask, they will just tell you they do gin and tonics.  There was a card on the table showing four G&T options - classic, herbacious (my pick!), floral, and spiced.  My two friends rolled with the floral option and it had whole strawberries in it that tasted like fruity, gin-soaked heaven.  Part of the treat was watching them be made very elaborately in these lovely goblets.

To finish off the night, we walked around the Gothic quarter and discovered that there was a massive music festival in town for the weekend (we saw it several times), came across some street tango dancing that I could have watched for hours,

and ended up at a Vinateria for a late night jamon and wine snack (the best!)

Crucial Wine Choice

I could eat this every day and die happy!

The next day, we took a looooong stair-filled trek to Montjuic and enjoyed a beautiful tram ride up the mountain:

There we discovered that the music festival had taken over much of the area and there was no coffee to be found.  

We consoled our dropping blood sugar with some sweets before searching for the “brunch place with an amazing view” that we’d gotten an insider tip about and ended up unknowingly hiking all the way down to the base of the cable car.  

The restaurant was completely unremarkable on the outside, but after walking in, we knew it was worth it.

We stayed for awhile and enjoyed some lighter entrees and a bottle of Cava to prepare ourselves for a long walk to La Sagrada Familia.

We couldn’t go in the main church because it was closed for an event, but we went into the crypt and walked around the outside. It was absolutely beautiful.

We then walked EVEN MORE to head out to the W hotel to check out the killer views.  We weren’t allowed in to the club (which we were pretty okay with) due to our casual footwear, but we found a perfect spot outside to sit and watch the sunset.  

Rare pic of yours truly ;)

Then we found a fantastic restaurant nearby for dinner.


It turns out that the secret to liking olives is to soak them in a gin mare and tonic, and then they’re delicious ;)  More jamon, tapas, and Gin Mare (<-- my new favorite gin and first ever duty free alcohol purchase on the way home!).

Cheers to birthday girl, Katelyn!

We finished our final night in Barcelona by exploring the Gothic Quarter some more in search of this peaceful square that Katelyn had seen before - a former bomb site where the damaged walls remain around a fountain near a beautiful hotel and restaurant.

I had such a wonderful time with Katelyn and Olga and can't WAIT to go back to Barcelona any time and go explore other cities with these girls! :D

Hasta luego!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Rise Against [What Everyone Else Thinks]

If you follow me on Instagram (@cassielu87), you already know that I got to see Rise Against in concert last night in Oslo.

It was truly epic - the band was great, as expected, and the crowd was pumped.  While the mosh pit was relatively tame (which was totally fine with my shins, who suffered the worst of my last mosh pit experience),

the crowd was still on fire - full of fans shouting along with the lyrics, jumping into each other, and head-banging with the best of them.  I loved the variety of people there - to my left was a guy who probably would have looked like a nerd if he weren't shouting punk rock lyrics at the top of his lungs and a couple consisting of a total bro who spends his free time at the gym discussing protein powders and a girl with shampoo commercial hair, and to my right was a sweaty dude head-banging so hard he could barely standup and a group of plaid-clad hipsters.  It was fun for everyone...or everyone that enjoys top-volume punk rock in big crowds at least.

Apologies for all the shitty videos in this post (cell phone microphones are not designed to pick up that caliber of audio), but the show was too good not to share some of the experience.

In the midst of all the action, there I was, jumping into people like a maniac and shouting the lyrics to the songs I knew (about half of them), and having the time of my life.  I found myself thinking about people who question my lifestyle - most recently and least tactfully, a cab driver in Dublin, but this happens quite frequently, usually in the form of "when do you think you'll settle down?" or "don't you get sick of all the traveling?".  In that moment, at a rock concert in Norway, I thought "why would I settle?  I fucking love my life!"

They gave us a breather with some calmer moments...

"But don't worry, we'll get loud again..."

This has to count as an AV learning I can expense this, right? ;)

The opening acts were also pretty kick ass...Razorbats is a local Oslo band that kicked things off:


Fortunately their songs were in English, including their new single, "Kids of the 70s", which I found out later via the internet because whatever they were saying to the crowd between songs was in Norwegian :)

Then Man with a Mission came out and performed in full-on wolf and bear heads (???)

Man with a Mission

I don't know the point of the costumes (and expected them to take them off after one song, but they wore them the whole set), but it definitely makes them memorable!  Their energy was insane and they totally revved up the crowd with their "Smells Like Teen Spirit" cover:

Not bad for a Wednesday night!!!  "Settled down" people probably did what on a Wednesday night?  If I have to guess, I'd say hit the gym, cook dinner, watch Netflix, and go to bed.  I'm gonna have to say I win this round ;)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Hardest Part is Getting Started

Hi friends!

I'm finally starting the blog I've talked about creating for so long now. I don't know if anyone will read it or care about it (besides my Dad - hey Pops!), but I want a journal of my travels, and hopefully this will allow me to virtually bring all of you on my journeys with me! Those of you that know me will certainly not question the blog's title - "WWW" or "trip dubs" for short, because I'm gangsta like that ;)

A year ago, I was having an entire goodbye summer in sunny California with some of the best friends in the world. I was starting a new job and getting ready to trade in those amazing friends and the perfect weather for London's rain and total anonymity.

Now, I "live" in London, but I'm in a different country so often that it's not really fair to say that :)

Photo from my first few weeks in London, taken on a run along the Thames River

I'm not a fan of selfies, I mostly travel alone, and most of my photos are taken from my phone because it's always with me. I'm trying to learn photography, but it's going slowly and I procrastinate a lot. I also don't have a ton of time to write (even though it's something I enjoy), so sometimes posts will just be of my [crappy] pictures, but hopefully that 1% of good photos and all the cool places I get to see will make it worth your time!