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Wanderlust Living!

A travel blog for those who love to travel the world and want to bring it home and into their everyday lives. I'm just a girl trying to have a cup of coffee all around the world. Our family just moved to the bustling city of Barcelona, Spain after living at the beach in Costa Rica for three years. Try to keep up!


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Posts by Category: Barcelona

Barcelona March 30, 2017 posted by

H & M + Flax and Kale: A hipster match made in heaven!

Barcelona H & M partners with Flax and Kale

I’ve found an new place to live! I am now going to take up residency at the brand new H & M store on Passeig de Gracía. This brand new store is 5,000 square feet, has four levels and is the first H & M in the world with a trendy cafe, which sits perfectly over looking Barcelona’s most fashionable street, Passeig de Gràcia.

The beautiful cafe on the fourth floor is from the hip eatery and local Barcelona company, Flax and Kale. The original Flax and Kale restaurant is only a few blocks away and one of the hottest healthy spots to be seen in Barcelona.  If you come to Barcelona and are looking for all natural, vegetarian and vegan options you are sure to find Flax and Kale on every list of the best healthy restaurants in Barcelona. No fried croquettes here. The owners are chef Teresa Carles, also known for Teresa’s Juicery (which my husband and I really love) and her son Jodi Barri. 

When entering the cafe you’ll pass by the signature refrigerators that house all of Teresa’s Juicery cold press juices, then there are a variety of grab & go style salads, sandwiches, parfaits and chai bowls. Once you hit the counter there is a bakery case filled with beautiful cakes and pastries and where you’ll order your coffee, cappuccino or fresh smoothie. The cafe has plenty of seating with large windows that look over the large intersection with a fountain that is Gran Via and Passeig de Grcàia. There are cozy benches with pillows, hightop tables with barstools and even a garden section that is a bit quieter. The space they created is beautiful and I loved all the natural light and the hanging plants. I don’t think they meant for it to be a co-working space, but I can already see this as a great place to meet up for a healthy lunch and get some work done!

To get to the Flax and Kale cafe means you have to wander your way through most of the store and try your hardest not to get distracted! Riding the escalator up it definitely feels a bit more like a department store. There is a fantastic children’s department on the entire lower level and then on the third level there is even a H & M HOME. Kill me now. I am such a sucker for home goods. Gah. Seriously, I have no self control over new pillows, towels, candles and glassware. They even have a small kid section of cute room decor.  And as you can imagine, everything is extremely chic, on trend and reasonably priced!

The entire concept of this retail + eatery is gorgeous and the partnership with Flax and Kale is perfection. I realize that I am swooning over a retail store, which may seem silly to some, but it’s not the store itself but the overall design and style, which gives you a nice shopping experience.  And being a mom, I can appreciate a place where I can do some shopping for my kids, pick up a little something for me, grab a few essentials for my husband and get a healthy lunch and cappuccino all in one place. Heck, I could even get some work done here too! 

Now do you see why I might move in!?

Although, I can see how the “I’m just running to H & M to pick up some more juices!” could turn into a very expensive juice run.

$300 later….

 

 

H & M + Flax and Kale:  A hipster match made in heaven!
Andrea March 24, 2017 posted by

Life in Barcelona: Canela in the City!

Life in Barcelona with a dog

Life in Barcelona (with a dog)

I have been meaning to write a little update about Canela’s transition to life in Barcelona… and of course I will eventually write more about the exciting journey of getting our dog from Costa Rica to Spain (that’s a long story) but for now just take comfort in the fact that she is living it up and doing just fine! 

We started by taking Canela just up and down our street, Gran Via – which is a pretty major street but has a nice wide pedestrian section that runs down the center and there are bushes that run the length of this pedestrian path too. These bushes are now her personal bathroom and let’s just say, she’s helping beautify the city by fertilizing the bushes! In the beginning she would only walk about three blocks and then stop and turn around and want to go back, but eventually we got her to walk all the way to the kids bus stop (8 blocks away). 

On our morning walk to the bus stop we go past Placa de Tetuan, which is a small park in the center of a large round-about and then we head down Passeig San Joan, one of my favorite streets in the city. She got used to this walk pretty quickly and liked stopping at the park on our way back.

Saturday in Barcelona

Then on one particular Saturday morning Harris and I took Canela for a walk and a cappuccino. We wanted to see what she thought about sitting outside at a cafe and how she would behave!?

So we headed down the usual bus stop route and sat and grabbed coffee at one of my favorite cafes on Passeig San Joan, La Foga. It took Canela awhile to actually sit and relax, but eventually she sat and seemed pretty happy chillin’ with us in the sun. Once we left La Foga we wandered down the street in search of a pet store, we needed dog bowls and I wanted to buy Canela a better leash and collar that actually fit her.  

Life in Barcelona bakery Rimini Rimini
Stop at the Bakery

The one pet store that was showing up on my map was no longer there, so we continued on in the direction of home making a stop at the bakery Rimini Rimini to pick up some baked goods to take home for the kids. This is a cute little cafe for pastries, coffee, small sandwiches and even pizza.

Rimini Rimini – Carrer d’Ausiàs Marc, 31  (cross street is Carrer de Girona)

La Casa Antonia Burés

Stroll past famous architecture

With the donuts and strudels in hand we continued and passed one of my favorite buildings, (I have about 52 of them) the architecture in Barcelona is ridiculous. Seriously, I see a new building I like every day or I see the same ones and my mouth still continues to drop when I happen upon them again and again. I was curious to know more about this building so I did a little google search…

La Casa Antonia Burés is a residential modernist building located at Ausiàs Marc, 42-46 Barcelona. It was built between 1903 and 1906 by the architect Juli Batllevell and the contractor of works Enric Pi i Cabañas.  The house was made on behalf of Antonia Burés i Borràs and her husband, the textile industrialist, Llogarri Torrens i Serra. It is the most elaborate and successful work of Batllevell performed in Barcelona. (thank you wikipedia)

*And apparently Mr. Torrens says that the design of the facade of this building was actually a gift from Antoni Gaudi who collaborated with Juli Batllevell. 

Life in Barcelona Pet Store

Found a pets store!

After passing an architectural work of art, we turned up a street and then walked right into a pet store, it’s as if Perruqueria Canina just magically appeared! This little pet store is also a pet groomer, perruqueria is the word for hairdresser. We bought Canela two dog bowls, poop bags, a new leash, a pretty new polk-a-dot collar and a cozy little dog bed. We almost bought her a sweater, but I think I was getting carried away.

Perrugueria Caninia, Carrer de Casp (cross street Carrer del Bruc)

 
Barcelona is a very pet-friendly city and we see a lot of dogs here, and they are all so well behaved! Canela is sweet but a bit anti-social and not the friendliest. When dogs come up to sniff her the hair on her neck stands up and she growls, so we try to just keep our distance. She’s had a hard life before us, so it’s understandable. Not to mention, she just went from the back roads of Costa Rica to the bustling city of Barcelona. She’s adjusting well and um, just had the best Saturday ever!

Life in Barcelona: Canela in the City!
Andrea March 21, 2017 posted by

Devour Barcelona Food Tours: Wine & Tapas!


When you live abroad it’s always fun when friends visit because you get to play tour guide, showing them your favorite local spots, but it’s also a great opportunity to play tourist too!

When our good friends Paul & Krista came to Barcelona I made us a reservation for a wine and tapas tour with Devour Barcelona Food Tours. One of the best ways to get a feel for a city and quite literally a taste, is with a walking tour. I had actually stumbled upon the http://devourbarcelonafoodtours.com/Devour Food Tours in Madrid, when I was looking up things to do when we were in Madrid last summer, we never did take a tour, but I made a mental note that they also had food tours in Barcelona, Seville and now even Malaga. I’ve enjoyed watching the company’s success so I was excited to finally book a tour with them!

Devour Barcelona Food Tours

I booked us on a Saturday night tour that began at 6:30pm. We navigated our way through the narrow streets of the gothic area, passing the crowds outside the Picasso Museum and arrived at a little bodega where we would start the night! We immediately saw the Devour Food Tour sign on top of a wine barrel table and were greeted by a huge smile and hello by our tour guide Fintan. He was a ball of energy right from the start, so I knew we were in for a fun night!  We were joined by six other people, making our tour a total of 10, which was the perfect size. Our night began with a tasting of Vermouth and having the two traditional Catalan dishes; Croquettes with Jamon Iberico inside and Patatas Bravas. (If you are vegetarian, they will have other options available to you)

As we sipped our Vermouth we went around the table introducing ourselves to the other people in the group, we’d be spending the evening together so it was a nice icebreaker. There was a couple from South Africa, two girlfriends from Chicago and another couple from Maryland, but they lived for many years in Minneapolis, Minnesota (I always seem to meet people with a connection to Minnesota). Later in the night as we all started to get a bit more friendly, the husband told me the story about how the Mayo Clinic saved his wife’s life, and that he has so much love and gratitude not only the Mayo Clinic but for Minnesota in general. The other couple from South Africa were a riot and I am actually still in touch with her via social media and even email. That is the added bonus of going on these types of group tours, the interesting people you meet! 

 

Tasty Tosadas 

The second stop on our tour we walked a short distance through El Born and went to a beautiful restaurant called Eldiset. Here is where the food got interesting, Eldiset is famous for their mouth watering tostadas. Paired with each tostada was a variety of light wines, we tasted two different Cavas, a white wine and a Rosé. Cava is a sparkling wine from Spain and most of which is produced in the Catalunya region and many happen to be produced just outside of Barcelona. I have learned to love Cava since moving to Barcelona, it’s so refreshing and light. The tapas (or tostadas) we had were amazing! The first one was a tostada with grilled eggplant, mozzarella cheese, caramelized onions and basil pesto. The second tostada had raspberry jam, blue cheese, shredded apple and crushed almonds. 


Gran Bodega Maestrazgo

Our third stop of the night was at Gran Bodega Maestrazgo. To anyone just passing by, they might think this place was a wine wholesale shop, but once inside and passed the large wine barrels and endless shelves of wine, there is a cozy little wine bar buzzing with wine enthusiasts. Now this is the place to go to start a night out with friends or buy some wine! I’m pretty sure there is not a bad wine on the shelf. In the front of the store Fintan had us sample wines straight from the barrel and explained bulk wine, blends and pricing. If I’m being honest, it was a this point in the night some of my retention of all the extensive wine info Fintan was giving us was also starting to blend together;)  


Our fourth stop was right next door (smart) to a tasting room. There was a long high top table filled with baskets of bread and a variety of jamón, cheese and olives. There were also four empty wine glasses at each place setting, which meant more wine. This is where we ended the night and Fintan had to eventually kick us out! I suppose this is the hardest part of his job, gently breaking it to people that the tour is over and that you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

I was so impressed by Fintan and his passion for wine, he was a fountain of knowledge and was a fantastic tour guide! The entire night was lovely, the only thing I might say is that I could have used one more tostada, because by the time we hit the fourth stop I was devouring the bread basket! I’d highly recommend this wine and tapas tour to anyone visiting Barcelona, it’s a fun night with excellent wine, good food and great company!

Disclosure: Totally not paid or comped. I was a regular human enjoying a night out with friends.

Devour Barcelona Food Tours: Wine & Tapas!
Andrea February 7, 2017 posted by

Barcelona marathon training update


Barcelona Marathon Training Update

I am over the half way point to running the Barcelona Marathon, I have about five weeks left before the big day, Sunday, March 12th. This past weekend I was not exactly feeling confident. In fact, I was sure I was hitting a wall, both mentally and physically. Physically I know I can run eight miles no problem, but I don’t feel like it is “easy”, so heading out to run a 15 mile run on Sunday morning –  I was a little nervous. I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it. I have ran only two 10 mile runs and one 13 mile run,  and I have missed some long runs die to my traveling.

So I set out earlier than usual, because I didn’t want this to take over my entire day and the earlier you get out in the morning the less awake you are to a) realize what it is you are about to do and b) you leave before you talk yourself out of it.

I made my way up to the top of Passeig San Joan to start, which is up hill and then ran back down toward the Arc de Triomf knowing that that would be a great warm up on my way down to the beach. I tried to not mess with my music or look at my Strava app at all, I just tried to run as relaxed as I could, taking in the beautiful Barcelona morning, It had rained a little overnight, the sky was clearing up and it was already 58 degrees!  There was hardly anyone on the streets, because the only people up at 8:30am on a Sunday morning are runners and a few photographers taking advantage of the incredible lighting. Barcelona is not an early morning city, 12:00 is very much still considered morning here.

Running earlier meant less traffic and the lights were not turning as much, or I could just run on red because there was no traffic coming. Once I got down to the beach I realized I was not the only one with a long run on the schedule. There were SO many runners out at this time,(clearly they wanted to get it over with too). It was nice to be surrounded by my people, which was also encouraging. 

Here are some photos from the first half of my 15 mile morning run… (because I couldn’t bear to stop to take any photos the last 5 miles) I love the way the sky and the clouds changed throughout the first part of my run. I can’t complain, my marathon training backdrop is pretty amazing!


I DID IT. And my time wasn’t horrible either.

15 miles  / 2 hours 48 minutes / 11:12 average pace per mile via the Strava app.

When I got home I collapsed onto the floor and told Hudson to get me some frozen vegetables for my knees and I said to Harris “I’m not sure I ever want to do that again!”

Of course I am really happy that I survived 15 miles, however the thought of doing 11 more is frickin’ crazy!! I mean, I like running, but if I keep a 11 minute pace – I will be running for almost 5 hours, and when you put it like that it sounds horrible!! That is a LONG time to be running. (My goal is to do it 4.5 hours)

Later that night I was prepared to feel like I had been hit by a truck, but after a burger and a hour nap, I actually felt fine. Monday morning I was bracing for a ton of soreness – but to my surprise I wasn’t too bad. So today I went out and ran a short 5 miler and hit my best time and it felt like such a baby run! I guess that is the point – to keep doing the consistent 6-8 mile runs, and then push hard for the longer runs, which then gives you the confidence to keep going!

That’s the thing with “thinking” I hit an eight mile wall, it was all in my head. Now I’ve proved to myself that 15 miles is possible, both mentally and physically. Believing I can do this is more than half the battle, as a friend said to me “Your mind will give up way before your body will” and it is SO true. This is such a mental game.

26 miles I’m coming for you.

Barcelona marathon training update
Barcelona December 1, 2016 posted by

Getting a Christmas tree in Barcelona

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Getting a Christmas Tree in Barcelona

Last weekend we got a Christmas Tree and I was giddy with excitement. I’m pretty sure my excitement was hovering right around that extremely annoying level, but deep down I knew that at least McKenna was just as excited as I was. She just has more self control with her enthusiasm than I do.

Some might wonder why I was so excited about getting a Christmas Tree in Barcelona, so let me explain. We have not had a Christmas tree in three years. While living in Costa Rica we were denied a little (okay, a lot)  of the Christmas spirit, which was actually very refreshing. I liked not having all the holiday frenzy shoved in our faces 24/7 and I didn’t panic or feel like I had to run to the malls to start shopping and buying a bunch of junk we didn’t need. However, I like decorating, I like pretty things and I like some sparkle in my life.  I missed seeing Christmas lights that make this time of year seem so magical and getting a Christmas tree is such a classic holiday tradition!

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La Sagrada Familia Christmas Market

Where does one get a Christmas tree in Barcelona!?

Well, I knew that most European cities have some pretty incredible Christmas markets, so when I was searching for Christmas Markets in Barcelona, I read that the La Sagrada Familia Christmas Market always starts the last Saturday in November and I also read that they sell Christmas trees! We just so happen to live about 10 blocks from La Sagrada Familia.

So this past Saturday when driving home from our trip up the coast to Cadaques. I had the brilliant idea to go and pick up a tree while we still had our rental car. My family just loves my brilliant ideas! 😉 So, when we got back to Barcelona we dropped all our bags off at the apartment (to make room for the tree) and drove over to the La Sagrada Familia, parked in a nearby parking structure and hit the market.

This was the very first day of  the Christmas market and we arrived at about 1:00pm and it looked like it had literally just opened. People were still setting up their stalls and unpacking their products to sell! Barcelona is not a morning city. We cruised the market and went straight to the guys selling trees, we tried to not get too distracted by all the ornaments, villages and other shiny things because we were on a mission to just get a tree. Well.. and maybe a Caga Tio – the pooping Christmas log. (see next post)

We have very high ceilings in our apartment, so we all agreed that we needed a BIG tree! There were a few stalls around the park that were selling trees  of all shapes and sizes, so we did a loop and then decided on the best one. It was pretty much the biggest one we saw, we paid 60 Euros for it, the guy wrapped it up tight in some white netting and helped Harris carry it to the curb.

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Harris and Hudson went to go get the car while McKenna and I stood on the side of the road next to La Sagrada with our gigantic Christmas tree, two poinsettia plants, and our Caga Tio. While we waited I kept saying that this tree was NOT going to fit in the car and that we’d probably have to pay some guy with a truck to get it to our apartment. And just as it started to sprinkle, Harris pulled up in our shiny red rental car, he popped the trunk and we started to shove it in. We wiggled it through trying to be careful of the branches, and we eventually got it all the way to the dashboard. I handed each of the kids a poinsettia plant, grabbed our Caga Tio and off we went!

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But we got it home!  Operation Christmas Tree was a SUCCESS.

christmas-tree-barcelona-2016-apartment

 

Getting a Christmas tree in Barcelona
Andrea November 29, 2016 posted by

I’m going to run the Barcelona Marathon!

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Barcelona Marathon

Well. I did it. I just registered for the Barcelona Marathon. HOLY. SHIT.

I have never ran a marathon.
I have only ran one half marathon, The Hollywood Half Marathon and that was about 6 years ago.

So, why am I doing this…?  Well, I have always wanted to run a marathon and for no real reason other than to say that “I’ve ran a marathon” I like running and all, but to run a FULL marathon!!?? I mean, 26 miles feels a bit excessive. BUT I’m going to do it and it’s not really the physical challenge that I’m after, it’s more a mental challenge for me.

barcelona-marathon-2017
The Barcelona Marathon is March 12th 2017 and so right now I have exactly 15 weeks to train.

This morning I printed out this First Marathon Training Schedule from Women’s Running and I went for a 5 mile run to think about it. I wanted to see how I felt afterwards, then make the decision. While running I came up with how I would decide.

A) If  I can run 5 miles under an hour then I have to sign up –  because clearly my running is pretty decent and with proper training I can totally do this.

B) If I cannot run 5 miles in 50 minutes then clearly I am not working hard enough and need to register to get my ass moving.

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My time this morning for 5 miles was 51.55 – via the Strava App – which is awesome!

So I got home and the decision was made – I had to sign up.
See what I did there… I was registering no matter what I did.

Next year I turn 40 (September 24th) but if you know me, then you know that I will probably be celebrating my Birthday all year! Brace yourself. It will be #MyYearOf40 (not the official hashtag yet).

2016 pretty much tried to kick my ass and accomplishing this will prove to me that I didn’t let it.

March is also significant because that is when I sold Savvy Sassy Moms and declared my year of being a #LadyOf Leisure. Well, I suck at being a lady of leisure and this will keep my mind busy for the last few months.

It will also be celebratory of our move to Barcelona! The beginning was a little bumpy, so now I’m going to run all over this town and show it who’s boss.

I’m someone who needs big goals, a purpose, a project, a frickin’ gold star at the end of the day. I like challenges and if I have learned anything about myself over the last few months it’s that, and THAT IS OK. Reaching for something and going after things is the only way I know how to live. I have been trying to relax and take it easy, I’ve been enjoying life, our new city, meeting new people, traveling and working on a few things here and there – but without something major to focus on, I really start to lose my mind. So this will be a major focus for the next 15 weeks.

As it turns out – Harris will be in San Diego that weekend 🙁 Which is a BIG bummer that he will not be here to cheer me on, but it’s okay, he will be cheering me on and keeping me on my training schedule over the next 15 weeks.

So…. I am looking for a volunteer to come and watch my kids for 24 hours – while I carb load, sleep, run 26 miles, have a blood mary, a beer, a burger and then pass out. (In that exact order)

Please apply below.

I’m going to run the Barcelona Marathon!
Adventure November 3, 2016 posted by

Renting a Country House in Spain

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Renting a Country House in Spain

Let me just start by saying that this will be the first of many posts about renting a country house in Spain, because I plan on staying in as many as I possibly can. I am obsessed with them. I want one.

There are hundreds of these country houses for rent all over Costa Brava, the northeastern region of Spain, in Catalunya. Costa Brava is the gorgeous coastline just to the north of Barcelona that has one postcard perfect beach town after another. However, going a little further inland you’ll find the quiet rural countryside with quaint little villages that eventually lead you to the Pyrenes mountains. So clearly, an amazing part of Spain.

Renting a country house in Costa Brava was not on the major to-do-list when we first moved to Barcelona, but some friends of ours were in Barcelona for a few weeks and they actually gave us the idea. They wanted to get out of the city and see a little bit of the countryside, so they booked a room at Pasteral Hotel Rural, a charming little hotel that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere – but we were up for the adventure! They had actually booked the last room, so while searching for a place to stay near our friends we happened upon this old country house for rent, we booked it and away we went!

Getting from Barcelona to Costa Brava

This particular country house we rented was in the town of Pasteral which is about 30 minutes outside of Girona. It is an area more well known as La Cellar de Ter, a very rural area known for miles of biking trails. These biking trails are called Vias Verdes (which means “green-ways”) and are old railways that have been covered and have been turned into beautiful biking paths throughout the countryside. This area is also popular for fishing because of the Ter River. The river actually sits right behind this house and we went for a few walks by the river and each time we spotted men fly fishing.

One of the most popular destinations in Costa Brava is the city of Girona and it is very easy to get here from Barcelona by train, it only takes about an hour. You can either rent a car in Barcelona and drive yourself to your country house or you can take the train and rent a car right at the Girona train station. Car rentals are cheaper in Girona then in Barcelona, so to save some money you may want to go this route. We needed a car to get out to the country house, to explore the area and to get to the stores to do some food shopping, but if you are staying in Girona you may not need a car.

*There are other trains that hit the coastal towns of Costa Brava, however I have not taken them yet.

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Can More Pasteral Country House

When we arrived to the Can More Country House, the owner and his daughter (who spoke english) were there to greet us and show us the property. The owner only spoke Spanish, and while we understand a lot of Spanish, it was nice that he had his daughter there to help translate anything we did not quite understand or if we had any specific questions. As he showed us around he kept looking at us for some sort of sign or nod of approval, I think he genuinely wanted us to be very happy with the house, I could sense the pride he had for it. He was so sweet and kind.

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The Can More Pasteral Country House was built in 1496 and used to be an old barley mill. The owner made sure to reference that this was about the same time as Christopher Columbus had discovered the Americas. Which was an important time since he was introducing many of these European crops of wheat, rice, barely, and oats to the new Americas.  I just wished I spoke better Spanish to have been able to ask him even more questions about the history of this house.

There is a small farm on the property with chickens, goats and a few large white ostrich like animals, called rhea’s. The kids naturally wandered over to the animals right away and the owner went and got some bread to let the kids feed the goats. Later that afternoon the owner brought us over a dozen farm fresh eggs, I’m assuming they were probably just hatched from his chickens that morning!

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This is a rhea, a flightless bird related to the ostrich and emu. There were several of these walking around and while they don’t look all that friendly, he stood near one of them and told the kids that is was safe to pet them. But i still kept my distance. The wings on these things were gigantic!

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This house has four bedrooms, three of the bedrooms were upstairs and one bedroom was downstairs. The beautiful stone walls made it feel a bit like sleeping in a cave. There was a window in each room, but the windows were small  so the rooms were a bit dark. There were also two bathrooms, one upstairs and one downstairs. The house was very clean and very well kept.

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I assumed that this was a place where maybe there was water and the men tied up their horses and hung up their hats! But I really have no idea and that is probably not what they did. This was inside the house, so clearly not a place horses came, but perhaps it used to be outside…? It obviously has something to do with the barley being processed here, but I am still wondering what this was used for.

If you know what this is or what it was used for – please share in the comments below!

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The kitchen had everything we needed and  I loved digging through all the old plates and bowls, there was such an eclectic mix of floral patterns and colors. I love old ceramic dishes, coffee mugs, silverware and glass bowls. There is just something about these things that make me very happy, they’re like little vintage treasures. I wonder how long some of these things have been with the house!?

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There is a BBQ grill and we made dinner with our friends both nights. We also just enjoyed sitting around having delicious snacks, enjoying wine and watching the kids run around and play. On the last nigh they even put on an entire show for us.

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This was the view from the the side patio where I enjoyed a glass of wine as the day just started to get that warm dusk glow. Perfection.

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Walking around the neighborhood we saw a few other country houses too! (However, I am not sure these are is for rent)

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Waterfall in Costa Brava

A waterfall in Costa Brava, Spain??  This isn’t Costa Rica!

The only reason we discovered this waterfall is because the friends we were with (who we met while living in Costa Rica) saw some people in swimsuits, carrying a bunch of bright floatation devices down a random dirt path – so they assumed there must have been a place on the river for swimming. So being the curious types, the next morning we put on our swimsuits and went to see what those people were walking to, and sure enough it lead us to a waterfall.

The only way I could describe how to get there was take the main road up the mountain and when you see a huge manufacturing like building, park and go behind it and follow the path. (I know – crazy!) It was not marked at all, so clearly this is a “only the locals know” type of spot. A lesson in keeping your eyes open and be sure to observe what the locals are doing or where they’re going!

(I have tried to research this waterfall on the internets, but I kept coming up short, sorry!)

can-more-pasteral-country-house-costa-brava-spain-girona-wanderlust-living

I had posted on Facebook joking that we bought this country house and people took me very seriously, because clearly it is totally something we would do.

So I shot this video explaining that we did NOT buy it and gave a small tour. Enjoy!

Since staying at our first country house, I have been planning my escapes to stay in more of them!

There are larger country houses to rent if you are traveling as a group, some have been renovated and more modernly updated, some are more luxurious and have pools!  I’ll gladly stay in some of those fancy ones too, but at some point they are no longer a quaint little country house but large estates or Spanish villas. Nothing wrong with that – but with all those modern updates I can’t help to think that it might take away some of the charm, simplicity and authenticity of a true country house stay. But hey, I’m willing to do the research to find out!

I am looking forward to staying in a variety of country houses, but I know that this first one will always have a special place in my heart!

You can find some country houses for rent on most booking sites like HomeAway, VRBO, Bookings, and even AirBnB. Just search Costa Brava or Girona. There is also Catalunya Casas / Charming Villas  / Holiday Houses Costa Brava.

Renting a Country House in Spain
Andrea September 27, 2016 posted by

Moving to Spain, it’s not Rosé all day!

moving-to-barcelona-settling-in-wanderlust-living

Here I sit at my little bistro table on the balcony of my beautiful Barcelona apartment. I have my cute, aqua blue coffee mug next to me, I am enjoying the city sounds and the taxis and scooters whizzing by down Gran Via. Then the sun comes up over the buildings and hits me directly in the eyes and now I can’t see my damn computer screen.

The move to Spain has been a tough one, not going to lie. Which is odd, because we’ve already DONE THIS. We’ve moved abroad before, so moving to Spain should be no big deal. We’re clearly pros at this. Well here’s the thing, moving to Costa Rica was a walk in the park compared to moving to Spain. If you want to move abroad and have an easy transition, then I suggest heading down to Costa Rica, as I said before, it is literally expat family Summer camp over there. You’ll be having margarita’s and bonfires on the beach and one big happy family, instantly.

I knew that I should not compare our move to Spain with our move to Costa Rica. they are two completely different experiences. So why has the move to Spain been so difficult, I’ll explain, but I will have to compare it to Costa Rica, because that IS the context of where I am coming from and it’s important to note the differences of moving to two very different countries.

moving-to-barcelona-apartment-search

The apartment hunt was ridiculous.

When we moved to Costa Rica we met with one friendly American realtor who showed us 9 houses in one week. We picked one and boom, three weeks later we were moving into a fully furnished house with a pool. The houses in Costa Rica are usually vacation rental homes, so they have everything you need from the spatulas to the bed sheets. We brought in our eight suitcases, unpacked and we were settled in our new home having cocktails by the pool by 3:00pm.

In Spain the realtors only show you their listings and you need to call all of them separately to be shown the apartments. We met 9 realtors and looked at 22 apartments and this took almost a month! We looked at both furnished and non-furnished apartments. We also did this apartment hunt in August, which was grueling because the entire country is on holiday and it was also painfully hot to be pounding the pavement.

I was not digging many of the furnished apartments. This time I wanted an unfurnished apartment and here is why: for the last three years we have been using other people’s stuff, and some of it not the greatest or most comfortable. Which is fine, but I felt like in order for Barcelona to feel like home, I’d like my own stuff again. I’d like my own comfortable pillow and bed sheets no one else has slept on. I also thought it would be fun to shop for some of these things and McKenna was also excited to decorate her new room!

Fast forward to furnishing an entire house from scratch in a foreign country. It is not that easy and not that fun. First of all, we have no idea how long we are staying, so buying expensive things might not be the best idea, but I also don’t want the house to look like the Ikea showroom. The big question is, the next place we move will we take all of this furniture and things with us or are we going to have to try to sell it all when we leave? (Lord help me)

Finding and deciding on furniture has become a full time job. I can’t just jump in my SUV and drive to all the stores and throw things in. This is the first time in my life I have lived without a car, so that is an adjustment as well. The delivery of quality items takes 6 -8 weeks but, um I need it yesterday. Then shopping for beds and buying ALL the bedding needed, plus all the pillows. I bought all the wrong size duvets because I got confused with the centimeters of the mattresses and had to schlep them back to the store to exchange them.

I must have made at least 30 trips to Zara Home, because I can’t seem to make a decision on what color to go with for our bedroom and I can only carry so much shit back to the apartment. I am sure the women working there think I’ve lost my mind, but really I think I am suffering from decision fatigue.

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Buying all the kitchen stuff was actually fun, I filled up two carts at El Corte Ingles (imagine if Target and Nordstrom had a baby – that is El Corte Ingles ladies and it is incredible!) I felt like I was a new bride picking out all her beautiful things for her wedding registry, except no one was gifting me my fancy blue toaster or my cute blue and white serving bowls, I had to pay for it all myself.

I did no shopping in Costa Rica for three years, so I feel a bit out of practice and it’s all starting to just get annoying. I just want it to be over. I want our house to be a home so we can move on and start enjoying Barcelona instead of hunting down chairs and rugs.

Our dryer was beeping at me for a week and would not dry the clothes. I had no idea that there is a large container on the side that fills up with water that you have to dump! The delivery man that installed our washer and dryer  told me something about emptying this, but I thought he said every 6 months! Clearly he must have said 6 washes.

Apparently my Spanish is not as good as I thought it was and there is a much bigger language barrier here than in Costa Rica. Which is why I am back at Spanish class twice a week.

I am on my third dining room table. This is a bit embarrassing, but not completely all my fault. The first one we ordered a custom size and they made the wrong size, and the style did not go with the house at all so he let me swap it out for a coffee table. The second table was suppose to be wood, but literally felt like plastic. The third one was finally delivered today and whether I love it or not, it’s staying. (I do like it)

I realize this turned into a rant about furnishing my beautiful Barcelona apartment (oh poor me) and these are clearly FIRST WORLD problems, but I want to start sharing some of these things with people because it’s important to know that moving abroad is not “Rosé all day!” I also think I need to start writing again, for my own sanity, getting out what is in my head could probably help me with this transition.

And hey, if I can help anyone with their dream of moving abroad by either warning or advising, then at least I’ve been helpful, but careful I might make you re-think it! There are obviously more reasons why this move has been more difficult than just finding and furnishing the apartment, but this post has been long enough!

I’ll dive into some other adjustments next time…but right now I have to go return some rugs. For real.

Moving to Spain, it’s not Rosé all day!
Barcelona September 7, 2016 posted by

Mar Bella Skate Park in Barcelona

Mar Bella Skate Park

The first things we bought the kids when we moved to Barcelona were new penny skateboards. They were such a huge hit last summer when we visited that we knew we had to get new ones. It was an easy investment at only 20 Euros each.

Mckenna also got a Micro Kickboard scooter, which she likes much better than the penny skateboard, because she has more control of it. The penny skateboard makes her nervous being so close to people on the city streets and crossing crowded intersection. City kids all over the world have scooters and now I can totally understand why. We do SO much walking in Barcelona. This is an easy way for the kids to have fun while getting to where we are going, and there is a lot less complaining!

Hudson has been begging me to find a skate park, so after a quick Google search I found the Mar Bella Skate Park. The Mar Bella Skate Park is a little further out of the city center, but a short train ride and it’s right by the ocean. There is plenty of green grass and some shade right next to the skate park, so it’s easy to watch the kids while relaxing or reading a book. There were actually more kids and adults riding scooters and doing tricks than skateboards both times we visited the skate park, which surprised me. You do have to watch out for some of the more advanced kids and adults,  but it never got too crowded.  Even McKenna could go down into the bowls with her scooter and not feel like she was in the way.

Quick Travel Tips

If you plan to go, I suggest stopping at one of the small markets and picking up some snacks and water before you get to the skate park. There isn’t really anything close to the park; you have to go down to the beach to one of the restaurants if you want to buy anything to eat or drink. There is also a McDonald’s not to far away. My kids were dying for some McD’s so we indulged and went there after as a special treat.

We thought maybe we could skate to the park from Barceloneta, but it turned out to be a little too far, so I suggest just taking the metro.You will want to take the L4 yellow line to POBLE NOU. Get out and follow the pack of people heading towards the beach.

The best part about taking the metro is walking from the Poble Nou station to the the skate park.
You  and your kids will skate past all of this incredible street art…

Skate Park Barcelona Mar Bella Wanderlust Living

Street Art Barcelona Mar BellaSkate Park Poble Nou Metro

Street Art Mar Bella Skate Park Wanderlust Living McKenna
Shark Street Art barcelona Skate Park Wanderlust Living
Mar Bella Skate Park Street Art Barcelona
Skate Park Street Art Barcelona Hudson Wanderlust Living

Mar Bella Skate Park in Barcelona
Barcelona August 30, 2016 posted by

We found the best brunch in Barcelona!

As an American, we are told breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so naturally I’m always looking for a good place to grab a healthy breakfast to start my day. However, since moving to Barcelona I’ve quickly realized they don’t do breakfast, they do brunch in Barcelona and oh do they do brunch WELL.

This summer brunch has been a real family affair, but McKenna has really been my brunch partner in crime. I’ve enjoyed our one-on-one time devouring the perfect brunch plates, and the fun we have stopping to snap pictures before we dig in. I’m going to miss our brunch dates when she heads to school next week, but that just means I’ll have to save some of the our research for the weekends.

Here are six places for the best brunch in Barcelona (so far). There are plenty more places to explore,  so this will not be my only post on brunch in Barcelona, trust me.

Brunch in Barcelona

PICNIC Brunch Barcelona Pancakes Wanderlust Living
PICNIC

Picnic is located right near the Arc de Tromf on the very edge of El Born, which makes this a great stop if you are near the arch, Parc de la Ciutadella or are heading to the Barcelona Zoo with the kids. They have a fabulous eggs Benedict as well as these delicious pancakes that our kids begged us to go back for. It’s actually all in the peanut butter sauce that comes with the pancakes, so make sure you ask for this specifically because sometimes they just give you regular syrup. We simply asked for “mantequilla de mani” and they understood what we wanted. Yum!

Picnic Barcelona

 

Hammock Juice Bar Barcelona Wandellust Living

HAMMOCK

Well you really cannot pass by Hammock without tilting your head to the side to say “Are those hammocks hanging in there?” Yup.  This vegan juice bar caught my eye not just because of the hammocks but because it’s NOT a Panderia or bakery with carbs and sugar.  I have been looking for a restaurant with an acai bowl, and well, they have one and it’s BEAUTIFUL. They also have a nice avocado on toast that McKenna inhaled before I could even snap a photo. Take the kids for smoothies and stay and swing awhile!

Hammock Juice Station

 

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FIREBUG

HELLO stylish little brunch and bistro! This lovely place is right on Passeig Sant Joan and it’s fantastic! After landing in Barcelona, I started to crave eggs and a “real breakfast.” I found Firebug and it was as if the gates of brunch heaven opened wide! Their Mediterranean Avocado Toast was devine. They have an upstairs dining room that is chic and comfortable, and plenty of room for larger parties too!

Firebug Barcelona

 

Sally Sucra barcelona Brunch Strawberry Pancakes Wanderlust Living
SALLY SUCRA

This little gem of a place might be my new favorite spot! Not only does it serve some yummy brunch treats but it has a cool area upstairs to chill and relax in. McKenna and I went all in for a strawberry brunch last week and boy were we impressed. The strawberry sauce and ice cream on the waffles was pure perfection. More of a dessert obviously, but WOW. They also have eggs and bacon so you can get some protein here too.

Sally Sucra

 

Mamas Cafe Gracia Barcelona

MAMA”S CAFE

Not only have I been trying to find eggs for breakfast in Barcelona but some GREENS too. I not only found eggs but some beautiful asparagus at Mama’s Cafe in Grácia. The narrow streets of Grácia are filled with quaint little cafes and shops, you can easily get lost wondering around for hours. I happened upon Mama’s Cafe while just looking on my Google map, and the photos looked good so we decided to check it out. Mama’s Cafe looks like a very small restaurant from the street but has a nice garden patio in the back with more seating, so be sure to inquire if it looks packed in the front.

Mama’s Cafe

 

Epicerie Barcelona Brunch

EPICERIE

McKenna and I stumbled upon this little corner cafe on accident. It just magically appeared moments after I said “Let’s find a place for coffee and a little bite to eat.” This is a beautifully decorated modern cafe with large comfy blue chairs. I loved the vibe in here and what I loved even more was that they had just a little bit more than the typical croissants and usual offerings. They had the perfect sized avocado on toast and freshly squeezed orange juice for Mckenna, and a multigrain roll with ham and cheese with a decent fruit cup for us to share.

Epicerie Barcelona
Eating all this was a lot of work, but I do it all for you! You’re welcome.

 

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We found the best brunch in Barcelona!