Tapas Tapas and More Tapas!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Tapas in Barcelona

So, apparently I love tapas. I have always loved trying all kinds of food and what could possibly be better than ordering a bunch of tiny meals!? After loads of walking and sight seeing there is nothing better than plopping down at a bar and ordering a glass of cava (like a sweet champagne) and several types of tapas to share.

The Tapas

Tapa from the chain TapaTapa - mini hamburgers and a vegetable pie

Check out the menu!

Chicken Croquettes and Peppers Padron

Patatas Bravas - potatoes with a spicy sauce

Assorted croquettes

Potatoes cooked with green beans

Eggs with Iberico ham over potatoes and peppers padron - so good!

The Drinks

Of course I'll have some sangria!

Cava, a sweet champagne, and my favorite

Do you like tapas? What is your favorite dish?

Today I'm linking up with Nicole for #TreatYoSelfThursday! I certainly treated myself during this Barcelona trip...

I'm also linking up with A Dose of Paige for Weekend Reads. Happy reading!

Barcelona, Spain Post 1

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

For the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some travel adventures and tips from my recent trip to Barcelona and Tarragona Spain (February 15 - 21, 2014). Barcelona is situated in Spain along the Mediterranean Sea and is the second largest city in the country. Barcelona is the capital of the Catalan ethnic group in Spain whose origins were Catalonia, which is now (mostly) northern Spain. Around Barcelona (and Tarragona) you’ll hear a mixture of Spanish and Catalan and menus will be bi- or tri- lingual (Spanish, Catalan, and English).

I’ll begin with an architecture tour of Barcelona with a focus on the famous architect Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi was a Spanish Catalan architect who lived from 1852 - 1926. I’m certainly no architectural genius, but from what I could see Gaudi’s architectural style was intricate and inspired by nature. Once you see one of his works in Barcelona you can certainly tell if you are looking at one of his other designs because his style is distinctive.

La Sagrada Familia

Perhaps Gaudi's most famous building is the Sagrada Familia church. Construction began on this church in 1882 and is still under construction (over 100 years of construction…that is just crazy). If you want to take a tour of the Sagrada Familia I'd suggest booking tickets online. For more blog reading on tours see this great blog post by Casey from We took the Road Less Traveled here.

Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia - still under construction...

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
La Sagrada Familia

Details of Sagrada Familia
Look at those details!

La Sagrada Familia under construction
La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

Walking away from La Sagrada Familia
Walking away from Sagrada Familia to Park Guell

Park Guell

Because we (my partner in crime and I) were doing Barcelona a bit on the cheap we decided to not pay to go into any of Gaudi's buildings or into Park Guell. The upper part of Park Guell is free though and allowed for excellent views of the city. This is definitely a must-see even if you pay to get into the lower part of the park. To buy tickets or learn more visit here.

Park Guell
The entrance to the lower part of Park Guell

Park Guell in Barcelona
Park Guell - even in bloom in February

Park Guell
Park Guell

View from the upper portion of park guell
Park Guell - do you see Sagrada Familia in the background?

view from the top of park guell
View from the top part of Park Guell

The details

Casa Mila and Batllo

Casa Mila "La Pedrera" was completely encased in construction materials so I have no pictures - sorry!

Casa Batllo is Gaudi's take on remodeling an already standing building. The roof kind of reminds me of a scaly creature and was beautiful from the outside! Now Casa Batllo is a museum with tours and unguided visits.

Casa Batllo

Palau Guell

Palau Guell (Guell Palace) is off of La Rambla, the main tourist road, and it is also possible to pay to enter. Guell Palace is a mansion that was designed by Gaudi for Eusebi Guell. 

Palau Guell - Guell Palace

Palau Guell

For more about Barcelona check back on Friday.

Today I'm linking up with Bonnie Rose for #traveltuesday! Enjoy the hop!

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Literatu Gatve, Vilnius, LT

Monday, February 24, 2014


Literatu G. is one of the best streets to explore among the winding streets of Vilnius Old Town because it holds a permanent outdoor gallery with works from local artists. The permanent installment has over 100 pieces and is dedicated to authors (mostly Lithuanian).

Senamiescio Krautuve

Literatu G. also is the home to one of my favorite shops in Vilnius, Senamiescio Krautuve. Senamiescio Krautuve has local locally made/grown foods and specialty cakes. It is a perfect place to pick up some honey or teas to take with you as a souvenir. I've also talked about it here.

Coffee Tasting at Crooked Nose and Coffee Stories

Friday, February 21, 2014

Photo by Jeremy Ellis

After several weeks of cold weather and stressful events I decided I needed to get out of the house, even if it was to only try a new coffee shop. Amidst my internet searches I found Crooked Nose and Coffee Stories coffee shop and they happened to have a coffee tasting that very weekend.

Oh my gosh, this was probably the most fun thing I've done while living in Vilnius yet (is my nerdiness showing?!). First of all, I love coffee and I'm a botanist- so my two favorite things combined- YES! The host of the coffee tasting at Crooked Nose and Coffee Stories was clearly educated in all things coffee. He began by giving a bilingual (English and Lithuanian) introduction on the history of coffee domestication, trade, and flavors. On a table he had five coffees (whole roasted beans and ground beans) from all over the world (Indonesia, Columbia, Mexico, Ethiopia, and Kenya). We smelled the whole roasted beans, ground beans, and then sampled the coffee. After the tasting we were also invited to taste Brazilian coffee and cold brewed coffee.

Crooked Nose and Coffee Stories also sells coffee blends (for 20 LTL) and cold brewed coffee. I purchased a coffee blend with added Sichuan peppers (yum!). The owner also hosts coffee open-houses with special visitors (e.g., macaroon bakers).

FYI Crooked Nose is a bit hard to find, as it is in an apartment courtyard. When entering the courtyard at Pylimo 22C take a right and walk all the way to the end of the courtyard. You will see a small sign and smell coffee!

Photo by Jeremy Ellis

The line-up  Photo by Jeremy Ellis

Me checking out the coffees pre-tasting  Photo by Jeremy Ellis

Gorgeous taste wheel   Photo by Jeremy Ellis

Setting the mood for the tasting   Photo by Jeremy Ellis

It looks like a chemistry lab in there   Photo by Jeremy Ellis

The host and his assistant- they are both so awesome!    Photo by Jeremy Ellis

Preparing the coffee   Photo by Jeremy Ellis

Which is my favorite?    Photo by Jeremy Ellis

Cold brewed coffee   Photo by Jeremy Ellis

The set-up    Photo by Jeremy Ellis

The story

The Sichuan Pepper blend is the best coffee I've ever had!

For more information and the schedule visit the Crooked Nose and Coffee Stories website.

For more information about Jeremy Ellis Photography visit his webpage.

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Today I'm linking up with Nicole for #treatyoselfthursday. Enjoy some weekend reading!

Packing- How to pack for spring travel

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How to pack a carry-on bag for a week-long trip

I'm packing very light (as usual) for my trip to Barcelona, Spain. The weather in Barcelona at this time of year is forecasted to be warm during the day and chilly in the evening. To keep my packing light I'm planning on layering. Included in my carry-on suitcase are  the following items:
  • 1 pair of jeans, which I'll wear on the plane
  • 1 casual skirt
  • 1 pair of thick tights
  • 2 light sweaters - 1 I'll wear on the plane
  • 1 short sleeve shirt
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • 1 long sleeve nice shirt
  • leather jacket, which I'll also wear on the plane
  • bathing suit (wishful thinking!)
  • 1 scarf- I'll wear this on the plane
  • jewelry
  • toiletries (sample minis, band-aids, makeup, etc.)
  • 1 pair flats
  • 1 pair boots - I'll wear these on the plane

For a colder day I'll pair together the jeans with the boots and I'll layer a sweater over a t-shirt and over top wear my leather jacket and scarf. For warmer days I've got the skirt that I can wear with or without tights and with the lighter shirts.

Everything laid out prior to packing

A few accessories

Technology must-haves

The clothes

Some sample sized products to bring along

Clothes to wear on the plane

Today I'm linking up with Bonnie Rose and her co-hosts for #traveltuesday! Enjoy the reading!