We’re back!

16 Jun

Whew! After some exhausting travel delays, cancellations, and a series of lost luggage adventures we have finally settled back into our normal routine (albeit a little jet lagged). We had such an extraordinary time while abroad but are so happy to come home!

Here is a recap of our trip:


If you asked Alex to describe our stay in Barcelona in one sentence, he would most likely say “the weather was perfect”. And it really was! While it wasn’t quite hot enough to take a dip in the Mediterranean ocean, it was ideal for 15 mile hikes and late night strolls along the beach. Here is the view of the beach from our hotel room! So beautiful.


Spaniards are known for their variety of cured meats, especially the Serrano and Iberico Ham. We ate SO many cured meat sandwiches on baguette while we were there, but we were especially intrigued by these snack cups. How cool!


This is a snapshot of the famous Sagrada Familia, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. The construction of this Roman Catholic church (not a cathedral since its not the seat of a bishop) began in 1882 and Gaudi devoted the last years of his life to this project. When he died in 1926, only a quarter of the entire project was finished. The construction of the church was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War and resumed progress again in the 1950’s. In 2010, the project finally hit the halfway mark, but there is still a long way to go!


Another popular Gaudi tourist attraction is Parc Guell (no, I did not spell that wrong). Gaudi built this garden complex on the hill of El Carmel from 1900-1914, and the grounds are still impressive. But the most beautiful aspect of the park is the stunning view of the city.


Walking the streets of Barcelona was never boring. There were tons of little tapas restaurants, bars and bakeries to indulge in….and trust me, we did!


The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, or more commonly referred to simply as La Boqueria, was built at the site of Sant Josep convent. The convent was destroyed by a fire in 1835 and was then converted to the current market that stands today. The market is filled with independently managed stalls selling a variety of food and produce, like these farm fresh eggs.


The market is also littered with dozens of cured meat stands. We wish we would’ve brought some back home with us but we didn’t want to run the risk of getting our goods stolen by U.S. customs!


All of this fresh produce is a culinary dream!


But the best part about La Boqueria is the prepared foods. There were lots of authentic tapas bars so visitors can eat typical Spanish and Catalan snacks. Alex and I had such a hard time deciding what to eat while we were there!


Some traditional Spanish tapas include an omelet with potatoes, patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy sauce) and grilled chorizo. I still have dreams about how delicious the chorizo was.


As almost all of you know by now, I am mildly obsessed with the television show The Chew. One of the co-hosts of the show is Daphne Oz who, coincidently, also spent her honeymoon in Barcelona! I tweeted her to ask for a good restaurant recommendation and she suggested Paco Meralgo. The food here was amazing. We had pan con tomate (which quickly became our favorite food), bomba (a type of fried meatball), fried poblano peppers with flake salt, tuna carpaccio, fried lamb chops and grilled prawns (not pictured).


To end the Spanish portion of this recap is an image of my ALL TIME FAVORITE meal in Barcelona. I had the most amazing seafood parrillada at La Boqueria. The seafood was very simply grilled in olive oil, garnished with a spicy parsley sauce and topped with a pinch of flake salt. My mouth is watering just thinking about this meal. What have I learned in Spain? Flake salt makes a world of a difference in a dish and is the key ingredient that makes an entrée truly delicious.


Next stop Cologne, Germany. My mother-in-law has a good friend in Cologne who very graciously let us stay at his house for a few days. They were amazing hosts and provided us with great food, wine and company. Every morning, we would wake up to this hearty German breakfast of meats, cheese, fresh bread (bought that morning), and homemade jam.20130615-194333.jpg

The Cologne Cathedral was built in 1248 and it is currently the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne. During World War II, the cathedral was hit by seventy aerial bombs but did not collapse! It remained standing despite all of the destruction that surrounded it. We were told that it was able to withstand the pressure from the bombs because all of the windows had been removed, which allowed the pressure to circumvent through the building.


After our tour of the city, we stopped at a local brewery for some lunch. Alex had a dish called Heaven and Earth which consisted of mashed potatoes, fried blood sausage and applesauce. The best part about a Germany brewery is that they keeping bringing you beer until you tell them to stop, they just assume that you want to continue drinking!


Finding wi-fi in Europe became a little adventure during our trip.  Alex and I would purposefully stop at a restaurant for a beer or a coffee just to use free wi-fi.  I mean, how else was I going to update my twitter account? During one of our many quests to find free wi-fi, we stopped for a beer and a “light” snack. This Wienerschnitzel was so delicious. I’m going to have to try and recreate this meal.


Like the hardcore travelers we are, we took a train to Berlin. The four-hour ride was…boring… but at least I got some good reading done.


Our greatest triumph in Berlin was finding Rogacki delicatessen. It was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations and he named it the best meal he had in Germany. #Winning.


This massive store was a Germany version of New York City’s Eataly. It was a grocery store and restaurant in one, so you can buy fresh seafood as well as have it prepared for you. Alex and I had fried fish and potato salad (not pictured because we ate it so fast).


We were so tempted to indulge in some of the smoked fish but just had a hard time deciding which one to pick!  Other stations in the store sold deli meat, seafood, poultry, beef, bread and cheese.  It was truly amazing.


Berlin is known for its Currywurst and we wanted to be sure to get our fill. We stopped at Curry 36 almost everyday, trying something new each time.  The only problem was that we didn’t know how to order! Alex would often just go up to the counter and say “I’ll have what he had”.  Hey, it worked!


A trip to Berlin would not be complete without a visit to the wall. This is a portion of the wall in its original form.


Other portions of the wall are newly adorned with paintings done by various artists around the world.


The Brandenburg Gate is an iconic landmark in Germany. Commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia as a sign of peace, its design was inspired by the Acropolis in Athens. During the Revolutions of 1989, the gate was a symbol of freedom and the desire to unify the city.  My uncle, who witnessed the revolutions, said that the most memorable moment in his life was when he climbed the Wall and stood under the gate for the first time.


My most memorable meal in Berlin? Pho Soup. Berlin is surprisingly diverse, which lends itself to a phenomenal variety of cuisines. Our first meal in Berlin was Vietnamese, the second was Indian and the third was Japanese. It’s amazing how much of a melting pot this city truly is.


But I do have to pay homage to this Turkish pizza which came in as a very very close second.  There was an amazing amount of Turkish food in Berlin, we were told that Berlin has the second largest population of Turks outside of Turkey (fun fact).


One Response to “We’re back!”

  1. Noel Dunsky August 2, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    I really liked this post as it reminds me of my beloved Germany and Berlin…:)

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