A foodie is someone who had a particular interest in food, specifically in trying a variety of cuisines. I am a foodie.
Sometimes, Dave and I plan out restaurants when we’re traveling. We knew months ahead of time that we would be eating at Nuria in Madrid.
Usually this planning goes well. Other times, we search for a while, looking at menu after menu for something interesting, but when we find it, it disappoints us.
Still, I can say that in our 19 days of traveling, we’ve only had 1 or maybe 2 disappointing meals. Those are pretty good stats!
On our way to Krakow yesterday afternoon, we had our biggest surprise yet. We figured we’d be settling for a diner or fast food, but we were pretty hungry and ready to settle for anything. We rolled into Kielce, and drove to the only restaurant we saw listed.
We were surprised by a few things. First, the place looked pretty high end, but the prices were significantly lower than we’d seen in Warsaw. Secondly, this was not a diner stop. It was an incredible restaurant experience… And we just happened to stumble upon it, simply because it was a quick drive off the main highway.
The food was unreal. I had mushroom stuffed ravioli on a bed of pumpkin and coconut milk. Dave had beef cheek with polish gnocchi and beets. The whole meal was fabulous.
It isn’t often we get that good of a meal while we’re on the road!
Today was our first day in Krakow! I’ll be back soon with more on that!
If you know me at all, you know how important music is to me. When I learned that everyone in the world doesn’t constantly have a song in their head… And that this was just a “Marie” thing…. I was completed flabbergasted. What do you mean everyone else isn’t always thinking of music!?
Throughout my life, many different artists have influenced me, awed me and most importantly, gotten me through difficult times. I’ve always counted on music as a source of comfort and positivity.
One of the bands that has been with me through it all has been Blue October. When I was a teenager, they were moody, emotional and full of angst. Now, they write about life with their families and how great life can be if you make the right choices. I connect with these guys. A lot.
When Dave told me that Blue October was playing in Europe while we were going to be there, I shrugged it off, thinking the dates wouldn’t work or it would be to expensive. But I forgot one thing: I married the most amazing human being on the planet. He isn’t much of a Blue October fan himself, but he made it happen.
Now this is where our travels enters this post ….
The concert was better than I could have imagined. The band was incredible; that was no surprise…. But their Polish fans were amazing!!! It was like being at a concert with 500 people who “get” my love for this relatively unknown band!!!
They sang along with every song. They jumped and danced and screamed with me. I was so worried that the concert would be too small and they’d end up canceling that stop… But Warsaw was an awesome crowd! Justin Furstenfeld mentioned several times that he was blown away by the passion and excitement in our tiny audience.
I managed to make it through the night without full out bursting into tears, but it was tough. Blue October has been like a friend to me through thick and thin. “I hope you’re Happy” has cheered me up after many bad days. “Sway” perfectly incapsulates what it feels to be so in love with someone that you just can’t wait for all the moments you get to spend with them. “I want it” is about always wanting better…. Wanting more.
I love Warsaw and it will always stand out in my mind as a city that has great taste in music, incredible passion and an epic music scene!
Living in China can be tough for a coffee lover. Our best option as far as price and size goes is, sadly, Starbucks. Most coffee shops in China make watered down, tiny cups of something that resembles coffee but doesn’t quite hit the mark.
In Europe, however, we’ve been spoiled for choice. We’ve had to change the way we drink coffee, of course. In Canada, I’d order myself a 20oz Large Double Double at McDonald’s twice a day. If they had a bigger size, I would probably order it!
In Europe, they don’t do drip coffee. They mostly do espresso, cappuccinos and cafe con leche. And their cups are small. But delicious.
Price is also a factor in China. Starbucks is double the price in China as it is in Canada, but it’s STILL better value than any of the local chains! You can get a Venti (20oz) drip coffee for $5 Canadian at Starbucks, but anywhere else, you pay $7 for 12oz. It’s crazy.
In Europe, we’ve been enjoying our €1.50 coffees a couple of times a day and we’ve been loving it. Today we found a coffee shop in Warsaw that specialized in coffee from all around the world. For about $3.50, I enjoyed a perfect cup of Guatamalan coffee in a cozy atmosphere.
I’m done rambling about coffee now.
For those of you who don’t know why we’re in Poland, my favourite band, Blue October, is playing here in Warsaw tomorrow night!!!! We added Poland to our spring festival itinerary, just so I could meet the band and see them perform live!
I’m guessing tomorrow’s post might be about that….
Although Dave would probably disagree with me, I consider markets to be a must-see whenever we travel. Our last night in Barcelona was spent on the tourist Street “La Rambla”, where we discovered one of these buzzing tourist hot spots.
The reason I like markets so much is not because I enjoy shopping. It’s more because I like seeing what different countries offer in their markets. While you’ll find wooden carvings of elephants in Thailand, you’ll find knotted bracelets in Indonesia. Even from city to city, you see differences. Luang Prabang, for example, is famous for its giant slippers!
In Spain, it was no surprise to see smoked meat, spices and olive oil for sale in the markets.
Of course, there were some surprises too. We didn’t think Spain was known for its candies but they were for sale everywhere in the market. I imagine locals also visit and stock up on their favourite sweets.
There were also a kiosk or two that really surprised me (and I don’t find many things surprising after living in China for nearly 6 years).
I can never stay in these markets for long because they tend to be pretty crowded, but they’re usually an interesting and quick stop.
Compared to Asian markets, this one was downright empty!!!!
Not every day can be exciting. It took two weeks, the forces of nature and shopping bylaws to slow us down, but we finally did. We finally took a chill day on our holiday.
The drive from Montpellier to Barcelona is pretty long so we decided to split it up with a stopover in the small French town of Perpignan. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that everything is closed on Sundays in this sleepy French town, so we got there and had nothing to do!!
Ok, it wasn’t that bad… But the wind WAS crazy yesterday, and with most businesses closed for Sunday, everyone was staying inside. So, we spent the day napping and catching up on the news as well. It was probably a good idea. We’ve been running on all cylinders since we arrived in Europe.
We did drive around a bit in the evening to find some food. We ended up settling for some fast food (a truely lazy day!), and on our drive we saw the effects of the crazy strong winds that ripped through the region all day.
So that’s all I really have to say about day 14. Day 15 was much more exciting, so stay tuned for my post tomorrow!!
Yesterday started out as a bummer of a day. We had missed our tour to the vineyards, and we didn’t really have anything else planned, so we headed to an aquarium instead.
Just outside the aquarium, there is a huge shopping complex, so Dave and I head in to find some laundry soap and other supplies we needed. Just before we got to the grocery store, I spotted some sweaters I liked, so I sent Dave in to get the groceries and I popped into the shop.
It turned out the clothes were all very overpriced, so I went to join Dave. That’s when they started shutting the gates. I was trapped in the mall, and Dave was trapped in a store…. In a country where he doesn’t speak the language.
At first, I figured a child might be missing, but when I asked, I was told that the Gilets Jaunes protesters were going to be coming through. We were all being asked to get out of the store through a back door.
The protests have been going on for months. You can read more about it here, but the short version is that people in France are angry with their government for quite a few reasons. Mostly, the government has been lowering taxes for the rich, and bringing them up for the poor. A recipe for discontent.
It turned out the protestors organized a march in Montpellier on the very day we were in the city. Dave and I found ourselves separated and without any mode of communication (our Spanish sims didn’t work in France).
I explained to the staff at Geant that my anglophone husband was in the store, so they let me stay there and wait for him to come out. People were allowed leaving the store … Just not allowed going in.
It turns out Dave didn’t even know anything happening because all the announcements had been in French. He came up to the cash registers to pay, laundry detergent and a bag of ice in hand, with no idea that I’d been waiting anxiously for him for 10 minutes while protesters marched by!
Things luckily didn’t escalate at this particular protest, but many others have ended in riots. At the shopping center, a few people set off some fireworks, which definitely scared me, but were completely harmless. In other areas of the countries, fires were set, businesses were vandalized and tear gas was unleashed on rioters. It’s no wonder the mall closed up and everyone moved behind the safety of gates.
So that was our experience with the Gilets Jaunes. Long story short: basically nothing happened, but I worried anyway. In fairness, this could have escalated in a big way. You can watch a compilation of a protest that did not end so peacefully in Montpellier just 2 weeks ago here.