Mama Travels: Barcelona

August 26, 2015

This is my second time visiting, so I wasn’t overly ambitious about covering a lot of ground with this city. I visited the famous Sagrada Familia, the Casa Batilo, the Cathedral, and the Pedrera on my first trip five years ago. But this time around I wanted to dig a little deeper and see nooks of Barcelona that I didn’t get to see or experience when I visited the first time.

I stumbled onto this amazing photo of a maze. Parc del Laberint d’Horta is located about twenty-five minutes from the Ramblas, where I was staying. I hopped on the train and headed out with excitement. I love finding places like this. The park was straight out of a fairy tale. It really is a maze – I got totally lost and panicked a little when I had to get out. The sun was beaming down and it even got hard to breathe. It was time to leave and get inside, back into the air conditioning.

My hotel was located right next to a mercado. Foodie’s heaven. Chorizo, salami, crochets, and fruit juices individually sold for three euro or less. After stuffing my face and stopping at every stall, I headed to the Joan Miró foundation.

The foundation is home to Joan Miro and some local Spanish artists. The best thing about the foundation is the view of the city behind Joan Miro’s sculptures. After the foundation I gathered all my energy to walk down to the lookout point. After that I needed a siesta!

After a refreshing nap, it was time to get ready and explore some salsa clubs. I took lessons years ago, but my traveling partner Sandra is a pro. We ordered the most delicious mojitos and hit the dance floor. It was balmy night and so it got super hot in the dance club. I was hoping to meet an amazing dancer who can make me look like a pro without effort or skill on my part, but that didn’t really happen. It happened to me once in Argentina. I didn’t do anything and I was like the queen of salsa. If your partner is a good dancer, you look good.

When it got too hot, we went outside and walked for a while. I was getting hungry and that local kebab stand looked so good. We inhaled our kebabs and headed to our hotel. We did check out W Barcelona, but it was so bad I don’t even want to talk about it. Please avoid W.

My feet were sore from walking on cobblestone streets all day but with my belly full and so many great memories from just few days in Barcelona, I went to sleep smiling.

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Mama Travels: Martha’s Vineyard

August 24, 2015

This year, my son and I were invited to stay with my friend for a few days at her house in Martha’s Vineyard. My son is a typical city kid whose stomach churns at the mention of a road trip but he does do well on planes. I took advantage of the direct flights out of JFK to MV during the summer months and decided to fly this city kid to Martha’s Vineyard. The flight was 35 minutes! It took us longer to get to JFK than the actual flight time.

Martha’s Vineyard is the perfect place for kids to spend their summer. It’s wayyyyy better than the Hamptons. The entire island is filled with amazing beaches, ponds, nature and incredible food without the New York attitudes. This is where the Obamas vacation!

My friend’s house is located in the town of Chilmark. How fitting because Martha’s Vineyard is super chill. When we pulled up to my friend’s house and saw her blue grey shingled house with hydrangeas all around, I screamed with excitement. I definitely scared the kids in the back seat of the car. The house is 200 feet away from the ocean beach on the south and is across the street from the pond on the north where you can paddle board or boat. There’s a pool at the house and an amazing kitchen where you want to cook every meal. And the view to die for. It’s the perfect summer getaway house. I loved walking up to the sound of the ocean and looking at a panoramic view of just nature.

We spent a lot of time at the beach in the town of Menemsha. The kids caught crabs and played with conchs, moon-jellies, clams and all sorts of other sea creatures. We ate lobster rolls from Larsen’s Fish Market and fried clams from the Bite and chased it down with lemonades.  The kids ate homemade ice cream from the Galley and the mamas drank rosé on the beach as the sun set and the sky changed to pastels. It felt so good to slow time down for a little while.

One night, the mamas got a sitter and went to the Beach Plum restaurant where they let their chickens roam and have the cutest alpacas on their farm. Everything tasted farm fresh and is also all locally sourced. We ordered their pot of pickles, honeysuckle oysters, fluke crudo, shishito peppers in a sauce made from Grey Barn blue cheese, razor clams, striped bass and a pork chop but the donuts . . . my mouth still waters at the thought of those.

For lunch, I had the best gazpacho from the Chilmark General store. I also took surfing lessons with my friend’s 5 year old daughter Sophia at Squibnocket Beach where she schooled me and took all the waves.

My son attended the local community camp where he kayaked, played soccer and ping pong and hung out with my friend’s son and his buddy Michael. But when I asked him what he did all day, of course he said “Nothing!”. And there was a lot of Uno playing back at home.

On the last day, we took the kids on a pirate ship ride in Oak Bluffs where kids dressed up as pirates, studied a treasure map, shot water out of canons at the “bad” pirates (imagine being the bad pirate as your summer job) and found treasure. I thought my son would think it was contrived but later he said it was the highlight of his trip.

Life is about experiences and collecting memories. I am so glad I was able to do that for my son and myself. And thanks to my friend in MV for such an amazing time!

 

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Mama Travels: Ibiza

August 21, 2015

I have to be honest: when my friends suggested we go to Ibiza, I was the biggest skeptic. I imagined sunburned twenty-something’s dropping molly and dancing to music without any lyrics until the sunrise. I did that when I was in my twenties and I’m too old for that now. But thanks to social media, I’d been seeing pictures of Ibiza that seemed doable for this has-been party animal.

So I headed to Ibiza this August and shared a house with thirteen other adults, total “Real World” style. Sandra and I were the first to arrive in Ibiza. We rented the car and drove to the house we rented. Well, three days before we left NY, the company that booked our house went belly up and we were left choosing other houses that looked less promising in pictures than our original choice.

And when we arrived, our jaws dropped. The house was a disaster. It looked nothing like the photos. Rooster were running wild in the backyard, Kuzo was barking on the side, power lines were the best view… and we couldn’t find the ocean anywhere nearby despite being in Ibiza. After phone calls and scavenging we arrived at the second house. It was a paradise compare to the first house. Now that lodging was figured out for fourteen people, I was able to relax and start enjoying Ibiza.

We did Ibiza light. We avoided the clubs except for one night. We mostly hung out at beach clubs all day with spectacular views, food, and conversation. We got a little dancing going whenever we felt little tipsy. Most of time we arrived back at the house at around midnight, cooked dinner, and ate at 1am. Being on NY time in Ibiza paid off. After dinner, we munched on pineapples while playing spades or Citizen of Humanity until the early hours. We got up just to repeat the whole thing again.

All the beach clubs are amazing. I recommend AmentisBlue MarlinExperimental Beach, and Sunset Ashram. We explored the north side of the island and visited the local beach, Aqua Blancas. We ate enormous amount of fresh seafood including steamed fish, calamari, and anchovies, and consumed rosé and white sangrias like there was no tomorrow.

One day we rented a boat and headed to Formentera, which is one hour away by boat. The ride was a bit rocky but the beach (which you can reach only by boat) was incredible and well worth the ride. It was also one of those fancy moments in life where you get picked up and transported from a big boat to a small boat by the restaurant. Boating life is a whole other dimension of luxury that I was not familiar with. Formentera is beautiful! The aqua-colored water was to die for. The restaurant we ate at, Le Piratabus, was packed with people and is known for its delicious paella. After lunch we hopped back on the small boat to get on our big boat and sailed back to the main island.

So Ibiza wasn’t so scary after all. As long as you avoid Ibiza town where most of the MTV grind types hang out, you will enjoy it so much! I truly miss Ibiza.

Note: Rent a car. There are no cabs, especially at night. Also eat before 10 pm, as your choices are very limited after that. And the entire island has very spotty Wifi.

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