Browsing Tag

europe

Adventures

Dream come true – Husky Sledding

December 29, 2017

Over Christmas we went to Germany to see our family & friends. We had a wonderful time exploring the German Christmas market, playing cards and enjoying lots of good food. One of my highlights was our dog sledding tour in the Thuringia Forest. We have met the Kraft family many years ago who established themselves as the leading dog sledding & training school in Germany. They’re the sweetest people and their dog sledding team consists now over 17 dogs (mainly huskies – but also malamute, samojede, Czech wolf dog & more). They offer dog sledding tours, musher training, dog scooter tours, hiking with dogs and even alpaca tours (yes they own a pack of alpacas as well). You and your furry friend can also stay in one of their brand new apartments for a longer vacation. Julia (daughter) is a trained animal physiotherapist focused on natural healing methods and Ralf (dad) besides leading the tours, also published several children books. Check out Huskyerlebnisse.de for more information and mention my name for a recommendation – they’re awesome!

We didn’t have any snow in the city this year, but luckily there was snow in the forest to get the dogs out. Dog sledding is a really good work out too, as I like to run and push the cart to help the dogs. They listen to “Halt” (stop), “Go” and “straight”. I LOVED every minute of the tour!

Here’s the video from my dog sledding trip this year: 

My next goal is to do a dog sledding tour in Canada – maybe even with an overnight stay in the middle of nowhere. Has anyone done it and can recommend an area and supplier? Please share! 

Travel

Hola Barcelona!

December 19, 2017

This was my first time in Barcelona and I wasn’t sure what to expect. First of all I checked the weather and it looked like similar temperatures in November as in Southern California. When we arrived it was as expected, but the next day it dropped to low 40s. Brrrrr! Maybe that was my “unintentional” reason to go shopping for a jacket. It worked! Ha! The locals told me it’s only that cold for 5 days out of the year and this must have been the week. They were not used to this either.

Getting around in Barcelona is easy. Pretty much everything is in walking distance and they also have a great subway & bus system to get around. However, we mainly used taxis and Cabify (their Uber version). One day the entire country of Spain was on taxi strike so don’t rely on it too much :-). 

My 3 favorite things about Barcelona 

#1 Architecture

I don’t have a great knowledge of architecture but the one on Barcelona fascinated me. Gaudi is the main influence and the buildings he created are really one of a kind. They’re mostly inspired by nature – maybe that’s why I felt so intrigued by them. I could look at them for hours and always find something new. Really beautiful. The most famous cathedral Sagrada Familia was designed by Gaudi and he worked on the Design alone for over 40years on it. It’s still a work in progress – for the past 131 years – as it’s so many details and towers. Hopefully I’ll still be able to see his completed work of art. Goal is by 2026! If you want to be transferred into a fairy tale – walk around Park Guell. The buildings looked to me like gingerbread houses with sugar coating on top. You also have a great view over the city of Barcelona from the park. Make sure you buy tickets in advance as they sell out quickly. 

       

#2 Food markets

The biggest food market is La Boqueria right on La Rambla. This is the most amazing and biggest food market I’ve ever been to. You’ll find everything from fresh fruit, vegetables, meat (ham), seafood, candy, nuts, etc here. I snacked on fresh mango, had a seafood dinner and a dragon fruit fruit smoothie afterwards. So delicious! Keep in mind that the market is closed on Sundays (we didn’t know and arrived that day to explore the market but it was closed :-() Another cool and more upscale place to eat is El Nacional. It’s in an historic building that resembles the 1920s and you can try different Spanish dishes with high quality ingredients. 

 

#3 Shopping

I didn’t have shopping on my mind when I came to Barcelona. I promise!! However, walking down La Rambla and Old Town you just can’t resist checking out the many cute boutiques and Spanish brands like Massimo Dutti, Desigual and of course Zara and Mango.  My favorite was exploring the narrow alleys of Old town and the Gothic Quarter and discovering many small shops, new labels and designers. You should also walk down Paseig de Gracia – which reminded me of the “Champs Elysees” with many high end luxury designer stores. This was also my favorite street to view the modernist buildings and architecture.

  

One thing to be careful about in Barcelona is pickpocketing. I never think about this stuff when I travel in the US, but going to other countries esp. Europe you have to be mindful about your backpack and where you keep your valuables. Unfortunately, a colleague of mine had her purse stolen and I read that Barcelona is rumored to be the pickpocket capital of the world. Don’t feel intimidated to travel there now, just be mindful of where you keep your money. It’s easy to get distracted with the beautiful sights around you 🙂

To turn this post back to how awesome Barcelona really is…here’s my description of an epic run you should try:

This scenic run includes lots of famous sites, views and great hill work out! We started at our hotel in the marina, running along the waterfront into the garden park and to the top up to Montjuic. Best city views! From there we continued uphill to the Olympic complex and stadium that were held here in 1992. Then we continued to run back down through beautiful Greek gardens and past the national art museum (doesn’t the statue in the front look like ET?). I can’t remember the exact distance – around 4-6 miles roundtrip?! – but who cares when you’re having fun, right? 

 

Then we went to breakfast at Federal – healthy options and yummy smoothies! I was so excited they had a chia bowl (so so good) with soy milk (wow!) and fresh squeezed orange juice. So delicious! Nice service, cozy ambience and good music (if you dig Wutang like me :-)) – no worries they switched to more pop music when the crowds came in).

 

If you’ve been to Barcelona, let me know what your favorite things to do are in the city. What other cities in Spain can you recommend to visit? I always love to hear your feedback! 

Travel

Insider Tips – Amalfi Coast, Italy

October 23, 2016
Amalfi Coast Italy

One of my favorite places in Europe is the Amalfi Coast in Italy. The reason may be that it reminds me a lot of California – Highway 1 Big Sur – with its rocky coastline, sunny weather and blue sea. But as soon as you see the LEMONS – the size of grapefruit – you know you’re not in California anymore.

The closest airport to the Amalfi Coast is in Naples (about 1hr 30min by car), and the drive there is one of the world’s most picturesque drives in the world. The landscape and coast are so fascinating that they are even protected by Unesco. It’s not only a beautiful, but also very thrilling sightseeing road and can be intimidating for some drivers. Think Italian Vespa’s and local SITA bus speeding past you at hairpin turns along cliffs high above the sea. Many locals will suggest going by public transportation. I disagree – the best part of going to the Amalfi coast is driving yourself….or ermm…having your husband drive 🙂  So, don’t listen to the online reviews and go rent a car or motorcycle (even better) and take advantage of the endless photo opportunities along the way.

italy29

Continue Reading…