Foreign Travel? Why Pack a Dictionary When All You Really Need is a Fashion Magazine!

           My knowledge of Spanish is quite limited, and I was kind of worried that I would not be able to communicate with the locals when I travelled to Barcelona recently. I was therefore quite surprised when I taught myself all of the Spanish that I needed to know just by flipping through the fashion magazines. It wasn't necessary to comprehend all of the language, only a few key words.

• Bolso - Handbag
• Zapatos - Shoes
• Botas - Boots
• Vestido - Dress
• Pantalones - Shorts/Pants
• Camisa - Shirt
• Guantes - Gloves
• Collar - Necklace
• Pendientes - Earrings
• Gafas - Eyeglasses

           My Espana fashion mags were instrumental in guiding me to the latest and coolest European trends. All that I needed to know about looking fab in ensembles that complemented my chic Parisienne pink sneakers!

30 Dias, 30 Looks (a buen precio) - 30 days, 30 looks (at a good price)
• Moda - Fashion
• Colores - Colours
• Bolso rose - Pink handbag
• Nuevas modas - Latest fashion (that's my guess)
• Vestir los looks mas trendys (needs an accent on the a of "mas"  but it's not available on my keyboard) Wearing the latest trendy looks
 El maquillaje de las it girls - Makeup that the It girls are wearing.

           Fashion mags in hand, I head out to the shopping districts of Barcelona, confident that I will be able to communicate my shopaholic desires to the Spanish shopgirls.  All that I need to do is to point, say bolso (handbag), zapatos (shoes),  botas (boots) and vestido (dress). Sauntering out of the shops, numerous carrier bags in hand, I am in my shop till you drop glory, when I suddenly realize that I'm hungry. All this acquisition of small leather goods and stylish clothing has left me quite famished. Paella, pescado, carne, queso is all that I see on the menu...what does it mean? Is it edible? Yikes!! Really should have also devoted some energy to learning the Spanish words for food. A girl's gotta have enough stamina in order to be able to spend numerous hours running from store to store. Can't focus on the latest bargains when you're about to faint from hunger. Just to clarify...that's not the same as fainting from your next credit card bill!

            Pink sneakers on the go travel tip:
• Learn your fashion lingo from the local fashion magazines
• Learn about local food by getting a foodie magazino (yikes...bad Spanish...still learning).

           If all else fails, pour yourself a huge pitcher of sangria, put your feet up and flip through your stack of Spanish Vogue mags and dream. You're on vacation and life is good!!

           Come enjoy shopping with me... come travel with me....

When the Lights Went Out in Barcelona...

           Having just moved into our Spanish rental apartment the previous day, we were anticipating enjoying a leisurely morning drinking cafĂ© con leche and slowly easing into the day.  Brewing a pot of coffee should have been quite simple, non?  Pour water into the carafe, spoon the desired amount of coffee grounds into the filter, press the On Power button and wait for the brew to drip. Having made hundreds if not thousands of cups of java in my lifetime, I know my way around a coffee maker.  The not so perfect start to a dark, bleak and overcast day!  This was not the wide-awake jolt that I usually enjoy with my morning coffee, but a kick of an entirely different kind. The sort of kick you get when sparks start flying out of the electrical outlet, dazing you momentarily and knocking all of the power out. Yikes! Mucho grando problemo!! The refrigo stopped humming, the radio was silenced and the eggs were no longer frying. Hmmm. Not a good situation at all.  No coffee, no breakfast, no power, no shower, no lights, nothing, nada. Silence was most definitely not golden! The perfect time for a Nora mini meltdown!!!!! 

           What to do? All that I can think about is the fact that I've now created a power outage in Barcelona and I don't have enough funds available to cover the massive electrical repair bill! There go my Prada shoes and Louis Vuitton handbag emergency funds!! I panic and start calculating how many Euros the electricians would require in order to restore electrical power. Here's hoping that the exchange rate for Euros was somewhat favourable today!

           Dashing out of the apartment into the pouring rain, I try to find a phone booth in order to be able to telephone the landlord. My European cell phone was not yet hooked up with a Spanish SIM card and I was therefore cut off from the rest of the world. Clutching my coins in my hand, I run up and down the cobble stoned streets in search of a public telephone.  Yikes! Where are the phone booths? Trying to find a phone booth was equivalent to hoping to find a discounted Chanel handbag and so the search was on! 

           Rain soaked and crying hysterically, I am at the end of my rope. I can't figure out how to use the phone, the landlord is not answering his cell and I don't have the telephone number for the Barcelona electrician association. Defeated and dejected, I head back to the apartment.

           Rain cascades down upon me and I no longer care. Really should have taken an umbrella with me, as that would have been a smart idea.  I actually did have my pink umbrella tucked away at the bottom of my handbag but I was too much in a panicked state to actually remember that I had it with me. Oh well, it's only rain. Could have been worse, as it could have been a hail storm.

           I'm almost at my apartment when I notice the Indian restaurant a couple of shops away.  And look, the owner of  the restaurant is beckoning me to come in, to seek refuge from the elements and enjoy a cuppa of java. I duck into the restaurant and spill my tale of woe, bawling that I've inadvertently plunged my entire apartment complex into darkness. 

           My new friend takes control of the situation and thus restores my faith in humanity.  He telephones the landlord, gets in touch with the electricians and serves me the best java I've ever had. He has managed to do the impossible, gets me to calm down and to stop crying hysterically.  He shared his experience of also having been in similar circumstances where complete strangers have befriended him and have helped him in times of need. There is something to be said about karma and what goes around comes around. Parting ways, I presented Lal with a bottle of genuine Canadian maple syrup, as a token reminder of the distraught damsel in distress whom he valiantly helped rescue.

           The Indian Restaurant, Swagatam Bar Restaurante, on Sant Agusti 10  in Barcelona, is the place to pop by for some great food and even greater kinship. I would never have met such a wonderful person as I did on that bleak and rainy day when the lights went out in Barcelona.

           My memories of Barcelona  will forever be intertwined with the not so planned for power failure and the kindness of the owner of the Indian restaurant.

           Enjoy the kinship of new friends and come travel with me...

Les chic French pink sneakerz

           You must be wondering about those pink sneakers...where did they come from and why am I wearing them? It all started last year when I travelled to Paris in April. The weather in my neck of the woods was cold, rainy, bleak, windy and just unpleasantly unbearable. Being of hardy Canadian stock, I had packed all of the essentials....warm beret, fuzzy scarves, lots of socks, waterproof boots, raincoat, umbrella and parka. One needs to be prepared for the elements, as you never know when a freak storm will hit. It's better to be cozy and warm than rain-soaked and miserable.

           With Paris being the fashion capital of the world, I had already envisioned myself as blending right in as a tres uber cool up and coming fashionista! Wearing my chic wellingtons, enveloped in my oh-so stylish cashmere turtleneck, I was all decked out, my armour ready to be greeted by howling winds and cascading rain. Presuming the weather to be much the same as when I left my damp, dark and drizzly Canadian city on the overnight flight, I was momentarily startled when I stepped off the airplane. Fully expecting to feel a blast of cool air on my skin, all that I felt was an uncomfortable heat! Dazed, sleep-deprived and slightly hung-over from having indulged in too much vino, I fleetingly thought that perhaps I had mistakenly boarded a Caribbean-bound flight instead!

           When the sweat started to pour off my skin and the snuggly wool sweater became a burden to wear, I realized that I had a serious problem. Paris was experiencing an unusual heat wave and I had packed all of my winter clothes!! I didn’t have any shorts, tank tops, sandals, bikini or sunscreen...basically no warm weather clothes at all!  Where had I gone wrong? I kicked myself for not having taken that course back in college called “Packing101 - All you need to know when travelling anywhere anytime”.

           What to do? It was essential to cast off my socks and boots and liberate my toes from the all-engulfing heat. The thought of my footsies having to spend the next 10 days imprisoned in those boots was gross, unpleasant and unsanitary, to say the least. Hence, the search had begun....

           As much as I am a bit of a shopaholic (’s not that’s only small leather goods, shoes and handbags that I’m kind of addicted to), I could not allow myself to acquire any new summer sandals and forbid myself from adding to my already extensive footwear collection.  I was adamant that I would be extremely prudent with my purchases and wasn’t going to be lured by the beckoning call of the immensely seductive Diors and Louboutins!

           Having sensibly decided not to cave into their tempting pleas ( please purchase me now!!), I set my sights on obtaining some cheap, trendy and comfy footwear.

           Let me set you is not a hardship for me and spending time foraging for new items of any kind is absolute nirvana. So, it is quite by accident that I just happened to stumble upon les chic pink French sneakers in a cheapo discount store, which was conveniently located just across the street from my rental apartment! I was actually on a “vino tinto run”, scooting across the pavement to pick up a bottle of French red wine, when I spotted the sneakers in a window display. Wow!! Pink! Cool colour! And look, they’ve been discounted to 12 Euros!! Sold!

           Voila!! Pink sneakers on the go are born!  They are super comfy and I end up wearing them the entire time that I am in Paris. I unwittingly become somewhat of a fashion statement. All of the of the 12 to 15 year old kids were giving me the evil eye because I was wearing these awesome pink keds and so were they!! I fit right it...a 40 to 50ish or so stylish woman in tune with the current trends!!
           I knew that I needed to travel to Paris in order to embrace the next fashion trend.....come follow me with my chic Parisienne sneakers and come travel with me.....

First Blog!

           My heart is pounding, my hands are shaking, I can barely keep a steady grip on the keyboard,  as I prepare to leap into the blogging world. This is my first blog and I’m petrified...what to write about?...will the words flow easily?....will people like or dislike my travel tales? Ok. Ok. Ok. Calm down. These are only my  personal travel experiences that I’m blogging views and perspective of the places I’ve seen, cities I’ve visited and the impressions they have left upon me.  I”m not endorsing one place over another, I’m not judging anything or anyone, I’m just sharing my view of the world with you.

           I don’t claim to be a world traveller but I have seen a bit of the globe. I’ve been camping in Cape Cod, have climbed the Eiffel Tower and have walked along the Amalfi Coast, just to  name a few of the places that I’ve set my pink sneakered feet in.  Travel books litter my home and if I’m not travelling on my yearly vacation,  I’m  busy plotting and planning my upcoming it next week,  next year or whenever.  If I sometimes can’t get the time off from work or funds are scarce, leaving big budget travel out of the question, I’ll gladly immerse myself in a picturesque travel book and imagine the possibilities. See? Travel doesn’t even have to be overly costly! Just go to the library or bookstore and choose your next destination. The hard part is going to be deciding where you want to go!
            I always find that every destination offers a new and unique learning it good or bad. You somehow end up figuring out how to navigate amongst a sea of foreign customs and traditions and return home with a new appreciation of all that the world has to offer. Let the journey begin...come travel with me...