* Remember my grand plan? The one that was to bring structure to this blog? Well, turns out that I have to come to dread that structure, particularly the last bit: Story That Needs to be Told. NEEDS to be told? Talk about setting yourself up for failure.
What if I have a story that can’t live up to that? What if all I have is a few memories that are neither here nor there? It has started to feel like I always need to deliver a convocation speech when all I want is a bit of small talk sometimes.
My solution up to now has been to stop writing, to abandon posts half way through writing them, and to allow weeks to go by without posting because I can’t get every post perfectly written.
I’d like to change that. I’d like to slip into the blog equivalent of elasticized pants. I want to relax and share more even if it doesn’t conveniently fit into the structure I laid out at the beginning. We’ll all enjoy this a whole lot more, just like we enjoy Thanksgiving dinner more when we allow ourselves to pop that top button on our jeans.
Wait…you do that, right?
Let’s talk about…Barcelona, Spain (I personally don’t pronounce it as “Barthelona” which in my opinion should be left to the guy in black socks and sandals who is lisping his way through his holiday photo slideshow.)
It is not difficult to find good food in Barcelona. You need only to wander the narrow, meandering streets with laundry strung above them, following the smell of garlic and the warm glow of candlelight.
What IS difficult is being pregnant in Barcelona and unable to eat that good food.
The rules about what a pregnant woman can and cannot eat are as confounding as, say, the reasons why the Kardashians are famous.
Meat, but only if fully cooked. Cheese, but only if pasteurized. Eggs, but not undercooked. Fish, but no sushi. Vegetables, but only if washed.
I found it difficult to navigate Barcelona’s menus with these limitations swirling in my mind. Really tasty tapas include things like cured meats, marinated raw fish, pâté, farm-fresh cheese, and shellfish. As much as the logical part of my brain told me that Spanish mothers eat all of those things, all the time, it was nerve-wracking.
Yes, I probably played it safer than necessary (and may have even eaten at a bagel place once), but I knew that Barcelona would welcome me back another time to feast on ALL of the food with only my appetite as a limitation.
As if I need an excuse to go back.
There are numerous spots around Barcelona where you can see the fantastical creations of architect, Anton Gaudi, but the most famous is Sagrada Familia. This enormous church is still under construction, but it is already incredible to behold.
I loved the soaring pillars and the colourful stained glass. I also loved that his designs were slightly wonky, dreamy, and playful. It seemed as though Gaudi was equally inspired by nature as by Dr. Seuss.
This trip to Barcelona had many purposes: to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, to escape the Norwegian winter, and to stay in a swanky hotel in a big city before we had a baby and swapped swanky for swaddling.
To this end, we booked into a very posh hotel right downtown – a place that had fluffy robes and a shower head the size of a dinner plate.
One night as we slept, cocooned in sheets with a high thread count (for the price of the room, I would hope they were), we were startled awake by someone knocking on our door. Before we could make sense of what was happening, the knocking turned to banging. Then the banging turned to shouting.
Matt checked the peephole and asked the guy what he wanted. (What could we offer, really? A shower cap?)
The guy started yelling at us to let him in, but not in a menacing way, just in a drunken-can’t-remember-his-room-number way. He clearly was convinced that his friend was inside our room, refusing to open the door for him. He kept on shouting until finally Matt was shouting back at him, “YOU’VE GOT THE WRONG ROOM”.
With all of this middle of the night hoopla my luxury hotel experience started to feel distinctly youth hostel-ish. We should’ve just sealed the deal and invited him in to share a beer, wash his clothes in the sink, and hand-stitch a Canadian flag on his backpack.
We didn’t, though.
“Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind…”
– Ernest Hemingway