Drunken berry brownies

I have spent last 2 weeks in Richmond, London. It is nice here once you get used to the constant noise of landing planes.

Last Saturday when having a walk around Richmond, I discovered a small local market where I could not resist buying a piece of brownie. It was a really tasty. And then the idea of baking something did not leave my head anymore. I was thinking of joining few of my favorite things cherries and chocolate together, sadly the closest to dried cherries I could find were the dried cranberries.

I must warn you that there is nothing healthy about these brownies, it is chocolate with some more chocolate and some cranberries who had a chance to swim in port wine for 24 hours.

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San Miguel market in Madrid

San Miguel market was the highlight of Madrid. Boqueria in Barcelona is kids playground compared with it. First of all, what’s remarkable is the opening hours of the market – till 2 AM Thursday, Friday and Saturday, till 00 AM other days.

Secondly, the market had Christmas decorations. And one could buy super cute Christmas presents too – delicately painted egg shells, Christmas tree toys, figuerettes, and much more.

Thirdly, the market offered a busting selection of tapas of all kind, wine, and even a stand with “Russian caviar” and “Russian vodka”. Quotation marks is because they offered Russian Standard, which is not really real vodka, and the caviar was black and from sturgeon, and we all know its banned for export. Or is it? One small can cost 350 EUR, so might have been the real deal..

Having arrived there well close to midnight on a Friday, the market was lively, full with people conversing, enjoying wine and tapas, families with kids, couples – generally the impression was super positive. And you couldn’t really get cold – there were heaters placed all over. That, combined with beautiful architecture of the beginning of 20th century, made you feel at home.

If you are ever in Madrid – make sure to go there.

Bits and pieces from Stockholm

One thing that I have noticed with moving around is that I miss the places I have lived in. I got a chance to spend a week in Stockholm just to realize how much I actually missed it.

If I come to think of my favorite bookstore, the first thing that comes into my mind is Science Fiction Bokhandelen in Stockholm. They have great storage of new and classic science fiction books, and what is the best thing, most of the books are in English. So I did stop by, but as I had spent morning trying to squeeze all the things I need to take to Barcelona in my suitcase, I resisted the desire to buy books this time. But for sure going back there, hopefully some time soon.

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Art and Culture in Raval

First time I heard about Raval was during Sonar, when Ksenia Kamikaza said that it was the area were criminals and hookers hang out. And I think she added that I should be careful there, but this i might be inventing.

raval

Now that some time has passed in Barcelona, I actually find Raval the most fun area – with the most interesting cafes and clubs and small shops. And the past several days it was the Art and Culture festival in Raval.

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The actual reason why I don’t want to leave Barcelona

I have been into sports for some 5 years now, mainly running as it is something you can do when traveling. I have also tried some gyms in Riga and some in Stockholm. I have found them decent, well, up until I moved to Barcelona and joined Metropolitan gyms: http://www.clubmetropolitan.net . Now I can officially say I do not want to leave this city, and mainly because of this gym. It is amazing!

Will give some reasons:

• it is 10 minutes walk from my home, so no excuses not to go there

• the showers are big and private, you might have heard that the one in our apartment is very claustrophobic

• as it is almost on the top floor of Las Arenas shopping mall, the view is great

• the free towel service, no need to carry your wet towels around anymore

• I have started to think of doing half marathon in few months, running long distances seems to get easy. Not sure if it is my nice running music or watching well trained spanish men lifting weights. Maybe both?

• there is SPA available, yes, with a swimming pool, sauna with a TV or a view to Placa Espanya (whatever you prefer), turkish bath, ice room and relaxing music. A tip – go there on Sundays, the whole area is almost empty.

And now last reason – Body Pump classes. I have tried the exercise before in Riga and really enjoyed it. But here it is more motivating, the trainer Raul is absolutely amazing. When you think you cannot possibly lift the weights one more time, well, he makes you not to give up. Very fun class, highly recommend for you to try body pump if you have not already. I have managed to get Alina in it, too. Just took one time for her to come to the class and she joined the gym.

I was not allowed to post this, unless I quote Alina, so here goes:”I have understood the real benefit of having blond hair. When it falls out, you don’t see it on the white shower floor!”

As I am very much into the views and just to give you an insight, this is what you get when you go just one floor up from the gym to the roof of Las Arenas building.

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Clubbing in Barcelona: Freedonia

Just when I thought that it was hopeless for me outside of Sonar, I got to Freedonia. Some people were telling me that the party is at Raval, but so far I had bad luck with clubbing, mostly getting to some horrible mainstream places with lots of sleezy Spanish guys and chicks on high heels, well, you know the type.

Anyhow, last Saturday, I was in this place called Freedonia, and it was super nice. The music was so good that I actually danced; met some interesting people; interior was great. Apparently, there was somebody from Planet Mu, but I never figured which dj that was, I liked most of them.

This is how the ladies toilet looked like:

freedonia barcelona

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All the small things

I think I can say now that you do not need many big things to happen to say that life is good. Lately I have come to realize these are all the small things that can make your day or just make you smile or forget about problems.

This Tuesday I managed to loose my bank card, that is not very convenient when your bank is in Sweden and to get new one you need to go there. Well, I also wonder how hard it can be to write a software for cash machine that does not crash. I was very upset at first and I am really sorry for the poor representative of the bank I managed to reach when calling, luckily for him he was not speaking English and my Spanish is a bit limited.

Anyways, after walking home I realized there is a solution to everything and talking to my mom also helped to calm me down. It turned out there are several ways how to survive till I get to Stockholm at the beginning of November but it is inconvenient still. And then I decided to put my negative energy in cleaning apartment, managed to find some nice music and got happy again.

So I came to think of all the small things that have made me smile lately, like seeing full moon over Barcelona (can’t get enough of this), studying, good music, solved problem at work, gym, meeting new people.

Sometimes it is just an amazing feeling of happiness and freedom when bicycling home, especially after seeing a good movie with friends (watched Midnight in Paris), when streets are dark, still full of people and you realize you are smiling just without any reason really.

And here is a nice tune for all of you!

Opera in Barcelona

This is not going to be a super fun posting, but more of an informative one. So we went to opera yesterday, Gran Teatre del Liceu. We went to see Charles Gounod’s Faust.

The tickets to the opera can be bought on their website, and the cost varies, depending on the day of the week. Since we went on Monday, it wasn’t very expensive.

Subtitles were in Catalan, so we didn’t understand shit, or close to that.

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Blond on a bicycle

I have not been a huge bicycle admirer. Well, up till moving to Barcelona anyways. When I think of public transport in Riga it is tram or bus that comes into my mind. When I think of Stockholm – metro. But when I think of Barcelona it is a bike.

If you happen to live here and you have a NIE, you can register for Barcelona biking in http://www.bicing.cat/

The registration process is quite simple, you need already mentioned NIE, bank account and address. As for the address, make sure you get the stairs and doors right. It has been an issue for me and Alina, as the addresses here are quite confusing. Yes, you also need to pay 30 EUR. In 2 weeks time (if you get address right) you will get your card that you need to activate in their homepage. Well, and you need to understand some Spanish or Catalan to navigate around the homepage (I presume google translate also can be used).

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The enrollment

Today was the day I needed to enroll into my school, Elisava. After having prepared shitload of documents, having had a hard time in the Spanish embassy in Latvia with the translation of my Bachelor diploma (which is a separate story and involves a very flegmatic intern who drove me mad), I was very certain that I am prepared to go and enroll. Before leaving the apartment, I had a bright idea to revise the enrolling requirements, and tah-dah! – there where three PDFs attached to the mail, which I haven’t seen before. “Shit”, thought I, and engaged into my favourite game – “We create own problems, we solve them on our own”.

And solve I did – after finding a computer store, begged them, with a beating heart, to let me print some documents, printed, filled in, and surprisingly enough was right on time for my appointment in Elisava.

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