Category Archives: europe

Barcelona adventures continue

We are just about complete our week in Barcelona.  It has been incredible and really nice to have an apartment to stay in the entire time.

We just came back from the Dali museum in Figueres.  The museum was amazing with many exhibits and many of them interactive for a few Euro.  We only had enough Euro for a couple of exhibits – one of them where it rained in a car which was pretty amazing. I am so glad we made the trip out.

We have also had the opportunity to see a few of the Gaudi sites in Barcelona.  The awe inspiring Sagrada Familia – which is still not complete (anticipated completion is 2026-2028 – guess we will have to come back)  It is truly amazing to see.

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We also went up the Nativity Tower to get a wonderful view of Barcelona.


Then had to climb down the narrow spiral staircase. Yikes!


We also took part in the official visit of Park Guell.  The park was gorgeous but the Gaudi site itself – only okay.  On our walk back from the park we managed to see two other Gaudi buildings both lovely.

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After taking in the Sagrada Familia, we were lucky enough to run into a friend of mine from Toronto who now lives in Barcelona.  We went for drinks and tapas(bravas, peppers, bread, mini burgers, and a plate of cured meats) and wandered around her neighbourhood with her cute Yorkshire Terrier, Vincent, which obviously Dani loved right away.

The other exhibit that we were able to see that I really enjoyed was at the CCCB entitled Big Bang Data.  I have just finished reading “To Save Everything, Click Here” which also talks about the subject which interests me alot.  The exhibit was a great visual representation of alot of the things that I read in the book and also included some of the ‘conscious citizen’ type products that are being developed.  Really neat (and nerdy)

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Barcelona Recap

We arrived in Barcelona a few days ago which was different from our original plan so I didn’t have a ton planned. Instead of scrambling to figure stuff out we just booked an apartment for a week and decided to hang out.

Our apartment is in El Raval which is ideally located to many major sites. The area is not completely gentrified yet so a bit rough around the edges but that makes it a bit more interesting.

Highlight of the first day was the boqueria where we were able to get some delicious snacks. Figs are still in season so I am content with that. Dani was pleased to find they serve meat in paper cones. Tiny sausages and serrano ham. Obviously this will be a contained stop through out our time here


We then wandered down in the area taking in all the sights and sounds and obviously drink sangria.

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Prague Castle

The arrival at Alchymist Prague Castle Suites deserves its own post.  This was the part of our vacation that we were both most excited for because it seemed completely gluttonous and completely not us.

The castle itself is beautiful.  We were greeted at the door by a lovely gentleman who promptly seated us at a lovely desk to check us in.  On the same floor as the check in area was the library.  We arrived quite late so we didn’t have an opportunity to really see that.  We walked up to our suite.  It is GORGEOUS!

The bed has a heart of rose petals since we have the ‘romance package’  There is a lovely terrace just off the bedroom area as well. The headboard on the bed is the most amazing thing that I have ever seen! Not captured here but it lights up as well.

The room also has the greatest number of chandeliers (6) and mirrors (nearly every wall) that I have ever seen.   The closet has automatic lighting that turns on once the door has been opened.  Another feature that Dani enjoyed about the closets is that there is an inability to slam the drawers or doors shut.  Instead, the drawers steady themselves and close gently.

The bathroom is amazing especially after our sub par experience with the shower in the Amsterdam hotel. Yes, those are more rose petals.  There is also a stand alone shower in the bathroom. And much to Dani’s approval, the bathroom products are all L’Occitane first discovered by Dani when we were in Vancouver for the marathon earlier that year.  It should be noted that these products are made in France.

Our host leaves to go and collect our luggage for us and returns with two glasses of champagne.  He wishes us a pleasant evening.

Immediately, Dani heads to the bath with her newly acquired Sabon body scrub.  Evening one of the castle equals success.

Amsterdam Marathon – A Personal Triumph

I did it! I completed my second marathon! It was unlike any other race experiences I have ever had for many reasons.

First, the sheer volume of people. In the newsletter I received from the organizing committee, the total enrollment in the various races was 35,000 people. Of those, 12,000 in the marathon. Prior to this race, the biggest that I was in was the SFO Nike’s last year-total 24,000. There were participants from 83 different countries! The sheer volume of people was unreal.

Second, it felt competitive. I haven’t been in a race yet that actually felt like a race. Typically, the atmosphere for me has been filled with excitement and a sense of we are all in this together. This race was the first time that I felt like an athlete. Normally I approach my running as something that I “kinda do” as a “sorta hobby”. This race stripped me of those feelings. Instead it was a feeling of you are here to run, fast. It actually made me think more about how running a marathon is a big deal.

Third-the proportion of men to women was WAY off my usual race experiences. With the exception of Nike’s which was nearly all women I would say it is about a 60/40 split of women/men. This race, the marathon at least was by my guess 30/70 women/men. This might have contributed to the feeling of competition.

A few embarrassing points during the race. I guess interval 10:1 running is not a thing here. My first walk break 2km in a man runs past me “vit,vit!!! Too early to walk” This happened a few other times during the race much to my amusement when at about kilometer 25 there are multiple people in agony either stretching or sitting rubbing their legs. This just affirmed to me that 10:1 is a strategy that works. I did cramp up at about kilometer 33 that broke the pace I wanted to hold to finish in my desired time but not nearly as badly as some of the casualties to the sidelines.

The course itself was beautiful. Down the Amstel river and through much of Amsterdam including Vonderland park…three times. Luckily Dani was able to ride the metro to meet me at various points throughout the course taking her role of cheer squad quite seriously!

The finish in Olympic Stadium was amazing! It was also a welcome change from pavement and cobblestone for the last 500 meters. I didn’t dash it and regret that now but at the end felt strong and confident! No hyperventilating this time!

Actual time to complete 4:38:34. Desired time to complete 4:12:00. Not too far off the mark and was totally on track until kilometer 33!!! Until next race!