Rambling About in Barcelona

It has been weeks since our weekend in Barcelona and I have yet to post photos of the trip.  We only had a few days, so we had to prioritize.  We knew we had to see Sagrada Familia and whatever else we could squeeze in, we did.

Now I know very little about architecture and have little patience for all the intricacies of how Gaudi finally decided on his designs for Sagrada Familia, yet I was drawn to all of it.  There is no need to an expert in order to appreciate the complexity, enormity and the dedication that has been poured into designing and building the church.  You can see it on the end result and hints of it in what is being built …and you can definitely hear it in the local guide we had during our walking tour.  Allan’s parents were in Barcelona about 10 years ago, and they were amazed by it even without stepping inside.  We were fortunate enough to arrive  now that it is open to visitors.  Maybe it was the solemn music playing, or the ethereal feel of the interiors or  everything that we have heard about it leading up to that moment…but when we stepped inside, we couldn’t help but be overwhelmed.

We didn’t get to see much of the rest of Barcelona, but we did manage to walk around Barri Gotic.  I found the small streets and alleys charming — as I usually do.  I am very partial to narrow streets packed with lots of little shops.  I do hope we will manage to go back…there is plenty more to discover in Barcelona.

The Streets of Napoli

We discovered quite an interesting street food in Napoli. It’s called a Fritatina. One look at it and you would think it’s just another deep fried, battered food. Once you bite into it though, you realize that humble as it may be, it is tasty and very satisfying.

I think it is very much like Napoli itself. On the outside, it is just another European city with narrow streets and historical buildings. Once you delve deeper and start exploring, the city comes alive and you appreciate how simple yet profound it is at the same time.

In Napoli, Graffiti is everywhere, and we’re not talking Banksy-type art. It’s mostly writings on the wall (literally), and on church doors, and on posts and on stone…everywhere. The streets are narrow and full of people and cars, bicycles, scooters and delivery trucks that appear out of nowhere. It’s busy and it has its perils as we have been warned by locals to take care of bags and cameras while walking around.

But the surprises lie within and among the streets themselves.  The narrow streets are busy with shops full of “Presepi” paraphernalia.  A “Presepi” is your Christmas Nativity scene, but amped up to several degrees.  It includes Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus and an entire village that will only be limited by your imagination and available space.  In the shops you can buy miniature houses, characters depicting local tradesmen, mini livestock and even small pieces such as tiny balcony railings.  A walk down Via San Gregorio Armeno can inspire even the least creative person (myself for example) to make one of my own.

If you do manage to turn away from all the trinkets and bits, you are bound to end up in a Piazza, or a church or a former church, or both. It will definitely have a rich history behind it, whatever church it may be. The architecture will be Baroque or Gothic or a re-created version of one or the other, and inside will be full of stories of great families whose remains may be kept within and of artwork that surely belong in the grandest of museums.

Even on less busy streets, you will be surprised by quaint little shops where they are completely unexpected. If you look above, you will find that the locals live above and amongst all of it. In fact, the locals live directly above Napoli’s rich history. Literally.

Underneath the city and spanning an area even bigger than the city itself, is a system of underground caves and tunnels that were historically used to quarry rocks, and then as aqueducts and then as a waste disposal “system” before they were used as bomb shelters during the war. It seems as if the city was built from the underground up…we were even shown a home that was built on top of what used to be a Roman theatre (and a B&B built on top of another area of the theatre as well).

And if all of that still doesn’t overwhelm your senses, then the food will definitely up the dosage. We waited for three hours to get into a Pizzeria that has been serving pizza since 1870…and it was completely worth every single second spent in line. In another part of town, we waited a a little less (maybe just half an hour?) for more mouth watering Pizza (no, not on the same day). If waiting that long is not for you, then you can elbow your way in into the lunch time crowd fighting for deep fried Pizza and the aforementioned Fritatina. When you’ve had your fill, head on to one of the many cafeterias for an espresso, and be like the locals and find yourself a spot on the bar to have your cafe (spaces are limited, but a little courage goes a long way). If you want to feed your sweet tooth, have a lip smacking good Nocciolato. This is normally thought to be espresso and Nutella, but it’s actually not Nutella. I don’t know what it is exactly, but espresso + Nutella is a different item on the menu. And I haven’t even mentioned the Baba, or the Sfogliatella and loads more dolci whose names escape me now.

Overall, Napoli is must-see, and when you come visit, make sure you’re senses are ready to be pleasurably overwhelmed.

Paris Please

Paris was our first stop on our recent December break.  It was amazing to step on a train and 2+ hours later, emerge in a different country and hear a different language.

The city was surprisingly less busy than I expected it to be and the queues at the tourist attractions seemed quite bearable (although we had pre-bought tickets anyway) which was a good thing.  They did have quite a few renovations happening at the moment at the Eiffel Tower, Saint Chapelle and I think even at Notre  Dame.  I suppose if they had to do them, now would be the best time.

It was my 3rd time in Paris and it was Allan’s first.  I think I was so excited to be there with him this time, that I wanted to show him everything I saw when I was there for 3 months in just a matter of days.  It was too overwhelming, and he may be able to appreciate Paris better when taken in leisurely.  Thankfully, its easy enough to get there, so we may end up in Paris again when the weather’s a bit warmer.

Posting some of my photos below.  Nothing spectacular…but maybe on our next trip(s?) I can do better 🙂  Our snapshot photos (i.e. the ones with all our faces in them) will be posted on our facebook accounts for those who may want to see them.

Back for more

Warm Up
I don’t think we needed any, it was pretty warm in the box!

Power Clean (145#, 95#)

20 minute cap
n pull ups
n wall balls
(on the nth minute, do n pullups and n wall balls. game over if you can’t do the prescribed reps within the minute)

Socs and I scheduled another workout in Crossfit Insurrecto and this time we had a skill session prior to the WOD, and fortunately it was my favourite move the power clean! I wasn’t completely happy with my technique though, but still managed to clean 145lbs easy for 3 reps (around 65kgs). We weren’t going for PB 1RMs so I’m happy with that.

I was hoping there won’t be any thrusters on today’s WOD, but then I saw wall balls which is pretty much the same thing. At least a couplet of pull ups and wall balls looked ok enough. We managed to crack on pretty well and I was able to string some pretty good kipping pull ups and the wall balls felt surprisingly easy. Is it because I’m closer now to the equator and the rotation of the Earth helps me in throwing the ball up? I don’t know, what I do know is that I managed to do 9 rounds + 1 wall ball and Socs 8 + 2 wall balls. Thanks to the Insurrecto’s who cheered me on on my last half round!

We’ll try to be back for one more hurrah before we head back to London and Dublin!

Holiday WOD

Warm up
A bunch of movements

7 rounds
8 Burpee box jumps
8 Toes to bar to air squat
6 Burpees

I ‘forced’ Socs into spending an afternoon of our holidays in the closest Crossfit box where we’re staying, and luckily I’ve got an old university buddy who also goes to Crossfit Insurrecto so we where able to join in their fun last Saturday in exchange for a couple of Crossfit London UK and Ronin Crossfit shirts.

I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t have any strength/skill work, but I think the WOD more than made up for it. 7 rounds of hell, and it was almost as hot as hell down here as I was sweating like a pig right around the second round. I’m no longer used to the tropical weather apparently. In the end I managed to finish only 6 rounds in the 20 minute cap… I think it was enforced as I think was the only left. I wasn’t sure if others DNFed or finished way earlier than I did, I really had no idea anymore as I probably lost half my bodyweight in sweat in 20 minutes! Sorry for sweating profusely in your new box haha!

Big thanks to the crew of Crossfit Insurrecto! Hopefully we can drop by for another session before we head back to sunny Dublin and London.