Barcelona In Winter

 

It is the right of a traveler

to vent their frustration at every minor inconvenience

by writing of it to their friends.

Susanna Clarke

 

With all this forecast of snow that fails to show, I dream more and more of living in the Mediterranean where the weather is mild and the culture varied. I adore French style and Italian gusto, but food can win me over, especially fresh and tasty seafood served in appetizer portions that the Spanish call “Tapas.”  To inspire a stop in (if not a move to) Barcelona, here’s an easy itinerary that you’ll enjoy even in winter:

Start with a city bike tour to give your cramped airplane legs much needed exercise while covering a good chunk of the city. Whether renting bikes or joining a group tour, make sure you include the city’s beach front boardwalk. Locals and tour guides are your best resource for information on how much to tip restaurants/taxis, where to find the best of this and that, etc, so don’t be shy to ask!

Learn about local culture with a tapas tour by Barcelona Local Experiences where you sample traditional favorites in food and wine at four historic tapas bars.

Catch a Flamenco Show at the grand and gorgeous Palau de La Musica. If you’re a fan of architecture, the Palau runs guided tours to brag about its interiors which will allow you to admire the beauty of its glass dome with daylight.  If traveling with young ones, they’ll stay more awake at the Tablao Flamenco Cordobes (though I’m not a fan of its location in the touristy Ramblas) where dancers’ vigorously stomp their feet at eye level. For a casual yet sexier ambiance, book an after dinner table at the courtyard of Palau Dalmases.

Shop for fresh produce at Santa Caterina Market followed by a paella cooking class at Cook & Taste Barcelona. Their pretty kitchen in the middle of nowhere was a very lovely surprise. To make them easier to find, look for the Conessa sandwich shop at a corner of Placa de Sant Jaume and walk up the small street right beside the shop.

To appreciate the genius of Gaudi, your first stop among his creations should be the attic museum at Casa Mila (aka La Pedrera) where exhibits give you an idea of how this master architect took inspiration from nature in design and how he was able to calculate the weight bearing loads of the spiraling pillars for his building’s structures without mathematical formulas. For best photo lighting, time your rooftop visit of this apartment building right around sunset. The mid-afternoon is when you catch sunlight streaming beautifully through the stained glass windows of the Sagrada Familia. Casa Batllo has a fun theatrical tour only on Sunday afternoons with costumed characters relating the story of the pretend Batllo family and Gaudi.

Runner Bean Free Walking Tour has very capable and enthusiastic guides who deserve to be tipped generously.

Nightlife

Click on this Barcelona nightlife link for a comprehensive list aside from their newer nightclubs (Shoko, Carpe Diem, etc.) lined up on the boardwalk by the casino and Frank Gehry’s fish sculpture. The entrance to the clubs look like small pop up stores that make you wonder how they can possibly fit enough people for a wild party. They don’t. They actually use things called stairs and elevators to take you down to a lower level–where the umbrellas add additional dining options facing the beach. 😉

Where to stay

Not the W Hotel if you want a central location. For ease of walking in all directions, I love the Eixample neighborhood where the streets are wider than the old city sections of El Born or Barri Gotic. Around the two Gaudi houses of Casa Mila and Casa Batllo will situate you near Ramblas de Catalunya where locals shop. El Palace is my royal favorite. with its cozy retro nightclub lounge in the basement, featuring a jazz trio or vocalist on weekends.

Where to eat

Vinitus – Vinitus has 2 locations of tapas bars in Eixample. I enjoyed the smaller one with its cozy booths in some shade of blue. They don’t bother with reservations so go early and though I’m not a fan of bread pudding, you must find out why I had to have some.

Behind Casa Mila – Dora for the most tender and thinly sliced octopus and the feel of an old world neighborhood restaurant.

Placa de Sant Jaume is where many bike and walking tours meet. As I mentioned earlier, there’s the tiny sandwich shop called Conessa at one corner of the square that’s known to be the best in the city. I enjoyed the high ceilings and food at Lonja de Tapas on Carrer Sant Jaume 1, 8.

Best Seafood Paella at Salamanca in Barceloneta and if you want to pick out your own live lobster, La Barca del Salamanca on the pier.

Best Churros in town is said to be at Xurreria Manuel San Roman, Carrer de Banys Nous 8.

El Nacional – I can’t vouch much for the food but you must see this former carpark that has been beautifully converted into a lively restaurant square with a selection of half a dozen dining options with a gelato counter up front. Ladies must check out their fun cabaret style powder room behind the stairs, too.

Located in the far northeast corner of Spain, Barcelona is a popular stop for cruise ships and a comfortable three hours from Madrid on the high-speed AVE train. Those who plan on renting a car can start in Barcelona, take the train to Madrid and sightsee Toledo, all before picking up a car — cleverly saving on several days’ worth of rental and parking fees.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your best Barcelona travel tip.

xoxox

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

Barely There

 

Forgot to make resolutions?

Just write everything you did last night

and at the beginning, add the word “Stop.”

@PeteHolmes

 

A most beautiful and tender welcome to 2019! I shall leave resolutions for others to make and break. Instead, I extend this invitation for all to embrace the new year with a gentle remembering and a return to the womb of woman.

Let us remember the moment of our birth, the time of owning nothing yet knowing that all is well. Remember screaming loudly for our desires without worry that they might  cause shame, guilt or regret. Remember not knowing that there could be some standard or measurement more correct than our own, that there can be separation between us and them, between our bodies, our planet and the heavens. Remember not knowing that we can possibly be unworthy.

Let us take this moment to remember when we knew we are true love itself, that all of who we are is good, whole and complete without missing or undesirable  parts. Let us remember why we have chosen to be a light on Earth, to be with the people who are in our lives right now, and to welcome those we wish to add to our circle of care and influence. Let us recognize and own once more our power to inhabit our bodies and desires fully, to choose peace, love, action, to keep an eye on the big picture, to remember that what seems to good or bad today may yet prove to be its inverse down the road.

While we may appear to be an inconsequential drop in the very wide ripple of consciousness and consequence, let us remember that we are like leaven unto bread and we make a difference anyhow, no matter how bare our little lives may seem.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what makes you feel grounded and powerful. Continued courage in your journey and thank you so much for loving on!

xoxox

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

‘Tis The Season To Be Extra

 

I want to thank all the people who walked into my life

and made it outstanding,

and the people who walked out of it

and made it fantastic.

Anonymous

To bring 2018 to a resounding close, nothing beats making a list of what I’m grateful for. I share this tradition with my family using pen and paper on New Year’s Eve because a Gratitude Journal makes it easy to remember all the good for posterity. It’s also handy for a quick pick-me-up in moments of feeling down-dooby-doo-down-down.

Among my proudest moments this year was witnessing my teens act like adults who bring something to the table, chip in and help out without being asked. I was extra  proud overhearing the one who didn’t bother with presents last year ask his siblings first, “What do you want for Christmas, Guys?” I’m taking this as a sign I can retire from being Santa–though I doubt I’ll ever want to stop wrapping pretty things with red bows.

I  am honored by the kind and loving women who made the experience of creating the portraits shared on this blog a true pleasure! I am grateful for the devoted blog fans who spoil me with sweet comments, gifts and bright ideas.  I am blessed with great health, enduring love, and a world mostly at peace, by people who inspire me with their happy hearts and laughter, pride in their work, their gentle self acceptance. I admire those who persist and commit to what/whom they love even when that doesn’t love them back with equal passion, those who hang on to dignity and grace through hard times refusing to be identified as victim. I thank Arianna Grande for inspiring the young with her positive spin on heartbreak with the song Thank U, Next! (as soon as I got over my older generation shock at a word I deem unnecessary in the vocabulary of a beautiful woman. 😉 )

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what you’re extra grateful for this year. Thank you so much for sharing this journey with me and have the merriest Ho Ho Ho!

xoxox

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

The Classy Holiday Gift Guide

 

If men are God’s gift to women,

then God must really love

gag gifts.

Maya Angelou

 

December snuck up and caught me completely unawares this year! Fortunately, like Santa prancing with reindeers, we can skip traffic completely and let our fingers be the elves doing all the ordering, packing and delivery.  For gifts to impress or easy stocking stuffers, may you find something uncommon for everyone here:

A rich robe for her. Silk keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer. This buttery soft robe is made from ethically and sustainably sourced silk and cashmere–easy on the conscience and likely to become your favorite at home while doubling as pajamas when you travel. Khimori silk cashmere, $175 at naadam.co.

Coffee, tea or (water in) me. Sleek, stainless steel, insulated bottles in fun colors that keep beverages warm or cold for at least 12 hours. Now all we need is for Starbucks to offer discounts to those who bring their own stylish recyclable. HAY George Snowden water bottles from $35, store.moma.org.

Sleek folio. Elegant leather pouches to protect your devices in colors that make you smile while impressing clients. Leather iPad case, from $75 at leatherology.com.

Luxe lunch bag.  This chic Insulated vegan leather bag just might be the inspiration we need to be kinder to the planet and pack our own lunch with reusable containers. The Luncher $149 at modernpicnic.com.

Game night with style.  Playing cards for those who appreciate handcrafted quality, $30 at SeasonsPlayingCards.com.

 

For the crafty. Measuring tape too pretty to sit in a dusty toolbox. Geometric wood tape measures, $36 at jaysonhome.com.

 

And, of course, books never fail!

For the Francophile foodie. This fun book on all things related to French food will make an excellent conversation starter on your coffee table. Let’s Eat France: 1,250 specialty foods, 375 iconic recipes, 350 topics, 260 personalities, plus (everything) you want to know about the food of France, $50 at workman.com.

Inspire wanderlust with wonder. This book transports you to the world’s most unusual and obscure places you may not find in popular guide books. I’d recommend this for the young gentlemen on your list: Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders, $35 hardcover at amazon.com. For an illustrated version for budding adventurers (age 8-12) The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid, $20 at workman.com.

For the fiction reader who loves travel.  I’ll let the title tell you what this book is about. Novel Destinations: A Travel Guide to Literary Landmarks from Jane Austen’s Bath to Ernest Hemingway’s Key West. $16 hardcover at amazon.com. And an airplane ticket hidden amongst the book’s pages might be the surprise they’ll remember for a lifetime!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your uncommon and bright gift idea this year.

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

The Nutcracker: Helen Mirren

 

I like the plot of

The Nutcracker–

not at all.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

 

Photo by Zoey Grossman for Harpers Bazaar

‘Tis that season for the Nutcracker! Helen Mirren, one of the actresses I adore for style, substance, and fearlessness, has had a career spanning longer than my time on this earth. She continues to be hot commodity at 73 with Oscar winning roles ranging from Shakespeare, Hitchcock, sexpot, detective, grand dame, royalty and tough as nails villain in Disney’s latest The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.  

For a woman who has always drawn to a challenge, someone so seasoned and accomplished, you’d probably never imagine her saying “I consider myself a scaredy cat” but she admits, “I’m constantly nervous… always worried that I’m not going to do it right. But you have to just jump and then the adrenaline kicks in.” (Harper’s Bazaar October 2018)  How necessary for the young to hear such honesty! The rest of us easily assume we are the only ones capable of feeling inadequate and afraid.

I love opulence, period costume and strong women so I’m very much looking forward to seeing her next year as Catherine the Great on HBO.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite woman of great style, substance, and a tough nut to crack.

xoxox

Photos below from Google Images

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

How To Thank The Thanksgiving Hostess

 

There’s turkey ham, turkey bologna,

turkey pastrami… Someone needs to tell the turkey,

“Man, just be yourself!”

Mitch Hedberg

 

When I grow up, I’ll look forward to being the guest for Thanksgiving. Until that day comes, I soldier on hosting for the sake of keeping my teens engaged in the kitchen and leaving them with good memories of tradition and togetherness.  A bit more fun than being sad and lonely tech zombies on their individual cellphones and laptops, yes?

My wish for them is to be wanted as guests in other people’s homes, too, and here are a few clues to what it takes to be the hostess’ favorite whatever your age:

Arrive on time–no excuses. No asking for pickup from the bus stop if you have legs that can carry you the distance.

Send a lovely flower arrangement before the event or visit.  It is always wise not to show up empty handed but bringing a bouquet of flowers only gives the hostess one more last minute thing to do (find and fill a vase) when she already has more than enough on her plate.

Clean up after yourself and help clear the kitchen sink.  If the hostess protests. tell her it’s against your religion and you’d rather make it to heaven.

Bring the entertainment.  Being a good guest can simply be as fun as bringing a game, activity (eg, face painting with young kids) or teach a magic/card trick or skill that entertains all.

If you’re a weekend guest, make/bring breakfast one morning and pay for at least one meal out while you’re there.

After you leave, mail an old fashioned thank you note with prints of your best photos from your time together. Nobody makes time to print but, truth be told, in our age of constantly changing technology and infinite digital photos, only prints count for posterity.

Surprise the hostess with a gift she will enjoy (a board game her family will love, a wireless speaker for their porch, etc).

Pick up the phone and invite them to be your guest when they’re in your part of the world.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what you like to add to the Thanksgiving table.  Happy Gobble Gobble and know I’m thankful for you!

xoxox

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Amazing Libraries of the World

 

Everything comes 

to those who wait

except a loaned book.

Kin Hubbard

My Inner Nerd was terribly excited to tell you about this futuristic Binhai Libray in Tianjin, China that went viral on social media. It promises to be a book lover’s paradise with grand sweeping curves of floor to very high ceiling shelves crammed with books. There’s just one catch: Don’t look too closely at the millions of books in its architecturally stunning main hall because they’re merely painted and only a few real books are strategically positioned at certain sections.

Other fabulous ones for your travel bucket list follow below. I’ve been to most of these cities but have yet to remember to officially add libraries to my itinerary and see them for myself.  Having read about the architecture of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France in Paris, I once spent an entire day searching for it with my fumbling French, getting misdirected by well-meaning locals to the more popular, modern and out of the way  Francois Mitterrand library.  When I finally figured I had to find my way back to Paris central, the librarian curtly informed me that their gorgeous oval reading room is only for students. ;(  I’ve gotten luckier with a private tour of a stunning one among those cloistered in European monasteries and abbeys.  What’s on this list are libraries that you can possibly visit when you happen to be in their neighborhood.

Old Library at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Austrian National Library, Vienna

Klementinum Library, Prague, Czech Republic

Bodleian Library at Trinity School, Oxford, London

Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Boston Public Library, Massachusetts, USA

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your Inner Nerd’s travel delight. Big thanks to the favorite blog fan who inspired me to write about my favorite things all at once: reading, design and travel.

Photos on this page all from Google Images.

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

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