Thursday, September 23, 2010

Focaccia! Homemade in Sciarborasca

One of the many reasons I fly to Italy every year... the homemade Focaccia!

Tomatoes and Olive Oil Focaccia  Italy 2010 - Varazze, Cogoleto, Sciarborasca

My family make the best... BEST Focaccia

Breakfast - Focaccia!  Italy 2010 - Varazze, Cogoleto, Sciarborasca

Everything is homemade here with the family. I love it!

From Italy 2010 - Varazze, Cogoleto, Sciarborasca

I really need to take notes and learn how to cook like this... She uses no notes, all from memory

From Italy 2010 - Varazze, Cogoleto, Sciarborasca

Monday, September 20, 2010

Madrid ~ Spain 2010

Traveling to me is about Food, Sports, Art and Wine - Madrid has all of that!

From Spain 2010, Madrid
One night & two days in Madrid! Lets go! First stop was for Tapas

Second stop for dolce

Dolce is a must Spain 2010, Madrid

Elise and Louisa walking around the park Bosque del Recuerdo (Forest of Remembrance) & exploring

Bosque del Recuerdo (Forest of Remembrance)Spain 2010, Madrid

"The Forest of Remembrance (Spanish: Bosque del Recuerdo), formerly known as the Forest of the Departed (Bosque de los Ausentes), is a memorial garden located in the park of El Retiro in Madrid, Spain that commemorates the 191 civilian victims of the 2004 Madrid train bombings and the special forces agent who died in the attacks on 11 March 2004. The seven suicide bombers subsequently killed themselves on 3 April 2004 while under siege by security forces in their apartment block."

Jessica StockholderSpain 2010, Madrid

Art in the Park by Jessica Stockholder - This building, the Palacio de Velazques, is centrally located in the Buen Retiro Park in Madrid.  Designed by the architech Ricardo Velazquez Bosco.  Very cool stop on our urban hike!

Elise checking out living art Spain 2010, Madrid

After walking the park, we stopped at a very cool bakery called Harina. Must stop there again to eat, um, everything! (H) arina is located at Plaza de la Indenpendencia, 1028001 Madrid, Spain

Bakery Harina Spain 2010, Madrid
While eating our 20 euros of dolce, we meet a very sweet guy that told us of MUST EAT AT places in Madrid. We took notes and later got the information and addresses!

From Spain 2010, Madrid

Dinner at a place that took us 45 minutes to find, but well worth the effort. Locals only spot and very hip (was told that it was written up in the WSJ) Must ask Elise for name of restaurant am possible if she remembers what we ate!

At dinner we met a cute Spanish guy that invited us to a 40th birthday party!

From Spain 2010, Madrid

Later at the birthday party we met all the friends (all knew each other from Ibiza) - Elise and I had the best chocolate cake at this birthday party! So good... still trying (but think I may have) replicated the yum!

From Spain 2010, Madrid

Our hotel was... clean and cheap

From Spain 2010, Madrid

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spain 2010 ~ Granada

Granda Spain for a couple of days in 46 degree weather! HOT!

From Spain 2010, Granada

Shopping and walking the cobble stone streets in 46 degree weather wilted me. This SF girl can't handle that kind of heat. So I just had to eat a pound of gelato a day to keep cool. It's now Elise, Jon and myself left on this adventure. We took a bus from Sevilla to Granada - not bad at all and slept the whole way! Thanks to Elise for organizing this part of the trip.

From Spain 2010, Granada

First day we walked around the shopping area of Granada during the day. I didn't purchase anything other than my normal 3 to 6 empanadillas. OMG they are so good! By the way, do you know the difference between an empanadillas and empanadas? I don't.

From Spain 2010, Granada

While walking around the sacromonte area we stumbled upon a very touristy Flamenco show

Flamenco em Sacromonte. Granada 2010

After walking around for a long day on the cobblestone streets, my feet are killing me and I need a glass of vino & something sweet to help with my 'barking dogs'

From Spain 2010, Granada

We split up today and I was walking around (not sure where) when I found this really cute bar. Ended up talking to four people from Seattle, WA and having a Tinto de verano. So refreshing.

From Spain 2010, Granada

Walking to the Alhambra. I didn't know that our hostel was on the main road to the entrance of the park and walk way to Alhambra. Cool!

From Spain 2010, Granada

Here's the the gate to the park
From Spain 2010, Granada

Alhambra Baths
From Spain 2010, Granada

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spain 2010 ~ Sevilla

On Saturday we packed up the villa and headed to the Barcelona airport. About an hour drive... not bad
Once in Terminal 2, I found out (but had known all along because the web site suggest this could happen) that Ryanair charges 40 euro to print out a boarding ticket & you need your ticket. So, I asked everyone in Terminal 2 to print out my ticket... no luck. I had to take a 10 minute bus ride to Terminal 1 to the business center (only 4 euros) then head back to T2. Nightmare!  My new business in the Barcelona airport ... protable printer and hang out by the Ryanair ticket stand... I´ll charge 20 euro... On the fight several gals were dress up (need to update when I'm back in US)

Lunch after biking around Sevilla
In Sevilla we rented to flats on 24 San Estaban (in the Santa Cruz area)... walked around, went shopping and had dinner alcaiza. Cute outdoors tapas, wine. Back at the flat, I had a glass of vino on our roof deck and people watched all night long. It was still very warm out... no need for a jacket here in Spain.

Door to our Flat  Spain 2010 ~ Sevilla

Sunday Sept. 12, 2010 we got up early (Tanya, Elise and I) and went for a run around the park near our flat. Parque de Maria Luisa.

Parque de Maria Luisa Spain 2010 ~ Sevilla 

After our run, I had breakfast at the flat Spain 2010 ~ Sevilla

We rush to mass at
The Cathedral of Sevilla The Cathedral of Seville is a religious building in Seville, Andalusia, southern Spain: it is the largest Gothic cathedral and the third-largest church in the world. Amelia, Elise and I went to 11am mass

After Mass photo with Jon outside  Spain 2010 ~ Sevilla

We met up with everyone after mass and walked around town, checked out shops, took a ton of photos, and visited the Plaza de Toros.  I think I will see a bullfight this evening.

Louisa, Elise & Amelie  Spain 2010 ~ Sevilla
Currently it's about 5:00PM and it's still 43 degrees out. Too hot to go anywhere...

The Bull Toro Toro Toro
We did visit the bullfighting event on Sunday night. It was about 8PM and still very light out. I thought it was all very exciting until they actually killed the bull?!?! Then cut his spinal cord. HOLY!!  I gasped "oh my God! They Killed Him" and all the men around me gave me the 'stink-eye'.  Was in need of several cocktails after viewing three more bulls being killed.  I like to think these bulls spent the first four years of their lives living the good Spanish life... the last 30 minutes looked a little painful.

My Favorite food... I think I ate three of these everyday

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

Photos from my Picasa Album:

Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010

Airport on Saturday. Waited for Erlend for a couple of hours... drove to hotel in Banyoles, Spain. On way to town, Erlend and I were texting Greg about leaving me at the airport... remember the (I waited ten minutes, couldn't find her so I left) story. We couldn't find villa and it was dark so we stayed in town at Erlends hotel. We had dinner in Banyoles at midnight at an outdoor caffe I think the name was La Parra.
From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

Next day up at 8AM, we ate two breakfasts...
From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

off to find the villa on cami del mas sant bartomeu (look up other name of road) Fontcoberta is the name of the city. Not Banyoles... correction. We are staying in Fontcoberta about 15 minute bike ride from Banyoles.

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

Map of the town & Villa: Click here

Name of Villa is San Bartomeo de Torres: To view their web site, click here
Take a tour of the villa and learn it's history

Sunday, Sept. 5, 2010
Started ride outside our villa. 87 degrees, 7000 feet of climbing, 86 miles
Ave. grade on climb 10.5%
15 precent grade in most areas (per Greg's bike computer)
Chart of the ride   I found this online from another user

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

Stopped for lunch in a town called Figueras.

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

We stopped in a cute town (Figueras) for lunch...paella, roasted chicken, amazing mellon with ham. Half a beer with Heidi and lots of water.

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

Got lost in Cabanelles

At the top Albanya (think this is the name of the area)
Santuari de la Mare de Déu del Mont
Restaurant at the top of the climb. We all had to purchase water. Ran out at the top
Epic 19km descend
One fall (andrew) but not hurt

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

Along ride we saw several sheep dogs and old men hearding sheep along the road.. was magical
We can see the mtn. from our villa's second floor balcony. Seem's amazing that we biked that far.
Back at villa by 730pm in time to jump in pool, then we had an amazing sitdown dinner with our private chef

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

After dinner, people were up talking, swimming... I went to bed at 10PM spent

Monday, Sept, 6, 2010
Road about 40 miles and not as much climbing, but steeper grades than yesterdays ride. The heat is a killer. Today it was about 90 degrees... four hour ride, no stopping for lunch, but we did stop for a photo op in a sunflower field and by the lake.

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava
Must see all the girls on a horse and the whole team on the train!

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

Back at villa the gals swam and had a small lunch. Others when on a hill climb.

Louisa n Heidi shopping in Banyoles... it's very difficult to shop here. We went to three different places trying to find peanut butter. I couldn't say 'peanuts' in Spanish without laughing...cacahuates!!!

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

Dinner was an amazing buffet dinner by Epicurean Catering:
Spanish Tortilla > onions, dried herbs potatoes milk egg
Artichoke and red peppers
Chicken \ sause chickpeas, tahini, lemon garlic yogurt preserved lemons
Pasta mushrooms tamari (soy like)
Tomato salad onions cucumbers
Puy lentils goats cheese walnuts red wine vinegar olive oil
Apple tatin butter and sugar
Greek yogurt sugar vanilla essence
It's really quiet now. it's about 10:30 and most people are reading, on their laptops or sleeping

Tuesday, Sept 7, 2010
Riding to L'Escala today
Jonathan made amazing eggs this morning, epic coffee
Breakfast ~ peanut butter and bannan sando, eggs, coffee, peach and cake with yogurt
After breakfast I had to jump into the pool for a quick swim... then off on the bike to the coastal town of L'Escala (Costa Brava area).

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

Greg, Scotty, and I raced on a dirt track somewhere on the coast (gold quads)

Met Kristin at hotel on coast, AK and I jumped in van back to villa ~ about 44 miles toady, ave. speed 23 miles an hour (I think, check with Greg). Needed Dana to push me a couple of times to keep up with the train. Tanya is a machine... she pulled almost the whole way to the beach. very strong rider. I was very happy with my choice to ride back to the villa in the van. Shortly after leaving the hotel at the beach there was a total down pour, lightning & thunder storm. All the lights in the villa were out, flooding, beautiful lightning storm from the deck. The others had Dixie cup size drops of water pelting them along their trip home... ouch

Happy hour with Erlend and Heidi ... amazing fish, olives and bread... one beer while waiting for dinner in Girona.

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

Group dinner in Girona at a restaurant called Dolce Vita in the Place De Independencia. (Plaza Independencia 11Girona17001)
This square had restaurants ranging from Catalan & Spanish cuisine to Italian & Japanese.We walked down a shopping street called (LOOK UP NAME)
The gals took some photos on a bridge over the river "River Onyar" I believe built in the middle ages

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

Back at the villa I started reading a new book called Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Wed. Sept. 8, 2010
Ugh. I'm tried today... coffee & a swim should help

Fusion team left on a 80 to 100 mile ride this morning. I'm staying behind to rest and maybe ride later in the afternoon with the Dolce Vita girls. Now back to the pool with my book and some down time. It's been a whirlwind of a trip, but need to sit still for 4 hours before we ride this afternoon.

They guys got back and did a 52 miler with 4000 ft of climbing. Looks like rain again, but still very hot. I went for a swim, then a 1 hour run. Running in this area is magical. I now know why the pro's train here...Now waiting for the gals to get back from Girona so we can bike.

Big dinner at home tonight. It's Erlend's last night with us, then he is off to Barcelona to visit with family. Tomorrow we have another long ride set-up... can't wait. My legs are a little tired, but feeling great.

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

This is my roommate here at the villa... she's making us dinner tonight!! Yippy!

My Bike: shimano 105... awesome for a rental. I'm on a Merckx carbon triple crank. We also rented the Orbea. Such a better option than haling around our own bikes.

Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010
Breakfast... three eggs, yogurt, two toast with peanut butter, coffee, water, bannana
Road to Besalu for lunch, epic bridge and cute town. Road pass Besalu to the Roma bridge called Pont de Llierca

Sprinting to the town signs:
Ameli won 3
Heidi won 2
Tanya won 3
Louisa tried her first sprint... omg, so hard!!! lost all two tries

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

Split group in Banyoles at the Lake... Elise, Ameli, Scott, Andrew, Jonathon, Tanya, & Greg when on to climb Rocacorba. At mile 46 we start our 13km climb to the top of Rocacorba. One of the more difficult climbs for me on this trip. I got dropped in the first mile... climbing solo until Jonathon came down the mtn to look for Ameli, Scotty & me. Greg went on to get Scotty and Ameli...

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

Jonathon and I (slowly) climbed the last 3km. I don't think I could have done it with out his coaching... I need to work on my breathing, almost got sick, need to work on cadence, rotation,
Road about 67 miles with 6000 feet of climbing in 77 degree weather. 7 water bottles...
Rocacorba Climb Chart

Got back to the villa, ate everything we could see, then swam a few laps, showered and ready for dinner. Everyone is very hungry, tired, and a few of us are not feeling so well... travelers flu maybe

Dinner for Thursday Night:
Salmon en croute onions, ginger sultana
Yogurt & cucumber mint
Rice with Basil pesto
Sausage with broad beans (fava) mustard, worcester olive oil,
Tomato& mo\\arella basil olive oil
Onion & black olive Tart
Green beans with toasted almonds
Mixed green salad
Poached pears with rose wine lemon & star anise
Almond cream with apple juice

Friday, Sept 10, 2010

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

Got up early today. 7AM rise for wheels out at 8:30.
Andrew and Erlend are off and now it's just Heidi, Elis, Ameli, Scott, Dana, Kristin, Greg, Jonathan, Tanya & me (Louisa) at the villa. Heidi and I take off first to get in another day of climbing at Rocacorba. The others we doing a more flat ride to Santa Margarita and then to Girona to return the bikes.

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

On our ride home Heidi and I stopped in Banyoles for a cappuccino and a Xuixo de Girona. Xuixo (pronounced shoe-sho) treats were like doughnuts covered in cinnamon sugar and filled with sweet cream. Very light.
Once back at the villa, I got my book 'salmon fishing in the yamin' and when to sit in the shade by the pool, slept, swam, slept more until 7pm when the others got home for dinner.

Dinner tonight was:
Grilled prawns with dipping sauce, soy, ginger, olive oil, fish sauce, cayenne
Potato, smoked salmon, sour cream omelette
crostinin with med veg, eggplant, red peppers, tomato, onion, basil
grilled endive with local ham, balsamic vinegar
Chickpea falafels, cumin, chillie
Yogurt mint
zucchini with lemon
asparagus with butter
mixed green salad
Orange and almnod cake with orange conserve and toasted almonds

From Spain 2010 ~ Banyoles, Girona, Costa Brava

now... we are all trying to figure out flights, transportation to airports and what to do once we get so Sevilla!!!