A Few Words on the Incidents in Barcelona

A lot has happened in Barcelona and the surrounding area over the course of the last 24 hours. I’d like to take a minute here to express my support and prayers for the deceased and their families, as well as for those who were injured or affected in any way.

I hope the cowards who perpetrated these horrible atrocities are brought to justice.

I hope good prevails over evil and this senseless barbarism comes to an end.

I hope we return to normalcy as soon as possible.

On a personal note, the Honey Bee and I have grown to love Spain and we hold it very dear to our hearts. Seeing such atrocious acts of violence in a place we love and call home is truly heartbreaking. However, we are confident that the perpetrators will not succeed in sowing the seeds of fear and bewilderment. This is already evident from the crowds of people in the street less than 24 hours after the incident chanting “No tenemos miedo!¨ (We are not scared!).

Spain is a diverse country and has always stood out because it has avoided the kind of outright xenophobia and racism that is rampant in other parts of the world. It has welcomed and continues to welcome foreigners from the world over. I am confident that these incidents will not affect that, and that Spain will bounce back stronger and even more united than before.

Viva España!

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The Barcelona Fire Rescue

Recently, we were in Barcelona for dinner. After dinner, as we were walking around we were suddenly overwhelmed by the sound of sirens and blinded by dozens of flashing lights, as a cavalcade of emergency service vehicles passed us. We soon reached where they had stopped and tried to find out what was going on.

Turns out, there was a large amount of smoke billowing from the entrance to a building and its parking garage. The fire-fighters were efficiently working to connect their hoses to fire2the fire hydrants and the police were scrambling to set the security cordons. We passed some people sitting huddled in blankets, probably having been rescued from the fire. From a safe distance, we watched the fire-fighters rush into the burning building. We just stood there watching these brave men run into the burning building, wearing their heavy fire-retardant clothing and lugging their weighty oxygen cylinders on their backs.

We couldn’t really tell much about what was going on, until suddenly we heard a child’s voice crying out, trying to get everyone’s attention. Observers lining the street heard the cries and started to shout out, getting the attention of the firemen and pointing to the child in the building above. With no hesitation, these men mounted the little basket, and started to extend their ladder all the way to the 5th floor. They also promptly extended the support legs from their truck, to ensure its stability.

This street, like most others in residential Barcelona, is narrow and tree-lined. As a result, the process wasn’t as straightforward as it should have been. Nonetheless, they expertly maneuvered the ladder and basket through the tree line until it reached the 5th floor balcony. Within moments, we saw the fireman climb out of the basket and into the apartment. In a matter of minutes, he helped 2 people into the basket, and the ladder was soon on its way down. Once again, they very adeptly maneuvered the ladder around the tree line, street lights and telecom wires. We couldn’t see who was in the basket until it actually touched down on the street. Turns out, they had just rescued a mother and her probably 7 or 8-year-old boy. The entire scene was very emotionally overwhelming and brought smiles to a lot of faces.

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Rescue images from left to right: 1) Fire truck ladder extending towards the building, 2) Fire truck ladder (with basket now visible) returning to street level with rescuees, and 3) Rescuees being escorted to safety by the fire-fighters

You can’t help but be grateful to these men, risking their lives for little pay, running towards the fire while everyone else runs away from it. The fire-fighters continued to fight the blaze, long after. I was able to click some pictures to share here. Unfortunately, with all the flashing lights it was hard to get clear pictures. Nonetheless, I think they give a fairly good idea about what was going on.

On a related topic, I was actually to run a 10 kilometer race to raise awareness and funding for fire-fighters the next day. The fire-fighters, fully equipped with all their gear, participated as well. Running alongside these heroic men, especially after having seen them in action, inspired me to run faster and push myself harder to reach the finish line.

Lunch at NAP Barcelona

As many readers may remember, we have often visited NAP, a great little Italian restaurant in Barcelona. This weekend, we went there again. Even though we had dropped the car off for its annual servicing that morning, we decided to travel all the way to Barcelona by train, just because the food is that good. I’ve wanted to write a post about this wonderful restaurant for quite a while, but never really got down to it because I always forgot to take pictures of the food. So this time, I made it a point to take pictures of everything for your visual pleasure.

We arrived at the restaurant and were fortunate enough to get a table without waiting. We wanted to try something new…so we ordered a Burrata cheese salad to start off.

Apparently, this dish is not easy to come by because the cheese has to be special ordered and only comes in a couple of times a month. For those unfamiliar with it, Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. It is served in the form of a ball. The outer shell is solid mozzarella, while the inside contains stracciatella and cream, giving it an unusual, soft texture.

To accompany the salad, we also ordered some mixed bruschetta, which apart from the traditional tomato also included mushroom and aubergine with a variety of herbs and just the right amount of olive oil.


The moment the plates arrived at our table, I kid you not, the entire restaurant was looking curiously at these mouth-watering delights. A whole bunch of people asked about them and a number of them even ordered these for themselves. The couple at the table next to ours stared so long and hard that things became kind of awkward.

For the main course, we ordered a pizza. The Regina, to be exact. This pizza sticks to the basics-cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil and parmesan all mixed together by hand in NAP’s own tomato sauce, all baked in a wood fired stone oven. The final result was a lip-smacking, finger licking, utterly delicious pizza we just couldn’t get enough of.

To top it all off, we had to order some desert. Even though we were stuffed, we couldn’t leave without ordering a panna cotta, which they serve in a cold glass, topped off with a delicious forest fruits sauce. This was followed by some super chilled limoncello (li-mon-chello) served in a tall shot glass.

By the end of it all, we were so content we were already making plans to come back next week. We left the restaurant with our bellies significantly fuller and heavier, our wallets only slightly lighter, and a big beatific smile on our faces.
 

 

 

Mexican Festival in Barcelona

Last weekend the Honey Bee and I, accompanied by some good friends, visited a big Mexican fiesta in Barcelona right after a very heavy brunch. It turned out to be a medium-large sized event that was quite popular. There was even a fairly long queue to enter.

Once inside, we walked around the central plaza where there were a number of Mexican style food trucks and kiosks selling food and drink. We tried a burrito, which turned out to be not so great, and had a long white hair in it. But I’d be kidding myself if I expected anything less (or more). After all, it was a street food festival.

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We also tried a drink which, as it turns out, is a Mexican specialty. The Michelada is a spicy concoction of beer, lime juice, tabasco, other assorted sauces, spices, and peppers served in a chilled, salt-rimmed glass. It really wasn’t as bad as it sounds, but it wasn’t anything spectacular either. Apart from the ephemeral gleeful feeling of having dared to try something new, followed soon after by a slight uneasiness in the stomach, it didn’t bring much else to the table. I probably won’t try it again, but then again, I am told it depends a lot on the person who makes it. And the skinny guy in sleeveless t-shirt with the mullet, thin mustache, hat and single ear-ring didn’t really inspire confidence. So who knows? Maybe I will try it again.

After we were done experimenting with the food, we walked  around and found a number of kiosks selling Mexican wrestling masks, and Mexico specific products. We even found some guys selling a variety of Habanero peppers. They pointed out the Carolina Reapers to us, saying they were the spiciest peppers in the world. Unwilling to believe them, I carried out a quick Google search and turns out they were right. As of August 3, 2013, Guinness World Records has rated the Carolina Reaper as the World’s Hottest Chili Pepper. Yikes!

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Around this time, we heard music. We followed the music back to the central plaza and watched performers dressed in colorful authentic Mexican attire dance their hearts out for the eager crowd. One after another, the performers dazzled the audience and we couldn’t help but tap our toes to the wonderful songs they were dancing to.

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We wrapped up the evening with some popsicles made from actual fruit (something that I am proud to say the Honey Bee knows how to make very well), with none of that artificial flavoring bullshit they sell on the market.

All in all, I’d say it was a fun Sunday, well spent with good friends.

Viva Mexico!