When I was 18 and fresh out of high school, I had no clue who I was or what I wanted to do. So I did what felt right and what I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do... I left our family farm, the only home I’ve ever known, and moved to Mallorca, Spain. I moved in with my grade 6 pen pal and her family, and it was the beginning of my love of travel and culture!
After losing my mom to cancer at the age of 8, I found myself becoming close with my friends' mothers and anyone else mirroring the motherly figure. I became extra close with the mother I lived with in Spain. She grew up with a chef in the family and had learned many skills in the kitchen, and so when I lived with her, she was delighted to teach me some of those skills. I truly believe her passion for good cooking rubbed off on me, and I’m thankful to have had the experience of cooking with her and in a culture much different then the one I was raised with.
I recently had another amazing opportunity to travel back to Spain with a good friend Taylor. She asked me to join her and I was more then willing to travel back to this beautiful country and to experience it as an adult.
I still dream about the incredible food I ate when living in Spain many years ago. I like to seek out healthy food options when I travel and so I was pleased when my Spanish friend Clara shared a list of vegan & vegetarian restaurants in Barcelona which happened to be close to our hotel. Of course I had to give them a try!
During this recent trip, I stayed at Le Meridian right on Las Ramblas, one of the busiest and friendliest streets in Barcelona. We ate good food, drank sangria and walked all over this beautiful city. Each day, I’d wake up early and workout at the hotel before Taylor was awake. I would take a quick peek outside to see what the weather was like and then stop into one of my favourite health stores, Vega Raw Organic, for some healthy snacks or presents to take home to family. Some days I would stroll through the side streets, mesmerized by the outstanding architecture, and pick up freshly backed pastries that were light and tasty. The pastries didn’t make me feel sick and heavy after eating them, which makes me wonder what is in the pastries in Canada? Once I’d get back to the hotel and cleaned up, Taylor would be keen and ready for another day of adventure.
Kale and Flax was my favourite restaurant in the city and I could have ate there for every meal. It’s packed with healthy salads, fresh veggie juices and delicious vegan sweets. Many days I’d start with my first meal here because it was nice and close to Le Meridien.
I was happily surprised to find Lazia, a restaurant with one of the best veggie burgers I’ve ever had. Although I don’t normally eat buns with a burger, the homemade bread was full of flavour and perfectly complemented the burger. The vegan brownie is also mouth watering. Happily, this restaurant was literally across the street to our hotel so it was an easy go-to after a long day of sight seeing.
Paella is a famous Spanish dish with rice, simple vegetables and often seafood or chicken. I did enjoy a few paella skillets but nothing as delicious as the recipe I remember from my Spanish family. If you're heading to Spain, you must try this dish but perhaps ask the locals where to find the best paella in the area you are staying.
Sagrada Familia is a "must do" in this ancient city. I highly recommend stepping inside and taking in this architectural masterpiece. Park Guell is also a lovely spot to stroll and take in some beautiful scenery over looking the city. All in all, I highly suggest taking some time to just stroll the streets, perhaps walk down along the water front and enjoy the cafe’s restaurants and astounding architecture. Barcelona is definitely one of my favourite cities in the world!
One night after a few pitchers of Sangria, I piggybacked Taylor who has quadriplegia to the sea. You can see this emotional night along with many more adventures and shenanigans in my YouTube video.