Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Orio

Superwoman and I just got back from Barcelona, which has become one of my absolute favourite places in the world - it is so beautiful, so charming, so welcoming, so huge, so...so all kinds of good things!  Superwoman also mentioned that I was behaving as if I'd never been there before when in reality it was my third trip to the city - and it was true.

You see, my first time there, I was only 12 years old, on one of those super rushed tours where you see, like, 10 countries in two weeks.  The second time I was there I was 18, on a really quick class trip with the modern languages department of my high school, and that trip was a blur.

So this time, everything was really fresh and new to me, in a slightly familiar way, except this time I could communicate perfectly with the locals and I had my mum with me, which was awesome. :D

Superwoman and I have started a tradition of watching travel shows while we go on trips to get inspiration for what to see/do/try and then doing them right away.  It worked wonderfully when we were in Tokyo (we watched Helen To's Tokyo Walker, which was awesome!) so this time my mum brought TVB's Lost in Spain with us, hosted by Vincent Wong.

Apparently they filmed this show back in the summer, when I was already in Spain, and I so, so wish they had contacted me so I could have shown them around Madrid!!!

Anyway, most of the show so far has centered around Barcelona, which was perfect for us, and we kept a keen eye out for what we wanted to do.  One of the most attractive things we saw on the show was this Basque restaurant called Orio, in the Gothic District...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Best of 2010: Spain

So recently a very, very good friend asked me if coming to Spain was as amazing as I'd hoped.  She's one of the people in my life who gets all my firsthand observances first, one of the ones I totally don't censor myself with, one of the ones who just knows me really well.  And I've had my share of complaints about being here - my hellish first month, about my living environment, about feeling alienated sometimes, for example.

My conclusion is that it was...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Best of 2010: Teaching

From January to April of this year, I taught a Business French course to professionals at a real estate company in downtown Toronto, and teaching was one of the most wonderful, one of the happiest and most rewarding experiences I've had this year...

(click for more after the jump)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Best of 2010: Unconditional Support

Earlier this month when I was in the Netherlands visiting my girl B³, she asked me some really thought-provoking questions about the past year.  She's really introspective and reflexive, and she has a habit of going over her experiences in her head to see what she learned, to remind herself of things she should be grateful for, etc., and I find that it's a really good habit.

Thus, she inspired me to write a Best of 2010 series, which I will use to reflect on the happiest moments of this year, the best experiences I've had, things I'm thankful for, the coolest people I've met, and so on.

I have so much to be thankful for this year.  This year I experienced unconditional support.  Literally no questions asked, I'll help you right away, I trust you implicitly, I want to help you achieve whatever you set out to do, no I don't need more details or information or assurances - that kind of support.

I officially received my contract for coming to Spain back in back in end of February.  My job started at the last week of June, so I didn't have much time at all saving up enough money to come here, and at one point, I was working three jobs simultaneously to save enough money, because you need a certain amount in your bank account to apply for certain types of visas.

Although I knew that I'd manage to save just enough money right before to coming, I needed to apply for my visa well in advance.  So I needed to have that money in my bank account right away.

The person closest to me couldn't help me in this respect, so I asked someone who'd normally be my next of kin, who's always been listed as my next of kin, in case anything happened to Person #1.  But Person #2 gave me a hard time about it (after all, it's a lot of money), we went back and forth a lot, and they just kind of created a lot of hassle for this.  And the thing is, I've always HATED asking for things, especially money, so this was a really awful experience.  I wish I could forget those conversations.

So then luckily I smartened up and thought of the actual second person in the world who's always, always there for me, besides the aforementioned Person #1, regardless of anything  - my brother.  Actually, he's not biologically my brother.  He's the son of a family friend with whom I grew up.  His mother used to babysit me, so we saw each other every day for years and he's always been my big brother to me.  And he's one of two people in the world who always has time for me, who always has a second to help me sort out whatever mess I'm in or to give me sound advice.

Our relationship is pretty typically sibling-like, but money has never been implicated in it before.  We've never really talked much about money, and so I was a little nervous bringing the issue up to him - but I was desperate and I really, really needed help.

So there I was, in my living room one day, chatting with him over the Internet, giving him another unsolicited update on my life, when I finally gathered the guts to broach the subject with him.  I asked him if he trusted me, and he said he did.  I told him about my situation and I assured him that if he were to lend me the money, I'd give it back to him right away, after I got my visa.

And he just said yes, right after I asked, almost even before I could finish giving him the background story.  He just asked how much I needed, then he told me to drop by his place the next day to pick up the check.  "The money's just sitting in my savings account anyway," he said.  He didn't need any more explanations, any more information - he'd known that I  was working on getting myself to Spain and now that I needed help, he was perfectly happy to assist me.

Right away, I burst into tears because this conversation went so radically differently from the ones before that I had with Person #2.  And, after all, we're not even really biologically related - he's just my brother to me because I've decided that he is.  He was just supportive of me, he didn't need any details.  I asked, he agreed, end of story.

So he lent me the money.  I got my visa and, as promised, returned the money to him the instant my visa came through.  No hassle, no drama, no making me feel humiliated and awful, like the other person..

Without his help, I don't know how else I would have gotten the money in my account when I needed to, and I'm not sure I would have been able to get my visa in time.  Then I wouldn't have been able to have the incredible life experience that I'm enjoying right now. 

So, even though I always feel this way normally, I'm especially grateful for my brother and for his unconditional support. :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gifts for Girls

I've been seeing a lot of videos on YouTube about what to get the women in your life for Christmas.  It's entertaining to watch them, but I have to say that I disagree with a lot of the choices.  Thus, I was inspired to write my own list for what NOT to give a girl:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Holy Grail of Flirting?

What's your flirting style?  Do guys really have go-to lines?

I read this article today about "the Holy Grail of flirting" and the pillar of the art, of course, is giving compliments.  The article contains a summary of a study of what the most effective compliments are for women all over the world.  Apparently, Canadian and German sisters like to be complimented on their...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Dutch Getaway

What?  I have a blog???

So I do!

Sorry for being so slack, guys...

(more pictures and fun stuff after the jump!)