Browsing Tag:


    Fab Europe Travel

    Top Five Things to do in Beautiful Barcelona – Ole’!

    Plan now for a visit in 2018

    Location: Barcelona Spain

    Headed to Europe or planning for next summer?  You need to include time in Barcelona Spain.  Ancient yet modern, here are our top five things to do in beautiful Barcelona.

    Top Five Things to do in Barcelona

    Park Guell

    One of Europe’s top destination cities, Beautiful Barcelona is a vibrant, cultural, colorful and historic gem, nestled in the warm and sunny Northeast corner of the Iberian Peninsula on the Mediterranean Sea. Bravo – Ole!

    <img alt ="mercadobarcelona">

    A bounty of fresh

    A visit to Barcelona can be done in as little as three days, but why not spend more time? Beautiful Barcelona is one of those special places where you should just wander… around every corner you’ll stumble upon ancient architecture. In every nook and cranny find local cuisine featuring the bounty of the Catalan region. Sit and sip a coffee or Spanish wine and practice your Spanish with a local – who will likely speak both Spanish and Catalan but not English. Language is never a problem though, everyone is kind and knows a bit of English and you point and smile and communicate however you can (and it doesn’t hurt to have a translation app on your phone!). Muy Bien!

    1. Ramble La Rambla (and more)
    Top Five Thingsro so in Barcelona

    La Rambla

     One of Barcelona’s favorite places to see and be seen is La Rambla, the famous and beautiful wide promenade in the old city. Walking in Barcelona is encouraged, through beautiful pedestrian areas like this one, although Barcelona also has an efficient, clean and fast subway (Metro). Be sure to look into the Barcelona Card for your best transport deals in the city (as well as deals to museums and more).

    Along La Rambla you will find shopping and dining and many places to sit and relax. You will also find the entrance to the wonderful Mercado de la Boqueria (see more below on this).

    Top Five Things to do in Barcelona

    Lunch at Mercado de la Boquerie

    Barcelonians can also be found promenading along the boardwalk area of Barcelona Beach, popular for sunbathing in the heat, dining and walking any time in this city by the sea.

    For more upscale shopping be sure to stroll the Passeig de Gracia, or just to window shop at such designer stores as Hermes, Michael Cors, or Yves Saint Laurent. This area is known for its modernist architecture, theaters (Flamenco and Opera) and dining. Fantastico!

    1. Bon Profit – Buen Provecho
    Top Five Things to do inBarcelona

    Spanish wine is amazing

    No matter how you say it, in Catalan or Spanish, eating well in Beautiful Barcelona is easy to do. The Catalan cuisine focuses simply on one thing – fresh, seasonal ingredients. Don’t expect spicy foods, or lots of sauces as you might find in France or South America. Spain’s cuisine, and in particular the region of Catalonia, uses simple seasoning and lets the fresh ingredients do the talking.

    Jamon (please don’t call this prosciutto in front of a Spaniard) is found through- out Spain and the locally produced Iberian Black Pig Jamon is some of the finest in the world (check out the Jamon Experience ). Spanish olive oil is also spectacular, and unbeknownst to many people, you are often buying Spanish olive oil when it’s labeled Italian.

    Top Five Things to do inBarcelona

    Spanish cooking class

    Whether or not you are a foodie, a visit to the
    impressive Mercado de la Boqueria should be high on your list during your time in Barcelona. It’s a fun experience and feast for both the eyes and the
    stomach. Wander through the stalls eating “take-away” tapas ranging from olives, to empanadas, jamon to calamari and everything in between. Sidle up to the bar at one of the handful of restaurants serving fresh made Catalan specialties to customers perched at a narrow bar on stools. Delicioso!

     Consider a food tour where an experienced guide will take you to multiple restaurants, tapas bars, wine bars as well as through the mercado. This is an excellent way to learn about the cuisine and the city and its passion for fresh food. There are many options for tours like this in Barcelona. Check out or to learn more.

    Top Five Things to do inBarcelona

    Black Pig Jamon

    Delve deeper into the cuisine with a cooking class. Classes can focus on the delicious and colorful and beautiful foods of Barcelona such as tapas, seafood or a selection of some of the region’s best-known dishes such as Paella, Tortilla, and Gazpacho and usually include an in-depth tour of the Boqueria.

    1. Ga Ga for Gaudi
    Top Five Things to do in Barcelona

    La Sagrada Familia

    Barcelona has become synonymous with Antoni Gaudi, the influential architect from the 1800’s who was far ahead of his time. There are three main sights in Barcelona to marvel at his genius, and all three are recommended. Be sure to book in advance – these are the cities most popular tourist destinations and you don’t want to miss out!

    Incredible architecture

    La Sagrada Familia – designed by Gaudi, this Catholic Basilica, named for the Holy Family, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. Construction began on Gaudi’s masterpiece in 1882 and he devoted the remainder of his life to the project. Since Gaudi’s death in 1926 construction has continued, being interrupted only by war, and continues to this day. Visitors can see the varying stages, including (with a special ticket) going up inside one of the towers. Like all of Gaudi’s works, elements from nature play heavily in the design, and the magnificent stone forest, and masterful use of stained glass on the interior makes for a spiritual and natural experience. It will take your breath away. Current goals are to complete the remaining towers by 2026, the centennial of Gaudi’s death. Do not miss La Sagrada Familia – an absolute highlight of your tour of Beautiful Barcelona.

    Top Five Things to do in Barcelona

    Park Guell

    Park Guell – The combined vision of urban planner/businessman Eusebi Guell and Antoni Gaudi
    conceived this residential neighborhood, which failed commercially due to its high cost and location too far from the city center. Began in 1900, it became a Barcelona city park in 1926. Today there are portions of the park that are free to the public, but to really experience the UNESCO Heritage site, reserve one of the limited numbers of visitors tickets sold each day. The park includes more of Gaudi’s inspirational and astonishingly forward thinking nature-themed style, from the covered seating areas to the water features, houses and other structures. Park Guell is a must see in Barcelona.

    Top Five Things to do in Barcelona

    Park Guell

    Want more Gaudi? Stroll the Passieg de Gracia to see Casa Mila and Casa Batllo, two more remarkable buildings showcasing Gaudi’s striking modernist art style with homage to nature. This block of homes (Gaudi and non-Gaudi) is one of the most beautiful in all of Barcelona. Tickets are needed to enter, or you can admire from outside. Learn more about Casa Mila at or Casa Batllo

    1. History Lessons
    Top Five Things to do in Barcelona

    Passieg de Garcia

    This city’s history is deep, with some of the earliest findings suggesting occupation in the region dating as early as 5000BC. Clearly the region has been an important crossroads for millennia, with Romans playing a major role in development with many sites viewable today dating to this period. A walk through the Barri Gotic takes you back in time, and a visit to the Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulate shouldn’t be missed. More indepth and fascinating history can be found in the Catalonia History Museum and the Barcelona History Museum. Both are worth the time.

    For a fun and educational lesson check out Free Barcelona Walking Tours or

    1. Afield

    If you are blessed with additional time in Catalonia, there are numerous day-trips outside of Barcelona including Montserrat Mountain and Monastery, Costa Brava with its beaches and historic villages, and many cycling and hiking options.

    Visit Barcelona and spend at least five days – a week is even better – and get to know this magical place. Yo amo Barcelona! Ole!

    Note- interested in more information on Spanish cooking class at Mercado de la Boqueria? Click here.




    Fab Asia Travel

    Remembering the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami

    Remembering the 2004 Tsunami

    Location: Sri Lanka

    Remembering the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

    Remembering the 2004Indian Ocean Tsunami

    Top someone’s former home. Bottom high water mark at the bar

    Last year on the 13th anniversary of the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami we were in Phuket Thailand. It was difficult to find any sign of the disaster
    remaining in Thailand, where about 5000 people perished.

    Remembering the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami

    Top afterthe Tsunami. Bottom today.

    But it’s still very much apparent here in Sri Lanka.  Here 50,000 people died on December 26, 2004 including 2000 who died here in the town where we are living when the train they were riding was swept away.

    Right here where our little Castaway Cottage now sits, a families home was destroyed. The concrete slab only remains, a memorial of sorts.  The family, our Airbnb hosts, survived and moved forward, in the resilient way the Sri Lanka people seem to.

    Remembering the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

    Top after the tsunami and bottom today

    Our tour guide we had on our five day tour was in Colombo on that day.  Luckily the waves did not affect Colombo on the West Coast of Sri Lanka.  Many more lives would have been lost in the largest city in the country.

    We visited a temple and the Monk told us how on that day the temple washed away.  Still today signs of rebuilding part of the school there.  Resilient.

    Remembering the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

    Left memorial to the train victims. Right a close up of artists rendition of disaster.

    There are subtle reminders often; a memorial to fifty lives lost in Yala National Park;  a high water mark at a beach bar in Hikkaduwa; empty buildings and hotels still not rebuilt; trees growing where families once thrived.

    Remembering the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

    For perspective, that’s me standing on the bridge.

    The most public memorials in this area are for the train victims.  Two memorials are built- one by the resilient Sri Lankan people with an artists version of the devastation on the train that day.  The other, a gift from the Japanese – a giant Buddha statue next to the train tracks where so many lost their lives.  This beautiful statue marks where the second wave hit.  The most devastating wave to strike – and to kill.

    Remembering the 2004 I Dian Ocean tsunami

    Countries affected by the tsunami.

    Day to day life goes on around these memorials, despite the fact everyone here was touched by this event in some way and will never be the same.  But these resilient people easily get my vote for the friendliest of any people we have met on our travels.  Kind, polite, happy, resilient.  Lucky.

    Fabulous Sri. Lanka

    Note – we leave Sri Lanka in a couple of days and will be heading next to India for a brief five day stop. More from India when we can.  Thanks for following.


    Fab Asia Travel

    When the Dog Bites

    Location: Thailand

    Note – Hi Everyone!  We are still on a blog sabbatical as we work on some upgrades and cleanup of My Fab Fifties Life.  In the meantime, here is a repost of a blog I posted a year ago today from Thailand.  That was a memorable day to be sure! We will be back with some fun, new, fresh blogs real soon!  Happy New Year!


    Well as I’ve said before, Mama said there will be days like this.

    We had an excellent Christmas Day here on the island of Samui, Thailand.  Very relaxing and lovely.

    Today, December 26th, we vowed to get up and run, since we had taken the last five days off from running.  We headed down the hill to a flat area near the beach.  I told Arne I wanted him to stay with me until we passed a house where three dogs had growled at us the other day.

    So as we walked down the hill, we passed another house with three dogs, one very nasty and viscous  looking, but all behind a tall secure fence.

    About 20 yards past the house, suddenly we heard a noise and turned to see all three dogs flying down the hill, the vicious one in the lead teeth barred.  Someone had opened the gate and released them and immediately they came after us. In clear attack mode.

    At the hospital emergency room for the first in a series of shots

    The mean one took a bite. Leaving a broken wound on my husbands thigh.

    The dogs retreated and we stood there in shock and shaken.  My husband was not gravely injured, but the only way back to our apartment was to walk past that house again.

    We both got a big stick.

    As we approached the house the three dogs were back behind the gate.  We hollered and yelled trying to get someone’s attention but no one came.  We walked back to our apartment and immediately went to find the proprietors of our Airbnb.

    Of course they were horrified. They told us there had been some problems with these dogs in the past.  They walked with us down to speak to the owners.  The conversation, which was in Thai, seemed to lean towards the fact that we shouldn’t worry because they had vaccination records for the dog.

    That didn’t cut it for me.

    I asked for an explanation as to why they let the dog out right as we walked by? The answer was the dogs needed to poo.

    That didn’t cut it for me.

    They offered to pay for the doctor.  Duh.

    Our Airbnb owner told us where to go for the doctor so we headed out.  After three tries we ended up at the Koh Samui hospital emergency room where Arne was treated by beginning a series of both rabies and tetanus shots that will take place several times over the next month.  At a total cost to us of around $150.  I expect the dog owner to reimburse us.  Time will tell.

    Additionally our Airbnb owner wants to go with us to the Tourism Police to help us file a report. This will start a process against the dog and the owner.

    We will go there tomorrow.

    Here is my philosophy on this – Dogs shouldn’t bite. Plain and simple. I don’t care what country it is. I am as much of a dog lover as the next guy, but owners need to be responsible to train and monitor their animals.  And there are no second chances.

    Here in Thailand elephants and monkeys are regularly trained and used for both work and entertainment.  I know many people feel strongly against such uses of animals. You won’t see me riding an elephant for tourism purposes, but  I am also not going to condemn something that is a centuries old practice in a country where I am only a visitor. That doesn’t mean I will participate or support the practice.

    But when it comes to dogs that bite, in a neighborhood with pedestrians, children, scooters, cyclist – I draw the line.  Even as a visitor from another country. There is no room for error and no second chances. This dog must to go.

    Everything Else Fabulous

    One Year of Travel

    The Grand Adventure Abroad

    One full year.  On the move.  Out of the USA.  Living the Grand Adventure.

    Yes it’s already been a year.  So very much has happened. So many miles we’ve traveled.  And I am not the same.


    58,000 Miles

    Living outside of the United States as an American creates such an amazing opportunity to really understand privilege and gluttony and consumerism.  These words I use not only because I am guilty of these things but it is how much of the rest of the world sees Americans. Not flattering.


    What is a surprise is when we are able to spend quality time with someone we meet in our travels and change their view of the average American.  This means more to me than most anything else over the past year.

    My eyes have been opened, looking back to the USA and my friends there, I now clearly see two kinds of people – those who embrace this image of Americans and cultivate it greedily, happily and knowingly, and those who acknowledge it but want to change it.

    To each his own.  I know both kinds.  But as for me and my travels, there is only one way to


    move forward in our travels and that is to do anything and everything to debunk the image.  In my own little way – one human at a time. One country at a time.  This is not what I expected when I started this journey but it is important to me now more than ever.

    23 Countries

    New Zealand

    We get asked the same questions over and over, and always the first question is “what has been your favorite so far?”.  It’s become a little joke.  We keep telling each other we need to come up with an answer to this question.  But we honestly don’t have a favorite.  We have favorite things about every place we have been.  We have things we disliked about many places.  Mostly our favorite thing is the surprises and education we get from staying a long


    time in a place and really feeling the culture, the food, the religion, the life of the place.  That by far is our favorite thing.  I’ve changed in my travel goals – loving the days we truly are not tourists, the days we are able to haltingly communicate in someone elses language, the days we blend in.  Not the things I was expecting – but definitely

    New Zealand

    the most meaningful of all our “favorite” things.

    We’ve learned most people are sincerely nice and helpful and interested in telling us about their country.  They are proud and patriotic.  And yet so many countries are oblivious to trash and litter and pollution and it can really be astonishing.  Feral cats and stray dogs another big problem in so many countries – as a visitor you notice these things, all while being acutely aware that many people have very little and live on the street as well.  In some countries people just can’t worry about dogs and


    trash – they are just trying to find their next meal. It would be nice to see governments addressing all these issues.  But, none of these things stop us from visiting these places. It is part of the Grand Adventure.

    I’ve become more aware of the negative impact tourism has on many places and I am uncomfortable contributing to that.  Europe is very different in 2017 than the first time I visited 1988. We are tourists some days, while other days we steer away to less traveled and under the radar destinations.  But in a global world things begin to


    feel the same – tchosky souvenirs start to look the same in Bulgaria and Morocco. Locally handcrafted? Not likely.

    We’ve learned to sleep in beds hard and soft and eat every imaginable cuisine.  We’ve learned food is a great introduction to culture and a great conversation starter but also a comfort when we feel a bit homesick.  A good taco makes me happy when I miss our old life.

    6 Mexican Restaurants in 4 countries

    We embrace technology for communicating with our children and parents and for tracking so


    much of our travel details.  I do miss my kids but speak with them frequently and marvel at their own personal journey each is on.  I think the coming Christmas season I’ll feel their absence the most.

    Speaking of holidays, they go by in a blur.  Other than Christmas last year in Thailand, most places


    we have been,holidays have shown little consumerism and celebration.  In the USA we embrace every little holiday from St. Patrick’s Day to Halloween and have our own unique set of holidays that we make a big to do over such as Thanksgiving and Fourth of July.

    19 holidays abroad


    Holiday celebrations in countries we have been in so far focus mostly on family and religion and food and almost not at all on buying things and decorations or gift giving.  I think it used to be this way in America, but our focus is different now.  As for me, I no longer want the gifts to give or receive.  The experiences we are having are the best gift of all.


    Sometimes a holiday sneaks up on us.  Because we spend much of our time not even knowing what day or month it is.  When it’s 85 degrees in February or 32 degrees in April my brain and body get confused.  Am I above or below the equator?  Is it winter or summer?  What country am I in?  What day is it?  It’s actually a bit scary how often we have to stop and think about these simple questions.

    I’ve learned how little you need in a day-to-day life


    to feel satisfied.  Although I did get pretty tired of the three sets of clothes I wore over and over on the Camino, in general I don’t desire more than what we currently have in our suitcase.  It’s enough.  I have what is comfortable and works for our life. I still have one pair of shoes in the suitcase that I’ve only worn twice in a year – the low black heel.  I keep looking at those thinking I should throw them away.

    Lost luggage once. Found luggage once.

    I’ve learned to live without a clothes dryer and sometimes without a washing machine. No dishwasher, no movies, no American TV.  Don’t miss it. Don’t need it.

    I’ve also changed as far as what I would describe as “beauty ritual”.  Water conservation in most


    countries makes me realize I don’t need to shower and wash my hair every day as I used to.  I no longer wear makeup (except on a rare occasion) and my hair is easy and manageable with a washing every few days. And nobody cares.  Really.  One more thing I can let go of for now at least (and I still get so many compliments on the grey).

    3 hair cuts 

    Occasionally I have a nesting urge – when I miss my


    house and garden – but it’s rare.  Sometimes I see things I’d like to buy for a future home but I check myself.  Sure the Moroccan rugs are stunning – but, I really don’t know what my next house will look like so I walk away.  Save my money for an experience instead of a thing.

    Our “home” over the past year, and actually over the past 19 months since we closed the door and walked away from our house in Gig Harbor, our home has been wherever we are at the moment.  When people ask where we are from we say the United States, Washington or Seattle, depending on who we are talking to.  And if we meet someone from the Pacific Northwest we say Gig Harbor.  But really none of


    those places are home.  Where is home?  Right this minute as I write this it’s Morocco.  In a few days it will be Namibia. On Christmas it will be South Africa.  Home is where I am with Arne at this moment.

    27 Airbnb’s 

    63 other lodgings (boats, hotels, apartments, Kiwi Caravan and Albergues includes 41 nights on the Camino)

    I read more than I ever have in my entire life.  I walk more than I ever thought possible. Yoga is a very important part of our lives to keep us going. I challenge myself at almost 58 years old in ways I could never, would never have even considered at 28 or 38.  I see myself in an entirely different way than I did just ten years ago.  I am better, stronger, smarter, happier and more relaxed than at any other time in


    my life.

    This is not a coincidence.  It is entirely by design.

    I want to influence and encourage other people to seek happiness for themselves.  Not my kind of happiness but yours – whatever that is. I ignore those who push negativity towards me – and yes they are out there. Masquerading as “friends” on Facebook while criticizing our life, our message, our politics our choices and our success.  I don’t ask or expect everyone to understand this journey I’m on.  But it’s not about you is it?  It’s about us and it is exactly what we needed and when we needed it.


    62 books read

    20 pounds lost

    2446 miles walked

    And every day of this journey, nearly every minute of it and every mile has been spent with my best friend Arne.  People have asked if we get tired of each other?  Nope.  In fact the opposite.  We find we are the best companions – encouraging and collaborating better now than ever in our entire lives.  It’s both a test and a testament to our relationship and how we have developed it and defined it over the years.  We celebrate our wedding anniversary tomorrow as a matter of fact.  Yes we do, it seems like we have been married forever, and


    I hope forever is how long we will be together.

    35 years

    And now year two begins.  Can I do this forever?  I doubt it.  Some times it’s exhausting and frustrating.  Those times are infrequent though so I think I can do it for quit a while longer.  So for the next six months we have ten more countries before heading back to the USA for a two and a half month visit.  Then we will finish year two back in Europe and Africa.  We are already toying with ideas for year three.  But it’s a bit too soon.  Let’s not get

    The family last Christmas in Thailand

    ahead of ourselves.  Take it just a few months at a time is best.

    Thank you for sticking with us this past year and continuing to love our blog because the blog is a labor of love for me.  Tomorrow we fly to Namibia for ten days then on to South Africa where we plan to really relax for three weeks as we end 2017. A year for the record books!

    One year. One fabulous year!  Year two here we come!







    Fab Europe Travel

    Turning Portuguese, I Think I’m Turning Portuguese, I Really Think So

    Chapter Ten

    Location: Portugal

    For the last few days I’ve had that 1980’s punk rock song by the Vapors rolling around in my head – but with one change in the lyrics;

    “I’m turning Portuguese, I think I’m turning Portuguese, I really think so. ”

    Weird. I know.

    But here is the thing – oh my gosh I love it here!  So I kinda think I’m turning Portuguese.

    First of all I clearly can pass for a local – as long as I don’t open my mouth. Olive skin just soaks up the sun.

    Turning Portuguese.

    Secondly I love the weather. It’s unlike anywhere I’ve been. I totally expected it to be high humidity and tropical. It is neither. It’s like living in Arizona but with an ocean. The air is so dry. Hot days turn to cool, even nearly cold nights and mornings,  just like in the desert. But on the ocean. No air conditioning needed.

    I think I’m turning Portuguese.

    And then there is the food.  It’s heavenly.  A bit like Mediterranean, a bit like Spanish, but mostly unique and completely delicious.  The freshest seafood I have ever had.  Incredible beef, pork and cheese.  And the produce – especially right now.  It’s mind-boggling.  Top it with amazing wine and port and well- it’s purely Portuguese.

    I really think so.

    So the Vapors are rolling around in my head and I’m okay with that.  It reminds me of college – and it makes me happy to be Portuguese… at least for two more weeks.

    That’s why I’m turning Portuguese, I think I’m turning Portuguese. I really think so!