Thursday, 17 April 2008

El camarero, más sangría por favor

J, C2, my mum and I returned on Tuesday from four glorious days in sunny Barcelona, Spain. The sun and warmth was particularly welcome after a miserably cold and wet Spring in Geneva.

We packed a lot into those 4 days. Our perfect little hotel was on the carrer de Pelai, just off of the Plaça de Catalunya, the central square of downtown Barcelona, and one block from Barcelona’s famed Las Ramblas street. On our first day, we walked Las Ramblas to the harbour and back again, stopping only for lunch in a tiny charming square on a winding side street, and again for gelato. We had delicious tapas and an outstanding bottle of rioja for dinner at restaurant Sinatra (courtesy of the Millers’ October visit).
We spent most of our second day touring the celebrated Sagrada Familia cathedral; Antoni Gaudi’s enormous roman catholic church, which began construction in 1882, continues to this day and is only scheduled for completion in 2026. It is fantastical, mystical and visually irresistible. We waited in line patiently for 45 minutes to ascend one of its’ magical spires topped unexpectedly with passionfruit, figs, and grapes. Mum took the lift back down but C2, J and I descended the 300ish steps. The first 150 were fine, the last 150 rather terrifying as one misstep would send one tumbling hundreds of feet into a void. I held one hand on the banister, kept my eyes on the wall and muttered to myself as C2 tended to J.

Dinner that night was Paella and an utterly delicious jug of Sangria at restaurant Cullera de Boix. J loved our long late dinners. I don’t get it, he barely lasts 10 minutes at a normal dinner table!

C2 and J headed to the Barcelona Aquarium and Barceloneta beach for our third day, giving mum and I ample time to participate in Barcelona’s famed shoe shopping experience. Halfway down Las Ramblas, we stopped in at Café de l’Opera, a Barcelona institution and well-frequented haunt for a much-needed mid-day shot in the arm of Sangria. Dinner on our final night was again for authentic tapas, double pitchers of sangria and the best flan I’ve ever tasted at restaurant Los Torereros.

We spent our final day at the Barcelona zoo where J watched his first dolphin show. We headed to the airport in the late afternoon and strolled into our front door a couple of hours later– amazing! Coming from a country as immense as Canada, it never fails to astound me how much of Europe I can travel in so short a time.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

An Awareness Moment

Do you know that one woman in 68 over the age of 40 will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and that over a lifetime women have a one in 8 chance of developing the disease. It is also the most common cancer among women[1] Many of us have heard these numbers tossed around, particularly if we know someone who has battled this disease. They are fearsome statistics and every woman must take care to protect herself with all of the tools at our disposal.

The key to surviving breast cancer is early detection and treatment. According to the American Cancer Society, when breast cancer is confined to the breast, the five-year survival rate is close to 100%. The early detection of breast cancer helps reduce the need for therapeutic treatment and minimizes pain and suffering, allowing women to continue leading happy, productive lives.[2]

Beginning at the age of 40, all women should have annual mammograms, receive clinical breast exams each year, and practice breast self-exams every month.

I had my annual mammogram this morning and today I celebrate the fact that my breasts are real and healthy. I urge every woman reading this blog entry to do the same.

[1] American Cancer Society Cancer Incidence, Mortality and Prevalence Worldwide

Saturday, 5 April 2008

From the Mouths of Superheroes

J and I spent the day earlier this week in Bournemouth, England with our friends Lisa and Arthur and their kids M and S. The reason for this day-long cross-channel-and-back-again journey?? Lazytown LIVE of course!

Most North Americans are unfamiliar with this popular Icelandic children’s television show. In a nutshell, the main character is a superhero named Sportacus who along with a disturbingly upbeat pre-pubescent girl named Stephanie urge and cajole the normally lazy louts living in Lazytown to eat healthily, exercise regularly and to believe in themselves. They are remarkably positive role models and their acrobatic dancing combined with catchy show tunes have captivated most English-speaking European kids under the age of 8.

So after an enthralling 90-minute live stage show, we took the kids to a park to work off some of the steam built up after a plane ride and the stint in the theatre. Arthur overheard this exchange while the boys were tree-climbing still clad in their Sportacus costumes:

S: “Help, I think I need help climbing this tree”

J: “No you don’t, you’re Sportacus, you’re a superhero and superheros don’t need help climbing trees!”