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I'm Nadine. Thanks for stopping by. The floors are creaky, the kids are loud, but the door's always open and the coffee's always on.

Make yourself at home.

Paris and Barcelona: Quick Thoughts

I'm not sure how to sum up two weeks' worth of vacation in a blog post (or five), mostly because my brain is still in "offline mode" — but I'll try.

Matthew and I spent eight days in Paris. We then took a 6-and-a-half-hour train ride to Barcelona, where we stayed for another five days. Then we came home. And slept. And I woke up with a moderate-high fever and evil sore throat. (I'm allergic to returning to the real world.) Blargh.

Twelve random things of note:

1. Neutrogena, call me. I'd like to be your spokesperson. (Despite days in the direct blazing Barcelona sun, neither of us got burned. A major accomplishment for two people whose skin can usually best be described as "a blue shade of white.")

2. In Paris, temperatures peak at 6 p.m. It's bizarre. You can be wearing a sweater ALL DAY, and then you'll suddenly be wishing you had a tank top on for your picnic dinner in front of the Eiffel Tower.

3. Picnics in front of the Eiffel Tower are not overrated. (That stereotype of Parisians carrying around baguettes everywhere? Accurate. You would, too, if bread here tasted like that.)

4. Parisian parents are chill. Kids run around — one toddler was eyeing Matthew's cup o' wine in the park, another played peek-a-boo with me — and climb things and jump over things and no one freaks out.

5. "French women don't get fat" because of stairs. (Our apartment was a six-floor walk-up.)

6. Spanish women get a little fatter because of deep fryers. (Fried artichokes? With my fried everything-else? Sure, why not?)

7. I wore a bikini in Barcelona. The second time in my entire life. Matthew was relieved, as "the only person I saw in a one-piece today was an 11-year-old girl."

8. It's HOT during the day in Barcelona, which is why people p-a-r-t-a-y late into the night. (Dinner at 10, anyone?) This means the streets are dead in the morning. No breakfast/brunch culture here.

9. Waiter: "Where are you from?" Me: "Toronto." Waiter: "Nobody's perfect."

10. Even the most authentic tapas place plays Shania Twain and Bon Jovi. And Pharrell defies all international borders.

11. Go to Paris for style tips. (Fitted blazers, straight/skinny pants, cute flats.) Go to Barcelona for chill tips. (Nap in the park on a Sunday afternoon.)

12. Escargots taste like garlic butter. Related: the pastry below is also called an "escargot." It tastes like pistachio, chocolate and heaven.

I'll sum up our top food and cultural spots soon. Here's a quick excerpt from that post:

"Never go to Versailles on a Tuesday."

Paris: The Sights

Too Late To Learn Spanish?