It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Apologies For My Absence!

Apologies for my absence, but I've been away and haven't had the opportunity to post.  For those of you who don't know, guess where I've been from the photos below ...

And for those of you who've not figured it out yet, this next one is the sure giveaway!  One of my very favourite things about the place where I've just spent a week ...

Friday, April 20, 2012

La Roca Outlet Village, Granollers, Spain

We'd heard great things about La Roca Outlet Village, so we headed along for a look - it was certainly very beautiful and well laid out but it was EXPENSIVE.

Unfortunately the prices were absolutely bonkers and we bought precisely nothing.  If you're from the US, just don't bother, the prices at pretty much every US outlet are going to be significantly cheaper than this.  If you're from Europe, you might be able to sniff out a bargain, but I honestly found the prices to be a bit mad.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cala Sila Restaurant, Granollers, Spain

Dessert Tapas - it's the future!

After our fairly average dinner on the first night, we were told about Cala Sila and thought we'd give it a try - we weren't disappointed!

It's a tapas restaurant with about 20 choices on the paper menu which is wrapped around your checked fabric napkin.  We chose about 8 different things to try between us for our main selection and it was all lovely.  The staff were all helpful and friendly and we managed to get by in a mix of English and Spanish.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fonda Europa Restaurant, Granollers, Spain

We had dinner here on our first night in Granollers, and I must say that we were all fairly disappointed.

It's a lovely looking restaurant, right near the city centre, but the service and food let it down.

We were a group of 5 and two of our party didn't order a starter - the staff bought their mains with our starters, so they were left with empty spaces when we were eating our mains.  Not that it really mattered, because the staff came and snatched the plates away from whoever had finished, regardless of who was still eating.  It became a bit of a hotch potch of starters and mains, with plates being removed and new plates being delivered with no sort of order.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hotel Ciutat de Granollers, Spain


Just back from a few days in Barcelona to surprise my lovely friend Mel, who was visiting with her husband Craig.

I flew with Ryanair into Barcelona El Prat Airport and we stayed at the Hotel Ciutat de Granollers in Granollers, about 25 kilometres from Barcelona, as Craig was working in the Granollers area.

The hotel is located about 10 minutes walk from the town of Granollers and seems pretty well set up for business travellers.  And by business travellers, I mean men.  Which would explain that there's no tissues, conditioner or body lotion in the bathrooms - but there is a razor.  And a paper thin shower curtain that likes to adhere to you as you're in the shower.

The hotel is in good condition and is clean.  I had a single room, but it had two single beds and lots of room to move.  The mattresses were HARD to the point of waking me up at night because I was so uncomfortable.  My room had two opening windows (great!) which were a bit hard to manipulate because of the heavy curtains, but I worked out that if you pulled the curtains right to the middle of the window wall, you can open the windows with no problem.

Breakfast was included in my room rate and it was tasty and plentiful, with hot and cold selections, and a decent coffee machine.

There is free wifi in the hotel and free parking outside.

There was a health club and a large, lovely looking pool available, but the weather was less than warm, so we didn't try it.

Hotel Ciutat de Granollers
Turo d'en Bruguet 2
08402 Granollers
Phone:- 93 879 62 20

Monday, April 16, 2012

Rhubarb Sour Cream Cake Recipe

It's rhubarb season and the lovely pink sticks of rhubarb are in all the supermarkets and on the stalls of the farmers markets.  I must admit that I haven't done a lot with rhubarb, it's always seemed a bit of a dark art, but my mother-in-law (hi Jessie!) makes a scrumptious rhubarb crumble, so I've decided to give it a try.

I found this recipe over at das Revensblog, and they lifted it from fortysomething.  I cooked mine in a bundt pan as I heard the mixture might be a bit wet after the rhubarb cooked moisture out during its time in the oven - and it's scrumptious!

Rhubarb Sour Cream Cake


1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream
4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg


In a bowl, blend butter and brown sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Stir into butter mixture alternately with the sour cream. Stir in rhubarb. Spoon into a buttered 9x13" pan. Sprinkle with topping.
Bake at 350° F. for 50-60 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Oh, and this is a bundt pan - just in case you haven't used one before.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Everyone who knows me knows I love to read.  I always have at least one book on the go at any given time, and I read quickly, so I go through books at quite a rate.

This wasn't really a problem in other countries where we've lived, because once I'd read a book I could give them away to friends, family and neighbours - but here in Germany there really isn't a demand for English books and I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do with them.

There's a second-hand book store in Rado, and they're quite happy for me to donate them, but they won't swap them with me, or give me anything for them - and I think they're actually selling them online anyway, so I was getting precisely nothing out of the deal.

My friend Gina told me about and it's fabulous!  It's a website for swapping English books in Germany.  It's dead easy and it's FREE.  You sign up, list the books you don't want anymore, and once you've sent off some of yours, you get a credit per swapped book.  Each credit lets you get a book from someone else.  It's fab and, did I mention, it's FREE.

Postage of books in Germany is ridiculously cheap.  Provided you leave the envelope accessible for inspection (close it with one of those split pins, not tape), you can send a book anywhere in Germany for €0.85.

There is a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section on their page that will help you get started.  Give it a go if you've got books you don't want anymore, and if you want to get your hands on some new books that you don't have to pay for.

And clever Gina told me to add their RSS feed to my Google Reader so I can see as soon as someone lists a new book for swapping - brilliant!  The popular books go quickly, as I discovered when I tried to get Jojo Moyes "Me Before You" pretty much as soon as it was listed on the weekend - it'd already gone.  But the good thing is that lots of the books get listed again for swapping once they've been read.

Oh, and if you'd rather buy your books brand spanking new, check out and  Both have cheap new books and FREE delivery - yippee!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

New Home + Dog = Friends!

Being an expat means you move around a bit.  We move around the world.  With our dog.  We bought Archie when we were living in the US and he now lives with us here in Germany.

Basically all of the friends I've made here are people I've met whilst out walking Archie (or at the barn).  Dogs tend to talk to other dogs and I end up talking to their owners.  There are certainly people here who don't speak any English, and that's great for me to practice my German, but many people do speak English and it's great to find some people to chat with in your own language - and I've made some lovely friends this way.

Without Archie forcing me to get up off the sofa and get out of the house to walk him (long walks, twice a day, no matter what the weather), I know that my life here would be very different and probably quite lonely.

One of the many challenges when moving around the world is that you're constantly living in rental accommodation, and that can have serious pros and cons.  One of the pros is that, after experiencing 8 different rental kitchens, I'm going to be able to design the most amazing kitchen ever when we get our own house!  One of the cons is that, depending on which country you're in, you're going to wind up in an apartment without a garden.

An apartment without a garden isn't really a problem if you don't have a pet, but with a dog, you're going to have to make some changes to the way you live.  We're lucky enough to have a garden so Arch can go out to go to the toilet, or lay in the sun, or chase the birds, whenever he wants to.

I found a great blog post here on how to manage with pets when you're living in an apartment that might help on your next move around the globe, or even just across town.

Check it out here:-

Friday, April 6, 2012

Paris : AirFrance Les Cars

On arrival into Paris at Charles de Gaulle (CDG) we decided we'd get the airport train into town, which we did and it was fine, but it was slow (it took an hour) and it was filthy (really grotty).  It was also cheap - I think the two of us got into the centre of town, and then out to our hotel on the Metro for €18.50.

We noticed the AirFrance Les Cars stop outside our hotel and asked the Concierge about it.  He said the bus comes every 30 minutes and the trip takes between 45-60 minutes.  It cost €16.50/person and we decided that we'd go back to the airport that way and see how it was.

Honestly, it was great.  It took us only 30 minutes, which might have been quick as it was a Sunday.  There were no other pick-ups after our stop (Porte Maillot) and the bus was clean and quiet.  You can buy your ticket online, from the Concierge at the Le Meridien Etoile (opposite the stop), or on board the bus.  We'd definitely do it that way again.

Oh, and you don't have to be an Air France passenger - we were flying Swiss.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Paris : Laduree Macarons

Laduree macarons are famous around the world, and they're seriously scrumptious.  Ernest Louis Laduree started baking his first macarons in 1826 in Paris, and originally he only ever baked chocolate macarons.  Laduree macarons are now known around the world, and their flagship store is on the Champs Elysees in Paris - of course we had to visit!

There is a core range of flavours that they supplement with seasonal specialties, and many different packaging options from boxes to pouches to tins.  The boys helped me choose 6 different flavours (amongst them licorice, salted caramel and raspberry) and the helpful staff packed them carefully into a cute Hello Kitty Laduree box, and then into one of their signature pale green paper carry bags.

I know I'm meant to share them, but I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen ...

You can find more information and the Laduree macaron recipe right here.  You all know I'm on a baking jag right now, but I've never attempted macarons - have any of you ever made them?

75 Avenue des Champs Elysees
75008 Paris, France
Phone:- +33 (0) 1 40 75 08 75

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Paris : Le Relais de Venise

The view of the line in front of me as I was patiently waiting ...

Well, well, well, what to say about this crazy and crazily good restaurant?

Okay, I'll give it to you straight.  You have to line up, they don't take reservations, it's cramped, there is no menu and they only cook ONE thing (well, two things if you count the fries).  Yes, really.  Want more info?  Here's our experience ...

Before we left for Paris, I was poking around on the amazing
for a restaurant that was close to our hotel for our first night, as we were all expecting to arrive after 7.30pmish.

I stumbled across Le Relais de Venise and all of the very highly rated reviews, and discovered it was literally behind our hotel - a definite must.

We lobbed up there on Friday night about 9pm, expecting that the line would have gone by then - WRONG!  We eyed up the 30 or so people waiting outside and decided we'd go somewhere else, which we did, and it was fine - but I still really wanted to go to Le Relais de Venise ...

So, on Saturday night, we decided we'd try again.  After a quick libation at the James Joyce, we headed back to see how bad the line was.  It was worse.  I still really wanted to go.  I suggested that the boys headed back to the James Joyce and I'd wait in the line, and ring them when we got close so they could come back - it didn't take terribly much convincing and they were off.

I'm guessing there were 40-50 people in front of me and the restaurant was obviously full.  I watched for a while and then pulled out my phone and started up my Boggle app.  The line started moving, and it kept moving - slowly, but steadily.  I only got through 3 games of Boggle (9 minutes) when I was nearly at the front.  I texted the boys and then I was at the front door.  And they weren't back yet.

The absolute Grand Dame who runs the restaurant wouldn't let me in, because my boys weren't with me - fair enough, I knew they were on their way.  She took others from the line behind me and told one group they had a table available upstairs.  On hearing this, the lady in the group said "But I don't want to sit upstairs" and Mme Grand Dame said "That's okay, you can go home".  Fabulous!  Strangely, the lady changed her mind very quickly and they were ushered upstairs.

The boys arrived and we were shown to a small table, pulled out so I could slide in next to the wall and then pushed back in after me (no nipping out to go to the loo here!).  Our lovely waitress then arrived and said "How do you like your meat cooked?".  Yes, that's as close as you get to a menu.  Then she scrawled some squiggles on the paper tablecloth and gave us the tiny, hand written, wine menu - we ordered the most expensive wine on the menu, all of €18.50!

Yummy green salad.

Then our green salad arrived - just leaves, a creamy dressing and walnuts.  As soon as we were done with that, and our wine had been poured, our entrecote steak arrived.  That's all they cook here, entrecote steak and french fries - it's plated for you at the table by your waitress.  They serve half of it first, keeping the rest warm in the kitchen whilst you have your first portion.  The entrecote?  It was delicious!  It's served with a green sauce and none of us could decide what was in it, but it was lovely.

Just looking at this makes me hungry!

We really enjoyed our two portions and our waitress was lovely and friendly.  Once she'd cleared away our mains, we were given small hand written dessert menus.  I chose the profiteroles (how could I not?), as did David, and hubby had the sorbet - it was all gorgeous.

Dessert menu.  Oh, FYI, everything is in French.

Now, this isn't a place where you sit and mull over your dinner for several hours - you get in, enjoy the food and experience, and then free your table up for the other people lining up outside.

They have now opened up in New York, and at two locations in London.

Go, line up, enjoy the experience and the food - it's worth it.

Oh, and our bill for three people having three courses, water and wine?  €123.00.  You can't really argue with that.

Gorgeous profiteroles - YUM!

Le Relais de Venise
271 Boulevard Pereire
Porte Maillot, Paris
Phone:- 01 45 74 27 97

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Paris : BHV

On my first ever visit to Paris, about 15 years ago, my luggage got munched by the giant luggage handler in the sky, ripping an entire corner off my case, leaving my clothes splayed out along the baggage carousel like some sort of bizarre art installation.

Paris was the first stop on a multi-stop European vacation, so I needed to get a new suitcase fast.  The hotel concierge recommended I make a visit to BHV, a department store next to the Hotel de Ville (HDV) in the centre of town.  They had a great selection of cases, I purchased one, and off I went on my adventures.  And that was that.

Now, you know I've started baking lately, and am loving the new "Rachel Khoo's Little Paris Kitchen" on BBC 2.  She cooks gorgeous French recipes in a simple style in the tiny kitchen of her old Paris studio apartment.  In the first episode she made Lemon & Raspberry Friands (not her recipe, but hers in her cookbook and that's only just been released) and they looked so amazing that I decided I must have a friand tin so that I can make friands too - of course!

So I added "friand tin" to my shopping list for our Paris trip and was sure I'd find one in Galeries Lafayette, but NON!  They had every other kind of tin you could imagine, but not a friand tin.  Now, I know I can make friands in mini muffin tins, but let's face it, everything tastes better if it looks the way it should, and I wasn't going to take any chances.

BHV popped into my mind and I decided that I should head over there and check it out.  For my Adelaide people, it's like Harris Scarfes, but bigger and better.  It seems that tourists to go Galeries Lafayette and locals shop at BHV.  It's vast, and even has a Metro stop in the basement.  The basement is basically a giant hardware store, and they even cut wood to size down there - it's amazing.

Anyway, I headed up to kitchenware and there it was, my lovely new friand tin!  I grabbed it up and thought I'd go down and look around the hardware store in the basement.  I had heard or read somewhere that they have fantastic French signs available and some friends of my parents have one that says "CHIEN LUNATIQUE" (mad dog).  I really wanted one and thought I'd see if BHV had them.  They did!  I bought one!

So, if you're in Paris, and you want pretty much anything, and want to shop like a local, get yourself along to BHV.

55 rue de la Verriere
75004 Paris, France

Monday, April 2, 2012

Paris : Les Cars Rouges

You know my love of the "Hop On Hop Off" bus tour, I've blogged about it twice, and I think they're a great idea.

We did lots (and lots) of walking on our first day in Paris and decided that a few hours sitting in the sun whilst having a guided tour of the sights seemed like a very good idea.

We lobbed up to the Les Cars Rouges bus stop and asked about tickets.  They only sell a two day ticket and the price is €27/person.  Now, that's double what Diane and I paid in Rome a few weeks ago.  We bought the tickets and climbed aboard, snagging some seats on the top deck.

The tour was okay, but probably the most average one I've done.  It was heavy on music and light on information.  There were nine stops and they seemed to park the bus, turn the engine off, and sit at each stop for about 5 minutes, longer at some places.

I guess if you used the bus over both days, it might be worth it, but for us with only one afternoon available it was a bit of a rip-off.  I think they should sell one day tickets, or cheaper tickets (like they do in Rome), if you're just going to do a loop and get off once.

If you're looking for a cheap way to get around, try the Metro (the underground train system).  It's very easy to understand - I even managed to catch it all by myself (with my legendary poor sense of direction and total lack of French) and ended up exactly where I hoped I might.