I’ve been lost in Barcelona.  Not just a little turned around, but completely without any idea of where I was in relation in my hostel, major monuments, or landmarks.

The Port of Barcelona

While I would like to blame this predicament on the fancy map of Barcelona I had bought at Borders, it is probably my inability to read such map that got me so turned around.

Luckily, I wasn’t alone.  Fellow Mizzou Alums, dietitians, and lovers of travel, Kristy and Abby, where by my side the whole time.

Where the trouble began. The Basilica of the Sagrada Família in Barcelona.

After a drama-free stroll around the Port of Barcelona and Las Ramblas, some refreshing gelato, and a easy subway ride to visit the famous Basilica of the Sagrada Família, we thought it would be brilliant to walk back to the hostel.

Besides my poor map-reading skills, we were all turned around by the subway ride and wandered (and wandered) in the completely wrong direction until we finally began to question our route.  Defeated, but confident we would soon find our way back, we were not too worried.  Until, we got ourselves even more lost…

Relieved to find a subway...but where to go next?

Hungry, sweaty, and exhausted, we walked and walked and walked each of us ebbing between finding the situation funny and having mini temper tantrums (seriously…don’t mess with hungry dietitians).  We definitely traversed parts of Barcelona that tourists don’t typically see and my breaking point was when we had to walk under a busy overpass.

One thing we could all agree about in our darkest hours was that we wanted sangria….and a lot of it.  And paella.  Lots of it.

After almost four hours (at least that’s how long it felt) we finally found a subway station.  Despite being baffled by how we were able to walk that long in a major European city and not stumble upon an underground, we were so happy that we were saved, all the tension that had swelled during our adventure melted away.

The light at the end of the (four-hour long) tunnel - Paella and Sangria.

Before we knew it, we were back at our hostel on Las Ramblas and, after some minor regrouping, we set out to find that paella and sangria.  Luckily, we didn’t have to walk more than five minutes before we were seated on the outdoor patio of a small bistro sipping cold sangria quickly followed by two steaming pans of the most comforting paella I have ever had.

We had better meals as the trip went on, like the juiciest pork chops any of us have ever had in Granada and a delightful impromptu picnic of cherries, crusty bread, and sharp cheese at an open-air market in Madrid, yet none of the these meals were more welcomed and well-deserved than that paella and sangria.

A crazy flight warrants a celebration when safely on the ground.

I have been remembering this trip because by the close of this week, I will be exploring another major city (Zurich) with one of my Spain travel buddies (Kristy).  I hope we don’t get lost, but if we do, there will surely be good food to carry us through.

The best day ever in Granada.

Spain has also been on my mind lately because we are about to launch our annual, two-week long, passport celebration at work.  This year we are focusing on Spain.  The store is going to be jam-packed with Spanish wines, cheeses, jamón, pastries, Flamenco dancing, music, paella, classes lead by famous Spanish chefs, free wine tastings, and even a celebration of the running with the bulls and a screening of Vicky Christina Barcelona (loooooveee that movie).  And don’t forget about the Sangria.

Beautiful Alhambra.

Over in the bakery, we will be featuring arroz con leche, various Spainish cakes, sweet breads, crema Catalana, and olive oil tortas.

A stroll around Madrid.

If you live in Houston, San Antonio, Austin, or the Dallas/Fort Worth area, you should really check out all the great things going on at Central Market over the next few weeks.  If not, just make yourself some Sangria and get lost…just for a moment.

Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid.

Travel buddies


Makes 6-7 Drinks

Loosely based on the Sangria recipe in The Essential New York Times Cookbook 

1 small naval orange, unpeeled, and sliced very thin

1 small lime, unpeeled, sliced very thin

1 small lemon, unpeeled, sliced very thin

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 3-4 oranges)

The juice from one lemon

4 ounces Spanish brandy

1 (750-ml) bottle red Spanish wine (preferably Rioja)

Chilled sparkling water (optional)

Combine all ingredients, including sparkling water to taste if desired in a large pitcher.  Stir well to dissolve sugar.  Add ice before serving and add additional sparkling water to taste.