About Chris Ciolli

Chris Ciolli

Chris Ciolli is a Barcelona-based writer, translator and artist with Midwestern roots. She shares her escapades as a Missourian in the world at Midwesternerabroad.com, and writes about Barcelona from a guiri-gone-native perspective at Barcelonaforidiots.com. A closet foodie and self-proclaimed art addict, Chris typically blogs about the drinks, eats and other cultural attractions she encounters on her travels. In her spare moments, she reads obsessively, slurps excessive quantities of coffee and tea, and plays with art supplies and kitchen tools. Oh, and travels as much as humanly possible.


Latest Posts by Chris Ciolli

Food Porn: The Best Vegan Coconut Curry

March 18, 2013 by  

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Vegan Coconut Curry with Naan- Chris Ciolli

As an undergraduate, I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to study in India. Of all of the places I’ve been, India is the most mind-boggling, heart-breaking and exciting. By leaps and bounds it’s my favorite destination. Color figures high on my list of things I loved about India. Handmade paper, and elaborately embroidered saris and salwar kameez in every hue imaginable and fragrant dishes to match.

I loved the food in India so much, that even though I had the much-feared Delhi belly during the majority of my stay, I still gained like 5 pounds (thank god for drawstring salwar pants).

Strange as it may seem coming from someone that spent only a month there, for me, Indian food is comfort food. Scalding hot curried vegetables over rice, or mopped up with roti or naan (Indian flat breads) make me feel happy and safe.

Here’s one of my favorite easy Indian-esque recipes to make at home, no ghee required.

Vegan Coconut Curry (Serves 4)

This is a healthy, easy recipe that can be made ahead and frozen. I usually make a double batch and freeze it in smaller two-serving containers.

Ingredients Vegan Coconut Curry

  • 1 and ½ cups cauliflower, chunked
  • 1 and ½ cups potatoes chunked
  • 1 cup carrots in thick slices
  • ½ cup red peppers, diced
  • ½ cup green peppers diced
  • ½ cup white onions, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-3 tsp yellow curry powder (to taste)
  • 1-2 tsp dried red chili flakes (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 8 oz can of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of water

Instructions Vegan Coconut Curry

  1. Wash and cut your vegetables
  2. Put the olive oil on low heat
  3. Add the onions and potatoes
  4. When they begin to brown (5-10 minutes), add the cauliflower, garlic and the carrots with a pinch of salt, and the water.
  5. Cover the vegetables and steam for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the peppers, the coconut milk, and the spices and cook on medium heat for another 5-10 minutes.Coconut curry cooking - Chris Ciolli

Serving Tips Vegan Coconut Curry:

  • Garnish with fresh cilantro (coriander) and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes
  • Serve with naan or roti (available at international groceries).  Pita is an okay naan substitute in a pinch, even though it’s really not quite the same.
  • Accompany with steamed rice (I like wholegrain basmati) for a gluten-free dish.

 

Tips on Traveling With Food Allergies & Other Dietary Restrictions

March 17, 2013 by  

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ensalada de antipasti- Chris Ciolli

Traveling with dietary restrictions can be a real pain in the you-know-where. While I’m not allergic to anything, and eat pretty much whatever can be foraged, I have lots of friends and loved ones who are vegetarians,celiacs, diabetics, have religious restrictions on what they can or can’t eat or in some cases are just plain old picky eaters.

Finding vegetarian options in the Mediterranean isn’t impossible, but diners should be careful as food descriptions don’t always include elements like chunks of ham used to season beans, or chicken broth used in rice dishes.

Fortunately, while traveling with these restrictions (no meat, no wheat, no sugar) can be inconvenient, it’s far from impossible. Here are a few suggestions to make sticking to your dietary restrictions (for whatever reason) more doable when you’re not at home.

  1. Bring your own food. I can’t stress this enough, especially for people spending a lot of time in airports and trains, and people traveling to isolated and less-developed countries, or even just smaller towns. It may seem like a waste to take up valuable packing space with edibles, but your stomach will thank you later. Besides, after you eat the food, you’ll have extra space for souvenirs and other items. Some of my favorites for ease of transport are dried fruits, raw nuts, beef jerky, and tuna pouches. For a great gluten-free portable try corn tortilla shells.
  2. Go for accommodations with a kitchen. Rental apartments are great if you’re traveling in a group, but even if you’re not, some bed and breakfasts allow guests to use a kitchen. Being able to cook your own food will make it easier to stick by your guns when it comes to what you will or won’t eat.
  3. Scope out grocery-shopping options before you go. Some chains are better than others when it comes to the selection of gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan and kosher items. In Barcelona for example, Mercadona has an acceptable selection of gluten-free items, but for vegan items, you may be better off searching out a small organic grocery in the area where you’re staying.
  4. Research restaurants ahead of time. If you have a hard time getting enough information about what’s available, call some restaurants, and ask if they do modified recipes for patrons with dietary restrictions, or can prepare items that aren’t on the menu.

Vegetarian Quinoa Cabbage Rolls For 5: Get Out Those Chopsticks

March 14, 2013 by  

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col relleno de quinoa - Chris Ciolli

When I want to see my friend Carmen, it never fails, I can lure her in with stuffed cabbage. Any variation on cabbage rolls, and she comes knocking at my front door. Since I was recently gifted with a homegrown head of cabbage, fruit of my father-in-law’s gardening habits, and I hadn’t seen Carmen in quite some time, I figured, why not?

Some people have one cabbage roll recipe and that’s what they make when they crave cabbage rolls (yes, some of us do “crave” cabbage) or have an excess of cabbage. Me, I’m a fan of variety, and not rushing to the supermarket because I don’t have this or that ingredient. So while most often my cabbage rolls include some kind of meat (usually ground beef or pork, or chunks of bacon) this weekend I went with a vegetarian version. And since I was running low on rice, I made them with quinoa, instead.

Ingredients Vegetarian Quinoa Cabbage Rolls (serves 4-5 as a main dish)

  • About half a large head of cabbage (large leaves are best)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 6oz of diced tomatoes (canned)
  • 2 cups quinoa (uncooked)
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup strong black olives (kalamata, aragon), pitted

Stuffing the cabbage rolls

Instructions Vegetarian Quinoa Cabbage Rolls
  1. Put cabbage leaves in boiling water for about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove cabbage leaves and add quinoa. Cook for about 15 minutes.
  3. Drain quinoa.
  4. Mix in onions, garlic, tomatoes, feta and olives.
  5. Fold quinoa mix into cabbage leaves (I like to use what I call the “burrito” technique, fold top and bottom flaps in, and then the two sides over that.
  6. Pack in the cabbage rolls close to each other in an oven safe pan.
  7. Cover with foil or baking paper.
  8. Cook for 30-40 minutes at 180ºC
  9. Serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

col relleno de quinoa en recipiente

Extra Tips:

  • This makes a great side dish for meat eaters. Serve up a roll with a steak or chicken breast.
  • Make a vegan version with your favorite tofu or soy cheese, or subbing nuts or even extra olives for the feta.
  • Make a meat-eater’s version of this dish with bacon—it combines well with the olives and diced tomatoes.
  • This filling also works great for stuffed peppers, tomatoes, zucchini or eggplant.
  • Leftovers can be frozen for busy days but they’re best reheated in the oven.

Barcelona’s Cervantes Park and Lonesome Cats

October 27, 2012 by  

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Cervantes Park is a peaceful stop along one of Barcelona’s
busiest streets-Avinguda Diagonal-Chris Ciolli

Cervantes Park is an oasis of lush greenery and calm perched alongside the constant rush of traffic and noise that is Barcelona’s Avinguda Diagonal. Home to Barcelona’s annual International Rose Competition, it easily makes most locals’ (and my) top ten for Barcelona Parks.

So it’s not surprising that I make it a priority to stroll through the park whenever I’m in the area, which is pretty much once a week.
A little over two weeks ago, I was walking through the rose garden on my way to the nearest metro stop, when two kittens popped out from behind the dense green shrubs lining the edge of the park.
One was black and white, and the other was
a calico, with spots of black, white and orange. Like a small child, I
excitedly took a step forward–the kittens scurried off into the underbrush
and I went on with my day
, rushing to the metro to
get to my next destination.
But I kept thinking about the kittens.
What were they doing in the park, all by their lonesome?
Throughout Barcelona, there are populations
of feral cats in parks and public places. Beautiful, and only approachable with
something edible in hand, these cats have become dependent on people, but will
likely scratch and bite if you try to touch them.
At the Universitat de Barcelona, where I studied some years ago, there were always cats winding in and out of the fronds
of tropical plants, and climbing the wrought-iron fence containing the city
campus’ back gardens. But in Cervantes Park I ‘d never noticed any animals at
all, other than birds, and the occasional dog on a leash. After four years of
weekly walk-throughs, the kittens were an anomaly.
The following week, while I was wandering
through the park at dusk, the kittens popped out from behind the bushes,
again
. The black and white kitten stood its ground,
but the calico kitten pranced closer and closer, and then stopped a few feet
away, and let out a plaintive and high-pitched meow. I took a slow step forward
and she danced a few steps back. I waited, loath to scare her away and she came
a few steps closer.

A calico kitten in Cervantes Park-desperate to be rescued–
or so I assumed- Chris Ciolli

I looked at my watch, I had to go or I
would be late. Onward,
I thought, trying not to
frown and wishing for time to spend with the kittens.
Had someone abandoned them? Poor, adorable critters. Since I couldn’t stop thinking about the
tiny cats, I talked to my husband about them. I told my friends and colleagues
about them. Everyone agreed, I should take on at least one of the poor,
possibly orphaned kitties.
So Saturday my husband agreed to come with
me to see if we could lure the kittens into our custody, and if all parties
were agreeable, take one home to our flat where we would do our best give it a
better life.
Since I was overly eager, we went first
thing Saturday morning, a can of tuna in hand.
After about an hour in the park, with no sign of the kittens even
after leaving the bait of a small pile of tuna behind  a tree near where I usually saw them, I had a duh moment
, that consisted of, oh, I always see the kittens late afternoon, just before dusk. They’re probably hidden somewhere, sleeping because cats are nocturnal.
Jesus, who’s a good sport, promised to come
back with me around five when I most often saw the cats, so we trundled back to
our end of town to grocery shop and like. Ever hopeful, I bought a couple of
cans of cat food for kittens, since all the research I’ve been doing online
since deciding to adopt one of the kittens from the park says tuna isn’t
actually very good for cats. –I also learned really young kittens can’t go to
the bathroom by themselves, and have to have their bowels stimulated by the
mother….ick.


This time, my calico kitten was there. We followed her down a side path and found them all. Camped in the bushes were at least 15 cats, 10 of them kittens and
5 of them teenagers or adults. There were black cats, black and white cats,
white cats with black spots, tabby cats and even a mottled orangey brown and
black cat with no tail, not even a stump. And there were two calico cats. Apart
from the bold kitten I had seen up the hill, there was an even smaller, shyer
calico.

Here, kitty, kitty- Chris Ciolli

I peeled open a tin of cat food, put it
down just beside the bushes, and backed away. The cats looked at it, and me,
and all around, unsure and uneasy.
The tiniest calico inched closer and closer
to the food, and started to eat. I did some inching of my own and managed to
lightly pet it a little while it ate.
Since I’m always one to push my luck, I
decided to pick it up and the wild cat came out, thrashing and scratching,
leaving me an open wound on the offending hand and fleeing as far and as fast
as it could. Undeterred, a bigger tabby kitten with a white belly came to eat.
He followed the food wherever Jesus took it, but when he tried to pet him,
hissed spit, and raised a paw in a show of miniscule claws. He put on the same
show for any fellow cats that showed an interest in the tin of cat food, from
the tiny calico to a lanky black and white adolescent. We had to take it away
from the tabby and move it close to other cats so that they too, would get a
taste. 
A sensible person would have seen the light
and given up, but what can I say… sometimes being sensible is overrated
. So in the hopes of
successful cat-snatching, we turned our cloth shopping cart on its side
and tried to lure in one of the kittens with the empty cat food container.
Tabby skirted around the cart for a few minutes, but in the end, the cats were
too smart for us. They knew our game.
Both of the calico kittens were keeping
their distance, and while the tabby kept coming closer in hopes of food, it
wouldn’t let either of us pet it. Rescuing abandoned kittens isn’t the same
as trying to catch and tame a feral cat.
And as much as I had wanted to save that
kitten from its harsh outdoor existence, my rescue-scheme was turning into
something more closely resembling a cat-napping. And I didn’t really want to
have to trick and trap a wild animal into being “rescued” and becoming my pet.
No matter that I had great plans to pamper and spoil it, none of
the kittens showed any interest in becoming our housecat.
So now I’m a little sad. Because when it
comes down to it, I thought I was planning a good deed, that I was going to be
able to help a living thing, and I was wrong. You can’t rescue a living thing
without its cooperation and consent…. or at least I won’t. It’s a shame because after years of going back and
forth on the issue, I finally felt ready for a kitten, ready for the trials and
tribulations not to mention the fun, of training and taking care of an animal. 

Maybe after my trip home for Christmas I’ll adopt from a local shelter here in Barcelona….There are lots of pretty kitties available for adoption at La Protectora de Barcelona 100 euros, fixed, vaccinated, dewormed, and microchipped with all their official paperwork (in Catalan, of course).

Meanwhile, I think I’ll make a habit of treating the cats in the park to an occasional tin of cat food. 

In Venice Raising a Glass to La Serenissima

October 12, 2012 by  

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Canal-side drinks in Venice

About Venice: 118 small islands in Northeast Italy riddled with canals and linked by bridges. The city and marshy lagoon where it is located are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Here composer Antonio Vivaldi and explore Marco Polo were born, and Casanova wrote about his romantic escapades.

Golden streaks of sunlight filter through my glass of Prosecco directing the eye to the shimmering canal below.  Jesus and I are outside a small
hole-in-the-wall bar in Venice, leaning against the cement and brick wall that separates the walkway from the waterway.
I take a sip of my sparkling wine and watch a couple of local teenagers cruise by in a motorboat. “When do you think kids here are allowed to drive boats?” I ask Jesus in Spanish. Since he is busy snapping pictures of his glass of wine with the canal in the background, he shrugs and does his I-don’t-know frown.
In Venice, travel by boat is ideal…
Since we paid before taking our drinks out into the sunshine, I gulp down the last drops of my drink, Jesus grabs our glasses, plunks them down on the counter inside, and we’re off.
Wandering endlessly should be declared the local sport in Venice, where a straight route from A to B is nearly impossible. 
To find any given place in the floating city we traverse a labyrinth of streets that dead-end in water, and bridges that lead to abandoned palazzos. 
 Almost eight years have passed since the last time I set foot in Venice, but since I’ve been before, and Jesus hasn’t, he expects me to act as the expert.
This is hilarious considering my sense of direction can get me
lost in Barcelona, the city I’ve lived in for over seven years now, not to mention my hometown in Missouri.
Venetian Carnevale masks in a storefront

Not that it matters. Getting lost in Venice is a large part of its charm. Cheesy storefronts crammed with “I heart Venice” key-chains, souvenir mugs and glass figurines made in China share the streets with shops hawking traditional Venetian wares.

There are hand-made journals, brightly colored Murano glass and intricate Burano lace fans from nearby islands. Carnevale masks in a multitude of shapes face the world with shameless decadence, elaborately adorned with metallic paints, fabrics and feathers.
Pig-shaped sausages, behind the cheese
One window houses massive cheeses and funny sausages shaped like pigs. Behind another sheet of glass are piles of sweets, among them fist-sized acid-green cookies with nuts and chocolate chunks, labeled Dolce al Pistacchio (pistachio sweet).
I’m immediately intrigued (brightly colored edible things), but Jesus yanks gently on my arm, reminding me that we are actually looking for something—a supermarket. Since we’ve been walking in circles for almost an hour now, I flag down a woman smoking outside a hip boutique and get directions. 

At the tiny grocery store, we shake bottles to make sure we’re buying still water. I grab some bread, salami, prosciutto and smoked provolone for sandwiches. Jesus adds a bag of olive oil-flavored chips, and a few cans of beer. I top it all off with a bottle of Prosecco.

Pistachio Sweets
After we drag our tired feet and shopping bags up five flights of stairs to our hotel room (3 stars, no elevator?), we have a picnic feast on a narrow stretch of carpet in front of the television.

There are no channels in Spanish, and we’re not up for CNN, so it’s MTV’s Jersey Shore, with subtitles in Italian, that blares in the background. I roll my eyes at the screen and turn to Jesus. “Tomorrow’s another day. You, me, and Venice,” I beam, holding up a bottle of Prosecco.
He holds up his beer, and smiles back at me, “ I’ll toast to that.” 

TBEX Summary from Girona Spain

October 6, 2012 by  

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Girona’s Cathedral in the rain–So many steps, so little time – Chris Ciolli

I attended TBEX, the Travel Bloggers Conference in Girona, Spain in September. First of all, it’s only fair to confess that large networking events are so not my thing.

I find big group settings where I’m expected to interact with hundreds of people exhausting, I much prefer meeting up with people one-to-one, or in groups of ten or less. That said, I know these types of events are often what connects us with new friends that we can then see on our own terms.

But beyond my own nerves and general discomfort with this type of setting, my feeling about attending the conference over all can only be described as mixed, so I’m going to break it down into the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Let’s start with the good, shall we?

Talks by industry experts and bloggers. I attended the following useful and entertaining presentations with a clear call to action.

Title links should go to the downloadable slides at TBEX’s official website we were promised, but I can’t find them, so non-attendees can’t get an overview yet, sorry.  I’ve been told the slides will be up soon, and when they are I will link to them below. Presenter links go to their main sites.

How to Write an Effective Pitch presented by Amy Moore and Jessica Parker

How to Effectively Use Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ presented by C.C. Chapman, Kirsten Alana, and Michael Hodson.

How to Effectively Use Facebook presented by Amy Porterfield.

How to Run Your WordPress Site like a WordPress.com VIP presented by Sara Rosso.

How to Write Flagship Content to Maximize SEO presented by Matt Kepnes and Shannon O’Donnell.
The food and drink included was high-quality, and copious. While I didn’t attend evening events, I heard great things about them, and at the conference itself, coffee/juice breaks and a multi-course lunch featuring authentic Catalan cuisine were included both days. There was also a handy supply of bottled water on hand at all times.
I’m still a little upset my work schedule didn’t permit me to attend the opening night dinner at Castell Sant Gregori. There was a flash mob and food from Celler de Can Roca *Sigh*.
The Girona Conference Center was clean and easy to navigate and staff were very helpful. The sponsors at the event were friendly and generally happy to connect with bloggers.
Now for the bad:
  1. Girona is not well-connected with Barcelona via public transport (oh, the nightmare trains) and Girona’s Fira is hard to find on foot from the train station.
  2. TBEX was held the same weekend as Barcelona’s main city festival, La Mercé which meant choosing between amazing free music in Barcelona, and the evening events at the conference.
  3. Many of the presenters seemed unaware that this was an international conference, and that many attendees were second-language English speakers. It would have been a plus for presenters to make an extra effort to speak slowly and clearly so more attendees would be able to understand them.
  4. Because the conference was organized into break-out sessions, it was impossible to attend all of the workshops.
  5. A lot of bloggers were behaving like high-schoolers, swaggering around in small, giggly mobs and turning their noses up at writers or sponsors they saw as “beneath” them. Hilarious, really.
The truly ugly:
  1. The opening keynote by Peter Shankman was packed with sexist and misogynist jokes, references to American pop culture and of all thing pornography. Not only did he mention Honey Boo Boo to a supposedly international audience, he repeatedly talked about how things in “this country” work obviously meaning the U.S. and paying no attention to the fact that we were in fact, not in America, but in Girona, Spain. All of this filler was made worse by a very elementary main message that came down to three main points that could have been explained in about five minutes, one of which was know your audience. Ironic, isn’t it?
Overall, I’d say TBEX was worth my investment, but then, I didn’t fly all the way to Spain to attend. I’m interested in what attendees who sprung for a transatlantic ticket have to say.

Floating Among Palazzos on the Canals of Venice

September 24, 2012 by  

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Despite my friend’s harrumphing over the expense (nearly one-hundred euros for less than an hour), I’m dead-set on a gondola ride this trip. Just because I’ve been blessed with a second chance at Venice, doesn’t mean a third visit will come about any time soon.

As seasoned travelers, we always hope to negotiate, so we skip the long lines for gondola companies and set out to find an independent gondolier working the smaller canals. We had bartered him down 20 euros for a slightly shorter tour when some customers who appear to be willing to pay full price came round.
The gondolier signals for us to wait, but the customers have other ideas. A frizzy-haired, middle-aged brunette, asks in her careful but heavily accented English if we would like to share a gondola, with her and the two dark-haired young men that trail behind her.
Jesus looks at me. The deal we’ve wrangled with the gondolier is slightly more expensive, but it would be just us. I shrug. I hate being put on the spot. Jesus stares harder at me. He doesn’t want to be responsible for making this decision. After all, I’m who’s so gung-ho on this boating expedition.
Foolishly perhaps, I take pity on the woman, and passenger-by-passenger we pile into the gondola. Then, I’ve read that gondoliers make a very good living, and this woman, she seems frazzled beyond belief, like so many parents on vacation with young adults.
With a couple of long slow strokes, Carlo, our Gondolier shoves us off into the canal.
From water level, Venice is regal, and fragile at the same time. Mold creeps up the abandoned first floors of many palazzos.  Carlo explains that generally speaking, the first floors of Venetian palazzos are unoccupied, because when the city floods (as it often does), they disappear under water.
Gondola Traffic Jam in Canal off of Piazza San Marcos- Chris Ciolli

When Carlo lapses into silence, I turn to our fellow passengers. “Where are you from?”

“We are Russians, from Latvia,” explains the younger-looking of the two teenagers.
I smile at him. “As opposed to Latvians from Russia?”
He laughs. “And you?”
I nod towards Jesus. “We live in Barcelona. Italy is much more expensive than Spain. ”
I wait for him to chime in with a comparison of prices in Latvia and Italy, but have to be content with “ah,” and an uncomfortable silence that returns as quickly as it left.
I look at Carlo, standing and rowing from his perch at the back of the boat and ask him about living in Venice, if it’s expensive for the Venetians. He doesn’t understand my English very well, so I ask him in my best Spanish with an Italian accent.

He answers me in a string of fluent Italian and I catch bits and pieces.  Living in Venice is very expensive. So expensive, in fact, that he, Carlo, has moved 
to a nearby city and commutes to Venice daily via train. “Also,” he says shrugging his shoulders, “it’s so inconvenient.” The canals, the bridges, the stairs, they make grocery shopping, moving, and generally everything more difficult.

He whips out a package of Marlboro lights. Would Jesus and I like one? He gestures apologetically with a cigarette in one hand when I tell him we don’t smoke. He would love to quit, but it’s just never quite the right moment.
Floating through Venice’s glittering canals reminds me of family canoe trips at Jack’s Fork—thankfully without cottonmouth sightings and brothers who threaten to tip you and the cooler packed with lunch into the river.“What are you smiling about, anyway?” Jesus asks me, in Spanish.
“I’m just thinking about canoes.” He narrows his eyes at me, but seems to find my cryptic response answer enough, because he doesn’t ask for further clarification and starts digging in his pockets.
It’s my turn to squint my eyes and ask questions. “Lose something?”
No response. I look out into the canal and think about living in a ramshackle Palazzo. Would it be romantically shabby, or would the smell of saltwater and mildew erase my love for Venice over time?
Jesus taps me on the shoulder and I turn to face him. “What?” He smirks at me, and unfolds an arm from behind his back.  He holds out a tiny leather box. I cock my head to one side as he opens the box. Nestled into a dark brown lining, a silver ring embedded with fuchsia stones sparkles and winks at me in the light.
Palazzos en Venice-Chris Ciolli

My mouth hangs open for a moment, before I clamp it shut, and use it to smile at Jesus as he slides the ring home on my finger. “You like purple, don’t you?” he asks nervously.

“Of course,” I reply, “but you know this is more of a dark-pink, fuchsia, color, don’t you?”
Jesus is unfazed by his colorblindness. “But you like fuchsia?”
I laugh and peck him on the cheek. “Yes. Maybe not for a paint color in the house, but for a ring, yes.”
When we finally disembark Jesus explains to me that he’s been carrying the ring around since our first day in Venice, since we didn’t have a set plan for our gondola ride, he wanted to have it on hand just in case.
Since we’re finally without an audience I pull him close and kiss him; because I love him; because he gave me a ring; and most of all, because even seven years in, he can still take me by surprise.

Bloggers from all over Europe meet in Spain

September 21, 2012 by  

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Join me at TBEXThis year I’ll attend my first TBEXcon, that’s abbreviated mumbo-jumbo for Travel Blogger Exchange Conference and I’d be big-time fibbing if I said I wasn’t nervous. At such a massive gathering (per TBEX publicity, “the world’s largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers  and new media content creators”) meeting fellow writers goes from fun to fear in the sixty seconds it takes my eyes to count the crowd uncountable or decide that I’m inappropriately dressed.

Since I’m not staying in Girona (it’s only an hour away from Barcelona, where I live) I won’t have the option of rushing back to the hotel to change, or grab the cash I left on the bathroom counter, which is unfortunate, but what I’m most upset about as a Barcelonan not staying in Girona is that I won’t be able to attend the amazing evening events because train service doesn’t run past 9:30pm.TBEX has invited participants to Sant Gregori Castle, where the celebrated Cellar de Can Roca will be in charge of the catering. An evening of wine, beer, and luscious food at a castle, and I’m going to miss it, because I thought, hey, I’ve been to Girona, it’s only an hour away, I can go back and forth, and sleep in my own bed every night.

Of course, it’s an hour away on the fast train. On a slower train, the time spent in transport creeps up, and that’s without adding in time for the delays that are par for the course with RENFE train service from Barcelona to anywhere. Which means I’m going to be up before the completely unacceptable hour of 6am tomorrow to make it in time to register and attend the opening which means I won’t even have time for coffee before I leave.

I’m so smart. And by I’m so smart,  I really mean, I guess I didn’t think this through so well. But hey, I can buy a cup of terrible coffee to get me by on the train, so all is not lost.

And since I did in fact sign up for this conference to learn new things and connect with new people, I will do my best to do so. Even if it means catching trains before sunrise and doesn’t involve  free drinks and eats (in a castle).

Copyright 2010-2012 Chris Ciolli. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce texts or images without written consent.

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